Adam Wilt maintains the most technically literate and informative DV web pages anywhere, and he recently got a DVX100. This is good news for anyone wanting accurate information about the camera: check out adamwilt.com. You can read the specs and download the full user's manual PDF file from Panasonic's page.
Videosystems.com has a good explanation of progressive scan, showing why true progressive cameras have more resolution even with the same number of recorded pixels (eg. 720x480 for NTSC DV) because they do not average two pixel rows like interlaced-mode cameras do, to generate each field. This also explains why progressive scan mode has exactly half the sensitivity (1 f-stop darker) as compared with interlaced mode. Lido at eyejazz.com has an excel file showing the default settings in each of the six user presets. There is an active user forum specific to the DVX100 at DVXUser.com and another at the 2-pop.com site.
Here are a few frames in 16:9 mode:duck 1, duck 2. Here is a frame grab comparing the DVX100 and VX2000 cameras.
For balancing the camera on a steadicam or similar device it is important to know the exact weight. I used a FedEx digital package scale to make some measurements of the camera in operating condition, as well as some of the parts separately.
DVX100 with 63min. MiniDV tape, lens hood, CGR-D16 (1600 mAh battery): 4.00 lbs = 1.82 kg
DVX100 with 63min. MiniDV tape, lens hood, UV filter, CGP-D28 (2800 mAh battery): 4.30 lbs = 1.94 kg
Bare DVX100 (no tape, hood, filter, or battery): 3.5 lbs = 1.58 kg
Pana CGP-D28 2800 mAh battery: 0.45 lbs = 0.20 kg
Pana CGR-D16 1600 mAh battery: 0.25 lbs = 0.12 kg
Pana lens hood: 0.20 lbs = 0.10 kg
Tiffen 72mm UV filter: 0.10 lbs = 0.04 kg
Pana AY-DVM63MQ MiniDV tape: 0.05 lbs = 0.02 kg
I did not have an external mic or mic clamp, tripod quick-release plate, matte box, cables or any other accessories which would add their own contribution to the weight.
The camera has a 3/32 stereo jack marked "CAM REMOTE" in back by the battery, below the headphone jack. This size is also used for LANC controls, but this is a simple analog control and not LANC compatible. Varizoom offers a StealthDVX zoom controller specifically for the DVX100. Courtesy of George Ross (Nov. 28 2002) we have the wiring information, if you want to roll your own:
DVX100 remote wiring : Stereo Mini Jack : Tip = Record Off/On to ground : Center = Zoom In/Out 1-20K Pot to ground : Sleeve = Ground
The DVX100 has a lower noise floor than the less expensive "prosumer" cameras I have used, so a cleaner soundtrack ought to be possible. I measured the total unweighted noise recorded on ch.1 from the external mic input (-50 dB menu setting) as -73 dBfs (with no mic, just a 600 ohm resistor across the mic input). Using an "A" weighting filter the noise is -77 dBa. With ALC on and the external volume knob at center (pointing straight up) and injecting 1 kHz at -60 dBu the recorded level is -12 dBfs at the "-60 dB" mic menu setting, and -23 dBfs at the "-50 dB" mic menu setting. (0 dBfs is digital full scale, the maximum-amplitude sine wave)
I have a description of the audio gain levels and ALC behavior here.
What I don't understand is the spectrum of recorded broadband white noise. All other cameras, soundcards and MD recorders I have tested have a flat response within about 1 dB across the audio band. The DVX100 shows a "comb-filter" response with 7 dB notches every 600 Hz across the entire audio spectrum, plus other notches at 150 Hz, 300, 900, 2100 etc. This is very surprising to me and I would expect it to noticibly affect the sound in an A/B comparison with a normal (flat-response) recorder, depending on the specific program material. In these plots I show the audio response of the DVX100 compared with an inexpensive TRV720 Digital-8 camera. Audio was imported via firewire and analysed with Cool Edit 2000 from syntrillium.
view all spectra on one page.
Update 2 I had the camera audio checked out by a certified Panasonic technician (for their $100 minimum service fee) and the camera was pronounced AOK.
The camera can exhibit blue, yellow or red color fringing around sharp details, especially on the right-hand side of the screen. The problem appears when reproducing sharp contrasty lines which are in reality completely black-and-white or greyscale. It happens in both interlaced and progressive modes and with all settings I tried (varying gamma, color matrix, detail, thin/thick vertical, and exposure). I assume it has to do with pixels which are not exactly aligned on the red, green and blue CCDs but I don't know why it should appear mostly on the right-hand edge of the screen. The effect appears in this test chart photo taken in the F6 default preset (24p Advanced, "thin" vertical detail) note the right-hand side region of vertical lines. One suggestion has been to reduce the chroma setting, but this does not really fix the problem based on this test chart, chroma -5. Note, disregard the reproduction of greys, the resolution chart itself (from Edmund Industrial Optics) is very high resolution but does not have an accurate grey scale- the darker tones are all nearly alike. For a correct grey scale see this page instead.
As another test I printed out this square pattern on a piece of paper
and shot it with the DVX100. Here is a firewire-exported still frame.
You will note the presence of some color fringing along the right-hand side of the frame.
I don't think this is simple lens flare, since that ought to be symmetric and the false colors
do not appear at all on the left-hand side of the image. I wonder if the issue is
an electronic problem, rather than an optical problem.
Camera details: detail -1, chroma -2, phase 0, color temp 0, master ped -5, a.iris -3, gamma norm, skin tone off, matrix cine-like, detail thin, 30p mode. Lighting: afternoon direct sunlight. Manual white balance on plain white sheet of paper.
Here is another frame which is similar, taken indoors with halogen light. Viewing the scene played back on a JVC TM-H1375SU video monitor the color is nearly impossible to see, but for some reason it is more visible on the computer screen.
By using my DVX100 in a fairly dark room (barely anything visible on the display) in autofocus mode and either waving my hand in front of the lens, zooming in or out, or panning the camera, I was able to make the autofocus noise appear at will. It is a quiet humming or soft rattling noise, which lasts for about 3 seconds and then goes away, or continues if I continue panning the camera. The noise does not appear in manual focus mode. The OIS (stabilization) mode does not affect it one way or another. The noise is not very loud. I thought it might have been louder before but possibly I was mistaken. It is also possible the manual zoom ring or Auto/Manual focus switch, both of which are a bit loose on my camera, could rattle under some conditions, perhaps amplifying the noise.
Audio recording with autofocus noise: MP3 in zip file
I recorded the noise using the camera itself, with an external C1000S mic about an inch from the focus ring, connected to channel 1 (left channel) and the camera's internal mic on channel 2. I had both audio gain pots at maximum. Menu setting level Ch1 at -60 dB, CH2 at -50 dB. I was speaking quietly about 2 feet from the mic, and as you can hear the autofocus rattle is much quieter than my voice.
I am guessing this is a mechanical oscillation of a lens element or the servomechanism that drives it, and perhaps the camera's autofocus algorithm is not tuned for very low-light conditions. Right now the noise isn't very loud, but it may indicate something could be improved in the focusing algorithm and/or lens focusing mechanism.
What's in a name? The camera itself says "AG-DVX100" on it. The box it came in, and the instruction manual, are labelled AG-DVX100P for some reason. The "P" might stand for "Professional" or "progressive" or maybe nothing. It does not stand for PAL, this is a NTSC camera and as far as I know there is presently no PAL version available.