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


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Old May 13th, 2004, 01:56 AM   #1
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lens quality

Could anyone fill me in on the quality and reputation of the PD-170's glass (especially when compared to the dvx-100a leica and the canon). I haven't found out much about it in my research.

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Michael
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Old May 13th, 2004, 03:04 AM   #2
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What about Zeiss? Nikon? Fujinon? Etc.

I'm sure the glass is more than adequate for miniDV's low resolution compared with film cams, or high resolution digi still cams.

It's not so much the name on the lens as how well it is designed, made and finished; and the PD lens is all of that.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 02:51 PM   #3
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Frank's nailed it. The Sony lens is a cracker, but in the wrong (shaky) hands the pictures will look awful. So it comes down to how you shoot for DV rather than what you shoot with.

On a technical note the Sony is a 12x zoom that's half a stop faster than the Panasonic 10x at full telephoto. The Sony has a 58mm filter thread as against the DVX's 72mm, so accessories are much cheaper and a good deal more plentyful for the Sony. The Sony goes to 72mm, the Panny runs out of puff at 45mm. Guess which one is going to give you differential focus?

Problem with the panny as I see it is that you need two extra lenses - a wide-angle and a telephoto. The Sony just needs a wide-angle (and needs it real bad). And the Sony VAP OIS is a lot more sophisticated than the internal version Panasonic use.

Don't be swayed by that Leica engraving. Panasonic have their design and production tolerances just as Sony do, and Leica have to supply lenses (or sell their name) at a fixed price point.

tom.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 04:22 PM   #4
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I've heard many say, dealers included, that the PD-170/150 uses Canon glass, but Canon keeps the best technology for themselves. Don't know exactly what that means but I here it often enough that I want to know if it's a bunch of bull or not.

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Old May 18th, 2004, 05:49 PM   #5
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The Japanese sell technology and OEM bits to each other all the time. They probably barter the stuff rather than send money back and forth, they do so much of it.

The bits are designed and manufactured to a price-point. So if Canon gets more $ for a lens destined for a Sony camera than they want to spend internally for their own camera, then the Sony camera gets better optics.

The Sony 170 camera SYSTEM performs quite well when compared to the Canon XL1S, for example. I don't claim that one or the other is better, mind you.

Most of the designer lenses are designed but not manufactured by the designer in any case. I think Sony has a few Leica signature lenses but they admit that they build them, not Leica.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 06:06 PM   #6
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I thought Sony was partnered with Ziess, not Leica.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 06:47 PM   #7
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I think you're right. It just seems like everyone I talk to says Canon has better optics or visaversa. It just seemed like never got a straight answer. A lot of it has to do with reputations of lens manufacturers, but you're probably right, for those prosumer cameras you get what you pay for. The advantage of the XL1s, though, is that you can put a better quality lens on it.

I'm testing the cameras out side by side tomorrow to see what look I like best.

Thanks for your help
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Old May 18th, 2004, 07:02 PM   #8
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Michael, the important thing to keep in mind is that the PD170/PD150 has good glass. I sort of assume that Kenko makes the glass because they make the adaptors for the Sony VX2/PD150/170.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 01:10 AM   #9
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What's interesting is how good lenses are wide open (maximum aperture) these days. Not so long ago we were all being told to stop down two stops from maximum because of the inevitable softness you'd get at full bore, but with the new very tight tolerance manufacturing technologies and 'sealed for life' lens and chip block assemblies, things are looking much better.

There is inevitable vignetting at wide apertures, and both the TRV900 and the VX2k need to close down 2 stops to evenly expose the full frame, but the sharpness difference is barely noticeable on such a crude 720 x 576 chip. Much more noticeable is the softening effects of diffraction, so with modern camcorders be afraid of small apertures, not large ones.

tom.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 11:53 AM   #10
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Tom,
That diffraction problem at small apertures, is something that came up when I read reviews on the XL1. A lot of people said that the XL1 had a soft focus problem, but it was pointed out that this problem could be diffraction at the 32 fstop.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 12:17 PM   #11
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It most certainly is. The VX and the XL both use 1/3" chips so both suffer in the same way. I'd *never* use f11 on the VX, and I'd certainly avoid f16, f22 and f32.

Now a lot of folk are going to be saying, "Ah, but f11 is the smallest aperture and after that the diaphragm blades close." Quite right - but if you film in the auto exposure mode with the auto shutter turned off in the menu and ignore the silent scream for the ND2, the camera will indeed film at these very tiny apertures. It'll give you a correctly exposed but very low resolution image. I can't think of a possible use for it. Avoid.

tom.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 01:58 PM   #12
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So with that thinking, at what times would you want to use those small fstops?
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:02 PM   #13
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When you run out of ND filters and shutter speeds.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:04 PM   #14
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Er - what don't you understand about the word 'avoid', Jeff? ;-)
The answer is never to use those small apertures, and stay away from f8, f9.5 as well if you can. You can always Gausian blur in post, if that's your thing.

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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:06 PM   #15
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Sorry Jeff - I meant Mike. Jeff - you're perfectly correct.
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