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


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Old July 28th, 2006, 10:41 AM   #1
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PD170, VX2100... or what?

Hello everyone,

I am in the planning stage of a larger aquisition for my church. After reading tons on this forum (plus some hands-on experience) I have narrowed it down to a Sony PD-170 for main camcorder (mainly for the DVCAM format required by TV stations). As for the other two camcorders or cameras I am thinking about either two VX2100s or two pan/tilt cameras with remote control – my church is pretty conservative, we don’t want three operators, one is enough for distraction… And the lighting is not what we would like it to be, so sensitivity is a must.

What do you think about the VX2100 versus pan/tilt cameras and do you know of any good ones, with the same basic characteristics and same price range (including the pan/tilt base and remote control)?

Please don't waste your time talking me into high definition.

Thank you,
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Old July 28th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas
Please don't waste your time talking me into high definition.
Hi Ervin, unfortunately you posted this in our General HD / HDV Acquisition category, so for that reason alone, you're bound to get recommendations to talk you into high definition. So to save you the trouble I'm moving this to our Sony PD170 / VX2100 forum.
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Old July 28th, 2006, 12:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris

Strange things happened when I posted this question... I thought I was in the right forum, that's where I clicked, but the page title in the browser head said otherwise. Then, when I hit the "submit" button, it went to the DV category... Later I came back and there was my topic in the PD170/VX2100 forum, so this is a duplicate, apparently the system recorded it in both forums? Either one of them can be deleted.
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Old July 28th, 2006, 01:41 PM   #4
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Hey Ervin - I think what you probably saw was a "re-direct" and not a duplicate post. When we move posts from one forum to another we often leave a re-direct so that a link to the moved post appears in your original forum. That way you'll be able to find the moved post without knowing what forum we moved it to.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 01:07 PM   #5
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If you want the footage to match, you should purchase the same or very similar cameras. I don't know (although there may be) of other cameras that match the 170/2100 family. You can get tilt and pan mounts for this class of camera so I'd stay with the 2100's for the secondary cameras.

Are you phase-locking the sources at the switcher or are you recording all three streams and switching in Post?

I should mention that the 170 will shut the drum down after 5 minutes, the 2100's shut off unless (I think) you keep the tape door open.

What you might consider doing is buying a couple of used PD150's or 170's that have worn-out transports. They should still work very well as pure cameras and will cost about 1/5th to 1/3rd the price of a new camera. Or buy all used cameras. You should be able to get three with bad transports for the cost of one new camera.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #6
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the pd 170 and vx 2100 are essentially the same camera. think of the pd 170 as a 2100 with pro audio inputs, dvcam recording, in addition to DV, black paint and a much higher price tag. The picture quality is almost identical. so I would say buy vx 2100 or 2000 if you can find them and save yourself some money.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 10:58 PM   #7
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For his purposes, unless he is going to leave the tape doors open, the 2000/2100 cameras will not work.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 05:22 AM   #8
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Btw, VX2100 does not shut down if there's no tape in and the door is closed.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 10:22 AM   #9
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You are correct, my mistake.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 11:09 AM   #10
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Jay, you say,"The picture quality is almost identical'' but in fact the VX2100 has the edge in low light in the shutter priority mode (which we should all use as a matter of course).

The VX2100 will add the bare minimum amount of gain up when maximum aperture is reached, whereas with the PD170 you have to select a gain up amount and then let the iris work to that gain figure.

It's a small point, but worth making.

Other than that both cameras (bar component and build tolerances) give exactly the same picture quality.

tom.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #11
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so i thought i'd read somewhere that one of the differences between the 170 and the 2100 was that the 170 was native 16:9... is this correct or not?
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Old August 7th, 2006, 01:36 PM   #12
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No, the pd170 is not native 16:9.

Tom my pd170 does not work that way as far as I know. I suppose it depends on what setting you have on manual and auto.

I never set the gain and let the iris adjust to a gain setting.

Typically in low light I have the iris at 1.6 and the gain in auto but capped at 12 with the custom preset.

I've heard that the pd170 has more iris increments than the 2100, easier manual controls, better audio, and comes with a screw on wide angle lens.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 02:13 AM   #13
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Whoops Richard, you're right, and I stand corrected. My brain was working on the FX1/Z1's method of working with gain and apertures.

You're also correct in that the 170's iris control has more steps along the way, so making exposure adjustments (iris and gain) almost invisibly smooth on screen. The half stop exposure bumps the VX2000, 2100 and PD150 put up on screen are legendary.

I couldn't say that the 170 has 'better audio' though. It certainly allows XLR mics to be directly connected and then allows individual channels to be balanced, but I suspect the camera's audio electronics is not inherrently better than the VX's.

And yes, the 170 comes with a 'free' 0.7x wide-angle converter. It's too mild in my view and the barrel distortion is pretty laughable, but there you go.

tom.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #14
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The wide angle lens is a good for wedding receptions, bridal preps, small churches, etc. The barrel distortion is not noticaeble in these instances unless you are looking for it in the backround on some distant wall corner.
I wouldn't call it laughable at all.

However, the barrel distortion is more noticeable on the LCD than on the TV.

Anyhow, for beginners who are just getting started, it is a perfect camera to get you up and running. Professional mics with professional hook-ups with an accessory lens gets you well on the way.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #15
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Not quite sure what you mean by the distortion being more noticeable on the screen than a TV, Richard, but I conceed - the lens' distortion is not laughable.

Barrel distortion is a real problem with the Z1, as distortion has been traded for sharpness in the design of the Zeiss 12x zoom. The distortion is enough to make me wary of using max wide-angle as I track through buildings, because door frames that bow outward as I pass through them do not look good to my clients. If you've got a flat-screen TV, try this: stand in front of the TV with your camera perfectly perpendicular to the screen. Zoom to wide-angle and move so that the TV frame fills your v'finder frame. Iíll bet the results surprise you. As you move further away though and zoom in, things begin to look better and the barrel distortion lessens. On the Z1 you've got to go to 12 on the 00>99 zoom scale to get zero distortion. All is not lost though. My single element Bolex aspheric (a 0.5x) actually cures the Sonyís barrel distortion to some extent. At full wide-angle itís still barrel distorted, but zooming in a bit gives perfectly straight lines.

The problem with a spherical lens like the 0758 supplied with the PD170 and the 0.8x designed for the FX1 is that they exaggerate the barrel distortion inherent in the original zoom lens. The distortion may well be acceptable for general photography, but if you double the distortion by using a 0.5x converter, it will become pretty noticeable. It's for this reason that Sony wide-angles are pretty mild, generally.

tom.
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