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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 16th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #1
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Anything you DON'T like on the VX2100?

I've had my VX2100 for about 3 months, done a good handfull of shoots with it, and I'm very pleased. I have a few complaints and I was wondering how my complaints compared to other VX2100 owners out there...

1) The damn hand strap! It not only gets in the way of the tape eject, but also the video outputs, I have to re-adjust the strap to do either, and it's very annoying.

2) The zoom... it has a very jumpy start, not very smooth like my uncle's XL2. I think Sony could have done better on this.

4) Missing true manual zoom. I can't stand the servo controlled zoom, just doesn't feel right, also it has no numerical focus lengths. If the VX2100 felt like the PDW510 I would be satisfied... but I'm sure that's why the PDW510 is like $20k

5) A little noisy, especially in extremely quiet situations, the tape can make a little extra noise recorded on the video when using the built-in mics.

6) Would have been nice to have more control over the speed of the zoom when using the top handle, I like the fast and slow, but in certian situations, it would be nice to have something right in the middle

I love my VX2100, and I think it makes a great looking video (especially when using full manual, but auto setts work pretty well in most situations). I just wish it has some more professional features like a detachable lens, or a fully manual focus with numbered indicators.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 02:50 PM   #2
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Vx2k

I actually have the VX2000. I bought it at a bit of discount just before the VX2100 came out. When it did come out, I saw it at a couple of stores and felt that it had a more "plactic" appearance, and that gave me the feeling that it was a bit less solid than the VX2000. I'm not saying it was, it just felt that way to me. My recollection is that there was very little updating other than appearance between the two. In fact, most of those same complaints you list, appeared to be same with VX2000. At the time, my brother had a XL1, and we compared shooting at different sites. Given his had run about $ 1,500 more than mine, I was impressed about how well the two compared in ultimate output. Of course, if interchangeable lens is your bag, you have to go Xl2 route, but my question is do you really need that for what you do ?

Chris Barcellos
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Old January 16th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #3
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I have a VX-2000 that I only use as a deck these days. It was a great camera in its day, and still excellent for low light situations. But the deal breaker for me is that it doesn't do high quality 16:9 (same as the PD-150, PD-170 and VX-2100).

You might consider a LANC zoom control. It won't let you zoom any slower, but might help keep the speed steady.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #4
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I'm very satisfied with my VX2100. As soon as I had shot some footage with a rented PD150, I knew those cams are exactly to my needs. What annoys me a bit is that you can't set shutter speed when the iris is on manual (it's okay with PD170), but anything else does usually not disturb me. I don't have any troubles with the hand-strap, I just pull it a bit away before opening the door and no problems so far. I think the tape holder hits the door pretty often when it opens (the hand-strap does not let the door to open fully), but I don't think it does any harm.

All in all it's an awesome camera.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georg Liigand
What annoys me a bit is that you can't set shutter speed when the iris is on manual (it's okay with PD170), but anything else does usually not disturb me.
Now I was fooling around last night trying out some new lighting techniques for an upcoming video I'm doing, and I set my white balance, then shutter speed, and iris, but haven't tried going back to the shutter speed. Does it not let you set the aperature and then change the shutter speed?

I've just recently began playing with the maual settings
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #6
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I have the PD170, but I think this is the same on the 2100. I hate that when I have my LCD open and twisted upward for easy viewing at chest or waist level, I cannot press the dang manual iris button. I have to turn the lcd a bit to press the button, then turn it back.

And I agree with the zoom control. It's just not a smooth start like my friends dvx100a or xl1s.

But, the other features of the camera make it a huge winner in my book. You just can't beat that footage when +9 or +12db is needed!

Dan
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Old January 16th, 2006, 05:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Weeks
I set my white balance, then shutter speed, and iris, but haven't tried going back to the shutter speed. Does it not let you set the aperature and then change the shutter speed?
On the VX, if you set the iris manually and then punch the shutter speed button and change the setting, the iris will automatically reset itself for whatever the camera thinks is the correct exposure. But then you can punch the iris button again and set it wherever you like while retaining the shutter speed that you just set.

So in other words you need to first choose your shutter speed, then switch back to manual iris and you can adjust that continuously as desired. But if you change the shutter speed again you'll lose your iris setting.

The PD-170 lets you set the shutter without affecting the iris. FWIW, the PDX-10 also behaves exactly like the VX-2100 in this regard. Mildly annoying, but not a huge deal IMO.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 08:46 PM   #8
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The 15 fps progressive shutter is a waste IMO. A 24 or 30 fps progressive shutter would have been so much more useful. I also don't like not having any overlap between iris control and gain control, as I do with my Canon GL2.

Truth is, despite the slightly crisper video, the slightly more accurate colors and the superior low light performance of the VX2100, I like my GL2 better. Smaller, lighter, better zoom, better exposure controls, better audio, and it's frame mode actuallly brings something nice and usable to the table as an option to 60i video. Great cam though it is, my VX stays home unless I need the low light or unless I'm doing a multi cam shoot.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #9
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I have the PD170, but I think this is the same on the 2100. I hate that when I have my LCD open and twisted upward for easy viewing at chest or waist level, I cannot press the dang manual iris button. I have to turn the lcd a bit to press the button, then turn it back.
Yeah! This is another thing that is sometimes really annoying.

