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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old October 31st, 2006, 01:13 PM   #1
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Equipment advise

I'd like some pro advise on the most cost effective setup (camera, playback equipment, etc.) for producing the following:

Game films (DVDs) for HS football/basketball coaches
Highlight DVDs for the players each year
The occasional, slightly more sophisticated than average, "vacation" documentary (for future posterity)

I use Adobe Premier Pro 2.0 most of the time, and sometimes Avid to edit. I have these packages already. I have a decent tripod already. I shoot a lot of games (around 30-40 tapes a year), and I want the camera to stand up to the use for at least 5 years. Considering HD, but am not convinced that I need it...still open to it though. Budget is $3000-$3500 for everything:camera, batteries, case, rain cover, playback device(if needed).

I am considering a Sony VX2100, Power 2000 tape rewinder, NP-F970 6600 mAh battery, Petrol PCCB-2N Camcorder Bag with PRC-DV Rain Cover, Rode VideoMic Camera Mounted Shotgun Microphone with Integrated Shock isolator, Rode Wind Muff - NTG-1/NTG-2, and a Sony DCR-HC26 Mini DV Camcorder (as a playback deck). $3100 for all from B&H.

Thoughts?
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Old October 31st, 2006, 01:29 PM   #2
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An excellent equipment line-up in my view, with only one slight downer in that the VX is not a proper 16:9 camera. Not that this stops it being an excellent camera though. The 970 is a must (and will fit the FX1 when you come to your senses), the Petrol bag is wonderful (I have 2 of them) and the Rode stuff is great.

The only deletion I'd make is the rewinder.

tom.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 01:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
An excellent equipment line-up in my view, with only one slight downer in that the VX is not a proper 16:9 camera. Not that this stops it being an excellent camera though. The 970 is a must (and will fit the FX1 when you come to your senses), the Petrol bag is wonderful (I have 2 of them) and the Rode stuff is great.

The only deletion I'd make is the rewinder.

tom.
Roger that. I guess the rewinder is redundant since I have the DCR-HC26 as a deck.

As to the FX1 - The reason I'm not looking at that one is that couldn't use the DCR-HC26 to capture from and I would have to use the FX1 as the playback deck in that case correct ? Doesn't the FX1 do its down conversion on capture? ....and the DCR-HC26 couldnt be used to capture the HD tape could it? $2000 playback deck puts this setup out of reach for me.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 05:11 PM   #4
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The FX1 is really the updated VX2100. Maybe the FX7 is, but it's not here yet. With the FX1 you can still shoot SD, or as you say shoot HDV and downconvert.

Thing is the FX1 is a far more ergonomic camera than the VX. It has a far better top screen, a more useful 12x zoom range and of course the far better 16:9 aspect ratio.

tom.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 06:28 PM   #5
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Hi Andy,

4 suggestions:

1) Make up a "Cam to Head mount" that can allow the Cam to adjust vertically 180% in relation to the Head. Works great, so control handle can stay where you need it.

2) Make up an "Extendable (2' to 4') Single or Dual control handle(s)" setup, to allow you to sit at least part of the time during the games. I've made these and most always sit.

3) Get and use an "off Cam remote controler" for the Zooming function.
Cheap is Sony wired remote handle from one of their TriPods, or setting up the Cam's Infrared Remote to Cam via a fiberoptic cable. I use these.
Espensive, is any of the other wired remotes made by a number of vendors.

4) Use an "off Cam LCD monitor (of 8" to 15")" instead of the Cam's side unit or eyepiece. Much easier to watch a larger monitor, than trying to keep your eye on the eyepiece or side monitor of a Cam, while panning side to side.

I use these 4 items 95% of the time. Makes motion type Videography easy. In my experience, Soccer is the most dificult, and these Mods made it rather easy to track.

Can send Pics if interested.

Harold
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Old November 1st, 2006, 06:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
The FX1 is really the updated VX2100. Maybe the FX7 is, but it's not here yet. With the FX1 you can still shoot SD, or as you say shoot HDV and downconvert.

