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Old May 24th, 2004, 01:49 AM   #1
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Confused on multiple camera purchase

Hi,

While I am not new to consumer cameras, I am new to the prosumer cameras. I need two cameras for recording concerts where sound is extremely important. This is ALL I will ever be using the cameras for. I have read through these forums and am confused on which camera (without being taken apart and modified) has better sound as far as the PD 170, VX2100 or PDX10. Does the VX2100 have better sound with the Beach Tek DX8A and ME66k6 than the PD 170 with it's onboard shotgun microphone or with the ME66K6 hooked up to the XLR conectors? Is there any difference in sound quality between the VX2100 with Beachtek DXA8/ ME66K6 and the PD170/PDX10 with ME66K6 microphones? I know there is a problem with the VX2100 that requires that amplified microphones be hooked up so that the gain on the camera does not exceed 50 percent. I am not sure if this problem exists on the PD170 and PDX10 and also not sure if the Beachtek DXA8 amplifies the signal even more so that the camera gain can be turned down even more than what the PD170 with no Beachtek DXA8 could do.


Also, does the PDX10 have the same audio as the PD170. If so I could use this as a secondary camera and use the 16 bit mono from both cameras to convert to stereo on my computer in post production. I am not concerned with the poor low light of the PDX10 because I must deal with the other extreme and that being extremely harsh bright stage lights that my old Sony digital 8 camera with no manual white balance could not handle.

I was looking at the cost point and it looks like I could get 2 VX2100's for 4800 before the beachtek and microphones. However, if the sound is good on both the PD170 and PDX10, I can get those for 1850 + 3200 = 5050 dollars. If I need two ME66K6, I will need to add an addional 800 to get two ME66K6 Microphones and power supplies. I have thought about getting a Stereo microphone but with two mono's from two seperate camera's I imagine it would not be too difficult to convert it to stereo in post production. I have not been able to find any stereo microphones that match up the the ME66's in specs.

And so here are my options:

2 VX2100's with two Beach Tek DXA8's and two ME66/K6's

1 PD170 with or without ME66/K6 (not sure of the quality of on camera microphones)

1 PDX10 with or without ME66/K6

Finally, I am assuming that shotgun's do not have to be hooked up to the camera as I do not want on board microphones when I can have the microphones placed on a stand next to the musicians.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 09:48 AM   #2
 
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If you're this concerned for the audio quality, and there is obviously a mix console in this scenario, I'd more look to recording with a DAT or MDHiD before I'd use the camera. Quality will be better in the end, although it will mean more work in post.
ME 66 or AT 897 will provide great quality. Even though the ME is hotter, the sound of the 897 is smoother. You've got a Beachtek in there to boost the level if necessary, or attenuate if necessary. The PD 170 has newer/cleaner pre's, and the audio I've heard come from it to our studio has been quite good, definitely not noisy like it's predecessor. I don't own this camera though, only have rec'd tapes from it.
Don't know anything at all about the PDX10, sorry.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 10:56 AM   #3
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I have both a VX-2000 and PDX-10 and use them to tape our live productions. I think the audio quality is noticeably better on the PDX-10 vs the VX-2000 with a beachtek box. The mono mike that comes with the PDX-10 is the same as the mike supplied with the PD-150 (and probably PD-170?). I have actually been pleasantly surprised with its quality for this sort of thing. I normally use a feed from our house sound board (which is used for backstage monitor purposes, not sound reinforcement) on ch 1 and the on-camera mike on ch 2. The on-camera mike track compares very favorably to the track from the house board. I've also found that the auto level setting works very well on the PDX-10 and yields pretty natural results while preventing and unusually loud sections of music from creating distortion. I generally set the on-camera mike for manual level and put the feed from the house board on auto.

Sorry, I can't really help with your other questions since I haven't used a VX-2100 or PD-170. But I think Douglas also makes a good point about using an external recorder if sound is "extremely important". In my case we are just shooting archival video so I find the camera sound to be OK (we do separate audio recordings for broadcast).
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Old May 24th, 2004, 11:32 AM   #4
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I don't think I'd use a shotgun in this situation because they are very directional and subject to overloads. If I could ignore costs, I'd choose a pair of nice cardiods.

