DVX100 Observations Part2 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 21st, 2002, 12:05 AM   #1
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DVX100 Observations Part2

*** Continuation of DVX100 Observations ***


ZOOM and FOCUS CONTROL

All functions seem to work quite dependably. The servo zoom was reasonably smooth as was the mechanical zoom. The focus ring on this camera is really quite nice. It operates much smoother than say a PD-150 which seems to have more resistance in it’s focus ring mechanism. It was probably even looser than the focus ring on a typical 35mm still camera lens, but it felt just right. The DVX100 also seemed to need less turning to cover a complete focus pull from end to end. It worked well with the focus control marker in the viewfinder. It was much easier to perform repeatable focus moves with this system than with other DV cameras in this price range.

BALANCE and IMAGE STABLIZATION

The camera seems to be nicely balanced perhaps similar to a PD-150. While handholding, I turned the optical stabilization on and off to judge its effectiveness. It felt a little like the XL-1’s image stabilization without the slightly excessive floating. It seemed to work well.

VIEWFINDER and LCD SCREEN

The viewfinder was pretty robust though the image was not quite as large as I thought it would be. This is not to say that it wasn’t a large image, I just thought it might be somewhat bigger. It’s probably about the same image size as the viewfinder in the XL-1. It did not seem to have the same viewing angle problem the XL-1 has where if you looked into the viewfinder from an off center angle the image appears darker than it actually is. The DVX100 did not seem to have the same problem appearing consistent through all viewing angles. You can even stand back from a short distance and see the image in the viewfinder pretty well.

The LCD is large as far as miniDV cameras are concerned. It is much like my PD-100a’s LCD. The color may have been a tad richer on the DVX100 but the resolution was the same. One nice feature is the ability to keep the LCD and the viewfinder on at the same time. This feature could work nice for coordinating framing between a Director and DP on a set that may not have a larger field monitor.

THUMBSTICK

Navigation through the menu was OK using the “thumbstick.” It takes a little to get used to it as it tends to be a little oversensitive to some movements particularly when pushing the “thumbstick” in to select an item. It’s very usable but it could be improved some.

SHUTTER and SYNCRO-SCAN

The variable shutter speed and the synchro-scan worked as expected. I played around with the fast shutter setting in 24P advanced mode to recreate the ubiquitous fast shutter cinematography popularized in films like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Gladiator”. It achieved the effect well with a more pronounced cinematic quality different from fast shutter used in 60i mode.

1/30th shutter speed, the slowest on the camera naturally increased exposure and the occurrence of motion blur.

3rd PARTY ACCESSORIES

It seems that Panasonic is actively working with 3rd parties to support this camera. One Panasonic rep informed me that Century optics was recently sent a unit so they could create an anamorphic adapter for the camera. Panasonic stated that their own adapter should be out “around November.” They were unsure of who was actually manufacturing the adapter other than it being a Japanese manufacturer.

2 products a rep actually showed me were a “Stealth Varizoom” controller that was adapted for the DVX100’s remote port and a battery belt w/ an adapter that allows a shooter to connect an Anton Bauer battery to the DVX100. Please understand that this looked like a belt to be worn by an operator with a plate that you could mount the battery onto. I imagine another cord would connect the belt to the camera. It did NOT seem like an adapter that you could physically mount on the camera itself. That would of course be real cool but this device did not seem to do this.

The rep also stated that they were working with companies to get matte boxes made for the camera as well.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

In all, I was quite impressed with the camera. The design of this camera is intelligent and the construction felt tight. It felt pretty durable for a mini DV camera. Pound for pound this will easily the best mini-DV camera on the market simply because it has a lot of well laid out features that makes operation and shooting easier. Panasonic did a good job of not burying features under a mountain of menus. Most major functions seem to be easily accessible with professional physical switches. The audio controls also seem nice and the dials move smoothly and are not stepped.

The 24P looked very nice as well. Out of the box it does not look completely like film but it seems to have potential with controlled shooting, lighting, filtering, etc. It really looked like a new format. An intriguing offspring of two very different imaging technologies. It is unlike anything else in the mini-DV market.

