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-   -   Sony DCR-PC-330 How good is it? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-trv950-pdx10-companion/27826-sony-dcr-pc-330-how-good.html)

Bill Lapson June 20th, 2004 11:49 AM

Sony DCR-PC-330 How good is it?
I am about to buy a camcorder and am now down to two candidates, the Sony DCR-PC-330 and the Canon Xi.

Unfortunately, I can't compare the video taken by these two cameras side-by-side. In fact, I haven't been able to see videos taken with either of these camcorders.

The 330 offers nearly double the number of pixels in both video and still modes as compared to other camcorders. This should result in better images. The question is, does it get better images?

Thanks for your comments.

Bill Lapson June 22nd, 2004 09:47 AM

Sony DCR-PC-330 Evolve into HD camcorder?
I think the Sony *330 is interesting. It has a large sensor and 3 times the number of pixels as the typical camcorder. This infers that it could evolve into a HD camcorder.

Does anybody have thoughts on what a HD camcorder might require in the way of sensors?

Tom Roper June 22nd, 2004 02:58 PM

The JVC GR-HD1 is only 1 mega pixel
It's more than enough pixels for HD. The issue for camcorders is how they are employed. For DV, the extra pixels are used for recording higher resolution still photos, and capturing more color information. You only need 1 mega pixel CCD for the JVC HDTV 720p camcorder.

No matter how many pixels get stuffed into the CCD sensor of a DV camcorder, the maximum NTSC resolution is 530 horizontal lines defined by a circle the diameter of the vertical resolution (480 pixels), so the actual horizontal resolution would be 795 lines, 4x3 image.

For 720p ATSC 16x9 (Hi-Def) camcorder like the JVC GR-HD1, the horizontal resolution is 700 lines defined by a circle the diameter of the vertical resolution (720 pixels), so the actual horizontal resolution would be 1244 lines, 16x9 image.

In the case of SD, more pixels does not directly relate to more resolution, but it does relate to better picture quality for DV stills and better color sampling.

Matt Stahley June 22nd, 2004 03:40 PM

For a couple hundred bucks you could step up to the Sony TRV950. This would give you 3CCD and is better ergonomically to operate. I have A PC110 which I love but can be a little awkward to operate at times due to its layout etc. A zoom controller is a must if using this cam for more than a family/vacation cam etc. The bottom tape load can be a pain at times when a quick tape change is needed and are mounted on tripod.

Norm Couture June 23rd, 2004 06:55 AM

I read a comparison test in a french magazine three or four months ago. Unfortunately the magazine is not on Internet. The Canon Xi and Panasonic (don't remember the model) gave more saturated colors but were less impressive in low light than the Sony PC-330. Also the PC-330's pictures were sharper and the color balance was more natural. On an outdoor daylight scene, the Pana had a greenish hue while the Canon was definitely red.
Night scenes of Paris came out very natural on the Sony, while the other 2 had an embarrasing amber tint all over.

Hugh DiMauro June 23rd, 2004 09:55 AM

Progressive Scan
Also, doesn't the Sony 330 have true 30fps progressive?

Ignacio Rodriguez June 23rd, 2004 10:34 AM

Just a few comments:

Low light performance with the new Canon models is probably better due to the large sensor. The RGB CCD should give you a more faithfull color reproduction. The Canons have frame mode (not real proscan) for video. The Sony has neither, progressive scan I believe is only available for digital stills. Then again, the Canon might be more expensive and, depending on where you are, service and support might be better with Sony.

1 megapixel is not really enough for real HD, less so with a single CCD. You need a little more than 2 for the 1920x1080 CIF. Sony professional HD cameras have a 2.2 megapixel 3 CCD array. The JVC is a cool experiment but has not been very popular with the pros.

Even though you only need a little less than half a million pixels for an optimal 16:9 SD image (and even less for 4:3), having at least a megapixel helps diminish noise and aliasing. This is why the TRV950/PDX10 has such a great image. Then again, at a given size, a CCD with less pixels means larger pixels, which in turn gives you more sensitivity, thus a better low lux performance. This explains why the VX2100/PD170 are much better than the TRV950/PDX10 in low light.

