PD150 and VX2000 Reviews

Subject: PD150 NAB '00 Review
From: kingjim69 at aol com (KINGJIM69)
Newsgroups: rec.video.production
Date: 19 Apr 2000 07:18:35 GMT

Sony has a winner with PD150 -my opinion after dissecting it at NAB for 2 days


The images above are taken by the PD150, from video playback in an NLE. The one of the girl was in the photo mode on the 150.

I made a point when I went to NAB to spend a lot of time checking out Sony's new pro version of the VX2000. As usual Sony had its cameras set up in an arena type show with all of them pointing towards a colorful scene. This year it was an excavation theme in Egypt. They had models posing as archaelogists dressed in very colorful clothing. Two PD150s were set up. I spent two days studying the camera and shooting footage on my dv tape so I could check out the results.

First off, the B/W viewfinder is superb. The clarity was excellent. Unlike the LCD viewfinder on the VX1000, this one gives 500 lines and it was extremely easy to focus with. The flip out color screen was also very crisp. Having dual XLR was a major plus. They were mounted under the shotgun mic that was supplied. One thing that most of these smaller cameras dont have is backfocus. So when I zoomed in and set my focus (manually of course) I pulled in/out repeatedly and the focus stayed dead on. The zoom rocker allows a very slow to rapid zoom. The manual zoom ring worked ok, although I wish it was a mechanical one like the one on the VX3. I asked the Sony engineer about this and about why they didn't go with a longer lens. On the zoom, he said the lens would have to be smaller for a mechanical one and it would not have been as good a lens. On the lens size, he stated to go with a larger one would have meant it would be a lot bigger, thus front heavy like the XL1.

In low light it worked very well. I shot away from the colorful set and went from 0 dB to 15 dB. As I went up the noise was not there, they really did a good job on this. This camera is in a class by itself in low light compared to the VX1000. I would rate it a 9.

Separate audio adjustable meters are visible if you choose to display them in the viewfinder. Timecode can also be displayed. The camera weighs 3.3 lbs. It had a 64 meg chip in it for photos. I also tooks some shots in the photo mode and they were excellent. Very crisp with good color separation. Overall the picture quality was extremely sharp and the separation was also as good.

The way they have controls set up are a lot better for manual settings: gain, exposure, and shutter speed. They are all on the back side with the adjustment wheel below them, so it's very easy to make the adjustments while you're shooting without having to stop and do it off the side of the camera like you do on the VX1000.

One thing that wasn't what I expected was their statement that it had a manual iris ring. This is not a true one. Unlike the ring you have on a lens where you can gradually open or close it, there is an iris wheel on the left side so you can easily adjust it while shooting but it happens in stops, so you see the glitch as the exposure changes. Unlike a true manual iris, but still it is a nice feature.

The PD150 also has color bars with or without tone and an optional battery that they had on the camera at NAB gives you 8 hours of shooting, probably 5 realistically with zooming. It was much bigger than the other Li-ions, just stuck out about an inch. I think it was a 950. The camera is a dark grey and very robust.

Overall this will be a big seller. Available in late May/early June, it will sell street for around US$35-3600. I'll definitely be getting one for a second/backup to my DSR300. Sony took their time with this one and it's going to pay off. I'm glad I waited and didn't get the PD100 (which is nice for what it has to offer) Any questions, feel free to email me.


Subject: Sony PD150/VX2000 data
From: D Gary Grady (DGary.Grady gte net)
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 20:37:03 -0400

Some more news on the new Sony VX2000 / PD150 is out. I
recommend the following two web sites as sources:


http://members.tripod.com/~vincent_ysc/ and especially

(Note that the second link is a .PDF, requiring an Adobe
Acrobat reader, which is available for free.)

I won't repeat what has been said before about this
interesting pair of cameras (the VX2000 is the consumer
model and the PD150 is the pro version, in parallel with
the TRV900 / PD100), and you can read all the details on
those two sites. But here's the info I've been wanting to
know that I hadn't seen before:

- It looks like there's still no true full-motion progressive 
mode; progressive seems to run at half the normal frame rate. 
If you want 25 fps or 30 fps progressive mode, you need to get 
a Canon.

