AG-DVX100 mini review of working model at LA DV show at DVinfo.net

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Old July 31st, 2002, 02:54 AM   #1
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AG-DVX100 mini review of working model at LA DV show

Saw a working model of the Ag-DVX100 at the LA Dv show today. As one of many eagerly awaiting the availability of this ground-breaking camera, I was excited to finally get a chance to see images from the camera and actually get my hands on it to test its various functions.

No, not every control was yet functional (e.g., gain up and auto-focus were not operational), but the manual zoom was smooth as silk (manual and servo functions are toggled by a switch on the front of the camera), and similar in function to a pro lens. The manual zoom allows, at long last a true manual zoom (it certainly felt like one, perfectly responsive at any speed) on a fixed lens dv cam, unlike those awful, awkward, hard-to- modulate ones on the sony mini dv's.

The servo zoom was a little sticky, but the product manager assured me these and many other things would be tweaked in production models.

Focus ring is the spinner type, but Panasonic's spinner lenses (as on the EZ-30), IMHO, have always been superior to Sony's in that the turning of the ring is much more precise and allows for easier and repeatable focus pulling, as opposed to Sony's (like on the TRV900 and most others), which require numerous turns to do big focus changes and are difficult to control precisely.

In short, though not a true manual focus lens with distance markings, the DVX100's focus ring works well, especially compared to the focus mechanisms of other cameras in this price range.

Now, on to the camera's most important feature: the 24P. It works. The camera was hooked into an NTSC monitor, allowing viewing of the 24p images with the 3:2 pulldown. Though the camera has various adjustable presets to allow quick switching of frame rates, gamma, and other variables, it was ultimately hard to judge the camera's output on the monitor, given the dull lighting and lack of anything other than a crowded expo hall to focus on. Still, it looked good.

Did it look like film? No. But it's a lot closer to film than shooting 60i. And because 24p image capture is a huge component of the film look, with the proper lighting, filtration, and gamma set-up, this camera will likely come close (not to mention it facilitates transfer to film, if one wishes to do so).

PAL might offer more resolution, but what if you want or need to shoot 60i? You'd need two cameras. Part of the beauty of the DVX100 is its versatility, which Panasonic is wisely extolling in its literature; you can use it to shoot 60i for broadcast and video output, then flip a switch and shoot 24p for transfer to film or a film look on video. You can do it all with one camera.

Unfortunately, the few minutes of exterior footage shot with the camera (by the Panasonic people) that was being played back on a monitor was comprised mostly of static shots, undynamic, unfiltered, clearly shot just to so they'd have something to show. I expect Panasonic will soon assemble a more impressive, professional reel to highlight the camera's cinema-style capabilities and image quality and exhibit it at other trade shows.

Bottom line for me is, though the camera's not shipping yet, though this wasn't a 100% functional model, it impressed me; in features, in construction, in ergonomics, it excels in all the areas that its competitors do not. Sony may have touched off the DV revolution, but I've never been thrilled by their mini-dv offerings, which always fell short of their promise (instead, I use
a JVC GY-DV500).

Panasonic's AG-DVX100 is clearly the product of a company that knows what customers want, and is committed to producing a great camera for those of us who can't afford HD or DVC Pro. While I'm skeptical about them being able to meet the supposed ship date of late Sept./early Oct. (the rep said only 500 units in the initial shipment), while I'd like to see a fully functional model and more footage from the camera, and though I know better than to be one of the first buyers of a new electronic product, I nonetheless have my pre-order in and will probably unload my JVC Gy-DV500 to pay for the Panasonic.

One final issue: the price. After announcing at NAB the camera would carry an SRP of $3495 (a price that's still up at the Panasonic website), Panasonic seems to have upped the price to $3795, perhaps after realizing how big and lucrative the market for it will be (my guess is Panasonic will finally give Sony a run for their money in the mini-dv market, and it's about time; Sony needs the competition to spur them to innovate in their lower-end product line instead of saving it all for the expensive stuff and giving mini-dv users wonderful features like audio hiss).

