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Sony PD-170p


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#1 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 02:15 PM

Ok. I'd like to present to you, some amazing frame grabs from a Sony PD-170p. A £2000 camera. (Around $4000)

Image #1

Image #2

Image #3


Why do these look so bad? Am I capturing them wrong or something? I'm using Premieres widescreen template project.

I mean, these are frame grabs from a £2000 camera. The stills from a £75 Kodak easyshare stills camera crap all over these.

This camera got really good reviews from what I saw.

Sorry but, the footage from this looks no better than a lot of the consumer video cameras to me.

Any thoughts?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 02:26 PM

Ok. I'd like to present to you, some amazing frame grabs from a Sony PD-170p. A £2000 camera. (Around $4000)

Image #1

Image #2

Image #3
Why do these look so bad? Am I capturing them wrong or something? I'm using Premieres widescreen template project.

I mean, these are frame grabs from a £2000 camera. The stills from a £75 Kodak easyshare stills camera crap all over these.

This camera got really good reviews from what I saw.

Sorry but, the footage from this looks no better than a lot of the consumer video cameras to me.

Any thoughts?


Did you white balance the camera to correct for daylight? it also looks as though your focus is off to my eye. further, you're shooting on an overcast day; so essentially there isn't going to be too much contrast in the frame to begin with. You're working in SD off of a mini DV camera which isn't exactly the highest quality format made. I havn't used the camera you're using that I can recall, but I know from the extensive mini DV that I've shot that it often is a bit sub-par. In Premier Pro try upping the contrast by about 20% or so, which will give the illusion of much greater depth and dimension to the image and a camera such as that will always work best when you have a nice bright day to begin with. Just keep on experimenting and getting to know your camera.
Also a still camera will always look better as it has higher resolution and is only taking 1 photograph, as opposed to 60 photographs (assuming a 1 second shutter speed on the still camera). That's just what i see, though.
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#3 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 02:57 PM

Did you white balance the camera to correct for daylight?

Incandescent. Wanted the blue. Also under exposed.

it also looks as though your focus is off to my eye. further, you're shooting on an overcast day; so essentially there isn't going to be too much contrast in the frame to begin with.

Focus was auto, and then locked. Looked fine in the viewfinder.

You're working in SD off of a mini DV camera which isn't exactly the highest quality format made. I havn't used the camera you're using that I can recall, but I know from the extensive mini DV that I've shot that it often is a bit sub-par. In Premier Pro try upping the contrast by about 20% or so, which will give the illusion of much greater depth and dimension to the image and a camera such as that will always work best when you have a nice bright day to begin with. Just keep on experimenting and getting to know your camera.
Also a still camera will always look better as it has higher resolution and is only taking 1 photograph, as opposed to 60 photographs (assuming a 1 second shutter speed on the still camera). That's just what i see, though.

But here's the thing, why is photography?s technology kicking videos technology butt?

Jpeg isn't such a bad format. In photoshop I just saved a 1920x1080 picture, at "high" quality. It came out at 240kb. This multiplied by 25 is 6000kb. This multiplied by 8 gives 48000bits. 48 megabits per second.

USB 2.0 has been measured to operate at 480 megabits. And USB 2.0 is available on most PC's nowadays.


What's the big hold up?

I'm almost predicting that digital SLR's will be the first to produce 12 megapixel 25fps footage for under £10,000.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:05 PM

Incandescent. Wanted the blue. Also under exposed.
Focus was auto, and then locked. Looked fine in the viewfinder.
But here's the thing, why is photography?s technology kicking videos technology butt?

Jpeg isn't such a bad format. In photoshop I just saved a 1920x1080 picture, at "high" quality. It came out at 240kb. This multiplied by 25 is 6000kb. This multiplied by 8 gives 48000bits. 48 megabits per second.

USB 2.0 has been measured to operate at 480 megabits. And USB 2.0 is available on most PC's nowadays.
What's the big hold up?

I'm almost predicting that digital SLR's will be the first to produce 12 megapixel 25fps footage for under £10,000.



It's not just about how much the USB can handle; it's more so about what the tape medium can handle. I am not sure, but i think MiniDV is limits to 25mb/s. Also there is major compression which comes into pplay between the CCDs on the chip and the tape you record on. Also, keep in mind a normal 3 chip CCD camera, IIRC, only converts to a 1.3megapixel still camera. There are much higher quality video cameras out there, but they are substantially more than 2000 quid.
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#5 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:11 PM

I mean, these are frame grabs from a £2000 camera. The stills from a £75 Kodak easyshare stills camera crap all over these.


