VX2000 works well as a travel camera at DVinfo.net

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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 4th, 2003, 09:18 AM   #1
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VX2000 works well as a travel camera

I'm an advanced amateur who makes travel videos. I recently upgraded, with some trepidation, to the VX2000 -- it was the only viable 3-chipper, given the abyssmal low light performance of the TRV950. I was very concerned that the size and weight of the VX2000 would be a problem when I travel.

Having just completed a few weeks in India, and 10 hours of video, I'm happy to report that the VX2000 worked out extremely well. I replaced the Sony strap with a longer one that allowed me to wear the camera like a bandolier, tucked under the opposite arm. This distributed the weight well, and eliminated any "slip off the shoulder" concerns. I used an Optex .65 bayonet-mount wide angle adapter. The Optex is full zoom-through and is threaded in front, permitting the use of screw-in filters. I kept a standard Hoya UV filter in place and had no vignetting problems at all. I also used a low-profile circular polarizer but, frankly, found the color saturation so good with the VX2000 (nice rich blue skies) that I had little need for the polarizer.

I did notice that the optical image stabilizer wasn't as effective with the Optex in place. Without it, I was able to use the VX2000 at 24x zoom (full optical zoom, plus half of the digital range) with surprisingly stable results (I was shooting gazelles from a jeep). With it, anything other than extreme wide angle would get shaky.

In addition to the camera and lens adapter, I carried a Lowepro Minitrekker backpack which contained extra batteries (though I never needed them), an Adorama minipod with miniature head, filters, a rubber lens shade for when I didn't use the Optex adapter, and a Sharp MD-MT15 minidisk recorder and Sony ECM-MS907 microphone for recording ambient sound, street musicians, etc. The backpack also carried my sunglasses, a light jacket, and small purchases I made along the way.

Neither the backpack nor the camera was uncomfortably heavy, and I toted them around for hours at a time. On occassion, I'd leave the backpack with our driver. When I left the Optex behind, too, the camera became absolutely light weight. At no time did I regret going with the VX2000, as opposed to trying to find a considerably smaller and lighter TRV900 (the 950 was never a possibility).

And, needless to say, the VX2000 produced some spectacular images -- saturated, contrasty and sharp in a variety of lighting conditions. Autofocus was a bit touchy on heavily back-lit subjects (and I like the occassional sun-induced lens flare) and when it was very foggy (not surprising -- no contrast). Low light performance was simply staggering -- I could shoot by the light of a single candle with only minimal graininess and no chroma noise that I could detect. I should note that I've only previewed the video on the camera's LCD screen. I'll be loading it into the computer and beginning editing over the next few weeks; any flaws will reveal themselves during the next couple of months of post.

At any rate, I hope this will provide some reassurance for anyone considering the VX2000 for travel videography, but concerned about the size and weight.
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Old January 4th, 2003, 10:51 AM   #2
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Many thanks, Paul -- I would like to use this on our VX2000 website -- can you contact me privately by e-mail about this. Couple other things to check with you about, also, which are fairly important. Thanks again,
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Old January 4th, 2003, 06:14 PM   #3
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I am curious about using a mini-disc recorder for audio. I have never used one of these devices.

Do they simply plug into your pc and then the audio is stored for any pc editing program?

- what about simple video editing - does that restrict their use?
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Old January 4th, 2003, 06:58 PM   #4
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i use a MD recorder. I burn all MD to cd using a stand alone Tascam recorder then import cd into FCP. i know the sonys have a USB link but im not sure if this is for audio - or just MP3 data transfer.
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Old January 4th, 2003, 08:17 PM   #5
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I'm not aware of any way to get the audio from a MD directly into a computer. I recapture the audio using the sound card on my PC. This works well enough for me. I've heard of people who have matched as much as an hour of recaptured MD audio with video and were only 1 frame out-of-sync by the end. Since I use MD only for ambient sound, street performers and the like, it's not an issue for me.

The recorder that I have is pretty good -- it's very small, roughly cigarette pack size -- and works well the Sony mike, which itself is relatively small and provides a stereo signal with switch selectable angle.
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Old January 5th, 2003, 01:47 AM   #6
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The solution for digital to digital transfer is to purchase a studio MD recorder too. They have optical- and wire-based outputs that transfer digital data to the computer.

Still the sound is so much better from the MD that running the earphone output through a mixer and into the analog connections on the computer still is better than the camera-recorded sound.
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Old January 5th, 2003, 05:18 AM   #7
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Mike, how pricey are studio MD units? As you've noted, I've found the quality of the MD recorder to be good enough so that recapturing isn't much of an issue. Still, it would be nice to stay all digital; if they're reasonable I might spring for one.

Incidently, for anyone considering trying one of these beasties, Sony should be avoided as they have built-in AGC that is difficult to disable and results in perceptible pumping when recording with a microphone. Sharp units don't have an AGC, which makes them more suitable for field recording. Also, Sonys and some newer Sharps can't adjust the audio level while recording, whereas the older Sharps permit this which, of course, is a critical feature for field recording.

I got my Sharp MD-MT15 for $75 from some outfit I found using Yahoo's shopping feature. It is, supposedly, factory refurbished. It looks beat to heck, but functions perfectly and makes beautiful audio recordings. MD-MT15s also show up on eBay fairly regularly. Another model worth considering is, I believe, the MD-MT20.
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Old January 5th, 2003, 11:54 AM   #8
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i have a sony MZR-55 a couple years old and its no problem to defeat the AGC, i do it all the time when im using the AT stereo mic or any analog input. as far as studio MD look into the tascams and sonys i think they average around $400. you can get consumer sony decks with digi i/o for less.
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Old January 6th, 2003, 11:49 AM   #9
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I think studio units go for $500 and up right now.

I have no problem disabling the AGC in my Sony MD recorder.
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