Archive for the ‘Professional Videographer Advise’ Category

Bubbles, Balloons, Butterflies, Birds, Rose Pedals & Silly String Released at Chicago Weddings.

Bubbles

Bubbles are probably the most popular of the releases for weddings. The more bubbles the merrier. One warning about bubbles is to be aware of the surface of the floor. If your party is blowing bubbles indoors, the floor surface is usually hard and smooth. This presents a slipping hazard. The soap from the bubbles is very slick. Your usually safer outdoors with a rough concrete surface.  The photographer and videographer must check & clean their lenses after the bubbles.

Balloons

Balloons released into the sky makes it beautiful for pictures. The photographer & videographer must be warned and ready. The release is very quick and easily missed, if not prepped. Some people say that balloons are a hazard to the environment. The average balloon is made out of latex, which is biodegradable. Three hours after the balloon is released, it rises approximately five miles into the atmosphere. It then freezes and shatters into small spaghetti-like pieces. When it falls back down to earth, ground gases and microorganisms attack the latex. The shiny balloons are not biodegradable.

Birds

Birds released at wedding are usually doves. What’s hard to believe and quite fascinating is that the doves, after the release will beat the owner home. The doves could be hundred miles away and still they find their way home. Its important that the photographer uses a fast shutter speed to capture the grace of the doves. Otherwise it’s a white blur.

Butterflies

Butterflies released are beautiful as they flutter by. What is not beautiful, is when the butterflies are given to the guests in little cardboard containers. The butterflies seem to suffocate in the containers. When released they just hit the ground, looking stunned. Its actually disgusting to watch. The best way to release butterflies is by birdcages. They are free to fly, when the door is opened. Having the flower girl or ring bearer open the door adds an extra touch.

Rice

There is an urban legend that if birds eat the rice, the birds will explode. The thinking comes from the fact that white rice is dehydrated. When ingested by the bird, the rice will begin absorbing water upon entering the moist gizzard. So the rice supposed to actually make the bird insides swell up not explode. However, that is not true either. In fact, birds safely eat wild rice as well as other grains such as wheat and barley that expand in moisture equal to white rice. So don’t worry about the birds. Worry about the people instead. The floor surface is very important. People could slip if the surface is too smooth. Don’t forget the clean up and the rice in your hair. The last problem is the people, that still believe the birds will explode are going to restrict you from using rice. Here is a link that explains the bird and rice issue in more detail. http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/birds/a/wedding_rice.htm

Rose Pedals

Rose pedals are pretty trouble free. There is no slipping or biohazards and rose pedals are easy to get out of your hair. You need plenty of quality rose pedals for some beautiful pictures.

Silly String

Cans of silly string is colorful fun release on the bride & groom. People love it, especially kids. However, make sure there are no flames present. Silly string is very flammable. When ignited, it puts out a toxic gas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Wedding Photo & video fusion (hybrid) and why do I want it for my wedding photography & videography

 

 

What is wedding Photo & video fusion (hybrid) and why do I want it for my wedding day?

Wedding Photo & video Fusion is a very new buzzword in the area of wedding services. photo & video fusion is when one person shoots BOTH wedding photos and wedding videos, using the SAME multi-media camera to shoot BOTH types of media. New HD DSLR technology is what enables one person and one camera to capture BOTH still wedding photos and moving videos BOTH at full resolution without any degradation of either format. If done right, the customer receives  great full resolution wedding photos, and a short form wedding video with a 1080P High Definition  video highlight edited to music. The picture quality of today’s HD DSLR’s (short for high definition, digital single lens reflex camera)  that shoot video, is far superior to the quality of  conventional video camcorders even more expensive High definition camcorders. There are some high end wedding videographers who use these high tech cameras just for video. Milestone also uses them for BOTH photo and video on the same wedding by the same “fusion artist” !

Advantages and disadvantages of photo & video fusion (hybrid)

There are a quite few advantages for the wedding couple when they get photo & video fusion (done by an experienced Fusion artist), They include:

  • Wedding couples pay less than getting photo and video services from a separate photographer and videographer (with a similar price range for other services)
  • It is less obtrusive to have only one person doing both services.
  • The new HD DSLR technology gives a better picture quality than a conventional video camera, because of the huge image sensor on today’s DSLR photography and videography cameras. DSLR cameras have image sensors that are between 10 and 15 times larger surface area than conventional video cameras.
  • HD DSLR cameras can use a variety of cool photographic lenses to give a different “look” to the video, this advantage was only available to photographers before HD DSLRs could record incredible 1080P high definition video.
  • Since HD DSLR cameras have the ability to get a “shallow depth of field look”, so that the wedded couple could be in sharp focus and have everything in the background out of focus. This yields a great “cinematic look” to the video.
  • Since HD DSLRs get better low light performance than conventional video cameras,  the “fusion artist” will either not need a video light, or a use a video light that is of a lower wattage than would be used for a conventional videography
  • Since the “fusion artist” is shooting photos and videos at different times, the flash that the photographer uses wont be used (during video recording)  and there will be no annoying flash during the wedding video. (except when a guest takes a photo with flash)
  • Since there is only one person recording media, there is no problem with another media person (photographer or videographer) getting in the other person’s way.
  • Only one person to feed at the reception and one person who takes up less space at a small reception or in a small limousine.

