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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old April 20th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #1
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VX2100 Misc Questions.

Well, I got my VX2100 VAT free...She's charging now...So beautiful :D

Anyway, I've been reading the manual and there's one or two things that aren't that clear.

1. I can set the Audio-In to either Mic or Line, does this mean I can plug in a mini-stereo line in signal? How good will the quality of that be? (Say, recording from a mixing desk at a band performance).

2. What kind of microphones can be used with the Hot-Shoe? Only Sony authorized ones? Does a normal mic just plug into the Audio-In jack next to the on-board microphone? Does the camera supply phantom power, or will a microphone need a pre-amp, or can it connect straight in?

3. What would I use the LANC jack for?

4. There's a big chapter in VCR and in-camera editing in the manual, which I'm obviously not going to use, but one part did interest me. Are the RCA and DV jacks In and Out? Meaning that I can have RCA from the camera to a TV RCA IN to watch video from the camera on a TV, but can I also have RCA-Out from a VCR plug into the RCA of the camera to watch what's playing in the VCR on the camera? Can I then use a Firewire cable to connect the camera to my PC and capture the footage coming in from the VCR? (Analogue to Digital?) Also, I can then capture to my PC with the DV and also record from my PC to DV? (so the DV is in fact DV-Out and DV-In for when the situation calls?)

5. Is capturing easy? In the handbook it explains how to record from the camera to an iLink VCR, but that seems a bit complex, setting options in the menu like Adjust: iLink, Set In/Set Out etc...If I just want to capture to my PC, will I use the firewire cable from the camera to my PC (4-pin to 6-pin {I wasn't sure what to get, so I got a 4 pin to 4 pin, but my PC Firewire is 6 pin, have to get a new cable tomorrow) and Premiere will automatically recognize it and I can take capturing from there, or do I have to adjust anything in the menu to select firewire transfer?

6. Although I probably never use it, do I need a memory card reader to get photos from the memory card onto my PC? Or can I use firewire for that?

Thanks a lot! I can't wait to start shooting with this baby!
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Old April 20th, 2006, 06:17 PM   #2
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Hi Aviv,

Can't speak directly to the 2100 as I use vx1000's still. :) But...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviv Hallale
1. I can set the Audio-In to either Mic or Line, does this mean I can plug in a mini-stereo line in signal? How good will the quality of that be? (Say, recording from a mixing desk at a band performance).
Should be fine. The mini-plugs are designed to be used with external mics and line sources. I use a Beachteck DXA-4 to get XLR ins for my camera and and it sounds fine running into the mini plug.

Line inputs work BUT you have to be *really* careful with the cable. The mini-plug cables aren't balanced so they pick up hum and buzz like crazy. The longer the cable the worse its likely to be.

Quote:
2. What kind of microphones can be used with the Hot-Shoe? Only Sony authorized ones? Does a normal mic just plug into the Audio-In jack next to the on-board microphone? Does the camera supply phantom power, or will a microphone need a pre-amp, or can it connect straight in?
Not familiar with the "hot" aspect of the shoe, but normal *battery powered* mics will plug right into the mini jack. i think it does supply some phantom power, but on my camera its not enough to drive the mics I have.

XLR mics with a preamp will sound much better, but the pres cost quite a bit!

Quote:
3. What would I use the LANC jack for?
External controls. You could mount a zoom/focus control on your tripod handle, for example, or control the camera through an underwater rig.

Quote:
4. ...Are the RCA and DV jacks In and Out? ...
Hmm... maybe on the 2100, but on the vx1000 they are not. DV is always in and out, but the analog jacks are out only.

So I can view the tape (or the DV output from Final Cut) on an analog monitor through the analog outs on the camera, but can't digitize analog video through them. Oddly enough, the much cheaper TRV-9, the 1-chip companion to the vx1000, DOES have analog through so I use that if I need to.

