A couple GL2 questions vs PDX10 at DVinfo.net

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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old May 11th, 2003, 12:54 PM   #1
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A couple GL2 questions vs PDX10

Hi all. Am new around here, and so far haven't found any posts that answer some of questions so I thought I'd venture forth...

At this point I've narrowed down my purchase options to a GL2 or PDX10, and am leaning towards the PDX10, except for a few concerns. I confess to being a Canon lover (from my AE1 days to Elan, to my digital G3) so I'd previously been set on the GL2, but as a former editor the DV Cam of the PDX10 is appealing, as is its (supposed) native 16 x 9. But I've been put off by the threads I've read (around here as well as at Apple's FCP site) that mention the PDX10 being really poor in low light (not good when I'll be shooting things like a night grunion run). Are there any options to punch up that capability beyond hauling out the lights? (Forgive me if this is a no brainer question... I'm new to this end of the production line.) In addition, the GL2 has a nifty "clear scan" function" which I anticipate needing. Is there a way to set up the PDX10 to avoid the rolling monitor effect when shooting a computer screen, the way the GL2 (in theory anyway) reportedly does?

I'm ready to plunk down my money, but these two issues have been hanging me up. Well, these and the hard time I've been having getting my hands on an actual PDX10 to check out how it feels to me. But any and all feedback would be very appreciated.

My hope is, down the line, for whicheve I select to become my B cam, and shell out for the XL2 when it hits later this year. But that will depend entirely on how my present efforts pan out, so for now, I need the best I can come up with at the start. So much to buy, and so little money!

Thanks in advance,
Marcia
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Old May 11th, 2003, 01:32 PM   #2
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I have a PDX-10 but have never used a GL-2. However I constantly read that people aren't completely happy with the GL-2's low light performance as compared to the VX-2000 (which I also have). I'd say the VX-2000 probably has 1 f-stop on the PDX-10, maybe 1.5 stops, but no more. I shot a sequence outdoors in the woods at night last week, with pine trees silhouetted against the sky and it looked terrific. It really was quite dark out also with nothing but sky light. This was shortly after sunset, but as it got a little later I had to kick up the gain. The video still was visible but got pretty grainy looking. I know the VX-2000 would have handled it a little better, but don't know about the GL-2. But I definitely wouldn't say the PDX-10 is "really poor in low light".

Yes it does do "real" 16:9, meaning that you get an anamorphic 720x480 image with the full vertical resolution instead of a cropped down 4:3. When you switch to 16:9 mode your field of view widens also. This is really the only reason I got the PDX-10, since I need good 16:9 for my current project, and I'm quite happy. See http://www.greenmist.com/pdx10 for some examples.

What kind of monitors are you shooting? Full screen shots, or just a scene with somebody sitting at a computer? This comes up pretty often around here and evidently is not a problem if you match shutter speed to the CRT refresh rate. But the best solution would be to use an LCD monitor on the computer. LCD's don't scan like CRT's and there are no issues filming them.

You really should try to see the PDX-10 in person if possible. The form factor is very different from the GL-2 which you may or may not like. It's much smaller, and no handle on the top. Some of the control placement isn't ideal either, but not a huge problem. There is no zoom ring, just a button.

Another feature you don't mention is the pro audio features of the PDX-10. You get dual XLR's with phantom power and a detachable mono mike. In fact, you can remove the entire audio unit when not needed, making the camera even smaller and lighter.

Other things to consider: The PDX-10 has 37mm threads which make adaptor lenses and filters much, much cheaper than the GL-2. It also has a very nice LCD screen. Don't know how it compares to the GL-2, but it's much larger and brighter than the PD-150. The LCD is also a touch screen, and has functions where you can point at any object and the camera will either autofocus or autoexpose to it. Clever, but I haven't really used them myself.

It has a nice black finish which looks more professional (although some feel the smaller size makes it less impressive). You can also set the time code, user bits and black level. They include two lens shades, one which is pretty large and works great with my .45x wide adaptor with no vignetting. There's an offer for a free LCD hood direct from Sony now too (see their website). Another big plus is the high res black and white viewfinder on the PDX-10.

You'll want to get the larger battery IMO (NP-QM91). I've never run mine all the way down yet, but it clearly won't last as long as the NP-F960 does on the VX-2000.

I suggest you try to decide how important 16:9 is to you. If it's very important then you may want to get the PDX-10.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 04:12 PM   #3
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Wow, thanks a lot, Boyd. Totally helpful info. Am off to a place that's supposed to have them in stock. Evidently Sony requires those who sell the PDX10 to be "professional" outlets, so my usual camera haunts don't have them in. Have to trek an hour away, but then it's a beautiful day out. Will go down the coast.

