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


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Old December 25th, 2011, 11:09 AM   #1
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A PI's Take On the PD170

A private investigator specializing in surveillance I wanted to take the time to post my words on the PD170 I call my "Big Rig".

Thanks to all the help here I was gently guided to it.

I heard words like the "King of Low Light" of its day. Mercy! The PD170 is what sets me apart from a huge majority of PI's. When they go home because of low light conditions I am still raking it in.

If there is a porch or street light or any kind of ambient illumination I am recording usable footage. Being able to run the gain to 18db, open the Iris all the way and hold it still @ 15 fps keeps me in the money. I am rarely shut down.
I very rarely have to manual focus and then its a pleasure.

Add Sony Vegas to the mix and its all success.

When talking shop to other PI's and it comes up I get words like, "Its too big to hide", "What a Monster".
Its then I see they don't get it. If I can be seen with it I don't need it because the light is bright enough to use my Panasonic GS500 or other covert spy cams. So I just let it go.

The PD170 has gotten our firm honorable mention at many a lawyer luncheons, and meetings or shop talks.

I got lucky and got a great one in good condition that was very low on hrs and still had a good memory battery until recently. The menu wheel does not have the jitter known to some, she has been very good to me.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 05:38 PM   #2
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Re: A PI's Take On the PD170

And that's why I still to this day have and use my PD150 and PD170 and even dropped some money into them very early last year to make sure they would still perform up to snuff for me. Since I have not any calls for HD (if I did I can rent) although the only thing I hate is loading tapes. I may very well invest in a Focus Enhancement device to record to either a HDD or card. Other than that, I still love my old, beat up, tried and true cameras. Long live the king(s) of low light!!!
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Old December 27th, 2011, 08:44 PM   #3
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Re: A PI's Take On the PD170

Those were (are) great cams. Treat it right and it'll last you forever as well as they were built. In your line of work DV is probably well-suited, therefore the PDxxx is a great tool.

Quote:
When talking shop to other PI's and it comes up I get words like, "Its too big to hide", "What a Monster".
Its then I see they don't get it. If I can be seen with it I don't need it because the light is bright enough to use my Panasonic GS500 or other covert spy cams. So I just let it go.
For undercover cams with good low light, there are some new choices you may someday also consider:
1) Canon XA10 - This little bugger is about the size of your GS500 (another really good DV camcorder). The XA10's video is amazing and will astonish you if you were to see the low light, low noise HD video and how good the colors are at low light. Camcorder Info's test revealed that the G10 (little brother, same sensor) was the best low light of any cam 'they' ever tested. It doesn't have the long zoom, but probably enough for you if the PD does the trick right now. On the plus side, you can remove all the goods that make it look 'pro' and then it looks just like a consumer handycam and you can 'drop' it in your coat pocket if you needed to for clandestine setup and takedown. Put on the handle and it has an infrared emitter and can shoot in complete darkness. That's why I bought it, for the clandestine video shots where you don't want to freak people out. There isn't any tape (it has internal mem and SD Card though) and it's AVCHD which takes a strong computer to edit. It can also shoot about 12hrs of HD video (highest setting) if you ever needed long term video. Point is, there are great new cams that may also be a fit if you needed such capabilities.

2) There are a host of DSLR's that look less like a video camera and they can shoot amazing low light video as well that would best the PD's low light (without anyone thinking you're shooting video). But these also come with some positives and negatives that you'd have to weigh out for your line of work. Not as easy to set up and shoot as the PD. Still, keep your eye on the technology. It's amazing some of the new cams that are out there.

Note: I remember how BAD I wanted a GS when they came out. Never got one, but really neat cam too.
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