But most importantly, I'd hire a pro sound guy and let him worry about the microphones and the mix. Receiving the event sound track on a CD or two is so much more relaxing than worrying about both the video and the sound together. And the results of him/her dribbling microphones across the stage in exactly the right places (and the right microphones) and then mixing the sound correctly is phenomenally better than what we video guys normally do.

Videographers probably don't hire pro sound help often enough, right, Douglass?

Just use the on-camera microphones to pick up room tone, act as a synch track and be a last-ditch backup.

Based on reports from PDX-10 owners, I'd expect the high-contrast lighting to cause that camera some problems. Much more than the PD-170 will do.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 12:50 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : Based on reports from PDX-10 owners, I'd expect the high-contrast lighting to cause that camera some problems. Much more than the PD-170 will do. -->>>

What kind of problems? High contrast is of course a general problem for DV, but I have not observed any problems specific to the PDX-10 while shooting stage shows. In fact, I use it exclusively for this nowadays. The high quality 16:9 works great for stage shows. Now if I didn't want to shoot in 16:9 I would probably favor the VX-2000 however.

The only time I have problems is in very dark scenes where I have to shoot with more than a +12 dB gain boost, but these are relatively rare. Perhaps you're refering to the much-discussed vertical smear problem on the PDX-10? This has never been an issue for me while shooting stage shows at 1/60 sec shutter speed, even when there is an exposed light in the frame.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 02:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies on this. I may try to hook up at least one of the cameras into the sound board directly using the XLR connections, but want a good microphone backup in case somethhing goes wrong. Not sure what kind of output connectors proffesional sound boards use such as 3F or 5F but should try to find that out before the tour starts so I can get the right kind of XLR cable and or Y conncectors if needed. I do not have the budget starting out to get a DAT machine or even a field mixer and am worried about audio video sync problems by letting them take care of the sound themselves.

"I don't think I'd use a shotgun in this situation because they are very directional and subject to overloads. If I could ignore costs, I'd choose a pair of nice cardiods."

Do you have any suggestions for a reasonably priced 200-500 non shotgun microphone. I could buy two of these and set one up close to the left on stage speaker and the other close to the right on stage speaker for backup purposes to the one going directly into the soundboard. I am no microphone expert, but would the the non shotgun cardiods you speak of be listed as handheld, studio or in some other catagory at B&H Photo?

I am thinking that overpriced Sennheiser mikes might be overkill for backup purposes and the limiatations of the sound on all of the above cameras and am curious if the cheaper Audio-Technica or AKG make any good non shotgun mikes as most of the talk on them is for their shotgun one's.

Any suggestions for good non shotgun mono or even stereo microphones would be greatly appreciated.

I may go with a PD170/VX2100 with Beachtek combo for my video shots as I am not going to be doing any wide screen shots. Of course I am a one man show and after the secondary camera is set up correctly with white balance etc, I will not be controlling it and will be spending all of my time on the PD170. I am assuming that the VX2100 handles auto focusing alright as I would hate to manually focus it and then have it go out of focus when I am not there to correct it. The concerts I will be filming do not have changing lighting at all as most of them have very bright on stage lights shining down on each person in the group that does not change throughout the concert.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 03:07 PM   #7
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Also, I am assuming that you meant a good cardiod that has amplified sound so that the gain can be turned down on the cameras. Most of the non shotgun microphones that I looked at were not amplified and thus would not work as well with the above cameras.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 04:20 PM   #8
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Boyd,

Early on the cameras were reported as having extraordiarily poor response to light sources against a dark background. Heavy streaking was reported. I don't read the PDX-10 forum so I don't know if that was an early batch or a consistent design problem.

Dan,

I would consider any cardiod to be OK but I'd probably use my Shure 81 (or a pair) as it is plenty sensitive. Directly in front of a speaker, I'd use my Beta58 although the 81 with it's built-in attenuator would handle the spl very nicely. The 81 goes for around $350 I think and does require phantom power. The Beta58 is about $150 and is a Dynamic microphone.

AT makes a lot of good microphones that are not shotguns. They have a number of stereo microphones that receive good reports.

