PD170 image quality problems? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Sony XAVC / XDCAM / NXCAM / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Sony HDV and DV Camera Systems > Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 24th, 2004, 12:24 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 50
PD170 image quality problems?

I just recently purchased a Sony PD170 but afterseveral video quality comparisions between my older TRV-30 (and much less expensive single CCD cam) and the PD170, I was disappointed to see that the PD170 image quality is worse than that of my TRV-30.

I thought that the 3CCD cameras were supposed to be much superior quality than that of single CCD. I tried various modes on both and various lighting conditions. The TRV30 consistently seemed to outperform the PD170.

I'm confused. Do I have a defective PD170?
Billy Dalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 12:45 PM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: California
Posts: 139
When you say that the image quality is not as good, what specifically do you mean? Is it a resolution issue, a color saturation issue, or ??? There are custom presets on the camera to adjust the picture to the way that you like it. I suspect that you can adjust these to make the picture from the PD170 (in auto mode) superior to your old cam in pretty much all respects, although 1 chip cameras do almost as well in bright outdoor environments. I typically shoot with my cameras set to -1 step on both exposure and color level. You can also shift the white balance to create a warmer picture if you don't like the slight blue cast that all the Sony's typically produce. You can also increase or decrease sharpness to your liking. If you go into a darkened room, the difference will be very pronounced, as this is where the PD170 really shines. Its picture will stay excellent at light levels that will cause the video from your old cam to become very noisy and grainy.
Alan Christensen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 02:51 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 50
The tests were performed indoors with relatively low light (cloudy light from the windows). Both were grainy. But the older TRV30 picture was sharper (less fuzzy) than the PD170. Color saturation on both were fine... just that the TRV30 seemed to show finer details clearer than the PD170.

I sure hope its just a simple setting.. I tried in full auto mode and tried adjusting ND, iris, shutter, and manual focus but still get the same relative comparison.

I should add that I'm shooting both in 16x9 mode and viewing on a 53" 16x9 monitor. On a regular set less than 38 incehs they both look great.
Billy Dalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 03:02 PM   #4
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Spain
Posts: 23
listen

snipped

MR
Robert Mitteg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 04:46 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Waynesboro, PA
Posts: 648
Robert seeing that you are a new member I would suggest to read thru the forums and realize that negative comments such as "this is the most stupid post ever" are not welcome here.

Mike I hope it was ok for me to post this. I believe that dvinfo is the best DV forum and everyone here is very helpful and handles posts very professionally wether its questions coming from a complete newbie or a seasoned professional.

Billy I have only seen dvds I produced on a large 53" and I agree that the image looked pretty bad compared to say my 27" at home but I would assume it was due to a not so good quality mpeg2 encoder at the time. Allthough there is a big difference between the quality of my PC110 and VX2k I can say that in good light situations the images are very comparable and for sure in low light the VX/PD really shines.
Matt Stahley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 06:03 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: LA, California, USA
Posts: 224
This may sound stupid (I don't mean to offend), but did you check the focus on the PD170 and the iris setting? It could just be the image is out of focus, or maybe the lens is dirty preventing proper focus from occuring.


Are you outputing both of them using firewire, or just displaying them on a TV? If so, are you using the same brand SVHS cables with both of them?
Ari Shomair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2004, 06:34 PM   #7
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
Posts: 11,543
I'm not sure, but I think the TRV-30 is one of Sony's cameras that use a single high resolution CCD (it seems to be discontinued so I couldn't find specs on it). If this is the case then it may very well look sharper in 16:9 mode than the PD-170. I don't have experience with the PD-170, but built-in 16:9 on the VX-2000 looks pretty bad. I think you'll like the results better if you shoot 4:3 and crop to 16:9 in post, your widescreen TV should do a better job of enlarging this than the camera's built-in 16:9 mode (on my Sony TV there's a "zoom" mode that will enlarge letterboxed video to fill the screen; shoot in 4:3, crop to 16:9 and use this mode on the TV).

But it sounds like you really need to learn more about the camera and use manual adjustments to take control of the image. With a little experience you will soon come to appreciate how nice a camera you now own.
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 01:08 PM   #8
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 50
Ari, No offense taken... I double checked focus manually and in auto. I'm outputting straight from camera using same s-video cable on both.

Boyd, Yep the TRV30 has been discontinued and it does indeed have the high resolution ccd (530 lines). Here is a review link: http://www.dvspot.com/reviews/sony/trv30-review/index.shtml Per your suggestion I tried again using standard 4:3 mode and with much improved results.

Is it true that the onboard 16x9 mode reduces the horizontal resolution? Because that may be the issue I was observing.

Looks like I've got some research to do on cropping 4:3 to 16x9 but wouldn't you also lose horizontal resolution if done Post?
Billy Dalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #9
Wrangler
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vallejo, California
Posts: 4,049
Yes you do lose resolution when converting in post. But you do get to decide what to lose in what is normally a a calmer atmosphere.
__________________
Mike Rehmus
Hey, I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel!
Mike Rehmus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 03:39 PM   #10
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
Posts: 11,543
<<<-- Originally posted by Billy Dalrymple : it does indeed have the high resolution ccd (530 lines) -->>>

The 530 line figure (I believe) refers to the horizontal resolution of the image, which is different than the pixel dimensions of the CCD. For example, the PDX-10 has CCD's with ~1,000,00 pixels and I'm guessing the TRV-30 might have something similar. The PD-170 has ~400,000 pixels, which is fine for 4:3 video (and the larger chips with larger pixels are actually a big advantage for that), but when cropped for 16:9 you will notice the loss of vertical (not horizontal) resolution.

