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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old July 18th, 2004, 09:01 AM   #1
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PDX-10 @ Kilimandjaro, need some advice

Hey all,

First of all I want to thank you for your posts that make me decide to get a PDX 10 (Pal) which I will receive in 1-2 day(s). It is the only (good) forum that treats this camera that I found on the WWW. I got the pros (native 16/9 which is lovely) and the cons (low light, vertical smear) and I think that I will like this little piece, even the low light prob could become a bit boring eventually. I was using a few yeas ago in another company I worked for a PD 100 which a really liked because of the big LCD and overall ergonomic. For my company I got later a PD 150 (around 2001), I needed a camera which looks Pro as we were doing Image films for companies and we did not want to present ourselves with a „little handycam“. I must say that I was pretty impressed of its low-light qualities because of the bigger CCDs. But I was annoyed of the little 2,5“ screen which is tiny and more funny, about the overall handling, as well as the position to hold the cam. It can get heavy if you are following people a whole day, don’t want to be low angle all the time and have no possibilities to use a tripod. But this might be a very personal impression. So I am pretty excited about this little PDX10, because I looked for the smallest 3 ccd cam around for my Africa trip, so for my personal use only and business proposes if necessary, which should be a Sony to be able to read all my previous DV Cam Tapes.
I am going to do a Trekking trip, with backpack and sleeping bag – and my new cam. So I am extremely limited of space.

Any advices of what I could need as accessories?

I will go on the Kilimandjaro, that means that I will have no power supply for about 6 days.
I am going for 3 extra NP-QM 91 with one „normal“ charger, as the quick charger is too expensive IMO. I then could overnight charge 2 batteries, one in the charger and on in the cam. I will have further on at least every two days a power supply overnight.
Further on I am going for the TELE from Sony to get the lions closer to my cam ;) , but I am aware of that using a Tele on full zoom (and even Digital zoom x 2 -> 48x, I am going to check this out Boyd) should need some kind of tripod if not the images could become too shaky, right? A bit would not bother me, but not too much, though. I don’t think that the stabilizer could handle that. This is an important aspect for me, because I do not really see myself carrying a big tripod with me while trekking. Any suggestions?
I am expecting good weather, sun and a very blue sky, but I do not understand the internal automatic ND Filters in the cam, should I get an extra ND or other kind of filters? It would be sad to get a light grey sky on screen.
I will have as well some temperature changes, on the top of the Kilimandjaro it can be up to - 15 C°, pretty cold..., whereas the Safaries are more about ca. 28 C°. Are there any knows issues about using the PDX10 in very cold temperature?
An important point is as well the bag, I do not want to be considered as a pro when filming, more as a hobby filmer, and the bag should be tiny and easy to handle, so either installed on my bag pack or even a hip back. I read some posts but was not really convinced in the different propositions as I feel that the bags would be too big. … I would the put the charger and batteries in the bag pack and have the camera on me, ready to shot. But I have to stay realistic as I would carry as well around 20 DV Tapes.
This is my first trip like that and I want to prepared to focus on shooting and not on bad surprises that I would certainly not be able to sort out over there...
Thanks for your help and all the advices that helped me to buy this cam,

Felix Sorger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2004, 10:28 AM   #2
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Hi Felix,

Glad you've decided to participate in our little online party here at DVinfo, and thanks for the vote of confidence. Sounds like you've done your homework and are aware of the PDX-10's limitations as well as its strengths. Here are a few thoughts as they come to mind. I'm sure others will have ideas for you as well.

I have never run a QM91 completely dead, but have gone for over 3 hours and it appeared that it would make it to 4. This was while running the LCD screen the full time, zooming in and out frequently, steadyshot turned on and using the on camera mike with phantom power. So just make sure you're bringing enough batteries; I miss the 8 hour battery capacity I get on my VX-2000. There was a discussion here awhile ago about alternative batteries. There are some belt-packs which connect to the camera in the same fashion as the battery charger. Perhaps these are worth looking into?

Another decision will be whether recording in DVCAM mode is worth the trouble of carrying 50% more tape on the trip I suppose.

If you're using a 2x lens then you will definitely need as sturdy a tripod as you can haul (not to mention going up to 48x with the 2x digital zoom). Even my heavy Miller tripod is easily jolted at this magnification. Unfortunately I don't have a suggestion for something lightweight. I suppose you could look into some of the carbon fiber models. This might be a separate topic you should explore in the camera support forum since it really isn't specific to the PDX-10. I sometimes hike around with my Bogen/Manfrotto 3221WM "Wilderness" tripod, but never on a trek like yours, so it's probably larger and heavier than you have in mind.

