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


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Old December 3rd, 2006, 04:38 PM   #1
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Any Expert Opinions?

Okay, I have decided to come out of retirement (being home with wife all the time is driving me nuts) and I want to make the jump into weddings, events, etc. and am looking for some expert opinions to help me make some informed buying decisions.

Here's my thinking up to this point.

First off, I think I am going to set a budget limit of about $5K - camera(s) and audio recording. I have been looking very hard at the Panasonic line as the pricing should allow for at least 2 cameras right off the bat and still leave plenty for audio recording and maybe even editing software upgrade.

From a budget point of view, I am looking at something like the AG-DVC7 or the AG-DVC20. I am leaning towards Panasonic because I feel more comfortable with the idea of a shoulder mount vs. hand held as the primary camera. I also like the idea that it offers EIS (electronic image stablization). I am concerned with the AG-DVC20 being only a 1/6" 3-CCD whereas the other cameras are 1/4" 3-CCD. Actually, I have no clue what 1/6" and 1/4" 3-CCD means (the joys of being a newbie and trying to learn all of this).

I can find nothing about either of these units have XLR capability - either built in or as an add-on. From what I have learned so far is that having XLR capability is pretty much a given. Since I am so new at this, I still do not have a full understanding of how to determine a units low-light capabilty so I do not have any ideas as to what these 2 units are capable of. Good low-light is an important consideration.

If the Panasonic's can produce good quality video, then I would be better of with 2 lesser expensive cameras. If the DVC7 and/or the DVC20 aren't a good choice and would allow me to get 2 cameras within my projected budget, then I am considering AG-DVC60 with its 16x lens and it DOES have the XLR connectors as well the carbon fiber alloy body which should hold up better than plastic used on the Canon and Sony.

From everything I have read so far, it seems that the Sony DCR-VX2100 and the Canon XL2/GL2 are the top choices for various reasons. However, with their prices, it would only allow me the option of 1 camera with my budget.

So, I guess what I am looking for are some input regarding my thinking process so far. Is going 2 lesser expensive camera's a better move (keeping in mind that I am just getting started into this) than just a single more expensive one? Are the Panasonic camera's a good buy or are they "You get what you pay for"?

Next, what would be recommend for a good entry level wireless mic setup? I think I would prefer to be able to mic up the groom and the clergy when doing weddings.

What is recommend for outdoor functions such as football or indoor for say basketball? Please keep in mind that I also plan to continue to shoot outdoor video of radio controlled airplanes and am hoping that whatever mic system ya'll suggest can be used for this as well.

Thanks for your patience with me and taking the time to try to figure out logic so that I can make a decent choice when it's time to buy a camera.


Vance Van Patten
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 06:06 PM   #2
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The DV7 and DVC20 would leave you wanting much more. The DVC60 is within $500 of the VX2100 at B&H http://tinyurl.com/yyjlmo that has a package deal of a wide angle adapter, XLR Adapter, extra battery, carrying case, etc. In addition, the Sony VX2100 is a vastly superior camera when compared to the Panasonics you have mentioned. You would be better off to stretch your budget now than to regret your purchase, and it's limitations, later.
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 08:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Chandler
The DV7 and DVC20 would leave you wanting much more. The DVC60 is within $500 of the VX2100 at B&H http://tinyurl.com/yyjlmo that has a package deal of a wide angle adapter, XLR Adapter, extra battery, carrying case, etc. In addition, the Sony VX2100 is a vastly superior camera when compared to the Panasonics you have mentioned. You would be better off to stretch your budget now than to regret your purchase, and it's limitations, later.

I concur. Get the VXs over the Canon and the Pannys. At that price range, you can't get a better camera. Get some Rode VideoMics to go with them and your will be all set.
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 08:54 PM   #4
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If you are going with panasonic I think you need atleast the DVX100B. It would be far better to get a low mileage DVX100A or B than the units you have mentioned. Don't short yourself in the camera. There is no way you can make up the quality by good tecnique. You can pick up a good lightly used DVX100A for about 2K at dvxuser.com personals.

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Old December 3rd, 2006, 11:48 PM   #5
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If you are getting two cameras, your second camera can be used. A VX is less than $1500 these days on this forum's classified section. All of the VX/PD cameras are very similar in image, so don't worry about mixing them. All cameras are a bit different, but the VX/PD cams are all close enough for minor color correction to fix any problems.

DON'T SKIMP on the wireless microphone. Get something like the $500 Sennheiser and an iriver as backup and you will be fine. Audio is absolutely critical! You can not get a discount wireless system for doing weddings professionally. I started with a cheap system and it is still haunting me. I have never regretted spending $1200 on a Lectrosonics. I don't miss the uncertainty one bit.

If you are not going HD, you might as well get something as good as the VX/PD cams, the DVX100 series, or the Canon XL2 (not the XL1 that has horrible low-light problems). I think the great low-light of the VX/PD Sony line makes them the best cameras overall for weddings. The other cameras have a better image in stronger light, so they are also a good choice.

You really don't need more than two cameras if you have good camera operators that know that one of them must always be getting a good shot. A signal for one to hold still while the other repositions is all you really need if you work together smoothly.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Boswell
Get some Rode VideoMics to go with them and your will be all set.
Now what would he do with a couple of RODES at a wedding?

You guys and your shotgun mics.... other than maybe cake cutting, what can you possibly use one of these for much less two of them? Especially a RODE VideoMic - the shockmount is for crap and it'll pick up the sound of a fly scratching his ears while perched on your cam (but nothing else greater than 10 feet away).

Forget using them as a backup because you won't get anything. Same goes one for ambient sound.

