2 questions for PD170 users. at DVinfo.net

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


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Old April 12th, 2004, 01:34 PM   #1
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2 questions for PD170 users.

1. I know the PD170 has a good low light perfomance. But does anyone use a onboard light during wedding receptions?

2. Anyone keep their wide angle lens attach the whole time?

Thanks,
JR
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Old April 12th, 2004, 02:27 PM   #2
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Yes, the little Sony 10w + 10w movie light that takes the same NP-F batteries is a wonderful light source. I use it as a last resort (as any on-camera light should be used because it's so unflattering generally) for the first dance.

The supplied w/angle lens barrel distorts and degrades the optical performance of the camera's 12x zoom, but if you want the wider angle then there's no option but to use it. If you don't need the extra view then remove it. If you're shooting at a focal length of 30mm say, would you use the 170 with three thick UV filters screwed one on top of another in front of your lens? No, you wouldn't. So remove the 0.7x when it's not needed.

tom.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 05:14 PM   #3
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I use 150's for weddings and ALWAYS use an on camera light. My training as both a still guy from 30+ years ago and as a video guy MAKE me use a light indoors UNLESS I'm in a situation that I absolutely know I don't need it or I'm trying for a certain effect.
In the last 5 years I haven't done any wedding reception where a light wasn't needed to keep the video from going very dark. Forget before 5 years ago, that was a whole different ball game.
I use a light that is diffused and softened and runs about 15-20W but can be brought up to 50W if need be. I've never needed to do 50W at a wedding thank goodness.

As for WA at receptions, I have both a KenkoPro and a Century Optics .65 WA and frankly at the reception whichever one I'm using NEVER comes off the camera and I have never noticed any distortion of the image unless I'm standing right infront of them and pushing the camera in their faces. I do lose about 1 stop in exposure but if you know your equipment and how it will perform under various circumstances then you know what you need to do to make it work.
But thats just me.
Don
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Old April 13th, 2004, 02:21 AM   #4
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Don, thanks for your thoughts on the use of a light. It's akin to the flashgun I use if I photograph a (stills) wedding. I did one a week ago - shot 7 rolls of Kodacolor Gold 200 (over 250 pictures) and I used electronic flash on all but 5. The latter were long time exposures in the church.

The untrained eye will never know. Modern fill flash shots are so perfectly exposed and the shadows filled so well that I'd not shoot a wedding without that 'blip' of fill. I guess your wedding movies benefit in the same way.

I'm somewhat surprised that you've never noticed any distortion when using your Century 0.65x wide-angle converter. You mention perspective distortion "pushing the camera in their faces", but all lenses will do that. My biggest complaint when I tested the Century 0.65x was that it distorted far too much for the price asked, and you couldn't track through doorways (for instance) without having them bow outwards as you walked through. Unacceptable.

And Don - fitting a wide-angle converter loses you a maximum of 0.2 of a stop, nowhere near the stop you mention, and not measurable on the PD150's aperture display.

tom.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 06:39 AM   #5
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Tom,
Again, I have never seen the kind of distortion you mention with the WA. Of course, any lens will show some distortion when working within a very close range to the subject.
As for the F/stop loss perhaps it's only 1/2 stop but in my experience any time you put more glass on top of the prime you'll lose more than a little. I haven't run any scientific tests but just my experience. (I set my custom preset to max of 6 db so maybe that accounts for the difference-at 12 or 15 or 18 db gain of course there will be a lot less f/stop change)
Oh well, it really doesn't matter, I will continue to use ut for receptions, I will continue to use my on cmaera kight for receptions and I will continue to fight the crowds and the reception facilities for just a touch more light. :-)
Don
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Old April 13th, 2004, 01:26 PM   #6
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I guess it depends on personal preference. I myself NEVER use a WA adapter during the ceremony or reception. The only time I use a wide-angle adapter is in the brides house during pre-ceremony coverage. An environment that can be a bit cramped sometimes. As for using a WA adapter at a church- sure it could get some nice wide shots if it's one of those historic HUGE churches with the beautiful archways and ceilings. The problem is I only do minimal establishing shots- the majority is very candid. After all weddings are definitly a Close-up medium. I spend a lot of time zoomed, and work with many tight shots- adds to the drama of the event. I don't (personally) see the need for a wide angle lense for a ceremony or reception. It adds to the weight of the camera which can get tiresome by the later hours of the day and can make your footage more unstable when you DO decide to zoom and try and get a tight shot, beings you'd be using more zoom than usual to get the same framing you would without the WA adapter.

Lighting- very important. A dim, diffused fill-light can almost always help the image even if the reception hall isn't one of the darkest. I was going to go with the Frezzi Micro-dimmer with light bank but was advised against it by Christopher McGuinnes (www.cmvideography.com) a videographer who's work I highly revere. He said the frezzi was too bright- caused harsh shadows. When dimmed it throws your kelvin white-balance way off....and if used with a soft-box (light bank) it's too dim. Under his advice I opted for the Sony 10/20watt on camera video light. With larger batteries it's switchable between 10 and 20 watts and I took it apart and added diffusion via a Smith&Victor diffusion paper set. I added just enough diffusion where it softened the light but didn't cut out too much of the output. It's quite versitile beings it can be switched between 10/20 depending on the condition and is diffused enough that people won't have to squint as if they were looking directly into the sun when I come around. lol Plus I have the added benefit of NOT having to carry around a heavy sloppy power pack. It takes simple sony L-series batteries.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #7
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In my usual pedantic fashion I'll have to refute some of your findings Don. If you've "never seen the kind of distortion you mention with the WA." then maybe you haven't had it very long. Put the 0.65 Century on the PD150 and line it up with a window frame, say. Notice how none of the window frame sides are straight and how they all bow outwards? Barrel distortion, and unacceptable.

