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


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Old June 13th, 2005, 03:31 PM   #1
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VX2100 vs PD170

I just recently shot a dance recital with 2 cameras: My PD170 and a friend's VX2100. One served as a wide shot and the other was tight.
There is a pretty good difference in the quality of what's on both tapes. The quality on both is good, but the VX2100 is better. In fact, I liked it much better. The 170's video didn't look as clean and a tad bit grainy. Don't get me wrong... it was still solid and I'm happy with it, but compared to the 2100... heck, I wish it looked like that!

My question is... why? I used a wide-angle lens for the 170 (for the wide shot). I wonder if that made a difference. To the best of my knowledge, the settings on both cameras were near identical, with differences in the iris.

Next time, I'll use the same cameras. But if someone could give me an explanation, I'd appreciate it.
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Old June 13th, 2005, 06:35 PM   #2
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THere should be no difference if both cameras were set up identically. The WA adapter normally loses a bit of light and softens the picture. So you might have been up in gain a bit on the 170?
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Old June 13th, 2005, 07:52 PM   #3
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The VX2100 has an advanced level of noise-reduction, over the PD170. This difference is unknown to most people and is not emphasized by Sony in its promotional descriptions. It's a difference that will show only when the two models are used in dim light, which was likely the case at an indoor dance recital. Of course, the advice about the use of a wide-angle lens lowering the available light and raising the auto gain on the PD170, may also have been a factor. Try experimenting with manual exposure and gain settings and see if you can reduce the noise level. I'd say that in the situation you describe, it might be better to use the VX2100 with the WA lens.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 02:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald
The VX2100 has an advanced level of noise-reduction, over the PD170. This difference is unknown to most people and is not emphasized by Sony in its promotional descriptions.
Steve,

This is very interesting. How did you find this out? Is it documented somewhere?
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Old June 14th, 2005, 08:00 AM   #5
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Sony will not tell you that the DSR-250 has a slightly better lens either.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald
The VX2100 has an advanced level of noise-reduction, over the PD170. This difference is unknown to most people and is not emphasized by Sony in its promotional descriptions. It's a difference that will show only when the two models are used in dim light, which was likely the case at an indoor dance recital. Of course, the advice about the use of a wide-angle lens lowering the available light and raising the auto gain on the PD170, may also have been a factor. Try experimenting with manual exposure and gain settings and see if you can reduce the noise level. I'd say that in the situation you describe, it might be better to use the VX2100 with the WA lens.
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Old June 15th, 2005, 10:41 PM   #6
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Colby, I had the same experience as you. I own a 170 & 2100 and like the quality of the 2100 much better even with the wa lens on the 2100.


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Old June 16th, 2005, 02:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald

The VX2100 has an advanced level of noise reduction over the PD170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Wilie
Steve, this is very interesting. How did you find this out? Is it documented somewhere?
I learned this right here on the VX2100 Forum, from our cadre of informed members. Also, my own good experiences with a VX2100 helped convince me of the truth of this capability. Can you imagine the howl that would come from the Pro Division of Sony, if the Consumer Division stated that their version of this camcorder shot better video, true or not? There's always been some intramural skirmishes over such issues between the pro and consumer branches of most large electronics companies. Sometimes, the pro or broadcast divisions of a company have lowered the boom on consumer models that exceeded their rightful position at the bottom of the heap-----way down at the bottom.

In Jan., 1989, I bought a set of Sony's new ED-Beta Pro equipment. Cost: about $10 grand total for a camcorder, 16X Fuji lens, a VCR, 4 batteries and two charger/power supplies. For its time, it gave what I thought were great results, with 525 lines of res, in playback. At the time, the only BetaCam SP models available were the BVW series. The BVW camcorders (W/O lens) started at about $30 G and VCRs at about $22 G. Sony sold more ED-Beta models in the first year, than their market forecast had predicted for a 5-year period. This was exactly why the Broadcast Div. demanded the termination of ED-Beta, which occured after less than 18 months of production. Too many indy videomakers and small UHF TV stations had bought 2 or 3 of them, instead of 1 Beta SP from the Broadcast Div. This led to the introduction of the lower-cost PVW and UVW Beta SP Pro series, to fill the demand that the brief existence of ED-Beta had demonstrated.

By the way, my ED-Beta gear still works, but the camcorder weighs more than 4 times as much as a VX2100 and the VCR weighs 22 times as much as my DV mini-VCR. Guess which I use 95% of the time. I always used Beta SP small cassettes (6 times more recording time with ED-Beta or 9 times more in LP) and my recordings on this metal-particle tape from 16 years ago still play back nicely.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; June 16th, 2005 at 03:16 AM.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 08:34 AM   #8
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Steve,
Quote:
I learned this right here on the VX2100 Forum, from our cadre of informed members. Also, my own good experiences with a VX2100 helped convince me of the truth of this capability.
So how was it determined that the VX2100 has better noise reduction than the PD170? Did someone conduct engineering tests with proper setup and equipment to test and measure the audio that both cameras recorded?