I imagine when average viewers see the footage at best they could be potentially fooled into thinking that they’re viewing film or in the worst case scenario they will notice something somewhat odd about the footage but won’t be able to put a finger on what’s different (again like the MTV music awards).

Other than that I can honestly say that after about 7 months of mulling over every detail I could find about this camera and actually seeing it demonstrated and testing it out for myself, I think it’s the one to buy with my hard earned money. This is my humble opinion.

The camera seems to be on schedule for the October 10 release date.

Sorry this was such a long post. Hope it gives yet another perspective on this camera.

Brian Timmons
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Old September 21st, 2002, 09:08 PM   #2
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Many thanks for such a thorough review, Brian! Much appreciated,
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Old September 23rd, 2002, 04:56 PM   #3
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Brian,

Can you confirm that the DVX100 does not have any sort of light meter display in the viewfinder? I looked at the manual online and this seems to be the case.

I'm just getting into shooting video and the lack of light meter displays in camcorder viewfinders really perplexes me. The XL1s and GL2 have these. But the PD150 and TRV950 don't. It seems like a really useful basic feature. Why isn't it there?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Donking!
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Old September 24th, 2002, 12:34 AM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by donking! : Brian,

Can you confirm that the DVX100 does not have any sort of light meter display in the viewfinder? I looked at the manual online and this seems to be the case.

I'm just getting into shooting video and the lack of light meter displays in camcorder viewfinders really perplexes me. The XL1s and GL2 have these. But the PD150 and TRV950 don't. It seems like a really useful basic feature. Why isn't it there?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Donking! -->>>


Hello,

The exposure metering system that I referred to is similar to the spot metering system found in many 35mm still cameras except instead of measuring exposure in f-stops, it measures exposure with the more videocentric IRE values. It also measures the exposure in a much smaller (20 pixel or so) area, this way you could measure a particular part of the frame like a hotspot or the shadow side of a face. I'm not sure I explained it fully in this version of my observations. There is a later version posted on the DVX100 Resource page (http://www.mycen.com.my/dv/dvx100.html). An earlier model of the DVX100 (I believe they said it was about a month old) had this particular function. The later prototype (about 2 weeks old) DID NOT have the function. I argue that Panasonic should include this feature since this would be quite useful for exposure control particularly when lighting for particular contrast ratios or within the limits of the NTSC spec. I agree with the importance of a waveform monitor on set. But I also think that such a device is not realistic for certain shooting situations.

Yes, I agree that there is a regular f-stop indicator on the DVX100 display that does tell you what your iris setting is. I remember its f-stop indicator could adjust in half stop increments and that it closed down completely once it reached the equivalent of f22. I was pretty surprised that the iris could close so small. Many dv cameras use f11 for there smallest aperature setting.

Hope this clears things up.

Brian

P.S.- To Chris Hurd: Thank you, glad to have contributed.
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Old September 24th, 2002, 11:57 PM   #5
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Re: DVX100 Observations Part2

<b><<<-- Originally posted by Brian Timmons : *** Continuation of DVX100 Observations ***

I imagine when average viewers see the footage at best they could be potentially fooled into thinking that they’re viewing film or in the worst case scenario they will notice something somewhat odd about the footage but won’t be able to put a finger on what’s different (again like the MTV music awards).

Brian Timmons -->>></b>

Are you serious? If this looks like the MTV awards that's film look enough for me. I'm ready to shoot my flick. I'm not a grain fan actually. I only want the look and color of film not the grain and all that. I loved the look of Star Wars: Episode II in HD. I know this isn't HD but that look is all I need. MTV's film look was to die for. I hope you're not just saying this to blow smoke up our collective butts. I want this camera and I want it now! (Well when it come out and I can afford it).

As far a putting a finger on the look, the average person isn't going to ask. If I can trick them into thinking it's film for the first few minutes (namely showing them an image that won't jar them) then that's all I need to hook them on the story.

-Vinson
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Old September 25th, 2002, 07:46 AM   #6
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Vinson,

Sorry to disapoint you but you may get a filmish look but DV in any flavour won't match the colour range and saturation of film. HD 4:2:2 systems can come close but DV will always suffer from lower sampling rates
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