DV-In Enabling in Europe
PC5 Features vs. TRV900
Gripes and complaints
Performance PC5 vs. TRV900
Control Placement and other issues
The Final Word – and the competition
These two pictures taken with the PC5 - the picture of the little girl (at a wedding) was at f1.7 and 1/100 (automatic), the one of Castle Stuart near Inverness, in Scotland was f8 at 1/600 (again set automatically). They were both taken on the memory stick.
The Sony PC5 (specs) is one of the smallest camcorders available on the market today. As the very happy owner of a Sony TRV900 for just over a year (thanks to the excellent Web site from John) I never thought that I would ever need another camcorder – the TRV900 (nearly) has it all (but why did they put the ‘Menu’ button behind the LCD screen?). But, for some occasions the TRV900 is just a bit too big. As an incurable ‘gadget freak’ when I saw the PC5 it was love at first sight and my credit card just started moving mysteriously towards the salesperson.
The PC5 is about the size of box of kitchen matches and weighs about 15 ounces – even the pictures on Sony’s Website don't really help you appreciate just how small it is. But when you hold it between your thumb and forefinger then you know – this is a really small and light camcorder. Some people have commented it is too small – and certainly it takes some getting used to – because you just cannot hold it in the normal way (as you might with a TRV900). As a result, it has an unusual fold down grip that many people have found difficult to come to terms with on first acquaintance in a dealer and, as a result, have passed the PC5 by. Give it some time – like most things, you will get used to it. Having used my PC5 for about 6 weeks now, I find the unusual grip no problem at all.
The PC5 is a full featured miniDV camcorder that sacrifices virtually nothing for its size. If you know about the TRV900 – and I guess you must if you're reading John's Website – then you might want to compare the features with the TRV900. Sure there are a few features that are on the 900 that don't appear on the PC5 – but there are also several features on the PC5 that are not on the 900.
DV-In Enabling in Europe
Living in Europe, the version of the PC5 sold there is called the PC5E and is PAL rather than NTSC. There are a few other differences too between the US and European versions of the PC5 which are worth mentioning. In Europe our beloved politicians have decreed that there should be an extra tax payable on video recorders – so Sony decided to disable the DV-in capability of the PC5E – meaning that you can't record digital video back onto the PC5 after you have exported it to your desktop computer. Now in Europe we have a healthy disrespect for all our politicians and so it was not long before people discovered that this disabling was merely a software configuration parameter held in the memory of the PC5. As a result, a number of entrepreneurs have starting marketing devices called ‘DV Widgets’ that reprogram the PC5 to re-enable the DV-in capability. I bought one straight away from Datavision (www.datavision.co.uk). They sell Widgets for most camcorders (not just Sony). The Widget is about the size of two packets of gum set side-by-side. A small lead from the Widget is plugged into the PC5 LANC socket – from where it also draws its power. The Widget has a single button and a two-color LED. When you switch the camera on, the LED flashes slowly green/red. You then press the button and the LED flashes green while it reprograms the camcorder. This takes about ten seconds – but it seems a lot longer (I was worried what I might be doing to my lovely new PC5). Eventually the Widget puts the camcorder into standby mode and the LED stops flashing. I switched the PC5 off at the main power switch, unplugged the Widget and connected up my TRV900 with a Firewire cable. I put the 900 into camera mode and the PC5 into VTR mode. Immediately the words ‘DV-in’ appeared on the PC5 screen and the picture from the 900 appeared on the PC5. It worked!!
Outside Europe the PC5 also supports video/S-video input too – this feature too has been disabled on European PC5's and it appears as though the European PC5's have some missing hardware that accounts for this (several people have commented on this on the rec.video newsgroup and Datavision (the Widget makers) have confirmed this.
