Published : 13th January 2006
Friends and neighbours I'm here to say that as much as I like the picture the little DVX100A puts out, it is NOT the camera to use if you are going to be in adverse, albeit moist conditions.
I just finished climbing Mt. Katahdin,MA which is the end or beginning if you will, of the Appalachian trail.
I climbed it because it is the closing sequence for an HD doc I'm doing about a couple hiking the trail and quite frankly had no choice but to climb the 5.2 miles, 4000' ascent (not to mention the same distance down)
It takes about 12 straight hours and while it may be wonderful for hikers, it's a bitch for old cameraman.
For obvious reasons attempting to take my HDW700A up was out of the question so I took my DVX and my Sony PDX10, both set to 16:9.
It was a tough journey to be sure and while it was cold, it was also blowing up to 40mph and we were in a cloud so the humidity was 110%...if there is such a thing!
I expected this probability so I bagged the Panny in a nice little Kata rain cover.
The Sony stayed bare.
Things were fine until we got to the top and as my hikers were coming through the mist, the Panny started acting up.
I got the shot but will have to edit around some strange visual quirks from the Panny. The picture kept jumping almost as if it were going from 16:9 to 4:3.
Then it stopped working altogether with a warning display saying WARNING PSD NG!
Don't know what PSD means except that the camera doesn't work!
Since I was shooting a little footage with both cameras anyway I finished out the sequence with PDX, which never went down or even threatened to.
The first DVX I had went down while shooting in a swamp. We got caught in a rainstorm and I bagged the camera in a Hefty bag and kept shooting.
Not for long though because the same thing happened except it took 6 weeks and $1500 to get me back up.
I immediately dumped it for the DVX100A which is a better camera, but they still can't take humid or moist conditions like Sony.
My present Panny is back up and seems fine but my suggestion to ye who may find themselves in similar environs, bring a back up and make it a different manufactures machine.
Stiff as a board, I am...
Allen S. Facemire
class="style11">>My present Panny is back up and seems fine but my suggestion to ye >who may find themselves in similar environs, bring a back up and >make it a different manufactures machine.
Thank you for sharing the experience. Was considering purchasing the camera, but it looks like I will have to wait and see for other experiences. Not that I will be going to the rainforest anytime soon, but it would be nice to know the camera I bring is dependable and can with stand weather conditions.
Raymond Rodney Ocampo
San Francisco, CA
class="style12">>Then it stopped working altogether with a warning display saying >WARNING PSD NG!
class="style12">>Don't know what PSD means except that the camera doesn't work!
Perhaps "Panasonic Device No Good"?
Perth, Western Australia.
Allen S. Facemire wrote:
class="style12">>I climbed it because it is the closing sequence for an HD doc I'm doing >about a couple hiking the trail and quite frankly had no choice but to >climb the 5.2 miles, 4000' ascent (not to mention the same distance >down)
Ah, next time you'll choose your subjects more carefully!
Allen Facemire writes:
class="style12">>it is NOT the camera to use if you are going to be in adverse, albeit >moist conditions.
It's a shame they don't make a dockable hard drive for various handicams like the Firestore that integrates with the JVC 5000.
It's good news that the PDX-10 worked in such high humidity. Please let us know how well it intercut with your HD footage.
class="style12">>I expected this probability so I bagged the Panny in a nice little Kata rain >cover. The Sony stayed bare.
Could the rain cover have trapped moisture?
class="style12">>I got the shot but will have to edit around some strange visual quirks >from the Panny. The picture kept jumping almost as if it were going >from 16:9 to 4:3.
Was this visible in the finder or did you discover it later?
class="style12">>bring a back up and make it a different manufactures machine.
Or make them both Sony’s, and they'll match.
For close to a year I've been co-producing/shooting a doc with a venerable old PD150, with a VX2000 as the backup camera. Lots of travel. So far no problems at all (at least none caused by the cameras), and the VX2K has often come in very handy as a B-camera, and also occasionally because it has a colour finder and LP speed, which have both saved my butt. The interchangeability of the WA adaptors, batteries, power supplies and so forth has also been a godsend. And the smooth zoom rings have me completely spoiled.
In terms of video quality I'd rather be shooting with a DVX. But I know the Sony’s are durable workhorses, and that peace of mind makes it all worth it. (Granted, I'm not inter-cutting with HD!)
class="style12">>It takes about 12 straight hours and while it may be wonderful for hikers, >it's a bitch for old cameraman.
As Matt Damon said to Joan Allen in the final scene of THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, "You look tired. Better get some rest."
class="style12">>Stiff as a board, I am...
Oops... Better get some exercise!
Marin County, CA
Dan wants to know :
class="style12">"Could the rain cover have trapped moisture?"
Well I think that's exactly what happened. I think this is what happened with my first Panny. The camera itself was dry but in a high humid environment, bagging the camera is a double edged sword. The camera body is protected from the elements but like a car without the air-conditioning on in the rain, moisture forms and people suffer!
I guess you could somehow tape some of those gel packs to the camera (you know the kind you drop in underwater housings) but since the bag is not air tight, I'm not sure that would do any good.
When I sent my first Panny away for repairs, I talked to the repair tech and asked how come the Sony handles that kind of condition so much better. He said Sony seals their body with a gasket!
So the obvious question was "And what about Panasonic?"
He said it would bring the cost of the camera above their price point!
Of course that was too absurd to respond to and I'm sure Jan of Panasonic or others at Panasonic would have a much more plausible explanation for the lack of seals in the DVX100A.
