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

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Old November 14th, 2013, 09:24 AM   #1
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Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

Hi All,
We currently shoot with two HMC150s and are looking to add at least 1, if not two more cameras to our gear. We like the panasonics a lot, but are just curious what everyone's input would be if we were to look at other Panasonic models...should we go with another 150? The new 90 is supposed to be good in low light, which is something we're looking to improve on. And I know that (calling out) Chris Harding I think had bought the 130 and then quickly got rid of it. Any models I'm missing that we should consider? Low light capability, switchable ND Filters, and a good fast auto focus for those times we are in a quick pinch are a few things we're looking for, probably in that order of importance.

Use would be 99% weddings, so wanted to get everyone's valuable input from this forum. I would love to go get my hands on a few of these options, but we live in the boonies, and there is no where around that I know of that we could go check these out.

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Old November 14th, 2013, 01:25 PM   #2
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Re: Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

We use 2 HMC's as well and I've shot also with the 250's and 160A's as well as the AF100. Now we know the HMC's like the back of our hand and I'm a bit OCD about focal length readouts despite the larger DoF...but even on the 1/3" chip, we squeeze out shallow DoF shots all the time on a moments notice and get shots that rival even the best large sensor camera. It's all about how you use it. One thing I miss on it would be a touch more sharpness and a better LCD. Outside that, it's been an amazing camera that we've built our business on. We do plan to sell them in the next year but not because it hasn't served us well. While the 250's specs were nice, I was most happy using the 160a. It was very similar to the 150's, cut together seamlessly, and had a great long zoom range with a MUCH better LCD. I was scared initially of all those "focus issues" I read about, but in the 2 weddings we rented it for, we didn't notice any. Granted much of my day is spent in manual focus anyway but for us, it was a non-issue. It's a bit heavier but totally manageable. Low light? Not bad. You will get better low light out of a larger sensor camera (although I didn't love my experience with the AF100 particularly) but if you're happy with your HMC's then you'll probably be happy with the 160A. As for the AC90, yeah, I've probably read what you read but haven't tested one next to our HMC's so I can't tell. Seems to be really sharp and clean gain. But it doesn't fit our business model going forward so I didn't look into it further. One little bonus that I always liked about the HMC's is that because it's a CCD sensor there's no flash banding so flashes from cameras at night look great compared to CMOS sensors. Anyway, I recommend you check out for more advice geared specifically toward Panasonic cameras.
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Old November 14th, 2013, 07:25 PM   #3
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Re: Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

Hi Katie

That's me!! Yep, I was bitterly disappointed with the 130's and certainly nowhere near the build quality of the HMC series was almost as if someone else had taken over the manufacture! I actually ended up selling them after 3 months and went back to the HMC80's at half the price! If you want to stay with Panny (I was a loyal user for 23 years!!) then probably stick with the HMC150's ... at least you know them and they perform well. For me it took a lot of courage to jump ship to Sony but the EA-50's are an absolute dream to use and have everything that the Panny's missed out on.

I nearly went for the AC-90 but total lack of any auto level on the XLR's really put me off as at receptions where the level changes so much, I don't have time to fiddle with manual audio (ceremony is totally different of course) I also didn't like the extreme noise reduction in low light ..even at 24db you get a noise free image (try that on the 150!!) but the NR tends to smudge fine detail so things like hair on people's heads tends to look like it's been spray painted on ... however the AC-90 is definitely a better deal than the 130 or 160.

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Old November 15th, 2013, 06:18 AM   #4
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Re: Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

Well, after almost a year, my AC130 has literally been battered to kingdom come around railway yards and the like, it's had soot, water, dirt, paint and everything, so build quality hasn't been a problem. It's more robust than my previous Sony cameras and much less plasticky than my HMC41 was.

The lens on the AC130 is stellar, none of the nasty Chromatic Aberration seen on my previous Sony camcorders. It's sharp corner to corner, and I find the camera dead easy to use in live events (yes, filming speeches, interviews, all sorts of things). The zoom on the AC130/160 cameras is truly awesome. Never had a problem that wasn't down to my misunderstanding, especially at the start, and even the focus hasn't been an issue, but then I don't use auto focus.

Now it may not be an ideal wedding camera, but it's not the lens and not the build quality that will give you problems, it would be low light, depth of field etc.
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Old November 15th, 2013, 06:24 AM   #5
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Re: Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

I have the AC90 in my arsenal.

It is very good in low light - though not in the 5DII / III league - but neither do you have to fight inappropriately narrow depth of field necessitated by very low light + wide aperture. It does not have switchable ND filters so if that matters to you you'd need to get into screwing ones on the front. The auto-focus is accurate and snappy.

I don't have the audio issues Chris mentions because I always use external recorders.

It is small and easy to handle; the down side of that is you need to sling it on a rig for shoulder use. Its stabilisation is very efficient.

I don't think it has touch-screen autofocus like the EA50. That feature would tempt me towards the EA50, but the EA50 is appreciably larger and that is something I want to avoid.

I think you do need a couple of dSLRs in reserve for very dark scenarios where its not feasible to use auxiliary lighting.

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Old November 15th, 2013, 09:23 AM   #6
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Re: Comparing Panasonic Cams for Weddings

Thank you for the input...on a different note, does anyone have any experience (wedding or otherwise) with the Blackmagic camera? I realize it's an entirely different beast, but just wanted to hear input on that as well.
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