The $300 price hike isn't particularly welcome, but the camera seems leagues above its similarly-priced competitors, and I for one, can't wait to get one.
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Old August 1st, 2002, 01:48 PM   #2
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lets not forget this camera shoots true 30P !!! and 30P looked very good ...

on the 24P with 3:2 i don't think so !! IMO from what i saw judging by panning the camera it is NOT true 3:2 pull down ..and today reading a article in RES magazine it confirms that .. according to RES after every 4th frame it creates a fake 5th frame to equal 30fps
"after every 4 frames of 24p , odd-line and even-lines of 2 adjacent progressive frames and repeated and joined to form a single false frame , which must be removed later to restore the 24P frame rate "

so pans look different then a NTSC 24fps with 3:2 .

i was thinking of buying a GL2 but after seeing the 30P on the panasonic i will wait to test it out in october ......
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Old August 1st, 2002, 05:00 PM   #3
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I too took some time to review the AG-DVX100 at LA DV Show. I liked what I saw. I would like to see some video shot under more ideal conditions than that of a trade show.

ProMax will be handling the new 24p camcorder. We are taking pre-orders with no obligation. Expected ship date is October, 2002.

If interested please EMAIL me direct at mcconathy@promax.com. I will be glad to send you a PDF of a data sheet as well.

Thanks
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Old August 1st, 2002, 10:28 PM   #4
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This is just my opinion but I feel that 24p is NOT a huge step in making video look like film. Shallow depth of field goes a long way in making video look like film, and in my opinion is much more important than 24p.

Go ahead and flame away. But check out these shots before you do.

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/Picture-27.jpg

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/Picture-2.jpg

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/Picture-7.jpg

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/Picture-3.jpg

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/gr.jpg

http://www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/jef2.jpg
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Old August 1st, 2002, 10:51 PM   #5
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I'm with Justin 100%.


BTW what are those screenshots shot with?
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Old August 1st, 2002, 11:03 PM   #6
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Canon XL1 with the mini35 and Zeiss Super Speed Primes.
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Old August 1st, 2002, 11:04 PM   #7
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Shallow Depth of Field not

Those are great looking shots. But, shallow depth of field is not film look.

Citizen Kane is shot on film and any student of film knows it pioneered deep focus.

My theory is that shallow depth of field on DV looks more like film is not because of the short depth of field but because of what you have to do to get it.

i.e. low contrast, wide aperture, telephoto (helps DV resolution, long focal lengths always look better than wide), controlled lighting levels.

I have not proven this, but I've certainly done a reasonable amounting of testing.

PROOF:

Screenshots don't show motion - and 24P is all about motion capture. Short depth of field is used all the time in soap operas - and that never looks like film, always looks like video.

As the Progressive Scan Turns... :)
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Old August 1st, 2002, 11:08 PM   #8
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Yes but

If every shot in your film is shot with a shallow depth of field then won't the entire film takes on kind of a weird look? In other words what are the limitations of this style?
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Old August 1st, 2002, 11:37 PM   #9
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Okay, cool, lets mix it up.

Citizen Kane did play with "deep focus" and is a pioneer in film history. BUT not many films do what it did. Split Focus Diopter lenses often look contrived and are hard to work with. Most films do not try to use them.

stephenvv says:
i.e. low contrast, wide aperture, telephoto (helps DV resolution, long focal lengths always look better than wide), controlled lighting levels.

Contrast doesn't affect DoF, with a video camera telephoto can never match a 35mm cine lens. Lighting levels also do not affect DoF, but you probably mean lighting to pop your subjects out from the background.

Unfortunately none of those elements that you bring up will give you accurate "film look" depth of field.

You also mention motion. Well, I've shot with a 24p HD camera, and ugh. It still looks like video. Its DoF is way long. But again that's my opinion. It's funny that you mention soap operas, because they are shot on video, so of course they look like video.

Omega Man says:
If every shot in your film is shot with a shallow depth of field then won't the entire film takes on kind of a weird look? In other words what are the limitations of this style?

Nope, you see it on every 35mm film that you watch at the theaters and on TV. The limitations are that you might not have everything you want in focus, in focus.
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Old August 2nd, 2002, 12:08 AM   #10
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we are all talking about the same thing ... for some FILM is FILM and there are no subsitutes , for others video can look "like" film .

if you have to describe " FILM " .. then you would mention 24fps, shallow DoF etc ... NTSC video has it's built in limits on resolution, color depth,tonal range .... BUT working within these limits the mini 35 adaptor, progressive frames ( either in camera or with software in post) , careful lighting can give your project a Film like quality or should i say as close to "film" as you are going to get on a NTSC mini dv camera ...

for many the 24P min dv camera is the way to go because it reporduces films "24fps "... IMO after they get the camera many will find "film " is more then just 24fps as many here have learned with their camera's ...

