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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old April 30th, 2003, 11:06 AM   #46
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The hour meters are the last item on the last page of the Menu on the camera. Open the LCD and press the Menu button to open the Menus on the screen. Use the thumbwheel on the back of the camera to navigate them, pushing in on the wheel to select a function or make a choice.

DV heads require replacement somewhere between 600 and 1000 hours in normal life. Mileage may vary. I purchased a used DSR-300 with 620 hours on the heads and think I'm OK with that as I don't put hundreds of hours a year on anything but my PD150. Balance price vs the cost of new heads and you quickly know how much you want to discount (if any) for head hours.

PD150/2000 cameras can have transports that go bad even early in life. Listen to the camera when a tape is in the transport and playing. You should hear a smooth whirr. If you hear any kind of sound that is grinding or irregular, that is cause to reject the camera. Listen to the zoom. It should have a small whine but nothing more and it should be smooth at the slowest speeds.

Press the reset button which is on the control panel in a very small hole under the LCD. This puts the camera into the factory preset operation (ask the owner before you do this).

Check for bad pixels by leaving the lens cap on and placing the camera either in automatic or run the shutter speed all the way down and the gain all the way up in manual mode. You should see the salt and pepper of normal noise, not any fixed bright spots. Then look at a white smooth and uniform surface and check the visual field for any black pixels. These tests are better run with the camera on a tripod and feeding a large monitor or TV.

Call Sony's tech support that you can find here http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/startpage.html and ask them when the camera was built. For this you need the serial number.

Oh yea. Try using the camera and make certain it records a clean image and that the LCD and viewfinder are OK and the camera responds to manual control input on all controls.

Ask what tapes have been run in the camera and how often the owner used cleaning tapes.

Also ask if the camera has been loaned out, rented or used by students.

Check the tripod socket and make certain it is not loose or the bottom punched out by use of an overly long screw. 1/4" or 6mm is the max screw length on most Sony cameras.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 10:25 AM   #47
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Bring the best out of the PD150

hi all,

May be shooting my short film on a PD150 and would like to know what are the settings that can bring the best quality out of this camcorder.

Below are some issues I though of

1) Colour intensity - Should be neutral. Its better to adjust this in Premiere or FCP.

2) Sharpness - Soft. Using the same logic as digital photo imaging, shapening of image should always be left at the last stage and in a much better software than the one in the camcorder.

3) WB - As of from a white paper

4) Auto Gain Limit - 0. The higher the gain, the higher the noise in the image. (Is it possible to use a photography light meter to meter for the camcorder when i set gain limit to zero? Is it the same as setting the ISO to a constant? If so, what is it most likely to be? ISO100? ISO200?)

5) Casette - Mini DV but shoot in DVCAM format (as suggested in the operating manual)

6) Progressive scan - should i set this on ?

7) Frame Mode - should i set this one? since this supposedly gives a "cinematic look"?

8) Audio - I know absolutely nothing about this as I am a photographer, only knows about image. Just set to the max volume during recording? Use a off camera mic? Please advise

9) 16:9 or normal - 16:9. As i still dunno where this film will be shown, 16:9 is more flexible because i only need to crop the sides if i want to achieve normal proportions. If i shoot normal and want to get back to 16:9, I have to crop top or bottom which may cut into the headspace of the foreheads on the actress.

Also, what are the equivalent focal length of the lens on the PD150 as that os a 35mm camera? eg. 28mm-80mm.

Please see if my logic on the above is right and advise on anything that I may have missed out.

Cheers
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Old May 11th, 2003, 10:56 AM   #48
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Re: Bring the best out of the PD150

<<<-- Originally posted by Ong Wan Shu : hi all,

1) Colour intensity - Should be neutral. Its better to adjust this in Premiere or FCP.

Good question. I usually leave it in the middle unless I want to be sure something is really saturated, like a blue sky. But I wonder if it's a good idea to punch it up a bit, because it's easy to de-saturate in post, but you can't create color where none exists.

