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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old May 5th, 2004, 08:15 PM   #1
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Best aperture setting on pdx10?

When I use a film camera, I use aperture priority a lot and this is the nice feature I want from video camera. Unfortunetly, pdx10 does not have it. But I need it's 16x9 it looks so great, so I want to find a way to similar the AP mode.
I did lots of test shot and to my surperise, only good ones are from a cloudy day. So I guess it has the best spped/exposure combo; under direct sunlight, speed from 100-1000, looks ok and tried all exposure settings and just can get perfect picture...
I wonder there is a reference or something that I can read out exact aperture numbers for each step of exposure settings?
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Old May 7th, 2004, 03:25 PM   #2
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The short answer is no.
Unlike the PD100, the PDX10 has no manually-operated neutral density filter. Instead it uses three automatic ND filters – small uncoated slivers that slide into position one after another behind the two aperture blades. Because such tiny CCDs are used (effectively 1/5in), diffraction losses – especially at very short focal lengths – cause real degradation of the image. This is why Sony limits the apertures that are available for use - in manual mode as well as automatic.
By blanking off all apertures smaller than f4.8 Sony curtails the camcorder’s potential, and this is somewhat patronising. It certainly reduces depth-of-field control, as exposure is manipulated not by changing the aperture but by varying ND filtering – and that restriction doesn’t sit well with the camcorder’s price or its DVCAM logo. I’d expect the PDX10 to appeal to skilled videographers who’d like to be informed of the crossover from maximum aperture (so useful for portraiture) to gain up (so undesirable for DVD production). Yet, the Sony shoots at f4.8 in bright sunlight whatever focal length you choose. I was also disappointed that the exposure wheel (actually an ND wheel for most of its life) puts unacceptably visible half-stop exposure jumps into our footage.
When filming at full telephoto in auto or manual exposure mode there’s a mere one and a half stops to play with. What this means is that - contrary to the displayed information - the aperture will open fully, to f2.8. If conditions get brighter - or if you want to film at a smaller aperture - you can film at f4.8. If it gets brighter still then there are no more apertures available, so the camcorder resorts to using the first of the three ND filters. In ever brighter conditions, the second ND filter comes into play, followed by the third. Generally, there is no access to apertures smaller than f4.8 and we must shoot at this 'sweet spot' where vignetting has disappeared and diffraction hasn’t taken hold. This is very limiting.
Although the selected shutter speed is displayed in the viewfinder, there’s no aperture or gain readout – and that’s unheard of in a product aimed at professionals. Instead there’s a horizontal bar along which a marker moves in response to the turning of the select-wheel at the back of the camcorder. There’s no indication of when minimum or maximum aperture is reached or where electronic amplification of the signal takes over. To add insult to injury the display is unreliable. The word ‘manual’ will appear on replay when you’ve selected a shutter speed but left the aperture on automatic.
Shoot at full telephoto and rewind to see what settings were used, and the camcorder will likely report that the shot was at 1/50th sec and +18dB and f1.6 - yet at full telephoto the maximum aperture is only f2.8. To have the data shown in the viewfinder requires a complicated series of manoeuvres that leave you none the wiser really because the different ND settings are not recorded.

So don't worry - Sony have ensured that you shoot at the best aperture possible, whatever the prevailing lighting conditions. And because of this the pictures can be startlingly good.

tom.
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Old May 7th, 2004, 06:16 PM   #3
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Wow Tom, just read this post, this is a good one and answered many of my questions. Thanks a lot!
pdx10 to me is like last piece of meat on a bone, keep or move on to another(say pd170/dvx100a), is very difficult.
16x9 is wonderful, I will never shoot 4x3 any more, that's for sure, but manual control on pdx10 really sucks(to some level)....the thing is, pxd170/dvx1000a plus anamophic lense will be much more expensive and heavy, any most importantly, the anamorphic lense become bottleneck, and could be very anoying one day...sigh, these manuafacuror will never build a good to perfect product, so you'll keep upgrading and they will keep making (money), -:)
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Old May 8th, 2004, 01:05 AM   #4
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You make a good point. The PDX10 is indeed remarkably good in the 16:9 mode, and I recommend it highly for anyone looking for a relatively compact camera who wants to shoot exclusively in this mode. But if you want to shoot in 4:3....

The big cruncher is that the VX2100 is but a few dollars more - a very few dollars more, and it's much better in a lot of departments. The bigger chips add an incredible 3.5 stops to the sensitivity, the CCD smear is almost unheard of, the shutter speeds can all be used, the DOF can be controlled, the Display is accurate, you know what aperture you're shooting at, the batteries last longer the progressive scan is ace for motor-drive stills and so on.

OK, there's no MPEG1 and the stills are inferior and the side-screen is tiny, but these are not movie-making tools as such.

tom.
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Old May 8th, 2004, 06:30 AM   #5
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Thanks Tom for the very informative post. Also answered many of my questions.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 02:01 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tom Hardwick : I was also disappointed that the exposure wheel (actually an ND wheel for most of its life) puts unacceptably visible half-stop exposure jumps into our footage. -->>>

This is very annoying, but to my eyes is no different than my VX-2000 (same for the PD-150) which only have 12 discreet steps to the exposure wheel. The VX-2100 and PD-170 double this with 24 steps. Of course you are actually controlling the iris on these cameras though.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 10:19 PM   #7
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Boyd,

Sorry for th OT.
I've just checked the website in your signiture and found out what you are doing for living.
What I want to say is I LOVE opera. :)
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:33 AM   #8
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Thanks! It can be a lot of fun, but is also quite difficult at times.... :-)
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #9
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Sony Professional inform me that the VX2100 does *not* have the quarter-stop incremental exposure wheel as the PD170 does Boyd. Yes, it carries over the 'bumping' half stop incrementals of the VX2k :-( The DVX100A is *much* better in this respect.

tom.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 09:34 AM   #10
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Fascinating. Just like the 16:9 issue on the TRV-950, Sony cripples the consumer version with firmware....
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Old May 10th, 2004, 09:24 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : Thanks! It can be a lot of fun, but is also quite difficult at times.... :-) -->>>

I love to listen, to me, the most difficult part is I don't know Italino -:)
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