Notes #1

This is only the first page. See also Page 2, Page 3, Page 4.

Email/News from readers. Contents:

1) Valli N     Dropped camera on safari, small dent but works ok.
2) Warren LC   Walkman accessories, Sony VAIO
3) John B      Story: impressing the client with a small camera
4) Phil M      Usage at wedding, comp. to VX1000, NLE lockup
5) PMMJE       Looking for waterproof housing
6) Giles       Using outdoors, resolution measurements, NLE
7) Issac       Tripod tips over, camera still ok
8) L Mak       Performs well on trip to Antarctica, lens hood stuck
9) CN          NLE with Mac, pinch roller broke off
10) Earl P     Software codec not working (Spark+ DV card)
11) Hector M   NLE ok with Miro DC30+
12) RWL        buying mail-order, getting best price
13) L Hartmann checking out the new camera
14) Sunny      Sony's tripod with built-in remote
15) Bruce W    Travelling with the TRV900 in China
16) John M     TRV900 in rainforest, broken zoom
17) oryoki     Field report from Brazil
18) John W     Comp. to VX1000, XL1, NLE editing
19) Larry B    DSR-100, DVCAM formats
20) Rick       Factory codes for TRV900

From: "Valli Noghin" To: Subject: DV900 on safari Hi John! Just wanted to say that we took the camera to Africa (Kenya) on a few days' safari - it performed excellent! You can check some of the pictures on All those thumbnails are clickable. I can assure you the camera is pretty tough: as I jumped out of our Land Rover, I droped the camera from about 3-4 feet straight onto the dry ground... OUCH! It landed on one of the round corners just below the microphone, then on the sun hood. Luckily, the lens cap was on but it jumped off at the impact. So now it has a small, almost invisible mark at that corner. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if the hood wasn't on, or even the lens cap... but the camera is really a tough mother :) As my boss put it: "It's cool, now it looks like it's been on safari!" BTW, I've mailed you before about the PAL problem - still nothing, from either Pinnacle or Sony. I'll give them one more week, then I'll start chasing the Sony Scandinavia guy - he seemed serious. //Valli
From: Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1998 04:13:24 EST To: Subject: Re: using the TRV900 and video walkman [notes about the Sony D900 video walkman...] By the way, did you know abount the DV Walkman accessories that include a TV tuner and a jog dial editing panel that each (one at a time) attach to the left side removable contact panel? The editing gadget is quite compact and snazzy, allowing much more friendly control of the deck. One more thing . . . I just got the 450mz Vaio Sony Digial Studio PC with built-in I-Link (x2), optical audio output, S-link control, USB (x2), S-Video and composite (RCA jacks) output, 13 gigs, 128 megs (to 256), 5X DVD and much more for around $2,000. I LOVE IT! I've hooked it up to my bedroom audio/video setup and have been having a ball experimenting with the interfaces to my Sony minidisk recorder, CD-player, TRV-900, big screen TV and more. It's a completely integrated consumer product that finally has "CONVERGENCE" written all over it! It cuts out all the integration guesswork, has tons of power and has a very reasonable price. Lot of usable software included (Premiere LE, PhotoDeluxe, Works, other basic multimedia tools, blah, blah). Warren
From: "John Beech" ( To: Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 16:04:24 -0500 Story: impressing the client with a small camera Regarding the TRV900. I'm getting militant in my old age. Recently while in the States, an opportunity to visit a new client arose. I flew over and carried the TRV900 with me figuring to get some shots I could use (and boy was I right to do it as I got some excellent material). But the real reason I'm telling you this is the client took one look at the camera and said, "Where's your big camera? You said you had a camera with you. I really expected you to bring a real camera!" I looked him in the eye and responded, "Our deal is any time you're not happy with what I do, you can give me the boot... right?" He answered in the affirmative, to which I added, "Jim, I don't tell you how to make boats, don't you start telling me how to make video!" Wow, did he back off! But I was able to take this approach for two reasons. First, the customer was familiar with my work and had sought me out. Second, earlier we had had a discussion about the advances in computers in the last few years. I'd taken advantage of the situation and told him of the equal advances in video equipment too. I reminded him of this. Thus he (somewhat ruefully) exclaimed, "I can hardly believe that little camera is good enough!" I explained how yes it really was, but then proceeded to show him the wireless and shotgun microphones I was also using and explaining how they alone cost as much as the camera. Further explaining how audio advances hadn't kept pace with video advances because audio technology was already pretty mature (and of course there's no substitute for proximity when micing). We also recruited one of his people for boom operator (and she did a superb job of keeping the boom in position and the shotgun out of the shots), and another guy for working the reflector. Once he saw all this he fully relaxed. Later, the boom operator kept saying how she thought she wouldn't be able to hold the boom in position, but it was so light it was easy (carbon fiber boom)! Then the big guy said (kind of in a confidential manner), "After I saw your camera I thought I'd made a mistake, but seeing you using all this other stuff has convinced me I did the right thing in hiring you." But oddly enough, what seemed to impress him the most was using the reflector. Since the TRV900 has this neat little flip-out monitor, it was easy to show him the effects