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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old August 10th, 2004, 12:32 PM   #1
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edit with camera or stand alone deck?

Hi Everybody:

I just bought a VX2100. Many thanks to the brain trust found on these boards. My research into what to buy and how to use it was made much much easier by the fact that there was a searchable database like this. (Mike R., in particular, your advice has been great, but in general I'm just really impressed with how many dedicated filmmakers are willing to share their experience here with newbies like me.)

Since I just tapped out the credit card, I don't really want to buy a dv deck just yet. On the other hand, I'm running my transport controls a lot, editing with my camera hooked up with a firewire to i-movie running on a Mac G4 dual 800. (I'll be moving to FCP 2 shortly, which I've used a few times to edit with still frames, but I wanted to see if could play with the clips right away, so I thought i-movie would be much easier to get something going with. And, yup, I can capture and edit just fine, although the camera image cuts out briefly every once in a while when playing or capturing although this doesn't affect the capture [i.e., the clip is all there when I start working with it].)

How bad is it to run my camera as an editing deck? Will it take a long time to ruin the heads or will I start making my camera unhappy pretty quickly? I have an extended Mack Camera warranty (from B and H), so if I ruin the heads or transport controls, this is something that is covered by the warranty. Doesn't it make more sense to use the camera as much as possible and not buy extra equipment until I know how far I will be going with digital video?

(A bit about me: I'm an art history professor, so dv is not my full time gig. On the other hand, I'm a film buff, and I've been making short films -- not the kind I'd want to show however -- for the past year and a half using JPEGs and i-movie and (later) FCP 2. [As I'm sure you all know, La Jettee rocks!] I finally bought a dv camera five days ago, and I'm loving it. I'm learning about shooting dv by filming my extremely cute chihuahua puppy running around architectural landmarks [since I live close to a number of very cool locations built in the 1930s]. Think Triumph of the Will meets America's Funniest Home [Pet] Videos [without the evil politics of course]. I hope to branch out into more experimental stuff -- I love L. Bunuel, Man Ray, Matthew Barney, and Michal Rovner -- as well as parodies of commericals. To explore movie making like this, I just want to play around with the footage, editing it into little 1-3 min. shorts, hence, my use of my 2100 as an editing deck.)

Since I don't know how much time I will have to devote to making shorts, I don't want to get ahead of myself and blow too much more money right now. But am I making a huge mistake by taking a relatively expensive camera and editing with it?

Thanks for you help.

Matt
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Old August 10th, 2004, 01:08 PM   #2
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Everything is relative.

Your camera won't go belly-up any time soon by using it as an editing deck.

I assume that it costs about $2-$3 per hour for wear on the heads/transport of whatever DV transport I'm using.

I do use a DSR-20 and I've run up about 1,000 hours on it. Not a bad life so far. The cost to replace the transport is about the same as that for the unit in your camera. So that's a push. But while the camera is being fixed, you are out of the shooting business whereas I am just without a deck.

But I paid $2800 for it about 5 years ago. That's the cost of a new camera. DSR-11's are about $1900 and the JVC combo decks are around $1400. (I haven't looked at prices in a while so I could be off on them.)

Use what you've got until you want/can afford another, less expensive camera or a deck. The only downside you really will see is that, by comparison, a Sony tape deck, at least, is faster and more responsive than a camera.

That said, since you can just allow the tape to play and capture without all the jogging, there isn't the start/stop wear that was so prevalent in the older NLE software.

That said, if I weren't making a living with video, I'd buy a nice but inexpensive camera that would be easier to take on vacation and will match the 2100 in good light. I use a PC-110 and have the added advantage of 1 megapixel stills that aren't too bad for snapshots.

The apparent capture glitches are normal I think.
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Old August 10th, 2004, 03:17 PM   #3
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Dear Mike:

Thanks for the quick and informative response. I like your point about getting a smaller camera that can be used for vacations and as an editing deck. As a nonprofessional, I like the idea of my equiment multitasking.

I just checked out prices on the PC-110, however, and it seems to be discontinued. Its replacement appears to be the PC-109, which lists for under a grand, so that's great advice.

The upshot, however, is that I'll just continue editing for a while on the camera that I have, and see how much I like lugging around the VX2100.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old August 10th, 2004, 03:34 PM   #4
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Yes, the real small cameras are expensive but handy.

I bought mine for use in police cars and as an Alter cam for weddings. I also use the still capability to grab cover and label photos. And I use it extensively on a copy stand to grab photos for photomontages. And last but not least, it works very well on a lightweight camera boom.

That it works out well for vacation is a bonus. Because of the form-factor, I can also hold it very very still compared to my PD150.

