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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old September 30th, 2003, 12:22 AM   #1
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pdx10 low light

Hello everyone. I love the pdx10, it's gotten raving reviews re video quality but gets beat up on low light capabilities (7 lux ).
You guys seem to love what this cam produces but is it that it becomes alive at 7 lux+ ? Would the pdx10 produce a superior video/image/quality than the vx2000, gl2, at 7 lux. Saving my money for pdx10.
P.S.
Just curious, it seems that everyone on this board is pretty positive about their pdx10 and i like that. It either means that you don't put yourselves in low light situations ( minus 7 lux ) and/or your using light kits etc.
Let me know how you're doing it ( producing great video ).
Thanks in advance
joe
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Old September 30th, 2003, 12:53 AM   #2
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Jose, this is not the ideal camera to shoot with in lower light, where you cannot control the lighting. What are you going to use a camera for? The VX2000 and GL2 will perform better in "lower light," with the VX2000 being better than the GL2 (in lower light). Why not go for the gusto with buying a cam with 1/2" CCDs? :)
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Old September 30th, 2003, 04:38 PM   #3
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To be honest- I had a GL2 and wasn't all that impressed with it's low light shooting- it was better than my Panasonic "cheapo" Palmcorder, but it wasn't spectacular...just my personal observation- but then again I may have been expecting too much!
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Old October 1st, 2003, 02:43 AM   #4
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Jose,

I just now read your post, grabbed my PDX10 off the desk next to me, wheeled around and shot the only light on in the room, a 100 watt lamp with a big golden shade, exposure in auto, the color level at 50%. The lamp looks gorgeous, and the area around it in the IMMEDIATE vicinity also looks beautiful, atmospheric, and rather grain free. That's shooting right at the lamp, with lamp as subject, fully wide. If there is grain, it is lost in black. Beautiful.
Now. I pan away from the lamp about six feet into the room itself. Exposure adjusts, allowing in more light. The picture is murky and extremely noisy, and no amount of manual exposure is going to change this for the better. I could set up camera and human subject right next to the golden lamp and, in the wonderful golden light, shoot marvellous, highly usable close ups. We would be hugging the lamp, brushing our cheeks against the shade, we would be that close, and that is probably the only place in the room I could get a good shot, in this light.
Is this an extreme case scenario? For the most part, probably. The question still stands: what are you going to use it for? Know that this camera doesn't do everything pretty well, like the PD150/PD170. It is often stated that it isn't good for shooting weddings. This probably also means no birthday parties indoors at night either. It is more specialized a tool.
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Old October 1st, 2003, 04:06 AM   #5
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Shawn, have you tried to reduce shutter speed? In my experience 1/12s speed still gives rather acceptable results, if your subject is static.
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Old October 1st, 2003, 10:48 AM   #6
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Right you are, Vladimir. Reduced shutter speed reduces all fluidity of motion, rendering grain, well, less noticable, as well allowing in more light. It's an interesting effect, but not acceptable for most applications, ie, lifelike footage of animate subjects. Can you imagine a wedding shot this way? Huh! Fascinating! If I get married any time soon, maybe that's exactly how I'll have it shot! Neat!.......
Of course, this might just be what Jose is looking for.
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Old October 2nd, 2003, 06:53 PM   #7
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Is the PDX10 worse in low light compared to the average 1-chip ccd mini-dv camcorder?

I have a Panasonic Palmcorder DV400 which is just a bargain basement garden variety mini-DV cam- was wondering how much worse the PDX10 would be in relation to "typical" $399 cameras.
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Old October 2nd, 2003, 07:38 PM   #8
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Later tonight, I will shoot side by side tests with both my PDX10 and my TRV19, with several lights on, then post descriptions of results.
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Old October 3rd, 2003, 09:11 AM   #9
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Thanks guys- you guys are awesome.

I'm just wondering how "bad" it is...I was thinking maybe it's bad when compared to other 3CCD's, which should still be better than single chippers, but all this "bad" in low light talk got me thinking it's worse than "consumer" cameras.....

...let's see what happens- thanks again guys.

Post away!
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Old October 3rd, 2003, 04:19 PM   #10
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Reducing the shutter speed

The thing with reducing shutter speed below 60 (or 50 in PAL) is that Sony cameras are famous for the line doubling that happens in theese cases. Now it would appear that the PDX10's line doubling not as bad as the other Sony cameras I have tried. Wish someone could prove this. I don't have access right now to my PC3 so as to run some comparisons.

Yesterday I connected the PDX10 to a big Sony 4:3 TV with 16:9 mode. In 16:9, I could not see the line doubling fenomenon at 30fps. Then again, perhaps the TV was not so good a monitor... I did use S-Video and it looked very good, very natural images both at 1/30 and 1/60 shutter speeds. I was really impressed.
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Old October 3rd, 2003, 07:06 PM   #11
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Haven't been able to find time to shoot the trv19 and pdx10 together, but I can say from offhand experience that it's as good, or bad, as the lowlight of Sony's trv740 d8 cam, a 1 chipper of course, with the same Sony low lux spec of 7 (same chip size too). Overall, I would say it's comparable to to any single chip cam larger than 1/6", for low light, but it's 3 chips and oversampling make for dynamite color and clarity, even in low light, however grainy. This isn't saying much, I know, but it's true. My above 100 watt lamp example attests to this. Shoot and light just so, work around these limitations, and you can do wonderful things.
In any case, I will shoot for this tonight to do a more controlled comparison of said two cams.
Regards,
Shawn
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Old October 3rd, 2003, 10:36 PM   #12
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Good evening all.

