Professional Equipment is Essential
My history with video cameras for both Wedding Videography and Event Video Production.
Having the right equipment for the job is essential to obtaining great results as a Camera Operator. It also makes my life easier as a Professional Video Camera Operator if I'm using the right cameras and lenses on a project. There's nothing worse than being on a job when you realise you don't have the right equipment or lens on you. But - we learn and improve with each project and grow accordingly.
I still have the very first video camera that I bought for filming. (Sitting in the loft!).
A Canon XL 1s. It's an old camera now yes! But considering I bought it in 2005 it was pretty good in those days. DV tape was the recording media and it only filmed in 4:3 ration but still provided pretty good images. Moving on I next bought a Canon XL-H1. This was and still is a serious camera.
Considered as semi-pro camera I know of some production companies who relied heavily on its amazing capabilities for TV Studio use. Full HD/SDi via a BNC output, time-code syncing, two XLR inputs for audio, built-in ND filters, 16:9 ratio and it was of course a true on-the-shoulder camera. I used and abused mine as a Freelance Videographer. Filming everything from Conferences and Events to Wedding Videography and Parties. It never let me down.
Later on, in its life, I added an external Atomos Samurai recorder so I didn't have to rely on my Sony external tape deck for a dual recording of an event. Tape in the camera - dual recording onto solid state drive via the Atomos - sorted. I ended up owning three Atomos units.
But all good things come to an end. And the XL-H1 ended its days on a Wedding Video shoot in Birmingham when a particularly strong wind aided by a hill tipped the camera and tripod over and - well - let's just say a minor tear was shed. Thank god I shoot with two cameras! The second camera on that day being a Canon XH G1s. All the capabilities of the XL-H1 but compact and not a shoulder-mounted camera.
So - what next? DSLRs? Well - I experimented. I owned a Canon 7D - a great camera. Brilliant for video - but not a true Wedding Videographer camera. Too fiddly and you have to fight with the focus - so true of any DSLR when filming.
Then I bought a Canon 6D full-frame 35mm DSLR. Great imagery - but again - not a camera that lends itself to run and gun shooting on Weddings or Events. But to accompany the 6D I bought a 5D Mk III as I was starting to get more projects that required not only video but photography as well.
But again - great imagery from the 5D but not as controllable as the XL-H1.
So where to next? I decided on a Canon XF305. After reading many a review I went for a second-hand model bought from a photographer in Surrey. I say second hand but it had only shot 15 hours of footage so I was sold on that one! And it came with a Peli Case so it was quite a bargain.
But what to accompany it with?
Now having shot a few Corporate Videos with my 6D and 5D I thought hard and long about their roles in my business. Yes - they have a place but only with considered thought about the definition (look and feel) of an image.
So I was looking for a full-frame video camera that would give me a creative, arty look to imagery and was compatible with the XF305. Wasn't too expensive and was able to accept my Canon EF lenses.
The answer was pretty obvious really. The Canon C100 MK II. (You may have noticed by now that I like Canon Cameras!).
The C100 MK II is a full-frame Broadcast Video Camera. "Now hold on!" you techies out there may be saying. It records onto SD card and is only 8 bit.
But it has a 4K sensor that records full HD and add an Atomos Ninja or Flame which accepts the HDMI output from the C100 and you are shooting 10 bit 422 Apple ProRes. This is an awesome combination. The Ninja's HDR abilities allow cinematic colour grading on site. There's nothing better to be able to see how your footage will look before it even hits the edit suite. The Ninja Flame records onto external SSD drives so file transferal is so easy when back in the studio. I just literally plug the drive into a docking station and copy the files to my RAID drive for Video Editing.
And combine it with Canon EF fast professional lenses and you have a piece of kit that is able to perform in near darkness due to its amazing ISO capabilities. Great for filming a night time party video at a wedding or indoor event.
So, the only gripe about it is that there is no power zoom on the C100. But again there is a work around in the form of the 18-135mm EFS Nano lens parred with a PZ E1 Power Zoom Adapter. Now it really becomes an awesome camera to work with.
And now I'm looking at 4K cameras such as the Canon XF705 or XF405. And I'm keeping an eye on the new EOS R5. And Canon has recently announced the EOS C70 which looks absolutely fantastic as a Wedding Videographer camera.
Now all I have to do is choose which is the best camera that suits both my needs as a Freelance Videographer and a Professional Wedding Videographer.
Update! I bought a Sony PXW Z150 4K camera. This is an awesome little bundle of joy when it comes to filming run and gun. SDI/HDMI output for external recording but with QXAVC for 4K 25 fps and XAVC for full 10 bit 4:2:2 HD at 50p and 50i. With a 120fps option for slow super motion.
I'll be using the Sony Z150 on all kinds of shoots in the future.