Page by page addenda to Sony VX 1000 Instruction Book

Written for the traveler.

6. BATTERIES: Use a full battery or use the power supply recording a long program.

Turn STEADY SHOT off on a tripod to save battery. Use partly used tapes and batteries for stock shots and cut-a-ways. Shoot cut-a-ways on different tape to make editing easier.

Number the back of batteries and turn dead batteries bottom up in your bag.

Wait for the camera to finish a cycle, listen for motors to stop before removing battery or power.

Use STEADY SHOT for PHOTO and Hand held VIDEO. See pg. 48

DO NOT use STEADY SHOT for VIDEO PANS on tripod.

Recharge batteries whenever possible such as during meals. Put a reminder on your bag to pick up your charger and battery.

The Sony charger/power supply will charge one battery in the camera and one attached. It takes about 4 hours to charge dead batteries this way. You can test level of charge in the viewfinder by turning camera on to VTR or Camera.

If charging batteries in a bathroom be careful to NOT let chargers fall into water and avoid touching pipes or bare feet on floor when handling wires. Avoid bathrooms if possible. Consider hotel maids.

Make sure that the room light switch doesn't turn off the plug for your chargers.

9. Mini DV tapes for this camera are 64 minutes long. To transfer to VHS, S-VHS or Betacam you will not get two DV 64 min.tapes on one regular 2-hour tape or one on a one-hour tape. Solutions:

1. Don't shoot more than 61 minutes on each tape and use regular tapes.

2. Order special 64, 126 or 130 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes and shoot all of the DV tape.

3. Order special 65-70 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes. (This keeps tape/role numbers consistent.)

4. Use the new Maxell 64 min. And 126 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes. (Other may now be available.)

10. New tape instructions say to rewind tape, I don't know why or when. (Every take, every day, every year??????)

11. LCD COLOR VIEWFINDER: This is necessary for framing and also to check color balance and exposure but the resolution of the viewfinder is much less than the camera is recording. This is especially evident on wide-angle lens settings. Your eye has to be carefully centered to judge the image for correct exposure and color balance (white balance).

Your eye position is critical. To judge exposure and color balance, shift your eye position from top left to lower right. The brightness should remain the same, but the LCD brightness changes a lot when the eye position is shifted lower left to top right.

Looking down into the finder reduces likelihood that people are aware of you recording them. Sit, face away from them and look down into viewfinder sideways. Consider the ethics of shooting people without their permission.

16.TAPE PROCEDURES: Play back tape occasionally to check for noise, good sound and image. After checking the tape, DO NOT leave any blank tape, because the camera will start time code over at "0". Record over the end of the last shot. To give a little buffer for the end of critical material, before you play back the tape, record a throw-a-way PHOTO shot at the end of critical material and restart in the middle of that PHOTO shot and not risk blank tape. If you see 00-00-00 in the viewfinder the camera is stopped on blank tape.

27.PHOTO RECORDING: While holding down the PHOTO button lightly to evaluate a possible PHOTO, check for a better photo with your OTHER EYE. If you see a better still, let the button up to capture a better still. If no better still seems possible, push button further to RECORD the one you already have. Remember, while recording, it takes 7 sec. before another shot is possible. This procedure takes some practice. Newer cameras allow 30 FPS Proscan still shots.

PHOTO MODE records 7 sec. of sound while the camera is recording the still to tape. Keep the camera stable if you want this sound usable. You can also make audio notes during this time.

If you are alternating between VIDEO and PHOTO shots and conditions are changing, try this: To be ready for unexpected lighting conditions. Reset these settings after every shot before shutting down the camera. (Wait 7 sec. for a PHOTO to finish recording to tape).

a. If tele, zoom back part way so the AUTO FOCUS will work on your next shot and make it easier to find a subject in the viewfinder.

b. Set ND OFF. (Put ND ON during turn-on the cycle if a bright VIDEO situation is anticipated. Always set ND OFF for PHOTO MODE. (This procedure can be reversed.)

c. Set FOCUS back to AUTO (Go back to manual if needed for next shot.)

d. Set WHITE BAL back to AUTO if it was custom set.

