Spent time with the DVX100, my review. by Vinson Watson at DVinfo.net

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Old November 22nd, 2002, 04:39 PM   #1
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Spent time with the DVX100, my review. by Vinson Watson

The Panasonic DVX100 24p

I went and spent an hour with the Panasonic DVX100 at SMS a film and video rental house (and a Panasonic dealer). My conclusion:

In my opinion the DVX100 is the best way for a filmmaker to get the film look without time consuming software questionable filter processes or special lighting set ups to get the film look. Before I continue let me explain where Iím coming from. First when I say the ďfilm lookĒ I donít mean the professional look and most indie filmmakers donít mean this when they say it. If John Woo used a basic 3 chip video camera and shot like he generally shoots his movies youíd have a very professionally done movie shot on video, but youíd still know itís video. With John Wooís name attached to it it maight mean more but weíd still know video when we see it before itís treated with some kind of film look technique. So Iím not talking about a shooting style Iím talking about a look. This camera has proven to me without a doubt that it is the camera I will chose to save money to buy. The GL2 is nice and at this point remains second choice to this Panasonic powerhouse.

Somethings to take into consideration. I shot out doors and when I was inside I shot in basic ďstoreĒ type lighting, so there were no special set ups for my test.

The Modes

Now I played with the Pana in 24p basic, 24p Advanced, and 30p. I didnít see much of a difference between the 24p settings but I understand the difference of one being used for straight to video use while the other is being used for film transfer (that being advanced mode). In 24p this camera reacted like film to colors and movement. Is it perfect? Itís still video, but does look it. Is it better than Canonís frame mode? Yep, because of the cinegamma. Fast pans will cause a blur, and fast movement is picked up without the heavy strobing some cameras have. The 24p modes look film-like even without the cinegamma which some may choose to shut off to keep control of other camera functions but this is a user choice and doesnít have the same exact look as 24p with the cinegamma on but by no means does it look bad either. I also did 30p with the cinegamma on and it too looked awesome, so those unsure about 24p donít truely have to use it. Try 30p with cinegamma and see what you think. In normal mode this cam shoots a warm picture with sharp details that can be controled (thereís a control called ďdetailĒ). In 24p -30p this cam is perfect for low budget indie filmmakers. In normal mode this cam is perfect for pro camera operators of most types and low budget indie horror film makers. (I like the video look for horror flicks but many people will just flick the cine-switch>.

Colors

Absolutely vibrant. Saturated reds like some cams saturate greens. I like this (Iím thinking of a particular scene I have planned of a woman in a red dress) but some may not. Play with the Gamma. Colors are warm and accurate. I didnít see any fringing but I hear you need to be in high contrast situations for that to happen. I was in an urban sprawl but there wasnít a ton of high contrasty things to go by.

Focus Ring

Some complain about it feeling to loose. It got the job done. Personally I wouldíve wanted it to feel more snug myself but itís not a enough to detract from the value camera.

Sound

Many people complain about camera sound. These guys have put an awesome mic on this thing comparable to the one on the GL2. Plus manual sound controls.

16:9

I like to do everything in widescreen mode. The 16:9 is hot to death. I've heard it was native and I've heard it was just a special effect, either it's bomb. Iíve gone on about this before but you get to see exactly what youíre recording. No weird stretched picture just beautiful 16:9, especially when shooting in normal mode 16:9 ads a little something.

Gamma
Thereís a lot of things you can do color wise by playing with the gamma. Saturation, desaturation, the whole nine. You have to try this for yourself to get the look you want.

Controls

Very easy to operate, it took me no time to figure out the controls. (I glanced at the manual about twice). The button you operate the VCR fuctions with is the same you control the on screen menus with. Nice. Camera to VCR mode is done by pushing a button versus clicking that dial from VCR to CAMERA to OFF. The dial is there but itís just CAMERA and OFF. This baby has two zooms ( a ring and the handle). Didnít really work with the handle zoom, I used the ring. In a film situation Iíd probably be more likely to use handle zoom while turning the focus rings. I didnít test the manual iris.

Style

Several people asked me what I was shooting. If youíre not looking to draw attention this cam may not be for you, but then again the VX1K or VX2K donít exactly look like tourist cams. This is more the GL2ís place because itís smaller and lighter.

Close

If youíre interested in seeing a tape of this email me at artstar@jps.net and Iíll tell you how to get one. If not just go down to your local Pana dealer and get one. I should warn you my shooting is shakey and sporadic. I was specifically interested in the film look. Sadly I taped over my pevious stuff so you wonít get to witness my martial arts mayhem. Peace out.

-Vinson
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Old November 22nd, 2002, 07:46 PM   #2
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Thank Vinson -- very informative,
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Old November 23rd, 2002, 05:42 PM   #3
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Thanks Artstar.

Re: "In my opinion the DVX100 is the best way for a filmmaker to get the film look without time consuming software questionable filter processes or special lighting set ups to get the film look."