Thing is the FX1 is a far more ergonomic camera than the VX. It has a far better top screen, a more useful 12x zoom range and of course the far better 16:9 aspect ratio.

tom.
So then the question becomes would the SD footage as shot with an FX1 be superior in any way to the same SD footage shot with the VX2100 ? There is almost $1000 difference in the camera cost. I understand the HD argument, but although I do, most of the coaches and parents I deal with don't have HD equipment yet, so the cost of shooting in HDV and downconverting to SD is not justified in my case ($1000 more for the camera + $2000 for a playback deck). The 16:9 issue does bother me though......
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Old November 1st, 2006, 06:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harold Schreiber
Hi Andy,

4 suggestions:

1) Make up a "Cam to Head mount" that can allow the Cam to adjust vertically 180% in relation to the Head. Works great, so control handle can stay where you need it.

2) Make up an "Extendable (2' to 4') Single or Dual control handle(s)" setup, to allow you to sit at least part of the time during the games. I've made these and most always sit.

3) Get and use an "off Cam remote controler" for the Zooming function.
Cheap is Sony wired remote handle from one of their TriPods, or setting up the Cam's Infrared Remote to Cam via a fiberoptic cable. I use these.
Espensive, is any of the other wired remotes made by a number of vendors.

4) Use an "off Cam LCD monitor (of 8" to 15")" instead of the Cam's side unit or eyepiece. Much easier to watch a larger monitor, than trying to keep your eye on the eyepiece or side monitor of a Cam, while panning side to side.

I use these 4 items 95% of the time. Makes motion type Videography easy. In my experience, Soccer is the most dificult, and these Mods made it rather easy to track.

Can send Pics if interested.

Harold
Thanks for that info Harold. Appreciate the helpful tips. Pics of #1 would be helpful. I have a Sony tripod with the remote, so I'm good there. I take it you use a VX2100 ? How is the 16:9 output? I know it isn't native with the VX2100, but neither is it with my DCR-TRV530 and that looks ok for this purpose.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 08:40 AM   #8
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Andy, if you get the FX1 you can shoot in the SD mode (4:3 or 16:9) and change over to HD when the time comes. I know it's dearer than the VX, but you can be sure it'll be a helluva lot easier to sell when the time comes.

In answer to your question, the FX1's SD footage won't be superior to the VX's footage except that:

1) it'll be in 16:9
2) the camera is far easier to work with (top screen, focal lengths).
3) the iris wheel is beautiful, the VX's is most certainly not (it puts visible exposure 'bumps' into your footage).

The VX is better in low light by a stop and a half though, and the zoom ring is operatonal all the time. The VX also has easier white balance settings, but in all other respects the FX1 is a whole leap forward.

tom.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 12:12 PM   #9
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Hi Andy,

I use a Sony 22, 525, 730 and a 950.

For most of the Video I do, neither HD or 16:9 would be useful, but I would like to get the 2100 for the lower lite ability.

After the HD record and playback systems shake out, I'll consider them then.

Pass me an E-Mail so I can send you Pics.

Harold
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Old November 1st, 2006, 03:09 PM   #10
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The thing that keeps me wavering is that I have read that the HD footage downconverted to SD yeilds a better SD image. However, I'm not sure it's worth $1000 difference in my case. I do normally shoot in the DCR-TRV530's 16:9 mode because my son and I review these videos as well (He's on the team I produce the films for) and we do that on a 50" widescreen Sony Wega (which is HD by the way). No one has ever even mentioned the letterboxing on a standard screen, which I'm sure they use, so I guess it doesn't bother them too much.(funny how that works when the films are free)

Its mostly a matter of budget though, I just have a really hard time justifying, even to myself, spending more than $3000 for what amounts to a hobby setup. If I go with the FX1, that money gets me the camera - period. Then I'm forced to use the camera to playback for capture, and have no money for a good shotgun mike, which I read is needed.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 03:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Morris
So then the question becomes would the SD footage as shot with an FX1 be superior in any way to the same SD footage shot with the VX2100 ? There is almost $1000 difference in the camera cost. I understand the HD argument, but although I do, most of the coaches and parents I deal with don't have HD equipment yet, so the cost of shooting in HDV and downconverting to SD is not justified in my case ($1000 more for the camera + $2000 for a playback deck). The 16:9 issue does bother me though......
In my opinion, yes. I just shot the VX2000 and FX1, both in DV mode, side by side. Of course, I used 16:9, on both, and the VX2000 has to do some electronic machinations to record a 16:9 picture, so that could be the issue. But I think, it is still clear the image is better with the FX1. The one draw back is the FX1 is less effective in low light, so if your gyms or football fields have lighting issues, that may be something to consider. However, in this shoot in an auditorium that had lighting issues at times, there wasn't an issue, and I'm thinking a gym or football field will be as good or better lit.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 06:41 PM   #12
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Hi Andy,