31/32. AUTO FOCUS: This feature works very well but will have a problem with an out of focus image on telephoto if you left the zoom on a telephoto for a previous shot. Auto focus also has problems with low detail subjects, no horizontal detail and low light. Manual focus is useful when a subject is moving side to side in the frame and the camera is getting focus information from undesired objects in the center of the frame. On wide angle, it is impossible to see focus in the LCD finder. The manual focusing ring does not work on auto focus.

32. MANUAL FOCUSING: To zoom in, focus and zoom back is a standard zoom lens procedure. Unfortunately the zoom on this camera, while smooth and adjustable speed, it is very slow. To zoom in and back out to wide can take up to 10 seconds. By then a shot might be long gone. Since the auto focus is so good, I would rely on it even at wide angle. Because the viewfinder has such poor resolution, I trust the AUTO FOCUS on wide angle. Once the AUTO FOCUS "locks in" on some detail in center frame it will hold very well.

A small rotation of the focus ring at WIDE-ANGLE positions gives a large focus distance change and the same rotation of the focus ring in the TELE position results in a smaller change in focus distance. This is just like different fixed focus still camera lenses, but not like most pro zoom lenses. This means that you can't use the same focus rotation adjustments at different focal lengths. If you zoom in to focus (standard procedure) then zoom back, the focus will hold, but the same rotation of the focus ring will NOT give the same change of focus distance. Use the auto focus whenever conditions are favorable.

ZOOM and FOCUS TRIX: This camera will not focus closer than 30 inches at full TELE. Get close and wider for close-ups. Use your tripod! Camera shake is reduced with wide-angle settings.

To zoom when doing macro work use diopters (close-up lenses). Ones over +4 will degrade the image unless they are multi-element and color corrected lenses. Use manual focus with diopters.

The zoom takes 4 to 5 sec. to get from tele to wide.

If you manually change focus while cam is off it will keep the last setting before turning camera off.

Do Not leave ZOOM on TELE after a shot. Auto focus might not work and it will be difficult to find your subject especially if your viewfinder is tilted up. Zoom back part way before you shut down.

Long lens pans very difficult without a $1000. tripod head and legs. Off set zooms are better than straight in zooms. (Toward a corner and not straight in.)

If you expect to shoot a wide angle distant shot while waiting for camera to turn on, ZOOM WIDE while waiting. If you were focused close on the last shot ON MANUAL FOCUS, push the infinity focus button. The great depth of field will insure focus.

38. EXPOSURE SYSTEM: This camera adjusts exposure four ways.

a. With an auto/manual iris from f 1.6 to f 16.

b. With a manual ND filter reducing exposure 1/10 (3 & 1/4 stops)

c. Auto gain increase up to 18 db. in low light which degrades the image.

d. With manual adjustable shutter speeds. (Auto on PHOTO MODE)

This camera will automatically adjust for good exposure under most conditions, but manual control under LOW LIGHT conditions can reduce noise and increase color saturation. As light conditions DECREASE, the iris opens, then the ND OFF warning appears in the viewfinder, (switch ND filter off), then the gain is automatically increased with NO INDICATION in the viewfinder. You must manually switch to manual exposure to see if the camera is operating with increased gain. If so, see section on LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS.

Maximum F-STOP is 1.6 to 2.1. The F-number increases (less light) on telephoto. This is common with video lenses and is compensated for by auto exposure. This is noticeable under low light situations in MANUAL EXPOSURE MODE as you zoom in to tele the image gets darker. In low light use wide angle to get an F 1.6 opening.

DEPTH OF FIELD. At 6mm and even a wide-open iris at f 1.6, the camera has a great depth of field. This means you can zoom wide and get a sharp image without re-focusing. Push the infinity focus button to insure distant focus on wide angle. You will probably see no difference in the viewfinder. (See last page.)

40. ADJUSTABLE LOW SHUTTER SPEEDS. This camera will receive information for less than 1/60 second (down to 1/4 sec.) and play it back at 30 frames per second along with real time sound. This was a feature only available shooting film at a slow speed and doing a complicated film to video transfer. This feature is used on MTV and TV commercials. This feature also allows better images in low light situations. (See section on Low Light Conditions.)