Ah the wonderful world of video!

It probably looks better when you're watching it as video, grabs of footage never look great.
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#6 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:18 PM

It's not just about how much the USB can handle; it's more so about what the tape medium can handle. I am not sure, but i think MiniDV is limits to 25mb/s. Also there is major compression which comes into pplay between the CCDs on the chip and the tape you record on. Also, keep in mind a normal 3 chip CCD camera, IIRC, only converts to a 1.3megapixel still camera. There are much higher quality video cameras out there, but they are substantially more than 2000 quid.

Then why MiniDV?

Why not scrap MiniDV and perhaps employ something like a DLT tape?

Ah the wonderful world of video!

It probably looks better when you're watching it as video, grabs of footage never look great.

It does look better... but it still sucks.
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#7 Matthew Buick

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:43 PM

The shots were really well concieved. It's a shame they turned out so badly.

Though that wouldn't happen with Super 8mm. ;)
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#8 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:53 PM

The shots were really well concieved. It's a shame they turned out so badly.

They're for my friend, who's hopefully going to be comping a t-rex into them next week. (We're running a few tests)

Though that wouldn't happen with Super 8mm. ;)

Yeh well... they didn't cost £30 for film, development and telecine ;)
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#9 David Bradley

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 01:55 PM

PD 170s are never great in low light situations, and when not properly balanced I find the images tend to lack contrast. Also check your gain. Never eye the LCD viewfinder for focus, its good for composition but thats about it - the reason being that the LCD viewfinder is composed of 500 lines of vertical resolution which is approximately 5/6+ of PAL 625 lines. Look into getting a video monitor, properly alligned with SMPTE bars it should give you a far more accurate rendition of how the image will turn out. Auto focus can be point or matrix (i think) meaning the camera may take an aggregate of all the objects in the picture and focus according to the most objects that will appear sharp at the given depth of field (matrix) or it will take a reading of the object in the center of the frame and focus on that.

It would be interesting to see something in MCU and CU as these long/wide shots don't really provide as much information. Perhaps if we saw something closer one could assert whether or not you have a focus issue.
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#10 Daniel Smith

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 05:22 PM

PD 170s are never great in low light situations, and when not properly balanced I find the images tend to lack contrast. Also check your gain. Never eye the LCD viewfinder for focus, its good for composition but that?s about it - the reason being that the LCD viewfinder is composed of 500 lines of vertical resolution which is approximately 5/6+ of PAL 625 lines. Look into getting a video monitor, properly alligned with SMPTE bars it should give you a far more accurate rendition of how the image will turn out. Auto focus can be point or matrix (i think) meaning the camera may take an aggregate of all the objects in the picture and focus according to the most objects that will appear sharp at the given depth of field (matrix) or it will take a reading of the object in the center of the frame and focus on that.

It would be interesting to see something in MCU and CU as these long/wide shots don't really provide as much information. Perhaps if we saw something closer one could assert whether or not you have a focus issue.

Gain was on 0db. The camera only goes up to 540 H lines, but I suppose the LCD does only come up to 220.

I know the focusing won't be entirely accurate, but it should look ok through the LCD, even if it does look a bit off when shown on a larger screen. But not as much off as it does in that first picture.

I purposely under exposed it, unfortunately the LCD wasn't calibrated at all and was a whole lot brighter than most TV's. So I did under expose it a bit too far, but even so.


I just can't believe that a camera costing £2000 fails to store quality footage. Maybe these video manufacturers were ripping us off. But now RED has come along and broken the mould.

I just saved a 640 by 480 jpeg in Photoshop, containing a range of colour information, at its highest quality (12), it came to 93.6kb. That multiplied by 25 is 2340kb (2.34mb)

8 bits to a byte. 18.72 megabits.

Under the limit of 25mbits, and it's practically perfect quality. You would find it very difficult to see the difference between itself and an uncompressed BMP.

Ok fine there is the audio to consider.. the audio runs at 1.411mbits per second. (If I remember correctly...)

So the data rate with the video and audio would come to 20.131 megabits. Leaving just under 5 megabits for other information.

That would give you uncompressed audio (far more than you need anyway) with fantastic quality progressive video meeting the PAL 640 specification.


So what I want to know is, why are these video manufacturers struggling so much to produce video cameras producing good quality images?

I'm guessing, it's not the storage or the processing, but the rate at which the sensor can physically capture and output the images. That's the only explanation I can think of. It certainly can't be the lens. My crappy 18-55 Nikon kit lens produces pretty sharp images up to 6 mega pixels at least. (3008x2000)
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 10:40 PM

Hi,

Did you deinterlace these?

