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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old June 19th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Melbourne Australia
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PDX10 and Winter

Gday everyone, im in Australia and ive been asked to travel with a group of pro skiiers and boarders in August and document their trip.
I'm looking at using the PDX10, but im after some advice in lens choice, shutters, white bal, and battery life.

I understand the batt's may not last as long at ~0C (32F). Correct?
Should I white balance to the snow itself? or still to cardboard or paper?
For fast action (possibly skiing alongside the subject), should I use a shutter? what speed?
And it would be easier to use a wideangle lens for these shots?

Thanks in advance

[I have a background in TV Studio lighting and never get behind a camera]
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Old June 19th, 2006, 03:24 PM   #2
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I was in a similar quandry prior to going to Kenya/Tanzania late last year with my PDX10. My key recommendations:

1. Neutral density filters - there will be LOTS of light, especially from the snow!
2. Polarising filter - to get gorgeous blue skies
3. Something to protect the camera from the elements (and provide a shade so you can see the LCD)
4. Definitely use the XLR microphone adapter to cut down on handling noise
5. A tripod to double as a monopod for action panning shots or a Chest Pod
6. Lots of batteries and a double high speed charging in case you are remote from mains power (or a car lighter adapter)
7. Lots of tapes - I took 20 for a 2 week safari and ended up using 17 (in DVCAM mode - 40 mins each)
8. If you can, a laptop so you have something to view each days' material on and, if you take a memory stick, something to download stills to

Setting white balance on the snow would seem reasonable especially if you really want it to look as white as snow(!)

I'd spend the first few hours with some of the skiers/boarders to get used to videoing them and trying different settings - hence, the benefit of taking a laptop (unless you can get access to a TV/monitor). If you are going to document "off-piste" as it were (i.e., dialogue), some headphones would be wise, too.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium...ure_and_charge for info about battery life vs temperature.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 05:44 AM   #3
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Thanks John, i'll ask my follow up questions using your numbers...

1. will the built in iris be enough? or should i still get some ND.
2. Great point, ill get a polarising filter.
3. again a good point, but i dont know if there is any such thing (like portabrace) for the pdx10. Might have to give that one a miss...
4. so the on board condensor wont do the job? how would u mount another mic?
5. again a good idea, but might proove too bulky, i myself will be on skis
6. the package comes with 3 batts, and i plan to keep a charger on power perhaps in a shop or cafe on the mountain.
7. Would you recommend DVCAM or would miniDV do?
8. Planning to take the macbook. If I capture my tapes every night hopefully this would cut down on my initial financial outlay on tapes?? or is this not recommended? should i hold on to the tapes til ive got the final edit produced?

Thanks john and the forum
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Old June 20th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #4
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Hi Lynden and welcome to DVinfo!

The PDX-10 actually has a little wheel inside it with several ND filters. Sony has never documented it, but if you shine a flashlight into the lens and turn the iris wheel you'll see it moving in there. You can't control it manually, and you can't disable it. But it just automatically does its thing, which is to force you to use iris openings that make the lens perform well. So the end result is, you simply can't close the iris down very far. I can't remember the specifics, but I don't think the iris ever closes much further than f5.6. Instead, the camera drops in successively darker ND filters. But if you play a tape back and look at the data code.... it lies! The data code will tell you that a small aperture was used when in reality it is a medium aperture with a heavy ND filter.

But to get back to your question #1; yes, I would get a couple different ND filters - including the densest one you can find. I haven't really shot in the snow before, but at the beach on a sunny day I was glad to have my ND filter. If you don't have one then you'll be forced to use very high shutter speeds and this may create a strange effect with motion. I believe that high shutter speeds also contribute to the vertical smear problem on the PDX-10.

DVCAM vs DV SP - it's up to you really. If this is really important stuff then it can't hurt. Of course the quality will be the same, but it might be less prone to dropouts. But you will need 50% more tape.

I would not reuse the same tapes personally. They're cheap enough - how many hours total do you plan to shoot?
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Old June 20th, 2006, 08:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynden Gare
Thanks John, i'll ask my follow up questions using your numbers...

