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Sony VX1000 vs Sony TRV 950E vs Canon XM1?



Hi there

This is my first time - please be gentle with me!

I'm looking for a second hand semi professional mini DV camera. I have several options - Sony VX1000, TRV 950E OR Canon XM1.

I'm leaning towards the TRV 950E. I've used one before, I really liked it's features and found it easy to use.

I thought that before making my decision I should consult people who obviously know what they're talking about. Any thoughts, advice or words of warning?

Many thanks all.

Roy Mallard


The VX1000 is technically the best camcorder (it uses 1/3rd inch ccds) however it could be up to 10 years old, 5 at the very least.

It was quite a quirky beast to operate, it favoured semi auto modes (like aperture priority or shutter priority) with no completely manual mode.

The picture and audio gain are kind of clunky to use and it features a EVF only, not an LCD screen.

Depending on the age of the camcorder it is unlikley to have been modified for DV in.

These were the first DV camcorders, they were, and are great machines, however they are geting old now.

The Canon XM1 has the best lens on offer and the fullest range of manual controls (with the excepion of a manual audio level control) the resolution is marginally lower than the VX1k and the ccds are smaller. This camera could be anywhere from 6 years old to at the least 2 & 1/2 years old.

The Sony TRV950 is not a camera I particularly rate, it loses a full manual exposure control (you don't get told your f-number or if theres gain being employed, or by how much, there is a workaround, if you buy it get back to me and I'll explain). The CCD's are on the smallish side (1/4.5inch) and are prone to smear and streak. It is a good enough machine, and it is the most recent on offer. It does look more like a consumer cam (if you are doing production work this may be an issue, the vx1k and XM1 might get you taken a bit more seriously).

If it had to be one of these cams I would say go for the trv950, if you liked it before, it's the newest on offer (not a quality or spec issue necessarily, but a reliability/servicing issue).

They are all good machines. Have fun.


Thanks for the tips....I think in that case I'll go for the TRV950E. I want a decent camera but for chiefly personal projects rather than professional at the moment. I'd like to get more shooting experience before upgrading.

Your advice was extremely useful though, I'll definitely be in touch about the workarounds!

Can you point me to any other useful web resources (apart from this one) where I can read up on camera specs?

Thanks again, Classy.

Roy Mallard

camcorderinfo.com is pretty good, but with a bias towards US specs, camcorders for different markets can differ quite drastically (different broadcast systems).

unless you are into real high-level broadcast engineering myself and a few other users of this site can usually come up with the answers.


Well in that case I shall keep on asking the questions....what a helpful bunch you are.


Roy Mallard said:
The Sony TRV950 is not a camera I particularly rate, it loses a full manual exposure control (you don't get told your f-number or if theres gain being employed, or by how much, there is a workaround, if you buy it get back to me and I'll explain). QUOTE]

Hello there

Well I got the TRV 950e, is in nice condition and am very happy. Is there any chance you could let me in on the secrets of this workaround you mentioned? Plus can you recommend a decent external mic I can buy for it? (Will it even take another mike? Surely it will).

Thanking you......

Roy Mallard

external mic:

Sennheiser MKe 300 or 300d is a safe bet, however, as the hotshoe is so close to the lens you will need an L bracket to mount it on (£10 from jessops).

A more pro opiton might be to buy a beachtek xlr unit and an XLR type mic, but this then gets expensive.

the workaround.

In manual mode set your shutter speed to the desired setting (should usually be 1/50th second) then press the exposure button (so that the - + bar appears) use the scroller to scroll to the maximum plus setting.

This is basically the iris wide open with +18db of gain, as you scroll back towards the '-' each click of the wheel brings the gain down by 3db.

So 18db - click -15db - click - 12db - 9db - click - 6db - 3db- 0db+ OPEN

This means that you are in control of the gain and the iris.
Gain is useful for low light but you are better to avoid it, it's certainly better to know when the gain is being used.

Now if you continue to click towards the '-' after this point you then start to 'stop down the lens' so you will go from f1.6 to f16/close at the '-' end of things when the picture will go completely dark.

This lets you make the depth offield greater for a sharper picture as you go towards a bigger f-number.

This is quite useful if you do a lot of zoom, at the wide angle the f-number will be f1.6 at the brightest, at the far end of the zoom the f-number will be f2.8 at the brightest, this means that by the time you zoom in your picture could be a 1/4 as bright as when you started zooming.

If you stop down to f2.8 first then your picture will be consistantly bright throughout the zoom.



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