Some of today’s latest technology Digital single lens reflex cameras (HD DSLRs) include the Canon 5Dmark II, Canon 7D, Nikon D7000 and Nikon D5100. These hybrid cameras look exactly like regular professional photography cameras, These Photo cameras can shoot incredible High definition 1080P video at better quality than any portable video camera available today.

The drawback to using an DSLR versus a regular video professional camcorder is the DSLR can have limits to the record time (of individual clips). The Canon 5Dmark II can only shoot for 10 minutes at a time per clip. The Nikon D5100 and D7000 has a limit of 20 minutes per clip. Once the 20 minute clip is shot, the camera’s recording must be stopped in order to record more 10 or 20 minute (or shorter length) clips.  With conventional video cameras, most cameras can record as many (longer than 20 minutes) clips until the tape or other media is filled. This means that shooting video fusion means shooting shorter clips and not shooting an entire ceremony, just the important parts that a wedding couple would want.  However if there is also an unmanned professional High definition camera used that camera will record the whole ceremony. Milestone Photo and Video uses a separate HD camcorder for longer record times.

Another small disadvantage of shooting HD video with a DSLR is that they get lower sound quality than conventional video camcorders. Also since the “fusion artist” is also shooting photos and is rotating the camera to shoot verticals and horizontals makes it difficult to hook up wireless microphones to the HD SLR for better sound.

Milestone understands both the pervious disadvantages and they can be eliminated by using a separate unmanned High definition conventional video camera that records continuously. These cameras use better audio circuitry to record the sound for the wedding video.  By using a separate conventional  camcorder to record the sound and using it to get the longer (longer than 10 to 20 minutes) record time, the customer gets the best of both worlds. They record longer footage than HD DSLR’s alone, and they get better sound recording quality on a camcorder made for that purpose. Milestone Photo and video uses this technique to make a video with the picture quality of a HD DSLR and better record time and sound quality of a conventional HD professional video camcorder.

What to look for in a company offering photo & video fusion.

Milestone Photo & Video is one of the first companies in the USA to offer Photo & Video fusion.  We did our first photo & video fusion wedding video in December of  2008 upon the introduction of the first DSLR camera that also shoot video, the Nikon D90. The quality of the video that DSLRs shoot has come a long way since the D90 and Milestone has grown with the technology and has purchased the best in fusion HD DSLR equipment. We now use an unmanned professional High Definition  camera on a tripod and wire the groom for sound feeding that camera. We can also use additional high definition mini camera mounted in strategic locations to get other angles of the ceremony on occasion.  The customer receives all the photos taken on DVD, a video DVD of the wedding video. This consists of a short tightly edited wedding video edited to the couples chosen song. They also receive all of the footage that the “fusion artist” shot edited in order with chapters on the DVD. The customer also gets a photo montage of the best wedding photos. Also they also get an outdoor engagement photo session, 13″x19″ print and leather 60 image album.

All of Milestone’s “fusion artists” have successfully shot many, many, wedding videography and photography jobs. We are not just a photographer who shoots a little video from time to time. Or a videographer who shoots a few stills. We pay attention to both medias and shoot video  candid events and switch between photo and video constantly.  We have the capability to shoot 16 megapixels of great photo detail and flip a switch and shoot great 1080P video in incredible quality. While shooting photos the fusion artist must me thinking “what video shots am I missing by shooting photos. While shooting video the fusion artist must also be thinking “what photos am I missing?” The work of a fusion artist is never done,  Both photo and video can not be done at the same time but can be switched in a split second. Some still photos are also incorporated into the wedding video. We do shoot full resolution still photos of all posed shots. The number of photos shot by our “fusion artists” is similar to the number you would get with a conventional wedding photographer. The length of the total video footage ranges from 25 minutes to 75 minutes depending on the length of the ceremony and number of events in the day.

Previous wedding videographers shooting fusion?