As the light level decreases, the camera compensates by opening the iris completely wide, and it warns you to switch the ND filter OFF, do that, and as the light gets less, the gain is automatically increased. At lower levels you DO NOT see any indication of gain increase in the viewfinder. You have to go to manual exposure mode to see if the camera has increased the gain. For the best image quality try to keep the gain at no more than -3 dB. (-6db, -9db to -18db are increased gain to be avoided.) Gain increase increases noise and loss of color saturation.

If there is little motion in the shot and you can tolerate blur, reduce the shutter speed so that the gain is back to "0" or -3db. The camera will have to be on a tripod or some kind of support or you will defeat the purpose of better image quality with blur. The slow shutter gives results just like a still camera. In wide-angle settings the lens has a faster maximum f-stop and will also give you a better image.

41.ND FILTER: IN/OUT is ALWAYS manual. Watch for ND ON or ND OFF message in the viewfinder.

For less than bright light VIDEO and PHOTO always use ND OFF

For bright light VIDEO ONLY use ND ON. OFF for PHOTO.

42. ZEBRA: Zebra tells you when an area of the scene is over 100 IRE (over exposed) which would be a problem with analog editing. This camera limits (clamps) those areas above 100 IRE at 100 during playback. (A great feature)

If ZEBRA shows too much light in very bright VIDEO situations, ND ON may not reduce exposure enough. Use higher manual shutter speeds, a polascreen or neutral density filter. (PHOTO MODE automatically starts at 1/1000 shutter speed and reduces the speed as needed for exposure.

43.WHITE BALANCE: Some definitions: COLOR BALANCE = color quality of the lighting of a scene. (Daylight, indoor, fluorescent etc.) WHITE BALANCE = The procedure to adjust a video camera to render the scene's COLOR BALANCE correctly.

The 1995 instruction book does not explain this feature very well, but the camera does a great job on auto and allows very useful manual options. With AUTO LOCK OFF, press the rear WHT BAL button. (No Ind) AUTO then WB then (*) for sunlight (OUTDOOR), then (light globe) for incandescent light (INDOOR) and again back to AUTO (no Ind.).

If you are on AUTO LOCK the camera will automatically adjust for the lighting conditions AT THE TIME OF TURN ON. If lighting color balance conditions change during your shooting without turning camera off, the camera slowly changes white balance for new conditions.

To return WB to Auto 1. Press WB button till no indicator shows OK while recording.

2. Switch back to AUTO LOCK

I keep the AUTO-LOCK/HOLD LEVER, taped to the middle position. I find it easy to move it inadvertently and then be unable to make manual adjustments when I need them.

Outside use (*) . Inside with incandescent light use (light bulb) Most times.

Set White Bal under mixed light (Daylight and/or Fluorescent and/or Incandescent (light globes)

Set white bal with white paper or pure white painted wall in the SAME LIGHT as on the face of your subject. Adjust the color balance for the dominant light on a person's face and not for light on the background or edge light on the person which can be off-color.

To facilitate adjusting for lighting color balance changes, place a white balance card just out of frame of your subject, but in the same light as on your subject's face.

Moon setting of PROGRAM reduces exposure by one stop (3 dB) to compensate for black in the scene. This is not enough for most night and stage lit situations. If you go to manual you can reduce the exposure more, but the camera will not now make automatic exposure changes.

You can change manual WHITE BALANCE during recording if the color of light changes by pressing the balance button under WHT BAL button. On AUTO it will adjust on its own in a few seconds.

46. AUTO/MANUAL AUDIO: The camera does quite well on auto, but compresses the audio reducing the dynamic range and automatically adjusts for different sound levels. The gain will increase during quiet pauses to hear the camera motors and unwanted sounds. The camera increases gain after about 4 quiet seconds and continues increasing for 4 seconds more. You can test this by talking and then listening with headphones. The camera instantly reduces gain when a louder sound resumes.