- As with the VX1000, there are "custom presets" you can
control, including color level, sharpness (among other
things useful for getting a "film look"), and white 
balance shift (Victor will love that), as well as AGC

- One hands-on report on the VX2000 reports that the dynamic 
(brightness) range is impressively wide. (One of the main 
advantages of film over video is a wider dynamic range, so 
this is good news.)

- There seem to be two ND filter settings (1/4 and 1/32 it 
says in the PDF document -- meaning perhaps 2 stops and 5 
stops?) in addition to "no filter," at least on the PD150.

- Time code can be set to any value, at least on the PD150.

- The camera does take the long-life Sony batteries TRV900 
users have come to love (and Canon users to envy). The battery 
compartment is recessed, so even the fattest battery doesn't 
protrude very far out the back of the camera. A battery 
charger is built into the camera. Sony claims 7 hours of 
continuous use with the fold-out screen on, using their 
biggest battery. (Even the supplied battery would seem to last 
several minutes.)

- The viewfinder of the VX2000 is allegedly not as sharp
as the (excellent) fold-out screen for focusing purposes.
The black and white viewfinder in the PD150 is supposed to 
have 500 lines of resolution, which is as good as you could 
hope for (some studio monitors aren't that sharp).

- Filter diameter is 58 mm.

- Lens has aspherical elements; image reportedly very sharp 
all the way to edge.

- Zoom range 6 to 72 mm. Correcting for the difference in
CCD sizes (the new camera uses 1/3-inch CCDs rather than
1/4-inch), it looks to be about the same zoom range as the
TRV900 but with slightly more telephoto and slightly less
wide angle -- exactly the opposite of what I would personally 
prefer! And unlike the PD100, a wide angle adapter is an 
extra-cost option. This is the one significant aspect of the 
camera that I find disappointing. (Well, I'd love native 16:9 
and adjustable gamma, but as Stephen Wright says, you can't 
have everything, where would you put it?)

- The PD150 has built-in XLR connectors that supply phantom 
power (but I'm not sure how much).

- Audio level control is available right on the back of the
camera, but viewfinder VU meter (at least for VX2000 but
probably both) shows only *one* level, possibly an average?

- Dimensions for PD150:

180 mm (7 1/8 inches) from base to top of microphone

125 mm (5 inches) width of camera body 
     (mic sticks out 3 mm (1/8 inch) to the right),

342 mm (13 1/2 inches) length of camera body
     (mic protrudes 63 mm (2 1/2 inches) in front of camera)

weight (without tape or battery) 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz).

- Operating temperature range: 0-40 C (32-104 F)

- Accessories shipped with PD150: monaural microphone
(hypercardioid?), AC adapter, minimal battery pack,
remote control (with batteries), memory stick and
reader (USB interface), lens hood, hood cap, carrying
strap, stereo A/V cable, Picture Gear 4.1 Lite software.

- Extra-cost accessories: Off-camera battery charger,
decent batteries, 1.7 x teleconverter, 0.7 x wide-angle 
converter, Firewire cable, etc.

- VX2000 is a tacky silver color; the PD150 looks much

- Controls seem to be very intelligently laid out, perhaps
even more intelligently than on Canon GL1.

Pretty much everything else seems comparable to the TRV900,
including the claimed resolution of 530 lines, which is 
right at the theoretical limit for DV.

