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Old May 6th, 2003, 05:23 AM   #1
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MX-300 vs. MX-500 vs. Sony PDX-10

My Panasonic NV-MX300 suffers from the infamous "glitch" problem. However, my dealer is unable to help me get the camera to a service center which can do the upgrade, and my warranty is running out.

I am a semi-pro video producer. A short documentary I made was recently shown on national cable television here. Unfortunately, because of the "glitch" problem, I had to ask someone else to edit my stuff, and I was less than happy with the final results.

My dealer is very nice, has agreed that this "glitch" problem is not my problem, and is now offering me an "upgrade" to a Sony PDX-10. I do not know yet whether I will have to pay a price difference. But I want to get a feel for what people here think about this.

What do you think? Should I take this offer? Or should I ask for an "upgrade" to the Panasonic MX500 instead? Or should I keep the MX300 (I love my camera) and take care of the "glitch" problem myself?

I am already aware of the following:
- PDX-10 is basically a "pro" version of the TRV-950.
- PDX-10 does not provide separate adjustment of iris and shutter speed, and does not indicate numbers in the display.
- PDX-10 does not support LP recording, but does offer DVCAM.
- MX500 is less sensitive than MX300 under low light conditions.
- MX500 is being sold at lower price levels than the MX300 was, and is also cheaper than the PDX-10.
- PDX-10 provides spot-metering, which, as a semi-pro SLR user (Nikon equipment) I would appreciate quite a lot.
- Some people here do not consider the MX500 an"upgrade" compared to the MX300.
- Features like MPEG4, stills, Bluetooth, built-in flash, etc. are not that important to me, as I rarely use my video camera for stills or low-quality video.

Additional (leading) questions:
- MX300/MX500 have "zebra" feedback for overexposure. Does the PDX-10 have a similar feature?
- Can the PDX-10 display a color bar (important for calibration when making (semi) pro videos) like the MX300?
- The MX300/MX500 Leica lenses are high quality compared to most other consumer level video cameras, and it shows in the video. How does the PDX-10 compare?

I'd appreciate any feedback on this.

Procedural question: I posted this here because I own a MX300. Should I cross-post this in the Sony TRV-950/PDX-10 forum? Is cross-posting allowed?

Thanks,

Ariel
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Old May 6th, 2003, 05:53 AM   #2
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Perhaps contact stuartc@panasonic.co.au and ask him who you should contact to get the firmware upgraded. They must do it for you since you have the glitch.

The PDX10 and MX500 are very good cams. But in some ways the MX300 is better. (There are pro's and con's for each of these cams.)
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Old May 6th, 2003, 06:11 AM   #3
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Re: MX-300 vs. MX-500 vs. Sony PDX-10

Don't know anything about the MX500, but can help a bit with the PDX-10 questions since I have one...

<<<-- Originally posted by Ariel Hershler :
- PDX-10 is basically a "pro" version of the TRV-950.

True, but a couple significant upgrades you don't mention. First, it does "real" 16:9 by using a wider area on its CCD's. I've heard that some of the Panasonic's also do this but am not clear on which models. Also, I believe the CCD's are a bit larger on the PDX-10. Second, the PDX-10 has some pro audio features, like XLR inputs with phantom power and a detachable mike. But if you don't want to use them they can be removed from the camera, making it smaller and it still will record from tiny builtin stereo mikes. Third, the PDX-10 has a nice relatively high resolution black and white viewfinder (like the PD-150) which makes it easier to focus.

- PDX-10 does not provide separate adjustment of iris and shutter speed, and does not indicate numbers in the display.

Not completely true. You can adjust both iris and shutter speed, but you need to first push either the "exposure" or "shutter" button, then use the same thumbwheel to adjust. The shutter speed is indicated in the finder but not the f-stop. Instead you have a sort of bargraph indicator. This bothered me at first, but I got used to it pretty quick when someone pointed out that the center of the readout is f4. In terms of what you can adjust, it's the same as the PD-150 however the readout and physical location of the dial(s) are different.

- PDX-10 does not support LP recording, but does offer DVCAM.