MICROPHONE PHANTOM POWER. This feature is very useful when more microphones using this feature become available. The feature does interfere with some consumer electrostatic mics. (often misnamed condenser) microphones. A special adapter from Beach Video 416-690-9457 allows two XLR balanced cables with professional microphones.

This camera will work very well with Dynamic Cartioid Microphones held close near the mouth, news interview style. Seeing the mic. on camera is usually acceptable under these conditions. Getting the mic. a few inches from the mouth will provide reasonable sound even in noisy locations. A lavaliere mic. 8 inches away will not be nearly as good.


Occasional video problems can sometimes be repaired with cut-a-ways. Bad sound is usually not repairable. Wind is often a problem and built in mics. are very sensitive to wind. A foam wind screen and fake fur cover is helpful to reduce wind noise.

You can monitor sound with EAR BUD phones, which exclude some of outside sounds and are unobtrusive. Industrial ear protectors over the ear buds give additional sound isolation, but are uncomfortable and obtrusive.

Use MANUAL audio recording when recording stock background sound. Record long audio takes to match possible edited sequences. Voice label take as "background sound" so that they will be transferred and not look like the camera was on by mistake. Monitor with earphones. If you hear camera noise, use accessory mics. Separate from the camera. Ambient sound called "room tone" is often useful in editing. This is sound in the location with no one talking. Make sure that it is recorded on manual.

A good stereo mic. would be useful. Move the camera or accessory mics. during stock sound recording appropriate to what the video might see in the edit. Don't be stingy with stock sound.


If you must use the built-in camera mic, get within a few feet of your subject, inches away if in a noisy location.

For interviews use manual audio if you can. Switch to AUTO for off mic. questions and back to MANUAL as soon as a question is over. Check the level the camera adjusts automatically while your person is speaking normally without pauses and set manual to the same level.

Get lavaliere. mics. within 6 or 8 inches of mouth. Too high on the collar can be in the shadow of the chin. For two people discussing with one another, one lav. on one shoulder is a possible compromise. Place the mic. on the person with softer voice. Consider mounting a small lavaliere on a person's eyeglass frame on the non-camera or darker side. The mouth to mic. distance is constant and very close.

Note that many people talk louder or softer with time and be prepared to change manual record levels.

Avoid attaching a lav. where clothes or jewelry will rustle. A few noises are tolerable, but if noise gets bad, move the mike or repair the situation. Some silks and light fabrics are difficult to attach to and they can also rustle.

Be ready to or have someone else remove or unplug a wired lav. mic. if your subject gets up to walk around.

If using mini plugs, always use a jumper cable to protect the jack on the camera. UNPLUG THE JUMPER AFTER ACCESSORY MIC. USE.

48. STEADY SHOT: Don't use on tripod shots if you make moves. Steady shot would help some in the wind for a static shot.

Turn steady shot and auto focus off to save power.

49. These adjustments are made at the factory and unless you have a correctly adjusted monitor, I would suggest leaving them alone.

Sodium and mercury vapor lights and dimmers can cause electrical noise that the microphone and cables can pick up. Sodium and mercury vapor lights are also poor sources of light. If there is enough light without them, turn them off. Flourescents are often OK. if you manually white balance. 50 Hertz (Cycle) vapor and fluorescent lights will cause a flicker on a NTSC 60 Hertz camera. If you mix some incandescent or daylight (and then color balance) flicker is not as noticeable.

Be prepared for the sun to move and other lighting changes that might happen during the interview, such as, the sun goes down or the sun hits a piece of background or the sun hits the interviewee or a weird colored wall.

60. To differentiate between dirt on the front lens element and in the viewfinder, 1. Change viewfinder focus and watch for dust at a different focus distance than the image pixels. 2. Zoom all the way wide and manually focus as close as possible. You are now seeing focus on the front element. Look at a plain background such as white paper to see dirt. As you move the paper away from the lens dust will go out of focus. If the specks stay in focus, they are in the viewfinder. Compare with dust seen by focusing the viewfinder. Remember, the viewfinder resolution is much less than what the 3 chips record. The camera will record more flaws that you can see. Keep the lens very clean! Use the same procedure with wide-angle adapters.

