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-   Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-trv950-pdx10-companion/)
-   -   PDX-10 vs. HVR-A1U (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-trv950-pdx10-companion/69755-pdx-10-vs-hvr-a1u.html)

Dave Alvin June 18th, 2006 01:34 AM

PDX-10 vs. HVR-A1U
 
So I think I am going to pick up a PDX-10 for the following reasons;

1-16:9 native chip
2-3 chip color processing
3-XLR
4-I owned a TRV900 for many years and all my footage looked great

... but I could get an HVR-A1U for approximately the same price. My concerns are;

1-Single chip
2-HDV is only a transitional format
3-Poor compression
4-No real distribution options for HD

I think true 16:9 is more important than High Def at this particular moment and contarary to popular belief Standard Def is not dead........ YET!
Also, I don't like 24p, so I am kind of into the PDX-10 right now and just shooting straight DVCAM.
I know I will need to go HD in a couple of years, but why break the bank now when the HD format on the lower cost pro camcorders hasn't been worked out yet?

Am I crazy?

What am I missing?

All comments/opinions welcome.

PEACE

John Miller June 18th, 2006 05:01 AM

I completely agree with you!

Before I got my PDX10, I had seriously contemplated HDV. My primary reason for rejecting it was simply that it used MPEG2 compression and that introduces a lot of additional demands on processing power due to the interframe compression. (I'd only consider "true" HD - i.e., non-MPEG - but that's a lot of money!)

I'm not into huge "home theater" systems - my main TV is an old (+8 yrs) 27" Sony. DVDs look great on it. Given the viewing distance and size of the TV, I'd be hard pushed to see a significant improvement with HD. (With a montrous TV and sitting a few inches away, that would be different).

Just my 2c...

Boyd Ostroff June 18th, 2006 05:16 AM

I've never used an A1 but I have a PDX-10 and a Z1. There are some merits to your logic, although I'm *guessing* you will get a nicer image with the A1 by shooting HDV and downconverting in camera as you capture.

The 3 chip vs 1 chip thing has been beaten to death in the A1 forum, and the general impression I've gotten is that it's not such a big deal. But there are some other factors which might make you lean towards the PDX-10, like the fact that the A1 loads tapes from the bottom which means you have to remove it from a tripod. I think that one factor might be a deal breaker for me personally, but others seem to find it acceptable.

The A1 is actually a lot smaller than the PDX-10 which might be either good or bad for you (see the A1 review in the current issue of DV magazine which shows the camera next to a burrito ;-) Evidently the A1 doesn't have completely manual control either, and physical knobs and buttons have been replaced by touch screen controls.

But if you're in NYC then you're fortunate - go to B&H Photo and play around with both cameras. I would base my decision on the look and feel of the camera as much as the image quality personally.

Let us know what you decide and why.

Dave Alvin June 18th, 2006 10:01 AM

Yeah, I do live in NY and I have been over at B&H a lot lately.

As for the color imaging on the A1U, it seems like from what I have read on these forums that there is a problem with how the A1U reproduces reds. I know red is a tricky color to work with, but it seems to be a big problem (supposedly it comes out pinkish). I don't see how one chip can compare to three in this aspect- But if I am wrong, please tell me why you think so.

I think I am going with the PDX-10 now and then I will wait for some killer HD gear to come out down the road. The Panasonic HVX 200 is tempting, but withe P2 cards that's like $10,000.

Also, I am an Indie film maker, so I wouldn't be shooting weddings or anything with this camera- just movies.

Marc Gaudet June 18th, 2006 11:55 AM

pdx -10
 
are we talking about one of the first pro consumer camera that sony put out like 10-8 years ago .if so i have one and im still using it today its my little baby actualy its a great ~~b~~camera if your using a pd 150 or pd 170 it almost looks the same

Dave Alvin June 18th, 2006 01:21 PM

No, the PDX-10 is not the first prosumer camcorder put out 8-10 years ago. Its a few years old and both Sony and B&H list it as a professional camera. Maybe you were referring to the TRV 900 I mentioned? PDX-10 has several upgrades on that model, but I loved my TRV 900. I'm hoping the PDX-10 works out just as well.

