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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old January 5th, 2005, 06:15 AM   #1
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ND Filter for my PDX10

As almost all of my shooting is in bright & sunny conditions (situated in sunny Australia) what would be a suitable ND filter to buy? 3 stops? 5 stops? both?

Also i've read on this forum that the TRV950 has an auto built in ND filter? Is this true? If so, is it also on the PDX10?
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Old January 5th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #2
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Yes, the PDX-10 has multiple built-in ND filters although Sony has never documented them. They drop in whenever they feel like it, even in full manual mode. I was shooting under bright conditions the other day in manual, and as I turned the wheel to reduce exposure you could actually notice the ND drop. Try shining a flashlight into the lens and look carefully as you turn the exposure wheel, you should see them.

The camera forces you to hold the iris opening within a narrow range around its "sweet spot." So no matter how much you turn the wheel you will never close the iris much farther than (maybe) F5.6. Instead, the camera inserts an ND filter.

Yes, I find ND filters handy myself, especially since I like to shoot things like sunsets. It would be impossible to do that without using a high shutter speed otherwise, and high shutter speeds aggravate the PDX-10's vertical smear problem.

I never understood those ND filter designations, but 5 stops sounds really extreme - is there such a thing? I have a Hoya NDX8 and Quantaray ND2. Sometimes I need to use both, so I guess it would be nice to have something even denser. Happily, the 37mm filters are really cheap and you can get them almost anywhere. Pick a few up and experiment on your own. However there are probably only two situations you might want to use them: one would be what I described above - extremely bright situation where you can't get proper exposure without raising the shutter speed. The other situation would be a bright scene where you wanted to force the camera to shoot wide open in order to limit depth of field. Other than these, you might as well just let the internal filters "do their thing" since adding anything in front of the lens is bound to degrade the image somewhat.
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Old January 5th, 2005, 10:08 AM   #3
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I agree with Boyd, if at all possible let the camera (the 950 and the PDX10 are the same BTW) play with its three automatic built-in ND filters, and don't be tempted to add more unless you absolutely must.

If you must, and ND4 (absorbs 2 stops) should be sufficient, but remember that a camera such as this that uses such tiny chips has subsequently very short focal length lenses and needs to have spotlessly clean filters if dust isn't going to show up on footage shot into the light. The internal NDs avoid this problem as their image is way out of focus. A very good thing actually, as you're often shooting through the edge of the filters as they slowly move in and out of the lens axis.

Don't up the shutter speed (stay well away fro the 'sports' mode) and you'll be fine. An ND4 will mean your camera won't up the shutter speed after f5.6 is deemed to wide for the prevailing lighting conditions. If you do use an ND4, get a good lens hood in place.

tom.
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Old January 7th, 2005, 07:30 PM   #4
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Thanks, all this is some very interesting info.
I have an ND4 on my PDX a lot of the time as Bangladesh has a lot of light similer to James but is exasabated by a lot of water, water and more water! I have a polorizing filter too, which in static shots is more approbriate, I think. But, on a moving boat it's fiddlly to keep adjusting with the lens hood on.

Reading what you guys say though, I might experiment a little more with the polorizer and/or the internal NDs, but at the moment it works for my situation usually (not always tho').

cheers All
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Old January 8th, 2005, 06:44 AM   #5
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Certainly experiment with a polariser, as it's a 1.5 stop ND in its own right. But you'll be hard pressed to experiment with the built-in NDs, as they're not mechanically switchable and Sony doesn't even refer to them in the technical specification. It's as if they're not there, in the same way as f8 is not there till it's needed.

What you can do is shoot in the sports mode, where the camera will hang onto maximum aperture and vary the shutter speed to correct the exposure. In these conditions the footage can suffer from shutter-stutter, and CCD smear is more of a problem, but at least you will know the NDs are not being used.

tom.
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Old January 9th, 2005, 04:26 PM   #6
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Hi Tom Cheers for that, Actually I've turned of the auto shutter and tend to lean away from upping the shutter speed for the very reasons you mention. The polorizer and the custom presets may be the area I experiment in in.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 12:52 PM   #7
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I will allways apply a multicoated ND4 filter when shooting outdoors.

If it's very bright outdoors then the camera might have been forced to use all of its built in ND filters and a small aperture. This doesn't leave much choise to you when adjusting the exposure. Put an external ND in place and the camera removes some internal NDs. You'll gain control of the exposure again.

I got an 37mm to 58mm adapter ring from B&H and now I can use both an ND filter and a polarizer together for some really nice landscape shots. A 58mm Hoya screw-in rubber zoom lens hood (still camera section), while not perfect, certainly helps, too. It's a nice combination and quite resistant to flare because of proper multicoating. Properly multicoated filters are very expensive, though. I absolutely love this setup despite the fact that a rubber lens hood is far from perfect. It gives me direct access to the polarizer! No need to remove the lens hood, adjust the CPL and put the hood back...
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Old January 15th, 2005, 02:37 PM   #8
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I have that 'zoom' Hoya rubber lens hood Ralf - the one with a red ring near the front circumference. It looks pretty good in place, and if you're doing a lot of telephoto work it's very useful to have a good deep hood at the pull of the rubber (as it were).

