Has The Camcorder Got Serious Competition


In the early days of film making, there was only one way to make a film, which was to shoot with film camera onto film stock. Then came along the digital camcorder which replaced the film stock with a digital sensor.

Because the sensor in photography cameras were so similar to that of video camcorders, manufacturers began to make cameras that did both. The video element was poor on photography cameras at first, but then they started to put high definition video into full frame photography cameras and the quality looked great. Essentially with the photography camera being full frame, you were getting the equivalent of 32mm footage in high definition.


So the question is, can these photography cameras replace the dedicated video camcorder for wedding video production. The answer for me is no. The reason I believe this is as follow:


1, Photography cameras do not have neutral density filters. Neutral density filters are necessary when ever you are shooting in bright sunlight because the iris can not reduce the light enough to give a nicely exposed picture. On a camcorder you have these at your disposal, so you can flick a switch and instantly the camera is ready to shoot outside. With a photography camera, you have to screw them on, which takes time and may lead to you missing vital shots. This would be fine if you were shooting a drama, where the pace of things happening is controlled by the director but in a live event situation, where there is no second take, you have to be ready to shoot in a variety of locations almost immediately.


2, Continuous Auto focus. You need continuous auto focus when you are shooting a wedding because you can not focus and concentrate on all the other things that are going on in the midst of the live event. You also need to be concentrating on keeping the sound levels, framing, exposure etc correct. There is no way you could focus pull at the same time.

Most photography cameras do not have continuous auto focus and those that do are very poor and are not full frame. Sony claimed to have done it with their new range of mirrowless full frame cameras, but the reviews on the continuous auto focus have not been positive so far.

Canon have developed a technology called dual pixel auto focus. Normally there is a separate sensor for the auto focus and the light must be bounced through a hole in the mirror, making it very slow and therefore not effective. The sensor of a dual pixel camera has the auto focus sensors on the main sensor and according to early reports gives stunning continuous auto focus performance.


3, Programmable zoom. One function on a camcorder that is hugely helpful is the programmable zoom. During a wedding ceremony you are constantly required to expand and contract the frame in order to keep all the action in the picture but also get in close enough to capture the emotion. It is nearly impossible for one person to be able to pan and tilt the camera, whilst also smoothly zooming in and out at the same time. We therefore use the handle zoom function on the top of the camera because this produces a perfectly consistent and smooth, zoom and zoom out. Also because it is programmable to various speeds, so you can program it to match the pace of the action that you are shooting. Such a function does not exist on photography cameras making it impossible to have the same ability to control a camera as well as you can with a camcorder.


In summary, the photography camera is getting closer and closer to being able to match the camcorder for shooting live events. The improvement in auto focus is definitely a massive step forward. Over the coming years the photography camera will get better and better at shooting video and will eventually become a viable option for shooting wedding videos.


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