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thefletch13

Vx1000 Review

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Background/First Impressions

The Sony DCR-VX1000 was a breakthrough for all skate filmers/skilmers all across the world when it was introduced in 1995. Prior to the release of the VX1000, most skate filmers were using VHS and Hi-8 formatted cameras. Then came MiniDV. The significance that MiniDV was...it was Digital Video, and could be transferred onto the computer and what not through a IEEE 1394 Firewire (Which was introduced by Apple in 1995). The first time I had ever heard of a VX1000 was when I was in 6th grade (2004). I was skating at the local skatepark, and some kids from Boston were skating there and filming for an upcoming video. I noticed the big video camera with the protruding microphone that was coming out of the built in handle they had with the massive fisheye (Century Mark 1). Later that day I introduced myself to them and skated with them, and while were were relaxing from the intense ramp session I complimented their video camera. They said "Thanks", and I replied "What kind is it?" and he said with no hesitation, "A sony VX1000".

The VX1000 has been used and is still used today by many pro skate filmers like Mikendo and Jon Holland. Nowadays the VX1000 is slowly dying with the release of newer 3 chip cameras like the VX2100 and the AG-DVX100p/a/b, but skate filmers will always remember the infamous VX1000.

When mine came on November 7th, 2006, I was so stoked I almost pissed my pants when I opened the box and ravished through the styrofoam packaging peanuts and bubble wrap. When I took it out of the metal Sony case the first thing I noticed was that it was a lot smaller than it appears in pictures on the internet and through my own memory. When I picked it up by the handle I immediately identified that it was lighter than most 3ccd cameras I've used (I've used a GL1, GL2, XL2, and a VX2100), and it after I came home from filming, I did my research, and as it turns out, the VX1000 is about 1-2 pounds lighter than all of those cameras. What I also adored about my new-old VX1000 was the tape deck that stuck out and the battery chamber. Unlike most Camcorders, the VX1000 has an LED screen which is on a door, which opens up with the push of a slider, and that's where you stick your battery. I also liked that the steadyshot switch was on the door and can be accessed easily, whereas on my Optura 20, I had to go to the menu, down to Camera settings, and turn off steady shot. This advantage helped me easily switch from longlens to fisheye or vice versa in seconds. Overall I think the VX1000 will stick it out for a few more years...that is, until HVX's drop in price from $6000 to $1200...

 

Visual/Audio Quality

The VX1000 comes packed with three 1/3 inch CCDs, 10x Optical zoom (20x digital), and a rating of 4 lux (illumination). Since VX1000's are more than a decade old, they are only able to be purchased from eBay, SP Classifieds, or any other site that sells used electronics. If you want a 3ccd camera, and you have a low budget, you can totally get a Sony VX1000 for under $1000 (depending on how mint is). Custom Presets are like god himself programmed into a prosumer camcorder. What Custom Presets (also known as "CP's") do is, they allow you to manipulate the colors and other settings (like gain, for example) that your camera produces. The main CP's I use are Color Level (saturation), Sharpness, and WB Shift. Some smaller cameras that Sony make have CP's, some examples are the VX700 (1ccd) and a TRV 950 (consumer 3ccd)

The VX1000, along with warm colors, is also noted for its "crisp" sound. when I mean crisp, I mean, not "glitchy", more "true" sound. Yadadameen? Anyways, the 'internal microphone' contradicts itself because of the fact that it's sticking out of the handle...which can be dangerous, because the VX1000 microphone can easily be knocked off by a flying board or person (assuming you're using a wide fisheye). A lot of people ONLY use a VX1000 purely because of its sound and ease of setting manual settings; like I said, VX2000 sound is 'glitchy', and (I have not mentioned this yet), but GL1 audio sucks BIG TIME, the GL2 is different, since it has manual audio levels.

But, there is no perfect mic, not even the VX1000's! The VX1000's microphone sucks at recording people's voices, as do all other mics on cameras. So if you're making short films, get an external mic (Rode, Sennhieser) or an XLR Mic and adapter (VX1000 is 12 years old, it definitely doesn't have XLR ports...so that's when you get the XLR adapter!).