... there are many POST on the boards here where persons use different techniques for different "looks"
some are film like - some video like - some ??
IMO canons GL & XL have their own "look" ... sony vx2K/pd150 have their own look , the JVC streamer(300) has MANY looks thru it's set up , the panasonic mini24P will have it's own look ( that will include the 24P - because it you stay in VIDEO 24p panning/motion has it own look) ....... thru shooting methods/lighting, post productions software there are 100's of looks available for projects .... IMO all these are "tools" for us to use on our projects ... notice that many "films" are now doing color correction/tweaking in the digital domain = another TOOL for the DP ... whatever works for you -USE IT ...

jason has provided us with some stills from a project. for his LOOK he uses a XL with a mini 35 adaptor ... just as important is his lighting ... in general he uses soft front with accents from side/ or back side ( rim light) and he keeps the subject brighter then the background ( lets the light fall off) .. LOOKS good to me!

for the exterior (www.firisproductions.com/aascreenshots/gr.jpg ) Jason did you use diffusion ? or just wide open on the lens ?
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Old August 2nd, 2002, 12:59 AM   #11
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Well, I'm not biting on DoF. Anamorphic has far less depth of field than 16mm, but both looking equally filmlike.

DoF is just not it. I've also seen 24p and shot a few minutes withit. Motion look like film. Image had more video resolution, latitude and color rendition, but motion looked exactly like film.

An moving picture image is made of many elements. DoF is just that, DoF. I still argue the factor contributing to that affect image quality, not DoF itself.

What DoF does do, especially in those still screenshot, is give the look and feel of very professional cinematography.

While some may argue this affects "film look" - I call it "professional look". It's not affecting pixel capture. 24P does affect pixel capture. It's progressive not interlaced, and captures a moment in time with a specific motion blur 24 times a second.

That is a different set of moments assembled in time. Lighting, focus, color - these are not the image deterinents, only qualifiers.

In other words. Frame rate and progressive vs. interlaced scan actually affects what is captured - which part of an actor's smile, how much of movement we see.

That's why I argue that in motion picture the motion capture method is the fundamental factor affecting look.
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Old August 3rd, 2002, 06:45 AM   #12
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Less filling. Taste good. Less filling. Taste good. And so the debate goes.

It would be nice to learn more about the DVX-100 as the initiator of the thread intended, and allow the discussion on whether light, depth of field, brain-behind-the-veiw finder, or phase of the moon best influences "that film look" to establish it's own respective thread.

Not that the "film look" debate is not interesting, it is an old friend to this and other forums. Like a fresh white mushroom, it sprouts up at every opportunity and grows to shadow the topic that inadvertently gave it life.

No disrespect to the contributors is intended. No belittlement to the "film look" debate is suggested. This is just a request for more information on the original posting to this thread. It is especially good news that at least one of the sponsors to this forum, Promax, will be handling the new Panny DVX-100. Charles, thanks of the heads-up.

Chris, are we approaching the right time to give the Panny DVX-100 it's own category? If early, although limited, information on this new camcorder is any indication, it would be similar to when the XL-1 hit the market.

Thank you, Nick
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Old August 3rd, 2002, 09:51 AM   #13
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I'm not trying to be smart here

But Justin Chin wrote "everything you want to have in focus might not be in focus". That's the point I was trying to make. It would seem to me that you'd be giving up more than you would be getting.
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Old August 16th, 2002, 01:49 PM   #14
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Omega Man:
It's just a look. Sometimes you want more DoF. You can close the aperture to do that. You will also lose some light in that case.

Nick:
Yeah, it's not a great place for this discussion. BUT it is relative based on the camera's 24p feature. Simply put, what does this buy you? I don't see the overall gain.

stephenvv:
I'd argue that shallow DoF actually affects what is captured. Specifically because you can't emulate this in post production. You CAN emulate 24p in post. Or at least come close.

As for what you call the "professional look", it's not that easy to get that look with video cameras. A fair amount of manipulation in blocking, positioning of set pieces and actors is needed to get maybe 5% of what using a 35mm cine lens can do. You just can't set up lights and stage your scene to simulate 2 inches of focus with the same focal length. It's impossible.

At any rate, I'm glad you feel my work is professional looking.
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Old August 16th, 2002, 02:42 PM   #15
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Justin:

I agree 100% DoF affects what is captured. No doubt.

But shallow depth of field does not equal film look.

Shallow depth of field equals professional look.

Unfortunately, people confuse these two fundamentally different concepts all the time.

Probably because these days the only film people see shot is professional. Super 8 movies with huge DOF etc. are not what home movies means anymore.

But there are tons of shakeycam huge DOF etc out there on video, so I hear people say things like dolly moves, good lighting, shallow DOF is "film look".
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