Actually, lighting is very important with getting good results, as is shooting technique and the tools such as stabilizers. Also, you will want to get a better mic, such as a Senn ME66 or ME67 at the very least.

This "film look," do you mean shooting in 30fps progressive? The film look or looks, which are many, are achieved with many things: such as lighting, stabilizers and shooting technique. The cam is important but not as important with what I just mentioned. Just my opinion.

I get neat looks or film looks---if you want use this term---with any cam. Personally, I think filters are often ignored as well for this "film look." Check out Cokin's Sunsoft. That's one for a neat, film-like effect. It softens and brightens things up!...you often see it's use, or a similar filter, in movies and TV shows. Example, Stargate SG1 when they go to a planet with a bright sun, and sunny scenes with that warm-warm look. Andromeda seems to use this filter or a similar one a lot also.
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Old November 23rd, 2002, 08:48 PM   #4
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Thanks Vinson,

Good information, it will prove helpful.

Jeff
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Old November 24th, 2002, 03:50 AM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Frank Granovski : Thanks Artstar.

Actually, lighting is very important with getting good results, as is shooting technique and the tools such as stabilizers. Also, you will want to get a better mic, such as a Senn ME66 or ME67 at the very least. -->>>

True, but that's what cool about this cam. In natural lighting you're still getting the film look we indy filmmakers so desire. I started filmming in the store then he let me take it outside. But in the store the image was no less filmic than outdoors.

<<<--This "film look," do you mean shooting in 30fps progressive? The film look or looks, which are many, are achieved with many things: such as lighting, stabilizers and shooting technique. The cam is important but not as important with what I just mentioned. Just my opinion.-->>>

Nope totally different. I'm talking the look of 30p but with film's gamma curve if you can picture it. Think back to that whole MTV award thing. It looks like that only we all know it's not HD.

<<<--I get neat looks or film looks---if you want use this term---with any cam. Personally, I think filters are often ignored as well for this "film look."-->>>

I don't think so. Everyone knows about the Promist Black (I mean it was even my first attempt at a film look) and other filters like them. This isn't to say there's anything wrong with those methods either. When your Pana dealers get the DVX100 check it out and do this; shoot in 60i and 30p and play with the gamma. I bet you can get some of the same looks you get with filters. Do this too, play with it in 60i with the cinegamma on. Being a video pro I don't think anything will knock your socks off but I think you'll be impressed by what you can do. And take some time out with it. I took an hour and was pleased as punch. (Pleased as punch?)

-Vinson
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Old November 24th, 2002, 04:29 AM   #6
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Thanks. Yes, even in Vancouver, the Tiffen Black Pro Mist 3 is the most sought after video filter. But for a different film look, the Sunsoft or something similar is used often (for film and video). So both these filters are useful. I use the Sunsoft, so I easily recognize it's use when I watch TV. Or, maybe it's a Vancouver secret?
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Old November 24th, 2002, 04:35 PM   #7
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Maybe. It could be the best kept secret in Canada.

-Vinson :)
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Old November 24th, 2002, 04:58 PM   #8
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No, that would be our women. All you need is a cam, and they all come running!

Here are some Vancouver shot TV shows which I noticed use the Cokin Sunsoft or something similar:

First Wave
Andromeda
Stargate SG1
Smallville
The West Wing
The old X-files
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Old November 26th, 2002, 01:07 AM   #9
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They shoot Smallville in Canada? I hear the "Left Behind" television series is being shot there too. I think Chuck Norris is in it. I know he's one of the producers.

-Vinson
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Old November 27th, 2002, 11:24 AM   #10
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>>Left Behind" television series is being shot there too. I think Chuck Norris is in it. I know he's one of the producers.
<<

Chuck Norris doing Christian themed work? Now that's a laugh. That tells me the original authors have totally sold out.
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Old November 28th, 2002, 10:56 AM   #11
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I think the DVX100 does not have native 16:9 CCDs. I have always wondered if the DVX had a built in anamorphic lens.
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Old November 28th, 2002, 11:53 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Frank Granovski : No, that would be our women. All you need is a cam, and they all come running!

-->>>

Frank have you ever been to Texas?! <ref: our Women> :)
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Old November 28th, 2002, 08:24 PM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Nathan Gifford : I think the DVX100 does not have native 16:9 CCDs. I have always wondered if the DVX had a built in anamorphic lens. -->>>

No that's a mistake. As you say the 16:9 isn't native it just a special effect. My bad on that one.

-Vinson
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Old November 29th, 2002, 04:47 PM   #14
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Too darn bad it doesn't have 16:9 anamorphic. I was hoping that someone would either include 16:9 CCDs or anamorphic built in.
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Old November 29th, 2002, 04:57 PM   #15
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If you check around the net, you will find anamorphic lense adaptors coming out for it. Check out some of the sponsers for dvinfo.
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