What it boiled down to is having to move up to a CCD format that would utilize the DV recording system to its capacity. This led me to try out several cameras. I ended up looking at Sony VX2000 and TRV900. I could not distinguish any important differences between the pictures these two DV cams produced, and being size was important (I travel back and forth between Asia a lot), as was being able to discreetly use the camera in candid situations. The TRV900 excels in this area, providing the professional quality picture, while still being small enough to carry in places you would never take a full size camcorder.
I think most users will be pleased with the manual override features of the TRV900. I found the manual focus ring on the lens barrel to be a familiar and comforting design feature. You can manually control shutter speeds, aperture and gain, white balance, audio levels, to name the important ones.
Low light performance is awsome. I was able to even get a distinguishable picture in moonlight, albeit using the max gain and slowing the shutter speed way down, but the camera could see as well as I could. Under a street lamp, the TRV900 delivers a picture like that of a news camera live shot. It looks rich, detailed and noise-free.
I find where the TRV900 excels is when shooting colored lights, such as Christmas trees ablaze with lights. The TRV900 keeps the chroma and lumanence aligned for a rich, crisp reproduction of the colors. Point source lights are the "Kryptonite" of super cameras, and generally look terrible, especially on NTSC composite cameras. Not so with the TRV900. Sony made some good decisions with the way the camera handles too much point source light, too, creating a slight 6-point star flare effect when really bright point sources are viewed. I photographed some crystal figurines in a local mall and was marveling at how nicely the camera augmented the specular highlites. It looks like a QVC commercial.
In general, I find the picture to be nicely balanced, have the right amount of contrast, saturation and hue tones. Under the various lighting found in a mall, the camera doesn't try to overcompensate for changing light--it maintains the mood of the lighting of each store we shot footage of. It truely captures the warmth vs. the coldness of different stores' lighting.
Well there's my thoughts on the TRV900.
Now here are the comparisons between the Canon ZR10, my old RCA CC437 VHS camcorder and the Sony TRV900. Same subject, slightly different times, but same lighting and similar angles. All three images captured with Dazzle DVC-II MPEG card. I make note here that all of the ZR10 shots are in the ZR10's best mode, ie., image stabilizer OFF, while I left the steady shot feature of the TRV900 ON. Many seem to think stabilizers degrade low light performance.
|CANON ZR10 - Here we can see how badly the resolution degrades in
"low light" -- in this case, a few hundred watts of floodlighting. Live output,
directly off the image sensor.
|RCA VHS camcorder - Here is live output. It looks MUCH better than the
|Sony TRV900 - Tape output, which puts the TRV900 at a slight disadvantage, but it's so much better than the other two that the slight loss from tape is insignificant.|
|CANON ZR10 - Under strong fluorscent lighting. Whites are somewhat dingy and a dark fringe appears near the top white areas that border the background. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|Sony TRV900 - Truer whites and more detail, despite my taking in a larger view of the scene. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|CANON ZR10 - Moderate lighting. Noise is quite visible, and resolution seems fuzzy even though the camera is focused. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|Sony TRV900 - Even though this is a slightly wider angle shot, more detail is clearly visible with no discernable noise. Note the superior dynamic range here. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|CANON ZR10 - Fairly bright fluorescent lighting. Noise is quite visible here in the darker parts of the model, but resolution seems better. Colors don't really pop out. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|Sony TRV900 - Again, no discernable noise. Colors are brighter and more focused. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|CANON ZR10 - Closup shot. Note video noise. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
|Sony TRV900 - Even backed out for wider angle shot, there is more detail information in this picture. Dazzle DVC-II capture.|
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