of adding lighting, and when the LCD monitor was rotated over to the mirror-mode, the boom operator was able to watch and see that she didn't get the mic into the shot. The moral? First, it's the professional use of a tool which gives professional results, not the tool itself. Of course, in my business I can take advantage of advances in camera technology because I almost never see clients (nor do they ever see my equipment). Second, I always use supplemental light on the subject . . . because that's the most important trick to remember . . . the interplay of light and shadows is what makes for good images (and mother nature's lighting goes a loooong way in making up for mankind's new and smaller CCDs). Third, there's no substitute for good audio. Fourth, the client doesn't know as much as you do. It's why he hired a pro in the first place. It's easy to reassure him... if you really are a pro. Such lessons learned from my mentor, Jaime Chung, who learned them in film, applies them to video, and freely shares the knowledge with anybody willing to learn. [...] Be warned I've taken lots of heat from fellow professionals. They acknowledge (some of them) the ability of the TRV900 to deliver acceptable images, but the big-camera-syndrome is kind of a union card, and is definitely required for good bookings (i.e. a day rate of $750-1200). Typically a client who pays you a thousand bucks will definitely look askance at your showing up with a TRV900 if he's expecting a something more. The miniature TRV900 will not generate this income stream in some part because of big-camera-syndrome. Please also note I do not say the picture is as "good" as that from a more professional camera, simply that often it is good enough . . . there's a difference! Especially when the details of using supplemental lighting and good sound are attended to. These can never (in my experience) be neglected (kind of like having the best car in the world, but not putting enough air in the tires, or running poor fuel). Also, it would be useful to mention the final delivery is on VHS tape. In the case of something going to air or a cable head end, it's possible the product would be inadequate. In all cases though, it's the story which makes the decision and in cases where bigger cameras can't get the story, the broadcasters will use whatever they have. Witness America's Funniest Home Videos, et al, and the broadcast of non-professional video of disasters, etc. John Beech - GM (and janitor)
From: "Phil Mathews" Subject: Usage at wedding, comp. to VX1000, NLE lockup Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 08:12:58 -0600 Hi John, I just got a TRV900 last Sat. (12/19) from B&H Photo NY NY. Since I already have a VX1000, I picked up on most of the functions of the TRV900 fairly quick and used it at a wedding that night. I was pleased with it's performance (there were a lot of bright red poinsettias on the church stage, and they came out looking over saturated and soft focus looking, but everything else came out looking good). I loved having the flip-out LCD viewer. When using my VX1000 at all night affairs, I would literally have hand and arm cramps from hand holding the camera, but with the TRV, I was comfortable all night. The zoom was very touchy...I could start out with a nice, smooth, slow zoom, but if you don't have the touch of a surgeon, the slightest added pressure throws the zoom into high speed. (I don't have the touch of a surgeon, I guess). Incidentally, my VX1000 zoom seems hard to start out smoothly...there's sort of a jump when it first takes off, but then works smoothly. One thing I didn't like on the TRV that the VX1000 has is a more convenient and useful manual audio level control. The only way I could ride the level it seemed, was to have the camera's menu system covering the screen and used the little rear dial to ride it. I did end up using my little Studio 1 Productions XLR adaptor attached to the bottom of the camera. I left the TRV in manual level, turned off the menu screen, then used the nice little knobs (2 mic/line with 2 level set knobs) to ride the levels using a shotgun mounted on cam and a wireless on the preacher. This seemed to work great, and it was wonderful having the audio level meter on bottom screen (the VX1000 has no thru screen meter...but you constantly have to look away from the viewfinder and peek at the level meter on the cam rear which is kind of OK, but it is not lit up, so it is most often hard to even see it). I also used a accessory bracket (like the one for 35mm cameras used to hold a flash off to the side and above the cam). I mounted the shotgun mic and wireless mic receiver on it then mounted my Cool-lux U3 light on the cameras accessory shoe. This was great for hand held stuff at the wedding reception. I could use both hands to steady the hand on the accessory bracket and the other thru the camcorder strap. I could do very nice pans and zooms this way and the LCD monitor was perfect for viewing right between the accessory bracket and camcorder body. THE BAD NEWS happened when I decided to use the TRV as my source deck on my NLE system (I use the DV Master hardware and software on my Dell 300mz computer which has always worked without a hitch when using the VX1000). I hooked the DV line to the camcorder and began capturing clips onto my hard drive. It worked just fine. I did a little 1 minute edit using Adobe Premiere then decided to dump the edited clip onto VHS. I hooked the special composite cable to the input/output connector on the TRV. I connected the break-out ends to the individual video and audio inputs on my vhs machine, then play the clip on the computer which feed thru the DV cable into the TRV and then hopefully on to the vhs machine inputs. (ie. I was just using the TRV as a loop-thru device). The video seemed