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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 02:03 AM   #1
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About to buy a PD170...

Found an old thread about exposure and auto/manual settings conflicting etc. Does this cam have a "Full Manual" switch that works as advertised or do you have to go into menu settings to ensure shutter/iris/focus etc is not part auto?

Also, I'm refreshing decades old knowledge that has seriously atrophied....to get correct exposure quickly in manual mode, is there like a zebra stripe or something you can bring up. And how do you know what the correct shutter speed to choose.

Does this cam have a good manual, my 3chip panny has the worst manual I've ever seen, it took me 30 minutes just to figure out how to manual white balance.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 02:31 AM   #2
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Hi Mike

Check out here
http://www.urbanfox.tv/workbooks/sonypd150/index.htm

and here
http://www.alanbarker.com/

gives pretty comprehensive info on this camera...

However this is an old generation camera, good but getting long in the tooth....if you're after good manual control in a more upto date camera check out the Z1 and the FX1. Personally I'd choose one of those over the PD170, the manual controls are far better and you get 16:9 native.

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Old February 2nd, 2006, 05:28 AM   #3
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The camera can be easily turned to manual without any surfing in the menus. It has dedicated buttons and switches for most of the functions.

PD170 is still a good broadcast camera and if doing documentaries and shoots where you don't have the possibility to set up extra lighting etc, then the Sony HDVs may not be the best.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 07:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike McKay
Does this cam have a good manual, my 3chip panny has the worst manual I've ever seen
I assume you mean the printed user manual? All of Sony's manuals are horrible unfortunately. I have 3 Sony cameras - a VX-2000, PDX-10 and HVR-Z1. The manuals are all very similar, printed on cheap paper in black and white. The basic information is all there but presented very awkwardly. Love the cameras, hate the manuals :-)

I would have to agree with Gareth's comments about the manual controls on the Z1/FX1 - much better and more image adjustment options also. But if you only want to shoot 4:3 and low light is important then the PD-170 is still a great camera.

But you do have full manual control on the PD-170, and the caveats you read about shutter speed and iris were probably WRT the VX-2000/VX-2100. They also have full manual control but it's implemented slightly differently.

Regarding shutter speed, usually it should be left at 1/60 for NTSC or 1/50 for PAL unless you have some specific reason to use a different one. And yes, you can (and should!) use zebra stripes.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 12:03 PM   #5
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Thanks folks, some great help to clear the layers of rust. I've put some serious thought into which camera to go for and while the Sony HD's look amazing, the combination of low light performance and delivery system are very important to me.....along with starting budget.

I know you can downconvert the Z1 to SD etc, but I think I can get away with 4:3 for another year until both 16:9 and HD really start to take over.
I'd prefer to wait for the delivery systems to make HD more feasible and also see if upgrades/improvements happen to the camera's also.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 12:50 PM   #6
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Short Primer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
.Regarding shutter speed, usually it should be left at 1/60 for NTSC or 1/50 for PAL unless you have some specific reason to use a different one. And yes, you can (and should!) use zebra stripes.
Boyd, looking for a short technical "primer" paragraph on the reason to shoot only at 1/60-- Is this for ease of converting to other formats or what. Video quality, motion smoothness,or what ?

And if you are looking to limit depth of field in a shot, on a bright day, even with neutral density filters applied, you might have to shoot at higher shutter speed to open lens for proper exposure. Suggestion on handling that situation ?
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 01:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
Boyd, looking for a short technical "primer" paragraph on the reason to shoot only at 1/60
Well I did say "unless you have some specific reason to use a different one" and of course there could be a number of reasons. But 1/60 second captures the greatest amount of information since that's how long each field is displayed on your interlaced screen. So if you shoot at 1/125 sec for example, your camera doesn't capture half of what happened during each field. This could be either good or bad depending on what you want. If something is moving it will be sharp in the 1/125 frames and will have motion blur in the 1/60 frames. With fast motion you can get sort of a jumpy look with a high shutter speed. And if you want to deinterlace in post it's usually recommended to shoot at 1/60 - read the docs for your software though to double check this. I know that DVfilm recommends 1/60 for deinterlacing.

But keeping the lens wide open for less DOF might be a reason to use a higher shutter speed. You could also probably accomplish this with an ND filter however.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 01:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike McKay
Thanks folks, some great help to clear the layers of rust. I've put some serious thought into which camera to go for and while the Sony HD's look amazing, the combination of low light performance and delivery system are very important to me.....along with starting budget.

