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


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Old May 19th, 2014, 10:23 PM   #1
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Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

I need to make my Sony HVR-HD1000U a backup, and update to a newer video camera. Budget is about $2000. I'm currently suffering from Paralysis of Analysis looking at all the options. I should mention that I am only talking about 1 dance recital a year (my daughter's recital). The Pro videographer dropped out 2 years ago because we just weren't large enough to justify his time
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Old May 19th, 2014, 10:31 PM   #2
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

The Sony HD1000 isn't exactly a low light wizard for stuff like dance recitals so if you want to stay with Sony maybe look at their smaller camcorders like the CX730 or equivalent .. They are supposed to be brilliant in low light and also way better than the Sony EA-50's that I use unless I put expensive lenses on the front!

Since this is only an annual event why not just hire a camera for the one night? It seems a shame to spend your hard earned money on something just to use for one recital!

Otherwise look for something in the price range that at least you could also get some use out of during the year as well??

Chris
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Old May 19th, 2014, 10:57 PM   #3
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
The Sony HD1000 isn't exactly a low light wizard for stuff like dance recitals
Can we have a brief discussion about the definition of low-light.
When I shoot still photos on a dance stage, I am getting 1/250 seconds, F/2.8 at ISO 1600.
From what I can tell with various charts, that a dance stage is about EV6, which I think is 160 Lux.
Is this "low light" in the video camera world?
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Old May 19th, 2014, 11:21 PM   #4
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

This weekend's settings were 1/60 shutter, 0db gain (320ISO) and f 3.4 on a 1/3" chip Panasonic AC130. I can get similar if not a bit better results from a more modern 1/3" single chip handycam like the Canon HF-G20 or the Sonys mentioned above. There's also no reason why you couldn't simply use a DSLR or hybrid camera like the Sony RX10 to get even more spectacular results... Purpose built video cameras aren't really that great anymore.
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Old May 19th, 2014, 11:36 PM   #5
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Problem with a DSLR in a recital venue would be focus. No DSLR I know of can keep a stage in focus from front to back, and as someone who does dance competitions and recitals, I'd find that to be an irritating problem.

Last edited by Danny McCarthy; May 20th, 2014 at 07:37 AM.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 12:22 AM   #6
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

I shoot alot of recitals
Last Saturday,had a 2 camera recital that went from 830am to 630 pm.
Used a lot of cards for this.we shoot with ex1 rd.but I can confirm the Sony cx seriesxare very good in lowlight.inhavethe cx550 which I've used for 2nd cam on recitals,it had a manual iris wheel that comes in very handy with light changes on recitals.its avchd,quality Mathew very wellwith my ex.
They Donny make that model now,but I would try and find a good used one.has an internal
64 gb harddrive and a slot for Sd cards.
It was replaced by the cx560,but I think that's not available.it also has a Mic input that u can
Connect a studio one xlr adapter for a feed from the board.
The batteries last for hour, fv series.
Not sure Sony came out with replacements,I just see smaller ones,less professional now.
It also has a nice 3 1/2 in LCD you can mount a hoodman ex loupe to and it
Becomes a very sharp viewfinder.the new Sony nx3 would b ideal but its
3,000.00.good luck
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Old May 20th, 2014, 12:24 AM   #7
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Mistyped above,battery lasts for hours, and I meant
They don't make,not donny
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Old May 20th, 2014, 12:29 AM   #8
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Depends if you are shooting wide or not ..An APSC sensor camera at a very fast F1.8 as long as you are 50' from the stage and don't shoot wider than 50mm you have a good 22' of DOF to play with ...If you decide that you need to zoom in to their pupils then yes you are in trouble.

Most dance performances want the video to cover the stage not just an individual performer but if it's your daughter of course Mom will need some closeups so a DSLR will be tricky to use.

I shot quite a few on my old HMC80 cameras which only had 1/4" chips and had no issues with them.