Ian Thomas June 18th, 2006 01:41 PM

Dave

I also had the trv900 which was a very good camera, but the pdx10 has true 16:9 and once you get familiar with it gives amazing results, lovely little cam
go for it

Dave Alvin June 18th, 2006 04:48 PM

Thanks Ian, I think I am going to buy one tomorrow and go make another movie.

Thanks for the feedback!

Marc Gaudet June 18th, 2006 09:16 PM

oh i was referring to the older model wich was a pd 100 it has the same body and it almost operates the same or is it called pdr-100 orsomething along that line

Boyd Ostroff June 19th, 2006 06:59 AM

The PD-100 and PD-100a were the "pro" version of the TRV-900 whereas the PDX-10 was the pro version of the TRV-950. Actually the bodies are completely different as is everything inside. Both cameras had their strengths. The PD-100 had 1/4" chips, full manual control and better low light response than the PDX-10. I believe it only recorded in DVCAM mode. It had a removable XLR adaptor block which was connected via a mini-plug.

The PDX-10 had smaller (1/5") but higher resolution chips, a nicer LCD screen, shot real 16:9 and had a removable XLR block which connected to the camera with an intelligent hotshoe. It had manual control, with some caveats; there is a little ND filter wheel inside which automatically kicks in even when the camera is in full manual mode. It can't be disabled or manually over-ridden and Sony has never documented it. The purpose is to force you to use iris openings in the "sweet spot" of the lens. The PDX-10 doesn't do as well in low light and it has a tendency to show vertical smear when bright point light sources are in the frame.

So depending on your priorities, some people prefer the PD-100 for low light situations and full manual control, while others (like me) like the PDX-10 for its high quality 16:9.

Marc Gaudet June 19th, 2006 09:46 AM

pd 100 glitch
 
thanks boyd for your tech knowledge that whats fun about this site ive filmed with both and there both decent camera except for my pd 100 that is starting to glitch on me when you press record camera shuts off you have to repeat it 5-6 time before it actualy record do anyone know why?

Duane Smith June 19th, 2006 01:02 PM

I have both a PDX10 and an A1U, and to be perfectly honest there are some things that I prefer about the PDX10 and there are other things I prefer about the A1U. In general, the PDX10 wins in regards to control buttons/tape loading/viewfinder...but the "final image" picture quality of the A1U is better (once the HDV is downconverted to DV) than the PDX10. I still use both cameras, but when I can only pick up one, I choose the A1U every time.

Now having said that, the PDX10 is still a shockingly spectacular camera, and you will not be disapointed with it!

- Duane

Dave Alvin June 19th, 2006 02:08 PM

Thanks Duane for the info. When you say the down converted image is better, how do you mean? Resolution, color, sharpness, all of the above?
I am curious because it doesn't seem that the single CMOS chip reproduces color as well as the three ccd's do? Since you have both cameras I would love to hear your opinion on that particular issue.

Thanks in advance.

Boyd Ostroff June 19th, 2006 02:41 PM

One other thing to consider... the chips in the PDX-10 are really little - about 1/5". Although the A1 only has one chip, it's considerably larger - 1/3" which is the same as the Z1.

Since I don't have an A1 I don't know how much that helps, but it may address some of the PDX-10's shortcomings such as vertical smear.

Dave Alvin June 19th, 2006 03:36 PM

Keep Sending Me Feedback & Opinions
 
Hey Boyd,

Yes, I know the PDX-10's chips are like 1/4.7". But that should primarily affect its low light capability, right? I shoot with lights and I don't do any wedding or event work, so I feel that I can deal with its unimpressive low lux rating (I think its like minimum 7 lux).

Also, the A1U uses a different chip than the Z1U. I think the A1U uses a CMOS chip and the Z1U uses 3 CCD 1/3" chips.