PC5 Feature Overview – comparison with the TRV900
The PC5 has most of the features of the TRV900 – including Super Steady Shot, 10 x optical and 40 x digital zoom (120 x digital zoom in North America, Japan and other NTSC countries), flip out LCD etc. On the PC5, however, the LCD is touch-sensitive and most of the camera's functions are controlled via this touch-sensitive screen. When you (lightly) touch the screen a small function ‘pad’ labeled ‘Fn’ appears. Touch this and the screen shows a card index style selection of options, split into three ‘pages’ or ‘cards’ – with each ‘page’ containing several selectable items. One of these is labeled ‘Menu’ – which functions very similarly to the Menu option on the TRV900 – with most of the menu items in the same position and same order as on the 900 (though a few items are absent and there are some new ones as well). Other items replace the dedicated buttons on the 900 – such as ‘Index’, ‘+’, ‘-‘, ‘Play’, ‘End Search’, ‘Fade’, etc. In fact, the PC5 has very few external buttons – only ‘Backlight’, (Manual) ‘Focus’, ‘Nightshot’ (more on that later), ‘Super NightShot’ and ‘Display/Touchpanel’, ‘Photo’, and the zoom control.
Features missing on the PC5 (as compared to the TRV900) are Interval Recording and Progressive Scan (more on that later), LaserLink and several of the manual exposure modes. Additional features on the PC5 are a far more comprehensive set of editing controls and several additional fade options.
On the TRV900 the manual exposure options comprise a set of pre-programmed features – sports, portrait, landscape etc. – plus the ability to set aperture or shutter priority and then independently select the other variable. The PC5 has the first of these – sports, portrait, landscape etc. (including some not included on the 900) – but no aperture or shutter priority and, so, therefore no ability to explicitly set either the shutter speed or aperture. However, it is possible to adjust the exposure manually – lightening or darkening the picture – in a similar way to the TRV900. In addition, the PC5 has a ‘spot metering’ mode. Here, with the PC5 in record or pause mode (and having selected ‘spot metering’ via the touch sensitive screen), you (unusually) touch the screen at the point where you want the camera to set the exposure.
The PC5 has (for a camcorder) a fairly comprehensive set of editing controls. It possesses a 20-segment edit capability which allows you to define 20 non-contiguous segments (accurate to a frame) which can then be transferred automatically via the Firewire interface to another DV-compliant device (complete with start/stop/pause) – such as a TRV900. It can also transfer these to a non-DV device (VHS video recorder) that the PC5 controls itself via an IR emitter. The handbook contains a list of over 100 common domestic video recorders that the PC5 can control – complete with a reference number that you feed into the PC5 so that it knows the appropriate IR codes to use.
Because the VHS recorder will inevitably take some time to start and stop, the PC5 can ‘calibrate’ your video recorder. It does this during a separate calibration run when it sends an IR start signal to the recorder and then starts sending video frames with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. written on them. A similar procedure is adopted for stopping the recorder. The PC5 does this several times during a calibration run. You then rewind the tape in your VHS recorder and see what was the number on the first frame that the VHS recorder taped. You then take the average of the runs (to handle the inevitable variations that might occur) for the start calibration and the stop calibration and feed these numbers into the PC5. It then ‘knows’ how long your VHS recorder takes to start and stop – and compensates accordingly. For DV compliant devices, this calibration is not required as such devices are, by their very nature, frame accurate.
The PC5 can operate in absolute (visible) darkness, because it has a high-intensity IR emitter that it can use to illuminate scenes at night – Sony call this feature ‘Nightshot’. Although the range of this IR light is quite limited (perhaps 2 or 3 metres at most) it works well – although the resulting image is effectively monochrome. An additional ‘feature’ called ‘Super Nightshot’ reduces the shutter speed to about 1/3 second to further enhance the sensitivity of the camcorder – though with the inevitable effects that accompany such slow shutter speeds.
In terms of normal (non-Nightshot) low light performance, the PC5 does not perform as well as the TRV900 – and most users have reported this. Although perfectly adequate for most indoor functions (birthday parties, etc.) without the need for additional lighting, nevertheless the resulting picture appears considerably more ‘grainy’ than the TRV900. The accessory shoe on the PC5 is a cold shoe (no power, no control) – so it is not possible to fit the small (camera powered) video lights that are so handy for the TRV900.
The PC5 has 10 x optical zoom and either 40 x digital zoom (PAL countries) or 120 x digital zoom (NTSC countries). As with the TRV900, a menu function allows you to disable the digital zoom if you wish to. The zoom control on the PC5 is much less sensitive than on the TRV900 – a big bonus in my opinion. I have always found the TRV900 control too difficult to control the zoom speed precisely – this is now much improved. Maybe it's just me too, but I also found the digital zoom on the PC5 to be a significant improvement on the TRV900 – perhaps Sony have a new algorithm for this, but the TRV900 digital zoom was, in my opinion, effectively useless.