There are some companies who previously shot wedding video only, who have purchased a DSLR (for video purposes)  and want to offer photo & video fusion as well because their camera can shoot photos too. I have seen their work, and I was disappointed with the still photos they shoot.  These companies do not know how to pose the bride and groom like a still wedding photographer, and they usually make the still photos from moving video. These generated stills are only 2.5 to 3 mega pixels and can not be blown to 4″x6″ without degradation. These videographers do not understand how to use flash, shutter speed and great photo lenses (or how to correct all the photos in photoshop) as well as a certified Milestone fusion artist. Only a professional Milestone photographer and videographer who has shot many photo AND video jobs can properly shoot a photo and video fusion wedding.

Previous wedding photographers shooting fusion?

There also are some companies who previously shot photography only and now have a DSLR that also shoot High definition video and they think they can do photo video fusion as well. I have also seen their work. Although their photos look great because they are a wedding photographer, and know how to pose. In this case the video is lacking, these previous photographers forget to get the great candid moments on video and shoot more photos instead. They do not have a second unmanned camera with high end wireless mics to get great sound. Additionally  they do not have the video editing experience (or equipment) to do an incredible job on editing a great video highlight. Milestone has edited over 1000 wedding highlights over the years, and we know how to evoke emotion with our creative editing style.

Why Milestone?

Only Milestone photo & video’s “fusion artists” know how to properly balance shooting photography and videography keeping in mind the advantages as well as limitations of this new HD DSLR technology.  We know how to get great still photos and video without sacrificing anything. Milestone’s photo & video fusion customers get the “best of both worlds” with our fusion package. This package is $1899 and is quite a deal when you consider all you get. It is only $500 more than just getting wedding photography from Milestone photo and video.

 

Short form wedding video Vs. long form wedding videos.

Long Form Edited V.S. Short Form Edited For Chicago Wedding Videos. (There are advantages and disadvantages to both forms.) A Short form wedding video is usually from 15mins to 1 hour long in length. The unedited version is sometimes supplied separately for viewing in its entirety. The wonderful advantage is that, you don’t have to sit through all of the boring parts of the video footage. It is like watching a movie of your wedding day, capturing the drama and beauty within a tightly edited form. The music is usually mixed in with the ambient audio. Typically, short form videos are out of chronological order of the wedding day. There are there are some companies that put all the scenes in chronological order. Short form videos take longer to edit than long form and are generally more expensive. Long form wedding videos are usually between 1 to 3 hours long. All of the scenes are edited in chronological order. It starts with a pre-ceremony section. The selected music mixed in with the ambient audio. The ceremony is in its entirety. There are chapter points to the processional and vows that make viewing more efficient. The post-ceremony section is set to music and ambient audio .The contents of the post-ceremony consist of the picture session on the altar, park footage and cocktails at the reception. The reception includes all of the speeches and important dances.Interviews with the bridal party can be included because some people still like interviews. Long form videos can have a highlight, which could make up for the fact that it’s a long video. The highlight can be watched on Facebook  for everyone to enjoy. Which is better? It depends on the creative work of the videographer. It is advisable to hire a videographer with outstanding reviews, and finally, a videographer with a good personality to get along with everyone and the wedding photographer.

 

 

 

Chicago wedding video highlights

How to look your best in wedding Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to look your best in your wedding day photographs.

