Fun with prosumer equipment

Tonight, I am spending most of my evening editing the wedding video. I’m working from three tapes. Once is my handheld, has the entire ceremony, and was shot on the Canon XL1s in LP (long play) mode so that I wouldn’t have to change tapes. Another has the rehearsal dinner, girls getting their hair done, and cake reception. It was shot SP, because it’s the most reliable mode. The third was from a stationary camera behind the pastor, getting the bride’s good side, and it was shot in ELP (extra-long play), which is a special mode on the Canon Elura 20MC, which Canon doesn’t make any more.

Here’s a “link”: to Canon’s current line of cameras. The XL2 is the newest incarnation of the XL1. I looove my XL1s — it gives crystal clear color, and consistently beautiful pictures no matter the lighting situation. Not to mention the “cool” factor. Nothing says, “I’m a professional — gaze in awe and get out of my way” like an XL1 on your shoulder with a bunch of random cables jutting out of it. Check out that pic of me at the top of the page. The one on the right. You know what I’m talking about.

In fact, it performs unbelievably well in extreme low-light situations, which is what I was dealing with at the reception. It was a videographer’s nightmare — completely candle-lit. I could only get good shots of faces when somebody was near a candle. And then it does quite well. It is also unbelievably good at pulling detail out of the shadows. If I had had a standard, mid- to low-end consumer camera that night, I might as well have packed up and gone home.

p=. !/images/26.gif (Camera Love)!
*I love you, baby!*

If you’re looking for a good prosumer camera that performs about as well but without some of the extra features, look seriously at the “GL2”: or get a refurbished/used/new GL1. It gives just as good a picture as the “XL”: series — it just lacks a lot of the bells and whistles. Most notably, the ability to switch lenses. But honestly, I still can’t afford a new lens for it, so I still work from the one it came with, which is a good all-purpose zoom lens. I just hate the mechanical servo focus.

*Other news:*
We’re doing a test shoot for the Artists’ Essentials DVD series this weekend. Shooting dates are locked in at late February. I ordered a new lapel mic for the occasion. After much research, I settled on the “AT899”: from Audio Technica. This brand is known for its quality, yet value-priced equipment. We recorded Rock Paper Scissors with a cheap “ATR55”: shotgun mic, and I’m happy with the results. With a $200 street price ($300 retail), the AT899 is actually pretty cheap for a lav mic. And it was the lav mic of choice for the “Athens Olympics”: and last year’s “presidential debates,”: so it’s no slacker either.

I’ll be paying for all this crap well into the next five years. But the great thing about investing in fancy recording equipment is that you can use it to pay itself off. Or so I hear. If anyone has figured out how to do that, “please let me know.”

And I guarantee that’s more than you ever wanted to know about THAT.

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