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


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Old April 29th, 2015, 11:23 PM   #1
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Getting Back into the game...need advice

I'll try to make it short as possible...thanks in advance.

I have worked in wedding videography in the past and I'm looking to get back into it. Along with weddings, I'm also going to be doing sports work as well. (filming games and providing season highlights DVDs and editing recruiting videos). My equipment is outdated. I was shooting with Panasonic DVX100 (it was the IT camera when I first purchased..lol).

I would like some feedback on what I should be looking at. I know DSLRs are all the rage but I don't think one would be in my best interest for all the other work besides weddings. My budget is somewhere in the 3k range for a camera. I know this is vague but just looking for some guidance. I've enjoyed reading here for a while. Thanks
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Old April 29th, 2015, 11:33 PM   #2
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Hi Michael

The first time I came on here the advice was "run. run as fast as you can" I ignored it of course!!

Now this is just my POV but for me after 23 years on Panasonic they went downhill after the HMC150 ...I'm not sure why but my feelings about the AC series is not good. I bought (as a dedicated Panny user) two new AC-130's and the bottom line was I sold them in disgust 3 months later at a loss so I wouldn't look at them I have an idea that after the Tsunami in Japan they were made in China as quality took a huge hit!!

I liked the DSLR quality but hated the form factor and crappy audio (no XLR's) so I went to Sony EA-50's which have a bit of both video camera and DSLR and I love them. All I can suggest to look at everything and see if you can maybe rent a few selected cameras that take your fancy within your price range. It's a personal thing ..sorta like buying a car ... they are all good but we all have our personal favourites!!

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Old April 30th, 2015, 01:09 AM   #3
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Hi Michael, first thought -- save your money, use the DVX! As long as you have a light to get you through the reception, and are happy to work with tape, there's nothing wrong with that camera.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 01:55 AM   #4
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Hey Adrian

Depends on the head hours .. unlike card cameras DV tape camera head do wear and I doubt whether Panny would have spares now ... plus there is wear and tear on the capstan and the rubbers go hard after a while ... cards makes weddings a lot cheaper too .. I used to go thru 4 tapes at a wedding at $8.00 a pop ... in 6 months you have used up nearly 100 tapes and spent $800 ..probably more now!! I toss out 4 cards every 6 months only so it's a big saving on media. Then you can only transfer tape in real time so that also means more hours for editing to cost in ... a 60 minute tape takes 60 minutes to capture .. an hour of video on card takes only minutes to download.

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Old April 30th, 2015, 02:44 AM   #5
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

You cant film a wedding on one camera so you need 2 perhaps three, get two canon hfg 25s and a hfm 56/506 and your good to go.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 02:50 AM   #6
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

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Hi Michael, first thought -- save your money, use the DVX
I have had a dvx100 and how wonderful it has been when it was introduced it is not a camera you would be using today as it's image is quite outdated compared to what camera's are able to deliver today. If you charge very low prices you might get away with shooting and delivering on dvd only but I would rather shoot an entire wedding with my sony cx730 handicam instead of a 4:3 SD camera and it will still look better on a big led screen. Also not sure if clients will accept a dvx100 image these days.

I think Michael will be most happy with a similar formfactor camera, maybe stretch his budget a bit and get the newly announced dvx100 successor?: New Camera: Panasonic AG-DVX200
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Old April 30th, 2015, 05:53 AM   #7
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

I've been in your shoes . . . filmed high school football and events/weddings.
The problem is they are 2 totally different camera needs (in my opinion).

Sports require Lanc, long zoom, no need for xlr.
Weddings require low light sensitivity.

I have a Panny AC160a for sports and stage performances; Sony EA50 for weddings, events, interviews.
I pair both with a Canon G30 and a D70.
These days it's hard to find a lanc equipped camera for under $2k.

