Z5 vs DSR-PD170 in low light at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z5 / HDR-FX1000
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.


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Old January 23rd, 2010, 01:33 PM   #1
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Z5 vs DSR-PD170 in low light

Guys - I recently sold my V1 as it was just crap in low light.

Have no need for HD to be honest (just future proofing) so thinking about the Sony DSR-PD170 instread and wondering if anyone knows how the PD170 compares to the Z5 in low light.

Thanks all
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Old January 23rd, 2010, 05:35 PM   #2
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went from 170 to v1 - low light was never a concern in my work, but on the odd occasions i did work in sub-optimal lighting, the 170 was stunning compared to the v1....

that said, i think you're heading the wrong way. have a look / play with the z5 or similar larger chipped cameras. they're still not as good as the 170, but life is moving to 16:9 faster than you think, whether hd or sd....

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Old January 23rd, 2010, 06:55 PM   #3
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Z5 lowlight

I delayed shifting to HDV from DV because I was not willing to sacrifice the exceptional low light performance of the PD170. Interestingly, Sony's own sales pitch for the Z5 says that for those of us who hadn't moved from the PD170 to HDV for precisely the reasons I stated, now is the time to do so.

I made the move and I haven't found that I have sacrificed any low light capability by shifting to the Z5 -- except at maximum zoom. But then the zoom range on the Z5 is longer than on the PD170. Also, even if it is/might be a half a stop or a stop slower than the PD170, it shows very little noise with the gain on, so that compensates.

Bottom line, moving to the Z5 from the the PD170 I don't think you sacrifice any low light capabilities. To me that was a deal breaker with previous HDV cameras, and the deal clincher with the Z5. I've been very happy with it. Its controls (especially of audio, as well as the reduction in functions for which you have to dive into the menu to adjust), design/layout, balance and large high-resolution LCD are far better than the 170 in my books. I loved the 170 but I find it hard to go back to after having used the Z5. I also find it hard to go back to shooting 4:3 after shooting 16:9. It feels claustrophobic.

Last edited by Rian Maelzer; January 24th, 2010 at 02:09 AM.
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Old January 23rd, 2010, 07:10 PM   #4
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Just to clarify what I assume is a typo, the zoom range is much longer on the Z5.

PD170 = 43.2-518.4mm
Z5 = 29.5-590mm
(in 35mm equivalent, of course.)

My 2 cents: before you buy a PD170 (or any SD DV cam), you should rent one and compare how the footage looks on all your display devices compared to your old V1.

[Edit: Typo corrected in above post, but leaving this one so the data is available.]
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Last edited by Adam Gold; January 24th, 2010 at 01:45 PM.
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Old January 23rd, 2010, 07:37 PM   #5
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I agree with everything Ryan said. I am a long-time VX2000 user (sister to the PD series). I waited out the early HD cams because I was unwilling to sacrafice low-light capabilities. The first cams were larger too. I think the Z5 is just a tad better in low light than my VX2000 with a .65 W/A lens on it because the picture is clearer (less gain). Here is a review if you haven't seen it:
http://provideocoalition.com/index.p...hdv_camcorder/
On top of that, the feature-set and tweakability of functions and picture qualities go WAY beyond the PD/VX. Another nice thing is the stock Z5 lens is as wide as my VX with the .65x lens on it. I like the wide capabilities. There is a true exposure ring and the focus and zoom ring is as resonsive as if it were a manual lens (no lag). The PD/VX rings were near useless in that regard. The audio is a lot better as well. There are features to prevent audio from blowing out. The shot programming is nice beause you can set up focus and zoom between two objects and it will do a perfect rack-focus with a push of a button. When I pick up my VX now, it feels like a solid cam, but more like a toy compared to the Z5 and definitely a step back to the past. If you want to move away from tape, the Z5 can do that as well, or you might consider the soon to be released NX5U.
http://provideocoalition.com/index.p...ew_sony_nxcam/
Like Ryan said, even if you don't need HD, the Z5/FX1000 shoots a lot better 16:9 than the PD170.

Stil, if you don't need HD, and depending on your budget, the PD170 should be a good value on the used market and I wouldn't fault anyone for going in that direction if it fit the workflow. But if you are used to the V1, you should give the 170 a good try-out. You might find that it isn't the 'fit' for you and it might be a step back from the 'V' that you were used to in other ways besides low light. Hope this has been helpful.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 02:10 AM   #6
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correction

Meant to say that the zoom range on the Z5 is longer than on the PD170. Have corrected it now.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 02:40 AM   #7
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I'm with all those here that talk of the aspect ratio. The PD170 was never really designed to shoot 16:9 (though it would do at a resolution-taking pinch) and is not even in the running because of that one simple fact alone.

The Z5's video amplification circuits are way better than the PD's, so the 2 stop advantage the PD has is quickly eaten up and the field levels.

Sony actually market a PD175 which in a DVCAM version of the Z5. That could be the camera for you Deniz.

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Old January 24th, 2010, 01:50 PM   #8
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I'd forgotten about the PD175, but I can't imagine the point of it unless it is significantly cheaper than the Z5 -- you can always just shoot in DVCAM mode on the Z5 and have HDV ready for you when you are. Or better yet, always shoot in HDV and downconvert in post.

Just checked Amazon UK -- the PD175 is about 2479GBP (or about $4000USD), while at a big UK vendor the Z5E is $4200USD (or about 2600GBP). To me, no contest.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 02:33 PM   #9
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I had similar concern while upgrading my VX2100 to FX1000 (both sisters of Pro models). Once I did the jump I would never go back to SD cam. Even though the final product is being delivered on SD dvd's the difference in quality is huge.

I'd say do the jump. You might also want to consider new NX5 or AX2000 for tapeless workflow.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #10
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I'll sell you a PD-170 for a good price. Never mind I have NTSC
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:24 AM   #11
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I have a Z5 and always shoot in DV 16:9 mode. Pictures are outstanding! and don't forget that with the Z5 you can shoot tapeless ( that's what I shoot mostly now, after starting with tape) and also at any time, I can soot HDV if need be.

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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #12
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PD 170 is wrong direction as has been said. Go Z5.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #13
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Stelios, if you have the MRC1k you can shoot tapeless with any cam that has firewire out. It's just easier with the Z5 becasue it snaps right onto the back and the cam has External Recording Control.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 12:34 PM   #14
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...It's just easier with the Z5 because it snaps right onto the back and the cam has External Recording Control.

Adam you are right, but the MRC1 on another camera looks out of place and odd, where as on the Z5 it's part of the camera.

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Old January 25th, 2010, 12:36 PM   #15
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Yes, you're right; it looks way cool on the Z5. In fact, I always thought the Z5 looked funny without it compared to the Z1; it's too short in the rear without the MRC.
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