Sony DSR-PD170

Sony PD 170 Review

Summary: Great professional 3 chip SD camera with exceptional low light performance, XLR inputs, beautiful image and colors.

The Sony DSR-PD170 ($3,940 MSRP ) produces excellent video especially in low light. The PD170 has a low light sensitivy of 1 lux. This Standard Definition camera was the standard workhorse for many years. It includes three 1/3 inch CCDs each with 380,000 pixels.

Pros: The champion for low light shooting, balanced xlr audio inputs, gorgeous colors

Cons: Manual iris control and manual audio controls are both a bit awkward.

The auto white balance is surprisingly good, but like most can be easily confused when dealing with multiple light temperatures. Manual white balance is easy and fast. A Sony high capacity battery will run the camera all day.


Fixed optical 12 x zoom lens. Includes a separate 1.7 x wide angle lens adapter which is large and heavy but does a pretty good job and comes with its own lens shade. The autofocus is very good in most situations, one of the all time best autofocus setups. In addition to full auto, the lens has manual iris, focus and zoom. The focus and zoom rings are rubberized and textured. Built-in ND filters, 3ND and 6 ND.


The electronic viewfinder is black and white 180,000 dot LCD with an adjustable diopter. The articulated LCD monitor can be used simultaneously with the viewfinder. Zebra stripes can be set at none, 70% or 100%.


Sound quality from the on-camera microphone is excellent. I have never heard noise from the transport or zoom motors of the camera. The best audio, however, is typically recorded from off camera balanced mics plugged into the XLR inputs.

The two-channel XLR breakout box is mounted on the right side above the handhold. You can select mic/line levels, 48-volt phantom power and select channel mixing and attenuation. Auto Audio Gain Control is pretty accurate, but manual control is available. You can see the VU meters on the LCD. Setting levels manually requires pressing a button then turning a dial. This is slightly awkward, but you get used to it.


The camera records to DVCAM/DV tape only. There is no image quality difference between recording on MiniDV or on DVCAM.

If it weren’t for the need for HD, I would not sell my PD 170. It is well-designed and well built, a true workshorse. This camera is no longer made, but many used cameras are available.

Keep Reading...

NTSB says drones subject to FAA

NTSB says Drone Flights Subject to FAA Regulations

NTSB says drone flights are subject to FAA regulations. Disappoints aerial videographers who fly quadcopters and fixed wing model aircraft.

Read More
DJI Phantom 4 Video

DJI Phantom 4 Video

Learn how to fly the DJI Phantom 4 and shoot stunning aerial video and photos. Available as a download or DVD ROM.

Read More
KodakPixPro SP360

360° HD Action Camera

A company called JK Imaging has licensed the Kodak name. The agreement enables JK Imaging to manufacture and sell Kodak branded digital imaging products. One of the most intriguing is the Kodak PixPro SP360. It captures 1080p video with a 360º field of view. This 360° HD Action Camera pairs with smart phones via WiFi […]

Read More

Quadcopter Crashes on Busy Manhattan Street

I've written a lot about quadcopters, most notably Quadcopters, Cameras, and the Law. Today, some fool didn't obey the law, common sense or common decency. Monday evening a quadcopter took off from a high-rise terrace in mid-town Manhattan during evening rush hour. It flew 300 to 400 ft in the air past luxury apartment buildings as well as business buildings. 3 minutes later it crashed in the street nearly clipping a businessman.

Read More

One thought on “Sony DSR-PD170

  1. Robert Hall Jr

    I feel that the pd170 is one of the best that sony produce, for wedding, corpet. short film, low lighting, back lighting, spot light, dvcam are all great features for professional videos shooting.However at present i am trying to learn to shoot with the film look with pd170 and I do welcome tips from one who have been able to achieve that operation, also please give me some critical comments on my web site thanks Robert from L&H video


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Forbes Magazine calls VideoUniversity one of the best business-to-business sites for digital video production.
    Videography Magazine's
    "Website of the Month" Award
    PC Magazine Online "Best Desktop Video Site" Award
    CyberFilm School's "FOUR STAR" Award