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


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Old May 24th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #1
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Comparing cameras VX2100 - PD170

I have been reading through the posts on which camera to use for weddings. I am thinking of selling my GL2 and getting either a VX2100 or PD170. I would rather get the VX2100 for now due to its lower price. What do folks think of using the VX2100 for a primary camera at weddings. Are the advantages that much more on the PD170? Also, the black and white viewfinder scares me a little. What are your thoughts on this?
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Old May 24th, 2006, 10:06 AM   #2
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I don't use the the PD170 Janice but I believe the "innards" are similar to the VX2100 which I do use. the extra features on the PD170 though (built in XLR, native 16:9) and a rebate (I think) make it competitive with the VX. Not sure which viewfinder you're referring to as B&W but the VX is color.

Something you might consider though, if you're liquidating the SD canon, perhaps now is the time to make the plunge to HD, maybe even the FX1 which is a bit more. You can still use it for stunning SD and be ready for HD as it continues to gain popularity.

Now I still shoot in SD - I've got too much invested to get out right now but if you're starting from zero you owe it to yourself to look at this first. AND if you've already done that then so be it.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 10:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janice DeMille
I have been reading through the posts on which camera to use for weddings. I am thinking of selling my GL2 and getting either a VX2100 or PD170. I would rather get the VX2100 for now due to its lower price. What do folks think of using the VX2100 for a primary camera at weddings. Are the advantages that much more on the PD170? Also, the black and white viewfinder scares me a little. What are your thoughts on this?
VX and PD are workhorses in the wedding industry. They are particularly known for the their low light/ available light capability, and will certainly out perform the GL2 in that area. I have the VX2000, but I understand the Vx2100 does have a few minor changes. The camera provides trouble free operation, is built very solid.

On the downside, if 16:9 is your format, while there is a 16:9 mode, the Sony in camera process appears to me to cause a loss of resolution. I have shot most of my letter box material in regular 4:3 and add bars at top and bottom in camera with an overlay that I port in using memory mix. Then if I want the project to go to an actual 16:9 timeline, I can stretch that video in post in editing.

The PDs have the benefit of having built in XLR adapters. I just use an XLR adapter on my VX2000 to resolve that. There are a few other advantages that did not make a difference to me when I bought mine. The video quality is the same, as far as I can tell, though you may have a bit more control witht he PD series. The B&W viewfinder is in deference to pros who feel that critical focusing is better accomplished on a higher def b&w screen.

I do echo Rick's suggestion that you consider the FX1. It is a bit more outlay, but you get true 16:9, in HDV, and you can also shoot in 16:9 DV, or in 4:3 DV. You don't necessarily have to be ready for HDV on the computer editing side, though you will want to fool with it once you get it. There is additional outlay for editing HDV, either in computer upgrading, or software or both to handle the process. In the meantime, though, you could begin shooting all of your material in HDV, but down convert it right out of the camera and edit it in regular DV. Under that circumstance you will be in 16:9, as that is all HDV will shoot in. You can also, as I said, shoot in 4:3 DV mode.

The FX1 has great controls, and offers presets for various conditions. It is a bit less light sensitive than the VX/PD cameras, but that is the only concession I see in moving up to the FX1.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 11:48 AM   #4
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Another factor which you might not think of... the PD-170 and HVR-Z1 come from Sony's professional division. Support and service is handled completely differently there and users are generally very happy with the response and speed. But the VX-2100 and HDR-FX1 come from Sony's consumer division where it might take longer to resolve an issue or have warranty work done.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 12:02 PM   #5
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Hvr-z1

Thanks for all the info. I hadn't heard of the HVR-Z1, does anyone have any experience with this camera and weddings? I am not sure I can invest that much but I do want to get as much information as possible.

Those of you using the VX2100 for weddings, is this your primary camera?
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Old May 24th, 2006, 12:22 PM   #6
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The Z1 is the pro version of the FX1 (as the PD-170 is to the VX-2100). It has a number of nice upgrades, like the ability to shoot PAL and NTSC. See Chris' comparison chart here: http://hdvinfo.net/articles/sonyhdrfx1/compare.php

One of the topics which frequently comes up with using the Z1 or FX1 for weddings is the low light response. See the following for more info: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=54414

The following collection of threads may also be of interest since they discuss the PD-170 vs Z1/FX1: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=50112
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Old May 24th, 2006, 12:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janice DeMille
Thanks for all the info. I hadn't heard of the HVR-Z1, does anyone have any experience with this camera and weddings? I am not sure I can invest that much but I do want to get as much information as possible.

Those of you using the VX2100 for weddings, is this your primary camera?
To be frank, while I don't consider myself a professional wedding videographer at this point, I know enough to know that the camera is not what makes a good wedding videographer. It helps to have low light capability of your candid shooting, but looking at the reels of the good videographers, you can see that exposure, framing, technique and editing is what makes the standouts standout. I see the trend going from static and shoulder placement to flying cameras with stabilizers and the use of a lot of slow motion. This is what seems to be making the impact in the better reels I have seen and envied. I think these techniques are obtainable with work and practice with most any camera you choose.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 01:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janice DeMille
Those of you using the VX2100 for weddings, is this your primary camera?
Yes. As already pointed out its performance in low light conditions (like receptions) is why it's popular for this type of event. That's not to say that it will "see in the dark". You'll still need a light source.

And Chris is right. It's not necessarily the brush or canvas that makes for fine art.

But I do need to ask... Why are you getting rid of the GL2? Lots of wedding videographers use them. While it's not as good in the lux rating I'm told it delivers a cleaner and more robust image in bright conditions than the VX does. (Can't speak firsthand though).
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Old May 24th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rick Steele
the extra features on the PD170 though (built in XLR, native 16:9)
Just a quick correction, the PD170 isn't native 16:9, its 4:3 just like the VX2100. If you want 16:9 then look towards the FX1 and Z1. Personally I have a PD170 and it works great for what I do (4:3 SD). Until HD is easier to distribute I'll be sticking with my PD170!
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Old May 24th, 2006, 04:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Ludwig
the PD170 isn't native 16:9, its 4:3 just like the VX2100. If you want 16:9 then look towards the FX1 and Z1. Personally I have a PD170 and it works great for what I do (4:3 SD). Until HD is easier to distribute I'll be sticking with my PD170!
If Janice is thinking of buying a new camera, I think it would be wise to at least buy a native 16:9 camera, given the speed at which widescreen and plasma screens are increasing in popularity. Why invest in a 1950's format 4:3 colour camera?

It will be later this year that full HD will be generally available (BluRay and HD-DVD), so it would seem wise to buy an HDV camera (as people will start demanding their precious wedding videos be recorded in HD), unless Janice only intends keepng the camera a few months.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 05:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Ludwig
Just a quick correction, the PD170 isn't native 16:9, its 4:3 just like the VX2100.
Duely noted - did not know that. Thanks Matt.

Quote:
If Janice is thinking of buying a new camera, I think it would be wise to at least buy a native 16:9 camera,
Yes but again, if I were starting from scratch, I'd try to get my foot into the HD door as well and just down-rez it until such time as playback mediums become more common.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 07:23 PM   #12
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Wow, so much to think about. I believe I will keep the GL2 and get a VX2100 as my backup. Then in low light conditions I will use the VX2100 as my primary. I have read about so many wedding videographers selling their GL2s in favor of the sonys that I was ready to join them. I do love the picture from the GL2 in good lighting conditions. Hopefully as the HD becomes available the prices will get better.

thanks all for you input.
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