The TRV950/PDX10 is not very well balanced and too heavy for comfortable and steady handheld work. For handheld a smaller camera might be better.

Rounding up, I think the new Canons might be a really very good option. But don't take my word for it, check one out in the store, even if you can't compare it side by side with the Sony 330, you can buy a tape, recod the store settings with both cams (which most likely will have the same kind of illumination whichever the store) and view that tape connected to a good TV or monitor, in a third store if you like :-)

Don't buy a camera that you can't test.

Bill Lapson June 27th, 2004 03:15 PM

Thanks Ignacio, Norm, Matt, Tom for your very helpful comments.

Has anyone here actually seen video taken with the PC-330?

I've printed out some still shots in the store and they were excellent. No idea about the video quality.

Bill Lapson June 28th, 2004 10:24 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Stahley : For a couple hundred bucks you could step up to the Sony TRV950. This would give you 3CCD and is better ergonomically to operate. -->>>

I'm moving in this direction. Today I found out that there are no manual controls of either aperture or shutter speed on the PC-330. That was a surprise!

Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 07:09 AM

The PC-330 has a manual aperture control.
Who told you it did not?
You simply go into the P-MENU, select EXPOSURE and choose MANUAL. Then you can adjust the aperture with a "- / +" slider. It also offers "Spot-Meter" for quick fine-tuning.
As for shutter speed, you can select the "SPORT" AE program to go into the 1/1000 - 1/5000 range, or choose the AUTO-SHUTTER to adjust the shutter speed between 1/60 to 1/500 according to available light. But this is not completely manual.

Bill Lapson June 29th, 2004 09:01 AM

Thank you very much Norm... the labeling is just different.

I remember your comments earlier about the positive comments in the French magazine. Have you seen any video taken with this camcorder?

Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 09:48 AM

I haven't seen actual video from the PC-330, but that french magazine I was talking about ("Vidťo Camťra & Multimťdia") compared it to the Panasonic PV-GS120, the Canon Optura Xi and a JVC (model?).
The Panasonic gave warmer colors in daylight with contrasts a little heavier. The Sony was clearly truer to life when the light went down though. According to the grabs printed in the magazine, the Sony was more constant in its picture quality, and the editors gave both Pana and Sony an 8/10 rating while the JVC and the Canon got a 7/10.

Ignacio Rodriguez June 29th, 2004 10:28 AM

The 330 has been replaced by the 350, an RGB sensor model that does 3 megapixel stills, native 16:9 and is rumored to do 24P! It's low light sensitivity is said to be better than the 330 and it's list price is lower. It also has zebra and AE shift and seems to use the same batteries as the PDX10. If it does real proscan, wow!

I guess Sony finally decided to get ahead of Canon and Panasonic in the low-end prosumer segment.


Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 12:53 PM

Thanks for the cue on the PC350, Ignacio!
That new cam is good news!
Could it be that Sony was listening from one ear, while barging out BlueTooth, Web-surfing, One-Step-EasyCams for 2 years?
Or did they change the product manager in the camcorder dept.?

Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 01:10 PM

Rumor: the new PC350 has NO FireWire nor USB connector.
Only A/V and Power.
Is it reduced to... BlueTooth transmission ?

Ignacio Rodriguez June 29th, 2004 01:54 PM

Does it not have Firewire on the cradle? Oh my... so they had to mess up somehow, didn't they? ;-)

Seriously though, we did you get that info from, about it not having Firewire? The PAL PC107E and 109E, which have similar cradles, have Firewire, although Sony likes to call it iLink.

Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 02:01 PM

The same announcement made by Sony was echoed in all the industry websites with different rings...

says there's no FireWire nor USB connector on the newly announced DCR-PC350...
but I should have read correctly:

"Includes Handycam Station (cradle), used for charging the battery or connection to a television or your PC; the camcorder only has power and A/V ports on it -- no Firewire or USB!"

Ignacio Rodriguez June 29th, 2004 02:07 PM

Actually it does, on the cradle. Here is the info from Sony:

"Like a cell phone or PDA cradle, the accompanying Handycam Station charges the DCR-PC350 camcorder and connects it to a TV or PC, while keeping the camcorder easily accessible. The Handycam Station comes fully loaded with all the necessary inputs, including S-video and an audio/video terminal for connecting the unit to a TV, as well as a USB 1.1 port and an i.LINKģ (IEEE-1394) digital interface for connection to compatible PCs."