I think your conclusion is great.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 12:05 AM   #5
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I have a TRV-22 to use as a backup cam and capture deck. It works great as a capture deck, and as a backup cam I can match the video to my VX-2000's. It actually has very good low light capabilities compared to most modern camcorders that typically use small sensors to cut costs. Of course it isn't nearly as good in low light as the VX's, which are clearly in a league of their own. I got my TRV-22 for around $400 on a close-out. The less fancy TRV-19 has identical video and transport characteristics for even less.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 10:59 PM   #6
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I agree. I also use 2 TRV-22's as the editing and transfer deck. They were wonderfully. And I am constantly running tape through the machines.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 10:56 AM   #7
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Thanks Alan and Tanya -- another camera to check out. Tanya, why do you use two of them? And how do you fit them into your editing system?

I assume that one can dupe tapes by hooking the two cameras together and that there is no loss in image quality because it's dv. Am I correct in assuming this?

In addition, on a whim I was checking out more serious decks. Will all dvcam decks play mini-dv tapes or do they specifically have to claim that they can do this?

Finally, is there a good place to look for used equipment? (Other than the classifieds on this board, of course.) Since the cameras you guys mentioned seem like (slightly) older models, there might be more available used. Or perhaps one should stay away from the used market.....
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Old August 12th, 2004, 11:50 AM   #8
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Most DVCam (the tape format) DV (physical tape) decks are Sony and I believe all of them will play miniDV (physical tape) DV and DVCam (format) tapes.

Some non-Sony decks will play miniDV with an adapter.

Used equipment from a reputable dealer is generally safe. Always check the head hours though.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 02:51 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matthew Biro : Thanks Alan and Tanya -- another camera to check out. Tanya, why do you use two of them? And how do you fit them into your editing system?

I assume that one can dupe tapes by hooking the two cameras together and that there is no loss in image quality because it's dv. Am I correct in assuming this?

In addition, on a whim I was checking out more serious decks. Will all dvcam decks play mini-dv tapes or do they specifically have to claim that they can do this?

Finally, is there a good place to look for used equipment? (Other than the classifieds on this board, of course.) Since the cameras you guys mentioned seem like (slightly) older models, there might be more available used. Or perhaps one should stay away from the used market..... -->>>

No. I just own two of those cameras. I alternate them so I am not continually using one all the time. The DCR-TRV22 model from Sony is no longer currently being made but can still be found regularly under $400.
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Old August 12th, 2004, 11:59 PM   #10
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So if I'm understanding this thread and other places I've read correctly, the footage captured from any miniDV cam with firewire will be just as good as if I captured it with my VX2100?

Sorry for what is prolly a dumb question but I just want to make sure I'm clearly getting this DV stuff as I'm new to it.

~Danny
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Old August 13th, 2004, 01:27 AM   #11
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When you capture from a camcorder to your computer you are simply moving the digital representation of the video stored on the tape to the hard drive on the computer. All DV camcorders should be capable of moving the digital bits to the computer without compromising the digitally encoded video. Hence there is no advantage of using a high end camcorder to transfer DV to your computer over using a low end camcorder.

That said, it is possible (but rare) for a camcorder to not be able to correctly read the digital video on a DV tape that was filmed using a different camcorder. This is analogous to tracking problems on VCR's, where sometimes a tape recorded on one VCR has problems playing on another. When this occurs it is typically due to a defective DV camera rather than a simple incompatibility between brands. You should be able to go out and buy virtually any mini-DV camera on the market and use it to capture your VX tapes to your computer.

Of course cheap DV cams may wear out quicker than more expensive models as the DV cam vendor cuts corners on the quality of the transport. That might argue for getting a DV cam that is slightly better than the very cheapest ones out there. It is also nice to have a "capture cam" that can double as a backup cam or vacation cam. I find the TRV-22 to be excellent for this as it is very small and it takes good video.

Decks are another way to go to save wear and tear on your VX. However they are very pricey, and for what you spend on a deck you could almost get another VX! Unless you are a professional who is downloading many tapes per day, a deck may not be worth the investment.
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 03:45 PM   #12
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Here's another option. Put a removable hard drive bay in your computer and use your cam to dump the entire tape into your computer and then create sub clips for editing.

You have the advantage of reading the tape in your original cam, so the tracking is more accurate. You only have the wear and tear of one pass on your cam transports. You have random access in your editing, which is faster than scrubbing etc on your cam or deck. And hard drives are very cheap these days. After the project is done you just erase or reformat the drive and move on to the next project. Actually, it makes project swapping much easier also if you work on multiple projects simultaneously.

Works great for me.

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Old August 22nd, 2004, 03:51 PM   #13
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Many NLEs break the incoming video stream into clips as the video comes in in a single transfer. So it is fast and least wearing to the camera.
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Old August 26th, 2004, 03:30 PM   #14
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Good idea about putting in a hard drive. Many thanks! Would an external hard drive linked through firewire work, or would it be too slow? And what should be the drive's minimum speed?

As far as tracking goes, are there a lot of problems with tracking when a tape recorded in one camera is played back in another? How do tracking problems manifest themselves? And how are tracking problems corrected?
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Old August 27th, 2004, 09:26 AM   #15
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I have a PC 110 that I almost don't use any more. I will try it with the DVCAM tapes from the PD 170.

It is supposed to work - right!?
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