I know you can downconvert the Z1 to SD etc, but I think I can get away with 4:3 for another year until both 16:9 and HD really start to take over.
I'd prefer to wait for the delivery systems to make HD more feasible and also see if upgrades/improvements happen to the camera's also.
I would also add that while 16:9 is getting more popular, I'm pretty sure HD won't be very widely used yet after one year and certainly not in the broadcast world. It of course depends what your target is - if you want to produce HD DVDs, then why not to use that format if the audience appreciates it. I know that some broadcast stations are filming with HD cameras and downconverting to SD or even airing in HD (the dedicated channels), but certainly several years will have to pass before it gets use in general national televisions. Most of the people including me don't own a HD compatible TV set yet and I'm not planning to buy one either in the nearest future because of the lack of content and high price.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 01:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Well I did say "unless you have some specific reason to use a different one" and of course there could be a number of reasons. But 1/60 second captures the greatest amount of information since that's how long each field is displayed on your interlaced screen. So if you shoot at 1/125 sec for example, your camera doesn't capture half of what happened during each field. This could be either good or bad depending on what you want. If something is moving it will be sharp in the 1/125 frames and will have motion blur in the 1/60 frames. With fast motion you can get sort of a jumpy look with a high shutter speed. And if you want to deinterlace in post it's usually recommended to shoot at 1/60 - read the docs for your software though to double check this. I know that DVfilm recommends 1/60 for deinterlacing.

But keeping the lens wide open for less DOF might be a reason to use a higher shutter speed. You could also probably accomplish this with an ND filter however.

Thanks, Boyd. That was what I was looking for.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:44 AM   #10
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I have just seen that the FX1 is the same price as a new PD170 and with a beachtek adaptor you get the same audio inputs...I think. That really leaves the low light performance issues which some say is highly noticable and some say is not that big because the gain on FX1 is barely noticable.
Does anybody know of a site that shows actual footage of these two in low light?? I've seen stills, but it's so hard to tell. Man, what to do.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 10:24 AM   #11
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PD 170 v. FX1

I have the FX1 and the VX2000, which has the essentially the same low light capability as the PD170. There is a significant difference between the two in terms of low light capability. I don't think your emphasis should be solely on that-- unless low light capabilty is your primary reason for going to a new camera. If that is the case, PD170 hands down over any DV Camera.

With the gain control, and good shooting tecnique and perhaps use of lighting, I think you will be able to work around most shooting situations. And the gains in working with HDV make it well worth it.

I ve only had this camera only a couple of months (FX1), and frankly with an illness and the holidays, I haven't had a lot of opportunity to use it. Put I have shot it in candle light situation at a family gathering, and I was surprised at how well it held up....

I've also briefly attached it to my Beachtec adapter, and noted it worked well with the same rig I have for my VX2000-- a Sennheiser ME66.

I'll see if I can come up with some frame grabs or footage for you to compate this evening, California time.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 10:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike McKay
Does anybody know of a site that shows actual footage of these two in low light?? I've seen stills, but it's so hard to tell. Man, what to do.
Did you see the links in the low light "sticky"?

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=54414
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:03 AM   #13
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Personally I wouldn't make a big deal out of this whole low light business... In dull conditions the FX1 is fine, even at +12db gain, you get no or very littlle visible noise.

Low light is more often than not awful even on good low light cameras as it is rarely quality light, unless you like the surveillence look!!
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:33 AM   #14
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For my needs, I disagree with your accessment of low light shooting, Gareth.

I've been in a number of situations where the only light was coming from very dim room lights and the candles on the table centerpieces was the only bright light. This lighting alone has been enough to produce decent pictures of the Bride and Groom (that they liked very much thank you) with reasonable color and not too much video noise.

In other instances, it was the equivalent of surveilance video and the absolute low light capability made the difference between delivering a documentary that 'showed it like it is' and something out of Cops with bright lights that are not at all what the real world is like.

So far, nothing has been able to beat my PD-150 for these types of applications.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:41 AM   #15
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One other thing to consider

I did do some testing shooting into a dimly lit room, one with my VX2000, and one with my FX1. I shot the FX1 in HDV. I shot both of them on auto. I then downconverted HDV right out of the camera, to a DV capture. I was surprised the the HDV downconvert looked a lot better in terms of sharpness. As I recall, the VX2000 resolved the lower light areas better, but had a more grainy appearance. If can locate these two shots on my system, on which I essentially reinstalled everything, I will try to upload them today or tomorrow.
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