Do understand that you can probably hire a pro sound person for less than the cost of two SM81s and that person could feed your camcorders directly. Just a suggestion but since you said that sound 'is extremely important,' it is unlikely you are going to get the sound you want with a limited equipment budget and little prior experience.

Cameras don't go out of focus on their own. If you are going to leave it on a fixed shot, do not use autofocus. Set the focus ( as well as exposure and white balance) and it will stay. A 2100 at full or near wide really doesn't require focusing anyway so if you focus it on the stage at full zoom and then pull wide, it will be just fine.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 04:54 PM   #9
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Mike: some people seem to have this problem, but I really have not personally. From what I understand one of the big culprits is leaving it set for full auto mode under bright conditions which cause the camera to use high shutter speeds. If you shoot manual at 1/60 sec there isn't much problem.

Here's a little clip that shows the smear in action. But this was what I'd call an extreme situation where I shot directly into the sun and also used a high shutter speed. Notice that the camera handles it ok until the sun drops just a bit below the clouds.

Sorry... this is getting off-topic for the audio forum...
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Old May 25th, 2004, 05:02 PM   #10
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mike,

Due to an article I read on another thread, I am almost conviced now to go with a Rode NT-4 stereo microphone.

I am also convinced to go with a DAT recorder instead of buying a high quality secondary camera. I would rather have good sound and just go with my 10 year old digital 8 camera for my secondary camera (possibly with a wide angle lense hooked up to it)

Any suggestions on a good DAT machine that will take the XLR connection from the NT-4 and work well with a PD170 and will also not run me 10,000 dollars. I am looking for one that will not be overkill for the Rode NT-4 or two mono Shure 81s. The specs on the Shure 88 don't look to great on signal to noise.


Dan
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Old May 25th, 2004, 05:06 PM   #11
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Also, I might try to rent a secondary camera like the VX2100 or PD170 for the nights of the concerts instead of buying one.

Any one got any good suggestions on a good XLR DAT machine would be greatly appreciated as I know nothing about them at all.

thanks in advance,
Dan
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Old May 25th, 2004, 06:30 PM   #12
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You might want to get one VX2000 "Winterized". The Audio mod whereby the camera pres are bypassed and line level is fed directly into the analog to digital converters. With a mix pre, you won't get any better sound on any camera. It's pretty well DAT quality. I had this mod done and it's moved my audio into a totally new realm.

Have you listened to the before and after clips on wav files?

http://www.dvfreelancer.com/articles/vx2000.html
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Old May 26th, 2004, 12:44 PM   #13
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I have read that the PD170 has better sound than the VX2000.

I am thinking now about getting a mix pre amp and going with either two 81's or the NT-4 stereo microphone.

Does anyone know if the best mix preamp to go with this combination might be the Shure FP24?

I have also been looking into the Marantz PMD670 recorder or the TASCAM DA-P1 as an alternate to the mix pre amp but am worried about post production audio sync problems and think that a good microphone and mix preamp might be a better option for the better sound quality of the PD170.

Might I get sastisfactory results with a good mix preamp like the Shure FP24 going directly into the PD170 unmodified.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 12:52 PM   #14
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Also, since I am just in the process of getting the PD170 I am a little concerned about voiding the warrenty on it by getting the mod done to it until after the warrenty runs out next year.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 05:23 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Melius : I have read that the PD170 has better sound than the VX2000.->>>>

Yes that's true in the stock form

If you want the best sound possible, it's the modification. This is better sound than any DV camera on the market, period. Do yourself a favour and read the link I left. It's not going to hurt you to listen to the before and after or read the text. The PD150/170 is actually harder to modify than the VX2000/2100.


<<<-I have also been looking into the Marantz PMD670 recorder or the TASCAM DA-P1 as an alternate to the mix pre amp-->>>
While the PMD670 will record much better sound than the camera, the preamp isn't the best. I use a mix pre or 302 into the line feed of the PMD 670. This is being picky but it depends on how picky you are.

<<<--Might I get sastisfactory results with a good mix preamp like the Shure FP24 going directly into the PD170 unmodified. -->>> The Shure FP24 is the Mix Pre. Shure market it under their own name. Yes the results going through the Mix Pre will be OK. The best of that situation is a line level input.

Do a search in dv.com on the audio forum.
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