One serious and important issue will be your placement !! As a parent you may be in the front row or right at the back ... I have shot them from 100' back sometimes up with the sound and lighting desks so a 12X zoom just makes it for a closeup ..the advantage with this position is that you can also get an audio feed from the desk which is awesome.

I think I would still rather look at a video camera for this sort of gig!! I'm not sure I would be happy attempting a theatre shoot with my EA-50 Sonys which are considered "hybrids" and they use DSLR sensors.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 07:55 AM   #9
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Renting is definitely an option if your purchase budget is $2000 for a once a year use. A camera favored by many wedding videographers is the Sony EX3. Has very good low light performance and is a truly professional camera.
Here's a link to a national rental company Sony EX3 Rental .

Biggest drawback to the camera is the need to rent Sony's SXS cards since it does not use SD cards. You might find someone near you that rents this camera.

The camera has been around since 2008 and is still in demand. Current used prices are around $5,000 +/-.

I'd also suggest looking at the current crop of consumer cameras. Many in the $500+ price range are really excellent and have features that make them useful even to the pros. Have a look at the Panasonic HC-V720. Lots of great reviews on the B&H Photo & Video web site and it's only $599
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Old May 20th, 2014, 09:16 PM   #10
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

OK, let's presume the old HD1000 was producing "acceptable results"? IIRC that was the "pro" embodiment of the HC7, and a LOOOOONG time ago in camera tech! Should be NO problem improving on it... perhaps exponentially!

Not sure what cams you've looked at/considered, and if you're at all "brand oriented". I might suggest a couple Sony options, someone else might suggest equally effective solutions from Canon or Panasonic!

I'm going to presume you are on tripod, single camera (I would NOT suggest trying to mix your "old" camera with a current one - sell it on ebay and add whatever you get for it to your budget!).


On your budget, you've got a couple excellent options -

first option... go for TWO used cameras along the line of the CX550 (getting old now), CX700, or any of the CX7xx/PJ7xx series. You could replace that with two comparable Canon or Panasonic models released in the last 3 years or so, which all have threads of users here.

Last years top end Sony was the PJ790 and would exceed your budget for two, but you MIGHT be able to pick up a CX760, PJ760, or a PJ710 (two years "old", same sensor, same BOSS image stabilizer, same basic operation). They are becoming hard to come by, I've sold a couple PJ710's for around $850, have one left to sell, and a PJ760 that "may" be available - at current prices, you'd be under $2K. VERY capable cameras for your use, keep one wide, and zoom/pan the other for closeups, simple to run, you just have to know which section of the stage to be "on" with the tight shots. I've used this setup for school plays, etc, and most people find the results excellent over a single cam stage/event shoot.


Now you'll ask why I'm retiring that setup... right? WELL, here's where your options start getting interesting... and all SONY... I'd been fiddling with TX and HX series Cybershot cameras, and getting pretty good results from relatively cheap cameras with little or no manual adjustments... actually not bad if your budget was a lot lower, it could be done!

Option #2 - Recently I've been using RX series Cybershots - because they are a still camera, you have a 29 minute clip limit, you have to be on the ball and just start and stop as needed during a lull and near the limit time, no limit to the number of clips other than battery and memory card, with a little more hassle aligning clips in post. BUT we're talking full manual capability, a relatively large 1" class sensor, and some of the best image quality you can find, decently high bitrate full HD 60P AVCHD, same as the 7xx series Handycams.

You could pick up an RX100Mk2 and an RX10, set them up as above, RX100M2 wide, use the RX10 for zoom/pan, again under your budget at retail prices, far less on ebay. I'd shoot that combo any day knowing I'd get good multicam results from a tiny package - I have a tripod modded for 2-3 cameras, one on a fluid head, the others "locked down", that and a small bag, I'm set! The RX10 is also about the best general use camera for stills and video you can get for the money, even though it's expensive. The RX100M2 is a killer 'pocket cam", the Mk3 just announced, so probably not an option, but the Mk2's are now available at discount. The original was harder to dial in for video, so stick to M2 or M3 versions, IMO.



