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Old September 30th, 2015, 04:59 PM   #1
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Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

Hello,

I'm an opera singer and am looking for the right camera (~$1500) to record concerts and operas that I'm in (set up and run for an hour or two), as well as recording audition videos (set up and record takes). I'd love a camera that's versatile enough to also handle artsy "about the performers" footage and occasional abstract footage (nature, city streets, etc.) that I might someday project along with my performances. My audio setup is already quite good.

After reading hundreds of threads here and elsewhere, I've gathered that my requirements are zoom capability (is 12x enough? 20x probably better) and good low light performance. 4K sounds useful for panning/cropping in postproduction but not essential.

Looking at dozens of clips of sample footage, it seems that the GH4 is the only such camera that has really beautiful color range, but I fear its complexity (and price) would distract from my performance. That leaves the AX-100 and GH30, which both appear to have much less rich colors. It seems perhaps the GH30 has better color (?) and the AX-100 is a bit oversharpened, but the 4K might be an advantage. (Or not...huge files, and I'd only be editing on a MBP 2012 2.7 GHz w 16 GB RAM.)

Are there cameras/setups I am missing, or other requirements I should consider? My first recording is October 9-10, so I need to be narrowing this down pretty quickly.

Thank you so much for your help,

Ben
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Old September 30th, 2015, 05:16 PM   #2
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

For long continuous recording and ease of use the ax100 is a good camera, you don't need to shoot 4K with it, you can choose 1080p as well.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 10:18 AM   #3
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

If you are not a videographer and don't intend to become a videographer, I'd buy a consumer-class video camera in the $300-$500 range. I don't have specific recommendations, but anything highly rated on Amazon should do the trick. Forgive me if I've oversimplified your question, or underestimated your abilities.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 10:50 AM   #4
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

Thanks for the replies!

I'm actually interested in video technology and would like to get much more into it and do some projects at a decent level. If I weren't the one performing in many of these cases (and if it weren't for the time limit), I would almost certainly go for a lower-end DSLR.

But the other reason I went for such an expensive camera is that I understood that the low-light performance of a $500 camera, especially zoomed in, wouldn't be nearly good enough for my uses. Is that true?

Ben
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Old October 1st, 2015, 03:39 PM   #5
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

The AX100 would work fine for you as it will be set, I am sure for a full stage view, set AE shift to -0.2 or -0.5, set focus with spot focus on a subject on stage and it will manage the exposure just fine all by itself. With a large battery and big SD card it would run for over 5 hours.

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Old October 1st, 2015, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

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Originally Posted by Ben Kazez View Post
I understood that the low-light performance of a $500 camera, especially zoomed in, wouldn't be nearly good enough for my uses. Is that true?
If you are referring to handicams then yes, the cheap models are less good in low light. the ax100 however is also not a very good low light performer, it produces quite some noise at high iso levels but if you don't plan to shoot at candlelit locations it will handle most situations without a problem.

About recording time limitation on dslr's, panasonic just has announced the gh4r which records continuously but I don't consider that a set and forget kind of camera, it needs an operator at all times to get the best from it.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 04:32 PM   #7
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post

About recording time limitation on dslr's, panasonic just has announced the gh4r which records continuously but I don't consider that a set and forget kind of camera, it needs an operator at all times to get the best from it.
The GH4r is for European Countries where the recording limit is in place. Ben's American location means the standard GH4 is already set for unlimited recording. However like you I don't recommend it in this instance. Don't get me wrong I plan to buy some GH4r's for precisely such unmanned use in the way I currently use my hacked GH2's, but this is my personal choice as an experienced Videographer.

I agree that the AX100 would be more than suitable; great image and has been used by those new to video very successfully before. 4K comes in very handy if your computer can handle the files, especially if its your only camera recording.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 04:34 PM   #8
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

I have a Canon G20 and the low light is decent enough for most things. It wouldn't be good for a wedding reception, but for most performances the G20 or G30 should be fine.

