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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 18th, 2013, 10:22 PM   #1
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Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

Curious to see what everyones using and how they feel about it. I'm in the market for a replacement for my tape based Canon XL-h1a, but I'm struggling to find a good solution as I still would like smaller sensor depth of field, but good low light performance. !! May be impossible.

I shoot with:

2 Panasonic GH2's (one on me, the other on the side/tripod shot static wide)
1 Canon XL H1a (long shot usually down the middle on altar from back or above)

Honestly I don't see myself getting rid of the GH2's anytime soon. They perform so well. My only gripe is I'm getting tired of racking focus when I'm at 1.4 or 1.7 fstop.. really tired of it. Going to buy a Canon Vixia G20 soon to test it out but I have my doubts. Was going to go with a Sony FS100 but then I realized that while the larger sensor is amazing for low light, I'd still have the same large sensor focus drama.

Two main areas where I'm tired of dealing with pulling focus:

1. Bride coming down the aisle.. actually anyone coming down the aisle.
2. All my glidecam stuff, I like to be wide open 1.7 for it at receptions and its SUCH a pain.
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Old June 19th, 2013, 12:59 AM   #2
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

Hi James

I moved to big sensors from Panny HMC82's (1/4") and AC-130's (1/3rd") and decided eventually on Sony EA-50's which use the APS-C sensors. The stock lens on the camera is only F3.5 at wide and the AF is pretty good so I use that for bridal entrances etc etc where focus will be an issue and it behaves much like a video camera for aisle shots which is awesome. For static shots like the ceremony you can put on a fast zoom and manually focus as well as speeches. I must admit I was swayed by the fact it's a shoulder mount camera as I shoot a LOT of wedding footage handheld so I don't need a rig or support for them. The fact that you CAN change the lens is brilliant and all the other features work great too and there are plenty of them. The other thing that is really nice is you can shoot at smaller apertures too without any image degrading like you get on small chip cameras so outside at F16 is quite practical whereas with a 1/4 or 1/3 chip camera the image would fall to bits if you didn't use ND filters to keep it no more closed than F5.6 !

On my stedicam, I have the camera at full wide and full auto outdoors and it does an amazing job with autofocus with the stock zoom ...otherwise I can pop on my Tokina 11-16 zoom indoors and it has such a huge DOF that you can lock the focus at 3' and just fly and everything is sharp.

For me it's a really nice compromise between a video camera and a DSLR as I can choose to have the features of either whenever I need it!

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Old June 19th, 2013, 02:39 AM   #3
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

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Originally Posted by James Palanza View Post
Two main areas where I'm tired of dealing with pulling focus:
It should be less of a issue if you get a 5dIII (or a fs100 I think) where you can crank up the iso above 10.000 so you can close down your iris giving you a wider dof.
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Old June 19th, 2013, 06:46 AM   #4
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

I was using GH2 and Gh3 cameras, but recently sold those of and now a canon 6D and 5D Mark III for the incredible low light. Like Noa said, being able to crank the ISO and still have usable footage is invaluable in the reception.
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Old June 19th, 2013, 07:54 AM   #5
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

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Originally Posted by James Palanza View Post
Curious to see what everyones using and how they feel about it.
Currently using two Mk3s and two Mk2s.

The Mk2s are definitely outdated. I used to be in awe of the Mk2's lowlight, but now I find it problematic. Also, the recording time has stuffed me up at least once this year (because I'm going to blame the tool, and not the operator), though I've been shooting with the things for years now.

If I had three Mk3s, I think I'd be pretty happy for a year or two.

I think maybe a more fun question is: what cameras do you WISH you were shooting with. I really like the form factor of DSLRs, but if someone offered me three C300s or gave me the funds to work with three 1DCs to shoot a wedding in 4K...


Edit: For non-weddings jobs, I occasionally dust off a Panasonic HVX200a, and once in a blue moon attach a rusty M2 Encore lens adapter to it. Only other cameras I really use at the moment are GoPros.

Last edited by Adrian Tan; June 19th, 2013 at 09:23 PM.
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Old June 19th, 2013, 08:38 AM   #6
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

James - I just moved to a C100 that I shoot along side with Mk2s. The C100 doesn't have quite the DOF of the Mk2 but beats it handily in low light performance. As for the coming down the aisle shot, I just sold off my XH-A1 which I will miss for it's ability to autofocus and handle this shot easily. The C100 has nice focusing features (push auto focus, peaking, magnify while recording) but I still have to pull focus for that shot. I haven't tried the C100 on my steadicam merlin yet. I currently have my Mk2 balanced nicely with a 24mm prime that I'll probably continue to use for a while.