D Gary Grady
Durham NC USA

Subject: Re: Sony PD150/VX2000 data From: Shaun Walker (shaun humboldt1 com) Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 Thought I'd add a few comments from mutiple hands-on try outs at NAB ... >- The viewfinder of the VX2000 is allegedly not as sharp >as the (excellent) fold-out screen for focusing purposes. >The black and white viewfinder in the PD150 is supposed to >have 500 lines of resolution, which is as good as you could >hope for (some studio monitors aren't that sharp). As I mentioned the other day, this sounds MUCH rosier than reality. The B&W viewfinder is a chunky, somehwat ugly-looking LCD (though it's somewhat sharper than the color one). There's simply no way it's the 500 lines they claim ... I could tell there were certainly less than 500 lines of the easily-discernible LCD pixels. Still, it is definitely better. I'll take the MUCH cheaper one on the PD150 here, but the new XL-1 B&W was SO much sharper, bigger, and nicer. >- Audio level control is available right on the back of the >camera, but viewfinder VU meter (at least for VX2000 but >probably both) shows only *one* level, possibly an average? PD150 has separate L + R level meters at trhe bottom of the viewfider OR color LCD flip-out. It was easy, quick, and straightfoward to punch the audio level button non the very back/left of the camera and switch between the two and adjust with the adjacent dial. Using the left side Menu button (under flip-out) you go through I think three levels of menus to reach the audio set up where you can enable AGC on one channel and manual on the other or have both the same either way. >- Accessories shipped with PD150: monaural microphone >(hypercardioid?) Yep, plastic short shotgun (quite short). >- Extra-cost accessories: Off-camera battery charger, >decent batteries, 1.7 x teleconverter, 0.7 x wide-angle >converter, Firewire cable, etc. Sony rep said about $260 for glass, multi-coated wide angle converter and availibilty in late summer/ early fall maybe. >- Controls seem to be very intelligently laid out, perhaps >even more intelligently than on Canon GL1. Yes, definitely, mostly because they have more manual controls, a bit more room to work with, 2? more dials, and better button feel amd placement. >Pretty much everything else seems comparable to the TRV900, >including the claimed resolution of 530 lines, which is >right at the theoretical limit for DV. Sony had two PD150's right next to the PD100a and 14"? monitors above for each. Pointed at the same well lit cheesy stage with models and fake rock and various props, the PD150's looked a bit smoother and cleaner to my eyes. But the PD100a was not far off. I suspect the PD150 would have matched it better if the sharpness was turned up high. Maybe there was a bit more resolution w/ the 150 when I was zoomed in on the model's hair. I mentioned my gripe about the short 12x compared to GL-1's 20x to a Sony rep and he said digital zoom limited to 24x help up suprisingly well. I immediately tried this (again on the fine hair in extreme close up) ... NOT! Very soon after you passed into digital zoom, the pixelation showed up clearly on the monitors, especially at 24x -- YUCK! Worse, the pixels were "swimming" as the interpolation adjusted and posterized to different degrees with a bit of subject movement. Nobody's really mentioned autofocus performance. It was steady, quick, and accurate. Though the manual ring felt/worked very nice, too. Manual zoom was nice but a bit too much rotation was necessary for the desired change (if I remember right, I had to take my hand off briefly and use two movements to do a full end-to-end zoom -- focusing should be faster, too ... it's not good to have too be turning the rings around so much while trying to keep the lightweight camera steady handheld, which I tried). - Shaun
Subject: VX2000 spotted in store Date: May 27, 2000 If you happen to live in Fremont, CA you can pick up a Sony VX2000 at Fry's Electronics for $3000 (+tax) today-- they had 14 in stock. I can add little to the reviews which have already been posted. The VX2000 and the Canon GL1 are physically quite similar; the VX2000 is only slightly longer, and maybe a touch wider. Their fold-out LCD screens have about the same viewable area (both noticibly smaller than the TRV900). You can manually limit the VX2000 gain to +6 or +12 dB max which is nice, and there is a "spotlight" mode. The external mic jack is miniplug but I think I noticed a "mic/line" level selector switch. The manual focus and zoom rings had a nice action to