One area where the PC5 needs some improvement is motor noise – and microphone pickup. Most users of the PC5 have reported that the camera is rather noisy – and, when you are recording in quiet surroundings, the microphone picks up a significant amount of this motor ‘buzz’. There is a powered socket for an external microphone, though, so this might be one way around the problem. The camera has 2 x 16-bit, 48 kHz or 4 x 12-bit, 32 kHz recording just as the TRV900 does with the ability to audio dub in 12-bit mode. However, given that this is intended as a small, very portable camera, the need to carry another microphone is not really something that you will really want to do. Of course, with the drum in the PC5 spinning at 9000 rpm it is inevitable that there will be some 150 Hz noise emitted. Even the TRV900 suffers from this a little – but the acoustic insulation on the TRV900 is considerably better than the PC5. Why have a CD-quality recording system (48 kHz, 16-bit) and then spoil it by failing to provide adequate isolation from motor noise? For operation in a ‘normal’ environment – say normal room conversation – it is not a problem, but don't expect to use the PC5 to collect examples of bird songs – unless the bird you are trying to record also emits a 150 Hz note!
The PC5 has a (non-LCD) button to switch into manual focus. On the TRV900 there are several additional options – such as ‘Infinity’ (focuses the camera to infinity) and an additional button to momentarily put the camera back into automatic focus mode to allow you to approximately focus on a difficult subject without the need to wind the manual focus ring too much. The PC5 does not have either of these options – however, the manual focus ring requires less turning to move from close up to infinity and, when focussed at infinity, the ‘mountain’ symbol appears in the viewfinder just as it did in the TRV900.
Just like the TRV900, the PC5 can take still pictures and put them either on to the miniDV tape or onto removable flash memory. In the case of the TRV900, this removable memory was a standard PCMCIA flash card or a (supplied) PCMCIA based floppy disc adapter. The PC5 uses Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick technology, which comprises a small (piece of gum) sized memory module. These are available in sizes up to 64 MB (this is the size that I have in my PC5) and will shortly be available in 128 MB too. The TRV900 allows you to compress the pictures (640 x 480 on both the TRV900 and PC5) to three levels of compression – standard, fine & super-fine. The PC5 has only standard and fine. However, with fine mode and a 64 MB Memory Stick, you can fit over 600 stills on a single memory card – with standard mode it’s nearly 1000 pictures! Just as with the TRV900, the main control – that switches the camera from VTR to OFF to CAMERA – has a fourth position for taking stills directly to the Memory Stick. Just like the TRV900 you can transfer stills from the tape to the Memory Stick automatically and from the Memory Stick to the tape too. The PC5 comes with a cable that connects the LANC socket to the serial interface of your PC allowing you to transfer pictures from the camera to the PC and back again. A CD is supplied with some simple software to do this. One neat feature of this software is that, when you save a picture back to the camera, it is converted into the appropriate format for the camera – a big improvement over the TRV900 where you had to be quite careful to be able transfer pictures back to the camera. There is a subtle difference between the pictures produced by the TRV900 and the PC5. The PC5 complies with the JEDEC standard for digital photographs and names all its files DSCxxxxx.jpg instead of the MVCxxxxx.jpg used by the TRV900. As a result, if you want to transfer a picture from the TRV900 to the PC5 you need to rename the files. This is mentioned in the handbook. The software supplied with the PC5 has some simple capabilities – for processing and storing and retrieving photos from your PC hard disk. However, it is straightforward to edit the pictures with another application and then save them back onto the PC5. Even non-digital camera artwork can be saved back onto the PC5 – with the supplied software converting into the appropriate format.
The PC5 comes with a 4 MB Memory Stick that contains a number of borders and backgrounds. This is because the PC5 has a reasonably comprehensive set of facilities for moving pictures back from the Memory Stick to the miniDV tape. They can be simply transferred as they are – or used as backgrounds for recording – with several chroma-key and lumi-key and overlap options available. In chroma-key it allows you to swap a blue area of a still picture with the moving picture you are recording. In lumi-key you can swap a brighter area of a still picture with the moving picture you are recording (the TRV900 has this option too). In memory overlap (also available on the TRV900) you can make a moving image fade in on top of a still image.