2) Sharpness - Soft.

Experiment and see what you think when viewed on a monitor. I leave it in the middle usually. If you go all the way to soft, to my eyes it looks out of focus. Maybe one click left of center makes sense?

3) WB - As of from a white paper

May also want to tweak it one way or the other a bit in custom preset.

4) Auto Gain Limit - 0.

Sure, but it only has effect when the camera is in auto iris mode. Otherwise the manul f-stop you set stays constant

5) Casette

The quality won't be any different in DVCAM, but you're less likely to have dropped frames (which in my experience is rare anyway). It does limit your recording time however (and increases Sony's tape sales by 33% ;-)

6) Progressive scan - should i set this on ?

7) Frame Mode - should i set this one? since this supposedly gives a "cinematic look"?

Unlike the Canons, I don't think you'll want to mess with either of these... try it and you'll see why.

9) 16:9 or normal - 16:9.

This gets regularly beaten to death around here, browse through this forum, the PDX-10 forum and the Canon forums and you'll find extensive discussion. IMO, with the PD-150 you should shoot 4:3, but frame so you can crop to 16:9 in post if you think you might want to. This gives you the most flexibility, and there is no quality difference.

Some quick math: normal 4:3 is 720x480=345,600 pixels. 16:9 builtin mode reduces that to 720x360=259,200 which is a loss of 25% of the resolution. Now if you crop the sides as you suggest of that 16:9 later to get 4:3 it's really a disaster; that would be 480x360=172,800 pixels. You've just thrown away 50% of your image data... don't do it!

There is no quality loss to shooting 4:3 and cropping to 16:9 in post, you still lose 25% of the pixels just like built-in mode. Since you're unsure, why not just make some marks on the camera's LCD screen for 16:9 framing (put it into 16:9 mode and use a china marker on the screen), then shoot 4:3 and make your decision later.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 12:18 PM   #49
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1. color...depends on a) what look do you want b) how much work in post you are willing to do. Sounds like you are willing to spend some time, so leave it "neutral" as you say.

2. sharpness... come down one or two clicks. Unless you will be doing transfer to film, then check with your transfer facility.

3. white balance...all white paper is not the same white. Get a Kodak Grey Card Plus. Use either the white or grey portion of the chart to white balance. Shoot a couple seconds of the chart before each set up. This will help you in post color correction tremendously.

4. Gain...correct, no gain. the ISO for the camera has been suggested to be 320. Test this first!!!

5. Sure. Use minidv tapes, such as Sony Excellence, and record DVCAM mode. Be certain to set timecode format to "record run" and set each tape's code in sequence. Tape one = 01:00:00:00 Record "drop frame."

6&7...Absolutely not.

8...Audio. Get someone to do this for you, who knows what they are doing You cannot do this alone. Get help!

9...Shoot normal. Crop in post. Keep the frame clean!! No boom in the shots. In post, you can move the crop up or down on various scenes to improve the composition. Go to http://www.streamovie.com/vx2000.htm You can download a 16x9 mask that you place in your memory stick. You can use this to check your composition before you shoot. Then drop it when you roll. Don't waste a lot of time doing this or you will never finish.

The approximate multiplier is 7.2. The widest setting for the standard lens on the PD150 is 6mm. Multiply that by 7.2 and you get 43.2mm. Not very wide, is it? This is why everyone gets a wide lens converter ASAP. The long end is 72mm (times 7.2) equals 518.4mm.

Here is another site to help you with depth of field. http://www.panavision.co.nz/kbase/optics/calcFOVform.asp Of course, since there is no way to know exactly what your focal length is with these cameras, its of value only as an indication of depth of field. Scroll down to the very bottom of "format" where you see "1/3" video" That is the size of the chips in the PD150.