Or is this the case of someone who owns a VX2100 who thinks it sounds better than a PD170?
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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=Pete Wilie]Steve,

So how was it determined that the VX2100 has better noise reduction than the PD170? Did someone conduct engineering tests with proper setup and equipment to test and measure the audio that both cameras recorded?

Or is this the case of someone who owns a VX2100 who thinks it sounds better than a PD170?[/QUOTE

Ahem-----we're talking about video noise here. It's a lot easier to evaluate the amount of noise in a picture than with the audio. But, the VX2100 has very nice built-in mike performance, compared to most models. There has been some criticism of the way the VX2100 handles input from external mikes. There has been an aftermarket "fix" offered by an independent technician, to reduce the noise the VX2100 may add to its audio from an outside source.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 07:59 PM   #10
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Sorry Steve, I lost lock on the fact that we were talking about video noise.

But the intent of my question still stands. No disrespect intended, but my engineering background always wants to separate the facts from the opinions, where possible. Reasonable people can disagree on the beauty of an object. But the physical composition of the object should be a matter of science and engineering.

So, I guess I'm looking for some well-designed tests that demonstrate with engineering data that the VX2100 noise reduction is better than the PD170.

I searched this forum and could not find any posts that support the VX2100 having less video noise. In fact, I found two that suggest the video quality is identical:

1. Video Quality: PD170 x VX2100
2. VX-2100 vs PD170 Comparison (INFORMATION, not a question)

If you know of any threads or other references that support your statement, please post.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old June 16th, 2005, 11:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Wilie

So, I guess I'm looking for some well-designed tests that demonstrate with engineering data that the VX2100 noise reduction is better than the PD170.

I searched this forum and could not find any posts that support the VX2100 having less video noise. In fact, I found two that suggest the video quality is identical: If you know of any threads or other references that support your statement, please post.

Best Regards,
Pete
---------------------------------------------------------

J. Stephen McDonald replies:

Here's a quote from my remarks about the VX2100/PD170 that was posted by our wrangler, Mike Rehmus, on April 14 and his reply to it. Perhaps Mike could elaborate about what he said about the VX2100 having a more noise-free post-processing system and a difference in image noise. My comparitive reference was about differences between the VX2100 and the PD170. Was Mike's reply in regards to a comparison between just these two models or did he mean it to be a comparison between the two sets of models, which are the PD150/VX2000 and the PD170/VX2100? Hopefully, the two people who previously posted about their own experiences using the PD170 and the VX2100 together, can comment further.
---------------------------------------------------

Originally posted by J. Stephen McDonald on April 13 :

According to what I've read, the VX2100 has slightly more sensitive CCDs than the PD170. The VX2100 was given these CCDs as an upgrade from the VX2000, but the PD170 has the same CCDs as the PD150/VX2000.
---------------------------------------------------

Mike Rehmus' reply on April 14:

That isn't what Sony said at the introduction IIRC. And as far as anyone can tell, and what Sony said early on, the CCDs aren't more sensitive, the post-processing system is more noise-free.

The low light images I've seen from both 'sets' of cameras shows images with no difference in luminance but a noticable difference in image noise.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 11:09 PM   #12
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I was referrring to the differences between the 200/150 and the 2100/170. When looking at informal tests between the two sets of cameras, there seemed to be no better low light sensitivity on the newer cameras, just a lower noise video noise level which does support what the Sony engineer told me.

As far as I know, the 2100 and the 170 have identical optical/video components in the front end.

BTW, I'd take with a grain of salt, any informal comparison between just two cameras. They were not operated identically, we don't know if they are both in-spec. Too many variables to draw a valid conclusion.

If you are concerned, why not go ask Sony's pro support folks. They presumably will tell the truth about the relative capabilites of both cameras.
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Old June 17th, 2005, 08:04 AM   #13
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From a production engineering perspective I'd ve very surprised indeed to find there were any differences between the VX and the PD. It would cost Sony more to make differences than it would ever repay, so I'm with Pete Wilie on this one.

But back to Colby's original post. He doesn't tell us what make or model of wide-angle converter was used, but I've tested some pretty ropey ones in my time. That could well account for some substantial differences in image quality.

tom.
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Old June 17th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #14
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Hey Tom,

I was using the W-A that came with the 170, which is a .7 or .65 I believe.
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Old June 27th, 2005, 07:36 PM   #15
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Lighting issue and video noise

Hey guys,

I envy all of you since I am still not a proud owner of a Sony PD-170. I plan to buy the VX 2100k and PD-170 for multi-camera shoots, and this is for concerts indoors, so much of what you are discussing is of interest to me.

Shooting with other cameras, Canon GL-2 and Sony Digital 8 cameras, I have noticed an interesting occurence with video noise/grain while shooting concerts. This may address the problem noted on the PD170 which was pulled back to a medium/wide shot. Whenever I frame up performers who are well lit with an XCU (Extreme close up) there is very little grain, but when I pull back, the grain increases when shooting with house lights down. I have attributed this to the camera's attempt to gain up for the darkness of the auditorium. Is this a possibility?

One other question. I almost always use the max zoom of the Canon when doing an XCU.
Since this means I will have to use a teleconverter with a VX2100 and PD170, does a 2X converter substantially affect the low light performance of the camera?

Love the forum,

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