1. will the built in iris be enough? or should i still get some ND.
Given the low-cost, I'd get some anyway - better to take some and not need them than not take them and wish you had! Also, a UV filter would be a good idea - also doubles as a protection filter for the camcorder's lens.
Quote:
2. Great point, ill get a polarising filter.
3. again a good point, but i dont know if there is any such thing (like portabrace) for the pdx10. Might have to give that one a miss...
I have a Portabrace for my PDX10 - I just couldn't remember the name last night and was too lazy to go and look! Took a bit of figuring out how to put it on since I got mine secondhand so no directions!
Quote:
4. so the on board condensor wont do the job? how would u mount another mic?
The built-in stereo mics at the front of the camcorder will pick up A LOT of handling noise. The supplied XLR shotgun mic eliminates that problem - but you have to give up stereo unless you get another mic to use in the second XLR channel. BTW - if you haven't used the XLR adapter before, you may experience the "blimey, how much force does this thing take to attach" issue. Attaching the XLR adapter can take a lot of effort, almost to the point you think you are going to break it.
Quote:
5. again a good idea, but might proove too bulky, i myself will be on skis
Then a Chestpod or similar would be a tremendous benefit. I have a Novotech Pistock-C. You can sling it over your shoulder for carrying and, when you need a steady shot, just pick it up and shoot. If you're on skis, I can see it now - imagine the Winter Olympics and the skiers with rifles stopping at each target point.

Coupled with a Portabrace cover, you'll have a great setup to use whilst on skis. The cover will help protect the camcorder from any "spray" (there must be a technical term for the snow kicked up by skis etc) and any unexpected crashes into the snow!
Quote:
6. the package comes with 3 batts, and i plan to keep a charger on power perhaps in a shop or cafe on the mountain.
7. Would you recommend DVCAM or would miniDV do?
I used DVCAM for my safari footage - it reduces the likelihood of drop-outs and provides locked audio.
Quote:
8. Planning to take the macbook. If I capture my tapes every night hopefully this would cut down on my initial financial outlay on tapes?? or is this not recommended? should i hold on to the tapes til ive got the final edit produced?
I'd hold onto the tapes. If you have the storage capacity, I'd capture everynight as well. That way you have two copies of what will be (hopefully!) priceless footage.
Quote:
Thanks john and the forum
You're most welcome! Just a couple of other thoughts:

Use the optical image stabiliser - it does a great job and doesn't affect the quality of the image.

Will you shoot 16:9? The PDX10 has true 16:9 capability and it looks great. If Oz is like Europe, standard definition widescreen TVs are very common (unlike in North America :-()

Sounds like a great trip....
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Old June 20th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #6
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Hopefully the company im hiring off will have an ample range of filters and might even throw them into the hire at next to no cost. I am in 2 minds whether to tell them its going to the snow or not!! Ill definitely ask about getting some protection from snowspray. I think that hiring any kind of chest-sling type thing would cost too much for our low budget.
I'm imagining ill try and shoot to edit as much as possible. We're going for 3 days, so 3 tapes a day (DVCAM) should do me I hope, but i'll get extras so i have a buffer.
I am taking my 300GB HDD, and im willing to take the slim risk of data loss in favour off less upfront cost of tape.
Do you suggest not reusing the tape for the point of view of the tape not being as reliable on subsequent uses, os just for safety?
40 min DVCAM tapes are $30ea here.

And yes we are very much in the realm of 16:9 over here. 99% of our content, including that purchased from you in the US is in 16:9 if not also in HD
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Old June 20th, 2006, 11:20 AM   #7
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Personally I always just use the "Sony Premium" tapes which are available at any large store here in the US for $5 or less. Given the choice of re-using DVCAM tapes vs. buying enough of the regular tapes, I would definitely opt for the regular tapes. There is no problem with recording DVCAM mode on the regular tapes. And yes, I personally believe the tapes become less reliable with each use although I don't have anything scientific to back up that opinion. And aside from that, if you have a problem with a damaged hard drive you're still have all the original tapes to recapture later.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 10:52 AM   #8
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ahh, it all makes sense... so you can record dvcam on miniDV tapes. yeh I can get them here for $25 AUD for 5.

thanks everyone for your help and advice, dunno what shutter speed to have the camera on (and im still a bit lost as to some other settings), but i know a lot more about what gear to take with me.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 12:53 PM   #9
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Like Boyd, I use Sony Premium Digital Video Cassettes which I buy in boxes of 5. Part No DVM60PRL.
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