My advice with your budget is a camera like the Canon G30. You could get 2 for $2500.
It's not ideal (lame exposure controls compared to an iris ring, no XLR) but it's definitely do-able.
Beware of going the tempting route of the new 4k cameras . . . you may end up spending a lot in post hardware.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 06:09 AM   #8
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

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Beware of going the tempting route of the new 4k cameras . . . you may end up spending a lot in post hardware.
They also all shoot 1080p so you don't have to shoot 4K, but if you would have a project that required 4K you at least have the choice.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 09:28 AM   #9
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Frankly, I would keep shooting with the DVX100. Take it out, test it and make sure it's still in good working order, that you're not getting any kind of image issues with the tape heads or anything. Probably a good idea to go ahead and clean the tape drive mechanism if you haven't used it in a while. You might even want to have it professionally serviced (just a cleaning and inspection) if it's a reasonable cost.

Then book yourself a few gigs and get back into the swing of shooting with it. Decide what you like and what you think could be improved. Do you like the fixed lens? Would you prefer a lens mountable body instead? Would you like better low-light performance? What about workflow? Pick your gigs and be upfront that it's SD of course (but people still seem to deliver a lot of DVDs for this type of shooting), but I would do some cheaper gigs first and decide what would be the best investment in gear going forward instead of doing it all upfront.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 09:48 AM   #10
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

I purchased a Sony AX100 for our "live event" coverage gigs to complement two C100s. It produces quite a nice picture both in 1080P and 4K. It's not great in low light, but I would think it's on-par with anything else out there in a similar fixed-lens price bracket. I'm happy with it and the autofocus works well for moving subjects.

I'm drooling a bit over the DVX200 as well, contrary to what others may think of it... Otherwise, what about a nice used EX1R or something?
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Old April 30th, 2015, 01:02 PM   #11
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

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Hi Michael, first thought -- save your money, use the DVX! As long as you have a light to get you through the reception, and are happy to work with tape, there's nothing wrong with that camera.
I respectfully disagree, Adrian. Michael specified that his equipment was outdated (which it is) and asked for recommendations on something newer.

SD? He can't post web samples in SD. Well he could, but it would be embarrasing, IMO. Plus, let's keep in mind that the DVX was never a good lowlight performer to begin with, so what do you do for ceremonies? Standards have changed, customer expectations have evolved with the newer cams and people expect somewhat more than they did in 2002, and Michael seems to understand that.

Personally I cannot make a sound recommendation, I'm not up with the newest. I have a preference for Sony so I would probably begin looking at the Sony CX900, the AX100, or the Sony PXW-X70. Very nice images if you can live with slow auto focus.

Nate's suggestion for a used EX1R is excellent, if you can get one at a great price.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 03:41 PM   #12
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

+1 for Nates suggestion of a used EX1/r. Excellent camera, you wont go far wrong with one of these. The video on the opening page of my website was shot with an EX1, it was in one of the darkest churches I have ever worked in, the EX1 coped with ease. It has been said on this thead, and in many others that you cant shoot a wedding with only one camera, I would take that with a pinch of salt. Since 1982 I have shot over 1000 weddings, the vast majority of these were shot on one camera. With forward planning, and lots of infill shots, it works.The only reason I ever used to take a second camera with me, was for backup. I hasten to add that I have done many two and three camera shoots in recent years. But still shoot with one, when I can get away with it.
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Old April 30th, 2015, 05:44 PM   #13
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Wow, single camera operators still exists. I kinda thought and dare I say hoped such Videographers were extinct in this century. The 1980's and 90's are far behind us. Filming single camera is just so archaic. Oh look, lets cut to a shot of flowers cos the Videographer is changing position.
I've alas had the misfortune to edit single camera Wedding footage not too many years ago. It was frustrating. Speeches without jump cuts, but relying on slow pans across the audience back to the Best Man you desperately wanted to see when he uttered that funny line 20 seconds ago. No quick reaction shots from the couple. I also noted the Videographer moved about a bit during the Ceremony, no doubt compensating for a lack of other cameras and does explain the endless lectures from Vicars on how I must not move during the service like the last Videographer did. "Did he by any chance film with just the one camera?" "yes he did"; at which point I reassure him or her that they can expect differently from me.

