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


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Old October 20th, 2003, 10:55 PM   #1
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What would you do??

Greetings all.
Love your work..

it's finally come down to it..

Now, I can purchase a PDX10 for approx $4,699 (AUD)
OR
I can purchase a VX2000 for approx $4,670 (AUD)

so that's either for about US $3,250

AARRGH!
what would you do!?!

opinions/advice much appreciated.

Anthony
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Old October 21st, 2003, 05:01 AM   #2
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I've just completed a test of the PDX10 alongside the VX2000 for a British mag. There are two compelling reasons to buy the PDX over the VX, and they are these: Compactness and 16:9 performance. Oh, and the dark grey colour is nicer too, and its fifty quid cheaper (peanuts). How important are these facilities to you Anthony?

In all other respects the VX is the better camera. There's less CCD smear, the low light is extroadinarily better, the DOF control is superb, the V/F display is accurate and informative, and overall it's a far more controllable photographer's tool.

tom.
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Old October 21st, 2003, 07:14 AM   #3
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Anthony, i have seen many vx-2000's used....also for $1000 more you can get a panasonic dvx-100 which has it's own advantages.

It depends 'what' you intend to do with the camera.

Zac
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 12:26 AM   #4
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Thanks guys, I really appreciate your opinions - especially considering this particular issue has been discussed to death.
Yeah, the deciding factor seems to be application. Problem is, I want versatility because of the potential for varying applications. Though I suppose the primary use would be for creative short film.

I want to have the low LUX of the vx2000 so that I'll be able to handle less than perfectly controlled lighting environments. But then there's the superior sound and 16:9 of the PDX10.
This is killing me. I'm really stuck.
I'm leaning toward the pdx10, though just need a little more convincing to really tip the scales in its favour. I fear purchasing the camera, then forever regretting my choice. I might see the 16:9 footage and think, "is that it? I would've been better off with VX2000's black bars for 16:9 effect". Unfortunately I can't borrow or rent one to gets some hands on experience.

any more wise words would be very welcome.

oh me oh my!
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 02:28 AM   #5
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"I might see the 16:9 footage and think, "is that it? I would've been better off with VX2000's black bars for 16:9 effect".

I've done some side-by-side tests Anthony, and the PD 16:9 footage looks immediately better on a widescreen TV than the masked down VX footage. Tests of the PDX10 in the 4:3 and the 16:9 mode show that switching to widescreen noticeably reduces potential viewfinder vertical resolution, as black bars appear to show the new aspect ratio. Graph paper filming tests show that the 16:9 mode uses 10% less vertical CCD pixels than in the 4:3 mode but 20% more horizontal pixels (see diagram).

In a perfect world the vertical resolution would remain unaffected and the horizontal pixel count would increase by 25%, but this Sony solution is most certainly a step in the right direction. Low light sensitivity, Steady Shot and camera control are all unaffected by the switch to widescreen, though the telephoto reach is somewhat reduced and the slight barrel distortion visible at the wide-angle end of the zoom becomes more apparent. On a side by side screen test with the VX2000 the widescreen mode of the PDX10 was clearly superior, and at the same time its 3.5Ē side-screen gave a decent sized 16:9 picture.

tom.
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Old October 26th, 2003, 07:56 PM   #6
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I like the VX size and format. It's low light is really great. A lot of times ya just look at the picture and say "hey, that's better than my eyes can see!" Anyway, the low light is not something to overlook. I don't see the audio problem as a major issue.

But, if you're looking for a smaller camera or widescreen, go for it.

Mark G
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Old October 28th, 2003, 10:44 PM   #7
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thanks for the input guys, as always.
It really is a tough one.
I've finally managed to organise a little hands on experience with both cams at a leading specialist here in Sydney. Hopefully that will sway me one way or the other.

I'd love to have the 16:9, better sound, DVCAM & B&W VF.. just as I'd love to have the low lux versatility of the vx.

fingers crossed for a decision tomorrow.
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Old October 29th, 2003, 02:03 AM   #8
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I wait with bated breath and crossed fingers Anthony. Hands on experience with both cams in a dealers will have you loving the PDX. It immediately pulls at you - the compactness, the huge side screen, the touch-screen pull focus, the sharp B & W finder, the dark grey colour, the XLR inputs - it just looks so good.