to pass thru, but no audio except an occasional 1/2 second sound from the .avi file. Well, in a short while, the TRV started making it's little sound...the bing,bing,bing that happens when you press rec, menu, or other buttons. I looked at the TRV's LCD monitor, and saw the icon for a cassette with an up arrow (I think)...anyway something was screwy (incidentally there was a tape in the TRV and the record prevent tab was on to prevent accidenatl erasure). Maybe the camera was trying to tell me that since I had a DV signal coming into the camera, it figured I wanted to record on the mini DV tape that was present, so it was letting me know that the tape protector tab needed to be slide over to the record position. It didn't know I was just using it to pass along the video and audio stream from another source. Well, I took the tape out and put in a different tape that could be recorded on. By this time, I think the damage had already been done. When I put the new tape in, I hit the play button on the TRV pad and the mechanism went into reverse....I pressed stop, then the TRV went into record on its own.....I kept trying to make it work, but no matter which button I pushed....FF, pause, play, etc....the camera would always go into rewind. I removed the DV and Composite cables, turned the cam off and on, and no change. I even put it in camera mode for recording and it did go into record mode and the start/stop switch worked...but the zoom didn't even work...or the menu screen, display button, data button....nothing worked.....Something got fried so I've got another camera coming and have already shipped back the old one to B&H (they have been great...they are paying for the overnight delivery of the new TRV900 and will reimburse me my shipping to get the old one back to them. I just hope that this was just a problem with this particular camera.....not ALL TRV900's. I don't know if I did something wrong. Maybe you can't hook up the DV cable and the special video/audio breakout cable at the same time. If anyone knows anything about this, please let me know.
Note: I've locked up my computer doing DV output, but not the camera. Hopefully this incident was just a bad camera, but if something like this did happen to me, before shipping it back I'd try the "reset" switch on the camera. Open out the LCD viewscreen and look at the camera body near the internal speaker for a small hole labelled "reset". I think you can activate the button with an unfolded paper clip or similar. -john 12/24/98
From: Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 22:48:11 EST Subject: Looking for waterproof housing I am tryiny to obtain the waterproof housing ( referred to as the sports pack ) for the TRV-900. The catalogue that came with the camcorder showed the housing with the catalogue # SPK-DVF. However, the sony parts people stated that it is discontinued. Do you or any of your readers may know where this item can be obtained ?
Subject: Using outdoors, resolution measurements, NLE Dear John, Thank you very much for putting up your TRV-900 FAQ. I bought mine (a PAL model) at the start of December and so far have used it for recording a children's Christmas show, a holiday in Spain and of course for the family Christmas celebrations. While I was in Spain (in very bright sunshine), I noticed that the camera seems to deal quite poorly with high brightness. Although you can switch in the ND filter, even at F11 it has to resort to increasing the shutter speed to cope with bright sunshine. I get the feeling that the ND filter could do to be at least a couple of stops more opaque - or, preferably, the iris should close up some more to say F16. Shortly after I got the camera I spent some time with a friend who is a professional video engineer, and we compared the '900 to a professional studio camera that he just happened to have handy. The '900 acquitted itself quite well! We estimate that the studio camera had a resolution of some 700 lines, while the '900 came in at around 550 for full resolution, with a limiting resolution of about 750 lines. The VTR part of the deal was still giving us resolution at 5.8MHz - the limit of the measuring equipment to hand. The '900 is one of the very few DV camcorders available here in Europe which has analogue (and DV) inputs. Apparently, there is a hefty import duty payable on VTRs which is why most manufacturers disable the analogue/DV inputs for the European market. In fact, Sony sell another version of the '900, the TRV-890, which has no analogue or digital inputs. It sells for about 10-20% less than the '900. Talking money, the street price for the '900 here in England is about 1600 pounds sterling (roughly 2600-2700 dollars). Accessories are similarly expensive: I paid 110 pounds for a NP-F950 battery. I am hoping (one day) to set myself up with a NLE installation, probably using the Miro card as a base. Cost is a significant consideration though, given that (I understand) I need SCSI drives to capture onto, and they are typically twice the price of the equivalent EIDE capacity. So for now I shall have to stick to copying shot footage to S-VHS and crash editing it on the camera. By the way, the DV-G300 and 900 are available here, but they are shockingly expensive. It's cheaper to buy another (cheap) DV camcorder and use that as the DV source, editing onto the TRV-900. I have a suggestion for your 'wish list': focus memory, to allow easy change of focus between the current and a memorised position. This would be particularly useful for those dramatic shots when you want to draw attention from one subject to another via a cange of focus. At the moment, we are limited to setting up manual focus on a close-up, then using the Infinity button to move out to the background. Once again, thanks for the web page. Have fun with the camera! Giles.
