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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
...plus TRV900, PD100A and other Sony DV camcorders.


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Old June 5th, 2003, 07:53 AM   #1
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I need UNBIASED opinions on these cams.

I don't know where else to put this and I think this is the best place. I'm a low-budget shooter and I was looking at a pdx10, but I'm concerned about the low-light performance... my concerns/assumptions are as follows:

1) the pdx10 and 950 are said to have the same high quality video but with somewhat compromised low-light performance in relation to the pd150.

2) I've read in places that the pdx10 audio is as good as the dvx100 and I've read that the dvx100 BLOWS all other prosumer cams away on audio... can any informed and UNBIASED person with experience with BOTH cams comment? I've also read that supposedly the newer incarnations of the pdx10 and pd150 have better (less hiss) audio... comments?

3) Is there a significant difference between the trv900 and the newer versions of that form-factor? From what I've read the image is improved and color is better with good lighting, but worse in low-light... I'm definitely considering a used trv900 over the other options here also...

Basically I'm having trouble deciding on cams that I can easily afford, barely afford, and have to wait for... i.e. a used trv900, new pdx10, new pd150, new dvx100... dvx or pd150 would be HARD for me to get and justify at this time... if I can get a truly unbiased comment on this it would be GREAT... with a lot of stuff on these boards I see people who only endorse their own choice and pretend like there are no other choices... I'd love to hear that the pdx10 audio is as good as a dvx100, if it really is... or that the pd150 is just as good. Or if somebody thinks the trv900 is still the best overall choice at a low price then so be it... thoughts?
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Old June 5th, 2003, 08:51 AM   #2
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Matt, I recently went through the same process. Since I use my camera underwater, my choice was further complicated by the need for an underwater housing, which few cameras have available, and size is always an issue for a travelling diver.

I had heard the criticism of the low light performance of the TRV-950, so the first day I got it, I went outside as the day was waning. From a purely subjective point of view, from someone relatively new to digital video, I was amazed at the low light performance. Even after the sun had been down for quite some time I was getting very nice color in people, plants, and autos. When the camera needed a light to see, so did I.

Now, I did have a problem with my TRV-950. After a week of shooting two hours a day, it refused to load a tape properly. I got an error code 31:34 over and over, even after following the recommended steps in the owner's manual for what is supposed to be a user correctable error. In doing some research, it appears that the problem has to do with the supply reel not tensioning properly. B&H have the camera back and we are negotiating whether it will be repaired or replaced. I am seriously considering sending them the difference and stepping up to the PDX10 to get the heavier duty tape transport and the 16:9 shooting mode, not to mention the better sound system that you have also mentioned.

If this thread is still active when and if I get the PDX10, I'll jump in with my thoughts on the two cameras compared.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 09:21 AM   #3
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Re: I need UNBIASED opinions on these cams.

<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Gettemeier:
Quote:
1) the pdx10 and 950 are said to have the same high quality video but with somewhat compromised low-light performance in relation to the pd150.
This is pretty accurate. I have a VX-2000 (same imaging as PD-150) and PDX-10. I would say that the 2000 has, maybe, 1.5 stops on the X10. I guess it depends on how much shooting you will do in really dark places. I don't generally have a problem. However when I shoot performances of our operas there are often very dark scenes. I haven't yet tried the X10 for this. I'm sure it will work, however there may be more noise in the image.
Quote:
2) I've read in places that the pdx10 audio is as good as the dvx100
Sorry, no experience there. In fact, all my work thus far with the X10 has been without audio.
Quote:
3) Is there a significant difference between the trv900 and the newer versions of that form-factor?
No experience here either. But have you looked a John Beale's website? This may give you some insights.

Now of course nobody is really unbiased, and you have to make decisions based on your own likes and dislikes. I understand that the new issue of DV magazine has a PDX-10 review which is generally favorable, however I haven't seen it yet. I can tell you that I'm very happy with mine. But my main interest was the 16:9 performance. I think the DVX-100 is a whole different kind of thing and difficult to compare, especially considering the price difference. If you like the PD-150 but money is a problem, have you considered a VX-2000?

The strengths of the PDX-10 are its 16:9, BW viewfinder, audio and other 'pro' features. I think it's a lot of bang for the buck. I'm not entirely crazy about the form factor and control placement, but this isn't a deal breaker. And I do almost all my work on a tripod, so things like balance aren't a big deal.