Good luck. You need it.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 03:29 AM   #50
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PD150 questions

I have a VX-2000 now, and I am thinking of getting a 150. We need a better second camera for weddings and other events than the one that we have now. We are currently using a single chip Canon for a second camera, which besides having a so-so picture, forces me to do a lot of color correction in post to make the video colors between the cameras more consistent. I have been struggling to get good audio at my events, and I think the added audio capabilities of the 150 will really help. I especially like the fact that the 150 allows you to have one audio channel be under AGC control while the other is set manually. That would have helped me avoid a number of audio problems that I have run into when filming with the VX-2000. I do have some questions relative to the PD150.
1. Is the black and white viewfinder a positive or a negative? I've never used a black and white viewfinder and I wonder if this would be as easy to use as a color viewfinder.
2. Will the image on a PD150 be identical to the image on my VX-2000? I'd like the colors in the video from the two cameras to be identical assuming they are properly white balanced.
3. How does the mono microphone on the 150 compare to the stereo microphone on the VX-2000?
4. Other than price, are there any more reasons to prefer the VX-2000 to the PD-150?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 03:49 AM   #51
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heya,

----1. Is the black and white viewfinder a positive or a negative? I've never used a black and white viewfinder and I wonder if this would be as easy to use as a color viewfinder.----

Depends on how you use your camera, if you are in auto mode, then it is just another viewfinder, but for manual use, it is a dream, it allows you to so easily focus, and really makes it obvious when using zebra patterns. It is a positive.

2. Will the image on a PD150 be identical to the image on my VX-2000? I'd like the colors in the video from the two cameras to be identical assuming they are properly white balanced.

Well they use the same internals when it comes to the video portion of the camera, unless you do some custom presets on either, they will look the same. Well perceivably the same, not every camera is purely indentical but i really doubt you could spot the difference.

3. How does the mono microphone on the 150 compare to the stereo microphone on the VX-2000?

Well the pd150 can take up to 2 stereo mics but you need to drop your audio quality to 12bit and use special software to capture it. But you can run either 1 mono, 1 stereo, or 2 mono's and have no problems. The quality will show on the quality of the microphone you choose to use, i suggest the Sennheiser ME66 with the k6 power module, although the camera does provide phantom power for you.

4. Other than price, are there any more reasons to prefer the VX-2000 to the PD-150?

No there is not, the pd150 is a well rounded camera and for its function leaves nothing to be desired. I find the vx2000 is it's ugly brother. Really though, the pd150 just finishes off the nice package that the vx2000 is.

Zac
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 12:07 PM   #52
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A clairification, Zac.

(3. How does the mono microphone on the 150 compare to the stereo microphone on the VX-2000?

"Well the pd150 can take up to 2 stereo mics but you need to drop your audio quality to 12bit and use special software to capture it. ")

The above answer is not entirely correct. You need to read the Sony manual but the short form answer is you can insert add audio to channels 3 & 4 on a tape that was recorded in 12 bit mode. But only through the mic/line connectors on the camera if you wish to use it for the task. I think 12 bit mode is a waste for almost all purposes.

The PD150 will record two mono tracks in 16 bit, 48 Khz digital format just like any other digital camera. There are only 2 input connectors available and therefore you can only record 2 tracks at a time.

The on-board mono microphone is OK and with a proper switch setting, can be sent to channels 1 & 2 simultaneously.

BTW, most movie sound is recorded mono. Only special effects and really obvious off-center sound sources are sent to other than the center channel. Even surround sound (which is usually artificially constructed) normally does not have speech content.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 10:27 PM   #53
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Mike wow, i did not know that, i assumed 2x stereo = 4 channel, which knocked the quality back.

Now i know. As i generally only use a single mono mic, as i prefer the control of just 1 channel, and then doing any pick up audio after i never re-read about it.

You learn something new everyday.

Zac
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Old May 15th, 2003, 11:01 AM   #54
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<<<-- Originally posted by Zac Stein : Mike wow, i did not know that, i assumed 2x stereo = 4 channel, which knocked the quality back.

Zac,

I may be mistaken but let me expand on my first answer by defining terms.

2X Stereo is 4 channels but you, I think, believe the 150 can record 4 channels simultaneously. Not so.