The press release also mentions "30 fps" as the cinematic effect mode. So no 24p, sorry. Still 30p, if it really is progressive, would be awesome!


Norm Couture June 29th, 2004 02:13 PM

You're right, Ignacio, they are on the cradle.
Sorry, false alarm.
But I wouldn't have been surprised if Sony, once again, had tried to inforce a newly patented transfer standard to replace iLink or BlueTooth...

Ignacio Rodriguez June 29th, 2004 04:36 PM

Most unfortunately, it seems the 24p rumor was a false alarm too. Oh well, back to DVFilm Maker... ;-)

Boyd Ostroff June 29th, 2004 05:01 PM

The camcorderinfo article cites an interview with Adam Wilt as the source of the 24p info. One wouldn't expect him to distort the facts, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this plays out. But anyway, it looks awfully "consumery" to me. Don't sell your PDX-10 quite yet ;-)

Ignacio Rodriguez June 29th, 2004 07:56 PM

> The camcorderinfo article cites an interview with Adam Wilt
> as the source of the 24p info.

Well not exactly... it seems to me that they ask him about the camera and he speculates about how good it would for it to have 24p especially if it was done a-la-DVX100, but he also says that without diagrams and specs there is not much to say... he seems to be commenting on the rumor.

Anyway, for it to have 30p, with the "p" standing for real proscan, is almost enough for me to want to sell my PDX10 :S

Michael Struthers June 30th, 2004 10:30 AM

I suspect there will be lots of pdx10's and xl1's on sale very soon.

Kevin A. Sturges June 30th, 2004 10:43 AM

The first poster here was asking about the Canon Xi. Well, I canít compare it to the new Sony, but I bought the Xi about three weeks ago, upgrading from my 3 year old TRV820 D8 model.

I am REALLY picky about choosing a camcorder (even with my small budget) and spent months researching everything available before I made my move. On my CRT HDTV, the Xiís video looks fantastic. It is several times better than what I was getting from the old Sony D8. I did prefer the color of the Sony, but now Iím getting used to, and really like the ďwarmĒ palette of the Xi. Besides, itís so easy to shift the color curves to your own preference in an editor like Vegas Video.

Bottom line, despite a few things that I would change, I love this little camera. It has itís own look, which is almost more like film than video. It does not blow out the edges of things the way Iíve seen every other camcorder do. Contrasting edges in bright light retain a soft ďfilmlikeĒ effect, which is what made me buy it. It has manual control over everything including the audio, and is just the right solid weight and size. Itís a little smaller than you would expect in person, but still has that pro look to it, compared to many of the new dinky cams. Also, the price was half to a third lower than anything else I was considering.

Has a huge lens. The optical stabilizer works almost like a glide cam. Better than anything else Iíve ever tried. Sound quality is very clean.

OK Ė hereís the kicker: Iíve posted about this on several other forums, but nobody seems to have an answer. I have discovered that in the shutter speed mode if you set it to 1/30, when viewing itís output on a computer monitor SUDDENLY ALL THE INTERLACING DISSAPEARS. I canít figure out whatís going on in there, bit it looks almost exactly like the 30P motion from the JVC HD10U. It does not appear to be doing this by cutting the vertical resolution in half and just using every other line. The resolution remains very sharp. Motion takes on that slightly liquidy quality, more like film, and is not jerky as in the Frame mode Iíve seen on other camcorders. It seems I made a really lucky choice with this camera. When viewing single frames in any other mode, the interlacing is very distracting and apparent do to the cameras high resolution. In 1/30 TV Mode, any trace of interlacing is GONE and instead you get beautiful whole frames at a time, where fast horizontal motion just slightly blurs softly like a frame of film. People who see my video (who arenít techno camera types) just say, ďWow, it doesnít look like any video Iíve ever seen before. This is sharper than broadcast TV. It looks like a movie on a DVDĒ.

Thatís my experience I have to share. I hope someone else can try this out, and post what they think. I donít believe for the price, you can go wrong with the Optura Xi.