Now for the $64,000 question. Does the PC5 have Progressive Scan? To be honest, I don't know. The Sony Web site says the PC5 has ‘progressive shutter’ – whatever that means. But, for sure, there is no menu item on the PC5 (as there is on the TRV900) relating to Progressive Scan and the handbook does not mention it at all. I suspect it does not. On the TRV900, when the recorder is in Progressive Scan mode, the camera switches from 60 Fields per second (NTSC) or 50 Fps (PAL) interlaced to 15 frames per second (NTSC) or 12.5 fps (PAL) and the effect is very noticeable in the viewfinder. The TRV900 is always in Progressive Scan mode for shooting stills to the memory but can be switched into either interlaced or non-interlaced mode for shooting stills to tape. On the PC5 the ‘progressive scan’ effect noticeable on the TRV900 is completely absent suggesting that it does not offer progressive scan (unless it is operating progressive scan at 30/25 fps, as some other camcorders do).
One advantage of the PC5 battery/charger is that the charger is an entirely separate small matchbox sized unit that enables batteries to be charged independently of the camera - as well as (simultaneously) being able to power the camera directly. The TRV900 has to charge batteries in the camera itself that means you cannot charge batteries and use the camera at the same time. The charger is multivoltage and extremely light. Your TRV900 battery will not fit in the PC5 - it is considerably larger. My TRV900 came with a small capacity battery as standard: I soon purchased a couple of larger capacity Sony batteries that, while offering greater recording time were not physically larger. Unfortunately this is not the case with the PC5. The supplied battery has a realistic life of about 45-60 minutes and larger capacity batteries - while certainly available - are physically larger and protrude from the side of the PC5. As a result, unless this does not concern you, it will be necessary to carry a couple of spare batteries. They are certainly very small - so it is not too much of a problem - but the battery life on the TRV900 was so good that you really could go out without being concerned about carrying a spare power source. The PC5 batteries are, of course, of Sony’s proprietary InfoLithium variety - the batteries contain a microprocessor that reports to the camera up-to-date (and, in my experience, reasonably accurate) estimates of the remaining battery life.
Gripes and complaints
One annoying feature of the TRV900 is the inability to turn off all the indicators in the camera's viewfinder. Although the camera has a function to turn off (most) of the indicators on the flip-out LCD screen while recording, as soon as you switch to the viewfinder the indicators re-appear and cannot be disabled. I find this intensely frustrating – since several of the indicators contain fairly unimportant or obvious information that are not relevant to the current recording. For example, the indicators showing the cassette has cassette memory, that you are recording in SP mode, that you are taping the audio in 16-bit mode are all issues that you probably know about and do not need indicators constantly illuminated in the viewfinder and obscuring the image. Sony – please give us the capability to turn them all off. The PC5 suffers from the identical problem. In common with the TRV900, many of the PC5's features are only accessible via the LCD screen – which can be difficult to see in bright sunlight. The manual recognizes this and suggests that, if the screen is difficult to read as a result of bright light, you should take your camera into a shaded location. Very helpful! In fact, the PC5 is worse in this respect than the TRV900. With the TRV900, if you flip open the LCD screen and press the Menu button, you can then close the screen and access the menu via the rotary combined thumbwheel/push-to-select button, observing the menu items via the viewfinder. This is not possible with the PC5 because there is no thumbwheel/selector switch – all features are only selectable via the touch sensitive screen. There are a couple of minor exceptions to this. If the LCD screen is reversed, and pushed back against the camera, in camera mode, the LCD screen – although turned off is still touch sensitive for the fade controls and manual exposure adjustment (only). This is quite bizarre as you can see the sensitive area in the viewfinder but have to guess their location on the touch screen. As only two touch functions are available in this mode - this selection is, in reality, not as difficult as it might seem and is presumably why the entire set of menu items is not available.
As mentioned earlier, the PC5 has several additional fade options available - such as ‘dot’ - the new scene emerges from the previous one on a pixel by pixel basis over 5 or 6 seconds, ‘mosaic’ - the new scene emerges without reference to a previous scene, fading in as a sort of mosaic pattern, ‘wipe’ - a traditional ‘opening curtain effect’ that reveals the new scene from the previous one and ‘bounce’ – where the new scene bounces up and down for a few seconds before finally stabilizing.