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Old June 19th, 2013, 10:06 AM   #7
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

Well, maybe like some have said, what I should be looking at is larger chips for their higher sensitivity which would allow me to stop down more to make racking focus easier. I find it really difficult at 1.6 lol. Especially if its a shot like someone walking towards you where you can see when its out of focus. I'm also going to employ a loupe on my LCD next wedding to see how it feels.
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Old June 19th, 2013, 07:45 PM   #8
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

Hi James

Definitely use a loupe on your LCD for better framing and focus! When I had my Panny AC-130's the EVF on the camera was useless as it was so tiny (1/2" LCD I think) so I made up a Hoodman loupe that fitted over the LCD instead and it's a winner. The Panasonic HMC80, Sony EX-3 and EA-50 have loupes on their LCD's rather than using EVF's and they are brilliant to use. Once fitted you will say "Why didn't I do this a long time ago!"

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Old June 19th, 2013, 08:56 PM   #9
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

Sony Z5U & VX2000. Love the Z, it's epic. Great in low light, very good auto mode for quick reliable changes (indoor/outdoor), and I needed a cam with date/time stamp cause I also shoot some depositions. Thought admittedly not as many as I had hoped to get. Also 4 years ago when I got it, I felt safer with tape. However it offered the MRC1 card recorder adapter which I later got, so now I can shoot to card or tape.

It's got a setting (PP5) to enhance contrast giving it a bit more of a filmic look. Works sometimes for formals although sometimes I'd rather just adjust that in post, and when I shoot for others. The other cool feature is native Slo-mo recording. Just recently began using that.

The VX2000 is great, was I suppose. Would like to get a similar but HD camera but I don't have the funds for now. Myb a VG20. Anyway, it's just a backup camera & only used during the ceremony, rarely use it in final cuts. Just my workflow.
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Old June 20th, 2013, 02:27 AM   #10
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

2 GH2's and a Sony NX5U.
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Old June 20th, 2013, 06:05 AM   #11
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

4 GH2's - I've still got 6 GH1's gathering dust - I should sell them but they might just come in handy for ...

Happy with the GH2's I won't move to GH3 till there's a replacement for it - I'm too old to enjoy the 'bleeding' edge of technology.
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Old June 20th, 2013, 04:43 PM   #12
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

I have just bought a Canon 6d. It's amazing what it can do in low light. Totally worth it in my opinion.
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Old June 20th, 2013, 06:31 PM   #13
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

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Originally Posted by Paul Mailath View Post
4 GH2's - I've still got 6 GH1's gathering dust - I should sell them but they might just come in handy for ...

Happy with the GH2's I won't move to GH3 till there's a replacement for it - I'm too old to enjoy the 'bleeding' edge of technology.
Wow, four of them? Do you run all of those alone or do you have help? I'd imagine four would drive me a little bonkers!
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Old June 20th, 2013, 08:10 PM   #14
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

We shot with;

2 Sony V1U's that I have just bought 2 Atomos Ninja's to extend their life. Love the manual controls, easy menu, fast auto focus and look of the footage. Only weakness was recording to HDV format and just fixed that with the Ninja's!

1 Canon XA10 - Very impressed with the image quality and love the safety of the double slot SD card recording. The weakness to me is the flimsly feel of the camera body. I am used to the solid build of the Sondy V1U's. Of course when new the Sony V1 cost about $1,300 more than I paid for the XA10.

1 Canon t4i - Great "atmospheric' footage of the bride getting ready, decorations, etc and also used at the reception and intercut with XA10 footage. Like it a lot!

1 Canon M301 - consumer Canon camcorder used as fixed wide center or side shot and for audio from shotgun microphone. Excellent camera for this purpose.

1 Canon HV20 - old faithful that originally was the fixed third camera used in addition to the Sony V1U's. Great HD pic for the money when it came out and the pic still looks great today. Now used as 5th camera on some shoots.

If I could afford to I would replace my V1U's with 2 Sony PMW 200's. However so far I have not found $12,600 laying around.
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Old June 20th, 2013, 09:17 PM   #15
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Re: Camera roll call - what do you shoot with, how do you feel it performs?

JVC HM700 with Fuji 17 lens
JVC HM100 (B cam)

Sony PD150 and PD170 still have 'em, don't use 'em anymore.

I wish the shoulder pad of the camera was more like the one on the GY-DV5100. That was comfy. I really have no complaints about the camera. I know what it can and can't do and work within the parameters. Been doing that for 30 years, keeps me from going crazy.
Since I'm backing out of weddings finally and doing more seminars and talking heads the 700 works out quite well. Work good for weddings also but it shines at seminars and such.
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