63. BATTERY TIPS: The Sony supplied batteries are good for more than an hour of continuous recording if the image stabilizer and auto focus are off. If you are away from power and have no time to charge batteries, some other arrangements are necessary. One is a portable 12-volt battery and either the Sony 12-24 volt charger power supply or an adapter cable from NRG or Bescor. A 10 amp-hour 12-volt battery with adapter will run the camera for many hours. The battery weighs more than the camera but this is an answer. Any 12-volt battery will work with the Sony, NRG or Bescor adapter. Any 12 to 24 volt battery will work with the Sony. Motorcycle batteries are available in many places along with chargers. Airline regs and YOUR safety preclude larger battery air shipment. A short can cause a fire. Motor cycle batteries can leak if tipped, but they will last for many hours. They are also useful for 12-volt lights. Carrying a cigarette lighter socket with lugs and/or alligator clips (color-coded for polarity) is good insurance. Bescor and others are making 8-volt packs and "Smart" chargers that charge at a high rate then trickle finish. ($40.) Cheap $10. chargers take longer and have no way of telling how much charge is in the battery.

The two prong "European" plug is standard in much of the world, but many nations have a safety grounding plug that does not allow the simple two prong plug use. You can sometimes get a local adapter Having an USA to two prong adapter is handy.

71. MORE SPECS: The OPTICAL ZOOM is approx. 6 mm to 60 mm. or equivalent to 40 to 400 mm on a still camera. The digital zoom uses less of the 3 chips' image recording areas and therefore provides lower resolution. The zoom control takes 4 to 5 seconds to zoom from MAX. WIDE to MAX. TELE DIGITAL ZOOM. 120 MM.

To estimate if you are close enough for an optical or digital zoom shot, use your finger's width held at arms length as a guide. Two fingers held at my arms length is equal to optical tele zoom frame height @ 60 mm. One finger for max. Digital zoom. Calibrate your own fingers and arm.

Color Bars. With the VTR/Camera switch ON, but the Standby switch on LOCK, push both the FRONT REC and PHOTO buttons, and then turn LOCK to STANDBY. You should see color bars. To record, press REC. Put at least 30 seconds of color bars on the beginning of every tape if you have time.

To learn to judge color balance and exposure in the viewfinder, with your OTHER eye and on a Color Monitor or TV hooked to the camera in a room with mixed light. (Daylight from outside and incandescent (indoor) light.)

With strangers, as an icebreaker, shoot a PHOTO of something people would be proud of and show them your shot. Try another if they don't object and then take a kid's picture, then their picture. A tripod helps to show them a video shot. Getting back to the exact end of your recording is not easy. If they offer to take a picture of you, there is some danger of dropping the camera and an inadvertent change of your settings.

Hold the camera away from people's eyes with your finger to keep the eyecup cleaner. Carry lens and eye cup-cleaning stuff.

If shooting photos, they go away in 7 sec. and you need to take another shot. Smiling full frame faces are great cut-a-ways to use later.


When you get to editing, to make an interesting program, you will need lots of cut-a-ways. They are easiest to get while you are there. Shoot as many as you can and for as many projects as you might ever need. Use PHOTO MODE when needed.

Carefully label your tapes. Label stock shot tapes also on flat side so label can be seen through the window on the camera door.

Sort tapes at night. Put completely exposed tapes in one place. Hand carry exposed tapes and not in your luggage where they have more chance to be lost or exposed to larger security radiation.

When working in and leaving sensitive areas you might consider leaving the beginning of tapes blank and rewraping questionable tapes like new. A plastic wrapper will be needed. Open 5 tape boxes with resealable care. You can also record "tourist" activities on the beginning of tapes.

Put fresh tape and partly used tapes in one place. Label amount still unrecorded on edge of partly used tape case visible in your bag.


For easier editing, record stock shots, interviewer reactions and cut-a-ways on separate tapes. Keep a stock shot tape always handy, always in it's plastic tape case. Start interviews, new projects and long programs on new tapes.

