Having formerly owned an X

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Having formerly owned an XL-1S, I can honestly say the GL-2’s and VX-2100 I use now are just as good a picture. I’ll get back to the other stuff.

I would also say that you absolutely need at least two cameras for a ceremony. I always use three (and sometimes ever four!) The main reason I do it is because with only one camera rolling, you’re likely to miss stuff, and editing is hellish, because you’ve only got one view to go from.

Additionally, professional television, movies, videography, etc… is always shot from a three camera standpoint. You need to have wide shots to give the viewer an idea of where they are. You need medium shots to show who’s the focus, and you need those tight, close shots to capture emotions, and draw in your viewer.

If you’re filming a short film, one camera can get all of these shots thanks to multiple takes. But at live events, such as weddings or other events, you only get one take, so you need more cameras to get the job done right. In the end, a one-camera aproach won’t "llook right" to the viewer, even if they can’t pinpoint exactly why, and you’ll be limited in the shots you get.

The Viewfinder issue really depends on your usage needs. If you’re going to be on a tripod, a viewfinder is good, because you don’t need to pin your face to the camera. I never use it for handheld camera work, as you get much better stability pinning the camera to your body.

If you’ve got two cameras, you can get two operators, but it’s not needed. If you’ve got three, you need two operators. Here’s my typical setup. "Camera 1" is in the back of the room or on the balcony if possible. This camera is a wide shot that gets the entire room. Because it’s away from people and never moves, I’ve got a crappy $60 tripod under it. The image stabilizer in the camera makes up for the low-quality tripod.

"Camera 2" is usually located along the far stage right aisle, about halfway back. It’s tripod mounted, using a nice fluid head tripod that cost me about $1000. Usually my wife mans this camera, going for medium shots of the stage and the audience for some "B roll" cut-ins.

"Camera 3" is the handheld camera. I have another crappy tripod that I set up on the far stage left aisle, in case I need to back off for a while. I use that to get up close and personal, taking tight shots and going for those unique angles and close ups of special moments.

In this setup, the only one that "needs" an lcd panel is camera 2. Camera 1 in unmanned, and doesn’t need anything once it’s positioned, and camera 3 is almost entirely shot from the eyepiece. Having the LCD panel on 3 is nice from time to time, but not needed.

My advice is not to start out with an XL series camera. Too pricey, and the quality isn’t much higher that the GL series. If you really like the XL-1S, then you should buy a few GL-2’s. Bang for the buck-wise, GL-2’s are good cameras, given that either you A-Have lighting, or B-Won’t be in low-lighting situations. They have virtually all the features that the XL-1S has, and they’re cheaper, too. The Sony VX-2100 is a bit more expensive, but it handles low light much better and is otherwise comparable to the GL-2. The GL-2 and VX-2100 might be smaller, but don’t let them fool ya. They’re pro quality, and pretty standard cameras in our industry.

As far as training goes, $1600 for two days is a hair steep. Come on up to Minnesota and I’ll do it for half that! πŸ˜€ But really, videography is a lot like the board game "Othello", as it takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master. I can show you everything you need to know in a couple days, but unless you practice it, and keep practicing on a regualr basis, it won’t do you any good.

As much as I love the Xl series, there are more important things to drop cash on. Like a nice tripod, or more cameras, or audio. In fact, I’d say that good audio is more important than good picture quality. Even using a GL-2 in the dark, grainy image and all, with great sound, would be far superior to a well lit film on an XL-1S with crappy audio. Get some nice UHF wireless mics, and some other goodies too.

But then, there are a lot of smarter people than I who would advise you otherwise. Be sure to get as much insight as you can before you buy.

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