Using The VX 1000 For The First Time?
If you’re a freelance camera person using this camera for the first time, you will find as I did, this is not like the broadcast cameras you’ve used. Be prepared for the following:
1. The color viewfinder makes it difficult to check focus especially in low light situations. Even a small monitor is quite helpful for checking focus.
2. The focus barrel has no distance markings or even detent stops for near or far focus. So it’s harder for an assistant to “follow focus” like on a professional camera. The autofocus was not perfect, but passable.
3. While the iris is a mechanical diaphragm, it is controlled electronically using an electronic “exposure” button and menu.
4. The control menus visible in the viewfinder take some time to use and learn. No, I didn’t want a digitized still, automatic white balance or a hundred other options.
5. The only audio input is a 1/8″ mini-stereo input near the on-camera mike so you’ll have to adapt professional mikes and mixers from XLR to mini with an XLR adaptor.
6. Color Bars are available, but not obvious. Sony doesn’t even mention this in their manual, but here’s how to generate color bars. Turn the power switch to camera mode, set the start/stop switch to the lock position. Then press and hold the black photo button and at the same time the small red record button that is on the top of the camcorder near the edit search. Then switch the start/stop switch to standby mode, color bars appear and you can record them. To turn the bars off, switch to lock mode, then to standby mode.
7. Sony’s wide angle converter vignettes slightly at the extreme wide angle and this is not apparent in the viewfinder. Check your monitor and zoom in a bit. (There’s also a telephoto converter.)
8. To eliminate or minimize the zoom motor noise, use a bracket to lift the shotgun mike away from the zoom. The bracket model no. 59111 is available from NRG, – Call (541) 479-7433.
9. And finally, as with any camera that is more consumer than “broadcast,” careful lighting can make all the difference. Don’t expect quite the same contrast range you’d get from Betacam SP.
Despite my complaints, the camera is still a miracle. This little three-chip camera fits in the palm of your hand, records digitally and costs less than $5000. To the trained eye the footage doesn’t look quite as good as Betacam SP due to the camera’s consumer lens and 1/3 inch chips.
The bottom line: CBS, NBC and Video News International (owned by the NY Times) are now buying into the DV formats. Or as my client asked when he saw the DV footage compared to Beta, “What’s the big deal about Betacam, anyway?” Indeed!
If you’re a freelance camera person and you’re about to shoot with this camera for the first time, get hold of the camera and manual the day before the shoot. It’s worth renting it out of your own pocket if you must.
More VX-1000 Information Resources
Check for Loose Screws and avoid surprises
You might be shocked to find a lot of missing or loose screws on this camera!
The Massachusetts Sony Factory Service Center is closed. It has moved to Bristol, PA.
1-800-222-SONY or 1-800-282-2848
For a while they would work on this camera for a flat fee of $250.00, but call to see if they’re still doing that. To take advantage of that service, you had to ship the camera, along with an itemized list of your concerns and complaints (don’t forget the screws on the tripod mounting plate) with a check or money order for $250.00 to the address above. Call them first.
Accessories for the VX 1000
DUAL XLR ADAPTOR This allows you to use professional audio gear with this camcorder. Several companies sell these. UNDERWATER HOUSINGS FROM SONY
SONY SPORTS PACK
SONY MARINE PACK