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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old May 19th, 2005, 08:40 AM   #1
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PD170 manual focus?

I've got a wedding coming up where we'll have to shoot from a balcony at some distance, maybe 100' away from the altar. I'll have to use an inexperienced shooter for the balcony camera. The camera will be on manual focus and I'm thinking that for setup, I'll zoom in tight on some point on the altar and set focus. Can I expect the PD170 to stay in focus for any focal length or would you go auto to be safe?
Bob
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Old May 19th, 2005, 11:20 AM   #2
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Personally at that distance with an inexperienced shooter I would probably leave it in auto focus. I doubt it would hunt at that distance and with someone new manning the camera why take the chance.

Of course, thats just me.

Don
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:06 PM   #3
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The sony's have a tendency to hunt in dim light. Also, if your camera operator is going to pan and tilt the camera, it may decide to focus somewhere other than where you want.

At 100 feet, if you focus the camera where you want, then no amount of zooming will cause the lens to go out of focus (with regard to that point).

As you know, it is a real risk allowing an inexperienced operator to run the camera. I've never found it to be an acceptable risk. I'd much rather set the camera up, turn it on and leave it alone.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:19 PM   #4
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Mike and Don,
Very little panning, tilting but maybe 50% zoom. User will have a remote controller to help with zoom. I don't want the hunting effect and I've found the 170 focus to appear to go soft sometimes even when set at a distance.

I'm struggling with this a bit since I'm the camera on the floor and must stay hidden in a side aisle. Both cams will be on tripods but main audio will be on balcony camera. I haven't figured out if I should man the balcony or floor camera yet.

The B&G are letting me tape the processional from the altar (monopod) but I then must exit and mount the cam on the side aisle tripod. Balcony cam will be going non-stop. The logistics are still a work in progress.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:30 PM   #5
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From experience, I can tell you to stay on the floor but give your cameraperson some training. Simple, limited training but if you don't they will make the wrong decisions for all the right reasons.

Giving them the zoom control on the remote doesn't seem like a good idea as to use the control, one can find it hard to look at what the camera is delivering at the same time.

I'd do a storyboard of what you want them to do with the camera and then have them practice on controlling the zoom and the framing.

And if you are lucky, the lighting conditions won't change during the ceremony, making you wonder if you should have left the camera on Auto.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 01:41 PM   #6
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Just a final note on this thread. The inexpereinced camera person was my wife and I have been giving her instructions. But, I had to give her the balcony camera AND responsibility for audio control which she hadn't done before. She ended up doing a great job with audio mostly in the sweetspot even with the organ and musicians behind her. This was a high end wedding for us and having a second operator in the balcony gave me great opportunites from the floor.

The PD170s behaved pretty well but I think manual focus seems to drift a bit on approaching subjects. The only other anomoly happened at the reception when one of the cameras started slow flashing the tape near end or no tape inserted warning. There were 39 minutes on the tape so I put in a new tape and the warning went away. Other than that, the day went well.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #7
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Glad to hear it came off well.

I'd be surprised if the focus drifted. It is very easy to touch or hit the focus ring during normal camera operations. I wish they had a focus lock on these cameras.

As for the 39 minutes, it sounds like you were operating the camera in DVCAM recording mode rather than DV.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 02:35 PM   #8
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I let my dad film my graduation with my TRV950 (The idea of giving him the PD150 was too scary, and the 950 is easier to carry and fine in good lighting) and he surprised me... nicely tracked and clear for the 2mins or so. My friend accidentally put the 950 into still mode and recorded to the memory card by accident recently tho, someone must've knocked the lock toggle. Never overlook the simple things!
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