  1. Have the photographer shoot posed photos in the shade because the direct sun can give extra wrinkles. On a sunny day shoot wedding posed shots with the sun behind you or in the shade. “Milestone Photo” photographers always look for shade or create it with a fold up diffuser.
  2. Don’t have a friend do photography or videography at your wedding. You want them to enjoy themselves and they will be distracted by all of their friends at your wedding. If they do not do a good job, it may also get in the way of your friendship. Always trust a professional who does not know people there and won’t be distracted by your guests.
  3. Have the photographer shoot the posed photos in “Camera RAW” (instead of using Jpeg for posed photos) which enables the photographer to have better dynamic range and exposure. Milestone photo and video shoots posed photos in camera RAW whenever possible for the best quality wedding photographs possible.
  4. Do not chew gum in photos. You will look like you are chewing gum in photos.
  5. Do not over tan yourself for your wedding. You still want to look like YOU.
  6. Find out the rules of the church before you book them for a wedding. Churches that do not allow flash to be used during the wedding, or restrict the amount of time for photographs after the wedding, should be avoided.
  7. Look through bridal magazines and websites and determine what types of wedding photos you like most. If you like corny-cheesy posed shots or modern avant-garde shots or traditional old fashioned posed photos, (or just candid) tell (and show) the photographer what types of shots you like best. Photographers don’t always know what you like till you tell them.
  8. Have a professional makeup artist and Hair stylist for your wedding day for the bride, bridesmaids, mother of bride and others who would benefit. Give extra time for this because stylists can be late. They will give you a more dramatic look than the everyday look you get when doing your own makeup. Covering tattoos and zits is a specialty of many makeup artists.
  9. Have a bridesmaid armed with matching makeup to do touch ups through out the day.
  10. Do not have too large of bangs that hang down on your face. This is because this can cause shadows on your face that are not seen when you look in the mirror. Check your hairstyle and makeup in all types of lighting.
  11. Hire a wedding photographer who a variety lighting techniques. You don’t want all your photos to look the same. Get a photographer who does bounce flash, existing lighting, flash assisted existing light, direct flash, flash backlighting. If all the photographers photographs look flat and don’t have a natural look, he is using direct flash only. There are some photographers who shoot without a flash at all (existing light only). This is not a good idea because while some existing light photos look great. However taking only existing light photographs can be grainy and can be unflattering in harsh light. You want a variety of lighting techniques like Milestone Photo and video. We use many different flash techniques all day long.
  12. Do your makeup under the same light as you will be seen. I.E. If it is a daytime wedding with a lot of natural light at the reception, you would apply makeup under similar lighting. Having a night time wedding you would apply makeup under indoor looking lighting.
  13. Do a practice of how to bustle the wedding dress before the wedding day. I have seen dozens of brides who did not know how to bustle the dress until the wedding day and it wasted an hour of the wedding figuring it out . If the bride and friends cant figure it out the bride will have to carry the train around the whole reception.
  14. Have a sewing kit with scissors/needles/safety pins on hand with both Black and white thread (and bridesmaid’s color too) to fix last minute wardrobe malfunctions in your wedding photos.
  15. Carry “Tide” or “shout” stain wipes or even baby wipes to get any stains out of dresses and tuxedos. Be careful getting in and out of the limo watch for door grease.
  16. If pictures are shot at the bride’s house before the wedding, make sure the flowers are delivered to the brides house (not the church) so the photographer can use the flowers for the bride’s photos at the house.
  17. The tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding is outdated and is an Arabic tradition. Shooting photos of the bride and groom together before the wedding, gets things out of the way and makes more time for enjoying the celebration of the party after the wedding. There is a lot of things that can get done sooner when this old and foreign tradition is ignored.
  18. Get a dress that matches and flatters your figure type. Consider buying a custom dress made just for you by a quality company like Priscilla of Boston in Oak Brook Terrace IL. (On 22nd street 2 blocks west of Oak Brook Mall)
  19. Pick a bridesmaid dress color that is flattering to a majority of the bridesmaids. If some don’t look good in that color, consider multi color brides maid dresses.
  20. Do not concern yourself with things you can’t change like the weather or who shows up. Just relax and enjoy the day. When you are happy, you will look happy in the wedding photographs.
  21. Don’t get distracted during photos sessions. If you try to micromanage during the photo session, you might be looking elsewhere instead of looking at the wedding photographers lens.
  22. Consider a reception hall that has stairs to layer people for large group photographs. Stairs can layer up to 100 people in one great photograph.
  23. Hire a photographer who shoots engagement photos. You need to practice the various poses for your wedding day. Your photographer will instruct you on the poses during your engagement shots. After looking at the engagement shots you will know which poses look best for you and your future spouse. Milestone photo and video shoots engagement photos with all full day packages.
  24. Hire a photographer who corrects and provides ALL the photos he takes. You may prefer one of the photographers rejects. Milestone corrects and provides all photos. Couples get to keep all photos with all packages with Milestone!
  25. If there is time and weather permitting, consider going to an outdoor location that is designed for wedding photography. See our other blogs to find a suitable outdoor or indoor wedding photo location.
  26. Consider a reception hall that has a gazebo or small picturesque outdoor area so you won’t have to go elsewhere for cool outdoor photographs during the reception.
  27. DO not schedule your wedding on super bowl Sunday, or other date when your guests may be distracted by the game.

Copyright 2011 By Robert M. Busch and Milestone Photo & Video All rights reserved. No Part of this article my be used without written permission from Robert M. Busch.

How to decide which digital video camera format is right for you.

The most important decision that someone can make when purchasing a digital Camcorder is. What digital format should I get? Mini DV? HD SLR? DVD-R? Hard Drive? Flash Media? HDV? ACVHD? Which is best for a Chicago wedding videographer?  I will help to explain which format is best for different uses. What would be best for one user is not best for all. Please read below to compare recording formats.

MINI DV camcorders:

The earliest digital recording medium. 6MM matchbook size tape cost $3 for a one hour tape. Record time 60 minutes Standard SP speed 90 minutes LP speed. Camera cost range: $250-$3000. Designed for someone who wants to shoot video to be edited later (Maybe months or years later) on a non-linear editing system IE:  Imovie, windows movie  maker & Adobe Premiere. The footage is digitized into Imovie by hooking the camera up to  the IEEE 1394 “Firewire” connector on a computer and digitized onto a hard drive on the computer in real time.
Advantages: Oldest Digital recording format yields the most compatible equipment and software for editing. Highest quality picture and sound (in standard resolution) least compression than the other recording formats. There is not signal loss when digitizing mini DV footage.  Lower battery drain because the tape drive uses less power than DVD-R and Hard Drive units.  Easy and inexpensive archival of footage IE:  The tapes are inexpensive and they do not need to be re-used for another shoot. With other formats (like Hard Drive recording) the media in the camera is reused and the footage must be archived before editing (or re-shooting on the reusable media) can commence.