The various effects that were available on the TRV900 - flash, lumi, trail, wide, monochrome, ‘Old Movie’ etc. are all present too – plus a few new ones..
Connections on the PC5 are LANC – also used for downloading stills, as has been mentioned already via the supplied PC cable, a combined audio/video socket (identical to that used on the TRV900), the Firewire I/O socket, powered microphone, S-video and headphone. The camera is supplied with a full function remote – identical to that used on the TRV900 – grossly large in comparison to the PC5 and particularly annoying since, as with the TRV900, many of the camera's secondary functions can only be accessed by using this remote (the same problem as the TRV900).
As with the TRV900, the basic supplied accessories comprise the remote, battery, video I/O cable, digital I/O cable with 9-pin RS232C interface, CDROM with Windows software, instruction manual, wiping cloth (for touch sensitive screen), lead to power the battery directly from the charger (fits in place of the battery) and a range of additional accessory leaflets etc. As with the TRV900 Sony do not supply a miniDV cassette or a carrying case. There is no neck strap and no facility for attaching one to the camera either - presumably Sony feels that the camera is too light and small to warrant such a capability.
Subjective Performance PC5 versus the TRV900
After you have used the 3.5" screen on the TRV900, the 2.5" screen on the PC5 looks very small indeed – much smaller than the numbers might suggest. Sony claim the screen has over 200, 000 pixels (they quote the resolution as 880x228) – which makes it higher resolution than the TRV900 (quoted as 839 x 220) – but this is not really apparent when you are using it. Basically there’s no getting away from it – the screen is small! The viewfinder is subjectively similar to the TRV900’s. The viewfinder pulls out to activate it (and so the camera can be operated with neither the LCD screen nor the viewfinder switched on for unattended recording or playback via a TV, if you wish – a good battery saving feature). However, it cannot be angled upwards as on most camcorders – including the TRV900. There is the usual adjustment for focus/spectacles. The other adjustments – such as viewfinder brightness, colour etc. are accessed via the touch sensitive screen.
In terms of subjective technical performance (by an interesting coincidence, my TRV900 had to be returned to Sony for servicing a week after my PC5 purchase – was it jealousy?!) I have been unable, as yet, to carefully compare the TRV900 with the PC5. But looking at the results taken in similar conditions the PC5 seems to have less vibrant colours and certainly lacks the low light performance. But these differences are slight and are perhaps only evident to those of us who look for such effects – my wife (who admits not to know one end of a camcorder from the other, cannot tell the difference). The real key is the size. As I’ve said before, the PC5 is so small that you can take it wherever you go – and you do. Of course, for many occasions, I carry my TRV900 around – but my PC5 goes to the supermarket and accompanies me every day to work. As a result I never miss those all-important chances when I wished I had my camera with me.
Control Placement and other issues
Many of us will have, at some time or other, bemoaned the TRV900’s idiosyncratic control placement and implementation. Why are the VTR controls on the 900 operated via ‘illuminated’ membrane switches that are difficult to see in all but the dimmest light (and use additional battery power - what is wrong with a ‘normal’ button – such as those used for the rest of the camera's functions)? Why (as many have said) was the ‘Menu’ button put behind the LCD screen? (Sony seems to have finally learnt this - on the new Sony ‘minidisc’-based camcorder, the menu button has finally been moved to the rear of the camcorder and is no longer behind the LCD screen). Why does the ‘primary’ control switch – which is in the key area that interfaces with the user – allow you to switch into VTR mode? The PC5 does not have the illuminated membrane VTR keypad – all VTR functions are controlled via the LCD touch sensitive screen, but it does place the Menu button on the LCD screen and does switch the camera into VTR mode from the primary control switch – which allows you to select VTR, OFF, Camera, Memory (photo to Memory Stick). As with the TRV900, a small slide switch allows you to set a mechanical stop to prevent the camera being switched into ‘Memory’ mode accidentally.