But out in film-making land its smear will ruin many a shot, its tiny chips will limit your DOF control, its lack of progressive scan mean no motor drive stills, the silly little batteries need charging all the time and the display simply tells lies.

Ah, but the 16:9 .....

tom.
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Old October 30th, 2003, 02:32 AM   #9
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thanks for the crossed finger Tom, though perhaps I should have asked for toes too.. and any other cross-ables..
Well, I've just come back from a 2-hour session of playing with the VX2000 and PDX10.
VX2000 AUD $5,499
PDX10 AUD $4,699
First impressions:
VX2000 - A joy to hold and operate. I couldn't help but LIKE this camera. The settings are very nicely placed for the most part. I can see why this model has been so popular.
PDX10 - A bugger to handle in comparison. A little lopsided/unbalanced and awkward. I wouldn't consider this a one-hand-cam as the design and side strap imply. Settings not so conveniently placed and I found myself having to put the camera down in order to interact with some menu's/settings.
We're opposites in terms of aesthetics Tom - the look didn't really grab me.

Recorded Footage:
Brilliant images produced by both of these cameras. Though I was limited inside a well-lit office. At one point I filmed through a window at some pedestrians walking in the streets below. when playing back, I was very impressed with the clarity that was maintained throughout the entire zoom as I followed them.
The PDx10 needs a little tweak soon after optimum lighting is reduced.. expected.. Still, I don't really think it's that much of an issue. HOWEVER, I did not get into extremely low light. Lowest light was in a small utility office with one window but no artificial light. I ended up crouching in a corner behind boxes to try and get a good dark sample.

Vertical smear-shmear. I just didn't find it a problem at all until I was pushing extremes on frame rate and aperture... (I think it was those two), but baby when it was there, it was THERE. I had a sc-fi show going. But still manageable as far as I'm concerned.
I was surprised to find the vz2000 smearing also with similar settings.. perhaps it was the environment

PDX10 native 16:9 is grrreat. Now, you may think I'm partially blind.. and I cringe at typing this, but at a casual glance I didn't actually see that much of a jaw dropping difference. Yes the 'compression' of vx200's 'wide screen' and cropping makes for less footage displayed, but I was surprised that the image quality was so similar... or should I say, based on my expectations, I was surprised not to find more of a difference in image quality.
come to think of it.. why would there be... ok disregard previous.

Circumstances did not permit testing/comparison of sound.

so.. after a limited 'scratch n' sniff'. I still can't decide which cam to go with! :(
I really am happy with image quality on both. Somehow I couldn't help but feel the vx2000 was a fraction of a fraction more vibrant - but not noticeable without direct comparison on screen.

I just donít know!!!

I'm sick of the indecision. It's really getting to me.

Camera store guy said he'd allow me to exchange the pdx10 for vx2000 or vice versa if I found that I wasn't happy with it. Which would be great, but I don't want to buy the vx2000 from him because I can get it from a Sony insider for AUD$47000 (saving myself $1000) So if I buy the pdx10 from him, I'm stuck with it.

So basically I can get either cam for same price.... I just can't decide which one.

Insane
Anthony

ps.. hmm. maybe I'll just get the vx2000 for now, learn the tricks of the trade, and finally when a camera with dvcam format, native 16:9, great sound, low lux etc comes out, I'll be in a poisition to buy... hopefully. Hey, gotta start somewhere right?. vx2000 good place to start?
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Old October 30th, 2003, 03:58 AM   #10
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I'm impressed by your thoroughness Anthony and by your ability to stand back objectively and take stock of the situation. Interestinly you've posted on the VX forum rather than the PDX pages, where I'm sure that you'd get different viewpoints thrown at you. You're correct; there's no 'jaw-dropping' difference in the 16:9 modes.

I really like your concluding paragraph as yes, the VX2k is indeed a "great place to start". The camera is a genuine photographer's tool, and it allows you access to apertures and speeds and ND filters that are denied you in the PDX10 "for your own good". I find this a somewhat patronising attitude by Sony, and more especially so on a pro cam.