I do know that every Sony camera I have ever owned had a seal around the cassette cover...not so the little Panny.
I don't know about others on the list but I'd gladly pay a bit more for a camera that's a little better sealed.
Allen S. Facemire
The DVX100a has a firewire sync roll function, so you could mount one of the several different firewire camera drives to it. Even the Sony might work. You'd have to come up with your own mount though.
Since the Panasonic isn't advertised as an all weather splash cam, I think rather than give up it's features and quality, why not just buy an enclosure for it?
If you're going to wait for one camera to fill every need and expectation, you'll never have a camera.
Steven Bradford observes :
class="style12">>Since the Panasonic isn't advertised as an all weather splash cam...If >you're going to wait for one camera to fill every need and expectation, >you'll never have a camera.
This is why I have 3 mini DV cameras so I'm covered on all bases.
My main point is that it's a shame the DVX series of cameras can't take more weather adversity that it does.
I wonder if the higher priced spread, aka Varicam, is bit more rugged and less susceptible to moisture issues.
Allen S. Facemire
Allen S. Facemire wrote:
class="style12">>I wonder if the higher priced spread, aka Varicam, is bit more rugged >and less susceptible to moisture issues.
I haven't got one wet yet, but just shot a movie in Singapore with the Varicam : intense heat and humidity and it held up fine. No problems.
I used my DVX100 at sea for 15 days. Shooting a trip through the "Inside Passage". I used a KATA raincoat, was in some rain and a lot of humidity. I was very careful with moisture. I bought several silica gel canisters for my camera case and taped one to the inside of my KATA raincoat.
I had no problems with moisture. Not to say that I might of just been lucky.
I think that when you put anything in a plastic bag that doesn't breathe that you are asking for moisture problems i.e. The Sauna Effect.
I think I read a while back that Allen used a plastic trash bag and it trashed his camera.
Rio Media Services
Marten remembers : "I think I read a while back that Allen used a plastic trash bag and it trashed his camera."
Indeed it did.
However, let it be know that trash bags are what you use when your caught in the rain and I have covered hurricanes using trash bags...film and tape.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I'm wondering that with the bigger cameras if there isn't more heat generated and perhaps bagging the camera helps let the camera heat displace some of the moisture.
I like the gel idea and thought about doing that but wasn't sure where to put them (no comments please!).
Again, not a problem with the Sony.
Allen S. Facemire
I felt your pain when that happened to you. I had just bought my camera and was really nervous when I got that gig taking it to sea. Hence the silica gel canisters.
Rio Media Services
In all cases never forget that the "camera" is actually a cam/corder - two technologies to manage.
I reviewed the entire thread but couldn't find the original email that described in any detail just how the camera failed inside the trash bag. I'm not clear as to why the bag itself caused a problem.
I've done my share of shoots where a trash bag was salvation against the wet surprises of a thundering summer afternoon. Never lost a camera.
There are also those condensation problems (mint julep effect) coming into that ski lodge from the outside bitter cold. The lens elements fog up.
Historically, many tape transports have incorporated "dew" sensors to keep them from operating whenever the humidity or condensation gets too high. The "stiction" between the tape and the scanner can bind up and clog the rotating head assembly badly in high humidity.
A can of Dust-Off carefully applied into an open transport door at a safe distance, perhaps 6-8 inches, can help dry out the innards. Cool is fine, but don't freeze anything.
A hair dryer at 2 feet or so away can also help. Warm is fine, but don't cook anything. Don't also just blast the transport with more damp air.
Moisture problems inside a vapour barrier bag puzzle me. Leads me to wonder when and where the bag was put over the camera.
Silica gel packets are a help.
Can't say as I've seen any durability issues with the Panasonic than any other camcorder designs.
Fellow, Advance Development
Co-founder, Avid Technology
1925 Andover St. B2-3
Tewksbury, MA 01876
Pete Fasciano wants to know...
class="style12">>I reviewed the entire thread but couldn't find the original email that >described in any detail just how the camera failed inside the trash bag.
It happened last fall when I was shooting an episode of a show my company produces for Turner South.
We were in a swamp on the Georgia/South Caroline border when cracks of thunder warned us of an impending downpour. The researchers I was tracking work in the rain so I had to keep shooting their research mission. I whipped out a Hefty bag, cut a hole for the lens and viewfinder and battened them down with rubber bands. Should have been no problem.
But ultimately the camera went down with a WARNING PSD NG message in the viewfinder. Sometime later the DEW warning icon appeared but it was too later. The machine was down and it took a full day in a climate controlled hotel room for the little guy to come back up.
When it did I lost all rec control from the camera and handgrip. Only the Varizoom lanc controlled zoom remote would roll the camera.
So I sent it off to Panasonic and it came back 6 weeks and $1,500 later with the Panasonic techs saying it got wet.
Couldn't have been more than a few drops if that, but that's the story.
So I got a rain cover for my present DVX and had this guy covered well before the mist set in.
You know the rest.
I'm thinking the little "dew warning" icon is kind of like the oil light in your car. It doesn't really warn you when your low on oil because it only comes on just prior to your engine seizing up.
The book says the camera should shut down when the "dew warning" appears. If it did, at least you would have any current to the circuit until it dried.
Neither of my cameras ever shut down completely.
I like the "rugged" series of cameras that we could pay extra for.
I'd gladly pay!
Allen S. Facemire