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Old June 2nd, 2004, 08:30 AM   #1
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DVC30 Impressions

My DVC 30 arrived yesterday and I thought I would list a few first impressions after playing with it for about 6 hours. This might help some of you who are considering buying this cam but can't test one before hand. I may learn a work around for some of the negatives.

Positives:

- Built like a rock. Very solid and reminds me of the construction quality on my old Nikon F2.
- The zoom rocker control is the best I have ever used. It can hold a constant speed even at crawl.
- 16x lens is very nice and sharp. Focusing is easy.
- Although this is a small cam, all the buttons are large and easy to find.
- Tape mechanism is very solid.
- Viewfinder is very sharp.
- Lens hood is well made.
- Connected perfectly to my NLE system. Captures fine.

Negatives:

- No ND filter button. What was Panasonic thinking. I believe the ND filter kicks in automatically in high light conditions leaving no manual activation .
- Awkward manual control of shutter speed, iris and gain.
- No exposure meter in viewfinder. I really missed this

Bottom Line for me:

- This cam lacks the full manual control that is important to me. I am thinking about returning it for a VX2100 but the positives are so strong I am going to wait a few days to decide.

Regards,

Mark Williams
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 08:55 AM   #2
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Re: DVC30 Impressions

<<<-- Originally posted by Mark Williams : - No ND filter button. What was Panasonic thinking. I believe the ND filter kicks in automatically in high light conditions leaving no manual activation. -->>>

That's interesting. The review at camcorderinfo said that the ND filters were only available from the menu. I don't like the idea of it just kicking in, and not being able to override it. This is what turned me off to the PDX10.

<<<- No exposure meter in viewfinder. I really missed this -->>>
So not even a zebra feaure on the LCD monitor. I rarely use a viewfinder, except in bad lighting situations.

Have you tested the Cine-like feature? I'm wondering if it's just marketing hype or not.

Thanks for the info.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 09:31 AM   #3
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Robert,

Yes it does have zebra and a pretty good one. As far as an exposure meter, I was use to the one on my GL-1 which was similar to the meter on a 35mm camera where there is a graphic display for + and -
I haven't tried the cine like mode yet.


Regards,

Mark
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 10:08 AM   #4
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Sure would be nice to see some widescreen frame grabs with cine-like gamma settings...

:)
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 04:32 PM   #5
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We're workin' on that! Stay tuned!
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 08:03 PM   #6
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Can't wait....................thanks

<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Hurd : We're workin' on that! Stay tuned! -->>>
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 12:24 AM   #7
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Re: DVC30 Impressions

<<<-- Originally posted by Mark Williams : My DVC 30 arrived yesterday and I thought I would list a few first impressions after playing with it for about 6 hours. >>



Well, Mark, you beat me to the mailbox by 24 hours (mine came this afternoon). I’ll throw my initial observations in here as well.

Holy, moley – how can something so lean be so solid at the same time? It really is a remarkable sensory experience after twenty years of plastic (but top of the consumer line) camcorders. This machine has the camcorder equivalent of a swimmer’s build – streamlined and solid, without an ounce of fat. It feels more like a German film camera; an Arri or a Beaulieu. If the building collapses, I may be history, but this baby will still be kicking.

It was a beautiful day here in DC, but I watched the light fade out the window while the battery got it’s all important first charge. The sun was just disappearing when it finished, and I grabbed the camera and headed outside to shot some stuff and try out a few things. I love the way the colors pop on this thing! Even though I was filming in a partly cloudy twilight, it never let the scene sink into muddy tones. (So far today, I’ve just been using it on automatic.)

The 16:9 mode looks fine – my initial impression is that is looks better than average. In a quick comparison, I can tell you that it picks up a bit more horizontal view than the 4:3 – but not too much. My Sony Digital 8 actually does somewhat better in this regard than the dvc30 – but I expected that. The 2001 Digital 8’s for some reason have extra horizontal pixels they can bring into play for 16:9 – maybe they are grabbing them from the electronic image stabilization. But I digress…

What really gooses the 16:9 is to add the “Movie” scene settings. Wow! It (among other things) drops the frame rate down to 30. The color: I can only describe it in audio terms – do you know what a compressor does to sound? It raises the lows and brings down the highs. That’s how I see the color and exposure shift in the movie mode – the highlights come down and the shadows come up a bit – giving the feeling of the lower contrast of a film print stock. Add that to the wider aspect ratio, and this Pavolvian reaction takes over my brain and says “film!”

This weekend I’ll start working with sound to hear what it’s capable of.

Mark – regarding manual control – I’m curious as to what is missing here. If you want to you can:

* Have the F-stop and shutter speed displayed in the viewfinder (not to mention on the PLAYBACK, if you want to see what you filmed it at.)
* It’s got that great big honest-to-god focus ring on the lens that you can control manually.
* You can manually set F-Stop, Shutter speed, gain.
* As you know, you’ve got the zebra stripes to aid in exposure.
* You can make the viewfinder B&W!!! Yeah!!!
* You can increase the sharpness of the viewfinder and / or LCD to aid in focusing, without changing the sharpness settings of the actual recorded picture.

And you can put just about any of those things on the three programmable buttons, if you find the “normal” control too time-consuming.

I’m not knocking your observation about manual controls – I’m just not clear on what it is you want that’s not there.