I've really tested the two cams side by side, and pushed them hard. I really wanted to like the PDX10 as I adored my two TRV900s, marvelling in their astounding qualities. I just assumed that the PDX would be better in all departments, and it most certainly is not. The VX may be older but its size has meant fewer design and photographic compromises.

A couple of points. 1). How much of a 'manual' man are you? Do you constantly have the camera in auto and love the results? If yes, go get the PDX10. If no - in that you love pushing the DV envelope and squeezing the best from every frame, then the VX is the cam for you.

2) Can I send you my PDX10 sample frames from the timeline? Don't buy one till you've seen them, that's all I'll say.

tom.
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Old October 30th, 2003, 10:37 PM   #11
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Just a thought about 16:9. Just about every director I know who shoots DV shoots 4:3 and takes it to 16:9 in post.

They tell me that it gives them more freedom later for formats. (Most of them shoot PAL, by the way ,since they can get to 24p 35mm reasonably easily.)
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Old October 31st, 2003, 02:08 AM   #12
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Have actually posted for in 'PDX10' as well for that exact reason Tom.
Regarding how much of a 'manual' man I am?.. well, not much. I'm just starting off. This is my ..er .first video camera. Though I would think having a camera that enables me to be 'more in control' is a good thing - fiddley button/experience-wise.

of course you can send the sample frames.. err. I presume you'd like an email address to do so :) ?

I love the fact that you've pushed these cams in testing. Now, putting 16:9 aside, which camera would you say produces the 'better' image in general filming conditions. (a pretty weak question I know)
Also, how bad is the vx sound?.. will I regret it do you think?

Very interesting Chris, nice input - I've never heard that before. I would think a few readers would have something to say about that.
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Old October 31st, 2003, 04:03 AM   #13
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It's your first video camera - but have you shot 35mm film in an SLR, say? You understand shutter speeds, film speeds, apertures, NDs, grey cards, focal lengths and DOF? If yes, the VX. If no, maybe the PD.

And how much of a Hifi man are you? The PD comes ready for any posh XLR mic that you happen to plug in. The VX (which has better on-board mics that hear a LOT less motor noise) won't accept XLR mics without an adapter, which is what I do.

Email address if you'd like the jpegs, yes.

Your 'better image in general filming conditions' is a difficult one. If you mean good light with no point sources of light in frame and full auto, then the PDX is the one to go for. But as soon as the going gets tough it falters. A lot of folk (who keep the camera on auto-everything) will not experience the horrendous smear, they'll simply get the streaking from bright lights and Sony will tell them that it is "perfectly normal" (on this camera - said in a quiet voice).

Thing is you'll love either camera. Ultimate sound quality and 16:9 most important? Get the PD. Manual control and photographic prowess tops? get the VX.

tom.
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Old October 31st, 2003, 09:22 AM   #14
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Thanks Andrew,

I expect others to disagree but as I say, this is what ivam told by directors who work with much larger budgets then me. Sigh.
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Old November 1st, 2003, 01:56 PM   #15
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Anthony, I would wait and get the VX2100, or consider the Panasonic DVC80 (XLR inputs .. but no AGC). With the VX2100 you get a bunch of "fixes" over the VX2000, plus some nice things that will make shooting better. Maybe the most important thing is low light shooting. The 2000 is good, but the 2100 is supposedly even better! I mean, the VX2000 is amazing, and it's easy so say low light isn't that big of a deal, but it *IS* a big deal when you're otherwise looking at lousy, grainy video. Unless all of your shooting is outside, low light plays a big deal. And it doesn't even have to be really low light. Colors are better at reduced light. One other thing, the auto controls on the VX2000 are really good. Then there is manual stuff.

If I were looking to buy a cam now, I'd wait and get the VX2100, not the 2000. But that's me.

Oh, and BTW, if this is your first camcorder, you're going to have a blast! Most of us went through the whole consumer cam thing till we finally got tired of the limitations and moved up to prosumer cams. Bravo!
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