Written by Robert Hutchings of KTCA Twin Cities Public Television, St Paul, Minnesota.
Originally posted to
DV-L list on Sun 8/24/97 8:34 AM.

DV Motion Artifacts:
DSR-200 and VX-1000 Comparison

I recently had a chance to compare the look of the DSR-200 and the VX-1000 directly. We used both units on a shoot that was a co-production of a national PBS science show called Newton's Apple and Outside Magazine. We usually shoot on BetaCam SP but because of the rigors of this particular shoot we went with a lighter camera and format. Outside Magazine had sponsored a contest in which teams of teenagers submitted their ideas of dream expeditions. The team with the most interesting proposal was awarded a chance to actually go on the expedition they had proposed. The idea was that we would follow along and document the trip. We were in the wild for 15 days. I shot with the DSR-200 and team members were given the VX-1000 to play with. The expedition included 6 days of bushwhacking through some pretty tough terrain. I ended up lashing the DSR-200 to my back pack, the camera went through some very rough treatment. I must say that for a relatively inexpensive camera the DSR-200 performed remarkable well as did the VX-1000 and I realize now that given the conditions we chose the perfect tool for the job. My observations: Having edited a short sampler reel in which we inter cut material from the 200 and the 1000, I'm in a pretty good position to compare output from the two. As expected almost identical output. If anything it was the VX-1000 footage which appeared to be slightly SOFTER but that camera was being operated by "untrained" operators using auto focus, who knows? The sense I got also was that the DVCam format seemed to be a little cleaner and more precise than the DV format, but the images produced by the two cameras were very close. The obvious advantages for having balanced audio inputs allowed us to get very good sound. We were able to Velcro a Portabrace pack with two wireless onto the back of the DSR-200 and audio was sent via wireless from the sound guy to me.

All things considered a very pleasing experience but there are some things I hate about certain "consumer" aspects of this camera. The view finder was incredibly cluttered with useless information making it almost impossible at times to compose shots. And I never found a way to turn that VF info off. The VF itself is pretty good as consumer cameras go but the lack of resolution (maybe my eyes are getting worse as I age) did make it difficult to focus at times and a bit of an eye strain. The fact that the manual iris control is in half f-stop increments and not continuous makes it very distracting to change iris during a shot. I really became aware of how much I really ride the iris when shooting with the Ikegami-V55's that we usually use. Continually changing the f-stop as the shot progresses. Isn't there any way to make that little dial on the DSR-200 for iris control more continuously variable. Auto iris I find out of the question for professional work they still haven't refined it enough.

For editing we rented a Panasonic unit that plays back all the DV formats and has component out and went component out directly into the component in of our NLE. Beautiful clean video. Obviously less resolution than the BetaCam V-55 because of the 1/3" chips as opposed to the 2/3", but a very clean pleasing precise image none the less. There is one very distracting image problem however and it has been pointed out here previously. I would call it stair stepping. Serious jagged edges most especially evident at transition edges going from brighter to darker. Unfortunately a very noticeable problem that severely hampers what is otherwise a very sophisticated and artifact free picture. I hope this is a camera problem and not a format/compression problem.

Robert Hutchings
KTCA Twin Cities Public Television
St Paul, MN

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