You haven't mentioned a wide angle lens. You might want one of these to capture big scenic vistas in all their 16:9 glory :-) There has been frequent discussion of the options for these if you browse back through the forum.

I would get a couple ND filters; they're cheap, small and might be useful. If you want to shoot dramatic skies and sunsets these can help you avoid the high shutter speeds which aggravate the vertical smear problem.

Make sure you have something to keep the lens, adaptors and filters clean. I carry around lens tissue and cleaning fluid, a microfibre cloth, and one of the squeeze bulb brushes.

An LCD hood might be another good accessory for use in the bright sun. I use the Petrol hood that was included as a promotion when I got the camera. They are inexpensive, very lightweight and can fold up to almost nothing (although I keep mine together because you need some origami skills to figure out how to assemble it).

Have a great trip,;e'll look forward to hearing about your adventures!
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Old July 19th, 2004, 02:50 AM   #3
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I have the PDX10, too.

About filters:

Hoya multicoated "HMC Super" UV+IR filter could help at high altitude and with long range shots (scenery). It protects the lens and removes ultraviolet (haze at distance, blue at high altitude) and infrared...

A polarizer is quite nice because it can make the clouds more visible and darken the blue of the sky. Also gives darker green (more contrast) on trees etc. Less reflection from water means it might be easier to shoot animals that are at/in/on water. Very nice for static shots.

Hoya, Heliopan, B+W... Just get a multicoated one to fight additional reflections.

About tripods:

The Manfrotto 441 Carbon One tripod is quite nice. Lightweight and quite stable. Optional spiked feet. Optional feet for snow and/or sand/mud. I comes in three-section and four-section models. I have the three section model and I feel that it's a bit too long for backpacking (and airplane travel). It's a bit wide on top of a backpack unless you manage to attach it vertically there. So I prefer to carry it in front of me just like one would carry a gun. A tripod bag is on my wishlist, though. Note: I haven't hiked any extended distances with that tripod yet.

The four-section model would be shorter and thus probably better suited for mounting on a backpack. A RC700 light video head is not a "pro head", but it's very small, very light, very portable. The addition of a "compact leveling ball" accessory let's you level the head easily.

All this is 2.9 kg total.

You could also consider the Manfrotto MDeVe series carbon fiber tripods and the "Carbon One Video tripod". Those are even lighter and only need a head. Total weight with head 2.4 kg or so.

Have you considered taking a Manfrotto carbon fibre monopod and a tilting head with you? Very light weight. Very compact. Removes vertical motion.

If Manfrotto is too expensive, the any monopod would be better than nothing, I guess...
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Old July 19th, 2004, 04:05 AM   #4
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...although the Manfrotto MDeVe tripod is not stealth with its bright red ball...

If the sky is very bright then it might happen than the contrast between the sky and the shadows on the ground is too much for the camera. A very annoying and constant problem for me. You have to choose: either you'll have bright white sky and nice colors for ground/plants/animals or the sky is nice but everything else gets underexposed (you might be able to fix that when editing, though - but don't believe me, I'm uncertain). I haven't been in Africa so I don't know the lighting conditions there but I guess the light is intense.

A polarizer sometimes helps a bit with the easily overexposed sky.

A contrast filter would be better and very expensive (Tiffen UltraContrast etc) and would also require a mattebox (big, heavy, expensive), so no contrast filter for you this time.

A gradual ND filter would be very helpful because you could use it to darken the sky only (and all tall trees, btw.) while not darkening the ground. You could mount such square gradient filter on a "Cokin filter holder". Cokin is the versatile low budget low weight alternative to a $300+ mattebox...

PDX10 tries very hard not to use the smallest aperture available. Very small apertures make the image quality worse (because of diffraction). It uses internal neutral density filters to cut down the brightness when needed. If it's very bright then you could lend a helping hand by applying an external ND filter too. This would give more freedom in choosing an aperture for example.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 12:00 PM   #5
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Hey Boyd and Ralf,