Oh, biggest beef so far: The manual. I won’t say it’s bad – because I’ve certainly read MUCH worse. But it leaves a lot to be desired in the explanation department. For example, on page 73 talking about the camera setup menu, it comes to setting titled rather ambiguously “Setup (Camera)”. The manual explains:

“Use this to add the setup level(black level).
0% - The setup level is not added.
7.5% - A 7.5% setup level is added for recording.”

Huh?

// Ric
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 01:30 AM   #8
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yeah try the DVX manual.. LOL
no shit of a lie, this thing is the poops.. hahahaha
it goes thru HOW to set up the cinegamma, matrix etc etc etc but its doesnt explain WHY you would want to use them.. they automatically assume that you know what all the jargon means..

as for the reviews, thanks guys... it seems to me, the the DVC30 is a MX500 big bro, and the DVX lil bro.. the lost one in between.:)
It also sounds as if the display panels and default configs are set similarly to the MX.. being that to get most of teh pro features, you need to activate them to make them visible or easily accesssable.

how does it fair in low light?
Im particularly looking at using it as a second cam to teh DVX..
Here in is, the difference is 2000 dollars.. and i really dont need another DVX, but i like the idea of the way the DVC handles cinegamma as well as the huge zoom which will definately come in handy.
Also the wide angle lense is always a godsend so puttin that typ eof tele lense on wide is whats appealing.

No doubt it poos on the MX when it comes to lowlight, but would anyone have any comparison pics??

Id love to see them :)
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 09:39 AM   #9
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Re: Re: DVC30 Impressions

<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Brennan : For example, on page 73 talking about the camera setup menu, it comes to setting titled rather ambiguously “Setup (Camera)”. The manual explains:

“Use this to add the setup level(black level).
0% - The setup level is not added.
7.5% - A 7.5% setup level is added for recording.”

Huh?

// Ric -->>>

Thanks for the observations, Ric. Mine's on order now, too. For anyone looking for a better explanation of setup, I ran accross this short piece by Adam Wilt that does a good job of explaining what it is and whether/how to use setup for in-cam recording.

http://www.dv.com/columns/columns_it.../2002/wilt1202
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 07:02 PM   #10
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I have been quite interested in the dvc-30 since i first saw it but i never really looked at prices etc because i didn't know that it came out in pal yet. The other day when i looked though i was very surprised to see the prices they are charging for this cam. It is almost as expensive as the vx2100. Robert i have not used a cam with cinegamma but i dont believe it is overrated. just do a search for dvx-100 reviews in google and you should find some stuff on it. I saw some shots comparing the same scene same lighting etch with and without cinegamma and the difference is amazing. Instead of having images silhouetting you can light up the whole scene. you can add warmth and colour. I guess you just gotta see it. For a fair idea of the difference just get a photo with bad exposure of a person or something with the background nice and bright but the person dark or vice versa and then play with histograms in photoshop or similar program and you will see that you can brighten up the dark areas to almost match the rest of the scene with practically no artifacts or noise.

Justin
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Old June 4th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #11
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"Instead of having images silhouetting you can light up the whole scene. you can add warmth and colour. I guess you just gotta see it."

and this is the exact same reason i use a DVX for live stuff, exspecially weddings.
When you consider that the camera is facing the ENTRANCE to a church, most of the light comin in is from behind, so there is potential for lots of shadows and silhouettes.
The DVX does no thave this, instead, with a skin detail on, you can achieve accurate skin details, as well as soft white glows which brides love, without the need to overprocess the footage in post.

Here in oz, i can score a new DVC30 for 3700... which is 100 more than what i paid for my MX500 approx 18 months ago..

A vx2100 is over 5 grand, i think the toss up between CCD size and actaul camera features leans more towards the DVC.. as in reality, most people dont mind an onboard cam light when they know that the footage will be great :)
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Old June 4th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #12
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is that pal or ntsc
have you noticed the price for vx2100 has gone done a lot and you can pick them up for under 5000 and the pd170 for under 6000. the 170 is great value because it comes with other accessories like XLR and wide angle converter. well worth it if you ask me

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Old June 4th, 2004, 04:47 PM   #13
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In the UK, I can get a VX2100 for £1700, but the dvc30, which is very thin on the ground in the UK cost £1995! What is going on with these prices.

PAL video cameras - especially in the UK seem very expensive. I want the dvc30 as a more rugged altenative to an XM2 but it does seem overpriced right now.

Dave.
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Old June 5th, 2004, 06:36 PM   #14
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Well I've gotten over what I refered to earlier as awkward manual controls since my experience level has gone up some. However, I still miss a dedicated button for ND filter and a +- graphic display for exposure. The 16x lens, solid body and fantastic zoom control won me over. Since the manual is somewhat lacking I have two questions.

1. The manual lists the video quantizing as 8-bit. However, advertising lists it at 12-bit. Anyone know what is correct?

2. Also, the review in camcorderinfo.com states "The 30 frames progressive scan mode can be disabled for times when it is not appropriate for the shooting circumstances, and CineGamma can be activated on its own." I interpret this as meaning CineGama can be activitated at 60i normal 4:3 mode. If so, does anyone know the exact steps to do this in the menu?

Thanks in advance.

Mark W.
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Old June 5th, 2004, 07:21 PM   #15
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Frame mode (not progressive scan) is on the DVC30 but I'm not sure whether you can shoot interlaced and cine-like gamma. On my GS100 you can only shoot cine-like gamma in Pro Cinema mode which also defaults to frame mode and widescreen.

Its nice to finally have some first hand info on the DVC30!
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