[quote]
5. Is capturing easy? In the handbook it explains how to record from the camera to an iLink VCR, but that seems a bit complex, setting options in the menu like Adjust: iLink, Set In/Set Out etc...If I just want to capture to my PC, will I use the firewire cable from the camera to my PC (4-pin to 6-pin {I wasn't sure what to get, so I got a 4 pin to 4 pin, but my PC Firewire is 6 pin, have to get a new cable tomorrow) and Premiere will automatically recognize it and I can take capturing from there, or do I have to adjust anything in the menu to select firewire transfer? [/qoute]

idiot simple. And its usually handled by your editing software. Check the software manual for how to log and capture. You usually don't have to change any setting on the camera- just plug it in and put it in VTR mode.

Have fun!!
Chris
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Old April 20th, 2006, 07:28 PM   #3
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You've made an excellent purchase. I've had mine for about a month, and love it. Its picture is amazing when the lighting is weak.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviv Hallale
1. I can set the Audio-In to either Mic or Line, does this mean I can plug in a mini-stereo line in signal? How good will the quality of that be? (Say, recording from a mixing desk at a band performance).

2. What kind of microphones can be used with the Hot-Shoe? Only Sony authorized ones? Does a normal mic just plug into the Audio-In jack next to the on-board microphone? Does the camera supply phantom power, or will a microphone need a pre-amp, or can it connect straight in?
As far as mics go, I've been using a Rode Videomic and been pretty happy with it, if you don't want to spend the money on the XLR route. It has a short cable, and I haven't had any obvious interference problems. I agree with Chris that running a long cable to the line-in is likely to be problematic without going the XLR route. I don't think there are many options for the hot shoe (I only know of the one Sony shotgun mic, and I suspect the Rode works better).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviv Hallale
4. There's a big chapter in VCR and in-camera editing in the manual, which I'm obviously not going to use, but one part did interest me. Are the RCA and DV jacks In and Out? Meaning that I can have RCA from the camera to a TV RCA IN to watch video from the camera on a TV, but can I also have RCA-Out from a VCR plug into the RCA of the camera to watch what's playing in the VCR on the camera? Can I then use a Firewire cable to connect the camera to my PC and capture the footage coming in from the VCR? (Analogue to Digital?) Also, I can then capture to my PC with the DV and also record from my PC to DV? (so the DV is in fact DV-Out and DV-In for when the situation calls?)
According to CamcorderInfo, the RCA jacks will work as an analog-to-digital pass-through, but I haven't tried it myself.

One thing that I've learned from using mine and reading the DVinfo forums -- don't ignore the "custom preset" button. Specifically, this is where you can tweak the auto-exposure settings. I've found that left to its own defaults the picture's typically too bright, but turn down the AE setting a couple of notches and it will calculate a pretty decent exposure. I would recommend shooting some test footage both indoors and outdoors with different AE settings, process through to DVD, and evaluate it on your TV to decide what gives you the best results.

Enjoy your toy!

-Terence
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Old April 21st, 2006, 04:18 AM   #4
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Thanks a lot guys! I really can't wait to start shooting some stuff today. I don't normally use AE because I'm pretty finicky about setting exposure for each shot myself, but I'll definitely get the Custom Preset right...Do you have yours set to something that would probably work for me as well? Or is it totally subjective?
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Old April 21st, 2006, 04:57 AM   #5
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For exposures, I find the AE very useful to "give advice," but obviously only if it is good at what its supposed to do. So inside, I've typically been turning the AE down one notch, letting it calculate an exposure for an average spot in the shot, and then locking it in. Outside, I've been turning the AE down two or three notches, but it depends on the dynamic range of brightness in your shot (that is, you may want to saturate out a few bright spots in order to get the bulk of your image properly exposed). The weather affects whether I leave it in auto or lock the exposure in -- if its partly cloudy and the sun keeps coming and going, I've found I'm better off letting the aperture adjust automatically. Its faster and more subtle at compensating when the sun comes out (or goes away).