I would suggest taking the $300 and apply it toward a real wireless setup or just buying 4 iRivers if they can still be had.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #7
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One good camera would work better than two sub-par cameras. People used to do one camera shoots all the time back in the day. Seems like no one can do it now but it's still possible to put together a great video with just one good camera. So I wouldn't hesitate to spend the camera portion of the budget on one great camera rather than two of the lesser models. A PD-150 or PD-170 is actually what I would recommend. It has a tough camera body if that's a concern.

Audio: At least $500 for a wireless system. It's money well spent. Iriver as a second unit if you can't afford two wireless. A shotgun mic is a must and not for ambient noise or as a backup during the ceremony. It's used to capture clear dialogue between the couple and all the other people you point the camera at before and after the ceremony. An AT-897 with a shockmount will be another item worth the money.

Tripod: A set of sticks with a Bogen 501 head. And legs will do, it's personal preference for which set you pick.

On camera lighting: Anything with a diffuser. The lighting will make the shots look great, the diffusion will make them bearable for those being video'd. You're going to hit a time when you go someplace that's so dark it doesn't matter what camera you have, you'll need a light.

That's probably the basics of getting going. But remember, the gear is only half the equation. You have to have the skill to use it. So study up and see what you can do.

Ben
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #8
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Rick and Ben are 100% right especially about the shotgun mics. They are good for a few feet away and not much else. They are made to be right off the talent so for the ceremony a shotgun has no value. Get a decent wireless system for the groom (2 are better but only if you have a 2nd camera to run it to) but at least 1 and some sort of secondary audio such as Iriver or M-Trak. BTW, the shotgun WILL pickup lots of ambient room noise but most of it you either don't want or don't need anway.

A dimmable light would be great but if not get something in the 25 to 35 watt range,use a softbox or some diffusion material (Tough Spun) to soften it up and a set of legs with a 501 or 503 head will get you going. Again, Ben is right. Just having the gear means nothing. Learn how to use it so it becomes second nature. If you're thinking about the camera settings you're not thinking about the shot. Never take a new piece of gear out on a paying job until you know it like the back of your hand.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Years ago we all used to do 1 camera shoots cause thats what we had and all we could afford-today everyone has 2 or 3 or more cameras and thats great BUT if you learn to shoot as if they're not working (or not there at all) you'll find that you're projects will actually flow smoother and cleaner. Slow pans (when needed) slow zooms (when needed) slow moves (whn needed) always keeping the subject in the VF (or LCD) instead of cutting back and forth can most often make for a better piece but thats just my opinion.

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Old December 4th, 2006, 07:04 PM   #9
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If you are bored with retirement, be advised you just stuck your toes into a very exciting pool. Already been there.

For low light performance, nothing beats the SONY 2000-2100-PD150-PD170. That's coming from an exclusive Canon user. There is a trade-off. Canon's default color rendition is more pleasing to me, but any 3-chip camera should allow RGB color adjustment (my 1987 Panasonic AG-3260 has that feature). Canon's PCM audio system puts SONY's to shame, (but that is no decision maker).

Electronic image stablization has value if it is appropriately used. Turn it off when locked onto a tripod. Don't expect miracles if you can't hand hold a camera to begin with.

The physical size of a CCD chip indicates, in a general way, how many light sensitive pixels it can contain. The more pixels, the more light sensitive. A bigger chip obviously holds more pixels. Then there is the camera's processing of the chips imagry (another story for another time). 3-Chip cameras dedicate color and luminance gathering to the primary colors of Red, Green, Blue. A 3 chip camera is far superior to a single chip camera because 1) the number of pixels has just increased three times, and 2) the primary colors are kept isolated from each other until the last possible moment. The result is significantly reduced bleed between colors, resulting in a sharper image. There is more to this story, but enough for now.

"XLR" (known in years past as "Canon" connectors), simply means a microphone, or low level, audio signal that preserves fidelity and can be sent hundreds of feet along a cable with no loss in either signal quality or level. Getting any deeper is, again, another story for another time. It is preferred, but not necessary. A stereo 1/4" or stereo mini-plug connection can be wired the same way. It all depends on how anal you want to get.

For a moment, think of "low-light" sensitivity in the same terms you would if you were choosing the right kind of film to put into your 1970 era 35mm camera. A professional photographer wouldn't think of using a film with an ISO speed above 64 if the goal was to get an extremely detailed quality image that could be reproduced poster size. Any higher ISO film speed meant an immediate trade-off of detail in favor of special effect. Time and technolgy significantly narrowed that quality difference in the film and the digital imaging world continues that trend.

However, never forget that a super-low light capability is always at the bottom of the scale of what a camera is capable of producing. Give your camera the right kind of light and you receive images to die for. In wedding video, the "right" kind of lighting is not only expensive, but usually beyond what a social event can tolerate. Hence the value of the low-light camera.

If you favor a "plastic" body camera, expect structural disappointments. Something will fail at the least appropriate moment. FYI, every Canon DV camera has a metal alloy frame at it's core. So do the SONY's mentioned. Can't speak for the other brands, as I don't know them.

Working with a single camera isn't necesarily a bad thing. It teaches you how to shoot creatively because you have no back up. Get it right the first time or...something unmentionable. Expand your inventory when you can afford to do so.

So far, you have been talking nuts and bolts. No mention of business practice (understandable to a degree) or production concept (sometimes more important).

Bottom line, you have a budget which, once defined, must be be your doctrine, and you must define a managable creative timeline. Add to that the following:
Master the tool. Then can you master the craft. I am still working on the first sentence.

PM me. Happy to share.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 07:38 PM   #10
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Just one "correction" to the previous posters statement concerning stabiliztion. The sony's don't have electonic stabilization, they have optical stabilizers which is far superior.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 09:34 PM   #11
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The Canons utilize an optical stabilizer. Not sure on the Pani side of things.

Ben
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