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Panasonic DVX / DVC Assistant
The 4K DVX200 plus previous Panasonic Pro Line cams: DVX100A, DVC60, DVC30.


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Old February 9th, 2006, 02:08 AM   #1
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upgrade from mvx3i to dvx100a

I feel almost ready to buy the dvx100ae as a replacement for my mvx3i (opturaXi pal), and I'd like to confirm with you guys that it's worthwhile for these reasons:

- low light performance (indoors with household lighting), the mvx3i produces too much grain, and low color saturation
- light dynamic range performance (contrast is unacceptably high on bright outdoor scenes such as beach or pool or snow, causing wash-out or dark subjects) (the dvx100 is reported to be better than the sony hdr-fx1)
- dvx100 has good standard wide angle lens whereas the sonys would need a wide angle lense (for my needs)
- sensor smearing when a bright subject is included in the frame, causing a vertical splash of light, very nasty
- sound, I am tired of hearing the drive mechanism on the canon (when gain creeps up in low-sound scenes). I use the dm-50, I guess I could buy a better mic and plug it into the mic jack, but I suspect the performance will be much better with a Rode NTG-1 and its xlr connection

I use pro level dSLRs (nikon d2 series), and I suspect the dvx100 will make me feel more comfortable swapping between the 2, whereas the image quality on the mvx3i often dissappoints me.

I know some people have used both mvx3i and dvx100, and some even like the little canon very much... is the difference worth $3000 for an amateur like me (mostly family footage, 20hrs / year)?

Thanks
Christophe
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Old February 10th, 2006, 06:32 AM   #2
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I am having 2nd thoughts when I see the discussions and comparisons on noise from the dvx100 under "less than ideal" conditions. Noise is 1 of my highest annoyances with the mvx3i in "household level" low light conditions (along with color rendition under these conditions), and I would not want to find that much noise in a new camera.

So, is noise only an issue with very high gain settings on the dvx100? Is very high gain necessary for "household level" low light conditions I sometimes shoot in?

My research indicates that the dvx100 is crippled with noise when gain is used, but not the comparable Sonys...

Please advise.
Thanks
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Old February 10th, 2006, 01:01 PM   #3
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For 20 hours of family footage a year I would say absolutely not worth it. The DVX is primarily oriented toward "amature movie makers"...to be honest I wouldnt spend anywhere close to that much money for 20 hours of family footage a year.

I've shot mounds of tape through the DVX including family footage and even my house which is often poorly lit it does fine to my personal taste, you can gain it up to 6 and not have major grain noise, but everyone has their own standards as to what is or isnt too much noise. I just think the DVX is overkill for your intentions.

Perhaps you should post something in the general DV discussion area asking what a good low light performing camera would be for your intended use.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #4
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Chris,

I think DVXUser did a side-by-side comparison of the DVX against the FX1 and Z1U last year sometime. From the article - it looks as though the DVX held an advantage over the Sony products with regards to noise in dark environments. Just merely bumping up the gain isn't necessarily all that you can do to improve the quality of the picture. There are several adjustments ranging from frame rate to iris that may improve the quality -- but obviously other folks would be able to chime in a bit better on here.

I bought a DVX100b mainly because of the low-light noise ratio based on the reviews on DVXUser's website. Barry Green may have more information about specific optimum settings that may dramatically improve the low-light noise ratio that you mention. Barry has also put out a very informative book and DVD that really delves into the inner settings on the DVX -- very informative and insightful!

Regards and good luck!
-Michael
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Old February 10th, 2006, 01:50 PM   #5
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I've tested both cameras fairly extensively Chris, writing the MVX3i test report for Computer Video magazine. They really are aimed at completely different filmmakers, which is why I'd say that it's a good solid step to take if you plan to upgrade.

The single chip Canon suffers badly from CCD smear as you've found out and the DVX will please you on that score. The Canon lens also suffers far less barrel distortion at the wide end, but then you constantly need a wide-angle converter (as again you've realised).

The DVX allows you to make fine and invisible exposure adjustments when in the manual exposure mode which is excellent. The Canon is poor in this regard. If you've hated the bottom loading the DVX cures this, while at the same time offering masses of custom settings, XLR inputs and lots of street cred.

