Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Hi Phillip.  I would like your advice opinion on a camcorder for doing weddings. I am a 68 year old man Living in the Rep of Ireland and I
have being doing weddings now and again as a hobby. I am retired and
in remission from cancer and i have a Sony PMW 350 Camcorder with a
Canon J22x lens (SD Lens) but i am beginning to find it too heavy and
awkward  and i would like to get something light and small with good
low light facilities  for indoor shooting with xlr connections.

I don’t want to invest a lot of money for one. Maybe less than 5k. I also edit
video with Adobe Premiere 2015 and windows 7 and a Matrox Mxo2 Mini
Box. I dont really want to upgrade to windows 10 as i can view footage
on tv with the matrox box and i dont think it would be possible with
windows 10 as the box is not compatible with windows 10.  I have a
radio Microphone that that i stand in front of the speaker in the
church and have a reciever on the back of the camcorder that connects
into the xlr. Is it possible to get something that would record the
sound and not be out of sync with the video.

Sorry for all the questions but would greatly appreciate your advice,
help. I have seen some videographers with a small stills looking
camera recording (e.g Sony or Canon) and wonder how they record sound?

HDW : I know how you feel I am convinced my Sony PMW 350 was the cause of my nerve pain down my right arm about 10 years ago. Anyone got good advice for this chap especially a good small camcorder that’s good in low light would be appreciated.

The biggest problem is no one has kept up with low light performance since the Sony EX3, if you are looking for a smaller camcorder with excellent focusing and XLR plus HD filming look no further than the new Sony FX6.

At 890g body only this would not only give you great HD pictures but all the professional sound connectors you have been used to. With a 1″ sensor low light will be a thing of the past and you also get a servo zoom. I am hoping someone will be able to comment if the MPEG 4 files are compatible with your older computer setup.

Another camera one of my readership recommends is the Panasonic AG-CX350 for light weight, a 20x servo zoom lens plus XLR inputs.

The only problems with “stills” cameras are lack of servo zoom and cumbersome heavy lenses and the sound tends to recorded via 3.5mm jack input though some cameras can use dedicated XLR units like the Panasonic S5.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

6 thoughts on “Any advice for a semi retired cameraman still filming weddings.

  1. It’s probably tempting to go with a “light” mirrorless setup. Especially for low light one of the Sony A7s would be good. But looking at the computer specs and XLR that he wants, I’d personally go with a C100mk2. He could probably save some $$$ by picking one up used on eBay. It’s not like he is going to be colour grading on his computer setup so good colour out of camera is essential, the autofocus is awesome and it has XLR. He won’t need to fiddle with silly DSLR menus either and I doubt that he’s going to want to get all involved with gimbals at this stage of his career. It’s heavier than a mirrorless rig but the ergonomics are better for video. So maybe throw in a good video-centric monopod to go with it too and a light carbon fibre tripod.

  2. I own a Sony PMW320K and like the person asking for advice – I too find it heavy (I’m approaching 65). By the time you slap on a V-lock battery, it seems to very quickly weigh a ton. I currently use a Sony PXW-X400KC (broadcaster supplied) and am filming six days a week with it – fortunately it’s all using a tripod so no problem. My secret weapon is the other camera I own – a Sony PXW-X160 (plus four BP60 batteries) which I use if there is to be a lot of hand held work or have to work very fast – great picture, its light, has great battery life, variable ND, etc…. Its replacement is a PXW-Z190 (4k version). Best accessory is a Blackmagic Video assist and an Atomos recorder. Look forward to seeing other comments.

  3. It may be worth looking into a PMW320. I don’t think they sell new anymore, but you may be able to find one secondhand. It’s the baby brother to the 350 you currently own – the big difference being 1/2″ chips rather than 2/3″, and it comes with a kit lens that is frankly far better than it should be for the price. (I have one, but am afraid I’m not looking to sell 🙂 )

    Advantages (to you) are you can use your existing batteries, and there will be little re-learning to be done after the 350 – most of the switches etc will be in the same place, and likewise XLR inputs etc. It’s also the same codec as the 350, so an identical workflow. But you should find it somewhat lighter.

    Personally, then although shouldermount, I can handhold such for a lot longer than a smaller (and lighter) camera where all the weight is in front of the face. It’s the advantage of letting your shoulder take the bulk of the weight, with the arm just balancing. I’m afraid I have to disagree with Phil – I find an “all in front” camera far more likely to give ergonomic problems – even if lighter.

    As far as “small stills looking cameras” go, then a couple of words of caution. They are (nowadays) capable of outstanding technical video quality for what are, first and foremost, stills cameras. BUT their advocates tend to go for them because of large sensor attributes, and a liking for shallow depth of field. Not necessarily what you want for weddings……. The sensor size also tends to mean lenses have either a more limited zoom range – or are big and heavy – and may not have a good servo zoom, if any. They may be good when there’s time to set up the shot – less good when you need to work quickly.

    It’s dual SD/HD out of the box, and whilst it doesn’t have the 4K or even 1080/50p offered by newer cameras, then personally I find the quality just looks very natural, and I don’t need the higher systems for what I do. In particular, it has a very pleasing skin tone detail – much better than the slightly “pastiness” that you can sometimes get. (Even with a 4K camera.)

  4. As a long time user of Sony cameras including the FS7 and more recently the FX6, I bucked the trend a year ago and bought a Panasonic CX350 mainly for its low weight, image quality, 20 to 1 zoom range with a 35mm equivalent of 24mm wide angle and low light performance. I have not been disappointed.

  5. I can definitely recommend the Panasonic S1 with XLR module.

    It has a few recording codec options such as mp4, avchd and QuickTime that might suit your setup.

    Its HD pixel to pixel and super 35 modes being assigned to the C1,C2,C3 buttons should also make running off say the 24-105mm without needing to change lens a possibility

    The sensor stabilisation is also very good and it is very reasonably priced

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