As with the TRV900, you can take still photos to either the Memory Stick or the miniDV tape. When recording to tape, the PC5 (like the TRV900) takes about 7 seconds of still and the associated audio. For some reason, digital zoom is not available for stills. The camera has the ‘Slide Show’ mode of the TRV900, which enables the camera to show each of the stills from either the tape or Memory Stick sequentially – at the rate of about one every five seconds (a bit too fast for my liking – and the time interval cannot be set). You can, of course, play the stills one at a time manually – either from the remote or the LCD screen – selecting them from an array of tiny index shots displayed on the screen. An interesting capability is the option of playback zoom, which allows you to touch the LCD screen and zoom in by a factor of two (only) with the point you touched becoming the centre of the screen.
Unfortunately, during ‘Slide Show’ it is not possible to turn off all the LCD screen indicators – even if controlling the PC5 from the remote control. Of course, without the remote, you would need the LCD touch sensitive indicators to control the progress of the slides – but it would have been helpful to have been able to have turned this off for automatic operations (‘Slide Show’) or when using the remote. Of course, the indicators do not appear on an attached TV – so this is not so important as the screen
The PC5 does not have the LaserLink feature found on the TRV900 neither does it have the ‘Edit Search’ controls that the TRV900 has. Several people have lamented the lack of Edit Search – personally I never used it. However, the PC5 does have End Search – which takes you to the end of the last recorded section of the tape – a very useful feature, in my view. As with the TRV900, this even works if you have taken out a cassette if it has the IC chip cassette memory.
The PC5 has the same Title features as found on the TRV900 – allowing you to title the tape as well as individual scenes if the cassette has the IC chip. Similarly you can search on title, date, photo etc.
The PC5 has the same ‘sound effects’ as the TRV900 – as John has commented, they are fun to begin with – but you soon end up turning them off.
The Final Word – and the competition
Well, that’s about it. Overall reaction? An outstanding piece of miniaturisation – no possibility that it will ever be possible to make the camera much smaller – the basic size of the miniDV cassette will see to that. No sacrifice in terms of the features that have been provided, either. Performance – not quite as good as the TRV900 – but still probably as good, if not better, than most single-CCD camcorders. User interface? – same complaints as the TRV900. Yes, of course, the small size takes some getting used to – but you soon adapt. If you are looking for the smallest camcorder around – then the only competition is the Canon Elura 2 (www.canondv.com).
Canon quotes the Elura 2 as being 48x106x86 mm while the PC5 is 54x101x97 mm which makes the Elura about 84% of the volume of the PC5. The Elura 2 weighs 390g against the PC5 450 g (86% of the weight of the PC5). But the Elura needs a docking station for some of its functions – whereas the PC5 does not. However, the Elura definitely supports Progressive Scan – a sad omission for the PC5. Most of the other features of the two cameras seem to be more-or-less equivalent (I have not used or even seen the Elura and the above comments are based on the information on their Web site).
Subject: Re: DCR-PC5 vs. Elura2MC From (ninoe at email msn com) Date: Mon Sep 18 18:44:24 2000 Newsgroups: rec.videoI was faced with the same choice...and i also have a 2mb nikon coolpix 800 I was very happy with...so, I researched on these 2 products...I ended up buying the elura2mc...hands down...haven't found any reviews yet for the elura2mc. Here's the rundown on this great, really, really small...about the size of your wallet like Canon says, well. mine anyway. PROS very, very small and light (u gotta see it to believe it) great video quality - prog.scan, rgb filter (works like 3ccd essentially) great ergonomics good backup still camera for your other digicam, just in case almost all necessary features are there, see con below about the dock stn for the travelling videomaker, featurewise, no contest, for now, but pc5 may be a little bit lighter (not sure) CONS It does not have the option of putting addl. lenses...I'm not even sure it will take in a UV haze protector to protect the lens, will try, it says it's 27mm but the threads may not be real The S-video, headphone and ext. mic jack are on the du-300 docking stn...if you crave this then it's a bit of a hassle digital stabilization system instead of optical...it's okay though
Subject: Re: DCR-PC5 vs. Elura2MC From: Stephen Lui (sclui56 at mailcity com) Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 04:22:43 GMTHad to make the same choice & chose the Canon, size, construction (metal vs plastic), etc sold me. The thread is indeed 27mm, I ended up getting a Hoya clear filter for it (soon after I touched the lens with my index finger), this thing is absolutely tiny! Bought the extended cell but exchanged it for 2 standard, the added weight & size makes the unit off-balance. I also didn't care for the still since I already have a couple of higher-res stills, may be I'll use the MMC once someone makes a PCMCIA or CF adapter. I test-shot at night in & around a strip-mall using available lighting and the unit seems to be fine (shot in AUTO instead of selecting Low Light). I planned on getting the PC5 at first because I have several of the batteries as well as MS on hand, but in the end, the Elura just "felt" better for me. Just wished they had fitted the unit with a metal tripod mount.