Now for option #3... a "curveball"... and one I can't say for certain is the best option, as I just got one to test... the Sony AX100, shooting 4K @ 30p, 60 Mbps XAVC S, or HD/60p/50Mbps.

So far it looks like a pretty good option for this sort of shoot... it's at the top of your budget, will be best tripod mounted, NOT handheld, and you may need a computer upgrade to process (to be fair that may be the case ANYWAY, as higher bitrate AVCHD needs more horsepower than the HDV I recall the HD1000 shoots).

The idea is to set it on a tripod, 4K, frame wide to get the whole stage, and pan/scan/crop in post to a 1920x1080 window for your close ups - the 4K is so sharp you can probably "zoom" in even further with acceptable HD quality - render out to HD or SD, and it should blow away most viewers. There's an EXTENSIVE thread at the top of DVi (Digital Video Industry News) with some samples and enough discussion to burn a few days of bandwidth!!


I know you said you already have analysis paralysis, and here I give you three options you may not even have considered... but the first has worked well for me, and I'd shoot the second any time with confidence, and the third is where I think things will be in short order, ALL within your budget, so I hope it's helpful. I've shot lots of plays, recitals and other "stage events", as have other regulars here, so I'm sure we can get you to an option that will make your HD1000 look ancient in comparison!

Take a deep breath, and ask any questions raised by the above! I'm sure we can get you sorted and ready to shoot the best video the parents have ever seen!
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Old May 21st, 2014, 09:47 AM   #11
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

I am an amateur videographer who got into doing dance recitals about four years ago with the help of many people on this forum. I had no experience with video whatsoever and I am now in my 4th year of doing video for local dance recitals. I did two last year and I am doing two again this year. Each year, I get another studio asking me to do their video so I must be doing something right.

I shoot these recitals with three Sony Handycams - an XR500, and XR550, and a CX160. Of the three of these, I get the best results from the XR500, but the XR550 isn't too far behind in quality, and the CX160 is a consumer cam that only works well if placed very close to the stage. I get excellent video with these cams. As an amateur who started with no experience in year one, I now know the best settings to use on these small cameras to get the best results.

I use the XR500 as my manned cam for tight shots, zooms, and pans. The XR550 is placed at a different angle, fixed wide, and usually from a higher vantage point such as a balcony. The CX160 gets placed on the floor right in front of the left or right side of the stage.

Most of the footage I use is from the XR500, but I cut to the XR550 for large groups and to mask zooms and pans that did not look so good. I hardly use any footage from the CX160 but do pick out some nice closeup shots to use during solos or nice tight formations that look good from that camera's perspective.

I don't know a lot about cameras but I have been to a lot of recitals and I can tell you that I get much better footage from these small Sony cameras than many of the videographers with huge rigs and lots of equipment. In the last several years, I have surprised myself and many others at what can be done with these small handycams.

Good luck with your recital! I have one this weekend and another the following.
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Old May 21st, 2014, 04:33 PM   #12
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Re: Video camera recommendation - Dance Recital

Hi Brad! Good to see you're doing well w/ the recitals, I remember when you were "starting out"!

You've pretty much got "option #1", with an added angle and a second tripod!


For the OP:

Maybe if that HD1000 isn't worth much on ebay, it would "do" for a "C" cam!

There is much to be said for the little "Handycams" at the higher end of the "consumer" range, bang for the buck is often such that you can go multi-cam and produce more professional looking output without breaking the bank on one "pro" camera. I've even used relatively cheap "TX" series Cybershots for additional angles with very good results (as long as the light is good), they are SO cheap now, I just keep 'em in the kit in case I can use 'em!

Stage/events you usually have to wrestle with lighting, so spending a little more to get a larger sensor in a better performing camera becomes advisable, but perhaps not a "necessity"!

The biggest thing is that HD1000 is "quite" out of date from a technology aspect, things have moved a long way since that camera was "state of the art". What you can get today for similar $$ will definitely step up your game significantly!
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