-Terence
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Old April 21st, 2006, 03:00 PM   #6
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I had a similar question about external mic on the 2100. I recently bought a shotgun mic, which uses mini-jack. It is self powered. Where should I plug it in, and should I disable the onboard mic and is that even possible?
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Old April 21st, 2006, 03:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Wagner
I had a similar question about external mic on the 2100. I recently bought a shotgun mic, which uses mini-jack. It is self powered. Where should I plug it in, and should I disable the onboard mic and is that even possible?
It will plug directly into the mic 1/8 port which is located on the top right side of the camera. It's behind a black rubber cover.
Your onboard mic will automatically disable when you plug the mic in.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 03:59 PM   #8
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Well, been shooting some test stuff, just of dialogue in a quiet room and I've noticed the hiss of the onboard camera pre-amp, when I use Audition's Noise Reduction feature, I get rid of it perfectly but some of the dialogue has that underwater/reverb sound to it...Anyway of fixing that up? Would using a different, better mic get rid of the hiss or is it part of the preamp? I'm guessing that using an ambient track can detract from the hiss as well...I've seen the mod tutorial, but I'm not keen on making any hardware mods just yet...Lowering the mic-level under manual doesn't seem to do much help either.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 05:13 PM   #9
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Michael,

So I will need an adapter then?
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Old April 21st, 2006, 05:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Wagner
Michael,

So I will need an adapter then?
You shouldn't...If it's a mini-stereo mic, just plug it straight into the socket under the rubber flap on the right of the camera mic.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 07:39 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Aviv Hallale]Well, been shooting some test stuff, just of dialogue in a quiet room and I've noticed the hiss of the onboard camera pre-amp, when I use Audition's Noise Reduction feature, I get rid of it perfectly but some of the dialogue has that underwater/reverb sound to it...Anyway of fixing that up? Would using a different, better mic get rid of the hiss or is it part of the preamp? /QUOTE]

It might not be the preamp, though again I'm not familiar with the 2100. On camera mics are *notorious* for picking up the sounds of the camera's transport motor, though. Not much help for it but to use an external mic.

Better yet, use an external mic that's NOT mounted on the camera- or at least mounted with a shock mount (Like Rode's video mic). Physical vibrations from the camera will travel through the mount into the mic and you'll have the same problem if you mount the mic directly on the camera. Shock mounts are designed to minimize mechanical transmission of sound.

Noise redux software is very useful but very tricky stuff. Its best to think of it as noise *reduction* software than noise *erasing* software- or you'll get the underwater sound you noticed. Get familiar with all the controls the NR software has and practice using it a lot. Subtle changes in the controls can have a significant change on the sound. Usually you have to settle for something that sounds better and give up on getting something that sounds perfect.

Take care,
Chris
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 09:43 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=Chris Shaeffer]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviv Hallale
Well, been shooting some test stuff, just of dialogue in a quiet room and I've noticed the hiss of the onboard camera pre-amp, when I use Audition's Noise Reduction feature, I get rid of it perfectly but some of the dialogue has that underwater/reverb sound to it...Anyway of fixing that up? Would using a different, better mic get rid of the hiss or is it part of the preamp? /QUOTE]

It might not be the preamp, though again I'm not familiar with the 2100. On camera mics are *notorious* for picking up the sounds of the camera's transport motor, though. Not much help for it but to use an external mic.

Better yet, use an external mic that's NOT mounted on the camera- or at least mounted with a shock mount (Like Rode's video mic). Physical vibrations from the camera will travel through the mount into the mic and you'll have the same problem if you mount the mic directly on the camera. Shock mounts are designed to minimize mechanical transmission of sound.

Noise redux software is very useful but very tricky stuff. Its best to think of it as noise *reduction* software than noise *erasing* software- or you'll get the underwater sound you noticed. Get familiar with all the controls the NR software has and practice using it a lot. Subtle changes in the controls can have a significant change on the sound. Usually you have to settle for something that sounds better and give up on getting something that sounds perfect.

Take care,
Chris
Chris, you are righ about the VX2100's noisy pre amps. And you will pickup motor noise (in quiet situations) by using the onboard VX mic.

This is why I generally use a Beachtek DXA-8 XLR adapter with my external mics into the camera.
The DXA-8 has active circuitry which pads the signal, hense quieting the sinal before the VX2100. I hvae noticed a big difference when using the DXA-8, compared to my older DXA-4 which was noisier.
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