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Old September 20th, 2002, 11:01 PM   #1
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DVX100 Observations Part1

This Wednesday, I attended a small video trade show sponsored by Hartman and Associates in New York City. Panasonic had a small room there where they gave a rather informative and intimate demo of the AG-DVX100. I was surprised that only about 5 or so visitors walked into the room during my 2 or so hour stay. Naturally this gave me a lot time to actually talk to the extremely helpful team of Panasonic representatives about the camera and even try it out for a while myself.

The model they were demonstrating was supposed to be one of the latest models and very close to the final product. While I won’t go into all of the camera’s features (you can download the manual for that) I will state my observations and try to relate it topics posted on this board in the past. I will try to give an uncompromised (particularly in terms of space) and accurate account of what I observed and experienced using the camera.


In the beginning of the demo, the Panasonic reps showed me a short video produced by a known wedding videographer that was recorded in one of the 24P modes. I’m pretty sure one rep said it was in the standard 24P mode. The video was played back from a DVD and viewed on a widescreen Plasma monitor. It featured both indoor and outdoor shots of a bride getting her hair done at a beauty salon before her wedding ceremony.

The camera work was pretty much all handheld and shot under normal fluorescent lights.
It really showed off the camera’s mobility and how 24P could be used even in an informal setting. I could easily see documentary filmmakers getting enthusiastic about this camera.


Upon seeing the first images I have to say that it did look quite filmic. It looked and felt a bit like 16mm film without the grain. The motion blur was filmic and felt just about right. It wasn’t excessive the way 1/30th of a sec slow shutter mode is on the Sony mini DV cameras. If you saw the latest “MTV Music Award Show” then you have a pretty good idea of what the motion blur characteristics are like. The image resolution was obviously not as good as the HD cameras used on that show, but it was pretty nice for a Standard Definition camera. Again, it was reminiscent of 16mm film. Besides the motion blur, the tone perhaps due to cine gamma was also a bit more like film. The most obvious video quality I noticed was the color saturation. It seemed to have a more video look in the way it rendered colors. I don’t know what the color saturation was set at in the video but it could probably look even more filmic if the color saturation was dialed down some.

Looking at live footage from the exhibited DVX100 I noticed the video quality looked quite clean. In fact it looked a bit cleaner than the video posted earlier by blackangus1 from last month’s WEVA show. I did not see much noise or grain on this unit at all. This particular unit was supposedly 2 weeks old and probably using a newer chipset. You could however see some of the twitter on fine patterned or highly detailed objects but it did not seem bad to the point of being bothersome.
The worst I saw was the presence of a “moiré” pattern on one person’s shirt which had a fine lined pattern to it. This seemed to be a bigger problem in 24P advanced mode than in standard 24P or 60i modes. There was another gentleman who bought a tape with him and recorded some test shots. I believe this was something he was testing himself. Perhaps he might post his results somewhere on the net.

There did not seem to be any light loss at all between the progressive modes and the interlace modes. In fact, you do actually gain some exposure in 24P modes due to the slower shutter speed. Thus, this is true progressive and not frame mode.

From what I saw in the viewfinder, and the manual backs this up, the camera actually photographs at a 1/50th shutter speed. This would be similar to a 172.8 degree shutter angle used in some film cameras. 1/48th shutter speed would be achieved with a 180 degree shutter angle.


The depth of field is actually not that bad. While you could get shallower DOF with a PD-150 or an XL-1(s), you could still easily create an effective shot to execute a rack focus or effectively blur out the foreground or background.

The progressive scan really helps make a solid picture. Edges can be made quite sharp if you adjust the detail level menu option accordingly. One major gripe is the fact that gain does not operate at all in progressive mode. I even saw a Panasonic rep and another show attendee try to bamboozle the DVX100 by setting the gain in 60i mode and later switching to a Progressive scan mode to see if the gain stayed. Unfortunately, it was shut off as soon as the Progressive mode was activated. While this is not the worst thing to have missing in a f11 @ 2000lux camera, it helps to have the extra options.


One rep demonstrated the cine gamma option by pointing the camera at an overexposed window (partially open blinds were on the window) and showing the highlight difference between the normal gamma and the cine gamma option. The cine gamma did indeed work as it appeared to extend the camera’s highlight latitude by about 2 stops allowing some details of a nearby building to come through. Don’t quote me on the 2 stop figure though, it’s just an educated guestimate. I did ask the reps what the official dynamic range using cine gamma was but they were unable to answer. While cine gamma does seem to work in both the highlight and shadow areas, it does definitely have it’s limits.

The “Master Pedestal” function can help stretch the blacks even more albeit at the risk of turning your shadows gray.


The scene file selector on the back was pretty nice. Switching between modes was virtually instantaneous. This was apparently improved since I also played with an older model of the DVX100 they had at the show that had to readjust a few seconds before it switched modes.
One potential problem with the Scene file switch was that it felt somewhat looser than it could have been. I think I did actually manage to bump it once while handling the camera. It would suck if your shooting footage in it’s full 24P Advanced glory only to knock it down to 60i by mistake. Perhaps they could fix this before the final version

*** The rest of this observation is posted in the thread labled
DVX100 Observations Part2
Brian Timmons is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 21st, 2002, 08:25 AM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2001
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The Cine Gamma control sounds really interesting....esp. if the normal latitude can be extended. I wonder what the specs are for this.
Bill Ravens is offline   Reply

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