Disadvantages: The tape must be played on the camera itself to watch the footage, unlike DVD-R cameras. The tape has to be digitized in real time IE: 1 hour of footage takes 1 hour to digitize into the hard drive of the computer. You have to pay $3 for camera tapes; record time is either 1-hour in Standard Play or 90 minutes on Long Play. The picture quality is the same for both record lengths, but Long Play gets a glitch during edits done in camera.

Bottom Line: Mini DV is great for someone who is going to edit their work and they do not have to archive the footage elsewhere if editing is not going to commence soon. People who do video for a living or can’t edit stuff right away and work on more than one project at a time will like mini DV.  Most Professional videograohers who shoot wedding videography use Mini DV or the next category HDV Mini DV. This is the norm in Chicago, New York, L.A. and most of Illinois and the Midwest.

HDV Mini DV Camcorders:

HDV is a high definition version of mini DV. The cameras range from $950 to $9,000 for a high end pro model.  HDV cameras can shoot on standard mini DV or HDV High Definition using a more expensive special Mini DV tape that costs $13 to $20 as opposed to the $3 tape that mini DV uses.  The Camera shoots a special version of high definition that is compressed using “MPEG2” compression that allows 4 times the resolution of a high Definition signal to use the same 25 megabytes per second data rate that standard mini DV uses.  There are several Professional camcorders from Sony, Cannon and JVC that shoot HDV on a mini DV tape they range in price from $2600 to $9000
Advantages: Same as mentioned for Mini DV, The picture is quality is better and is more compatible with editing systems than “ACVHD” (a different version of compressed High Definition). HDV footage can be converted to standard resolution for viewing or standard editing.   HDV footage can be converted to either HDcam, HD DVD or Blu-Ray DVD so it is the most compatible or the High Definition formats and editing systems.
Disadvantages: Uses more expensive tape than Mini DV.  The cameras are more expensive than “ACVHD” high definition camcorders.  Battery drain is more than mini DV but is still less than Hard Drive and DVD-R cameras. All high definition cameras (HDV included) are worse in low light than standard definition cameras because they have more pixels (4 times more) sharing the same amount of light coming through the lens. Editing HDV footage puts more strain on the computer, so there are more technical problems on computers that edit HDV footage, many times computes must be upgraded to edit HDV footage. In order to enjoy the footage in full high definition you must burn either a Blu-ray or HD DVD Disc and both the burners and the blank discs are pretty pricey.

The Bottom Line: HDV Cameras are for the professional or serious video consumer who wants to “future proof” his camera purchase and be compatible with high definition technology.  The purchaser should bring extra lights for High Definition shoots because the camera needs more light. Milestone Photo and video an expert wedding videographer in Chicago uses HDV.

Hard Drive Camcorders (HDD)

Hard Drive Cameras are a newer technology than Mini DV. They range from $400 to $1500. The Hard Drive camera replaces the tape drive of the Mini DV with an 8 Gigabyte to 80 Gigabyte non-removable hard drive for recording. These cameras don’t require media because you reuse a built in hard drive every time you shoot video. When you want to edit a your footage, you hook a USB2 cable to the camera from your editing computer and transfer the footage into the computer’s hard drive at 4 times “real time” or you can edit using the built in hard drive on the camera.  These camcorders can shoot at different quality levels. On a 30-gigabyte camcorder, you can shoot 7 hours of High quality footage, 15 hours at standard quality & 37 hours at economy quality.  Some hard drive cameras can also shoot on High Definition as well. These cameras are knows as “AVCHD” which is yet another compressed version of High Definition that uses “MPEG 4” which is a lower quality type of compression than the previously mentioned “HDV”.  More about “AVCHD” later.

Advantages: variable quality levels variable record times.  Some of these cameras can do simple editing without a computer connected.  The record time without changing tapes is the longest. You can shoot a 12-hour concert without changing tapes or missing a beat. No discs or tapes to buy for a shoot.  Footage is transferred to an editing non-linear computer editor at four times “real time” or better (on lower quality settings).

