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


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Old October 21st, 2014, 10:35 AM   #1
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Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I need to replace my AC90 only because of itís reach. 12x is just not enough in some cases, like next wedding in a couple of weeks. I also have the XA20 and like it well so the obvious choice would be another XA20 or G30. Iím thinking G30....less money and donít need XLR.

I have been keeping up with the Sony X70. I have no intention of using 4K anytime soon, heck 99% of my work is delivered in SD. I really like the specís on the X70. I think the X70 would have better auto controls than the Canon but donít know that for sure. Auto is important because my wife will be on this camera most of the time. Also if clear view is as good as they say, possibly could have a 24x reach.

So go ahead and future proof with X70 and maybe upgrade from AC90 (and XA20) and if so sell XA20 and add another X70...... or save some money get the G30 and wait and see how the X70's fair in wedding use?

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Old October 21st, 2014, 05:53 PM   #2
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Unless there's anything else comparable, I would jump on the X70 in a heartbeat. I think you're on the right track, Tim.
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Old October 21st, 2014, 06:45 PM   #3
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I was just know testing the DR on the the XA20 and AC90. The 90 actually handles DR better, so I don't think I want another XA or G30.

Ever since I've gone with these HD cams I've had trouble keeping brides dress from blowing out and everything around her from being to dark.

I wonder how the DR is on the X70. How's the DR on the AX100?
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 02:38 AM   #4
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

As I understood the x70 has profiles so you should be able to dial in a flatter profile as a grading base, the ax100 has a baked in profile, no way to adjust anything and the dr is not that good, in a shot with sun/shade if you expose for the sun part you will have a very dark shadow part, in post however the 50mbs codec does allow some correction before the image starts to fall apart so you can lift the shadows for more detail. You only need to ask yourself if it is worth spending so much time in post improving the image.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 06:19 AM   #5
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Thanks Noah. I have been trying to get away from a lot of post grading. It's so nice when I have a shot that just looks right, right off the card. I'v been reading some of your post on the ax100 and saw where you went auto wb all day. Is the auto wb really that good? No way to do that with canon or pany, they would be shifting constantly.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 06:34 AM   #6
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I use the ax100 mainly for the ceremony and I do run into different mixtures of indoor and outdoor lights, as I run 3 to sometimes 4 camera's simultaneously with very little setup time. I don't do manual whitebalance just because there is no time for that, my cx730's together with the ax100 have a image that is identical in colour and both camera's have very good autowhitebalance, it's very rare I have to adjust, my rx10 however does need adjusting as it oversaturated sometimes and makes indoor color too warm, faces often look yellow.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 08:44 AM   #7
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Tim, the DR is weird, after shooting a good number of weddings I have learned that with this camera to run most time so that nothing is overexposed, esp bride's dress, and bring things up in post when necessary.

The footage is amazingly gradeable, it's actually a delight, and takes a minimum of tweaking, but the results are worth it.

Also, David Johns shared this video about the auto audio mode from this camera. I've had issues with running audio in auto (I run multiple cameras and have always been satisfied in past with other camera's auto abilities) but there is some serious weirdness with this cams auto settings.

You must watch this video below if you own the camera are are going to, because the internal limiter affects thing in manual as well unless you turn volume all the way down and then go back up. Sucks, but I still love the camera.

Video is for CX900 but the same issue applies to the AX100 and might apply to the pro model as well.

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Old October 22nd, 2014, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I agree on the exposure part, just like on my cx730 setting the right exposure is very important for this camera, I too have been able to recover very dark areas in a image without any visual image degradation, I only wished though they had made the profile a it flatter but because it matches my cx730 s well I"m not complaining.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 09:32 AM   #9
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Thanks Jeff, really informative. Kinda disappointed, I rely on auto mic control extensively.

I did go ahead an order the X70. Should have it Friday, so that will give me next week to play with it before the big wedding. I will be an information magnet on these cameras (900,AX100,X70) so any info you have I'll gladly accept :)
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 10:47 AM   #10
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There is nothing "weird" about Sony auto audio mode

"I've had issues with running audio in auto (I run multiple cameras and have always been satisfied in past with other camera's auto abilities) but there is some serious weirdness with this cams auto settings. "

The video was very informative, about the limiter. However, the performance in auto gain mode is exactly standard for that mode. The Sony is not weird; it is auto gain, which simply tries to keep the level of sound the same. That's the way it works in all cameras/audio recorders.

