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Old March 12th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #1
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Which of these for outdoor wildlife/nature?

I have read and read and I am down to two choices:
pd170
dvx100b
What are some opinion on which to get?
Many of my shots will be from a tree stand, some will be handheld, low light (in the woods) is a factor.
PS- I have searched and read, now I am just asking for opinions.

thanks, mike

I can't use the dvi "for sale" area, so I'll buy new.
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Old March 12th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #2
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How far away will your subjects be? If you are not up close and/or your subjects are not large then focal length is a factor.

Your two suggestions both have fixed lenses and short focal lengths compared with the Canon XM2 (GL2 in N America), which has a 20X zoom (to 800 mm in 35 mm terms), or the Canon XL2 - even longer plus interchangeable lenses.

The downside with these two is that they are not as good as the Sony in low light.
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Old March 12th, 2006, 01:01 PM   #3
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it really depends on what you're shooting. as alan said, neither of these cameras has long reach, so if you're shooting small wildlife (birds, for instance), you'll be frustrated at the shots you miss. if you're shooting elk or something, you'll be fine.

they are both nice cameras other than the limited zoom. either one will give you nice footage. 24p is great looking, therefore if i had to pick between these two, i'd go with the dvx....but everyone says the pd170 is the low-light king, so if that's your top priority, then go that direction. there are no bad choices here. which feature is more important to you?
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Old March 12th, 2006, 02:56 PM   #4
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'Which'

Hi,

In my view the question, as my esteemed contributors have put it, is: 'what'... are you filming.

Do you do stills of your subjects?
What gear do you use for stills?
Can you get close without disturbance?
Are you going to use a blind or hide or work by stealth?

All questions and many more before you get to 'which' camera.

Just ask DVi, you will get the right answers, then its up to your talent; we are all still learning our art.

Best of luck

Rod C
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Old March 14th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #5
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Which Camera

Mike,

The aforementioned posts all make excellent points. I have a sony and a gl2. While people say the gl2 is not as good in low light I would have to say the the gl2 has captured plenty of low light footage for me and I have no complaints. The 20x lens is excellent and if one buys a century duplex for it you will be surprised just how nice the long shots can be.
You could, of course get the pd170 and get a high quality duplex for it and it will be fine for larger creatures but the canon will be better for the small creatures.


Gus
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Old March 14th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #6
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The XM2/GL2 is certainly better than the XM1 in low light, but to use it in really poor light you end up with very slow shutter speeds - as low as 1/6 seconds! This is not good for a moving subject.

Those who should know swear that the Sony VX2fff asbd PD1ff ranges are better than this. I must admit I have no hands on experience of them; their lenses are far too short for my purposes.

I have just bought a Century 2x convertor for my new XM2 and like the extra reach compared with my previous Sony 1.7X, plus I am convinced it has better resolution. What I do not like is the smaller diameter of the lens elements, which mean that it suffers far more from vignetting - I am having to remove it rather than zoom far more often. This is not good for a thread mount convertor.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 01:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Coco
I have read and read and I am down to two choices:
pd170
dvx100b
What are some opinion on which to get?
Many of my shots will be from a tree stand, some will be handheld, low light (in the woods) is a factor.
PS- I have searched and read, now I am just asking for opinions.

thanks, mike

I can't use the dvi "for sale" area, so I'll buy new.
The others have covered the issues about low-light, so I'll focus on lenses.
The zoom power of the various camcorders discussed, isn't always the same as their actual magnification power. The larger the high-end number of a lens' focal length is, the more magnification it will have. A smaller CCD will raise the magnification effect.

Coincidentally, the PD170/VX2100 have 12X zooms and also 12X magnification power (relative to the 35mm film equivalent standard). The Canon XL2, with the 20X zoom lens, gives slightly more than 20X magnification. With its under-the-lens 1.6X telextender, you get about 37X and no vignetting at any point. However, the Panasonic DMX100, with a 10X zoom, gives only 8.8X magnification. This means that the DMX100 is better suited to short and medium-distance shooting. It also has a wider-angle of view at zero zoom than the other two. The DMX100 doesn't have as many choices in telextenders, as the others.

With the Sony HG1758 telextender on my VX2100, I get 20.4X magnification and it vignettes only below about 42% of full zoom. With a Raynox 2.2X telex, I get 26.4X magnification, but it vignettes at all points below about 85% of full zoom. I rarely find myself needing more magnification with the VX2100, than these telexes will provide. A bonus is that its autofocus works perfectly, with those telexes attached. Its high performance in low-light is most important to me in wildlife video, as much of my shooting takes place in the evening. I considered all the other models discussed at great length, before I chose this one. Any bias I may show towards it and the PD170, is intended.

You won't be able to handle every shooting situation as well as you like, with any of those models. Unless you can afford at least three good camcorders or borrow or rent them, you'll always have to make compromises in how you use what you've got. Manufacturers don't like to produce models that do everything at the highest level. They're always leaving out an important feature or control option. This increases the number of additional ones they can sell to people.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 04:23 AM   #8
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Steve, there is little connection between zoom range and magnification!

The zoom range is simply the ratio of the largest and smallest focal lengths provided by a lens.

The magnification is determined by the focal length of the lens and the dimensions of the image on the sensor, whether it be film or CCD; the latter being governed by the Covering Power of the lens. Thus a lens of a given focal length provides differing magnifications with different formats, since it provides the same height of image of a given object in every case.

There is actually a mathematical relationship between focal length, diameter of the image sensor (remember the lens has a circular field of view) and the angular field of view.

Many camera manufacturers cheat by quoting the horizontal field of view rather than the angular field of view. The latter is not dependent on format, the former is. Just consider the comarative widths of a 3:2 rectangle and a square fitted into the same circle.

If you wish to compare the effective focal lengths of camcorder lenses with 35mm lenses, the following conversion factors give a reasonably accurate picture. Note that the comparison is for angular field of view, so these figures do not always agree with camera manufacturers quoted values, for the reason given above.

Chip Size 5.4mm (1/5") Conversion factor 13.6X

Chip Size 6.4mm (1/4") Conversion factor 9.4X (Canon XM2/GL2)

Chip Size 8.5mm (1/3") Conversion factor 7.2X (Sony VX2100, etc.)
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Old March 16th, 2006, 07:18 AM   #9
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Mike,

Others will suggest a camera to you, I will suggest other things to consider.

Unless the "tree stand" is made out of concrete, your handleld shots in low light, will be enjoyable to you and yours only. Not to a public audience. The slightest breeze, or motion by you, in a live/dead tree, will cause enough motion to establish you as a beginner in the field.

Use a tripod, as low down to the ground as is practical and safe for the situation. This will keep the swaying to an absolute minimum.

In low light of the forest/woods, forget long lenses. Lack of depth of field in a normal lens will make focusing difficult, at best.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 12:10 PM   #10
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Which?

He's bought a PD170, I think.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #11
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It looks that way - he is asking about raincovers for a PD170.
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