Newsgroups: Subject: Tripod tips over, camera still ok Dropped my TRV-900... ...and it didn't break! Man, that was a scary 15 seconds as I picked it up and checked it out. The fall was due to my incredibly short attention span and the even shorter AV connector cord. Just got the camera a week ago, and this was the first "real" shoot. I had the camera up on my tripod (about 5' high) and was viewing the image on a TV mounted on a cart. I needed to move the camera over a few feet to reframe the shot, but the cart was in the way, so I started to move it, momentarily forgetting the 3-foot AV cord. I was watching the wheels of the TV cart, and in my peripheral vision I saw the image on the screen start moving real fast. BANG! Oops! F*ck! The tripod (13lb bogen) tipped, and I *think* the camera hit the ground directly, but it may be that the edge of the tripod hit first (which might explain the complete lack of damage). I visually inspected the camera, inside and out, continued the shoot, then later tried out all the functions, and shot another 30 minutes, and everything seems OK. In any case, I'm an idiot and this camera is damn tough! So now I'm the market for a small (4-9") monitor to attach directly to the side of the tripod. s-video in and overscan would be great. a built-in battery would be cool too (a few years ago I used a panasonic like this). any suggestions? It looks like bogen has a little monitor holder thingy that can clamp onto a leg of the tripod. Thanks! - Isaac =)
Subject: Performs well on trip to Antarctica, lens hood stuck John, I bought a TRV9 last July, in preparation for my trip to Antarctica in November. Then the 900 came out and I heard all the good things about it, especially through your web site. I decided to put off replacing my ten-year old car and got the 900. I brought both machines on my trip. DV editing was simple enough to be used on the ship, and it was very useful for an amateur like me. I could chose exactly which frame to start and stop copying. Slow motion on the 900 was flawlessly smooth, and I copied my birds in flight footage in slow motion and the results won a lot of applause. There were at least a dozen camcorders on our 70 passenger ship. My 900 generated a lot of interest because it was small like a home machine, but produced results like a bigger pro model. My footage on the ice and snow were correctly exposed because I could easily tweek it. The weather down there was unpredictable, it could rain or snow anytime. I put a shower cap on my 900, cut holes to fit the lens and the viewfinder, and kept the whole thing inside my jacket when I finished shooting. After returning from a cold and wet outing day, I found dews on my machine. I left it out to dry and I did not have any moisture condensation problem. But I took addition precautions from then on, I put my machine in a ziplock bag before returning to the ship. A fellow traveler brought a new VX1000, he was not as careful and water damaged his machine. I did have one problem with my 900. The lens hood was stuck and I could not remove it to use a polarized filter. I tried many ways to unstick the hood, eventually knocked it lose by accident. But the tiny notch on the front plastic piece came off. I glued it back on, but it came off again. I could still shoot, but had to watch for darkened corners in the viewfinder in case the hood was not in the correct position. Finally, I used tapes with or without memory chip. I really liked the features provided by the chip; I could end search even after ejecting the tape, date search was so much more elegant, title search was also useful after a long day of shooting. But I still think the extra cost of the memory chip was not justified. L. Mak
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 23:54:56 -0600 (CST) From: CN ( Subject: NLE with Mac, pinch roller broke off John, Your web page is great. We got a TRV900 for a small non-profit video production outfit about 4 months ago. We got it for use in a Macintosh based NLE setup, using the Radius EditDV PCI board and software. Initially, we couldn't get the TRV900 to work correctly with EditDV, but after getting an upgrade to EditDV it has worked fine. In the mean time we got a TRV9 which worked fine on the older EditDV. We were going to return the TRV9 but decided it was a good backup, especially as the NLE requires either a camera or a DV playback deck to be useful, and the TRV9 doesn't really cost much more than a DV deck. Anyway, it turned out to be very useful to have kept the backup camera. After about 3 months and perhaps 20 or 30 hours video use, the TRV900 broke. The pinch roller in the tape transport mechanism simply fell off. It was just barely still under the chintzy 90 day warranty so we have not had to pay for the repair. However, it took more than a month for the repair to be completed by Sony factory repair center. We have now bought the extended warranties for both cameras. We do like both the cameras, especially the TRV900. But perhaps you could include information on your web site about reported malfunctions. If other people are having problems with cameras that are only a few months old it would be a very useful warning ... to at least invest in extended warranties. And also to not put too much faith in having a working camera every time you need one. They are an incredible amount of mechanical and electronics packed into a tiny package, so I'm not too surprised that they break down. CN
Ed.note: as of Jan.23 1999, I have heard of two camera breakdowns: one was apparently a CPU lock-up during firewire editing, and the above mechanical problem is the other one. I have received 1-2 emails per day re:TRV900 (mostly, quite positive) for the past several months so the reliability isn't too bad, so far. (I'm not counting incompatibility problems, eg. the camera seems to not talk to some firewire boards, like the Miro 300 previous to the current driver version.)
