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Old April 13th, 2005, 08:26 AM   #1
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Used TRV950 or New Optura 60

I know there will be many different opinions on this, but I'm looking to buy a camcorder in the next few weeks (next few days actually, if I decide on the TRV950 - there are a couple I have my eye on over on ebay). I'll be replacing my 1996 vintage, bottom of the line Samsung 8mm camera so please understand that anything I get will be light years ahead of what I have now. Understand, too, that I have experience with many different levels of camera, from consumer D8 (and my own 8mm) to the GL2 & XL1, up to several levels of Beta SP cameras all the way up to the Arri SR3 I used at Full Sail (boy I miss that thing!), so I want a lot of manual control over everything. I also want the best image I can get for the price.

I'm wondering if the TRV950 is as good as everything I read about it seems to say it is and if it's still good enough after what, about 3 years, to compete with the Optura 60 and its color filter and other such niceties. My guess is that the TRV950 will still be a great camera even being as old as it is, but I just wanted to get opinions from others who have used the TRV950 and know its strengths and weaknesses and then others who know the same about the Optura 60.

Thanks for any input anyone can provide. I've searched through the forum here and heard a lot of good about the TRV950 so I'm definitely leaning toward it, but I just want to know if I should start to lean back.
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Old April 13th, 2005, 06:30 PM   #2
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Hi David,

Optura 60 looks a good camera.

One strong point for it is that canon claims it uses more pixels for 16:9 (widescreen), but didn't give many details with the quote 'It's a bit technical as to how it works' If it is genuine widescreen, then that is a strength. The TRV950 is not genuine widescreen, but letterbox (PDX10 uses more pixels - genuine 16:9)
Also the Optura 60 has 14x optical.

BUT - depending on what you want the camera for.
If you want the quality of 3 chips then the 950 is your choice.
If at some time you want to make a documentry, advertisemnet, etc then you will want 3chips.
If it is for the family records, and fun holidays then 16.9 may be preferred.

I also noted one major concern with the optura I would have.
What is it like in low light? With this regarding the camera:
Recommended Illumination = More than 100 lx
100lx is quite high. I realise it has night mode down to 1.1lx,
but who wants the birthday cake looking green?

So the question really is: 'What are you likely to use it for?
Just a few thoughts.
Chris
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Old April 14th, 2005, 03:03 PM   #3
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I bought my 950 about 2 years ago and for the most part I'm very happy with it. Under most conditions it produces an excellent picture and good color reproduction. It is not great in low light situations, so if that is important to you it might not be a great choice.

Another big flaw is the zoom control which is very difficult to use smoothly. I never had a problem with other cameras getting a smooth zoom, but with the 950 it is nearly impossible. Most people edit out their zooms anyway so maybe it doesn't matter. But if you shoot sporting events or stuff like that sometimes a zoom is a necessity, and I've "ruined" some action shots with zooms that are distractingly obvious. Perhaps an external zoom controller would help, but I've heard conflicting opinions on that.

The 950 has good manuals controls, and feels solid in your hands without being too heavy. The LCD is nice, though I rarely use it outside because it is too hard to see. When I decided to buy it I was excited to use the touch screen controls for things like rack focus, or spot exposure adjustments, but of course I never use that.

You'll definitely need some ND filters to use outside, and an external mike is a good investment.

Sometimes I think about selling it to move up to a camera with 24p and/or native 16:9, and possibly bigger CCD to improve quality and flexibility with DOF and exposure. But then I remember that I still have room to learn and get better with the camera I have. Besides, if I wait a few years I'm sure the products available will be amazing.

All in all, I think the 950 is a pretty darn good camera for the price. I haven't used the Optura.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 03:21 PM   #4
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I have a PDX-10 and must agree that the zoom rocker switch is very hard to use. I can confirm however that a zoom controller makes a huge difference. I'm using a Varizoom Pro-L but there are less expensive options.

For about $20 you can get a Petrol 3.5" LCD hood which makes a huge difference if you want to use the screen outdoors.

