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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old March 29th, 2014, 08:00 PM   #1
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Time to upgrade or wait?

I'm not sure if any one you remember any of my previous posts but I have been in the wedding videography business for about a year and a half. We bought an XF100 as our first camera and have since bought a 6D and 70D. Towards the end of this wedding season we have really been disappointed with our XF. For audio it is great to have but it really struggles in quite a few other aspects such as low light, auto focus, and the white balance can be quite tricky to match. (We have since learned that the lcd is quite blue and cannot be 100% trusted.) We find in conditions where lighting is sufficient we have no problem matching our XF with our dslr's but when it comes to low light its almost embarrassing!

We really need to get away from the XF lineup and get a camcorder that will compete it low light as well as have dependable auto features. We have looked at cameras such as the Sony NEX-EA50 and the Panasonic AF100. The C100 is out of our price range and has left us kinda left in between classes. As we have invested a lot into our business over the last year we are debating whether we can get a return on our investment if we buy a "stepping stone" camera?

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Words of advice?
Thanks!
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Old March 29th, 2014, 08:08 PM   #2
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

I use two EA-50's with great success but they are not going to give you the same low light as something like a 5DIII ...the stock lens is slow (F3.5!) but if you go manual then you can use nice fast lenses. It seems you are shying away from another DSLR to replace the 100 so why not look at a smaller camcorder ..guys like Noa Put swear by the smaller Sony CX series for really low light stuff!!

Chris
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Old March 29th, 2014, 08:09 PM   #3
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

Main thing I'm thinking is -- make a decision after NAB 2014. Maybe new cameras will come out. Maybe prices of current cameras will drop.
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Old March 29th, 2014, 08:22 PM   #4
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

I do believe there is a lot of value in having a dedicated camcorder that we can depend on to get the shot, leaving us with the dslr's for B shots. Good point about the NAB 2014, i forgot that was coming up soon, mid april?
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Old March 29th, 2014, 09:38 PM   #5
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

I just upgraded to two xf300s, first wedding this coming weekend. So far I'm happy with them.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 02:57 PM   #6
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

The XF100 is great for certain things (balcony camera at weddings, a camera on the conductor in a classical concert), basically a third camera (maybe a 2B or 3A). But I can't picture it as a #1 for weddings. The XF300 on the other hand was my #1 for a couple years and served very well. It is now my #2 in favor of the C100 for the lowlight and beauty look of it.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 04:24 PM   #7
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

I find XF100 great as a wedding cam. It's not a C100, but it's unobtrusive yet professional looking, capable of very high quality, and if you shoot 50Mbps you have more latitude than with C100 footage. You do have to make some allowances. Some suggestions: the WB is flaky, but you can't use auto WB at receptions where there are flashing colored lights or you're likely to turn them white. Set the WB with Kelvin to match your other cameras. I guess what it is from experience, it doesn't have to be exact. Use your A B settings where there are predominant light changes. Use the slowest shutter speed for the framerate (1/25th in PAL land). I do mount a small 36 LED light on the camera for dark dancing, it's sufficient, no-one so far has complained, if they do I'd just turn it off, easier than all the time worrying about the wide aperture focus with DSLRs. Above all, get Neat Video. The XF100 at 12dB gain (max I use) demands Neat Video. You won't believe what it does. It's magic.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 07:10 PM   #8
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

We've been using three XF100 cameras for a couple of years and find them to be great cameras. We've shot at 1/50 (PAL) all the time except in really low light speeches when we've switched to 1/25.

If you are relying on automatics then perhaps they are not the best, but we've found the white balance to be very good and very reliable, but then we only use the kelvin settings and never use automatics.

When we set three cameras to the same WB we get precise results. we've also found the WB to be more reliable than DSLRs which really seem to screw with colours.

Personally, we never go higher than 6db, and even then feel the need for Neat Video. If you're happy with 12db then I'm Ok with that too.

Having shot the C100 for a few months now I'd happily swap all my XF100s and all my DSLRs for more C100s.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 10:34 PM   #9
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

We have tried going up to 12db and its just not acceptable in my eyes, 6db is as high as we ever go. We quite often have to do some trial and error fiddling with the Custom Pictures settings to get things right after setting the white balance. The auto white balance is a complete waste of time, i have never used it and I never will, its terrible. We have shot both 30p and 24p and not stick with nothing but 24p (for slightly better low light and less "video" feel) and a frame rate of 48 (50 on the dslr's). I have researched this camera to death to try and bring out the best in it and usually ends up disappointing. I am probably expecting too much from considering the price point its at, but we always find ourselves wanting more.

The XF300 i'm sure is a great camera and has its strengths and weaknesses but listed at the same price point as the c100, its just not what we are looking for. A c100 is most likely in our future, but "how soon" is what we are trying to figure out.

After investing roughly $10,000 into our startup costs(cameras,gear, and new computer) last year its time to start making a little more profit. Balancing profits, equipment, and client costs is what is difficult to achieve.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 11:28 PM   #10
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

Hi Derek

Seriously, only 6db max?? On my EA-50's I can safely go up to 21db and the image is pristine. At 24db you might get a tiny bit of noise in very dark areas but otherwise still stunning!! Gain values of 6db and 12db were the norm on much older CCD 3 chip cameras but certainly not on bigger sensor cameras.

Actually I did a bridal exit at midnight last weekend on one of the EA-50's with just the stock lens at F3.5 and the gain clamped at 24db and the image is still perfect and no noise whatsoever in a pitch black skyline!

Chris
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Old March 30th, 2014, 11:41 PM   #11
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Re: Time to upgrade or wait?

Derek...... Out there in the not too distant future is 4K coming down the pipe. As I remember the discussions about HD, the coming of 4K feels pretty similar. If you geared up a year ago, by the time your gear needs replacing because of age and use, you should be in a good position to dive into a more mature 4K environment. The early adapters are the ones who really pay during a transition, as the immature gear is obsoleted rather quickly. So IMO, the transition to 4K should be your next real upgrade, in the original timeframe you had planned for upgrading your gear. Your disappointment with this camera, IMO, should not have you looking for more and better gear yet. IMO, you should be looking at a "cross grade" to a similar priced cam that will do what you need it to do. If you start with the "stepping stone" cameras, when a mature 4K hits, chances are you are going to have some older format cameras with undepreciated values on your books that far exceed their market value. There's a lady who sold me her two near new DVX100Bs who can tell you what it's like to take that kick in the pants.

Whatever you decide, good luck with your decision !!!
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