Thank you for your input. You definitely hit one point I was not really aware of which is the tripod issue. I was looking around a bit and it is like always: you want to get good stuff; you have to pay for it. You can get quiet far in expenses on accessories as everybody know, but since I have some other stuff to pay for this trip my “camerabudget” stays limited. I shot often with a Manfrotto 501 which unfortunately got stolen, but I think it would not be the right material to go with anyway as it is too big and too heavy. But I definitely need something, for sure, and I was thinking as well of a Monopod. In the other discussions I read as well, that I should not get for a remote Sony tripod, because there are just not good. And guess what I am doing. (I better hide myself now to avoid the old tomatoes and eggs flying... ;))
I will go for the lightweight Sony remote tripod which is 0,8 kg, small and which can hold a camera on it and therefore produce a still image. I know, that I will not be able to pan, but the price is just not to beat, 60 Euros for it instead of 600 for a „real tripod“ are an important difference for me. So no pans, but a stable image. In plus I could mount the tripod on the car roof and operate it via the remote through the sliding roof, having the display turned down to me. OK, the Jeep should not move, because another issue of the tripod in certainly an instability. I hope you could follow me. The tripod will end up as a photo tripod for a friend, and later I will go for a real one, as time comes by.
Boyd, you really make me think of a WA, especially in situations in the Jeep (again) while shooting and interviewing the driver or other people it is really necessary. Even though I am shooting in 16/9 and will already have a little wider angle than in 4/3 it is an important issue, and I am still thinking of it. But I don’t know if it would be that important for far landscape shots, I really have to check it out with the camera in the hand. BTW thanks to Steve Roffler for his WA comparison videos. I would then go for the HG from sony which I found for 179 Euros as well as the HG Tele.
Ralf, thanks for your filter suggestions, I am going for the UV Filter, some ND and maybe for a pola. I don’t have the camera in my hands yet, a stupid question: If I mount a filter on the objective and want as well to mount a Tele or a WA, will the filter be between the mount and the WA/Tele or it is then not possible to use filters??
Boyd, of course I will get a cleaning kit, and thank you to remind me of the LCD hood, good idea, wasn’t thinking about it but it can be extremely useful in sunny situations!
The last issue I did not really sort out is the bag, should be a rucksack and no shoulder bag, even though some say that I shoulder bag is faster to get ready to shot. But comfort is important as well, especially for my back! Anybody used a Loewepro Orion AW?
Felix Sorger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 19th, 2004, 12:08 PM   #6
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Make sure you get filters with threaded fronts if you want to put them between lenses or stack them. In the case of the telephoto I find this works OK (but no doubt degrades the image slightly). However with my wide angle it will cause som vignetting. But I'm using a .45x and I think the Sony lens is .6x or so. Best to check for yourself, but I don't think the Sony has any front filter threads (the telephoto doesn't), so that won't be an option. Also, remember that the LCD screen and viewfinder both overscan so you may not see any vignetting. Best to check all this before you leave using a good monitor or on your NLE if you don't have one. That way you'll have an idea of the limits.

No real help for you regarding a bag, I use a LowePro vidcam 5 shoulder bag personally.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 02:37 PM   #7
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I heard good reviews for this tripod: Libec TH-M20.
The quality/price ratio looks pretty good.


I'm planning on buying it soon.

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Old July 19th, 2004, 04:03 PM   #8
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it looks like is has a great Price/quality.

Unfortunetaly it seems that the tripod is not distributed in Europe :(

By that I found out that the deals on accessories (f.ex. Sellers Ebay USA) are quiet cheaper than in good old Europe. I wonder if I should give it a try...

But time gets short, I am leaving on the 16th of August...
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Old July 20th, 2004, 03:25 AM   #9
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Remember to add value added tax to the prices when you order from abroad...

About filters:

Sony Telephoto/wideangle lenses do not have front threads, right? Thus you cannot put a filter in front of them. Clamp-on filter adapters do exist, but that's a bit complicated a solution with adaptor rings and all. So, there is no simple and portable way of adding filtering to the wideangle shots. Inside a car you won't need any filters, though. If it's too bright for outdoor close range wideangle shots (of people, obviously), then you might seek shade or just use the high shutter speeds.