Of course the PDX-10 is a very nice upgrade from the 950 if you can afford it...
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Old April 14th, 2005, 08:41 PM   #5
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Thank you all for the tips and information. I am going to throw one more camera in the mix just for fun (actually I'm pretty serious about it).

I've been looking at the Optura Pi as well. I've had a chance to hold one in my hand before and see some video that was shot with it both with early morning light in an Alaskan village as well as inside a fairly dim gymnasium in the same village and I was pleasantly surprised by the total lack of noise in the image. I only had a few minutes to look at the camera since the owner only had one battery and didn't know where the charger was, but I was very impressed with many things about the camera, most notably that it had a 3.5" LCD screen (as does the TRV950, I know) and that it loaded from the back and not the bottom (as the bottom-loading era was just beginning at that time).

I know the Pi doesn't have manual audio control (it doesn't, does it?) or the 2 MP photo capability of the Optura 60, but are there any other serious compromises that I would be making if I went with this camera? I know there's no Digic chip in it, but it does have the RGB filter.

The camera I purchase will primarily be my home video camera, although I do get an opportunity to shoot a wedding now and then, as well as making video montages for weddings & funerals (obviously this would just be a mastering deck for that purpose, although I could use the 2 MP camera to take pictures of the family's photos instead of scanning them, I guess). I also want to shoot a documentary style interview of my grandmother before she dies, so I want something I can manipulate quite easily.

Obviously this last need points to the TRV950, but I would think I could do pretty well with either of the Opturas. I'm not planning to broadcast this.

Thanks again for any information. This is something I've been contemplating for quite a while now and with this year's tax return I decided that it's time to finally make it happen.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 03:07 AM   #6
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Like most posters here I feel the TRV950 is an unhappily neutered PDX10. The loss of the 16:9 facility is inexcusable in my view, but probably made good sence to Sony's marketing department. The 950 is out of production, BTW, and it's successor (HC1000) was even more disappointing.

The next sadness with the 950 is the lack of any wide-angle. The zoom starts at an equivalent of 49 mm, so is pretty useless without some sort of wide-angle converter. The PDX10 goes some way to sort this by using the full chip width and seeing wider to start with.

Other than that though, the 950 gives great quality video as long as you're in good light and stay in the auto exposure mode. But what worries me David is you line that says, "I want a lot of manual control over everything". In which case, tread carefully. The 950 doesn't ever tell you what aperture you're shooting at, it doesn't tell you when you move into gain-up, you've no idea how many of the three internal NDs are ever in use and on replay later it doesn't tell you the truth either. Not a camera I'd recommend for the knob-twiddlers amongst us, though as I say, gteat footage in good light.

tom.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 07:53 AM   #7
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Thanks, Tom, for your thoughts. I had read about not being able to control the gain manually and also not being able to see what your f-stop is. I'm not exactly an f-stop freak, but I understand it and would like to know where I am on the scale.

Do either the Optura Pi or the Optura 60 have these indicators and control of gain separately from iris? I know the Pi was a pretty great camera in its day, but I don't know all the details of the manual control available. I do know that there's no manual audio control, which the Optura 60 and TRV950 both have, but I would think that the picture quality would still be up to par compared to a lot of cheaper consumer cameras today.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 11:16 AM   #8
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Just to clarify one thing... the gain control on the TRV-950 works exactly the same as the VX-2000. When you turn the exposure wheel after you reach the maximum iris opening then gain is added in 3dB steps. The only difference is that this sadly is not displayed in the viewfinder. However, if you turn the dial to the maximum you will be at +18dB gain. Then you can coun't each successive 3dB click until you reach 0.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 06:40 AM   #9
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Out of the choices you seem to be looking at the 950 is going to be the best choice(in my opinion,of course). As to control capabilties , they are there but require some adjusting to as they are not marked well. Once you shoot with this cam a bit you get the hang of adjusting for different conditions.The picture quality is very good and can be altered to suit your taste with the available controls.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 10:20 PM   #10
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Kenn,

I agree that the TRV950 is probably my best option. I guess I'll keep looking for a good used one that I can afford. I like the Sony cameras better overall anyway.
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