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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old January 15th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #1
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sony pd170

Well i have had my 170 for around 3months now and can say its a fine cam, but i just wonder if we are been hoodwinked in to buying upgraded dv cams.

The reason i say this is that i have just been watching some footage i shot on the XL1 the 7 year old model and footage shot on the 170 and to say the age differance between the cams and the supposed better chips the 170 has, the picture in good light from the the XL1 takes some beating! yes in low light the 170 blows the socks off the canon, but have things improved that much in the last few years?


Iam not including hdv in this post
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Old January 15th, 2005, 11:35 PM   #2
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Excluding HD stuff, not that much has changed at all.

I bought a PD-170 simply for the 1 lux capability since a production that I'm working on now is all shot at night (Vampire flick).

I've seen HD prosumer cameras and I don't think I'll buy yet. The signal is recorded at a severely compressed MPEG2 format and (Like Sony's) it's still not true HD. Resolution is 1440x1080 (4:3). True HD is 1920x1080 (16:9).

I'd love to buy a 1920x1080 prosumer camera (as long as it shoots <1 lux and us under $5k.
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Old January 16th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #3
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Just had a reply from Christina fox after i emailed her on the future of the 170 here in the uk, and it looks like the BBC are very keen to start useing the new sony Z1 HDV not just because of the HDV but because of the 16.9, and once the BBC start useing it then other broadcasters will too, I don't just shoot weddings and promotion vid's i also shoot wildlife video's and have ambitions to shoot for tv to, so does that mean that the 170's life is very short haveing not a true widescreen or is it just ok for weddings or family things and i will have to shell out for true 16.9 for another camera for broadcast footage!


The salesman when buying the 170 said it was the best thing since sliced bread and would be around for years!!!!!!!!!
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Old January 17th, 2005, 03:04 AM   #4
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The salesman was correct in my view - the PD170 will be around for years, and not a night goes buy when you don't see it being used as part of the film crew on one of the Freeview channels.

It's greatest asset in my view is its dependability, its 'hewn from the solid' build, its low light throne and its overall performance at the price. Panasonic and Canon squirm when they see the sales figures.

But the biggest failure of the 170 (in this day and age, and not when the VX2000 appeared in 2000) is the lack of a decent 16:9 facility. The camera's ok in it's 16:9 mode, but only just, and various lens manufacturers have tried to address this by introducing anamorphic adapters.

If one thing's changed in the 5 years the VX/PD have been around it's the fact that 16:9 TVs have proliferated, and the PD shows its age in that one respect only.

Of course the FX1 is actually cheaper than the 170, and what with having native 16:9 chips on board it means the 170 can't last long. The Video Forum at Earls Court (London) later this month should tell us more.

tom.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #5
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Thanks Tom.

Will you be taking the plunge into HDV or are you going to wait a while and see if there are going to be any problems ariseing.

As for 16.9 is their alot of differance say between the XL2 and the 170 that you can see on a widescreen tv.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #6
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Hi Ian,

If my VX2000 should spontaneously combust tomorrow morning, would I buy another? Or would I buy a PD170 and sling my Beachtek? Or go for the XL2 and forget my beloved sidescreen? Or should I jump forward a notch and get the FX1?

I'm sure my VX has many years of life left in it, and my market is still very happy with 4:3 video. Shooting in 4:3 is "safe" in that it can be shown correctly on ANY telly, but if you shoot in 16:9 and show it on a 10 year old 4:3 TV you'll get nasty tall thin people and cars with vertically elliptical wheels. Not good.

A half decent wide-screen TV will most certainly show up the XL2 as being better, and when I tested the PDX10 alongside the VX, the little PD beat the big boy in the 16:9 mode, as long as some provisos were made. Had to be in good light, have no point sources of light in the frame and so on. In poor light the PDX10 looked a lot worse than the VX even though it has a 'true' 16:9 mode.

So back to your question - what would I buy?

The FX1, to be sure. But I'll live with the VX another year or so.

tom.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 02:32 PM   #7
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So Tom,

You think that you will ok with the vx for the next year or so, it seems everwhere you look now people are tradeing there cameras for the new HDV cameras! soon our pd's and vx's will be worth nothing on ebay they struggle to sell them unless they give them away, I think the vx and the pd's are fine cams but for how long? when will customers demand hi def?.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #8
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What you say is true, and once the VX1000 was here it was very difficult to offload any Hi-8 camcorder, even the three chip ones. That didn't stop people making very good films with Hi-8 of course.

Before you buy the Sony FX1 though, wait and see what Panasonic comes up with. They're not part of the HDV consortium, and are working on their HD solid state solution. It could be a whole lot better than Sony's backwards compatible tape-based system.

These web-based forums are the place to come to cure and calm the early-adopter disease.

