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Old June 29th, 2004, 04:45 PM   #1
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Sony pd170 vs Pana DVX100A

I am getting into the videography business. I will be shooting mainly weddings and special events. I need to buy 2 new mini-dv cams and the accessories for those cams.

Which of these 2 cams is a better choice? Will the DVX be just as good for event videography as the pd170?
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Old June 29th, 2004, 05:29 PM   #2
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That is probably THE most talked about subject in all DV forums around the world.

Well the answer would be YES!

OK! Now that this answer is cryptic enough, let me explain.

Yes, the DVX will be just as good as the PD170.

I have tried both and I have found both cams to have their advantages (and disadvantages). I finally choose the PD170 for one, and one reason alone. It was better in low light situations.

So what do I think of my decision now? Well it sucks! The decision that is. Don't get me wrong, the Sony is a great cam, but unfortunately, I choose this camera for the wrong reason. Low light capability is nice, and it did save me in some situations, but honestly, it should not have been my primary reason to choosing this cam.

If I could sell my PD170 for a decent price, I would, and I’d get the DVX100A… Well I’ll first wait and see what Canon has in store for us this July, as it “appears” that they “may” announce their new XL camcorder. XL2 perhaps? Anyway, here are some points to consider:

1. The DVX100A has a far superior zoom ring control; you can’t creep zoom with the Sony. The DVX also has barrel markings and a shaft for a better feel.
2. The LCD is larger (for my vision it’s actually a plus), the focus and zoom levels are actually marked on the LCD, so you can accurately reproduce your zooms and focus precisely and at will.
3. 24P, well what can I say about 24P… I can’t even try to experiment with in on a PD170. I’ve been itching to try 24P for other reasons then the film look (well OK, I want the film look too, but that’s besides the point). What I want from 24P principally, is to make 24p progressive-scan DVDs. That’s an automatic 20% more footage you can put on the DVD. Plus the quality on DTVs will be superior to standard 60i.
4. The Panny comes with a built-in wide-angle adapter. On the Sony, it’s a screw on, and that makes it front heavy. Believe me, after lugging around the camera for hours, you feel it. Plus, what it you want to screw on an anamorphic adapter on the Sony, but still need the wide because you are in a tight spot? Then you’re screwed! (excuse the pun)
5. The 6-scene dial and 3 user configurable buttons on the DVX are a boon. The Sony? Well, if you can call the custom preset button a customizable button…
6. Cine-gamma control and the like… you don’t have that on the Sony.

If you shoot plain vanilla video, Sony is probably the best run and gun camera. But some seasoned DVX users will say that the DVX is just as good, if not better.

Low light… well to come back to my original purchase decision, there is always a way to somewhat control your environment in weddings. Add a light here and there, and you’re set. Remember one thing, and this is where I want to kick myself in the head, the Sony may be good in low light, but it doesn’t mean you get better looking footage. I’ve recently purchased the DV Enlightenment DVD from www.dvcreators.net and they said something important: “There is a reason why God created light first.” Personally, I think low light is only good for surveillance and such. There would be some exceptions I am sure, but don’t make it a habit in your wedding videos, especially if you are going to make a living out of it eventually. Of course, if you got yourself a 2/3” CCD camera, well that might be a tad different.

I suggest that you browse around the www.dvxuser.com forum and ask some advice. There are several people there that use the DVX for weddings and produce spectacular results.

I hope I did not bore you too much.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 01:56 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the reply. You made some excellent points and this was very helpful. Any accessories you feel are a must have?
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Old June 30th, 2004, 02:47 PM   #4
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There are some comparison images from the older models (DVX-100 and VX-2000) here
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Old June 30th, 2004, 04:24 PM   #5
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<<<-- Any accessories you feel are a must have? -->>>

Absolutely! A good shotgun (directional) microphone is a must have (such as a Senheiser ME66). A wireless lapel mic for your main subject(s) is also a nice to have. A good sturdy tripod with a fluid head (Manfrotto/Bogen, with a 501 head). A variable intensity light with diffusers that you can attach on the camera shoe (it would be good to have a bracket to offset the light to the side for better effect). A quick release monopod is also handy for run and gun. A good carrying case (a nice to have would be a waterproof Pelican 1600 case). UV filter to protect your lens. For cheap lighting, get some Home Depot work lights (on stands), and get some color correction gels for them.

Of course, there are more, but it’s a great starting point. Buy what you need in the order you like, depending on your needs.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 04:28 PM   #6
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You might want to go to www.alanbarker.com for some excellent comments on both cameras from a working documentary filmmaker.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old June 30th, 2004, 05:05 PM   #7
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<<<-- You might want to go to www.alanbarker.com for some excellent comments on both cameras from a working documentary filmmaker. -->>>

Interesting site. He does have a lot of good points. There are a lot of issues I had not considered. Enlightening!

I guess it's going to make Paul decesion making that much harder.
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