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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old April 15th, 2005, 10:46 AM   #1
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Optically stable PDX-10?

I read on b&h that the pdx has optical image stability. I assume this is true, although remarkable on such a small camera.

So, are some people miss lead when they have talked about the image stabilizer on the pdx affecting the quality of the video? Or is it true?

Personally, I havent noticed a diffrence, but maybe my eyes probably are not tuned too well.

What do you all think?

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Old April 15th, 2005, 04:16 PM   #2
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It depends... experiment around an see what you think. For example, the "wisdom" is that OIS should never be used when the camera is on a tripod. I've found this may not always be the best advice. Specifically, if you are zoomed all the way in at the max and shooting performances like I do, it makes a huge difference. I also shoot with the Sony 2x telephoto - the 35mm equivalent of a 984mm telephoto lens (in 16:9 mode).

For shooting performances with lots of panning around at that zoom level I find the camera just about unusable without turning on Steadyshot. It does a great job of smoothing out the camera movements and especially the vibration transmitted to the camera through the tripod from the theatre's wooden floor.

However, you can see the degradation of the image due to the stabilization in the max telephoto shots. You get a slight blurring as the stabilizer works its magic. But turn it off and that slight blurring changes to constant jittering. So it's a lesser of two evils, which is clearly the steadyshot.

For handheld work, well I really don't know. I just don't do very much handheld work, and when I try it always seems to look terrible no matter what I try ;-)
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Old April 16th, 2005, 04:46 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : ".... I also shoot with the Sony 2x telephoto - the 35mm equivalent of a 984mm telephoto lens (in 16:9 mode)".


Hi Boyd,

I also use the 2 x converter. I have a question. Do you have focusing problems with the converter attached when you set the camera to infinity in 16:9 ( 4:3 ... I don't know yet ?) I always have to adjust the focus manually to get it in....
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Old April 16th, 2005, 04:50 PM   #4
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IIRC, the infinity button doesn't work correctly but the push-auto usually does the trick...
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Old April 16th, 2005, 04:56 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : IIRC, the infinity button doesn't work correctly but the push-auto usually does the trick... -->>>

Thanks Boyd, I'll try that. I also think the converter gives me a better chance at shooting anywhere near the sun at the beach etc . I wonder if the converter has a factor.....
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Old April 16th, 2005, 08:38 PM   #6
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I thought about starting a new thread for this post, but you all touched on the issue here so i'll state my "beef" here instead...

The focus on the PDX10 is, as i have read here before, unacceptable. There is no other way to put it. I am fully aware this is a prosumer camera and that it's not going to be as good as professional camera, and sure it's a huge step up from any consumer 1 chip camera, but that's not an excuse.

Why put manual utilities on a camera if they aren't going to work properly? Yes, we all know the obvious answer is so that consumer-going-pro-chumps like me will buy the camera, but this is just not right. I am a business student, so yes I realize and I am litterally being taught, that this is just how you do business. But why do we let it happen?

With or without a monitor, focusing properly is next to impossible:

- When the lighting is prime, the focus ring will work pretty good, if you are willing to turn it slowly and possibly miss focusing your shot properly as it goes by (a real downer when you are shooting footage that cant simply have a second take).

- When the lighting is low (ie. the use of gain setting exposures is required), the focus ring will jump to infinity when you turn it fast; not move at all if you turn it slow; and provide distances, decending or acending, at varying intervals if you manage to turn it just right.

- Push auto is not effective, or realistically an option in a moving shot with one camera operator.

- Using auto settings, in a lull, leaves much to be desired (although I am well aware this is a debated, there are a number of reasons I can not come to love the auto settings in particular the loss of some of the manual settings).

Once again, I realize that this camera is not professional and therefore has its limitations, but I want to know why we accept where they drew the line that offers a prosumer camera with a number of fancy options that dont work correctly, over a magical unkown prosumer camera with fewer options that will all work properly.

This may seem rather political, so i'm sorry and i'll stop here, but my opinion remains:

Unacceptable
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Old April 16th, 2005, 09:14 PM   #7
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The focus ring is indeed awful. However, the actual problem may not be so great as you think. The tiny chips in the PDX-10 give it vast depth of field and under many (if not most?) circumstances I don't think focus is all that critical; and exception would be when zoomed in to the max.

When you see the focus distance suddenly jump to infinity I think that's just the camera's way of telling you that EVERYTHING is in focus. In other words, when zoomed out towards the wide end of the range, everything from a few meters to infinity will all be in focus. As you zoom in you'll see that the focus ring appears more responsive and gives a larger range of distances, indicating a more shallow depth of field.

Personally I don't have much of a problem with the "push auto" button. I keep my finger on it and constantly trigger it. It works very well in everything but the most dim conditions. Of course there are various things that can fool it though.

In the end I think you need to remember that this is a $1,600 camera with a lot of quirks but also capable of terrific 16:9 images. Welcome to the world of the ParaDoX-10 :-)
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Old April 17th, 2005, 12:54 PM   #8
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> I am fully aware this is a prosumer camera
> and that it's not going to be as good as professional
> camera, and sure it's a huge step up from any consumer
> 1 chip camera, but that's not an excuse.

I always wonder about the term "professional". I think a tool is just a tool, in this case it's an inexpensive tool for the quality it delivers. Sure the XL2 has better focus, is somewhat more sensitive, has less vertical smear and --oh yes proscan-- but in my market it costs three times as much. I don't think it's a more "professional" camera, it's just a camera with some better characteristics, and with shortcomings of it's own too.