You're on a 500-line standard def camera with an iffy lens. You've then put it in 16:9, throwing away a huge chunk of resolution. They look deinterlaced, which knocks it down another 50%. Looks almost motion blurred - I could be seeing deinterlacing, but if you were on a very long lens and not on a tripod, that would make a difference. Even if the electronic image stabilisation is stopping it from moving around, it can't stop it motion blurring.

I get the impression that there is something more going on here but I really couldn't say for all these potential obscuring factors.

This is why we haul all those hard disks around...

The reason the stills cameras do so much better for so much less money is mainly because they only have to go at 1fps, so the CCD can compromise read and refresh speed for resolution and dynamic range. They're not dealing with interlace or fixed shutter periods. Because they're shooting less often the data rate to the storage medium is smaller so they can compress less (though what stops you holding down the button on an EOS-400D? Buffer memory. It's a bandwidth issue.) They're not stuck with strange, outdated ideas like interlacing and fixed output luminance mapping.

Go look again at something that's been shot on a modified DVX-100, with the uncompressed, straight-off-the-chip recording. It's staggeringly better, hugely better. Personally I think these camcorder manufacturers make some extremely strange decisions with their DSP electronics.

Phil
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#12 David Bradley

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:19 AM

The camera only goes up to 540 H lines, but I suppose the LCD does only come up to 220.


The camera records at 625 lines at 50i (PAL). The LCD does have 500 lines in both the PAL and NTSC system.

The PD-170 is a pretty fine camera considering its price relative to that of a proffessional DVCAM camcorder. Sony's DSR 450 WSP retails at about £12,500/$25,000 including a fujinon ENG lens. Compare the images and you start to see why the PD-170 (due to its price and functionality) is so popular.

Maybe I should be a saled rep for Sony :blink:
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#13 Daniel Smith

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:54 PM

Hi,

Did you deinterlace these?

You're on a 500-line standard def camera with an iffy lens. You've then put it in 16:9, throwing away a huge chunk of resolution. They look deinterlaced, which knocks it down another 50%. Looks almost motion blurred - I could be seeing deinterlacing, but if you were on a very long lens and not on a tripod, that would make a difference. Even if the electronic image stabilisation is stopping it from moving around, it can't stop it motion blurring.

I get the impression that there is something more going on here but I really couldn't say for all these potential obscuring factors.

This is why we haul all those hard disks around...

The reason the stills cameras do so much better for so much less money is mainly because they only have to go at 1fps, so the CCD can compromise read and refresh speed for resolution and dynamic range. They're not dealing with interlace or fixed shutter periods. Because they're shooting less often the data rate to the storage medium is smaller so they can compress less (though what stops you holding down the button on an EOS-400D? Buffer memory. It's a bandwidth issue.) They're not stuck with strange, outdated ideas like interlacing and fixed output luminance mapping.

Go look again at something that's been shot on a modified DVX-100, with the uncompressed, straight-off-the-chip recording. It's staggeringly better, hugely better. Personally I think these camcorder manufacturers make some extremely strange decisions with their DSP electronics.

Phil

The footage was interlaced, although I exported a frame from Premiere, so unless it only exported one field, it should be interlaced. I think when exporting the film strips it exports frames containing either fields A or B, maybe it has done the same in this case.

I just think the compression is horrible. I mean, I haven't got a problem with the resolution, it's just that a 90kb jpeg frame beats the crap out of it. Surely 2 grands of camera should be able to handle 19 megabits worth of capture, compression, storage a second.

Or perhaps I am under estimating the time of which these images are compressed at. After all, my pc was only compressing and storing one. (But my PC did cost £650 3 and a half years ago)


The camera records at 625 lines at 50i (PAL). The LCD does have 500 lines in both the PAL and NTSC system.

The PD-170 is a pretty fine camera considering its price relative to that of a proffessional DVCAM camcorder. Sony's DSR 450 WSP retails at about £12,500/$25,000 including a fujinon ENG lens. Compare the images and you start to see why the PD-170 (due to its price and functionality) is so popular.