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Old January 22nd, 2005, 02:56 PM   #9
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Out filming this morning, at the moment here in the uk dog foxes are pestering the vixens and makes them a bit better to film, anyway i had camera on tripod but forgot to turn off steadyshot, when i watched footage when panning in the background looked fuzzy, would this because the steadyshot was left on. Also some shots were underexposed! i was useing the zebra at 70 and could see the lines and adjusted to remove them but the end result a bit under exposed! What iam i doing wrong.
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 03:47 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ian Thomas : Out filming this morning, at the moment here in the uk dog foxes are pestering the vixens and makes them a bit better to film, anyway i had camera on tripod but forgot to turn off steadyshot, when i watched footage when panning in the background looked fuzzy, would this because the steadyshot was left on.

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Steadyshot usually causes disturbing horizontal motion that you didn't intend when you were panning. I've never seen a focus issue with it although if you had auto focus on, then possibly. Depth of field can effect you if the background is fuzzy and you set the focus for a foreground object. And of course, motion in video will always cause a certain amount of fuzzyness because of the use of two fields per frame. If you look at a still frame from the footage, you will probably see a fringe on both the left and right sides of objects in the footage. (Big objects have more noticable fringing)

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Also some shots were underexposed! i was useing the zebra at 70 and could see the lines and adjusted to remove them but the end result a bit under exposed! What iam i doing wrong. -->>>

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It depends on which way you came at the adjustment. I always want to come from the underexposure direction so that I can detect the on-set of overexposure. Just much easier to detect in my experience. Also, someone reported that the Zebra's appear to be calibrated somewhat differently depending on from which direction you approach them.

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Old January 23rd, 2005, 02:33 AM   #11
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Under-exposure is a very common occurrence with first time users of Zebras set at the 70 setting. I always suggest filmmakers turn on the 70 setting but leave their camera in the auto exposure mode - that way they'll get an idea of how much zebra striping the camera itself would be happy with. You don't need to film - just go out and about and look through that v'finder.

Then switch to manual, but remember that with 70 turned on you'll have a lot of zebra stripes all over the frame. It's one reason why I've learn to live and love and work with the 100 setting.

Also remember that using the 70 setting you can "pass through" the zebras and they'll disappear. Look at it like this. You're opening your aperture and at f5.6 a piece of white paper on the table gets zebra'd. You then open up more to f 3.5 and the zebra stripes disappear - you've now lost the warning. This doesn't happen at the 100 setting, and is another reason I like using it.

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Old January 23rd, 2005, 02:18 PM   #12
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thanks all

yes going to the 100 setting i think is best, do any of you use the custom preset for picture quality! i know its winter but it seems the picture is leaning more to cold, the footage from the xl1 last winter had more of a warm look to it, can the 170 match that.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 02:24 PM   #13
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The custom presets exist so that you can fine tune things. If you aren't familiar with them then I'd suggest doing what I did when I got my camera. Set it up on a tripod somewhere and plug it into a monitor, you don't need to roll the tape. Now try experimenting with each of the parameters and see what you think. You can learn a lot this way.

Warming up the image can be as simple as turning the WB SHIFT preset a couple clicks. You might want to play with the COLOR LVL also. How are you white balancing when you shoot in the first place? Are you doing a custom white balance, using the outdoor setting, or putting it on auto?
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 02:44 PM   #14
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The PD170, my thoughts.....

I purchased a PD170 in August because it was the only camcorder that could give me "broadcast quality" video with the money I had. Having done that, I too became worried that my purchase was becoming obsolete; but I could not wait on my projects so the Sony was"it".

Realize that even the PD170 went through the "debugging" stage with the Hummm problems and such. High definition cameras will go through the same thing, so I would not buy any of Sony's HD products until the buggs are worked out (and trust me there will be). Some informal use by others in my part of the world indicate that the Z1 is closer to 5Lux and not 3Lux as Sony is advertising (but this is just thier estimation). Also, the standard definition video is not quite the equal of the PD170; if you are still shooting in SD, would you settle for this?

It seems that one can not have a camera that does everything the best..... Perhaps Sony went out of their way to make the PD170 great in low light because it knew of the light problems with the HD cameras and made a maket niche for the PD170. I shoot ENG and need a Camcorder that can shoot in any light because there is never enough time to set things up and I don't like to draw attention to myself by using a spotlight at the event. Because of the light problems alone, I don't think the PD170 is dead yet, and selling now is unwise in my opinion.
For me, I would not mind having a larger sized Camcorder with HD, 16:9, and real 24P and such; then I could have it all. I am not selling my PD170, it is a proven product. Most production houses in my area do not do HD and some are still in the Betacam format. Last week I was talking to a guy who was still using vhs.....

Anyway, I am still a newbie here, what do I know. But like the Nikon D70 I purchased last spring - The newest product gets old the fastest.....
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 02:57 PM   #15
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To Boyd

Iam using the outdoor pre-set,

To Maurice

that sounds like good info thanks
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