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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
Topics also include Sony's TRV950, VX2000, PD150 & DSR250 family.


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Old September 5th, 2003, 03:01 PM   #1
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Just bought the Sony HVL-20DW2 along with a 960 battery, and it's thanks to Kris Carrillo and Wayne Orr for their help in unravelling Sony's part numbers.

The lamp is pretty simple really, but has some clever touches. It's fitted with two 10 watt bulbs, one above the other, and neat switching detects if you've got a big battery clipped to the back and if so, you'll be allowed to run both lamps in parallel should you need to.

Looking at the thing there's not a lot of diffusion over the lamps, but the evenness of illumination is excellent. It also covers the 6mm end of the zoom pretty effectively, but using a wide-angle does hot-spot the centre of the frame of course.

I used it at two weddings over the weekend and people were asking me to turn it on so they could see to sign the guest book. huh! Great accessory, and the best bit is no trailing wires, uses the same batteries as the VX, weighs very little, fits on any shoe and in the 20 watt mode lights a completely dark large room with ease. Mind you, it helps that the VX is so good in the dark.

It's cooled by convection and there are grilles top and bottom so it doesn't look advisable to use it on its side. Why should I want to? Well, in the 20 watt mode there's enough light to do a bounce into a white card at 45 degrees, and I'm playing with the idea.

tom.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 03:25 PM   #2
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Tom how is that extra added weight up on top when shooting handheld? I've thought about picking one of these lights up but i have no where to test them and was thinking about the weight of the 960 up there on the shoe mount would be a lot to handle.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 04:07 PM   #3
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Top heavy is a real problem when you have a marginal tripod or one without a counterbalance.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 07:30 PM   #4
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Yep, I've been saying for a long time that these were pretty good lights. I don't notice the "Deer in the headlight" look that some generalize about camcorder lights. Also, it's easy to pick these up off ebay for a lot cheaper than retail. I use a the 750 battery which seems about right as far as weight goes.

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Old September 5th, 2003, 08:00 PM   #5
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I don't get it....with the light on and it's still too dark that people can't sign the guestbook, how does it help the camera?

Another question, can you adjust the power output up and down? I currently use the NRG Varilite and it has that capability, but it seems a bit front heavy for me.

Lucas
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Old September 5th, 2003, 09:14 PM   #6
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Hi Tom,
How did the light go over with the guests at the reception?
Were they much bothered by the brightness? Were you mostly using it in the 10 watt mode?
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Old September 6th, 2003, 04:12 PM   #7
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Some answers. The weight of the lamp on its own is 102 gms - about the weight of a thick letter. Piddling. You all know the weight of the 750 and the 960 battery, and having the lamp on top made not the slightest difference to the handling of the VX.

The XV is so good in low light that I hardly ever used both lamps on, limiting myself to the 10 watt top one. This is good as it 'sees over' the top of my big Cavision lens hood when I'm using the wide-angle.

The guests didn't mind it in the slightest and know why? Because I left it on for lots of the time, even when I wasn't filming. That 960 battery will last for hours (over 3 on a full charge) so there's little point in turning it off. It's the on/off that makes guests blink as their pupils contract.

Lucas - what do you mean? I was using the lamp purely so that people could sign the guest book with ease.

Anyway, great little lamp, compact, uses the same batts, doesn't get in the way.

tom.
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Old September 6th, 2003, 08:49 PM   #8
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Another question for ya...how does it get attached to the battery? I've just looked at my 960 battery and couldn't find a connector or something to hook up with any external device...besides hanging on the camera.
Thanks,
Lucas
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Old September 7th, 2003, 12:11 AM   #9
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The batterey itself actually attaches to the battery, just like how you snap a battery onto the camcorder. You can see now how you would be a little top heavy as you basically have that big ol battery snapped onto a light and hanging out on top of your camera.

I love mine mine but it does make it a bit heavy with the big battery.
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Old September 7th, 2003, 08:58 AM   #10
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So there'll be TWO 960 batteries on the camera, one to power the camera and one to power the light? I thought I heard someone said that the weight of the light is about the weight of a thick letter. Now I imagine that a "functional" light is a lot more heavy than that :)
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Old September 7th, 2003, 10:41 AM   #11
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That is correct...you need a second battery for the light. and the light is pretty light weight until you slap a battery on it.

For the record though I use HVL-20DM and use the NP-QM71 battery which is considerably smaller than the 960.

I think mine might be the consumer verison of the HVL-20DW2 because it will not hold the 960 batteries but use the smaller batteries I use in my TRV-50 ( QM-91, QM-71) I still get the 10w/20w and the set up sounds the same. maybe it is cheaper also? Didn't matter much to me once I finally got my PD-150 as I have lots of the TRV50 batteries to use. Anything smaller than the middle size battery ( QM-71 ) and it will only work the 10 watt light
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:39 PM   #12
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There are two versions of this light available: One that uses the "L-series" batteries (ala VX2000), and one that uses the "M-series" batteries (ala consumer cams). Either one should work fine, but obviously, you'd need a separate charger and different set of batteries for the "M" light - which, I feel defeats the convenience of using it in the first place. Also, I would assume the "L-series" batteries being larger and more powerful will last longer in a high-drain light.

If you're interested in the light, I'd suggest going to Ebay and buying one at a reduced price, and also a battery there. I use a 750 series battery and it seems to be about right as far as weight goes. I don't know if a 550 series would power the 20W light (it will the 10W bulb). The 750 is quite a bit lighter and shorter than the 960. The issue on the batteries on the light isn't the power, but the quick drain on them (according to Sony).

BTW, I believe the greatest characteristic of the light is really it's convenience. Results are pretty good, but don't expect performance you might get from a larger, more specialized light set. It does a good job for what it was designed for, and I believe a great value for occasional lighting.

Mark G
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:55 PM   #13
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Approximately how long can a 750 last for a continuous shoot of the 20W HVL-20DW2. I'm currently using an NRG varilite with a battery belt and together, they can be quite heavy as well.

Thanks,
Lucas
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Old September 9th, 2003, 06:50 PM   #14
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Tom: I'm glad to hear you're happy with the purchase. I've also found that people aren't irritated by the light, and I also find myself using it in the 10 watt position more often than 20 watts. I'm working on a small softbox that fits over the front of the light to soften it up even more. I'll post some pics when it's done. I also found a small shoe mount adaptor that tilts up and down. I place it between the HVL-20DW2 and the PD150 shoe mount, and it allows me to tilt the light back and bounce it off the ceiling if I need to.

Lucas: I use a 750 with my HVL-20DW2, and according to the manual it will power the light in 20 watt mode for 40 minutes continuously, and in 10 watt mode for 105 minutes.

Of all the purchases us VX2K/PD150 users make on gear, I really must say that the HVL-20DW2 video light is, dollar for dollar, one of the better buys out there. Happy shooting,

Kris Carrillo
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Old September 9th, 2003, 07:13 PM   #15
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I don't use the light we're talking about here but somewhere in this forum I think I posted a method I used to make a softbox/diffuser that I use all the time on my Bescor 50W. It's cheap and looks good andbrings the light to about 15-20 effective watts without changing the coloration.
I don't have time right now but I'll see if I can find the post later. BTW the total cost was about $5.00 and I have enough material to make about 3 or 4 of them.
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