Am I wrong about that?

Chris Barcellos June 19th, 2006 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Alvin
Hey Boyd,

Yes, I know the PDX-10's chips are like 1/4.7". But that should primarily affect its low light capability, right? I shoot with lights and I don't do any wedding or event work, so I feel that I can deal with its unimpressive low lux rating (I think its like minimum 7 lux).

Also, the A1U uses a different chip than the Z1U. I think the A1U uses a CMOS chip and the Z1U uses 3 CCD 1/3" chips.

Am I wrong about that?

I've got to believe that chip size will also affect resolution and color rendition too, else my 1/3 VX2000 should be as good as a 2/3 chip camera.

Duane Smith June 19th, 2006 08:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Alvin
Thanks Duane for the info. When you say the down converted image is better, how do you mean? Resolution, color, sharpness, all of the above?
I am curious because it doesn't seem that the single CMOS chip reproduces color as well as the three ccd's do? Since you have both cameras I would love to hear your opinion on that particular issue.

Thanks in advance.


Since the A1U downconverts in-camera to standard interlaced DV, the final resolution between the two cameras in DV mode is *exactly* the same (720x480 with a 1.2 pixel aspect ratio).

But regardless of that, the sharpness and definition of the A1U's footage is noticably better, particularly with areas of color next to briliant highlights. The A1U's color is also generally a bit more lively...except for RED of course, which is tricky to get right on the A1U (you can read plenty about that in the A1 forum). But honestly, as long as you white balance carefully and religiously, most of the red problems aren't anything to worry about.

Also, both cameras SUCK in low light situations, but the A1 is a bit more forgiving...that is to say, it can be 'pushed' a bit further than the PDX10 can. Also, the dark areas IN GENERAL are better on the A1 because of the black stretch feature. The A1U also has the addition of an IR nightshot mode, but that's nothing more than a novelty; I can't imagine the 'green' nightshot footage being even remotely useful for my needs.

Note that the vertical smear problem with the PDX10 is very real. You can learn to shoot around it once you learn why it happens (bright, direct light) but that's one thing that I just don't have to worry about with the A1...no vertical smear on it.

I know that it doesn't make any sense to think that a 1 CMOS cam is better than a 3 CCD cam, but the proof is in the pudding. And as far as my eyes are concerned, the A1's footage simply looks better. And then if you DO import in the HD footage...prepare to be blown away! The PDX10 obviously can't even compete with the A1's full 1080i resolution (which looks SPECTACULAR by the way).

Oh, and about the manual controls between the two cams...while I definately prefer the way the PDX10 is setup (with all of the primary controls all in one place on the back of the cam), I must admit that for the way that I work, the A1's controls aren't BAD or anything. You see, I set the white balance manually with a Petrol card; then set the shutter speed at 60; then I adjust the audio levels for my surroundings--and all that is done on the touch screen. It's kind of annoying to have to use the screen for those settings, but it's pretty much just a set-it-and-forget-it dealm, because after those settings are locked down, all I have to deal with is FOCUS and EXPOSURE...and the neat thing about the A1 is that both of those controls are on the FRONT of the camera, near my hand. Granted, I definately prefer the little wheel on the PDX10, but in day-to-day use, I've gotten quite used to the exposure lever on the A1. The manual focus ring isn't as good as the PDX10, but it's not like the PDX10 had a good one either. I acutally use auto focus quite a bit on both cams (shocking!) but truthfully, the PDX10's auto focus wanders less, probably due to the lower resolution.

The audio functions between the two are practically identical. Same XLR box (just with a different pigtail plug) and same crappy stock Sony mic. Same basic audio controls in the cams themselves. Audio is a wash between the two.

One big nasty problem with the A1 is that it's a bottom loader, so you'll have to get some sort of a step up adaptor. There are several on the market, and they all will do the job...but I still prefer the PDX10's top loader.