What you have to look out for though is vignetting. The v'finder and side-screen emulate TV masking of course, so that Hoya might well be cutting into your full framne without you knowing it. Do some tests first.

tom.
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Old January 27th, 2005, 10:44 PM   #9
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I agree with Ralf and always use an ND4 outside unless it is overcast. I learned my lesson with my TRV950 the first few times I used it in bright sunlight and around water. I don't leave home without the ND4
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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:29 AM   #10
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Hi All

I used a 950 to shoot a Fishing DVD last year, and never really found it necessary to add any more ND filters... (That said we had a particularly crap summer here in France).. Often in Bright light, always near water...

I used it virtually exclusively with a Techpro wide angle convertor... Tom is right DOF is huge and it is really hard to avoid dust, dirt or flare on the lens showing in bright light...

The "Sweet spot" is very sweet, with superb sharpness, and colour... but get indoors and where it has to open up a bit and it falls away badly....

Regards

Gareth
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Old January 28th, 2005, 04:48 AM   #11
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I admit to being rather surprised at your findings Gareth. I found the PDX10 to have an exceptionally fine lens and even though the might of the Sony Corporation can't circumnavigate the damaging effects of small aperture diffraction, they do make a lens that is exceedingly good wide open. Use the hood though.

What you may be seeing is the camera (not known for its low light sensitivity) working in the gain-up mode, and this may well be giving you the impression that it ''falls away badly''. The lens is a lot better at f1.6 than it is at f8, which is one reason why Sony add so much internal (and invisible) ND - to keep the camera from using small apertures. And that exposure bar can be rather uncommunicative as to when gain-up is engaged.

What those small chips do though is exhibit a lot of CCD smear, and this is horribly visible if the shutter speed is allowed to climb higher than ther default 1/50th setting. So using extra ND filters outdoors in bright light is no bad thing, as you want to stop the 950 upping the shutter speed as it tries to keep from using small apertures.

tom.
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Old January 28th, 2005, 05:34 AM   #12
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Hi Tom

You could well be right about my misinterpreting smear... it seemed to happen indoors, especially if there was any outside light coming in, which again backs up what you're saying.

That apart it did me a sterling job this year, and will serve me as a second camera and underwater camera this year also..(need to get a housing)

I've just upgraded to an FX1 which gives me much more freedom to comtrol the cam and in low light despite it being worse than the PD170, it shows virtually no grain at 12db gain... and no smear that I've seen so far.

I think the 950 is a fabulous little camera and I'm still staggered by the general quality of it's pictures, even on a large TV set.

I think my only real gripe it that it is a bit fiddly to use the manual controls... It really is an auto camera with manual overrides, rather than a manual camera with auto caparbility.
It's a bit like the difference I found between my EOS1n's and having to use my mate's EOS 300...

Regards

Gareth
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Old January 28th, 2005, 05:51 AM   #13
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That's well put Gareth: "It really is an auto camera with manual overrides, rather than a manual camera with auto caparbility." The 950 is superb in auto but people who like to fiddle should choose a different cam and fiddle elsewhere.

I've just come back from a three day stint at the Earl's Court Video Forum in central London, and we had an FX1 on our stand. I reckon that my enthusiasm for this camera has meant Sony have sold another 50 at least. It really is a delightfully ergonomic beast and I dearly love it. The aperture control wheel is machined from a solid lump of brass and is just beautifully fluid damped into the bargain. The iris opens and closes incvisibly on screen. I'm in the process of doing a write-up for it right now, so don't disturb me.

It's lack of CCD smear is astounding, especially as (by my calculation) it's chips are 11% smaller than the 'real' 1/3" chips on the PD170 and it has so many more pixels. The T* coating is one-word-superb, and that top screen is A-A-Mazing.

Carry on!

tom.
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Old January 28th, 2005, 06:01 AM   #14
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"I'm in the process of doing a write-up for it right now, so don't disturb me."

Sorry Tom, I'll shut up now....and let you work in peace.

Look forward to reading your review... I love the camera already and I've not had a great deal of proper shooting to do with it yet.

Regards

G
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Old February 11th, 2005, 08:45 PM   #15
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I use B+W nd filters on the pdx10. They are high quality and because the size is so small (37mm), they are very affordable:

BW101 (ND.3) (exposure adjustment = 1 stop)

BW102 (ND.6) (exposure adjustment = 2 stops)

BW103 (ND.9) (exposure adjustment = 3 stops)

BW106 (ND1.8) (exposure adjustment = 6 stops)

BW110 (ND3.0) (exposure adjustment = 10 stops)

BW113 (ND4.0) (exposure adjustment = 13 stops)

BW120 (ND6.0) (exposure adjustment = 20 stops)
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