ALWAYS keep bag pockets zipped closed. especially the lid.

Always have a fresh tape unwrapped ready for instant use.

Newer tape instructions say to rewind tape immediately and store vertically. They don't say why, it may prevent dropout. YES, DROP OUT. Some camera instructions say to remove tape after shooting. How long after shooting, minutes, hours, days????

Vibration in small planes and in vehicles can damage cameras. Packing with lots of clothes helps. In a bag on your lap is best. I suggest LIVING with YOUR CAMERA. Never let others such as porters help you with your camera bag. Keep it over your shoulder or in sight at all times.

Remove the mic. jumper plug after use.

Make sure camera is securely on tripod head before letting go. Lock tilt and make sure sun cannot get into the lens or viewfinder.

Tighten tripod legs knobs or levers before letting go.

Check for dirt on lens.

Watch for kid's fingers on the lens.

Be careful around water, especially salt water. Consider rain.



ACCESSORY MICROPHONES Our ears/brain are too selective to judge well what an on-camera mic. is recording. There is no build-in microphone that will not hear the camera noise under quiet conditions and hear distance unwanted sounds as well. On automatic, the recording amplifiers in the camera adjust the record level to match what ever the mic. hears. If it is quite it will hear the camcorder motors and background sound. If someone is talking close to the mic. the amplifier will reduce the level and only the louder sounds will be recorded.

You can spend thousands of dollars on professional microphones that can give great results if used properly. Learning the use of professional sound gear is beyond these notes. In keeping with keeping it small and simple but adequate, I recommend a $35. Lavaliere microphones available from Nady, Radio Shack, and Audio Technica. I have had one fail, but others have held up well. They have a 16-foot cable and will handle most situations without an extension. (Extensions mic. cables must be shielded and longer cables are susceptible to hum and noise. Earphone extensions are usually not shielded. Radio Shack has a 6-foot shielded stereo mini cables # 42-2387 and stereo couplers # 274-1555. Radio Shack is OK for some items, but some of their "professional quality" stuff is not.

For seen on-camera mics. the Shure SM 58 or equivalent is just fine with an XLR-3F to mini stereo adapter cable. Cheaper Dynamic Cartioid mics. are often OK but have less shielding and shock protection than the $100. + ones. Cheap consumer shotgun mics. are almost useless. Longer ENG shotguns have some problems inside but work well outside. Wind protection is always important.

Radio mics. can be very useful when a wired one is not possible. Some use a lot of batteries and can experience interference from radio transmitters and other electrical devices. Most $200. models have high internal noise levels and are not very acceptable. Most have much less range than advertised.

Rarely are sound conditions ideal. Closing windows and moving as far from noise helps, but it is always a compromise considering lighting and convenience for the interviewee and interviewer. If machines, air conditioning and refrigerators are turned off, TURN THEM BACK ON BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Carry a sign that says, "Quiet Please, Sound Recording".

A simple 2-microphone set up is possible on separate channels if you get a RADIO SHACK, Y-ADAPTER HEADPHONE CABLE #42-2463 and an Y-ADAPTER # 274-375. Or Calrad "Y" Adapter 35-559 from Pacific radio 213-462-1393 Tape the cable to the camera handle so it can be inserted and removed as needed. This is a strain relief and protects the camera's mini plug. Tape over the second Y CABLE jack. Attach and label the splitter and always use one side for the interviewee and the second for the interviewer or audience. It helps in editing to always have each on the same channels. ALWAYS UNPLUG THE Y-CABLE AFTER USING ACCESSORY MICS. TO RETURN CAMERA TO BUILT-IN MIC. MODE AND TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO THE FRAGILE MIC JACK ON THE CAMERA. Extension cables need to be shielded to avoid noise and hum.

EARPHONES. Your ears/brain select what you WANT and NEED to hear, but the camera hears everything according to the laws of physics. I use ear buds to exclude outside noise to allow better evaluation of sound and to reduce the awareness of people being recorded. Ear buds are not very comfortable, but I have not found any small Walk-Man style ear phones that exclude enough of outside noise. Your ears have a hard time differentiating between sounds from outside the phones and those reproduced by the phones. Koss is again making an older style liquid filled muff style that does exclude more outside noise. They are as big and heavy as the camera. In noisy situations, industrial hearing protectors AND ear buds provide good isolation from out side unwanted noise. You also have to listen for hum, electronic noise and other undesirable sounds.