If you want 4K then the AX100 or one of the Panasonic consumer camcorders would probably work well. Keep in mind, neither of these have XLR inputs so if you want to record audio then you'll want to go with at least a Canon AX10 because it has XLR inputs and falls within your price range. If you don't need to record audio (except from the internal mic) then don't worry about XLR inputs.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
if you want to record audio then you'll want to go with at least a Canon AX10 because it has XLR inputs and falls within your price range. If you don't need to record audio (except from the internal mic) then don't worry about XLR inputs.
You only need XLR inputs if you have long cable runs. The little jack socket on the AX100 is fine for a Sennheiser G3 wireless receiver or any other mic with a jack plug e.g. Rode VideoMic.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 05:05 PM   #10
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

Thanks for all these helpful replies! I'm recording audio to a Zoom H5 so I will not need XLRs on the camera itself. From what I read it sounds like it might be easiest to record the entire session on Zoom and the camera in one take, sync it all, and even break it up for editing. Does that sound right?

I feel like 4K might be overkill except for the benefit of being able to crop just right in post. Especially since the camera will be unmanned, that seems very helpful.

If folks still think the AX100 is overkill, should I be looking one step down at something like AX33? Will that be worse in concert settings and other low light situations?

Ben
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Old October 1st, 2015, 05:09 PM   #11
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

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Originally Posted by Ben Kazez View Post
If folks still think the AX100 is overkill, should I be looking one step down at something like AX33? Will that be worse in concert settings and other low light situations?
The AX33 is OK-ish for a small sensor consumer camcorder but don't buy it if you are ever going to compare the 4K footage side by side with the AX100 footage as that is so clearly better. The ergonomics of the AX100 are better too. I originally bought an AX33 then got an AX100 & sent the AX33 back to Amazon for a refund after comparing the two cameras side by side.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 06:18 PM   #12
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

If you're needing "set and forget", forget about the still/dual capability cameras - most have clip length limits, and are better for supervised use (batteries for one can run out...). My RX10's are great cameras, use similar "guts" to the AX100, and produce good results... but I wouldn't ever consider them "set and forget" as you hit the 29:50 clip length and or a depleted battery in a longer shoot - someone has to hit record again, and change batteries!

An AX100 with a big card and battery can be set on a reasonably sturdy tripod, pointed and framed, hit record, come back when you're done. With a little manual tweaking up front, you'll get good results! You don't HAVE to shoot 4K, but for pan/crop in post it is handy. I haven't used the 1080p in my AX100, but it's probably quite good, judging from what my RX10 generates. Computer upgrades may or may not be needed, newer machines are handling 4K decently, but you should budget for it if you want to shoot the highest quality CODEC/bitrates the camera can produce (again you "could" use lower settings...).

Low light is a relative thing - no matter what camera you use, it will handle "low" light with varying degrees of quality. Cheaper cams with smaller sensors will typically degrade far quicker, and "worser" than higher end cams... The AX100 is no worse and probably a little better than most recent "top of the consumer line" cameras - particularly if you tweak with the manual settings and set shutter speeds low if needed.

I'd echo Nigel on the AX33... tried and found a small chip 4K camera just doesn't cut it next to the larger sensor cameras. Definitely worse in "low light", and looked like 2.5/3K when put next to the AX100...

Record "dual audio" with your Zoom, sync up the video and audio in post, cut and edit as needed. Camera audio is probably fine if you're using this to record rehearsals and such for review.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 06:28 PM   #13
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

Forgot to suggest that if you wanted to save some, Sony (Canon and Panasonic too) produced some decent "top of the consumer line" cameras (HD obviously) that might do the trick if you're just kicking tires.

Used HD cameras are out there for decent prices, look for a model # starting with CX or PJ prefix, and the number 7 if you're looking at Sony (i.e. CX760 or PJ760, or similar).
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Old October 1st, 2015, 06:42 PM   #14
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

I have an AX100 and an AX33, the AX33 I dislike intensely, lower quality not as user friendly the only advantage over the AX100 is the stabilisation is better. The AX100 is so easy to use I wish I had bought two instead of the AX33
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 02:02 AM   #15
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Re: Good "set and forget" recital / opera camera

I don't recall the name anymore but does sony not have a new camera in the 1500 dollar range that has 3 rings on the lens and a 1 inch sensor but shoot in HD only? I saw a topic about it a few weeks back here and was surprised there was not more talk about it since the camera would be released this year, anyone know the name?
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