Sony DSR-PDX10P test and review

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Sony's most compact three-CCD DVCAM camcorder shoots in full resolution 16:9 mode and is ready for action with XLR microphone inputs and fine control of audio recording

The PDX10 is the DVCAM version of Sony's TRV950 consumer camcorder and differs in having a black-and-white viewfinder, an XLR mic and switch box, and full resolution 16:9 DVCAM recording. It records and plays DV and DVCAM tapes and replaces the PD100 - itself the DVCAM version of the popular TRV900. In stepping up from the TRV950 to the PDX10, the pop-up flashgun and LP recording option have been lost.

For anybody used to Sony camcorders, the layout will be happily familiar. A small, 37mm filter thread surrounds the front element, and the bayonet-on lens hood (two sizes are supplied) can be fitted and removed with filters in place - a big improvement on the PD100. A constant rotation ring controls manual focus, and built-in microphones lie directly underneath the front element. At the rear of the microphones, under a rubber door, lie the in/out analogue and digital sockets. There's also a 3.5mm stereo socket for an external microphone.


This is a camcorder with some very good features, and some very poor ones, too. It has a wonderfully sharp and flare-free lens that is usable at all available focal lengths and apertures. There's minimal distortion and images are extraordinarily good, as long as the lighting isn't low or of high contrast. The on-board microphones are good, tape handling is fine and the big touch-screen with all its tricks is a party piece. The menu, though deep, is intuitive and offers a huge amount of control and customisation. The compact XLR adapter is very quick to set up, and offers many audio options. The crowning glory is the 16:9 shooting mode, and this gives breathtaking results on large widescreen TV sets. MPEG-1 to Memory Stick is fun, and 1152 x 864 stills are impressive.

The poor low-light performance is perhaps not unexpected with such tiny CCDs, likewise the difficulty in obtaining differential focus with the very short focal length lenses associated with these tiny chips. However, Sony needs to sort out the CCD flare problem - it drags down what is otherwise a fine camcorder. And, a camcorder aimed at professionals should keep users accurately informed, not feed them misleading information. Perhaps worryingly for Sony Professional, every one of these negatives is cured by spending £50 more on a VX2000E. That makes buying a PDX10P a decision not to be undertaken lightly, if at all, and doubly so with the impending arrival of an upgraded VX2000 replacement, the VX2100.

Tom Hardwick

Read the full review in February 2004's Computer Video magazine.



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