From: "Earl Petersen" ( Subject:Software codec not working (Spark+ DV card) Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 21:59:17 -0800 I didnt notice any mention about the possible codec problem with software codec's. I use the term "possible" because I have not actually seen anything about it specifically, only hints and statements that I cannot confirm. The story goes that newer Sony digital cameras have a change in the 1394 protocol that makes them incompatible with capture cards that are based on a software codec. I have personally experienced the problem. My system, which is a killer DV machine, works perfectly with everything but the DV recording back to tape. I play the .avi file on my computer and the camera comes on to record and what I get is 50% grey pixels over the screen. When I look at the recorded DV tape all of the frames are there but they have all been scrambled into large pixel blocks. Even more interesting is before I actually start recording I turn on the monitor and it shows the same 50% grey pixels and the computer is not processing the file and the camera is not recording! I have checked everything about my computer even to the point of seeing how bad I could make it by doing everything wrong. Amazingly it doesnt change anything. The problem remains exactly the same. Please share this with others. I would gladly correspond with anyone offering suggestions. Computer setup: SuperMicro Pentium II 350mz. 128 MB ram PC100. Spark+ DV card (both 1394 and 2940 on a single card) PCI. ATI All in Wonder Pro 8mb display card. running at 1280X1024 PCI. Cheetah hard drive 9.1GB for DV only. SCSI-2 Seagate 4.8GB for System. 20 inch NEC 6fgp monitor. Sound Blaster Live sound card PCI. Spark software for DV versions 2.0, 2.1B3, 2.1final, 2.02B1. Adaptec software for DVDeck version 1.13 and the latest wn1394.vxd version 1.3.029. the OS is NT 4.0 SP 3 Earl Petersen
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 10:17:24 -0300 Subject: NLE ok with Miro DC30+ Hi John: I'm a new owner of the DCR-TRV900E ( PAL VERSION ), this is a very good camcorder, I'm very happy with the quality of the image and all the features, my NLE system has a Miro Dc30+ video capture card, and after a series of test the quality of the image after capture at 8.0.1 and then send it to a S-VHS tape is very good ( not the same as the original ), but very good, more than my old SONY V5000 E Hi8. My sytem is: Pentium II 300 Mhz. 128 Mb RAM 2 Maxtor Diamond MAX 8,4 Gb each Vga Card: Diamond Fire gl 1000 pro Video Capture: Miro dc30+ 2 VCR Panasonic S-VHS 1000 ( PAL ) ( VERY GOOD MACHINES ) Thank's for your hard work. Best regards Hector Maseret Buenos AIres - Argentina
From: "rwl" ( Newsgroups:, Subject: buying mail-order, getting best price (Re: TRV900 for $1899) Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 18:20:17 GMT > wrote: > Sorry if you thought that there was one here for $1899. It is a > disappointment when you expect it for that. This is just the way I felt > when I called a not named NYC mailorder house based on an ad in Camcorder > magazine. They listed them for $1899. Wow! Here we go, I'm ready to > buy. I get on the phone call them and ask if that is the price and are > they new with USA warranty. The answer I receive is: YES! Are you sure? > No tricks? You really will send me one today for that price? YES! What is > the shipping to VT? Reply: $35. Sign me up! This is great! The best > price I had so far was $2148 shipped overnight to VT. > Then this is where we go south. The big sales pitch. You need a wedding > filter kit. Which is a polarizer, UV, neutral density. The price, > $529.00. No way I say! I pass. The man continues to try to sell me > overpriced stuff to make the difference up. I hung in there with just the > camera and 5 tapes. Guess what? We can not sell it as a broken up > package. Then he hung the phone up. What a bunch of bull. The TRV900 is > around $2099 from a real outfit. Don't waste you time with places that have > ads like this. The camera is not $1899! I finally bought it from Camera > Sound for $2099. They were very polite and had all the extra stuff I needed > at a very sane price. No hard bull sales pitch. Thanks Brian at Camera > Sound. I should have it tomorrow. I hope it is as good as others claim it > is. I just went through this as well. Skipping to the chase: I bought from Camera Sound II in Philly (800 477 0022) a few days ago for $2049, with $29 s/h normally, though I paid $49 to get it overnight. Worked with Kimberley on the price to get it down from $2149, still think I might have saved another 20-50 had I bartered longer. Did get a great load of extras for reasonable prices - extra batteries, tons of tapes (sony 60 w/ memory at 19, 750SPs at 59). By the way, anybody know of a good case - the sony hardshell doesn't seem to be around anywhere? I'm a cheap sort of guy, and was looking to save every last $. Didn't know if I wanted to spring for a $2K dv, but then I looked at what I'd