Well, I'm tinkering with the PDX10 and the TRV19. Turned on every single blessed light in the house. For the LOVE. :-) Actually, it's an open room studio with a bathroom, about 20' x 15'.
Lights ON in room are:

two 150 watt bulbs, shaded, pointing up
a 100 watt bulb, the golden shaded one mentioned above
two 40 watt bulbs, a piano lamp w/ metal shade, pointed downward
a 60 watt bulb, naked
two florescent tubes, ? watts, pointed downward over kitchen sink

There are a good ten feet between each light source, creating pools of brightness that taper to what is probably considered low light, between light sources. Warm, low-mid light. The 19's lcd is 2.5", the x10's, 3.5". The 19's isn't nearly as sharp as the x10's. They are both shooting from a corner of the pad into the diametrically opposite corner, where one of the tall lamps stands, next to a desk topped with the PowerBook G4 from whence I type. Directly in front of the g4 is a window with a red piece of felt for a drape. It is dark outside.
There is a similar amount of grain in both images. Fine mosquito noise on the red felt, and obvious noise on the portion of the wall further away from the lamp, as well as on the g4's dark screen while it was dozing.
It isn't a total mess, the way it was in the above 100watt scenario when panned into the room, but it is by no means unnoticed grain/noise.
Not a cam for covering whole rooms inlower light levels. Great cam for careful close up work. I was reading at one of these dv sites that a pro was able to cut severe closeups shot w/ a trv950 in with the general action coverage shot with his jvc dv500(0?). He understood the use of the "lesser" cam in his greater scheme of things. I think that sums up the pdx10 very well: excellent cam to partner up with another cam. It is more specialized a tool.
Hope all of this is helpful in some way. I'm no techy, but I can call it like I see it.
Regards,
Shawn

ps Unable to afford a necessary dvx100 w/o chopping off a limb first ;-), and I think, for now, my pdx10 is that limb, so, very soon, look in the classifieds here if you're interested in a modestly discounted, hardly used PDX10, with optional portabrace pdx10 bag. Not just yet, but very soon.......Cheers!
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Old October 4th, 2003, 04:02 AM   #13
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Sorry, that was a DSR500 and a DSR250, not a dv500(0), and it was Billkc over at dv.com.
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Old October 8th, 2003, 01:52 AM   #14
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Well I just got back from shooting my first orchestra dress rehearsal with the PDX-10. All in all I'm really happy with what I'm seeing. I do wish I had a couple more f-stops for the dark scenes, and the VX-2000 would have given me these... the opera is "Susannah" by Carlisle Floyd, and the lighting is dim.

But the overall quality seems completely acceptable to me. Exposure varies from +3db to +12db at F1.6, 1/60 sec. The DXP chips seem to handle the gain boost very well and the noise level isn't bad.

However the really significant thing for me is that I shot in 16:9 and it looks good on a widescreen LCD panel. After some experimentation I ended up with a custom preset that reduced sharpness to the minimum, set color level one click below the middle, and shifted white balance all the way to warm (with the tungsten setting). I used manual exposure, manual focus and turned steadyshoot off. This was also the first time I've used the Miller DS-5 head for a stage shoot. Someone else mentioned this in another thread, but WOW... this head is just in an entirely different class than the Manfrotto 501!

I'm really not in love with the zoom rocker switch on the PDX-10 however. On the VX-2000 I got used to doing slow adjustments using the lens ring. The PDX-10 lacks this feature. But I have a Varizoom Pro-L on order which shouild arrive in time to use for my next couple shoots. I think this camera cries out for a good LANC zoom control....

This was really my first foray into audio on the PDX-10, as I've been mostly shooting silent sequences. Tpnight's results sound phenomenal to my ears, way better than the VX-2000. I tried a few different hookups, but ended up recording a feed from the house sound board on channel 1 and the mono mike on the camera in channel 2.

So unless you're shooting extremely dark scenes the PDX-10 should be a workable camera. But as much as I like it, I still feel it makes no sense if you want to shoot 4:3. The PD-150 is going to be better for that, considering the low light sensitivity and better controls. But for 16:9 this little camera won't disappoint you!
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Old October 10th, 2003, 03:02 PM   #15
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Low light ok at least for this wedding

Yes. Audio on this cam is quite good, even comparing it to my professional DAT machine.

Being scared from all the posts I have read about low light and weddings, I went yesterday to check out the church where a friend's wedding will take place. I managed to get the janitor to turn half the lights on and was surprised: results were quite acceptable with my PDX10, and vertical smear from visible light sources, chandelier kind, was almost unnoticable. The biggest problem I experienced was internal reflections with my cheap wide angle adapter... so I will have to try to minimize it's use. But in terms of light performance, it looked great at 1/30 and usable at 1/60. At 1/60 there is more noise and some post contrast mod. would probably be neccesary. I used to be anti-1/30 because of the line-doubling seen with most Sony cams, but line-doubling on the PDX10 seems somewhat less noticable for some reason, so I'll probably use 1/30.
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