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


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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:22 PM   #1
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Question about widescreen and VX1000, 2000 and 2100

Hi guys,

Can somebody help explain what kind of widescreen function the VX1000, VX2000 and VX2100 have?
Is it letterboxed, squeeze or perhaps something else?
And if it is letterboxed, do you use the 4:3 preset inside Premiere Pro or the 16:9 preset to capture, edit and render to dvd/MPEG2?

Best of wishes,
Peter
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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:29 PM   #2
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Can't speak about the VX-1000, haven't used one. But I have a VX-2000 and know that the 2100 is the same in this regard. The widescreen mode is anamorphic - what you're calling squeezed. You should use anamorphic 16:9 to capture.

However it creates 16:9 by cropping and stretching the center 360 lines of the image which results in a big resolution hit. You might want to shoot 4:3 and letterbox/stretch in post to create your own anamorphic 16:9, the results should be about the same.
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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:40 PM   #3
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Thanks Boyd. So with the 2000/2100 the camera uses a letterboxed part of the CCD, and stretches that part to all the lines/pixels that it can write on the mini-dv tape. If this is done before the CCD info is compressed to fit on a mini-dv tape it might give some more detailed widescreen info, right? If the stretching is done after the compression step, then it won't give any better results. Am I right, or is this widescreen thing squeezing my thoughts? ;-)
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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:55 PM   #4
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I think you're right, but it uses the post-compression method. I did some tests here to compare with my PDX-10 which has native 16:9: http://www.greenmist.com/dv/16x9
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Old January 29th, 2005, 12:07 AM   #5
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Is this the time to bring up the much-fabled but rarely seen Century Optics 16x9 anamorphic adapter?

See http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/dv/16x9/16x9.htm for Century's page on the adapter.

Has anyone had experience with this beastie? Century themselves explain that the adapter "..allows for partial zooming one-half to two-thirds of the range (from wide toward telephoto) depending on available light."

This would allow you to use the full resolution of the 2000/2100, but I presume you would have to do a tiny bit of extra work in post to get the format right.

Michael

(PS: B&H show this as being in stock here)
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Old January 29th, 2005, 09:22 AM   #6
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You don't need to do any extra work in post to get the format right. In FCP you would just capture with the anamorphic 16:9 preset. Or for that matter, capture any way that you like and then set the clip's properties to anamorphic 16:9 afterwards. When you edit, make sure the sequence is set for 16:9 before inserting any clips.

Not familiar with PC NLE's, but I'm sure there's something equally simple you can do there.
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Old January 29th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #7
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Very interesting results from your test there Boyd. The PDX10 performs well indeed. I need a camera to use as a lock down camera at weddings to compliment my 2 PD170's and am wanting a native 16x9 so I can do some playing with wide screen footage. The PDX10 was one I looked at but from what I read it's low light performance is poor and manual control is lacking. But the only other camera that would suit is the XL2 which I would love to have but costs more than I want to spend on a lock down camera. What are your experiences with the VX and PDX10 in lower light situations? Is the footage from the PDX10 acceptable for doing this type of work?
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Old January 29th, 2005, 12:04 PM   #8
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I think people protest a little too much about the PDX-10 in low light. True, if you want to shoot outdoors at night, or in a room lit by a couple candles, then you'll get noisy images. But I shoot some rather dark stage shows and have few problems in all but the most extreme cases. When we have a dark scene on the stage the PDX-10 is able to make it look quite a bit brighter than it does to the naked eye. The 14 bit DSP also allows you to add 6db (maybe even 9dB) of gain without any noticeable image noise.

My tests indicate that the VX-2000 is 2.5 f-stops faster. Now of course that is significant if you work in dim places, but not much of a problem in "normal" indoor lighting conditions.

Regarding the manual controls, they are identical to the VX-2000 with the only difference being the lack of a separate wheel to control the iris. However the function is still the same, you just use the wheel at the rear for everything. Now I am not crazy about the ergonomics however, I find that menu wheel awkwardly located and am constantly pushing it in to select when I am just trying to turn it. I also dislike the fact that some of the important buttons are buried under the LCD panel (notably the custom preset). However, the excellent widescreen results make it worth the trouble for me.

