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Old July 20th, 2003, 09:49 AM   #1
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Help With Purchase Decision--TRV900 vs PV-DV953?

Hi All
I've been lurking here for quite a while now, soaking up as much information as I can...it's been great. But in all of the valuable, sometimes confusing and sometimes even contradictory things I've read, I haven't found what I need to know...here's the deal:

I'm looking at buying either a used TRV900 or a new PV-DV953. They are both at about the same price point, about as much as i can spend. I will be using them for personal projects; small films and documentary pieces, mostly for my own enjoyment. I've used a number of cams in the past year, including a Sony PDX-10. I would like your learned opinions about the 900 vs. the 953, though. I haven't seen a true head-to-head comparison of their respective picture qualities. Some of the many links I've pursued have comparison pages, but none seem to compare these two units side-by-side.


Here's what I think I know:

That the TRV900 has a slightly better low-light capability than the 953. True?

That maybe (I have to stress the 'maybe' here; I really don't know this) the 953 has a nicer picture quality in a normal, well-lit scene. Slightly richer color, better sharpness, etc. Is this true?

That the TRV900 has a better manual control section when it comes to audio. I believe the user can control both track levels independantly in the 900, where the 953 only allows the user to control a combination of both tracks, simultaneously. That is not as good a solution for me, given the different sensitivities of the different mics I'd be employing. I'd be using a Beachtek adapter with either one. Is this true?

Low-light ability seems to be a sort of Holy Grail for DV cams; I think it does matter, but in everyday usage, I'd probably be shooting in good light--outdoors under the sun, or a well-lit interior. I'd make sure of that. Reviews seem to stress the low-light thing, and I'm not totally convinced of it's importance to me, overall. A really nice image quality in well-lit scenes is more important to me, I think.

So aside for the new-ness of a 953, and the warranty it'll have, etc. versus a used TRV900 (probably off of eBay, been looking for a while now--some nice ones out there!) with a questionable past and no warranty, does the Pannasonic have a better image quality or not?

Tough decision here. I appreciate any help you can offer. And no, telling me to get a DVX100, VX2000, or a PD150 or PDX-10, (or some great camera with a Japanese menu) is not going to help me, sad to say... ;^)

Thanks a bunch!
Chris
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Old July 20th, 2003, 08:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
I haven't seen a true head-to-head comparison of their respective picture qualities....
You've sort of answered your own questions. Yes, the TRV900 has more/some better controls. The PV-DV953 video quality is a lot better (less noise, better color saturation and higher resolution). Yes, the TRV900 is better with "lower light." Yes, you can use a Beachtek with either cam. The TRV900 is probably built better in some ways, in other ways it is not. Example: iris.

The GS100 seems to be a bit better than the PV-DV953, including slightly better "lower light." (You just have to deal with some of the Japanese.)
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Old July 20th, 2003, 08:38 PM   #3
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Thanks Frank. The trouble with "answering your own questions" is that you're never really sure that you have done it--it's a process carried out in a vacuum. That's why I posted, and why I appreciate the feedback.

For instance, I don't have the expertise to say "The PV-DV953 video quality is a lot better..." because I've never seen proof, just read that it *might* be. It's good to hear that it's even better than I thought it might be, since you characterize it as "a lot better".

One question that I haven't answered for myself, though: Is it true that the manual audio controls of the 953 deals with both channels (combined)at the same time?

Also--is the 900 a lot better with low light, or just a little bit better?

I wish I had the guts to deal with the GS100 (I don't)--or better yet, I wish that Panasonic would release a version here in the states, soon, without dumbing it down. I bet a bunch of people would buy one, myself included!

Chris
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Old July 20th, 2003, 10:03 PM   #4
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Chris, I'm sure you are aware of the 950 being the newer version of the 900. Just to point out that I have compared the 950 with the 900 and MX500 (953 equivalent) and I like the 900 best, followed by 500 then 950, talking about captured video in dimmer lighting. Purely subjective but that's my observations to share with you.
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Old July 21st, 2003, 08:30 PM   #5
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Hi Yow Cheong,

Noticed you are also the new NV-GS100K owner, can you also compare the MX500, TRV950 and GS100K?

Hopefully, I am not off the topic.

Thanks
Wei
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Old July 21st, 2003, 08:45 PM   #6
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Also--is the 900 a lot better with low light, or just a little bit better?
I would say a lot better, but not as good as some 1 chip cams or the VX2000.
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Old July 21st, 2003, 08:54 PM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for their input. I still have to make the decision myself, unfortuantaely--maybe if I ponder some more, I'll delay until such a time as a camera appears on the market with everything I need and want--for about $1000.

Maybe not... ;^) I'll probably go for the 900 in the meantime. Ask me again in 20 minutes and I might answer differently...

Thanks again!
Chris
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Old July 21st, 2003, 09:02 PM   #8
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Nothing wrong with the TRV900---great cam, though I prefer the black mambo version (PD100A).
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Old July 22nd, 2003, 03:57 PM   #9
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A used cam over a new cam?

I'll take a new cam ANYDAY!
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Old July 22nd, 2003, 08:19 PM   #10
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I wholeheartedly agree with Tommy; there are more than enough things to worry about as it is; why bring another big variable in like 'used' into it?

Even with the difference in capabilities- new trumps used, every time.
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Old July 22nd, 2003, 08:28 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Wei Jen MD : Hi Yow Cheong,

Noticed you are also the new NV-GS100K owner, can you also compare the MX500, TRV950 and GS100K?