Disadvantages: Since you are re-using the record media for every shoot, once you have used up the camera’s internal hard drive, you cannot record any more footage until the internal camera hard drive is transferred to another hard drive for archiving. If the editing session is delayed for months the footage must take up valuable space on the hard drive of the editors computer. There is no non-volatile archive of the footage like tape based shooting (mini DV) If the camera is bumped while recording, the hard drive can “crash” which may ruin all the footage that is recorded on the internal hard drive on the camera. The battery drain is worse than Mini DV, Mini DV HDV & flash memory but is better than DVD-R

Bottom Line: Consumer or hobbyists who want to record long programs without interruption, and are only working on one project at a time will like Hard Drive Camcorders.  It would be nice if the hard drive on these cameras was switchable by the camcorder’s user to make it easier to archive footage since hard drives are getting cheaper and cheaper. Alas these camcorders require a technician to replace a hard drive. There are some external professional hard drive units that can attach to mini DV camera’s “firewire” connector to make a camera be both a Mini DV camera and hard drive camera that gives those cameras the best of both worlds.

Flash Memory Camcorders:  SD, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, P2 cards

These are the, smallest, newest and most robust technology for camcorders available. Although HD SLRs use flash memory too, I treat them separate below because they are quite a different animal.  They range from $60 all the way up to $12000 for the newest High Definition Flash memory pro camera from Sony and Panasonic and RED.  The recording device of these camcorders is flash memory, identical to the memory used in consumer digital camcorders. This solid-state chip records footage digitally similar to (previously mentioned) hard drive. This chip has no moving parts and the data is not lost when the re-usable media is removed from the camera and replaced with a fresh card.  Secure Digital (SD Card), compact Flash or Memory Stick are the most popular types of cards used. Since flash cards (at the time of this article) can be up to 32 gigabytes (cost of an 8 gig card $85) the record time is less than with hard drive cameras (also they usually compress the video more to fit more data). They are loaded into a computer for editing much like a digital camera loads photos. Once the footage is in the non-linear editing computer the card may be erased and reused to shoot something else. The media is reused similar to a Hard drive Camera except the media can be switched with a blank memory card when blank media runs out. Some flash memory cameras can also shoot on High Definition as well. These cameras are knows as “AVCHD” which is yet another compressed version of High Definition that uses “MPEG 4” which is a lower quality type of compression than the previously mentioned “HDV”.  More about “AVCHD” later.

Advantages: This technology makes it possible to make the smallest and most robust camcorders possible. Similar to hard drive cameras these cameras have variable quality levels variable record times.  The advantage over hard drive camcorders is that flash Media camcorder’s record media is user replaceable, so multiple SD cards can be used to archive footage, with hard drive camcorders you can’t switch hard drives.  Also you can either transfer footage into a computer using the camera and a USB 2 cable or you can put the actual secure digital card into a fast card reader for lightning fast transfer into a computer. Since the chip has no moving parts it has the least battery drain of all camcorders; sharply hitting the camera while recording cannot cause the flash memory chip to “crash” like on a hard drive. This is the most robust of all recording media but the cost per gigabyte (or minute) is the highest. Some of these flash memory units can also do some simple editing without a computer. Some expensive plasma TVs have a slot for flash media, some units can play video directly from the flash memory onto the plasma screen. The price of flash memory is dropping faster than the cost of hard drive memory, so media will cost much less in a year or so.

Disadvantages: These cameras use expensive reusable memory that must be purchased before using the camera; unlike hard drive camcorders that come with the hard drive media included. The price of an 8-gigabyte memory card is $84 and it will record at the highest quality for about 3 hours and the lowest quality for 15 hours.  Because the reusable media must be archived on the editors computer; that means the if editing session is delayed for months, the footage must take up valuable space on the hard drive of the editors computer. Because flash memory is more expensive than hard drive camcorders, most users shoot at lower quality levels than users who use hard drive camcorders.  If you want to shoot a lot of hours without downloading to a computer in between shots, be prepared to spend a lot of money for memory. This may be a moot point because the prices of flash memory are falling very fast.

Bottom Line: Flash media is the future of digital video and music; just look what it did to digital cameras and MP3 players. Consumers and hobbyists who don’t need a lot of record time, want a small camera that is robust and inexpensive, and can archive their footage on an external hard drive, will love flash media camcorders for their speed, simplicity any small size.   One note: When flash memory drops to the point of being less expensive than a hard drive memory, hard drive camcorders will be obsolete. In the future all camcorders will use this technology for recording.

HD SLR Still Cameras that also shoot super high quality HD Videos (Newest addition!)