You might be able to put a filter between the camera and the telephoto lens (I haven't tested it, so ask someone else too). Depending on situation either a ND-filter or an UV filter or a polarizer would give the best results. You might even do without any filters - depending on the situation. There are reasonably priced 37mm Hoya "HMC" multicoated UV and Circ.Pol filters available at bhphotovideo.com. Get a model with front threads.
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Old August 6th, 2004, 03:48 AM   #10
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Hey folks,

just to give you a little update concerning my accessories and trip to Africa.
I got the camera and I must say that I am impressed, it has pros and cons and all were discussed here in this forum, so i knew exactly what I got. Thanks for that.
A few remarks, unsorted...:
The LCD screen is great in 4/3 mode, but in 16/9 it gets a little „pixxelly“.
After some usage you get used to it. The 16/9 mode is just awesome.
The PDX10 is really small, I was used to shoot with a PD150 and complaining about the size and weight, then the PDX10 is exactly the masterpiece I was looking for. The camera stays handy, you can pretend to be a amateur filmer even though you get professional images, nice image quality.
As I told before, I do not need to impress with my camera, even though if you plug the external XLR adapter, the microphone, the big „sunshield“ and a big QM91, your mount gets quiet big....
I was really afraid about its main weakness, the lowlight issue, but it is not that bad, I really can live with it... The vertical smear – I shot some tests and yes, it is there, but it is not shocking me more than that..

The accessories I finally got:

3 original Sony NP-QM91. It should be enough to last 5 days without electricity, which should be the worst case scenario… I got a pretty good deal for the batteries and did not want to take the risk to buy « copies », as I heard that their living time is much less than the original ones, and that some just won’t work on the camera..

1 AC-VQ50
Finally I took the mono quick charger.
Get me some power and I recharge one QM91 in about 3h – 3h30 from completely empty to full, to normal it is even one hour less. That is really lovely and fast charging.

1 HVL-S3D (3w lamp, taking the power from the camera battery)
I will have some situations in the middle of the night. This lamp is tiny and very light, it will light some faces in front of the camera and that’s it. Zoom in a little so you don not get too much “spotlight” and configure your W/B and CP to get a nice and balanced image. It is pretty power consuming though. One issue: You cannot use the light if you have mounted the XLR adapter which is quiet annoying.
But I don’t think that this will be a big problem for me.

The High Grade Tele from Sony. I was quiet surprised when I saw the heavy vignetting. Basically you can use the objective only from 50% to 100% zoom.
If you add a filter (ND for example) it is even less. The image quality is good though, what you should expect from this price.

WA-Digital Optics x.45 with macro
Yeah, Boyd, I finally opted for this objective that you like and own as well. I am not disappointed. You really should check the Macro out !! It is fantastic and you can get some weird shots of objects just is front of the camera. Make sure that you have enough light and you are going to impress people… I am a Macro lover, so this is why I went for this WA, of course, Boyd made the decision simple.
Thanks for that.

I got the ND8 from Sony which you can mount between the lens and some converters, pretty useful. But be careful when you mount the converter not to force, you will have trouble to get the filter of again…

Yeah, and I went for the little Sony-tripod, which is just tiny and very lightweight (800g). A friend gave me his heavy Sony-tripod which has a OK head, but it is just too heavy. So I will take the lightweight with me (with a really bad head), be sure not to pan with a TELE mounted, use your remote control to start/stop recording and have a stable underground and it will do. Better than no tripod at all. I must say that I am really impressed of its size. Then again you can’t expect too much, what I did not, reading the critics here in this forum about the Sony tripods.

For the bag I got a Loewepro Mini Trekker Classic, which sells as almost half price that the actual AW Version. It is lovely. I have everything in there, the tripod attached externally. For all the accessories I got I is just perfect, in the beginning I was afraid that it would be too little, but it is not the case. I am taking for the moment the whole stuff to my office and can even put my 14“ Ibook in the outer bag. Nice.
And again, it looks that you are going swimming, but not like if you have a prosumer camera equipment end editing suite with you…

I am still missing two important things,
A LCD Hood, which I am unable to find here in Luxemburg unfortunately (grrr), even on Ebay (Europe) – nothing –
and a UV-Filter... I guess the protecting filter in the R37NK has no UV protection...
But I think that I will have most of the time the ND8 on, so then I would not need a UV filter, right? Only on the Kilimanjaro, maybe it could be useful. Please advice.
But I am horrified of grey and blurry pictures which a heavy UV influence could cause.

So far, so good. I will continue my tests and I will be prepared for this hopefully great trip waiting for me – almost 4 weeks in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania...


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Old August 6th, 2004, 09:07 AM   #11
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I have a 3 stop ND filter on almost all the time I'm shooting in daylight, but I wouldn't recommend stacking it with a UV filter. If I were you I'd also leave the LCD closed and use the viewfinder. That way your batteries will last longer, and you don't need to worry about the LCD hood.
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Old August 6th, 2004, 09:10 AM   #12
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Thanks for the update Felix, sounds like you've put together a nice kit. Happy travels!
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