I shot over twenty hours of video for what I submitted to PBS (cut down to seven min.) on a friend's borrowed TRV17 (think that was the number), and apart from the dumb tape load from the bottom, which really made me nuts when using a tripod, I was pretty impressed with what I got. I used a Sennheiser MKE 300 with it, and apart from a beach shoot where the audio was laughable, I was able to even it out to reasonably tolerable levels for a pitch. So I'm definitely willing to give Sony a shot. :-) Not having a focus ring on the PDX10 is a negative to me (SLR habits die hard) but I've sure been impressed with most everything else I've read about it.

Thanks again for your post,
Marcia
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Old May 11th, 2003, 04:54 PM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by Marcia Janine Galles : Wow, thanks a lot, Boyd.

Yer welcome! :-)

<<<-- Not having a focus ring on the PDX10 is a negative to me

Just to clarify: the PDX-10 *does* have a focus ring. What's missing is a *zoom* ring, like the PD-150 has....
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Old May 12th, 2003, 10:28 AM   #5
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Excellent post Boyd and I have little to add except...
The GL2 doesn't have a zoom ring either, nor does it have the flash gun for stills and as you say, the side screen is far less user friendly than the PDX10's.

But it's not all bad. The 20x zoom is a delight and the proper 6 bladed iris gives much nicer 'stars' with point sources of light. The Sony's two blades are rather a compromise I find and it's lack of a switchable ND is a disgrace. The Canon is also considerably cheaper, has bigger chips and the same maximum aperture.

I've run the GL2 (actually the PAL XM1) alongside the VX2000 and in nearly all instances it was working at one stop wider. At full telephoto it needed nearly two stops more light, and this means not having four lights on in the room, but 16. Think on this.

Which would I choose? The Sony. I love the compactness, the huge side screen, the proper 16:9, the XLR inputs. I'd not dismiss the Canon and with the money saved I'd buy a wide-angle converter. Oh, and the PDX10 will need one as well; the wide-angle coverage is pathetic.

But how about this? The PDX10 and the VX2000 are within a few dollars of each other. Which is better? The VX in my book.

tom.
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Old May 12th, 2003, 10:45 AM   #6
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I pretty much agree with all this. There is a known PDX-10 problem with vertical smear from bright light sources. This doesn't really bother me, but some people don't like it. I wonder if that's related to the iris issue?

I agree about the wide adaptor, but happily with the 37mm threads I got a decent .45x for a bit over $100, and Kenko had something like a .60x for maybe $80.

I like both the VX-2000 and PDX-10, have had the VX for two years. But they're different and each has it's advantages. If I had to choose just one it would be tough, but since I currently need 16:9 would probably go with the X-10....
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Old May 12th, 2003, 10:38 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback, Tom. I checked out the VX today, after reading your post, but didn't like how it felt in my hand. I think it will get too heavy for what I have in mind, as would the GL2 I suspect, though it's lighter than the VX. As I type this I'm thinking I wouldn't have minded the weight on the GL2 if I'd been really blown away by it, but I wasn't.

Artistically weight shouldn't be a factor that enters into the decision, but with what I'll be using it for, I have to consider that. At this point I've pretty much decided that I need to go with either a shoulder mount, so I can manage the weight for long periods, or a very light handheld, which narrows it to the PDX-10 or the Canon XL1s in the price range I can afford. I'll be all over the place, like trails and mnts., with a pack on my back at times. And I think the PDX-10 would be perfect to that end. I'm still concerned about low light issues, but after talking to some rental house people, it seems I would have to spend what's way out of my price range (a 2/3 CCD) to get the kind of night campfire shots (and other low light things) that I had in mind. Will retrench insofar as my plans. In terms of what I actually thought of the VX though, after playing around with it today, I was impressed. I'd zoom into the camera case with the GL2 and get only glare, while the VX cut right through, and I'll have a number of behind-glass shots. I liked the LCD and volume controls on the side of the LCD screen, too.

It's really bugging me that I can't get my hands on a PDX-10 anywhere. The only store I've found that has it in stock refuses to open the dumb box and keep a floor model out. I've never heard of such a thing. Really got me steamed.

I still need to hear back from a couple friends, but I've thinking at this point that I'm just going to go for it and order the PDX-10 through B&H. Looking at the pictures (risky, I know) I'm thinking it's feel will be close to the TRV line, which I shot with before.