The poor low light performance of the Canon is perhaps not unexpected with such a tiny CCD, but the CCD smear is a serious problem when shooting high contrast subjects. The book does warn you about this however. I also feel that on a camcorder aimed at serious amateurs it’s important to be kept informed of the aperture and gain-up settings whilst shooting, and to receive more information when pushing ‘Display’ later. The Canon is very poor here, the Panasonic much better. The MVX3i claims 'true' 16:9, but under test conditions that's demonstrably not so.

The Canon lens (10x zoom) is f1.9 at full telephoto and the DVX (12x) is f/2.8 - over a stop slower, but it's still noticeably better in the gloom. Mega-pixel chips always compromise low light performance, but then you do get pretty good stills with the Canon and fun things like MPEG4 movies to solid state memory.

You talk about the DVX100A, but you know the B model is here? And you know how to save £1000 and get better performance? Go get yourself a Sony HC1. That should throw a spanner in the works, but the small number of movies you make does make the DVX (soon to be dropped as HD takes hold) seem rather excessive.

Fight back good people; I'm happy to pass judgement.

tom.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 11:46 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback! I realise the dvx100 may be over the top for my needs, but sound / image quality and manual control is important for me (otherwise I'd get a simpler photo camera too!).

I have seen the comparison of dvx100 a and b on dvxuser, but it is not clear if there is any significant improvement in video: I see "The video signal-to-noise ratio has been improved. DVX100B footage is noticeably “cleaner”, with less video “noise”. Is that referring to the low light high gain noise? Then later in that comparison, "changes and refinements in the DVX100B are primarily in usage, but not really in the footage (other than a small reduction in video noise). So as far as end footage on tape, a DVX100A and a DVX100B will deliver nearly identical results".

I was thinking of saving $500 or so with the dvx100a, but if that noise reduction is my pain point, the extra cash may be worth it.

The mvx3i issues you mention are all familiar, incl the 1-stop exposure jumps when using the manual dial, and the ccd smear, both very nasty.

I'm afraid the HC1 will add high-def, which is not unwanted, but will not be better than the mvx3i on any other aspect.

OK, I am now very close to the decision point, please just some advice on the a vs b?

Thanks
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Old February 11th, 2006, 02:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Suzor
I realise the dvx100 may be over the top for my needs, but sound / image quality and manual control is important for me
Awesome, I can certainly respect that!

It's hard to make that call for someone else....one mans too much noise can be another mans hardly noticable...but I have been quite well satisfied, and I too shoot all of my family stuff on the DVX. Even though I use my cams for my business, I see no reason my family shouldnt be captured in as movie like a manner as possible and it is that more filmlike quality that overides any issues I would have had about noise otherwise....my attention is always drawn to the overall beauty of the footage it provides.

Too, you would have excellent manual shutter control to avoid using gain. It's a compromise between the gain noise and motion blur, but 98% of everything I've shot has needed neither. The times that the image has been what I would call moderately dark I was able to brighten in post to my satisfaction and the times it's just been too dang dark I would say it was just too dang dark, you wouldnt really have expected them to be otherwise.

Every frame I've shot has been in 24p too, so if I were to use 60i it would be even somewhat better as far as light handling goes, but then if I were going to do that I would just get a PD-170 and be done with it.

As far as the difference between the A and B I cannot make any comment...I only have the original and an A.

Ahh, also, it had been found that the Cine Matrix (not the CineGamma) produces more noise which can be reduced quite a bit by using Normal Matrix, though I prefer to overall look of using both CineGamma and Matrix regardless.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 06:24 AM   #8
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I'd say go for the A Chris, and drive a hard bargain. No more that £1650. The B has been introduced primarily to give Panasonic breathing space - the HVX200 is just too ahead of its time (cost of P2 cards) and Panasonic needs to let the semi-pros know that their DVX hasn't been forgotten.

We all thought the move from the PD150 to the PD170 was a step hardly worth taking, but Panasonic's A to B step is even milder. The DVX100 to the A model included some very worthwhile and much needed changes, but as I say, the A to B step isn't even a botox jab.

Laboratory conditions may show noise differences in controlled set-ups, but I'd bet the man on the street (and the man behind this keyboard) would never spot them. Buy the A and breathe easy; it's now a bargain.

tom.
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