spent on 35mm equipment vs supplies, and i'll be past the $2K mark in tapes in no time. I spent about 5 hours hunting through smile, photoworld, marine beach - I doubt i missed one NY outfit. They tried every last scam - can't break the package, 6-7% shipping and handling, ah, but the US warranty is *our* US warranty, not Sony's, that will be an extra $200 (this one came up repeatedly with the outfits advertising "USA warranty", beware). IMHO, if you positively believe you'll be using the camera for 4 or 5 years, and you'll be using it as much later as now, and you think you'll let your friends/kids/pets use it, then the extended warranty is a good idea. I spoke with 2 honest sales people. Kimberley was one, another was at CCI (camera club). The good news: I haven't slept for a day - the 900 is way too cool, and I'm happier with it than the TR 7, 9, and Optura that I'd borrowed for a few days from friends. I'd worried about low light performance before, get the hang of it and it works fine.
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 To: Subject: checking out the new camera: TRV-900 web site John, I just spent several hours reading the extensive information on the Sony TRV-900 camcorder on your web site. You have done a wonderful job and I appreciate you making that information available. I am a former professional cameraman who has been hearing about the "betacam quality picture" of these new 3 chip DV cams. Between your site and a few others I have been brought up to speed with the DV format and I think I have found my camcorder! Thanks, L. Hartmann
To: Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 15:58:24 +0800 Subject: Sony's tripod with built-in remote Hi John, It's me again. Last time I ask you some video tripod questions and thanks for your answer. Last week, I finally made up my mind to buy the Sony VCT-950RM video tripod. The shopkeeper let me try it in the shop, partnering with my TRV900. Bravo! There's adjustable resistance so that one can tilt or pan very smoothly. It has quick release pad and can support a heavy SLR camera like my Nikon F4S. Here comes the most important thing ----- it has a long handle which includes one red button for record/stop, sliding it leads to switch on/off. There's also a circular button for zoom in/out so that you can control wide/tele easily, especially when you want it zoom slowly. There is a plug like a mini headphone jack which should be connected to TRV900's "lanc" socket to enable your control by the handle button. When installed on VCT-950RM tripod and 900 LCD screen flipped out, TRV900 gives you a feel of handling a big professional video camera like that used by a TV station. Feeling so great. Results are excellent, too. It costed me HK$1900 (US$244). Smaller and cheaper models include VCT-570RM(list price roughly US$58) , 670(US$83), 850 ($125), and dearer models 1100($458) and 2200($1000). All are available in Hong Kong. VCT-950 weights 3.3kg (7.26 lb) and legs are made of aluminium. It's big enough for virtually all applications unless you use camcorder models higher than VX-1000. FYI It's made in Taiwan. I believe the Sony tripod is an indispensable partner of Sony camcorder. Pls let the users of 900 know. I'll also get the Sony wide angle lens attachment this Friday. Hopefully, the shop keeper may let me compare VCL0552 (0.55 X) with VCL0752 (0.7 X). TRV900's focal length is about 45mm i.e. similar to the stardard lens (50mm) of a SLR camera lens. 45mm X 0.7 = 32mm and 45mm X 0.55 = 25mm. It seems even VCL0552 is not too wide. SLR camera users often buys 16mm, 18mm and 20mm wide angle lens! I'll see if VCL0552 will look too 'fisheye' or funny. Regards, Sunny
Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 15:32:09 -0800 Subject: Travelling with the TRV900 in China I bought my 'little marvel' locally in Shepparton (Australia) in November 1998 as an alternative to using my DSR200 on an assignment in North China in December/January. The DVCAM was looking to be too heavy and too awkward to protect from the very cold temperatures expected (-25C). So I outlaid hard cash for the TRV900. The first job it had to do was in a 2-camera shoot (using the DVCAM) fir a local ballet achool annual presentation concert. I am presently working on the editing/compilation of that video, using FAST Video Machine DPR, which works marvellously with the TRV900. In China, I found the little camera to be brilliant; it worked every day, using the big InfoLithium batteries in extreme cold. Only twice did i have to replace a battery in the field due to cold; on each occasion the battery remaining indicator showed approx 95 minutes before stopping. I was able to use the spare battery in each case, and continue, and the cold battery recovered overnight. The LCD viewfinder at one stage appeared to slow down on a pan, with the cold. I was at first fearful that what I could see in the viewfinder was recorded on tape -- a lagging behind of the panning image. But no, the picture on tape was