Hopefully, I am not off the topic.

Thanks
Wei -->>>

To Wei Jen,

Please call me YowCH for short, or Cheong Hoe (Yow is the family name).

I do not use the GS100k (and most likely never) considering that it is only NTSC based on the latest news. Being in Singapore, it has to be PAL.
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 07:36 AM   #12
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"I'll take a new cam ANYDAY!" Tommy, I think most people would--if they could afford it, and get some of the features they feel they need.

"I wholeheartedly agree with Tommy; there are more than enough things to worry about as it is; why bring another big variable in like 'used' into it?" Charlie, you're right, too: You do need to "worry" about a used cam a bit. And ask questions, and judge the veracity of the answers you get. It's the price you pay for getting a usable camera within your price range.

And of course, new cameras are not immune from problems, right out of the box. Just recently there was the post by Ardash about a new 953 malfunctioning. Oddly, though the TRV900 is discontued at this point, there are examples of it out there that are pretty much pristine; people bought one and never got around to using it much (go figure that one out!)

Some of the TRV900s I've looked at, and almost bought (circumstances beyond my control prevented it, unforunately) have been sold by people from this forum. I trust them more than some others, simply because they are here. That shows me an interest, and a knowledge of issues, that makes me worry less about how they have treated their cameras, and how honest they are about the mileage on them. There are people who will read this that got their first cam through someone else here--used. Some of them no doubt, will have sad stories--but the majority will have been pleased with their purchases, I'll bet.

As a matter of fact, all the cams I've used--the PDX-10, the PD150, a cheap JVC and a cheap Panny--were all the property of my local community college, and so, (well) used. They've been absolutely fine. And let's not forget rentals. Renting A/V equipment is a big business, and all of that equipment is used, too. You just buy a it for a short time...it's a little different, but you get the point. In fact, any camera that anyone is currently using is a "used" camera--and these are cameras that we know and trust and dearly love. (well, some of them...)

As Frank said, the TRV900 is a great cam. The fact that it sat on a shelf in someone else's home for a while and then took a trip in a box to me shouldn't change that. I personally can't understand wanting to buy something that doesn't fit my needs or budget simply because it is new. So for me, the "difference in capabilities" is a deciding point of consideration.

Presumably, there are those out there (I count myself among them) who treat their cameras well and gently, and aren't liars when it comes time to sell them. Some got tired of video and want to liquidate, some want to step up to a pricier camera. Some thought they'd actually *like* shooting weddings ;^)

I think if you are patient and careful and do your research, and use common sense, you can make out just fine.

Chris
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 02:09 PM   #13
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There's a gal who lives just a few blocks from me who is known as quite the film maker---she always seems to win awards. She used the DVCAM version of the TRV900 and had the footage copied to film. Her doc/movie was called, "Fix." It was playing in movie houses across Canada about 7 months ago. So, the TRV900 should be good enough, I would think.
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 04:01 PM   #14
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The trv900 is an EXCELLENT camera. We had TWO in our family. My brother kept his and I sold mine.

The one I had I found on ebay and the seller stated that it was hardly even touched. After two phone conversations I chose the BIN price... it was sitting at $500 and the BIN was $1325. I checked his feedback too, I should mention. He sold Nikon F5's and other very high-end items so I felt little "risk". The camera came and it was EXACTLY as he stated. It looked like it had never been out of the box before... absolutely perfect!

I used it for about 6 weeks before I decided to just get a professional camera after-all. That one is new. There was nothing wrong with the trv900 and I EASILY sold it for what I'd paid... all I lost was shipping and I got to use the camera for 6 weeks. I probably could have sold it this FALL for the same price.

I've bought TONS of stuff used and so far I've been VERY happy. Just use common-sense when you buy used. It's simple. Everything I've bought is pro-caliber and the only reason I could afford it was 'cause it was used.

Take your used trv900 and compare it to ANYTHING in that price range that's new... it will BLOW it away. Depth of field comes from the lens and the ccds... the trv900 has a big lens (52mm thread) with 1/4" ccds... NOT a 37mm lens and 1/5" ccds... read bealecorner.com and you decide on that for yourself...

Don't be afraid of used... just be smart. I had people urging me to go with a new brand "S" wireless for around $500 and I ended up going with a beat up Lectrosonics for the same price... You wouldn't believe the difference unless you heard it for yourself.

Just my experience and my .02
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Old July 23rd, 2003, 04:18 PM   #15
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Good news for you guys purchasing cams on eBay and I definitely agree common sense plays a big part.

Of course STOLEN ACCOUNTS is the latest rage on eBay and its a lot easier than you think. They simply send out an email that looks official and asks for your username/password for email and eBay and setup quick auctions. I couldn't believe how legitimate these emails looked until my own mother received one. She actually contemplated filling it out but had second thoughts.



I just ordered a PDX10 from B&H for $1850 delivered and thats a better deal than can usually be found on eBay. Not to mention they are Sony factory authorized Internet sellers which means a lot to me.

BTW - I bid and won two camcorders on eBay.

1. JVC GR-DVL9000U - Seller had no idea about burnt out pixel on the CCD - refunded

2. DCR-VX2000 - Seller had stolen account with high positive feedback with high-end electronics. He backed out when I mentioned escrow and a good thing because he took bidders for over $60k on a weekend selling spree.

I'll stick to selling on eBay. :)
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