Maybe I should be a saled rep for Sony :blink:

That's not what Sonybiz.net are saying. http://www.sonybiz.n...DVCAMCamcorders
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#14 David Bradley

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 05:50 AM

thats very odd. And it even says PD 170p indicating a PAL system. 530 lines sounds more like an NTSC system? I stand corrected if otherwise. Regardless the point still stands that the viewfinder is not a reliable tool for focusing. If you still have the camera why not shoot some screen tests on a properly illuminated/white balanced subject in MCU/CU and post them, I don't really see the problem otherwise - DV doesn't handle underexposure well at all.
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#15 Daniel Smith

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 06:09 PM

thats very odd. And it even says PD 170p indicating a PAL system. 530 lines sounds more like an NTSC system? I stand corrected if otherwise. Regardless the point still stands that the viewfinder is not a reliable tool for focusing. If you still have the camera why not shoot some screen tests on a properly illuminated/white balanced subject in MCU/CU and post them, I don't really see the problem otherwise - DV doesn't handle underexposure well at all.

That is all fair enough, but if the bad quality is down to the focusing then the auto focus feature can pretty much be rendered as useless, as all of the shots were poor quality, which can't be true because I shot two 25 minute dramas a few years back and they came out ok.

My beef is that 2 grands worth of video camera cannot produce those sort of images at good quality. I mean, ok I'm no engineer but from working out the facts and figures in earlier posts, I can't believe that they can handle so little processing power.

Of course, there is something else in the equation that I'm not accounting for... but to be honest, a camera engineer is probably the only kind of person who could explain why they can only handle small amounts.

All I can say is, I hope that RED kicks brands like Sony, Panasonic etc. right up the jack side about all of this.

Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 03 July 2007 - 06:10 PM.

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#16 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 04:29 PM

I've never had good success with any DV camera and stills (either grabbed or taken directly for the purpose of a still), it's just not the same media. Watching the footage back on an NTSC or PAL monitor (whichever is your standard) usually shows the difference. The video looks great on both PD 150's and PD 170's I've used, but stills are always problematic. I usually have better luck grabbing stills from a dvd off my PC than I do directly from Final Cut. It's just a different media than still photography.
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#17 Rob White

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 01:41 PM

thats very odd. And it even says PD 170p indicating a PAL system. 530 lines sounds more like an NTSC system? I stand corrected if otherwise. Regardless the point still stands that the viewfinder is not a reliable tool for focusing. If you still have the camera why not shoot some screen tests on a properly illuminated/white balanced subject in MCU/CU and post them, I don't really see the problem otherwise - DV doesn't handle underexposure well at all.


I think you're getting your lines mixed up. PAL has 625 vertical lines, which all PAL cameras record at. the 530 figure is horizontal lines. (i'm a bit knackered, if i put that backwards, i apologize)

as for focusing, the viewfinder is fine on SD, just make sure you zoom all the way in, open up the iris a bit, focus; and then zoom out and stop back down. if you focus with the DoF at its most shallow, when you expand it again (by zooming out/stopping down) it gives you a margin of error.
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 06:15 AM

I know this might upset some people but my experience with the PD150, is that it is a horrible camera, and the PD170 is an upgraded PD150.

I have a video I directed shot on a PD150 and when I saw it projected on the big screen I was shocked at how bad it looked. The lens on the camera is just horrible

The DV format tops out at 540 lines so 530 isn't bad.

I was really shocked to hear that David Lynch was shooting Inland Empire on a PD-150 and I felt it looked preety bad up on the big screen (great film tho!) I think you should get hold of a copy of the DVD and see what it looks like as I think this is probably the best you can hope for from this camera, and maybe it will look okay on the small screen.

It amuses me when you see people saying the film was shot in high definition! People have low expectations out there it seems!

In my opinion the PD-150/170 is a very outdated camera. The thing is that a long time ago it was THE DV camera used by the tv industry and porn industry, it became such a famous and must have camera that Sony ended up upgrading it a bit to the PD170 because it had become such a brand. When it came out it was a truly revolutionary camera, the form factor is great and made in very easy to use. In comparison, during that period I also shot on a canon XL1, and after using it for a while I was shaking and had to sit down because the camera was heavy, (produced better footage than the pd-150 even back then tho). The PD150 does have nice balanced XLR inputs for audio tho.

Since then canon produced the XM2 which has a similar form factor to the PD150 but produces much nicer footage, but really the Panasonic DVX100 is THE SD camera available for filmmaking. It's progressive which in itself means you aren't throwing away half your image info (I bet your stills are of a single video field and not of a frame), so it's sort of double the resolution and then you have all that lovely cine gamma on top and it even has balanced XLR inputs. It's just like a massive leap into the future compared to the PD150, but then it is a much newer camera.

I'm guessing that you have got to use the PD170 for free tho, in which case who's complaining! ;) It is a 3 chip camera and has good audio options.

Good luck with your project!

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 24 August 2007 - 06:17 AM.

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