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


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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:43 PM   #1
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FX7 for weddings?

Are any of you guys out there using the FX7 for wedding work? If so, how does it compare with the VX2000(2100)/PD150(170)'s.
I know it wont be as good in low light situations, but is it good enough?

I've also been looking at the XHA1, but it is more expensive and well, that matters to me. Judging on image quality only, is the XHA1 worth the extra $$? I know it gives you more manual control over the image, has XLR's and has the option of 24p (24f if you like), but I'm just talking about overall image quality here. I don't really need 24p unless FCP6 can slow it down to 25% now without it looking like poo... stuttery jerky poo.

It's basically coming down to these 2 cameras and I'm having a hard time finding a head to head review talking about image quality alone.

If I went the unconventional route and got the FX7 would I be kicking myself for doing so or would I be laughing all the way to the bank with my extra $700?

I just can't make up my mind... and I'm rambling... so I should just end this here.

-Ethan Cooper
silver-media.net
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #2
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If your wireless system is good and it has 1/8" inputs, you aren't desperate for XLR inputs. That is a big consideration for most people, but saving money is also important. The image quality of both cameras is excellent, so you should get the one you like the most. They will both look great on a big screen, so instead choose on which camera "feels" best. You are the most important part of the equation, so get the camera you like. They are different sizes and slightly different in configuration, so try to get your hands on one. I have the V1 and it feels familiar as my previous camera was the VX2000. The V1 is a big improvement in almost every way, including ergonomics, over the VX2000 so it is even easier to use.

If you are worried about the low light capabilities, there are solutions. The obvious one is lighting. For weddings, an on-camera light is a no-brainer. You could also use a stand or have an assistant point a bright light at the ceiling to spread it out and avoid blinding people.

Another interesting idea is to use noise reduction software to get rid of high gain noise. Search for neatvideo.com and noise reduction on this forum and you will see a great recommendation. If their test video is any indication, the software should clean up low-light footage nicely. The good thing about the FX7 (and maybe the A1) is that there is good color in the image even with gain turned up high. If the speckled noise can be tamed, there is a good image underneath. The VX2000 really loses color with the gain turned up, so the FX7 has at least one advantage.

I have the V1, so I have another option that is not possible with the FX7. By shooting progressively, I can get 30fps at 1/30th shutter which adds another f-stop of brightness. Yes, there is increased motion blur, but I would rather have that than yellowed and faded color. You might want to look into the Canon A1's capabilities with slower shutter speed. One more f-stop of light could be important for a wedding reception.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 11:25 PM   #3
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Marcus,
Thanks for the reply. My wireless system does have 1/8" plugs so thats's why I'm not all that interested in XLR's.

Anyone else care to take a stab at this?
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Old June 8th, 2007, 06:39 AM   #4
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Hey Ethan,
I own a FX1 and FX7 and really wanted to get the XHA1. My assistant really loved the form factor of the vx2100 and wanted a camcorder similar to that which shot in widescreen. I got him the FX7 hoping by him having a cam that he liked, he start doing better and start getting a handle on filming. Well doing so, it has been a rocky ride for him. I'll say that he's not where I'd like him to be with experience right now. I do get frustrated a lot with the lowlight image compared to the FX1. The drop from my DVC80 to my fx1 was visible, but you get use to it. Then the FX7 lowlight is lower than the FX1 and we really need to get the venues to turn up the lights for clean video. Also the lowlight image of the FX7 is harder to color correct a lot of times compared to the FX1. I know you are asking for the difference between the FX7 and XHA1. I would recommend the XHA1 but you need time to understand the cam. I wish I did end up buying that instead of the FX7, but I have the FX7 and need to make the best out of it. Hope this helps

Monday
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Old June 8th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #5
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Monday,
Wow... does the FX7 suck that bad in low light? If this is the case, then what about the V1? Does it suffer from the same fate?
Anyone else out there have experience with this cam? (FX7)
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:18 PM   #6
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The FX7 and the V1 are the same camera. Same lens, chipblock and chassis.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #7
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Tom,
That's what I thought... it's pretty much the same thing as the VX200 and the PD150, same basic imaging block in both the V1 and FX7 but the V1 is more polished out and professional.
If that's the case, then is the FX7 that much worse than the FX1? I thought I'd heard that the V1 and the FX1 were comprable in low light, so the same should hold true for the FX7. I could be wrong since I've never used either.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #8
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IMHO, both the FX1 and FX7 need supplemental light. I don't think anything but the PD/VX cameras can get away without using a light. The pixels on HDV cameras are physically too small to gather as much light as the same size SD camera.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
Monday,
Wow... does the FX7 suck that bad in low light? If this is the case, then what about the V1? Does it suffer from the same fate?
Anyone else out there have experience with this cam? (FX7)
If you compare the Fx7 to the Fx1 it is less sensitive. If you compare the Fx1 To a panasonic dvc80 it is less sensitive. If you compare the dvc80 to a pd170/vx2100 it is less sensitive. The trick is you over come the limitation and get use to the sensitivity of any cam. The Fx7 doesn't suck really bad in lowlight if you have nothing to compare it to. We had an event last week in May and my fx1 was at 0 gain in the dark church and my assistants fx7 was at 9db to get a descent bright image that was comparable to the fx1. Earlier in the year we were in a hotel that was really dark. My old dvc80 was at 9db doing alright but my fx1 was at 18db with a on cam light and diffuser. The V1 from what I understand has key features to assist the lowlight.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 02:01 AM   #10
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Ethan, you say, 'If that's the case, then is the FX7 that much worse than the FX1? I thought I'd heard that the V1 and the FX1 were comprable in low light, so the same should hold true for the FX7. I could be wrong since I've never used either.'