HD DSLRs have been around since January 2008 and are the latest technology for the Wedding videographer, photographer or filmmaker working in Chicago New York or LA. DSLR’s  This type of Camera shoots Photos and high quality HD video using the same camera and the same flash based recording media. DSLR’s have a HUGE image sensor that is 20 times the size of many professional 3-chip digital video camcorders. The difference is the DSLR has only ONE CHIP, a really BIG chip that enables the use of higher optical quality glass lenses that are used in SLR digital photography.  The advantage is that since the image sensor is larger, the video created has better resolution, better dynamic range and less lens distortion than smaller chipped 3-chip camcorders. Since the Photo/Video cameras can take all Canon Or Nikon photo lenses (depending on camera model), many different photo” looks” (using photography lenses) can be applied to wedding videography.  One of the best uses of these dual use cameras is to shoot using a wide open F-stop that yields a shallow depth of field. This feature makes the wedding videographer capable of having a bride and groom be in focus in the foreground and have the background be very out of focus. This out of focus area is called Bokeh. The wedding videographer can also rack-focus from a close foreground object to a distant giving a cool cinematic look that is difficult with a standard 3 chip video camcorder. Most of these dual use cameras record onto SD  or Compact flash using the AVCHD format (see AVCHD below) which is a version of MPEG 4 and H264. These cameras do not record very good sound quality (some cheaper units have no external mic input) and most wedding videographers  use a separate audio recording device and sync the sound latter. The Canon 5D  mark II is the highest quality HDSLR from Canon it is the only HD SLR that uses a full size image sensor. The Canon 7D and the Nikon D3100, D5100, D7000 all shoot HD video but have a smaller image sensor with a 28.8 mm diagonal image sensor. The Canon 5D mark II has a 33 mm diagonal image sensor.

Advantages: HD SLRs get better raw picture quality than any other type of video camera.  The ability to change lenses and use incredible capable photo lenses makes these cameras only as good as the lenses you are using. The ability to control focus and aperture is better than most video cameras. The ability to switch between shooting photography and videography with the very same camera makes a wedding photographer able to shoot photos and video with the same camera and same expensive lenses. This shooting photo and video with the same camera is called “photo and video fusion”. Milestone photo and video is one of the fist companies to shoot both photo and video fusion with the same camera!

Disadvantages: HD SLRs us a photo CMOS sensor. These sensors can get hot from extended video shots causing the sensor to overheat for longer shots. The first generation HD SLRs could only record for up to 5 minutes per shot, like the Nilon D90.  The newer HD SLRs can shoot up to 20 minutes, this is a problem for shooting longer programs. Also some of the AVCHD files these cameras create, can be difficult for some non-linear editors to handle.  Other things that may pose a challenge for a videographer are: the cameras do not record very good sound, so most wedding videographers opt to record the sound on a separate camcorder or sound system. Also, since still camera zoom don’t have a power zoom, you can’t smoothly zoom into our out of an object. Zooming should be done between shots. The autofocus system on the Nikon HD SLRs have autofocus that is not as well adapted for video than a real video camera.  All the Canon HD SLRs can’t use the autofocus on the camera or lens at all. This makes the wedding videographer/cinematographer have to focus constantly to keep the objects he is shooting in focus. These cameras work best when used with other conventional camcorders. Also the form factor is not made for shooting video. The ergonomics of these cameras are not made for shooting video. You must get a LCD magnifier (hoodman or Zacuto) or hood for shooting outside and to see if you are in focus.

Bottom Line: These cameras get better picture quality than anything else out there. The ability to use (and change) photo lenses gives these cameras great optical powers.  There is a trade-off with the disadvantage of recording on separate audio equipment, not being able to zoom smoothly and the limited recording time. These cameras are best used in conjunction with other types of camcorders on this list.

AVCHD Compression used in flash, HDD and DVD-R camcorders:

advanced video codec high definition. This is a high definition compression format that compresses the high definition video so it can be recorded (for presentation) to an inexpensive DVD-R media instead of the much more expensive Blu-Ray media. This is the only way to record a video for presentation, without using a pricey blu-ray burner, which costs $800. Also the blu-ray media itself costs $20 for a 25-gigabyte disc. This less expensive type of high definition video uses inexpensive .40-cent discs but they can be played on expensive ($400) Blu-Ray high definition disc players at a lower quality than HDV footage converted to Blu-ray disc. These AVCHD recordings are intended to be played on a Blu-ray payer or on a computer equipped with special software. This compression technology is incorporated into some of the more expensive hard drive, flash media and DVD-R camcorders so you can burn a direct output of your unedited footage directly onto a standard inexpensive DVD-R burner at high definition quality.

ADVANTAGES: AVCHD enables the cost conscious consumer to shoot and present unedited high definition video without needing expensive blu-ray media ($20 per disc) or an expensive blu-ray burner (burner cost $800) Because the data rate is low, an inexpensive AVCHD flash media camcorder can shoot 43 minutes of high definition on an inexpensive 4 gigabyte secure digital card.