Video images for professional use should be stable unless a MTV effect is desired. Every tripod is a compromise. To make smooth pans at telephoto lens sizes a $1000 head tripod on sturdy legs is necessary. Such a tripod weighs a lot and defeats the whole idea of a small unobtrusive camera. A $100 "fluid head" tripod will maintain your tourist look and not burden you. I prefer the next step up, a Bogan 3011 Tripod with a Bogan 3130 Head with a quick-release that is safe if you always make sure it locks on. Don't let go of the camera until sure the camera is locked on. This tripod allows moderate tele pans and a stable shot in moderate wind. It is cumbersome and fitting into a backpack is not easy. For large moves, start in an uncomfortable position and end in the more comfortable one.


I like a top load bag that is easy to access and provided moderate, shock, rain, and visibility protection. A camera in hand or around your neck can detract from some photo possibilities that can be promoted with a little diplomacy. Tourists blatantly treading upon people's privacy have made people camera shy. Most people have pride in their lives and many will share it if not taken without asking. Keeping the camera covered at first can improve your chances. Have your guide or contact ask. People often expect you to want a posed picture. Maybe take photos and show them, thank them, and then hang around while they go back to work. You might then get something more natural. Fancy custom cases don't hold extra accessories and say "Steal me".


Having hands free makes grabbing video and PHOTO shots possible as occasions arise. A backpack can carry your tripod, water, warmies, snacks to share, umbrella, even lights and small purchases. The backpack and/or tripod can be left in the vehicle when hand held will do.


When a tripod is not available or the time to set it up, and some support is needed for a VIDEO shot, a bean bag under the camera will do rested on a surface. A sock HALF filled with small beans, rice or wheat berries will allow a stable shot on the ground or and uneven surface. It can even help between the camera and a vertical post or wall. A hiker's water bottle bag can carry it conveniently on your belt.

BACKGROUNDS. Often there is limited time to control the background and lighting, but the "feeling" of the shot is important. A background should compliment the interviewee. I carry pieces of 4 by 6 foot (minimum) pieces of light weight patterned cloth that can be taped to the wall behind people or to cover objectionable things in the scene. Select patterns appropriate to the culture. 2 inch drafting tape does not remove paint and double stick tape ON TOP OF the drafting tape allows getting fabric right up to an edge. Remove the tape before storing the cloth.

Darker backgrounds are usually better, avoid bright windows behind people. If you encounter an important person with their back to a window and can't change that, try working from the side so the window is not seen or shoot so tight there is no window in the shot.


This camera is capable of high quality interviews under controlled conditions.

An accessory microphone must be closer to the interviewee's mouth to reduce camera noise and ambient noise. A lavaliere works best 6 or 8 inches from a person's mouth. It should be attached with care to avoid rustling clothing and jewelry. The mic. cable should be looped under the mic. clip and the wire or power supply placed so that the interviewee doesn't tangle with the wire when gesturing. This also reduces noise transmitted to the mic. from movement of the cable. Putting the wire under a shirt is best, but may seem impolite to non-media savvy people. Seeing the wire is better than bad sound. A second mic. clip or alligator clip can be used to anchor the mic. cable. mic. placement takes time.

Whether to interrupt an interview to adjust a noisy microphone or other reason is always a dilemma. It breaks the flow and reminds the interviewee that it is not just a conversation.

I like to get the camera at least 6 feet, better 10 or 12 feet away from the interviewee. It makes the camera less intrusive to the interviewee and softens and reduces the size of background that needs to be controlled. The interviewee will also be less likely to look at camera. A down side to camera at a distance is moves and focusing is more critical. I suggest using the auto focus to get focus and go to manual unless there is a need to refocus such as the interviewee leaning back or forward. The auto focus can be engaged and for just a few seconds and back to manual.