No one denies you can't film with one camera, hell I can film with a Smartphone if the need arised and still make it look better than Uncle Joe's work. But really, there are so many situations where multi camera has raised the quality of the final video, or 'modern looking' as so many of my clients have chosen to describe my videos. Plus let me add, when 4K is seeing a rise, no one should be filming SD even if you're delivering a DVD. I get couples asking if I film HD and my reply is always, no Professional Videographer out there is filming SD at the moment. If 4K makes HD look good, HD makes SD look good. My SD work 10 years ago looks exactly as it is - a product of its time. My recommendation - make good use of that 3K budget and upgrade.
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Old May 1st, 2015, 12:13 AM   #14
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

Hey Michael, I guess what I'd want to add is that better cameras are always around the corner, and prices are always dropping on existing cameras. The longer you can hold off before buying anything, the better deal you'll get.

If you want to treat a possible purchase as a pure business asset, then put aside the thrill of upgrading to a new camera, and ask yourself whether you can make do with what you have and whether a new purchase will actually generate any money. I think broadcasters generally think like this -- they won't upgrade till they absolutely have to, and then, when they do, instead of setting an arbitrary budget and looking for the camera that provides most bang for buck, they might look for the cheapest camera that satisfies their requirements.

Another consideration: if you already have a DVX, and want to buy another camera, think about getting a camera that will match your DVX, so that you can shoot with both at the same time.

There's no right or wrong about when to buy. And what no one, including me, who's responding to your question knows is what your particular requirements are. Do you want to shoot documentary or cinematic? Are your couples happy with SD? Would you really lose business if you didn't shoot HD? How dark are the venues that you're shooting in? Are you structuring your packages by number of cameras you bring? Do you include absolutely everything (for instance, all of a priest's homily during a ceremony), or do you have the discretion to truncate that to grab cutaways during that time?

For what it's worth, there are people out there that love the DVX100 still! I remember reading an article in American Cinematographer last year where someone (I forget who) shot their feature on a DVX, because they loved the image out of it. They said something like they want to keep shooting on it till it falls apart and there are no replacement parts available. At the end of the day, image quality is a subjective thing...
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Old May 1st, 2015, 03:15 AM   #15
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Re: Getting Back into the game...need advice

I think important to know is what "getting into the game" actually means for Michael, if he intends to shoot weddings and be competitive I strongly would advice not to continue to use his dvx100. This is not a matter of that there always are better camera's around the corner, wedding clients do see the difference today between HD and SD and a 4:3 SD camera like the dvx100 where the image has been letterboxed to 16:9 looks quite bad in comparison with any HD camera you buy today. Some months back I had cleaned up my office and came across some 10 year old weddingdvds done with my vx2100 and dvx100 and I looked at a few on my big led screen again, the resolution difference has become so obvious. Also consider that a dvx, just like a vx2100 shoots in 4:3 and looses quite some resolution if you deliver in 16:9 and that resolution hit can become unacceptable for todays wedding clients, only because it is so obvious, even when you share a video online.

There are ofcourse still people that shoot with sd camera's as in my country I still find a few that have 4:3 demo's on their website, and there are still people that don't see the difference between 4:3 and 16:9 or there are people that watch 4:3 programs stretched to 16:9 on their tv and they can't tell the difference. I also see 4:3 videos of sportscoverage like soccergames on youtube and then a dvx100 can look fine, so for some markets a SD camera will still be good to use.

However, if you want to survive in a highly competitive market you need to have at least a HD camera, even if it's only one. I have filmed several years with only one camera when I started out. During that time I didn't much think about it but many people asked me what I would do if my camera would malfunction. Now fast forward to today I think that I took quite a big risk and was lucky I survived it, I would not go to a wedding today with one camera only, I couldn't imagine having to go to the bride and say "sorry, my camera refuses to start up anymore and I have to go home now". But I know several shooters that carry just one camera, I currently feel it's not worth the risk.

Having a backup camera doesn't have to be a expensive upgrade, there are several camera's below 1K that are perfectly fine to shoot weddings with.
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