True

- PDX-10 provides spot-metering, which, as a semi-pro SLR user (Nikon equipment) I would appreciate quite a lot.

To me this is a clever but pretty useless feature IMO. I always use manual exposure and zebra patterns anyway. But if you want, you can use the menu on the touch screen to select either spot focus or spot meter. Then you simply point to whatever you want to focus or expose. I guess this has its uses, but I haven't really explored them. You have to go through a few nested menus to access the functions. I think the zebra pattern will give you much better exposure feedback, but that's just a personal preference. The spot focus is sort of interesting however, although I haven't used it. Maybe it could be a way to get a rack focus effect easily? You would certainly need to have the camera securely mounted on a tripod though, since you need to poke the LCD ;-)

- MX300/MX500 have "zebra" feedback for overexposure. Does the PDX-10 have a similar feature?

Yes, 70 or 100 IRE

- Can the PDX-10 display a color bar (important for calibration when making (semi) pro videos) like the MX300?

Yes, via the menus. But they are full screen color bars, not SMTPE. However, using the memory stick and mix functions you can upload SMPTE color bars and record them to tape if you like. Somewhere on the net I've seen these, although they were intended for the PD-150. Or you could save them as a JPEG from you NLE and copy to the memory stick.

- The MX300/MX500 Leica lenses are high quality compared to most other consumer level video cameras, and it shows in the video. How does the PDX-10 compare?

I have no yardstick to measure this, but am happy with the PDX-10, especially in 16:9 mode which actually seems sharper. If you look at Scott Billups' website at http://pixelmonger.com/hg_cam.html; he says " the glass on this little monster is the best of the entire sony miniDV line". You can also look at some test shots I did at http://greenmist.com/pdx10

Hope this helps with your decision.
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Old May 6th, 2003, 07:14 AM   #4
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Panasonic MX500, MX5000, and DV953 all offer the same "enhanced" widescreen mode like the PDX10 but its still not true 16:9 chips. Widescreen was a major factor for my cam purchase.

I like the PDX10 but not the price difference. If you can get the PDX10 "upgrade" for free then thats the way to go. Otherwise you might get an even swap for a MX500 and there is no shame in that.

Explanation of "enhanced widescreen" mode.

http://image1ex.villagephotos.com/2238868.jpg
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Old May 6th, 2003, 08:09 AM   #5
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Tommy is correct that none of these cameras have true 16:9 chips, but they do have higher resolution CCD's that allow the full 480 vertical lines when shooting anamorphic 16:9, unlike other prosumer camcorders. To get the "real deal" you'll need to spend over $10,000 more for something like a DSR-570...

There's a brochure on Sony's website that explains this and also lists the other features of the PDX-10 at http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professiona...pdx10final.pdf

If I understand that link that Tommy posted, then there is a bit of a difference in the way the PDX-10 treats 16:9. When you switch from 4:3 into 16:9 the field of view actually gets wider on the PDX-10 (see the "angle of view" illustration on page 2 of the Sony brochure). It doesn't appear that this happens on the MX camcorders... or am I misinterpreting the Panasonic example? It would appear that the width stays the same but the top and bottom are cropped off. However this would differ from other prosumer cameras in that the CCD's are higher resolution and presumably could still offer at least 480 vertical lines as opposed to only 360 like the PD-150 or XL-1s.

Also, if you look at the Sony example, there appear to be more horizontal pixels in use when you switch to 16:9 mode. This fits with the test results from my website which compares the VX-2000 and PDX-10. In 4:3 mode the test chart appears slightly sharper on the VX-2000 (horizontal resolution) however in 16:9 mode the PDX-10 offers comparable horizontal resolution, and much better vertical resolution.
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Old May 6th, 2003, 09:25 AM   #6
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Darn, that is good news on the PDX10!

I made a photo similar to the DV953/MX5000 for the PDX10 from the PDF you posted. This is important info and will definitely benefit others. Thanks!

http://image1ex.villagephotos.com/2474343.jpg

Wish I would have hooked up with the PDX10 but I'm just happy to have widescreen with no resolution loss, but would have preferred that along with the wider viewing angle!
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Old May 8th, 2003, 05:32 AM   #7
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Thanks very much everybody for the interesting info and opinions. I will check out both the PDX-10 as well as the MX500, and will let you know here about my decision.