Tough choice. Let us know what you decide.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 09:49 AM   #4
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Unbiased opinions? You are asking camera owners for unbiased opinions? With so much based on personal preferences, that can be difficult to find. I love my PD150 but that is a a highly biased opinion.

Here is a site which compares the TRV900, the DVX1000 and the VX2000 among other camers. Can't swear that it is non-biased either.

http://www.bealecorner.com/index.html
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Old June 5th, 2003, 09:50 AM   #5
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Boyd, you beat me to it. ;)
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Old June 5th, 2003, 11:19 AM   #6
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Hello,

I to was where you are now in the decision process.. (2 months ago)It really came down to what is the best camera i could buy for the money i had budgeted.. it came to the PDX10 for me.. I believe this camera performs just as well and in some cases better than the PDP-150 in every aspect except it is not as good in low light.. To me the PDP150 is the industry standard in this class of cameras..(Panasonic DVX100 also, if you want the 24p mode)
I agonized over my decision on what to do.. but i decided on this camera because for me the Pro audio being built in, Sony name, DVCAM capability,16:9 .. It really was a compormise choice.. If i had a bigger budget i might have gone for the PDP150, and that would only be for the better low light capabilities.. Otherwise this camera is right there.. the camera is not terrible in low light, but it is does not match the PDP150 or VX2000 in that category..If you are shooting in decent light situations, then the choice should be easier..


your decision will really come down to these things.. low light performance, money , pro audio, 16:9. money and money..

i do not have any experirience with the Pana DVX1000 audo, but have heard it was not good at all with the provided mic.. i have read time and agin in post that people had to upgrade the mic to get good performance..

there are reviews for this camera in the current issues of VideoSystems and DV magazines..

good luck,
hope this helped..
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Old June 5th, 2003, 01:48 PM   #7
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PDX10, PD150, TRV950 and VX2000 compared

I found a webpage on which the PDX10, PD150, TRV950 and the VX2000 are compared.
I have observed the frames in photoshop.

I see no difference in resolution between the PDX10 and the PD150, not horizontally nor vertically. (3x4)
The VX2000 and the TRV950 seem both to have a very little less resolution. That was to my surprise and new to me!

The sensitivity of the PD150 seems to be no more as one stop better as the PDX10.

The PD150 and the VX2000 show horizontal stripes in low light.
The much discussed vertical smearing of the PDX10 and the TR950 can also be seen.

Do you agree with my observations?

Jan
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Old June 5th, 2003, 02:02 PM   #8
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Are these photos or video framegrabs? If photos, what do they tell about the video quality (not arguing, just asking)?

Hans
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Old June 5th, 2003, 02:22 PM   #9
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Interesting pages, too bad I can't read Japanese! :-) My only question would be why are the images 604x450. that seems like sort of an arbitrary size. I don't see how you can draw conclusions about the horizontal resolution of two 720x480 images if they have been reduced to 604x450. The stated horizontal resolution of these cameras is 530 lines.

I shot the following tests myself. They show slightly better 4:3 resolution for the VX-2000, but significantly worse 16:9 resolution.

Also there's an interesting web page here http://www.techshop.net/PDX-10 If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, the author shows examples of the difference in pixel dimensions of both 4:3 and 16:9 images on the PDX-10 vs TRV-950. The interesting thing is that the PDX-10 uses all available pixels on the CCD's to create a high res 16:9 image. The TRV-950 simply crops the 4:3 frame to 16:9, like other camcorders. However, since the CCD's are relatively high resolution, even with this cropping the 16:9 image consists of 944x528 pixels, greater than the 720x480 that is written to tape. So one might expect better 16:9 than the PD-150, XL-1, etc, but not as good as the PDX-10 which uses about 22% more pixels in 16:9 mode.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 02:57 PM   #10
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May this will help you translating.

Yess, I have seen your test before. It bothered me that the vertical resolution of the PDX10 seem to be less in my 3x4 Resolution Chart.
I wondered if the 1:1 pixelrelation of the PD150 had to do with that. Did we see a real resolution or a resulting interference pattern. Realise that also the sharpening algorithm of both cams must be very different!
So I was realy surprised to see that the resolution from the PD150 and the PDx10 are the same and both better as the TRV950 and the VX2000, even on this 605x452 pictures. I think they are cropped.