Disadvantages: AVCHD signals are not intended to be edited later although imovie intends on adding AVCHD support to their next upgrade.  AVCHD is much lower quality than HDV compression for high definition discussed earlier. ACVHD has a data rate of 15 megabytes per second and HDV has a data rate of 25 megabytes per second. ACVHD is not compatible with blu-ray competitor, HD-DVD. However HDV high definition MPEG 2 compression  is compatible with BOTH blu-ray AN HD DVD. Like all High definition camcorders, you need extra light to get an acceptable picture from these camcorders.
The Bottom Line: Although AVCHD is a cost cutting way of presenting high definition videos without the cost of Blu-ray media, when blu-ray becomes more popular and cheaper. I think that AVCHD may fall by they wayside except with small flash media camcorders that need a lot of compression to record to a small flash memory card.

Mini DVD-R, Mini Blu-Ray optical drives:

These camcorders are meant to shoot a finished product that is ready to play on a standard home DVD or Blu-Ray player.  MINI DVD-R camcorders use media that not meant to be edited later. They use a mini 1.4-gigabyte mini version of a full size 4.7 gigabyte DVD.  They range in price from $250 for a basic DVD-R model to $1400 for a Blu-Ray high definition model. If you are the kind of person who just wants to shoot video and enjoy it right away without doing any editing, this is the camera recording format for you. The record media is reasonably inexpensive for the Mini DVD-R about $2.50 for a disc that will record for 30 minutes the cost is $5 per hour (media cost) compared to $3 per hour cost of mini DV. The media for Blu-Ray discs is not readily available but when available it will be quite expensive. All Blu-Ray disc camcorders can also burn Mini DVD-R discs.

Advantages: These camcorders can play on any home or computer based DVD player the mini DVD-R sits in the inner ring of any DVD player. These DVDs can be copied and archived to any other DVD media in minutes including less expensive full size DVD-R media. These camcorders have a similar purpose to full size VHS camcorders of the 90s whose convenience is popular because homeVHS and DVD units are ready to watch the footage almost instantly.
Disadvantages:   These Camcorders are not for shooting programs that will be edited later. It is a pain in the neck to try to digitize DVD footage and some non-linear systems force you to hook up a DVD player’s analog output to the analog input of the non-linear computer for editing purposes. If you will edit do not get DVD-R or Blu-Ray .  DVD-R camcorders have the worst battery drain because the constantly spinning DVD uses the most power than any other camcorder format including hard drive camcorders.
Bottom Line: Although DVD-R camcorders are among the best selling in the consumer market, many people get them because they are impatient and want to see the footage on a home DVD player instantly, for these people DVD-R is great.  Some of these impatient people may later realize that they want to edit their footage with imovie or some other non-linear system. It is then; that these people who choose DVD-R realize that one of the other recording formats would have been a better choice.

Multiple Format Camcorders:

After all this information is thrown at you, you might be thinking: I am confused, do I want flash media or DVD-R? Do I want DVD-R or hard drive? Some companies answer this question with versatile multiple format camcorders. Hitachi makes camcorders that record on both DVD-R AND Flash media; they also make a model that records on both DVD-R and Hard Drive. Sony makes several camcorders that record on BOTH a hard drive and flash media when the hard drive is full. Panasonic has a flash media camcorder that has an external 40 gigabyte hard drive that runs on batteries and it can back up the footage from a smaller flash media card in the field. Sony makes a battery operated external portable DVD-R recorder that can be hooked up to any mini DV camcorder so you can record on DV or DVD-R or both.  For professionals, Panasonic makes a $6000 camcorder that shoots on mini DV tapes for standard resolution. If you want high definition you can shoot on “P2” 32-gigabyte flash cards at various high definition resolutions.

The Bottom line: Before everyone switches to the latest technology: Flash media, many people will be buying digital video cameras that give the amateur or professional a choice in recording formats. This feature will make the choice of which camcorder to buy easier for the wary consumer.

8 Millimeter and Digital 8 camcorders:

8MM is the last analog format to die a slow death at the stiff competition from the many digital video formats listed above. 8MM camcorders are similar to mini DV camcorders but the quality is much worse because they are analog.  The cost savings over mini DV camcorders is only $30 so I would not recommend 8 Millimeter cameras or their bastard brother “Digital 8”, which uses analog 8 MM tapes and records them digitally using mini DV’s type compression. The problem with Digital 8 camcorders is very few people have digital 8 so if you break the camcorder, you have to find someone that has this unusual camcorder to do anything with the footage. People who have alot of old 8mm tapes may like this type of camera because it can play their old tapes, but the lack of compatibility may spell the end of digital 8.
Hopefully I haven’t confused people who are trying to decide which camcorder to get.

Copyright 2011 By Robert M. Busch and Milestone Photo & Video All rights reserved. No Part of this article my be used without written permission from Robert M. Busch.

Copyright 20011by Robert Busch no copying or reprint without my written permission.