Comparing my new VX2100 to my PD170 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 July 9th, 2004, 09:56 PM   #1
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Comparing my new VX2100 to my PD170

Just got my secondary camera today- a VX2100. Very nice, exactly what I expected...basically a clone of the 170. Once I turned it on and started fiddling with it I immediatly realized the differences.

Biggest one being the absense of a "gain button".....where the Gain resides on the PD-170 it's now the AE SHIFT button. Where the AE button on the 170 is it's a audio control , and the audio control button on the 170 is now the menu button.

I started to worry thinking that the VX2100 didn't HAVE a gain option. I soon found it on the left side where the PD-170's "iris" button resides. It's now "exposure". It works exactly like the iris on the 170 but once you start bumping it above "Open" it's begins the gain settings....which, actually seems pretty logical but it doesn't allow you to apply gain unless the iris is wide open.

Is that limiting at all....would there be *any* situation where you would need to use gain WITHOUT the iris completly open?
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Old July 10th, 2004, 07:25 AM   #2
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Glen, my PDX-10 and VX-2000 are just the same as this, and it seems unlikely you would want to add gain unless the light level was too low, but maybe someone else can think of a reason.

From what I've read, another difference in those cameras is that the 170's iris is adjustable in 24 clicks while the VX-2100 only has 12 positions, like the VX-2000 and PD-150.

Another thing which I believe you may find different is the shutter speed adjustment. In manual mode if you change the shutter speed then the iris will automatically change to compensate. After you've locked in the new shutter speed you can go back and control the iris manually but there is no way to change shutter speeds without initially affecting the iris opening. Again, this is the same behavior I see on my PDX-10 and VX-2000 so I'm assuming it continues on the VX-2100. Not really much of a problem, but just a little annoying sometimes.
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Old July 10th, 2004, 06:53 PM   #3
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Interesting- I'm going to have to test that out. Outdoors I sometimes open the iris all the way and use the shutter speed to bump down to the correct exposure to get a narrow depth of field outdoors in bright sunlight. Hopefully some of the things you described won't affect that.

Are you sure about the iris only having 12 steps compared to 24...this goes with the 2100. That would make it more difficult to stealthaly change the iris setting during an ongoing shot.

PS Your close to my neck of the woods Boyd
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Old July 10th, 2004, 09:09 PM   #4
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The PD-170 doubled the number of steps to the iris, something that was a problem on the older model because you see the clicks as you adjust exposure manually. I have read that only the PD-170 has the additional iris steps, it's been discussed here in another thread. It would be nice if you could confirm this.

The trick with changing shutter speed on my PDX-10 and VX-2000 is to do it first, then choose the iris setting you want. That way there are no problems, but if you change shutter speed after setting the iris the camera will choose a new iris opening. BTW, you might want to use an external ND filter if you want to shoot at a wider lens opening. Faster shutter speeds can cause some strange strobe effects, although some people like them.

Yep, we're practically neighbors! :-)
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Old July 11th, 2004, 02:36 AM   #5
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Hi Glen. First the top button isn't a gain shift (that's in the menu), it's simply an AES or AEA option. Both are pretty useless in my view, and using a combination of shutter speed and exposure is far better. Forget the top button, it brings up a silly 'exposure bar' along which a pointer moves (as in the PDX10) and you've no idea what aperture or gain has been selected.

Next to Boyd. I've thought of a reason to have an independent gain control. Say you're using the camera in progressive scan mode to pan over a beautiful landscape, your aim being to print out the successive frames into a big panorama picture. Now if the light is low and you use maximum aperture (or the next one down as well) you'll have a much harder time matching up the frames in Photoshop. Why? Because of the vignetting that occurs across the frame. Normally it's not noticed of course, but the light/dark sine wave in a panorama shot looks horrible. Much better to shoot at f4 and up the gain slightly to compensate. You ca't do this with the VX2100.

tom.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #6
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The instance you recall in which you'd need independant gain control is oddly comforting to me- as it sounds like something I'll never try to reproduce.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 09:01 AM   #7
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I agree Glen, and I can't for the life of me think of another time when it would be useful. Maybe to degrade the image by adding intentional grain for those who don't have NLE? Hardly likely if you've splashed out on a 170. Maybe Sony thought the AE button just too 'amateur' for the likes of the 150, and wondered aloud what they could put under the button.