Fred: You mention that you like GL2 better because it's smaller. I'm sure it's a plus in many situations, but I believe you can't get too good footage out of that camera when using its full zoom and filming by hand? This is why I for example prefer the heavier cams - I love hand-filming and the result comes pretty steady, even with full zoom (12x). I recently added Beachtek DXA-6 to my 2100 and although it made it a lot more heavier and harder to hold in the hand, I've noticed that it adds a lot to the steadyness of the footage.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #10
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I'll confess that it may be partially because I'm more familiar with the GL2--I've had it longer. Having made that previous post I had already decided to take the VX to a gig tonight. It's a wonderful cam and I should give it equal time before I make any more glib statements about which I like better.
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Old January 18th, 2006, 10:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
I'll confess that it may be partially because I'm more familiar with the GL2--I've had it longer. Having made that previous post I had already decided to take the VX to a gig tonight. It's a wonderful cam and I should give it equal time before I make any more glib statements about which I like better.
If you have some extra time, could you (or anyone) give me a short sample video comparing the VX2100 and the GL2 using the same manual settings on both indoor and outdoor lighting? I'm thinking of purchasing another prosumer camera, but I'm looking into the GL2 for the 20x zoom... but I like the VX2100 for the low-light. I just want to see how the video compares.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 02:17 PM   #12
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I'm with Dan. I hate the position of the exposure button, and the way it's often obscured by the side screen when doing low shots. Just wish the ND switch could swap places with it.

Next thing I *hate* is the way the exposure dial varies the exposure in very obvious half stop increments, whether you're cghanging the shutter speed, iris or gain. Thes 'bumps' in exposure are very difficult to disguise on screen.

Next, the side screen is too dang small. Coming from a TRV900 makes me think the VX designers simply weren't paying attention.

Contary to others on this thread I find the progressive scan mode excellent for stills. I get a 12.5 fps motor-drive still camera that records in stereo sound and has a very fast and flexible 12x zoom. For getting shots of my swimmers at the peak of the action there's nothing quite like it.

tom.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 04:39 PM   #13
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Myself I like the smaller LCD screen, because it's very sharp. I had a GS400 before with 3.5" screen and I must say I like the VX2100's more. If I could get just as sharp 3.5", then why not of course.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 04:03 PM   #14
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My biggest annoyance with the VX2100 is that "elephant-ear" viewfinder hood. I'm always stubbing my nose on it and I often swear I'm going to take some scissors to it. But, I hate to destroy its status as a completely "stock" camcorder, so I never do. The need to line up your eye precisely straight on the viewfinder, to get an unflawed image, is also irritating. It seems that my other camcorders haven't had much problem in that regard.

As far as the zoom and other controls being awkward, I find them no problem. It's like learning to play a new musical instrument, whenever you get a different model. After some practice, I don't have a thought about any difficulty with them. Since I avoid zooming when recording most things, this is almost a moot point for me. The handgrip has never been a problem. I have large hands, so it's adjusted out farther. When I eject, I just pull the grip outward, so there's no restriction.

I find the 15fps progressive video mode to be next to useless. The flickering in the image, when any motion is present, makes the footage unusable for anything but capturing still pictures. But even for that, I no longer shoot with progressive, onto video tape. The footage this camera produces in interlaced mode, with the shutter set at around 1/500 to 1/1000, can be used for sharp and unblurred still-captures on many of the frames, even on flying birds. The still memory-mode, onto a Memory-Stick, is excellent and the camera automatically switches to progressive scan and uses a fast, mechanical shutter. It produces the best 640 X 480 stills I've ever had, even better than from my mega-pixel digital camera, when it's set in the 640 X 480 mode.

As far as having a "larger" size, the VX2100 seems to me like a toy in my hands. After packing around a full-size Beta for years (17-lbs. plus 7 lbs. for a shoulder-mount/stabilizer), this little thing is no problem.

Actually, I just re-designed the shoulder-mount I use with my VX2100, to have extra lower counter-weights. It now weighs 15.5 lbs. (22 lbs. total with camera, battery, telex lens and dual-mike setup). The rock-solid steadiness I get in the video, even at full zoom, is as good as when using a tripod, but with hand-held mobility. I can put an adjustable monopod leg into it, if needed and shoot in a low position, with the viewfinder cocked up. I have a separate carrying-case for the mount, with the camera in a backpack. I can leave the mount fully-assembled in its case and have everything ready for shooting in about 2 minutes.

Compared to the first camcorder I had 18 years ago, an 8-lb. S-VHS, the VX2100 is an ergonomic wonder. Nothing on that first camcorder seemed to be easy to reach and the display screen and most controls were on the righthand side. It had a window into the tape deck and if you turned so sunlight came in at a low angle on that side, it triggered the tape-end sensor and shut it off. It took me 3 months to figure out that little engineering mistake. Anyone displeased with the positioning of some of the VX2100's controls, should have to shoot with this old S-VHS for awhile. There's a lot of external controls on the VX2100 (thankfully) and they have to fit them in somewhere.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #15
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Interesting information, Stephen! I bet this camera is very little compared to the betacams and such. But in my opinion it's only a plus, because even with just the out-of-the-box camera or with Beachtek DXA-6 installed under it, you can still get steady hand-held shots with the VX2100. If I look at the footage of the today's larger DVCAM shoulder cameras which the TV stations use or cameras used in the studios for TV shows, then I would say VX2100 is absolutely on the bar with them. There's a local weekly "911"-like programme in TV here where they mostly film at night in low light and they use a PD170 together with larger cameras. It's absolutely impossible to tell which camera was used for a particular shot except that the smaller camera shakes more.
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