I also prefer the way filters attach to the PDX10; because it comes with a secondary 'large' hood, I am able to run a UV and/or circle polarizer filter and still use a hood. But the silly design of the A1 hood doesn't allow that. Thankfully, I use a wide angle adapter lense with it's own hood and filter setup, so that doesn't affect me much, but if you didn't want a wide angle lense on the A1, your filter/hood options are pretty much zilch.

Also, like Boyd pointed out, the A1 is substantially smaller and lighter; for my needs, that's good. Your requirements may be different.




Okay, that's all I can think of right now. Ha-ha! I hope that it's helpful info. Like I said, each cam had its strengths, and if you do decide to ge the PDX10, realise that there's nothing terribly wrong with it if you know how to work around its quirks. I know for a fact that it produces absolutely beautiful 16:9 DV footage in the proper lighting conditions. Mine has been an absolute workhorse that paid for itself time and time again, and I still love it.

Just consider your needs (how you will use the cam, what kind of conditions you'll be shooting in, what accessories/filters/lens you'll need, etc) and determine what will best work for you.

A very long-winded 2

- Duane

Dave Alvin June 19th, 2006 09:15 PM

THanKS!
 
Hey Duane,

You the man! Thanks for answering every possible question I could ever have and then some. I owe you a beer.

Cheers,
DvLvN

Jarrod Whaley June 19th, 2006 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I've got to believe that chip size will also affect resolution and color rendition too, else my 1/3 VX2000 should be as good as a 2/3 chip camera.

Not necessarily--some of the smaller chips use smaller pixels to compensate. The resolution and color rendition of smaller chips can be quite good. The XL2's chips, for example, are the same size as the XL1's, but pack in about double the number of pixels. And the 4:3 section of the chip is closer to 1/4" than 1/3", but the image is still quite a bit more detailed than in the XL1.

The trade-off with the smaller pixels, as Dave was saying, comes into play with light sensitivity, and vertical smear is sometimes more of an an issue. Also, smaller chips produce an inherently larger depth of field than large chips.

Dave Alvin June 19th, 2006 11:27 PM

Thanks Jarrod. That's what I thought, although I must admit I wish the PDX-10 had bigger chips, but then it would cost more money.

Bottom line is they have yet to invent a perfect pro level camcorder for a consumer budget. Lots of good ones, but nothing "perfect".

Dare to dream.........

Boyd Ostroff June 20th, 2006 07:40 AM

Excellent post Duane! Thanks for sharing your experiences, and they seem to fit with comments others have made in the past.

Laurence Kingston June 20th, 2006 12:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Duane Smith
Also, both cameras SUCK in low light situations, but the A1 is a bit more forgiving...that is to say, it can be 'pushed' a bit further than the PDX10 can. Also, the dark areas IN GENERAL are better on the A1 because of the black stretch feature. The A1U also has the addition of an IR nightshot mode, but that's nothing more than a novelty; I can't imagine the 'green' nightshot footage being even remotely useful for my needs.

Actually, the nightshot mode of the A1U is pretty good if you combine it with the B&W or Sepia effect. Basically this converts the footage from green and white to black and white as you're shooting it. It looks pretty darned good and is quite effective in dark situations. I have a wide angle lens on my A1 and that blocks the IR light so I have that function turned off. It's still pretty good though.

Duane Smith June 20th, 2006 07:24 PM

Hmmm...you know, I might have to try that, Laurence. I have the wide angle lense too, so I should have the same light blocking condition as you do.

Thanks for the tip!

Stu Holmes July 5th, 2006 08:49 AM

You can attach a separate IR illuminator to teh top of the A1 so that gets rond the internal IR-LED blocked by the WA lens issue.

Also you can buy completely separate and far more powerful IR illuminators that will greatly increase IR levels and let you get better footage from the Nightshot mode.

Tommy Haupfear July 6th, 2006 10:02 AM

Duane, I enjoyed reading your post on the A1U and PDX10. I've owned a PDX10 in the past and I just got an A1U last week but its nice to hear from someone who has both at the same time. Very well put!


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