<<<-- Is it true that the onboard 16x9 mode reduces the horizontal resolution? Because that may be the issue I was observing. -->>>

The PD-170 CCD's only have about 480 pixels in the vertical dimension, so in order to get a 16:9 image you need to chop 60 lines off the top and 60 lines off the bottom of the image and end up with only 720x360. Then the camera stretches this back to 720x480 to construct the anamorphic image.

<<<-- Looks like I've got some research to do on cropping 4:3 to 16x9 but wouldn't you also lose horizontal resolution if done Post? -->>>

Here's a comparison I did between the PDX-10 and VX-2000 that illustrates the resolution difference in these methods of doing 16:9 http://greenmist.com/dv/16x9/x-09.JPG. This is perhaps what you're seeing on your large screen TV.

Take a look at the examples Andre De Clercq references in the second post on this page. They seem to show that with the VX-2000 (and presumably the PD-170) it's better to just letterbox your 16:9 and let the scaler in the widescreen TV handle the enlargement.
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 05:34 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 209
Billy,

Check the detail level in the custom preset. It may be set too low. I've experimented with low detail level, and things are not sharp, as you've described (it is nice for certain effects, but a Tiffen SoftFX 2 filter will do a better job). At a minimum, the setting should be in the middle, if not crank it up a bit, until you see a difference.
Frederic Segard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 08:22 PM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 50
Boyd, The TRV30 has 1.5 meg pixels. The examples you referenced that show the delta between the PDX-10 and VX-2000 conversions is EXACTLY what I've been seeing. Your example also shows the PDX-10 with a better resolution performance than the VX-2000. Looks like either way (on cam 16x9 or Post edit) I will end up with the same fuzzy look as shown in your example pics.

Now I'm confused. Why are 3 CCD cameras with much lower pixel counts better than a single CCD with higher pixel counts? Especially when tests such as yours shows the cheaper (albeit still expensive ~$1,600) single CCD camera can outperform the more expensive 3 CCD cameras (at least in terms of resolution in 16x9 modes). I admit I'm definately a novice here, but I dont understand where the added performance is. It's just not obvious to me.

When you say to just letterbox the 16x9 and let the display scale the enlargement, do you mean that I shoot in 4:3 but in post I should just chop 60 lines from top and bottom but not resize the width? Can you elaborate on exactly what you mean here? It certainly is obvious that I would want to match the 4:3 Letterbox results from Andre's examples.

Fredric, I played around with the sharpness setting in custom preset and could make it somewhat look better, but the fact remains, that it was simply not as sharp as the TRV30.
Billy Dalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 08:52 PM   #13
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
Posts: 11,543
Billy: actually the PDX-10 is a 3 chipper with the same pro features as the PD-170, but it has smaller chips. All I can say is that "res isn't everything" and 3 chip cameras should have noticeably better color rendition among other things.

However the PD-170, fine camera though it is, was probably not your best choice if 16:9 is important to you. I know it's Sunday morning quarterbacking at this point, but you really need to understand your priorities and do your "due diligence" to research products before spending hard earned money on the wrong equipment. Sony's less expensive single chip cameras can provide higher resolution 16:9, as you've learned. Panasonic also makes some less expensive 3-chippers and the new GS-400 which offer the same feature. The PDX-10 currently sells for $1,850 at B&H. if widescreen is really important to you then you could always sell your PD-170, get a PDX-10 and have money in your pocket; just the other day someone was lamenting the fact that nobody ever sells used PD-170's :-) Another option would be to get an anamorphic lens for your camera, but that will cost you another $700 or thereabouts.

There are a lot of trade-offs in the design of a camcorder, and the VX-2000/VX-2100/PD-150/PD-170 are all optimized for 4:3 video which they do very well. The higher pixel-count chips have their own issues, like needing more light and susceptibility to vertical smear.

To letterbox the video you could just crop it. The process would vary with your NLE, but in FCP it could be done using the motion tab in the clip window. Click on the triangle next to crop and enter a value of 9 in both the top and bottom fields. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing in FCP, such as using the widescreen matte from the effects tab in the browser. Your video would still be standard 720x480 4:3, but the active image area would be 720x360.
Boyd Ostroff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 26th, 2004, 06:30 AM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 50
You guys are great. I really apreciate the time you spent trying to get me to understand this stuff. Obviously I've alot more to learn, and for now guess I'll be staying with 4:3 and researching anamorphic lens.

Thanks again!
Billy Dalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 26th, 2004, 07:56 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Enterprise, AL
Posts: 857
Come on Billy, I can tell how unhappy you are with your purchase. You should just unload that low-rez PD170 now for some insanely low price and just cut your losses and return to one-chip clarity. ; )

(P.S. If you didn't figure out I was kidding, then email me to dump that PD170!).
__________________
Fear No Weevil!
Patrick King is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Sony XAVC / XDCAM / NXCAM / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Sony HDV and DV Camera Systems > Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:30 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network