Subject: PC5 head clogs at end of tape
From: Mark Chestnutt (mark.chestnutt at bbc co uk)
Date: May 15 2001I have a PC5 camcorder, 6 months old and have noticed several head clogs. Over the 12 tapes I have had through it I have found a sort of pattern. The clog appears usually at the last 3 minutes of the tape, and on virgin tapes. If you rerecord over the cloged bit it is ok. The clog is on the recorded material and rarely appears on the playback of good material. I have several theories: 1. Poor quality control allowing the tape near the end to be dirty. 2. Tape tension problems- but this would not explain why the tape is ok except when it is new. If I had the time I would like to spool a virgin tape end to end and see if it is a wind problem- maybe the eamcorder winds looser than the suplied tape. I used Sony tapes and get this effect on 30 and 60 minute tapes- a Panasonic 80 min one seems to be ok. The clog appears as ok on a still pic but on movement there are 3 vertical bands of blocking which move across the picture. As the camcorder is under warenty I am unsure what to do. A friend has a PC3 and only reports 1 head clog. Sorry this is a bit rushed I am at work - An engineer- I work with Digi Beta etc. but we don't do much with DV. Mark
Subject: PC5 audio observations.I see other people seem to have problems with dv some on your site seem to not use the last 5 mins for fear of tape creasing. I would like to share my research on the audio on the PC5. I did test recordings talking hard left centre and right and found that the stereo image was so poor that I could not really detect the difference. Repeated with an external mic and the image was ok. The only way I convinced myself that the m/c was recording in stereo was to listen to recordings in headphones and switch the o/p monitoring between stereo and left and right . There is a definite spatial spread noticeable then. I did a similar test on a PC3 and on h/p playback it is clear when you are at the left or the right. A College who has a PC 3 commented that it was all side and no middle- I feel Sony may have over corrected for this problem. I have read articles saying that the PC5 has poor performance with regard to motor noise. I cannot agree. I find it amazing that the camera seems to reject such noise totally - even in a quiet environment. I wonder if it uses some cancellation techniques as the camera itself makes a lot of noise. During a quiet recording try putting your hand over the mic and you will hear motor noise a lot reflected sound bouncing off your hand. Zoom and focus noise is not noticeable either. I do admit that the sound is thin, lacking Bass. With regard to the comments about progressive scan I feel it has it as an image recorded to memory is only marginally better than one off tape If the one off tape was a still frame than it would only have 1/2 the horizontal resolution and if it was a still field it would show motion blare between the 2 fields. Why the image sent straight to the memory stick is noticeably better I am a little unsure. At first I thought that since in save to memory stick mode there is no image stabiliser available maybe the entire 800 000 pixels are used rather than the 400 000 from tape. This would lead to a larger field of view ( as happened on old electronic image stabiliser camcorders eq Panasonic S7) This does not happen and I see no way of masking this effect. I have asked the question what is the difference between net and gross pixels several times and got several answers 1. net used by pic gross is the whole patch i.e. the image stabiliser can move around a lot. 2. There are some Dark pixels covered in black these are reference black pixels- this would not account for 400,000 net 800,000 gross specified on the PC5. 3. Since the pixels are a finite size there is space between them net being the actual number gross being the maximum that if they were all that size could fit into that area. It is interesting to note that the PC100 has 1.07M pixels 1.00 M Used for stills and 670 K used for Movie. The relationship between Net and gross varies a lot 2:1 to a lot less I feel it must be the image stabiliser. I understand some camcorders offer a Wide mode (X0.7) by turning off the stabiliser and this would agree with the 1st point. Mark
From: Mark Chestnutt
Date: May 16 2001
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