I agree though that we sometimes let manufacterers "do" things to us. But you know people from JVC and Panasonic are known to monitor and actually answer questions on this board and I presume there must be Sony and Canon staff snooping too. So it's great that we can voice our concerns and requests here in a constructive way. I tend to believe that the awesome HD products which are becoming available owe their quality in a large degree to our participation in sites like these.

Don't forget the PDX10's design is about four years old. It's likely that Sony will come out with an FX1/Z1 "little brother" some time soon, and it will probably build upon the success of the PDX10 and include some of the upgrades to it that we have voiced.

Don't let me speculate much though or Boyd will move us into area 51 <wink>.
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Last edited by Ignacio Rodriguez; April 17th, 2005 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Adding thoughts.
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Old April 17th, 2005, 03:02 PM   #9
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I use the term professional loosly, in general, to describe components which are either: out of the average customer's price range, or offer features that are beyond the scope of the average customer's needs.
You make a good point, that they may come out with newer, better cameras in the future. But, sky above knows, that those cameras too will have flaws... I just figure a company which makes these products should know more about these things before they release their products... It's great they are listening to everybody's complaints after the fact, if they are, but I just think that if they are trying to make it seem like they care when really its already too late and they already made their quick buck when it was profitable.. otherwise this camera would have been discontinued a while ago.
Engineers arent stupid... although i have my gripes with the pdx 10, just imagine how hard it was to engineer... i cant begin to understand any of it... so its hard for me to believe that people with that intelect would accidentally let something like this happen. It's a problem with the business not the engineering. It's upsetting.
That's all. To all those who have the money to buy the next improvement, power to you, to all us who don't... hold on for "the next big screw."

and p.s. let me reiterate, I am fully content with my PDX-10, it's great for its price comparitively. I just think the whole system is flawed.
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Old April 17th, 2005, 04:27 PM   #10
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Another thing to remember with a camera thats been out for awhile like the PDX-10: anyone who has browsed back through this forum should not encounter a lot of surprises when buying one. I think it's stengths and weaknesses have been discussed at length. And if you buy one today also remember that it's selling for about 30% less than I paid a couple years ago.

At about twice the current price today you can get the FX-1 which has a number of nice upgrades (calibrated focus, zoom and iris controls, 16:9 native screen, 1/3" chips, etc). The Z-1 is even nicer and gives you DVCAM, underscanning viewfinder and pro audio for about 3 times the cost of a PDX-10.

I wonder if Sony will introduce an HDV version of the PDX-10? Seems like all the pieces are already there. OTOH, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't want to detract people from the FX-1 and Z-1 for the time being. Maybe we'll have an answer this week :-)
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Old April 17th, 2005, 07:42 PM   #11
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You know, i guess people have been holding back their true feelings on this little number. i remember reading a lot about vertical smear and low light performance on virtually all the reviews and most questions before i bought the camera. I do not remember much emphasis being placed on the focus. You're the expert though and i totally respect your wisdom Boyd.
As for the price thats kind of a "moo-point" on this issue with me. I'm sorry you spent as much as you did to find out all you did. You're right though, if i had that kind of money to begin with I would have gone with a "better" camera.
I guess its like they say, hind sight is 20/20. Perhaps 5 years from now i'll be complaining about the Fx-1 on that forum, eh? Haha... you could only hope.
I'm done whinning... Sorry.
Thanks for your input.
Nevin
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Old April 17th, 2005, 08:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevin Aragam
I'm sorry you spent as much as you did to find out all you did.
Don't feel sorry for me! I'm completely happy with my PDX-10, which isn't to say it's my "dream camera." But I feel I've gotten my money's worth and still marvel at how good the 16:9 can look. Two years ago we projected about 1/2 hour of PDX-10 16:9 footage on a 44' wide screen using a 10,000 lumen Barco DLP projector as part of our production of Il Trovatore. The Philadelphia Inquirer review said "...looming large, the images give the audience otherwise rare glimpses of facial expressions. Elsewhere, large flames appear to lick the entire stage... The idea is a smart one, but only because the polish of the video work is so high."

That was enough to convince me I'd made the right purchase at the time :-) In 2002 I don't think there was really any choice if you wanted affordable 16:9 and didn't want the limitations of an anamorphic lens. Today things are a bit different. I would personally spend the extra money for the FX-1 or even the Z-1. In fact, I'm still mulling over a Z-1 purchase during the coming month. It would come in handy for a PAL project I'm involved with...
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Old April 17th, 2005, 09:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
In fact, I'm still mulling over a Z-1 purchase during the coming month. It would come in handy for a PAL project I'm involved with...
Boyd, does this mean you've given up hope that a HDV version of the PDX10 isn't likely. I was hoping to see something like that announced at NAB and thought I'd read that you were thinking it might happen also.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 01:54 AM   #14
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Not sure if anyone replied to Nevin's original question about the PDX10's SteadyShot. Well Nevin, it most certainly is an optical system, where an internal group of elements (most probably a doublet) vibrate in sympathy with, and in oposition to, the camera's movement. Of course the elements are controlled electronically, but the light rays are bent optically, so putting it firmly in the OIS camp.

The system is remarkably transparent and for all intents and purposes can be left on at all times. If you don't move the camera then no signals are generared and the OIS CPU remains dormant. The system also works in total darkness and does a fine job of correcting for auxillary lenses that are attached as well.

tom.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 02:29 AM   #15
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Haha, touchee Tom, touchee.
Thanks thats all i needed to clear up for sure,
Nevin
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