Thanks again,

Ariel
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Old May 8th, 2003, 09:33 PM   #8
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Hi, Ariel.

Sorry to hear about your dealer unable to help you with the firmware upgrade to fix the glitch problem. That's terrible!

Maybe you want to get a real cheap MiniDV cam that supports DV-IN & DV-OUT, and use that as your MiniDV recording & playback deck.

Just so that you prolong the life of your expensive cam's heads, tape transport etc.

Besides, if you get one of those Panasonic MX-8 (1 CCD but very good picture, comparable to MX300's 3CCD) then you can have a backup camera in case things go wrong, or Camera #2 for an additional viewpoint.
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Old May 8th, 2003, 10:00 PM   #9
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Hi, Ariel.

Sorry to hear about your dealer being unable to get your MX300 firmware upgraded to solve your glitch issue. What a shame! Bad for the dealer, actually.

Perhaps you want to consider getting a cheap MiniDV cam so that it can be your:
1) Recording & Playback deck for MiniDV tapes. - less wear & tear on your expensive cam's heads, tape transport etc. If this cheap MiniDV cam spoils, then it won't hurt so much.

2) Backup camera in case something happens to your precious camera

3) 2nd camera providing you with another angle.


If you get the Panasonic MX-8 (PAL) it's 1CCD but the picture quality is very good, very 3CCD like, matches the MX300 well. It also does better stills quality and low light with less grain.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 12:53 AM   #10
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Thanks Steven, for these ideas. My dealer also proposed something similar: he is willing to sell me a miniDV tape drive for half price (US $ 1,000 instead of US $ 2,000, I don't know particulars of the drive yet). But spending this kind of money to solve my glitch problem seemed a bit steep to me, especially since, if he was able to do the firmware upgrade, my glitch problem should have been solved at zero cost to me.

I don't know how much any of these cheap(er) cameras go for, but the idea of an "upgrade" to the PDX10 or MX500 was that I woulddn't have to spend a lot of money.

Thanks,

Ariel
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Old May 9th, 2003, 01:38 AM   #11
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Ariel, e-mail Stuart. He can get a Pana contact for you so that you can send in your cam for the firmware upgrade. He's off now for a couple of days (weekend).
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Old May 9th, 2003, 03:02 AM   #12
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Frank, you provided me with Stuart's email address a while back (thanks again!). I did email him at that time, and he provided me with an address in the UK (that was the closest he could find).

I later found an address in the Netherlands (I am Dutch), which I posted to the appropriate thread here.

However, I am hesitant to send my camera abroad. It has several disadvantages: I would be without camera for a while, something may go wrong during the transfer there and/or back, and the camera may get back to me and need more calibration, in which case I would have to send it away again.

If I were travelling to a place with Panasonic PAL service centers I would take my camera and go there myself (Stuart wrote that the actual upgrade only takes about 15 minutes), but I have been going to the US without the ability to stop over in Europe. Now my warranty is running out, and my dealer wants to try to do something for me. If these offers he is making turn out to be no good, I will wait patiently until I go somewhere where they can do the firmware upgrade competently.

Thanks again for your suggestion,

Ariel
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Old May 9th, 2003, 03:17 AM   #13
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Well, I wish you luck with whatever you decide. I was nervous as well about sending my MX300 to Australia (from Vancouver, Canada). But I did, and both my cam and I survived. (Mind you, the waiting probably drained 2 years of life from me.)
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Old May 10th, 2003, 11:15 AM   #14
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Your only choice is the PDX10 really especially if your into documentary work. If you have used the mx300 then the 500 is more of a down grade not an up grade.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 03:59 PM   #15
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Phil, can you elaborate a bit on why you feel this way? I am slowly coming round to the same conclusion. For example, carefully comparing the spec's of the MX500 and the PDX10, I found that the MX500 only has a 10x optical zoom, whereas the MX300 and the PDX10 both have a 12x optical zoom. For me, this is an important difference. I hope I haven't missed any other such differences.

Thanks,

Ariel
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