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


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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:03 AM   #1
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Need Help from you sony people....

(I have already searched the forums and didnt find anything as detailed as i need it, please help if you can...)

So here is the deal

I am looking at buying a camera, and have been for the past 2 years but keep putting off the decision. Well I have had enough of looking for ‘perfect-cam’ and am ready just to ‘get it over with’.

Right now the major contenders are the GL2 and XV2100. The DVX100a would be awesome for the 24p but it is out of my price range (I like the 24p option…). The pdx10 sounds interesting because of the true 16x9. I don’t want Panasonic or jvc. So right now I am pretty much stuck between the GL2 and VX2100.

I am looking for a sturdy cam which will give me as many options as possible.
I need something very versatile. I will be doing small music videos, short films, documentaries, possibly stop animation, and anything else I can think of.
I will be shooting mostly all my stuff in 16x9 (or boxing it out in Premiere in post). Would the adapters I have heard about, the Century Optics ones for example, be an option for this? While I would like the option of a film-look; The GL2’s “30p” sounds pretty cool but does it actually work? I think that I would like built on XLR’s…but I am not sure…what would be the downside of not having them? Image quality is very important to me, I like good looking video. I also want to have manual control of both the focus and zoom; I want rings, not those strange finger lever things… Like I said, I want lots of options so I am a little interested in the low level capabilities of these cams, I have heard the VX2100 is amazing in this department.

(This is of secondary concern)---> I will be traveling to Europe this summer and would like to bring the cam along so it needs to be within reason.


I have not been able to actually touch these cams so I am kind of shooting in the dark when it comes to hands on…I live in Ohio and to actually find a place around here that carries 3ccd cams would be close to a miracle…I have to travel a few hundred miles to find something of the sorts.

Also, just for the heck of it, where does the PD170 fit into this equation…. (out of my price range I think…)


Hope to hear from you guys soon, thanks in advance!

-Rusty
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Old January 15th, 2004, 05:17 AM   #2
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People seem to like the GL2's Movie Mode, or whatever it's called, though, at the expense of some amount of resolution. You can always, however, get one of the better deinterlacer softwares to accomplish this sort of thing, shooting with any camera.

The best 16:9 adaptors cost around $800 dollars.

The PDX10 gives you both proper 16:9 and XLRs. It will not serve you as well in lower light (late evening, streets at night, a variety of indoor situations) as will the vx2100 or PD170.

As for sound, native XLRs is best.
This makes a PD170 with a 16:9 adaptor look like your ideal set up.
$4400? (Not including anything else).
Otherwise, limit your shoots to the well lit variety and go with the PDX10 ($2k).

Why wont you consider a Panasonic? Many people are very happy with their prosumer cams. I ask because they make a good looking camcorder called the AG DVC80 that does rather well in low light, and has XLRs as well as good manual controls, at a nice price of $2200. AND I hear that there's one of the best 16:9 adaptors available that would go nicely with it, though you'd still be looking at $3k, or so, still nothing else included.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 08:34 AM   #3
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I shoot the pdx10 and am totally amazed with this camera...i understand your need for focus and zoom rings but after a little practice im really quite satisfied with pdx10 work around. to me the choice really is between the 170 or the pdx and beleive me...for what i shoot the pdx is simply amazing...however panasonic makes a great little camera, the mx5000 or its new upgrade is definatly worth considering if you dont mind the japanese menu's and it will shoot native 16:9
In summary...if you choose the pdx10 you will not be dissapointed and will have enough money left over to buy another camera
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Old January 15th, 2004, 09:35 AM   #4
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Re: Need Help from you sony people....

<<<-- Originally posted by Rusty Smith : I also want to have manual control of both the focus and zoom; I want rings, not those strange finger lever things…-->>>

The focus and zoom rings on all these cameras do not physcially control anything, but just provide input for servo motors. They spin round and round without stopping and are very difficult to use since there's no tactile feedback. The speed at which you turn the rings also affects their function. If you turn them slowly then nothing happens at all.

I have a VX-2000 and PDX-10, and from what you mention I think you'd be pretty happy with the PDX-10, especially if you are interested in real 16:9. As Shawn says, the anamorphic adaptors will kick the other cameras out of your price range probably.

The zoom issue is best handled with a LANC controller on the PDX-10; it does not have a zoom ring and the rocker switch is sort of "hair trigger". I use a Varizoon Pro-L which has a dial that allows you to preset the zoom speed all the way to the minimum crawl supported by the camera. Pushing the rocker switch on the zoom controller executes a zoom at the speed you've preset. This is the only way I'm able to acheive a really slow consistent zoom.

Be sure to budget enough for a good tripod (anywhere from $300 to $1,000), bigger batteries (the ones that come with the camera's don't run long enough to be practical for real use), carrying case and filters. You'll also want to consider lighting and additioinal audio gear, plus probably a wide angle adaptor lens. Unfortunately, all this stuff can easily cost as much as the camera, if not more.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 10:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the info so far!

I checked out the pdx10 on B and H, it looks like a pretty awesome camera. Is this DVCAM online or does it also support MiniDV? I could not tell off of the B and H website... Also what is the real difference between DVCAM and MiniDV? Are DVCAM tapes more expensive?

Also, if anyone has used this cam, it looks significantly smaller than any of the other cameras i am looking at... Is it still possible to get good results using this handheld/with a steady cam?

thanks for everything so far, would love to hear more...

-Rusty
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:13 PM   #6
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What is "DVCAM online"? The camera shoots in either DVCAM or DV SP mode. This is the same as the PD-150 and PD-170. By comparison, the VX-2100 shoots in DV SP and DV LP modes, but not DVCAM (although it will play DVCAM tapes). Do a search here on DVCAM, lots has been written. There is no quality improvement when you use it, the resolution, color, etc. will be the same as regular DV. The tape runs faster and the idea is that it may be more resistant to errors because of this. However a 60 minute tape will only last 40 minutes. You can use regular mini DV tapes and record in either mode, there's nothing really special about DVCAM tapes, although they are evidently higher quality, but the price is considerably more.

Yes, the PDX-10 is considerably smaller and lighter than a VX-2100 or GL-2, especially if you remove the XLR block and mike. This makes it very well suited for a handheld stabilizer; I have a Glidecam 2000 for mine.

I don't shoot handheld so someone else can address that.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:26 PM   #7
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You can get great results handholding any camera with practice. When I went from full size cameras to VX1000's then PD150's I had to work at it for a time to get comfy and be able to get steady footage from the smaller cameras. Even today after using smaller cameras for about 6 years I can still only hold it rock steady for about 10 minutes maybe without falling over. Nothing beats a great pair of legs-tripod legs that is.
Whatever you get, practice practice practice.
Good Luck,
Don
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Old January 19th, 2004, 02:46 AM   #8
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thanks for all the feedback!

-rusty
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Old January 19th, 2004, 03:38 AM   #9
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I just watched some footage I shot at night last week. Some marvelous shots I found! Shots of industrial lights on parking lots and lit church windows...
This camera deals with noise rather admirably, I think. You can't shoot in nothing but low, low, even light, you'll only expose it into a grainy mess, but if you can get a nice spill on a wall, the wall looks great and everything else falls into blackness, no noise (assuming you've exposed properly). I've said it before: this is a great cam for careful artistic work, where you have control over lighting.

Handheld is indeed a skill to be practised, and the PDX10's Steady Shot is very helpful. A thread in one of the other forums here is currently addressing this very issue.
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