quite OK. The only problem occurred when about 2/3 of the way through the trip; I had been reviewing a recorded tape one evening and wanted to prepare for the following day's action. The EJECT button just failed to work, capturing the used tape inside! It was not a tape jam as I could scroll through the cassette, could view the picures OK, and even switch to record (though, as I had locked the cassette's record tab, I got the appropriate message). So I had to resort to my backup camera. Fortunately, I had already caught most of the action I needed on the trip, as it turned out. When I got home I was wondering how to proceed, when a colleague suggested trying to eject the tape using the remote control from a Sony Hi8 deck. It worked!!. The electronics must be OK; the fault lies in the little slider EJECT switch. So, I am now able to use the camera again, as long as I have that remote with me. Bruce W Australia
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 09:49:27 -0500 From: John Manning Subject: Experiences with the TRV 900 (rainforest, broken zoom) I decided to get a 900 after reading your page in Dec. Great little camera, easy to use and very versatile. I use it to copy paintings to disk for email transmissions on my wife's art gallery web page. Also for documentary videos I produce in-house. I took it with me on my travels to the Costa Rican rain forest. Spent a week in the hot and humid jungle. After a week of working fine, including a day of deep sea fishing, I started to experience internal fogging of the lens. Only after leaving it in the sun did the fogging clear up. No dew warning in the finder or self diagnostic warnings. On the plane home I tried to shoot, got the intro blue screen, which stayed on longer then normal, and then neither the zoom or auto focus functions would work. No amount of resetting, etc. would bring back these functions. The VCR worked for playback and it would record on the tape but without the auto focus ( it would still manual focus) or zoom (stuck on full tele) it was useless. I took it to Sony repair in King of Prussia, Pa.(it still had one month on the 90 day warranty). Had a positive experience there, no problems at all. The camera was shipped back yesterday, after only 10 days, fully functional. The repair report says the problem was due to "mech. breakage, replaced parts". I am very satisfied with Sony's repair shop, quick turnaround, no question asked. I would suggest getting an extended warranty.
From: Newsgroups: Subject: TRV900 field report from Brazil Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 21:36:03 GMT I recently returned from a month in northeast Brazil with my TRV900. The camera performed very well under trying field conditions. Daytime temperatures over 100F didn't faze the camera, nor did many hours of bouncing along dusty dirt roads cause any problems. When it rained (and it rained frequently) I tried to keep the camera covered under an umbrella, or I put a stuffsack over the camera as it rode along over my shoulder on a tripod. The camera did inevitably get damp from the rain. Even with this poor level of protection from the elements the camera never activated its "use cleaning tape" or "moisture condensation" warning indicators, and the video I took looks great. The camera lens did fog internally on two occasions, both times during sauna-like hot and wet conditions. The moisture cleared up within an hour in each case, but next trip I'll take a big plastic bag and packets of desiccant to be better prepared for water contamination. The electric power in the locations I visited was 220v with European-style round pin outlets. The Sony battery charger worked fine, but did seem warmer to the touch at the end of the recharging period. I took two accessory lenses with me: a 0.5 wide angle Kenko Pro for landscapes, and a 3x tele-converter from Lenmar for close-ups. Looking at pictures on the Web, I'm pretty sure that Lenmar is re-packaging a Kenko 3x product. I'm primarily interested in video of birds, and the TRV900's 12x zoom just doesn't get me close enough to a 5 inch long subject at the top of a 30 foot tall tree! The 3x lens caused severe vignetting at anything less than 75% zoom, and didn't work well with auto focus. These issues were not limitations for my application, and I captured many very satisfying images using this accessory. These accessory lenses screw into threads on the front of the camera body, which is time-consuming and a little noisy in the field. I plan to look into an adapter for bayonet-style push and twist connection. oryoki