The PD150 has only two mono channels of input at any given time. You can treat them as a Stereo pair if you wish. So you cannot record more than 2 mono channels (or 1X stereo ) as you record the video.

If you recorded the original audio at 12 bits along with the video, then you can go back and INSERT an additional 2 channels (3&4) at 12 bits by going through the two XLR connectors on the camera. But you have to set the menus properly to do so.

In what I consider normal operation, you can record two channels, however you wish to configure them, at 16 bits via the two XLR connectors.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:39 PM   #55
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I feel bad I left you hanging with your audio dilemma, Alan, so I'll try to make it up in this one.

As has been mentioned, the b/w viewfinder is way better for focusing, but plan on a bit of time getting used to it. It has to make you a little crazy if you have only been looking at color viewfinders, but remember this: most professional cameras use only b/w viewfinders. For long lens work, the b/w is a lifesaver.

The images between the two cameras will be the same, assuming the rules of proper white balance.

The microphone on the PD150 is only usable to about three feet. Therefore, it is OK for walking right up into someone's face and getting a sound bite, but it is not directional, so it picks up a lot of off axis sound.

There is only one drawback to the PD150 versus the VX2K for someone who shoots events: the PD will not shoot in LP mode like the VX. That means one sixty minute tape equals sixty minutes maximum record time. I know some event people like the longer times available with the VX2K.

The PD150 is a great camera that will serve you well. Here is a very un-official list of differences between the two cameras.

Note: These differences are listed for informational purposes only. They are not meant to imply that one camera is better than the other.

Major Differences

Black and white hi-res viewfinder in PD150

XLR inputs in PD150

DVCAM record only available in PD150

Settable timecode only in PD150

Gun metal gray exterior on PD150

Other differences

1. Gain works different on VX2; camera will increase gain in manual setting. PD150 allows user to set gain.

2. PD150 allows separate Left/Right channel audio control, VX2000 audio control ganged together

3. VX2000 has "intelligent" hot shoe, PD150 does not.

4. VX2K has built in stereo mic. PD150 has mono mic, which can be recorded on different channels at different settings for back-up purposes.

5. Can do time/date stamp with PD150, not with VX2000

6. PD150 auto stand-by (after five minutes of not taping) just stops drum whereas VX2000 shuts everything down.

7. Can do logo insert (i.e. client's corporate logo) with PD150, not with VX2000.

8. VX2K has certain picture effects not found in PD150.

9. PD150 has Noise Reduction (NR), VX2K does not.

10. Something about audio signal display.

11. The VX2K will record in LP mode for extended record purposes. The PD150 will not.

12. The PD150 can record user bit information.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:09 PM   #56
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I believe the PD-150 also allows you to set the black level (setup), doesn't it? As I understand it though, the only time you might want to do this would be for compatability with another camera if you were feeding a signal to a switcher during a live shoot.

Also, I don't understand the logo insert thing although I've seen it mentioned before. Couldn't you do the same thing with an image on the memory stick and "memory mix"? How does the logo insert differ from this?
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:12 PM   #57
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Memory mix is the logo insert, Boyd.

Yes, you can setup the black level on the 150. Although most DV editing programs are set up to accept black at zero IRE.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:38 PM   #58
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You can't set black level with the VX2K? Well, thank you Boyd. I guess that's another one for the list, although Adam Wilt has a problem with this. Claims it is not true "set-up." You'll have to search his site for more info.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:44 PM   #59
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Actually I based my comments on an article that Adam wrote in DV mag recently. He says "setup" is something that would be provided on a studio VTR during dubbing, and should not be done in camera. If you don't use 0 IRE then your blacks will really be grays. But he suggested the one time you might want to change it would be if needed to match another camera if they were both connected to the same deck through a switcher during a live shoot.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:46 PM   #60
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : Memory mix is the logo insert, Boyd. -->>>

The Vx2k does this. How is it different on the PD-150, or is that an error in Wayne's post? I only have a VX-2000...
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