Bill Lapson June 30th, 2004 11:19 AM

Kevin, thanks for your comments on the Optura Xi. I was attracted to this camcorder by its superior ergonimics, i.e. lots of manual controls, no need to open the LCD for altering settings. My concern was low level light performance and I haven't seen what stills look like. Is there reason to be concerned?

How is the autofocus? I tried out an Optura 10 and it seemed to be very slow in focussing and occasionally imprecise.

Bill Lapson June 30th, 2004 11:49 AM

I just called B&H regarding the Optura Xi. It has been discontinued. No replacement at this moment.

Kevin A. Sturges June 30th, 2004 01:02 PM

Wow, that's too bad this little gem has been discontinued. Yes, the auto focus is slow. Much slower than my old Sony, and it hunts around a bit when you move the camera around or zoom. That is the main thing I don't like about it.

I've gotten used to it now, and have learned to give it a full second before pushing the button. Most broadcast footage doesn't pan around alot, they frame first then shoot. If you use it like that it's fine.

I am happy with the low light ability of this camera. I don't think I had unrealistic expectations going in (even with it's big 1/3" chip size). It's more senstive than what I had, there is very little noise present, and the color stays OK down to a decent level. Things improve a lot if you white balance on a sheet of paper, even in low light. No orange cast then.

Here's a web page I made of VIDEO frame grabs, from the first couple days of using it. Most of the shots from halfway down were done with very low lighting at night. I used the night shot on the closeups of my cats, and the Spotlight mode works fantastic of city shots at night with streetlights. Very sharp detail and color, with NO noise in the blacks.


Bill Lapson June 30th, 2004 01:27 PM

Thanks for posting the stills. Nice pictures!

Boyd Ostroff June 30th, 2004 01:43 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Struthers : I suspect there will be lots of pdx10's and xl1's on sale very soon. -->>>

You are joking, right? This Sony is a tiny consumer level camera that doesn't even allow you to control shutter speed. Now I'm sure other cool stuff is on the way (who knows when), but it an't this one...

Bill Lapson June 30th, 2004 06:19 PM

I just went to look at a Sony 330. Watched the nth salesperson fumble with the LCD touch screen.

Does anyone have good words for the touchscreen? I like to think of myself as open-minded and very adept with most gadgets but this seems like a pretty poor human interface. How about you Apple users? Do you accept this interface?

By comparison, the Canon cameras have an inelegant but simple interface. You fumble with it a few times and then you have it. All items on the menus are quickly accessible via a button and scroll wheel. All adjustments can be made either in the viewfinder or on the LCD. The Optura Xi (now discontinued) was especially simple.

After several weeks of shopping for a camcorder, I am a bit appalled at their poor user interfaces. Also, I'm surprised to see that from cheapest to most expensive, all the camcorders have blurred video images during panning.

Bill Lapson July 1st, 2004 12:29 AM

I just realized that using fixed focus and turning off the image stabilizer might result in better "panned" shots. Does this make sense?

I haven't bought a camcorder yet so I'll have to try this setup in the shop.

So far, the Sony 330 seems to be best (for my purposes). I'm not sure the new version of it is a great improvement (350?). The stills look fine, it has a strobe light, video in the LCD looks good, reviews all positive. Only the touchscreen interface makes me gag a bit. Haven't found a single salesperson who was competent with it. Haven't read anything nice about it in DV Info Net either.

Norm Couture July 1st, 2004 08:05 AM

I agree wit Bill about TouchScreen control.
I haven't tried it; just read about it. But I'm used to hit the Manual Aperture button, fiddle the jog-dial to adjust the iris/gain while fine-tuning the manual focus ring, and press REC.
I can't imagine navigating through on-screen menus to go from one control to the other while my subject is doing its act!
On the other hand, I know that integrating most controls in the software can substantially reduce the production cost of a camcorder: less buttons and moving parts to assemble mean more affordable price.
Compromise is the magic word here...

Boyd Ostroff July 1st, 2004 08:08 AM

I agree that the touchscreen is not the way to control basic camera functions. However it works OK for secondary features, as implemented on the PDX-10. The spot focus and spot meter are two useful additions.

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