Subject: TRV900, image comparisons, NLE systems Date: Dec. 17 1998 Dear John: First, thanks for maintaining such a useful and informative web site on the TRV900. I was debating getting the camera for an upcomming holiday trip, and you're web site helped answer many of my questions about the camera. I'm happy to say as of this morning I'm a very happy new 900 owner. As a bit of background, I do video production and editing. My first DV camera was the Sony VX1000, and then also purchased an XL1 several months ago. Both cameras are terrific, but neither offered are as portable or inconspicuous as the TRV900. As for image quality, to my eye the XL1 offers a noticably better image, but it is difficult to see a significant difference between the vx1000 and the trv900 in most lighting situations. After purchasing the camera I stopped by a photo store and picked up a 52mm uv filter and circular polarizer filter--the uv for general lens protection (will pretty much live on the camera permanently) and the the circular polarizer for bright reflective surfaces or when I want to heavily contrast the sky. I also purchased the Sony wide angle lens adapter. My next add on will be an XLR adapter so that I can use my shotgun and wireless mic on the camera. It would be terrific if Sony made the XLR adapter they include on the PD100 available for the TRV900, but I've not found it listed for sale seperately by any Sony dealer. I saw that Beach Tec makes a dual XLR adapter for the TRV900--I use their adapter on my vx1000--so that will probably be the best alternative option. I saw that you were interested in the camera's use with NLE systems. Although it's a rather price jump up from systems you were describing, I'm using a Matrox Digisuite LE with Speed Razor editing software ( It's a terrific professional NLE. Since I have a Tao lan-c controller box I can batch capture straight from the TRV900 if I get the urge, although I usually just use a Sony DV/DVCAM internal dv drive for that. I haven't had any problem working with the camera's footage, and thanks to a FilmFX plugin for SpeedRazor I can even convert the image to a film look (can match over 30 different 8, 16, and 35mm stocks and different simulations of the telecine conversion from 30fps of video to the 24fps of film). - John W
Subject: DSR-100, DVCAM formats Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 06:40:14 -0600 I recently discovered your TRV-900 web page while searching for unrelated information. I do happen to own a 900 DV camera so I read with great interest most everything you wrote and followed most of the links. I also own 2 DXC-30s with dockable DSR-1 recorders. I happen to like DVCAM and use it in production of sports highlights and other productions where 3 hr. high quality recording is important. I could only add to your very complete text the fact that the DSR-100 pro version records in the faster DVCAM mode. I can only get 32 mins. of record time on a mini DV cassette in my DSR-1 recorder and the same should be true of the DSR-100 camcorder. The DSR-100 has no LP mode nor does it record in the standard consumer DV mode. This trade-off supposedly gives the user better interchange between playback decks. The LP interchange problem is no secret so I'm prepared to believe the DVCAM standard may in fact be a better way to go for the "more serious" user. Note that Panasonic DVC Pro has an even faster transport with a corresponding shorter record time. Panasonic brags about their "more robust" interchange between decks. It seems the old "record time vs record quality" in analog formats is replaced by "record time vs playback interchange" in digital formats. I saw some of the same problems in the D-2 vs D-3 composite digital formats a few years ago, interchange vs recording density. As for the TRV-900 and the DSR-100 being identical. You pretty much got that right. The XLR audio feature for the DSR-100 is really a add-on option that should work as well with TRV-900. In a perfect world both camcorders would have 3 record speed modes. DVCAM, SP consumer, and LP for stingy tape users. We all agree that the quality is really the same. The economics of mass production being what it is makes me wonder if a clever tech-type couldn't find the magic switch or jumper to get the DSR-100 into the SP or LP record mode and vice versa for the TRV-900. The most likely difference in the electronics is probably an EPROM surface mounted on a small pc board. Should you hear about a conversion. It would not be the first Manufacture's Warranty I've voided. Thanks for the ample info on a subject that interest me a great deal. Larry B.
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 13:37:17 -0800 (PST) From: Madison Bridges Subject: Factory codes for TRV900 John, Great Web Site!.....helped me decide on the 900. I have a question to pose to your audience. If there is an RM-95 wired remote for the TRV900 and it has access to service functions...1) Is there a service code manual? 2) Is anyone aware of a Computer interface to access "service" functions? 3) Wouldn't be great to change factory auto settings such as 18% Gain in Low Light conditions? Of course I wouldn't want to see anyone wreck their camcorder, but if one visitor has the know-how it could benefit many owners. Again, thanks for the very informative site. Regards, Rick

Notes #2, Notes #3, Page 4.
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