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Old July 11th, 2004, 09:17 AM   #8
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I wish they had just kept it the same as the PD-170. It looks like they went out of their way to make it more "consumer", even to the "handcam" logo on the back of the LCD. The PD-170 has a really nice gold DVCAM emblem, the handycam logo looks silkscreened on very similar to the cheap models...like my TRV-33. I guess they wanted it to APPEAR consumer despite the fact it has all the capability of the 170 minus XLR and DVCAM.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 10:47 AM   #9
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I think Sony definitely "dumbs down" the consumer version of their cameras. Case in point is the TRV-950 vs PDX-10 which are positioned similarly to the VX-2100 vs PD-170. On the TRV-950 Sony provides a 16:9 mode with significantly less resolution, even though the CCD's and other hardware are the same. People have gone so far as to hack the firmware to change this on the TRV-950.

And I think it goes much farther than that. The PD-170 has also been dumbed down so as not to threaten sales of Sony's more expensive professional gear. Others have pointed out that Canon doesn't have such a market to protect and therefore designed the XL-1 with a removable lens for example.

Leave it to the marketing guys to wreck a good design ;-)
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Old July 11th, 2004, 01:25 PM   #10
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It think that you'd find the gain control to be quite useful when shooting in difficult conditions, something I do quite frequently.

I'll kick up the gain a bit to 'gain' depth of field in certain cases. I'll also manually control gain to allow a higher shutter speed in other situations.
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Old July 12th, 2004, 11:40 AM   #11
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I think there's noticably less hiss with the 170 versus the
2100.
One thing I've noticed with the VX is that, in auto exposure
mode, if the scene becomes brighter, the cam will often
close down the iris rather than decreasing the gain!
Maybe they did this to try to keep a more consistent noise
level.
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Old July 12th, 2004, 02:26 PM   #12
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<<<--
One thing I've noticed with the VX is that, in auto exposure
mode, if the scene becomes brighter, the cam will often
close down the iris rather than decreasing the gain!
Maybe they did this to try to keep a more consistent noise
level. -->>>

I wouldn't think that was possible beings the iris is linked to the gain in the VX. The only way to access gain is notching above full open on the iris. I know your talking about auto exposure but if the camera does what your saying and you turn off auto to see what settings it currently had locked....it's impossible for the iris to be tightened with a gain applied beings they both are accessed from the same button. Are you talking VX2100 or VX2000...not that I think they are any different in this respect.
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Old July 12th, 2004, 05:44 PM   #13
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Glen, I'm talking both of the VXs here.
I've watched it myself while reviewing footage
shot in dark locales using the Data Code feature.
the VX will be at max iris and 12 dB of gain. Then
the iris will open up one or two stops while the
gain remains at 12. Sometimes I wish there were
a way around this, so the camera would
favor using minimum gain. I would think the PD
would operate the same way.
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Old July 12th, 2004, 06:58 PM   #14
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You can set the CP button located at the rear of the handle to lower the DB gain to 6db.


<<<-- Originally posted by Dave Largent : Glen, I'm talking both of the VXs here.
I've watched it myself while reviewing footage
shot in dark locales using the Data Code feature.
the VX will be at max iris and 12 dB of gain. Then
the iris will open up one or two stops while the
gain remains at 12. Sometimes I wish there were
a way around this, so the camera would
favor using minimum gain. I would think the PD
would operate the same way. -->>>
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Old July 14th, 2004, 06:41 AM   #15
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Dave - what you describe is just not possible on the 2000 or the 2100, just as Glen says. It sounds to me as if you've pushed the AE button inadvertantly as if you're in auto or manual (shutter speed and aperture selected and displayed on screen) it cannot happen. Go and do another check and you'll see that this is so.

tom.
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