I went through the same dilema recently, and purchased a VX2100. For me, the deciding factor was the low light sensitivity. I film a lot of dog agility in indoor sports facilities (typically indoor soccer fields) with variable lighting. At what I consider to be a "typical" indoor facility (with lights, a full roof, and no windows), I'm shooting at F2.4, 1/100 sec, 0dB gain. Based on everyone calling an FX1 1.5-2 stops less sensitive than the VX2100/PD170, I think I would have been able to shoot in this typical facility with an FX1, but not at a few other venues that are darker. So if the lighting is an issue, I would absolutely find some way to test one or the other camera before your purchase.

That said, I have a few peeves:
* non-native 16:9 (I haven't personally tested the in-camera 16:9)
* the very noticable exposure bumps when manually adjusting the iris suck -- I overcome this by tweaking the auto exposure level in custom presets and leaving the iris on auto if the light is fluctuating (e.g. a partly cloudy day)
* my camera has some vignetting at the above exposure (slightly dark in the corners at full zoom) -- I hear this is typical
* there's no way to force the camera to f2.8 +3dB gain to fix that vignetting
* a slightly wider zoom would be nice
* the on-board pre-amp adds a fair amount of noise to my Rode VideoMic
* doesn't send a record signal over Firewire (for triggering a Firestore)

an FX1 doesn't necessarily fix all of this, its just my peeve list.

I suspect you'll be craving HD in one or two years, at which point the VX2100 won't be easily sellable (they're already getting harder to sell). So an FX1 (or FX7) is a better long-term investment, if it meets your lighting needs. If you don't have the need for HD at this time, just shoot SD and have the future-proofing. You could also capture straight to your laptop (if you have a suitable laptop) with DVrack, and avoid the wear-and-tear on the tape mechanism completely.

Last option to consider: if buying a VX2100, consider a used one. I didn't really consider that option because I felt I needed an extended warranty (which is quite cheap from B&H), but 40 hours/year isn't much use on your part so buying a used cream puff could probably save $800 or so over B&H. There have been several low hours VX2100s posted in the classifieds recently, I would see if they're still available.

-Terence
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 07:07 AM   #13
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Thanks Chris and Terrance..good information.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 08:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence Murphy
Hi Andy,
.........
That said, I have a few peeves:
........
* doesn't send a record signal over Firewire (for triggering a Firestore)
........./
-Terence
Terence,
I also have a Firestore (FS-4) which I use all the time with my VX2100. By the way, it can be configured to accept the Record 'trigger' from the VX; I do it all the time. It can also be set to store 6 seconds of pre-roll... nice if you hit Record a second or two too late..
Rgds, Ross.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 10:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Jones
Terence,
I also have a Firestore (FS-4) which I use all the time with my VX2100. By the way, it can be configured to accept the Record 'trigger' from the VX; I do it all the time. It can also be set to store 6 seconds of pre-roll... nice if you hit Record a second or two too late..
Rgds, Ross.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks Ross! I've tried for months to find that information (including e-mails to the makers of Firestore and Citidisk, which were both ignored), and finally saw a post on the Firestore section that implied the VX didn't send the trigger signal so you had to hit the button on the Firestore itself. I've been thinking of going the Scopebox route once it comes out (like DVrack, but for Mac), and figured it would have the same issues.

Two questions: is the behavior of the record trigger on the VX dependent on also running a tape? And if you do a stop/start with a break that is shorter than the pre-roll length, what happens? I film a lot of short (<1 min) clips with only a few seconds between each, but I really need to have them broken up as individual files on import so I stop/start the camera inbetween. I've wondered how the Firestore (and Citidisk) would handle this scenario (I would hope it would give a seemless recording, with the first clip stopping at the first trigger, and the second clip having a shortened pre-roll before the second trigger).

-Terence
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