It might just be a typo, but the V1 and the FX7 are comparable in low light, not the V1 and the FX1. The FX1's chips at 1"/3 are very much bigger than the tiny 1"/4 chips in the V1, and even with CCD vs CMOS the FX1 wins.

But as you say the V1 has black stretch and so on which makes shots in the gloom look better, and the newer the camera generally, the quieter the video amplification. This means my Z1 is useable at +18dB of gain up whereas the VX2k shouldn't really be used above +9dB. There you go - they're now equal when the light goes down.

tom.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 03:49 AM   #11
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If you want to push it, the V1 has 30p which allows 1/30 shutter without changing framerate. If you go to 1/30 shutter on a 60i camera, it halves the framerate to 15fps because each field needs a separate exposure. Yes, 1/30 shutter increases motion blur, but in a wedding it shouldn't be a serious issue. In fact, it can add a bit of a dreamy quality during dancing. If you keep the camera still, it isn't very noticeable when people are speaking and standing fairly still. If you have the V1 and shoot weddings, it would be worth testing 1/30 shutter as it provides a whole f-stop of additional exposure (same as another 6db of gain with no extra noise).
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:21 AM   #12
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Tom,
I actually did mean to say that I heard the V1 and FX1 were comparable in low light, but I guess that's not the case.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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You can't always trust manufacturers' Lux ratings, but they're a darn good place to start when evaluating a cameras prerformance under low-light conditions.

Thankfully, the VX2100, FX1 AND FX7 are all Sonys so we can probably figure that their Lux ratings are at least accurate in a relative sort of way. Many receptions get dimmed to the point where our FX1 is useless (3-Lux) while our VX2100s (1-Lux) are still hitting on all eight cylinders. I shudder to think what a 7-Lux rating would be like.

I think it's dangerous to downplay the low-light factor. I know it's easy to "get the hots" for a particular video camera model, especially if your sights are set on shooting a documentary, indie film, etc. But if you want to do right by your clients, I think you really have to face the facts that many receptions are dimly lit and that brides and guests don't appreciate extra lighting.

Hank Castello
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
Tom,
I actually did mean to say that I heard the V1 and FX1 were comparable in low light, but I guess that's not the case.
They aren't really very far apart. It is very difficult to make a comparison that is fair to either camera as they both are very different when the gain is turned up. I'll agree that the FX1 is more sensitive than the V1 at the same settings, but the V1 has better color with the gain turned up. I am going over to Maui next week for a shoot and will have my V1 and access to an FX1 to compare best-possible vs. best-possible from both cameras.

I also agree that low-light is an important feature for a wedding camera, but there are no HDV cameras that can even come close to the PD/VX cameras. The choice to go HD means sacrificing low light performance and supplemental light is no longer really an option. I think it's time to get creative with lighting instead of splitting hairs over one lux of sensitivity. I owned a VX2000 for years and probably shot over 150 events with it and never used a light. Before that, I used a TRV900 and got away without on-camera light by shooting slow shutter speed and using as much room light as possible. The HDV cameras are probably even more sensitive than the TRV900, so I'm sure there is a creative way to get decent exposure without blinding the bridal party.

Do ballrooms where you guys live put light on the head table? Here, the head table is usually on a riser and usually has some track lighting pointing in its direction. Some hotels (typical location for reception here) even have a few lights on their dance floors. The room itself is often so dark that I can't see the guests, but there is usually just enough light on the dance floor and head table to get some sort of exposure. Also, DJs use a fair amount of light so I take advantage of that and shoot from the DJ side unless I am trying to get the silhouettes of the dancers. The lights used on the dance floor and head table are usually dimmed, but they aren't so low that they aren't helpful. I'm thinking a low-power on-camera light to bump up the fill should be enough for the FX7/V1.

I haven't shot an indoor wedding yet with the V1, so I'm going on past experiences subjectively compared to what I see with the V1.
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