 

Control Layout

BACK

One of the pros of the VX1000 is the control locations. White Balance, Shutter Speed, and Recording Level (Microphone levels) is located on the back of the camera,(along with other buttons like Camera/VTR, Hold/Manual/Auto, Zero Set Memory, Record, Self Timer, and Video/Photo Standby) and can be checked on and set without even looking in the viewfinder because of the LED screen...but not looking in the viewfinder is a bad idea. Remember that. All settings minus White Balance can be set/modified using the Jog Wheel under the Auto, Manual, and Manual Hold locks. Manual Hold lock means that, once you activate it, your settings can't be manually/automatically changed unless you switch it back to Manual...which is the middle setting. If you open up the battery chamber door and look on the inside of the door, you will see two switches, one for steady shot (top) and the other one (bottom) for digital mode: which is digital overlap or digital zoom. Next to the hinges of the door is are four buttons. The top button is the menu button, the 2 below the menu button move the selector up or down, and the bottom button selects it. The menu features Custom Presets, Clock, 16:9 (Japanese issue), A Shutter, Digital Zoom, Zebra (Critical. It uses Zebra stripes to show you what is over exposed.), Commander, Headphone Volume, EVF Mode, Beep, Frame Recording, Interval Recording, and Self Timer. Personally, I've never touched anything but Zebra, D Zoom, Clock, and Custom Presets. On the back of the handle is also a small button which can be pressed to review your custom presets. Above that is a red light that turns on if you're recording. Last feature on the back; on the viewfinder is a little switch, press it down and you can take the magnifier off and use a blower brush to get rid of stray dust inside the viewfinder.

 

LEFT

The Left Side of the camera features the Tape Deck + VTR Pad (it lights up when you turn on VTR Mode...so don't be fooled). To the left of the Tape deck is the Exposure/Iris/Aperture button and the jog wheel makes your exposure setting go up or down. Left of the Exposure Button/dial is the ND Filter and Auto/Manual/Infinity Focus. ND Filter is just a built in gray filter and fucks with your depth of field. Under the focus settings is a little button called "Push Auto", it's really helpful if you're lazy. All you do is push on it until you're in focus. Sooo good. And Last but not least, is the focus ring, which is hard to miss. (Note:There is also a Fader/Overlap button under and between the Exposure and ND Filter. Fader/Overlap is useless. It's in camera editing, and its exactly what it sounds like. You can have a fader or overlap ON YOUR TAPE!)

 

FRONT

The front of the camera is what every prosumer 3ccd cam should look like; a mic, and a lens hood/cap. If you take your lens hood off you'll notice that you have Bayonet mounts (and 52mm threads). Bayonet Mounts were designed to cut down on time putting on interchangeable lenses. And it also prevents the front of your camera from being ripped off.

 

RIGHT

On the right side, there is the screw in which you can loosen and take your lens hood off, a Mic import that's on the handle, to the right of the cold shoe. Under a gray rubber 'cap' are inputs for an S-Video cord, Video/Audio cords, DC cord (to charge your batteries in the camera), and an RFU DC output. Next to that, you have the grip, which is below the Zoom Rocker. The Zoom rocker is freakin' awesome. The "W" stands for 'wide' and "T" stands for 'telephoto'. Naturally, the harder you press the zoom rocker, the fast you'll zoom. Left of the Rocker is a Photo button. For that to work you need to switch your standby into photo standby, and then take your picture. The picture is recorded onto the tape. Under more gray caps are 2 ports, one for headphones and a LANC port. Under those are the Standby buttons. We talked about those already.

 

TOP

The top of the camera consists of the handle, which is attached to the mic and has a a cold shoe on top. Under the handle are two buttons, the "low angle" recording button and the edit/search button. The edit/search button allows you to go back and review footage without switching the camera to VTR mode.

 

Impact on Skateboarding

The ease of setting manual settings can definitely make your life easier when your skating with your homies and you wanna make the shot look good. The only drag is, VX1000's are sort of overrated, and can break really easy...depending on how you treat it and how many times it visits a shop, the VX1000 can last a few golden years with you. The Century Optics Mark 1 bayonet mount is the top of the line fisheye for this particular camera, which costs about $700 or above. A cheap alternative is a Raynox MX3000 widened with a Sony .6x wide angle lens, which costs about $150 total. The biggest let down of the VX1000 is the 4 lux. when you're shooting at night and you have Gain over 12dB and lights not powerful enough, you'll get intense grain. THERE IS NO WAY TO STOP IT...unless you have tons of lights and a bescor 50/100 watt on camera light.

 

Conclusion/Last Words

Overall, I think the VX1000 will last a few more years until HVX's and P2 cards become more popular. Its a great skate and short film camera, and will provide endless possibilities until it's time to die. But until then, go buy a VX1000.

 

 

PICTURES:

FRONT

LEFT

BACK

RIGHT

TOP

BATTERY CHAMBER

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didnt realize he already posted this here. i just moved it from contribute, close it i guess, ryan

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didnt realize he already posted this here. i just moved it from contribute, close it i guess, ryan

 

no...Ryan told me on AIM to keep one in the contribute section and one here...

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that was one of the best topics ive seen on Sp.. great job... i need to get 1 for sure now hah thnks

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I never read the whole thing in any review of anything. But this I read the whole thing. great job

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