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Which camera to buy?

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Olly Lawer
Which camera to buy?
on Jan 15, 2009 at 8:54:40 pm


I am setting up a production company - ambitious I know, but it'll just be me to start with. Initially I will be filming weddings and already have some corporate clients linned up for web-based and DVD based promotional videos. I have attainted accreditation in Apple's Final Cut Pro 6, which I will use to edit.

Having scrawled the web, I found several sites that explain the various features and benefits of camera's, although I am still not sure which Camera would suit my purposes best and whether to buy new or used.

My budget is around £3,500 (I see from some sights the prices go into the £100,000's!) - however, I also want to buy a steadicam (possibly the merlin vest and arm), lights and microphones - so need to stick to this price as much as possible. I will definately need a camera that has 16:9 aspect ratio, although the other aspects I am happy to take advice on. It will not be used for high speed shots. It may be used in some low light areas (such as church halls). I am happy with either tape or memory card, however, I am interested in the advantages and disadvanges of both.

If I buy a used camera, they often state S/N Drum Run, Record Run and Operation - with a number next to each. Obviously the lower the number the better, but what should I be looking out for? Presumably I can get a much better used camera for the same cost as a more modern one (although I want to stay up with technology as much as possible)?

Possible thoughts are the Sony Z1, Sony HDR-FX1, JVC's GY-HD100, Panasonic AG-HVX200, Cannon XL H1 or maybe Sony EX1, EX3, Z1, Z5 and Z7, FX1 and A1 - PD150, PD170, PD100. Plus the DSR500, 570 and the 450...

Another idea would be to buy used, say this one for example, sed Sony DSR-500WSPL DVCAM Camcorder body

I know all these camera's are not true progressive or 16:9, however, this does come at a preference for me. Ideally also a cinematic look.

Your advice would be much appreciated!


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Noah Kadner
Re: Which camera to buy?
on Jan 16, 2009 at 12:28:26 am

Wait that budget is just for the camera or for everything? If it's for everything I think you can forget about the Steadicam. I don't think those are necessary at all for wedding/event videography anyway. A steady hand and a monopod or tripod will serve you and your back(and bank) just as well. As far as lights, unless you want to spend a *lot* of money, I'd stick with a nice on-camera light like a Frezzi or an LED just to add fill as needed for shots. With a high-end shotgun mic on your camera and an omni planted at the altar you'll be all set audio wise. So now, onto the cameras:

The EX1 is a solid enough choice because it's pretty intuitive to use, shoots 1080/24p HD and is pretty good in low-light. SxS cards would put you over budget but then with the new MCR/SDHC reader you'd be fine. The EX3 with a decent lens is kinda out of your budget, so I'd scrap that. Also there's not a big used market yet on either.

Personally I'd also scratch all of the HDV and DV cameras off your list, that's yesterday's technology and capturing hours of tapes manually is a pain in the backside, next to simply copying takes from a solid-state camera like the EX1.

The HVX200 is also a solid performer though I would think with the cost of P2 media it's not really in your budget. Same with the DSR cameras- also those are way heavy to carry around for the hours and hours most weddings eventually run.

I'd also add the Panasonic HMC150 to your list. It's within your budget, offers not quite the image quality of an EX1 but pretty dang close for almost half the price and with way cheaper media than any other HD shooting prosumer camera. That or an EX1 or HVX200 would be up to the task. Only the HVX would be findable used but they hold up really well if you want to go that way.

Hope that helps a little.


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Rafael Amador
Re: Which camera to buy?
on Jan 18, 2009 at 6:11:03 am

Hi Olli,
Don't forget to have a look to the new JVC line. Based in the EX-1 codec but more affordable than XDCAM.

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