Best video camera for shooting dance recitals?

Discussion in 'Video' started by john_e|2, Apr 22, 2015.

  1. Hi,
    what would be the best video camera with which to shoot dance recitals.
    I'm willing to spend up to $3000 on a camera.
    Please give me some input.
  2. Will you be shooting from a stationary position (say, on a tripod), in typically poor theatrical lighting situations? You may be best off with a full-frame DSLR, in the interests of taking advantage of the excellent low-light performance you can get from their large sensors. They also allow you to use a huge variety of lenses, including some with fast enough apertures to help out further in that poor light. But remember that wide-open lenses and large sensors mean shallow depth of field, so if you're shooting from up close and tracking movement, you'll have to get used to manually tracking focus. But if you're shooting from a stationary position farther back in the house, those issues somewhat go away.

    Now, if you're looking for a point-and-shoot, hand-held camcorder style rig, that's another whole story. Before getting into all of that, it would help to know what sort of equipment you already have, and what you intend to do about audio (audio recorder from a mic on the camera is generally bad idea ... are you going to be collecting line-fed audio from the venue's sound system, or looking to collect all audio from one or more mics in the room?).

    Knowing a little more about your current level of experience will also help.
  3. I have canon 1dx and last year tried it out at the recital. the problem is that several times the recoding suddenly stopped in the middle of a number. This was not due to the 29 minute limit on the camera. I've been looking at professional video cameras in the hopes they are better suited for long recording. Audio would be with an external mic not the built in camera mic.
  4. Hi John, a $3,000 budget will buy a very decent camera with high capacity solid state storage, and just about every offering from major manufacturers in that bracket will have very good low light performance and image quality; the differences will be in features and ergonomics so it's really a matter of brand preference - I'm partial to Sony.
  5. I would be looking for a camera with a decent zoom range giving the ability to re-frame quickly and smoothly. Think about the shots you would like to get. Will you be using more than one camera?
  6. For $3,000 you can buy a very nice prosumer-level or better actual video camera. Look at some of the models from Sony, Panasonic and JVC at under video camera, or your favorite camera store.

    Stick with a video camera, not a DSLR, for this job, for a number of reasons. First, many DSLRs have a time limit on how long you can shoot continously. I assume you're going to want to shoot at least an entire dance straight through, maybe multiple dances without a break. Second, AF on video cameras is much better suited to rapidly moving dancers and subjects that move during the shot. The shallow depth of field and wide apertures that make DSLR footage look "cinematic" will work against you in trying to shoot dance -- you want as much depth of field as you can get so things don't go out of focus.

    Any video camera in this range will have excellent low-light performance and a very wide range zoom. And video cameras have excellent built in audio and ones in this price range will have the right connections.

    You might thing about shooting with more than one camera because dance can be all over the place and it's difficult to be constantly reframing. I have a friend who shoots dance recitals professionally. He uses a $3,000 range camera as his main camera and operates its himself, but sets up a couple of small unmanned camcorders for cutaway shots. One might be at the back of the room capturing a constant wide shot of the full stage so he's free to do closeups and follow invididual dancers but still have a wide shot to cut back to. The other might be off to the side or at the edge of the stage to offer a different angle. Having those extra angles can really help in editing.

    Bad audio is one of the worst mistakes for people just getting started in video. Be sure to either plug in directly to the sound system or get a microphone, even a tieclip mike will do, on one of the speakers coming from the audio system.

    I assume, of course, that you will have the camera on a tripod. That is absolutely essential.
  7. The Sony A7s cost less than $3k and will shoot in the dark but needs a lot of help.
    The best lens is the Sony 28-135 Cine that cost about as much as the camera.
    You need a 4k recorder for more than 29 minutes and at a much better recording quality.
    I routinely DownRes 4k to 1080P30 with my 7Q+
    You need a two battery grip to go over 1 hour or a dummy battery and larger external one.
  8. For your budget, you'll have a lot of high quality cams with tons of features at your disposal. Here's an interesting article that will help you to pick a camera for your needs:
  9. I love shooting video with my D7000, but something like dance in a theater, a dslr is going to be seriously over-matched, IMHO.
    Been shooting dance for $ since the days of tube cameras/vhs porta-pack recorders. I curently run a Sony EX3 with a Canon 18x lens for my follow shot and a Sony EX1 for my wide set shot. I run both cameras into a Panasonic HMX-100 sdi HD switcher real time, and record on a Panasonic HMR-10 sd card recorder. Just started using a Zoom H5 recorder as an audio mixer (feels like cheating, but it's sweeeeet).
    I put a cardioid hand mic with a Sennheiser snap-on transmitter laid right on the stage to pick up the taps and any yips and yaps from the dancers.
    I get a line-out from the house for the music, arranged for with the sound guy days before.
    I run a cardioid on top of the EX1 for applause and a plan B, if things go seriously South. And yes, it all goes into the H5, and I output from the aux out to the Panny switcher. Was using a Mackie 804, but the H5 fits in my dang pocket!
    BUT all this is really heavy and expensive, and YOU could nicely fit a used, low-hours EX1, sourced from Ebay, for under $2k, learn how to program it through googling, get a GOOD tripod made for video, and put a Sony as 200 action cam right next to the stage and get a cool angle for adding in post. Or not. Single-cam works well if you do it right; you're always following the dancers, making sure they're all always in frame, and your frame only as wide as it needs to be. The EX1 has a friendly lens, and you'd still have money for a Vari-zoom back zoom control. You'll also want an MxM sd card adaptor and some fast, big-a$$ sd cards as Sony's SxS card media is still, uh, not cheap. But be warned: Sony EXs record an MXF file type, and not all editors can use it.
    And learn how to white-balance manually. Stage/theater lighting can go as low 2,000K, and now upwards of 7,000K if they're using leds, and sometimes in the course of the same flippin' show...

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