Boyd, one last thing I thought of... does the PDX-10 load from the bottom like the TRV's? It makes them a real pain with a tripod. Either way, I think I'm getting close to placing that order (temble, shake).

Thanks again, guys. You've been a great help.
Marcia
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Old May 13th, 2003, 01:14 AM   #8
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You might want to check out this page, for an extensive review of the TRV-950, the consumer version of the PDX10.

He talks quite a bit about ergonomics and balance, and compares it specifically to the GL2.

http://www.bealecorner.com/trv900/trv950/trv950.html
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Old May 13th, 2003, 03:08 AM   #9
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Re: http://www.bealecorner.com/trv900/trv950/trv950.html

Those were exactly some of my complaints when I took the 950 for a spin, shorty after it hit the market. I concluded that, although a "hand-held," it's really a tripod cam. I just couldn't grip the thing properly, and I'm a big strong guy. What makes matters worse is that there's no decent ridge for your fingers, and when your hand sweats a bit (on any warm day), the cam keeps sliping out of your grip. Just to add..., the MX300 comes with a near useless ridge as well, and it is difficult to hold when your hand is sweating---but it is balanced, unlike the TRV950. Both the GL2 and PV-DV953 are a joy to hold, for long periods of shooting.
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Old May 13th, 2003, 04:14 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Marcia Janine Galles : after talking to some rental house people, it seems I would have to spend what's way out of my price range (a 2/3 CCD) to get the kind of night campfire shots (and other low light things) that I had in mind.

Well I've never tried a campfire, but the VX-2000 certainly works in some extremely dark places, like out in my yard with just a 60w porchlight in the distance. Maybe you should rent one for an evening if this is important to you....

Boyd, one last thing I thought of... does the PDX-10 load from the bottom like the TRV's?
Marcia -->>>

No, it loads from the right-hand side like the VX-2000. Actually I like it better than the VX-2000 which has a really awkward sliding button with a tiny blue "nipple" you have to press and slide. On the PDX-10 there's a sliding latch just in front of the zoom button. Pull it back and the whole side of the camera is hinged at the bottom and opens. Then the tape mechanism pops out, just like the VX-2000. No conflict with tripod mounting. Has a good feel to it.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 11:08 AM   #11
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Okay, Boyd, here's a hypothetical... say I buy the PX-10, which sounds perfect for me in all respects except: a) low light; and b) some consider it doesn't have a "professional" enough look (which, for the interview portions, I can see could potentially be an undercurrent/issue for some of the medical types I'll be interviewing, but that just seems too stupid to worry about now). If I shoot most everything with the little cam's native 16 x 9, then rent a VX2000 (assuming I can find one) for the darkest night stuff (if I can't tweak the PDX-10 to levels I'm happy with), how noticeable a difference would you guess there will there be in quality down the line when the VX2000 footage, which isn't native 16 x 9 and isn't DVCam, gets cut together with it, and forced into 16 x 9? As a former editor my instincts are that I could "fix it in post" to acceptable levels, but I am wrong? And out of curiousity, how much worse will the two types of footage look, side by side up on screen, if I actually do end up transfering to film for one show print? Will it be subtle or jarring? I've seen some pretty lousy transfers to film when I've gone to academy doc screenings, and while that isn't supposed to make a difference in evaluating the thing, it's got to come into play subliminally.

So many questions...
Thanks, again.
Marcia
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Old May 14th, 2003, 01:44 PM   #12
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Thought of a P.S.

Has anybody out there tried to match their DVCam footage, shot in either native 16 x 9 like the PDX-10, or cropped from another cam to 16 x 9, to 24P footage? (I'm wondering if I should consider the DVX100, though it crops the image as well, and there are still issues like low light, weight, etc.) Has anyone transfered it to film after doing so? This may not be the best venue to ask... just trying to anticipate problems in post, to head off as much as poss. with regard to which camera I should go with. Sheesh, my head is spinning.

Again my concern is how glaring (or not) the difference would be when blending types of footage. I'm thinking in particular if the PDX-10 becomes my B cam later, and I go with the XL2 which is supposed to be 24P (no one has mentioned it will be DVCam that I've seen,) but will be native 16 x 9 like the little PDX-10. Seems like they should be able to be tweaked together. In the end I suppose I should take comfort that docs can be a little less "seemless" than features require. But the editor side of me can be rather picky... I thought of a better word to describe that tendency in me, but it may not be allowed on the boards. :-)

Think I'm getting to the point of "no way to know." Thanks for your patience with my questions everybody.
M
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