them. The menu system is mostly the same as the TRV900, except for the "custom program" functions (adjust sharpness, color bias etc.). Most of the TRV900 user-interface glitches, button placement etc. are fixed with this model. There is an on-screen audio level option which actually has levels marked in dB (mono readout only, though). The tape cassette compartment has a two-stage load system like the GL1, but it is faster to operate. The demo model's built-in mic had been removed or broken off, hard to say which. Fry's customers are not very careful as the many greasy fingerprints on the nearby XL1's lens attests. I can't say anything about image quality without taking the camera home with me, and I've got enough DV cameras already. :-) -john
VX2000 Image cleaner than JVC DV-500 From: VideoBrent (videobrent at aol comnospam) Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 05:32:37 Newsgroup: rec.video.desktop I think the 1/3" Had chips in the Sony are better than the 1/2 " chips in the JVC DV-500. The Sony shoots a slightly softer but cleaner picture with better color rendition [than the DV-500]. My TRV 900 is not even close to the VX 2000 in any area of performance. I predict the Sony VX 2000 and PD 150 will be the new standard in low cost high performance camcorders. That is a very easy call to make. Brent Conrad Vivicon Productions
Subject: Sony VX-2000 First Look / LOWEST PRICE Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:53:41 -0500 From: "dfrenkel" (dfrenkel at wi rr com) We just got our new Sony VX-2000 camcorders yesterday . For a low cost, Sony has brought a camcorder to market that answers the following needs: 1) LOW LIGHT - The camcorder is much lower light sensitive then our TRV900's, VX-1000's, Panasonic DV-1000 etc. We will be able to shoot in a dark situation like a church WITHOUT proc amping all the footage! 2) BATTERY POWER - Long battery time 4+ hours 3) VIEWSCREEN - While the viewscreen is a little smaller then our TRV900's it is extremely dense and sharp - as is the excellent eyepiece. This will assist the videographer to focus. 4) STILLS - Improved excellent stills...we think we can use this camcorder for rapid photo montage capture 5) ZOOM RING - Wow, a nice feature for greater control of zoom. We will still use the rocker buttons for zooms but the ring will be outstanding for fine tuning. This will avoid the famous pressing the rocker to hard mistake. 6) MIC - Nice sounding mic more usable then the 900. Still we will need to use a shotgun and UHF mic for weddings 7) NEW TRANSPORT - Seems better built then in the past 8) COOL LOOK AND SOLID "SONY" FEEL - Subjective, but we like it 9) SHARPER PICTURE - Maybe due to HAD chips 10) NEW CONTROL - Dual zebra, dual NDF both work well 11) LINE IN - In addition to mic in this Sony features line in so one can connect the output of a churches sound system directly to the input of the camcorder. 12) SPECIAL EFFECTS - Sony has added some standard special effects to the camcorder which while nice, we would not use since we can do this all in post 13) ANALOG IN - Not only does this camcorder have DV ILink in but it also has analog in and can transcode footage. We ordered several units from Lee Drady at Columbia Audio Video 800-356-2184 Dail EXT. 115. He gave us the best price in the country VX-2000 $2650 PD-150 $3470. PLEASE NOTE - we order from many mail order companies and are not affiliated to any - just a consumer who appreciates a good price. Lee beat everyone this time. No consideration for this post either.
Subject: PD150 availability Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 13:58:01 -0700 From: Adam Bridge (abridge at mac com) I received mine on Monday from Promax. I ordered it during NAB. I'm exploring it now. I can say this: it's low-light capabilities are FANTASTIC. Its audio section leaves a bit to be desired although for my typical production work its okay. Some folks are definately troubled by pre-amp "hiss".
Subject: VX2000 report Date: 11 Sep 2000 From: DFrenkel (dfrenkel at wi rr com) References: The VX-2000 is a light year enhancement over the TRV900, XL1 or any other prosumer camcorder in its price class. The picture is much cleaner and clearer. The VX2000 is able to get a good shot in low light when the TRV900 does not work at all. Here in Milwaukee 5 professional video companies including my wifes, have sold all of their camcorders and replaced them with the VX-2000 or PD150. They are just that good. One of our friends sold his DSR-300 to buy two VX-2000's.
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