Second surprise was to see that the overshoot of the sharpening of the the PD150 and the PDX10 did not differ.

I emailed with David form Techshop and he has explained how he did it and i am afraid i cannot double his conclusions yet. My first try was not accurate enough ( quick on my bureau not using a tripod) but did not reveal any difference with the TRV950 in 3:4 mode. So I will redo the test once.
But unfortunately next weeks I will not find time for that.

The 16:9 mode is certainly better. Lately I find myself only shooting in 16:9 mode. The cam seems to be optimalised for this mode too.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 03:33 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Jan Roovers : Yess, I have seen your test before. It bothered me that the vertical resolution of the PDX10 seem to be less in my 3x4 Resolution Chart. -->>>

Not sure what I'm looking at here, is that shot with the PDX-10 PAL camera? The vertical resolution looks pretty much the same as my tests, ~350 lines. One might expect better with PAL I suppose, but the CCD's are probably the same dimensions so maybe it isn't a factor?

<<<-- Originally posted by Jan Roovers :The 16:9 mode is certainly better. Lately I find myself only shooting in 16:9 mode. The cam seems to be optimalised for this mode too. -->>>

I agree, and it's the only reason I bought one...
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Old June 5th, 2003, 03:51 PM   #12
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Yes my chart is in PAL. I agree with the resolution of ~350 lines. May be it has more to do with the algorithm of the frame to DV compression in this specific situation.
What do you think of the vertical resolution of the VX2000 regarding the interference pattern? Do we see really more as ~350 lines?

Often is spoken about the busy look of the VX2000. In footage this is also good seen on nearby but not horizontal lines.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 04:46 PM   #13
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I just took another look at the VX-2000 and PDX-10 4:3 frames I shot. Overall the PDX-10 looks "softer" to me in 4:3 mode.. I'm just wondering if maybe I screwed up and didn't have it focused properly when I did the test. Will have to try shooting this again someday, but like you, things are kind of busy around here right now... :-) But probably the tests were correct and we're seeing the difference between the larger CCD's and (possibly) better optics on the VX-2000. Interesting that Scott Billups wrote "the glass on this little monster is the best of the entire sony miniDV line" about the PDX-10 on his website

Also, the contrast of the 4:3 chart on your website isn't so good. Did you use automatic or manual exposure? I did a manual white balance to a blank sheet of the same paper the chart was printed on (Epson photo quality inkjet paper). Then I set exposure manually such that 100 IRE zebra was just showing in the white areas of the chart.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 06:46 PM   #14
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As you can see from the still picture of the Resolution chart, the lens will not be the problem.

I think that the interlacing will also be limiting possibilities.
Load your chart into your NLE and you will see that Sony does a hell of a job.

I have read that you use the same chart (EIA1956.eps) as I do. When you open this chart in LABcolor and transform the colorspace to SRGB then you will get the better grays.
I shot with 1/50sec and ~F3 and I used daylight coming through the window. That is not professional! I agree that the contrast was not so good, but i could not get it better then. I tried. May be I need more light and/or experiment with a better background. It is not in the picture, but the cam wil see it.

I am still wondering what is the best way to judge resolution.
The site I mentioned was opening my eyes.
May be pixelmonger has a good point to use different charts as we do. May be we have to ask him why.

All together I think that a chip that will offer a 2:1 pixelrelation that is 2048x1152 for PAL plus spare pixels up to 4Mb for steadyshot wil be optimal. That 2:1 relation will benefit every algorithm in my opinion. But the problem will be that you need very fast chips also for the algorithm's. That will be constraining possibilities.
So I guess that Sony will come first with a ~2mb chip and a 1.5:1 pixelrelation that is 1536*864 for the new PD150. That is suboptimal but must already be convenient enough for the algorithms and very well in proportion to the capacity of DV.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 05:12 PM   #15
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Matt, if you need an unbiased opinion, take a look at the following thread, discussing the TRV950 rather unusual behaviour:

http://www.colinbarrett.com/simplyBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3902&forum=2&27

Just to warn you to check carefully either TRV950 or DXP10 before buying.

Niko
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