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Best Camera for wedding shoots?

BanjoRoo's picture
Last seen: 8 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/03/2007 - 8:03am
I develop websites full time, and i want to get into videography. One of my best friends is an established photographer, and he shoots weddings all the time. He suggested looking into learning the trade, and I decided to put away some money for some equipment.

I have experience shooting skateboard videos, a few amateur music videos, but never any weddings. I was looking around the forums the past week, and I have seen some good advice. I plan on hooking up with a well established crew, and tagging along a few times to learn as much as I can.

The question I have is, what is the best camera/cameras to use to shoot a wedding? I have heard that the XL1/XL2 perform well, but not so well in low light conditions. Also, the VX2100 does well in low light, but colors are not as vivid in good light. Also, I am concerned about audio inputs on the camera. I know that most crews record separately, to MD or sometimes straight to iRiver or iPod. I am looking to spend around $2,000 for my wedding camera. Any suggestions?

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 10 years 8 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
You heard wrong about the VX2100 not getting vivid colors. In fact, the reverse is often argued - that it overdoes the saturation. At any rate, colors are plenty vivid. For weddings, your only real choices (standard video) are Sonys: PD170; DSR250 and VX2000/VX2100.

For hi-def, I think 3Lux is the best out there so far. Sony FX1 (HDV) and Panasonic HVX200 (HD).

It sounds like you're concentrating on some good issues - low-light quality and audio.

You can go with the PD170 which has XLR inputs and separate volume controls for each channel, or you can simply add a Beachtek adapter to your VX2100 and have the same features plus the added benefit of being able to use a mini-plug in the right channel, if you choose. I believe the same differences apply to the Sony FX1/Z1.

When you think about audio for weddings, consider this - The bigger weddings are the ones usually most concerned with having a video. These usually have one or more singers, several instruments and additional speakers (other than the officiant). It is not unusual for us to have six or eight audio tracks in our wedding edits.

Some of the gadgets you mentioned will only record mp3 audio. If you reedit this, like for noise removal, etc., you'll lose so much quality that it will be noticed. I prefer to record uncompressed wav audio with a professional digital recorder in addition to our wireless systems recording 44.8k audio on our miniDV tapes.

We're working on a course for wedding videographers and hope to have it released late this spring.

Dotneck's picture
Last seen: 9 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/2006 - 8:10am
How about a JVC GY-DV500? Great cam but I'm not sure if it fits the ill for wedding shoots.

Anonymous (not verified)
I've had great experiences with Canon XL2s and VX2000s. I still try to use a camera light in dark receptions though. No matter how well a camera performs in low light, a camera light will always make your image much better.

Kris Simmons

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 10 years 8 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
No matter how well a camera performs in low light, a camera light will always make your image much better.

There comes a point where even a vx2100 or pd170 can't give a great image in low light, but that point is reached in far dimmer light with these cameras than with GL-2, XL-2, etc.

If the bride and her guests wanted bright lights, we wouldn't need to bring any, the place would already be lit up. If they want a dimly lit, romantic atmosphere, you really shouldn't intrude on that until the dimness means a grainy or lackluster image. It is, after all - the bride's party. A VX2100 or PD170 will mean that in most cases, you can get great video without extra lighting and many, many of these are going to be cases where other cameras would either have lousy images or would be blasting the bride, groom and guests with bright lights.

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 10 years 8 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
Good points. I can tell you have experience and that you care about the quality of your work. I'd much rather see a videographer use lights than have him not care about his images. But the VX2100 & PD170, with their 1Lux ratings, are apparently twice as good as the VX2000 with its 2Lux rating. At most receptions, after the toasts, etc. when the lights get turned down, our FX1 with 3-Lux suffers greatly, but we're still getting good, crisp, saturated colors with the 1-Lux cams.

There is certainly a point where on-cam lights would give noticably better colors. Frankly, I'd have to review some wedding videos with that idea in mind and see just what percentage we're talking about. I think the percentage would vary greatly upon the interpretation of "noticably".

I would give a wide interpretation due to the fact that having a light shined on you at a reception is a nuisance - no matter how responsibly it is wielded and whether people complain or not, they'd probably rather do without the light. But, yes, there does come a point where you have to say, to heck with it, they're paying for a video and I want to give them the best I possibly can and I just have to have some light.

What this all boils down to is that a wedding videographer should use 1-Lux cameras, because they will allow the lowest percentage of receptions with extra lights, and will give the best possible images under the rather trying circumstances that most wedding videos are shot under.

Anonymous (not verified)
Very true Hank. It's been several years since I've shot a wedding and I know the cameras are much better in low light than they were even 2 years ago. However, even the cameras that do shoot well in low light are not going to give you the image that a camera light will give you. I used to show brides examples of shots without a camera light and shots with a camera light....then would ask them which they would prefer. They all went with the camera light. In 7 years of shooting weddings, I never had a complaint over my camera light at the reception. Plus, I was as courteous as possible when using it....didn't have it in someone's face for long periods of time and didn't just swing it around carelessly so the light could blind everyone in my path.

With all that being said, if today's cameras operate as well in low light as people are saying, I might get rid of the camera light altogether.