What Digital Camcorder Can I Get For Less Than A $1,000?
Question: My wife and I have started helping a photographer friend of ours do a package deal on weddings. I do the video and my wife helps out on the photography. What digital camcorder can I get for less than a $1,000 that will shoot clear in low light situations.
We did a wedding over the weekend on the beach and then the reception was indoors in a resort conference room. The lights were turned way down for the reception and the little camcorder (older mini disc model) I was using was having a hard time staying in focus because of it. Any help would be appreciated.
Answer: First of all, congratulations on starting your package deal on weddings. Wedding videography is indeed a good business to be in and I have many friends who run lucrative businesses in this area.
With regards to your question, there are two things you need to take care of - one is the camcorder itself and the other is the lighting. I'm not sure what mini disc model you were using for the shot above, but those cheaper models will not cut it if you're doing professional wedding videography.
I'd suggest you go for a prosumer level digital camcorder. However, you should not go for something too expensive (e.g. the Sony Handycam NEX-VG10). I'd say get something like the Panasonic HDC-TM300 - it is a good entry point for those just starting a video business and still quite affordable.
The Panasonic HDC-TM700K - camcorder is one of the best small HD camcorders out there. It has some of the best still and video images I've seen from a small camcorder, and gives impressive resolution, smooth motion, accurate color, and low noise. Best of all, it meets your criteria of being under $1000 - it currently retails for US$866.97 at Amazon.com.
For the lighting problem, you'd do well to ensure you have scout the area before the shot. That way, you can arrange to have a lighting setup or at least get the facilities manager to provide more light. The other way is to get a lighting kit that can be attached to your camcorder. However, I'd suggest you get into lighting kits only when you're familiar with the business, because those are expensive and also require mounts on your digital camcorder or tripods. So the best solution is to ensure the ambient light is sufficient first.
I hope the above helps you out and good luck with your wedding videography business!