The PDX-10 has one other oddity, multiple internal ND filters which the camera chooses automatically without telling you. Sony has never even documented this, and they cannot be turned off. The camera drops these into the optical path as you turn the exposure wheel in manual mode to prevent you from choosing too small an iris opening which might cause diffraction problems. The result is that it forces you to stay in the sweet spot of the lens. As I understand it, small chip cameras from other companies use a similar design.

Here are some deinterlaced stills from dark scenes in our recent production of The Pearl Fishers (I have nobody but myself to blame for this since I wore the multiple hats of set designer, lighting designer and videographer ;-) Typically these were shot with the iris wide open an 9dB of gain boost.

http://tech.operaphilly.com/sets/pearl/pix/01/10.jpeg
http://tech.operaphilly.com/sets/pearl/pix/02/06.jpeg
http://tech.operaphilly.com/sets/pearl/pix/32/02.jpeg
http://tech.operaphilly.com/sets/pearl/pix/32/04.jpeg
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Old January 29th, 2005, 12:45 PM   #9
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Thanks Boyd. I sure am glad I happend on this thread today. It looks as if the camera will do fine for what I want to do. I liked the little bugger when I saw it the first time but all the "sky falling down" things I read about poor low light and manual control turned me away. After reading your posts and seeing your shots I have new faith in the PDX10. I also read a couple of threads in the PDX forum that explain a few tricks to use to get the most "manual" control out of it. I think the PDX will be my next camera. Waiting on the tax retun now.... :-)

Thanks again.
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Old January 29th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #10
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I suppose the main thing you should ask youself is whether you'll have a problem shooting about 3 f-stops wider open than your PD-170 without adding too much gain. I didn't do any low light tests, but these two frames were shot side by side with the VX-2000 at f2.8/0dB and the PDX-10 at f1.6/+3dB.
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Old January 29th, 2005, 06:57 PM   #11
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Thoughts for the Day - Thinking Out Loud

Good shots. Thanks for posting them. That means I'll be running +3db minimum on the PDX10 in the churches but hopefully won't have to go over +6db. Most of the weddings I do I'm running f2.8 to f3.4 - 0db on My PD170's in the churches. I don't have a problem with using +3 db or +6db gain if it produces "acceptably" low levels of noise. My experience with gain on the PD170's is that I can go to +9 without adding undue noise. From what I have read and seen today the lower gain settings on the PDX also produce acceptably low levels of noise up to +9db. I typically have to gain up the PD170's at darker receptions so I wouldn't use the PDX there but I really wouldn't need to.

My desires:
I need a third camera to cover weddings better. I want to get something that will add a new dimension to what I can do from a hobbyist and business standpoint (read 16x9). I don't want to spend as much for this third camera as I did on the PD170's because based on its intended use I feel that extra money would be better spent on much needed (desired?) accessories. I do want image quality that's comparable with the PD170. I would like to be able to use the camera as a stand alone if needed (read XLR inputs). I don't want a new format (read HDV) because of the overhead to get setup to edit and no real delivery format plus low user base. I would like to be able to shoot 30p for rendering mpeg files for computer viewing but I feel interlaced video looks better on a TV. I have no film aspirations. (not yet anyway)

I think the PDX10 is about the only camera that will do the majority of what I want. It doesn't do progressive but that's not a show stopper. It's only weakneses that I see are the low light and lack of manual controls but for my intended use I think I can live with these limitations. The Z1 and XL2 are the only other real alternatives and they are priced too high for me to justify.
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 09:16 AM   #12
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Question for Boyd

I have been following your crop explanations for FCP but I have a question about cropping in Vegas 5. In Vegas, when you apply a 16 X 9 crop, I believe it covers the top and bottom of the frame with a mask only. There is no squeezing or stretching. Does this mean that applying the crop in Vegas is the same as if you put two pieces of tape across the top and bottom of the video frame or TV? And if that is so, then am I to believ ethere is no resolution loss in the picture?
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