Sorry, some more questions DVX100A/PD170 at

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Old May 27th, 2004, 11:26 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: London, UK
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Sorry, some more questions DVX100A/PD170

Hi Everyone!

This is the first time I am posting something to this forum. I am trying to get a grip on dv technology to make up my mind whether to buy a Panasonic AG-DVX 100 A or the Sony DSR PD170. I am aware that this discussion has been in this forum before, yet after all the reviews, forum discussions, I read there are still some questions,where it would be great to get some answers to. There are actually quite a few...

I am an independent documentary but also short film filmmaker, very much interested and fascinated by technology, into cinematography (which I think points me again to the DVX 100 A with all its image options, 24p...from all that I feel more convinced about the DVX 100 A). I am based in the UK, so will be using PAL, edit on Final Cut 3.

It might well be that some of my questions are not making 100% sense in terms of understanding the subject, as I said I built up my knowledge and understanding of the cameras only by reading in the net. Also they might have been asked before, I tried to browse the archive to exclude this, but sometimes I couldn't find quite the right answers...

I hope it's ok to quote some experts statements from their websites as I quoted some people to give some more in depth background to my questions contexts.
Any advice, feedback, or answers are very much appreciated!

Many Thanks!

1) What is the general meaning/advantage of mechanical control of the lens, without engaging the motor? In a PD170 review, Tony Fonseca mentions this as a special feature that the PD170 does not have.

2) The DVX 100 A's standard lens goes down to 32.5 mm in the 35mm equivalent, I couldn't find mm details about the wideconversion lenses anywhere, does anyone know what it covers in 35mm equivalent mm? The PD170 standard lens is f 6.0 to 72.0mm, in 35mm 43.2 - 518.4mm, the wideconversion lense details I found say it 'Features an ultra high quality 58mm thread and a 0.7X wide angle converter' Does this mean 0.7 x 43.2 = 30.24mm as the widest 35mm equivalent? If that's the case, does the DVX's wide conversion lens go lower/wider?

3) The PD170 has a hybrid LCD, is the LCD of the DVX 100 A hybrid, too? And how big/effective is the difference of the PD170's high-resolution monochrome viewfinder? Does the EVF DTL option of the DVX 100 A represent an equally good/useful alternative and I found in the Specifications details of both cameras that they both have 180.00 dots (are dots and pixels the same?, Pana says pixels and sony says dots), so is the difference the amount of lines?

4) On Adam Wilt also reports about some problems with the auto exposure function namely that the auto iris changes in small jumps escpecially if the light change is slow. I found in a PD170 review that it actually performs with far less options when set in auto exposure, that it will use one constant F stop and only adjusts raising or lowering the gain levels. So it seems that the DVX 100 A is more advanced in its possibilities anyway, but what do other people think about these auto iris jumps?

5) From what I found about the shutterspeed option of the two cameras, it seems that the PD170 goes as fast as 1/10000, but the DVX 100 A only 1/2000, then again the DVX 100 A has more options with the slower shuterspeeds and it has a synctro scan function to film of a screen/TV, which the PD170 has not got. How essential (in the opinion of others...) is a shutterspeed faster then 1/2000? When would it be necessary, useful?

6) I found lots of reviews/comparisons that repetitively state that the PD170 has the better lowlight performance, starting with the simple juxtaposition of 1 lux/ PD170 and 3lux/ DVX 100 A. The most detailed one I found was by Tony Fonseca, it tests both cameras in auto and manual mode, and basically concludes that the PD170 wins in lowlight performance, but that the DVX 100 A especially when used manually comes very close, but that it has a tendency to produce a muted color palette.
I belong to the people that rather work manually, but for documentary work, will sometimes be in 'available lowlight situations', where I might even be forced/urged to use the auto functions. Are there any advice/ comments/ experiences about this subject regarding the DVX 100 A?
From Tony Fonseca's review, the differences aren't that big, I found lots of comments of people that say the PD170 is better for shoot and run, documentary work and the DVX100A for filmic, controlled lighting stuff, is there anyone who uses the DVX100A for docs, shoot and run, who is satisfied with it's lowlight performance?

And finally, is there anyone in this forum who knows about the lowest prices for the cameras, as well as for the Century Optics 7x wideconversion lens, the anomorphic adapter of the DVX100A and for Sennheiser K-6/ME-66/ME-67 mics or shops that sell the assecoires like the 5.6 Ah Battery for the Panasonic in the UK or Germany?
Raoul Perros is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 1st, 2004, 11:48 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Billericay, England UK
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OK Raoul, you've got a lot of questions here and maybe you've bombarded the board with too many at one go. But here goes.

If you're in the UK your DVX will have 25p mode.

1) The DVX has end stops to the zoom and focus rings, the PD170 does not. Generally the DVX system is preferred, though the 170 has smoother controls rings.

2) Yes, it does mean that. And if you fit a 0.5X then you have the equivalent of a 22mm lens. The DVX will go wider with the same converter, but you'll need a 72mm fitting rather than the 58mm of the PD - a lot more expensive.

3) This is open to debate, but the big side screen of the DVX is hugely better than the piddly little PD one.

4) You've read a very poor 170 review. Why? Because it's wrong, plain and simple. In manual the DVX aperture control wheel is beautifully smooth, whereas the 170's aperture makes tiny 1/4 stop incremental changes.

5) Both cameras are equal in the slow shutter speed stakes, but the Sony has far higher ones. The 170 can easily sync with a PC monitor in the AES mode, so no worries there. I've used 1/1000th sec in progressive scan mode on the PD, so useful for stills.

6) The PD is king in low light. The lens is a half stop faster at full tele and the HAD low noise chips make +9dB eminently useable. If you're really concerned about getting the best performance in the gloom, the PD170 is the one to go for.

Tom Hardwick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 1st, 2004, 01:07 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,315
Raoul, it sounds almost like you've already convinced yourself to go with the DVX100A. If you are indeed a narrative filmmaker and/or documentary filmmaker, then the DVX100A is quite a weapon for your arsenal. If, however, you are to do a lot of live events and such, consensus seems to be to go for a PD170. Especially for events such as weddings, etc. that have low light needs.

From your description of your work, and from your method of analysis of the situation, I'd suggest you go for the DVX; it seems like the better of the two solutions in your case, because you will mostly be using the camera in controlled-light and controlled-focus scenarios. And, of course, it's not like the DVX can't be used for live events - but if your focus is not live events, then don't choose the camera whose focus is live events/news/etc.
Imran Zaidi is offline   Reply

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