What you heard about the changing background noise is why no professional sound person would ever use autogain for any serious video. For any silences, autogain ramps up the volume, so you hear background noise exaggerated; for loud sounds, it ramps the volume down. Ugly. You will not fix the bad audio from autogain by switching cameras or going to external recorders while still going auto. And, for music, autogain crushes dynamics. OK for heavy metal; not ok for natural instruments of any kind.

If you set your audio levels manually the limiter is your friend, there for those rare cases (if you set the levels correctly) where there is a very loud temporary sound. It prevents digital hash, one of the ugliest sounds on earth.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 11:20 AM   #11
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Mark, as the youtube video pointed out the limiter is a gotcha with this camera and is not exactly the same as others. I know this because it is the first camera in which auto gain has been problematic for me. I have used auto gain since the PD150 and it normally works perfectly for my applications. On the Canon XA10 and XA20 it was probably the best I've ever seen, really smooth and effective.

It is also unusual that in manual mode the limiter will still kick in unless you first go down to near zero and then come back up.

This phenomenon has ruined audio for several weddings of mine. Running up to four cameras solo this is a disappointment but I will work with it.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 12:13 PM   #12
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
Mark, as the youtube video pointed out the limiter is a gotcha with this camera and is not exactly the same as others. I know this because it is the first camera in which auto gain has been problematic for me. I have used auto gain since the PD150 and it normally works perfectly for my applications. On the Canon XA10 and XA20 it was probably the best I've ever seen, really smooth and effective.

It is also unusual that in manual mode the limiter will still kick in unless you first go down to near zero and then come back up.

This phenomenon has ruined audio for several weddings of mine. Running up to four cameras solo this is a disappointment but I will work with it.
I simply do not believe that autogain is any different on any camera - it is designed to lift volume when sounds are soft and so will amplify background noise when there are long pauses in speaking (note that it does not for short pauses). What is clear from the video is that the Sony preamps are reasonably quiet, so any noise is coming from autogain amping up the ambient sounds. That is good news. Again, there is nothing weird about the autogain behavior.

The limiter behavior is logical, and was due to setting the level too high so that the limiter was in effect. Setting manual levels from below as you say - ie setting levels correctly - is the fix, and clearly not a burden. I am also not convinced that the behavior of the limiter is any different on the Sony then on any other camera with a limiter in play. For some professional recorders you can adjust the autogain (slow fast) and the limiter (soft, hard). And it is possible that the parameters are different across cameras. But in autogain they will all (eventually) pump up ambient noise when there is silence.

The only thing that is "weird" is the audio produced (in some circumstances) when autogain is used or levels are set so high that the limiter is constantly working.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 02:13 PM   #13
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I'm with you Jeff. I have always had good results from all my cameras using AGC. I have never had any of them do what I saw in that video, with the voice being very loud until the AG brings it down, something is not right about that.

I have two Yamaha recorders that I use on the groom and pastor, different models, one does AGC very well, doesn't lift during quiet moments, while the other does, I have to set it manually. Has to be in the design of the units.

I'll admit I know very little about audio but have been satisfied with all the camera's (using AGC) in the past capturing casual voices needed for my wedding productions.
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Old October 22nd, 2014, 05:01 PM   #14
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

Yes Tim, I find autogain on recorders much more problematic than with my cameras. My Sony wireless and all onboard mics perform flawlessly with cameras, etc., but my zoom h1 and Toshiba recorders are really not good in auto.

Mark, I cannot debate the differences in auto gains between cameras, I only know the results I'm getting are not what I'm accustomed to. I had horrible overblown audio from a wedding with a CX900 (which I no longer have) using a Sennheiser mic and I never figured out what was wrong. Now I know.

Without an external mic it's fine, but with an external you must go to manual, drop gain to 0 and then go up to where you want to be to deactivate the limiter or it can ruin things even in manual.
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Old October 27th, 2014, 07:56 PM   #15
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Re: Help and advice needed on another camera purchase.

I can report that the x70 does not have the weird AGC like the AX. Just did some simple test with internal mic and external and both were very good with no added levels during quiet segments.
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