"Of course, any lens will show some distortion when working within a very close range to the subject."

This is not so Don. I have a macro lens for my SLR that produces more distortion at infinity than it does inches from a subject.

"As for the F/stop loss perhaps it's only 1/2 stop but in my experience any time you put more glass on top of the prime you'll lose more than a little."

The Century has three beautifully coated elements inside that tube. The maximum light loss at each air-to-glass surface is 0.2% tops, so the light loss is certainly not measurable by the Sony. I've screwed 6 UV filters to my VX2k, one on top of another, and theres no difference on the displayed aperture. Of course there is a light loss, but it's too small to be measured.

I'm right with you when you say you limit your custom preset to +6dB as I do the same. Any more and the DVDs don't look so good. Like you I also try to get the lighting raised, and I've been known to inch the dimmer switch up a notch at a time so they won't notice. But the 12, 15 or 18dB of gain has no bearing on the issue. Gain is only electronic amplification of the image as it leaves the chips, and is independant of shutter speed or aperture.

Sorry to sound like a cross physics teacher :-( Only trying to set the matter straight.

tom.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 04:17 PM   #8
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Hey Tom,
As I never took physics you don't sound like a cross teacher :-)

and I never take exception to what anyone says especially when they say it with grace as you always do. All I know is that to me and my clients, whatever small amount of distortion there might be is acceptable. Since I rarely am shooting with the WA against a straight line to compare it to, whatever distortion there might be is not noticed. BTW I've used the lens for 2 years. As I don't use it for most ceremonies nor do I use it when shooting anything else other than wedding receptions for that matter, except when taping the grandkids (WA is better-they move real fast, well the 5 year old does-the 9 month old moves about the same as I do, kinda slow but steady) I'm not really too concerned nor worried about it. However as always the information you provide is gratefully acknowledged and stored for future reference.

Also when I said any lens, I meant in a general sense, not referring to a specific lens. I too had lenses that would distort if you looked at them wrong and others that would distort only if you dropped them on concrete.

Oh yes, I took my camera into my office and under similar lighting with and with out the WA the aperture went from 2 to 2.4 with and without. As I recall, I believe thats 1/2 stop but it could just be my setup.
Anyway, thanks for the information
Don
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Old April 13th, 2004, 06:59 PM   #9
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Tom, how does the distortion of that Century compare
to that of the TecPro 0.5S?

And Don, so *always* when you are shooting at the
reception you leave your light on? Not just for
garter, cake, first dance, etc.? Do you turn it
off between shooting?
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Old April 13th, 2004, 10:03 PM   #10
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Dave,
I only turn the light on when I'm shooting. I can't speak for other areas of the country or the world but here in the greater Chicagoland area it seems the big thing is to make the reception as dark as possible after dinner, meaning turn off just about every light in the place. Last Friday night I had a photog that I never worked with before but a decent guy ask me to please turn on my light so he could see to focus.
I don't get it. Ambience is one thing but it is really getting stupid out there. I can't wait to do the outdoor receptions I have scheduled this summer.
Don
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Old April 14th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #11
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I use the Frezzi micro fill with diffusor. I use it at all receptions. I think that the nice thing is that I can dial in the proper amount of light without creating a spotlight effect. I use just enough to eliminate shadows and wrinkles. I have not found the color shift to be significant. You can also switch to a 20 watt bulb if you want. The standard bulb is 35 watts. I use the bescor Nickle metal hyd. belt. It is only 4 lbs, so it is not big or bulky. Overall this setup works great. The attachment also includes a dichro filter and barn doors in addition to the diffusor.

I use the WA lens only when necessary. It works well, but I find that unless I'm in very cramped quarters the standard lens works fine. I'm not really avoiding using the WA, because I think it's a pretty good lens. I just find the standard lens is pretty versatile and I like avoiding putting the extra glass on when I can.

Overall I love my 170 and setup.


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Old April 15th, 2004, 11:21 AM   #12
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The Frezzi is a really nice on-camera light...thus the reason I chose it after doing my research. However it's very, VERY pricey for a light just to add a hint of fill. The set-up I was looking at (Frezzi micro dimmer, w/ softbox, and battery) ran close to $500. I figure if I'm only looking to add a hint of light just to fill shadows- and not flood the whole dance floor I can save over $400 and go with a diffused Sony 10/20 light. 4lbs lighter and about $400 richer.

I would, however, like to see some footage you shot using the frezzi setup. Do you have any on a website I can view?
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Old April 18th, 2004, 07:02 AM   #13
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Dave, the Tecpro distorts straight lines more than the Century does, but it's a 0.5x as against the Century's 0.65x, so is a lot more powerful. If you fit the Tecpro and zoom up to match the angle of view of the Century, the distortions almost exactly match.

tom.
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