Make the interviewee and everyone comfortable in quiet non-swivel chairs. Set up before and test everything if possible. The interviewer should engage the interviewee in SMALL TALK, not important matters before the camera, background, and mics. and lighting is ready. The crew should NOT engage in the conversation. They and the camera will soon be forgotten. When the cameraperson is ready, a subtle cue to the interviewer will let her know to get into more relevant questions. Listen for good times to change tapes. Try not to run out on great parts.

Whatever changes you have to make during an interview, make sure that the interviewee thinks that they are doing a terrific job. Don't ask them to NOT gesture or stay in a certain position for the light etc. That is acting and few people can act AND also be natural. Move them out of the light or change the light, just don't require them to have to worry about your problems.

Frame size. For a person with an interesting face, zoom in. For a person that moves a lot, zoom wider to keep them in frame. If they don't quite leave frame and return to a better position that is OK. But don't get so wide that you don't feel intimate. For people that gesture, zoom back enough to include most of their hands. Try to avoid hands resting 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the frame. As people get more intense, zoom in. Keep zooms to a minimum and zoom ONLY for a reason. (Creep out to include hand gestures or creep in to get more intimate.)

As a cameraperson I relay any of my requests and question through the interviewer. This will lessen the change of them relating to the camera.

For close ups, keeping the nose in the middle of the frame works until you zoom back enough and must tilt down to avoid too much head room. Always leave "talking space" in front of the person. Don't worry about headroom on close ups. Nose in the middle.

A separate monitor viewfinder prevents operator fatigue, reduce the "being on camera" feel for the interviewee and gives the operator something to hide behind.

There is another side to this coin. If you want the interview to seem more "professional", big earphones, a bigger tripod, impressive microphones would be in order and an explanation by the interviewer that this small camera is the latest state of the art and not a tourist toy. "The CBC bought a 100 of them." Professional lighting gear would also increase your "professional" appearance.

We have found that, when there is time, that personal questions about ones childhood and family upbringing loosen people up. A good second question is "What events and/or people have brought you to your thinking and actions today?"

For interviews, hands of the interviewee at their waist or shots of the interviewer listening will help when editing out dialogue.


Select a window viewing the sunny side of your trip to avoid sun on the lens and backlighting. Check map.

If the sun is not out, shooting things on the OPPOSITE side of street can be easier, because they are further away giving you more time to decide to shoot. This will not work in heavy traffic.

Select a window with clear view from your seat (no bar). Put some stuff on the seat to save it while you clean the window outside. Carry tissues and use water or spit. Some bus windows are too high to reach, but have upper windows that allow you to reach down from. Helpful drivers may clean windows when you stop and leave them dirtier. Reclean if necessary.

White Balance to a white object through the window. Bus windows are often green. Clean the inside too.

One advantage of sitting up front is seeing what is coming.

An open window is best. Put WB on * (sun). If you are at the back of the bus you can open a window and not disturbing others as much, but it takes longer to get out if the bus has no back door. If the bus is not full you might shoot from both sides.

Pan with object for a sharper PHOTO if close to medium distance. Don't pan infinity scenes. Use your other eye to judge if a better shot is possible while holding a shot before pressing further to record that shot.

Other passengers are generally not sympathetic to your picture taking. If they have a camera too, their epics are as important.

For more control, consider a car (with sunroof) and driver who will stop where you want. Avoid traveling with non-photographers, they will hinder your shooting. Serious work and socializing do not mix.

Update to VX 1000 Notes by Ron Dexter

My information about using mini pin microphones into the Sony VX 1000 is dangerous.

It is possible to hear sound, see the LED indicator move on the back of the camera AND NOT BE RECORDING SOUND ON THE TAPE. If you hear ONE channel in both sides of the phones, you are recording sound, but you won't be able to play back or recover the sound on a Sony VX 1000 or DSR1000. I don't yet know why. I did recover the sound playing the tape on a Canon Optura.

If you use the Beach Video adapter you should not have anyproblem.

If you understand HYPERFOCAL focusing, it is very useful for this camera as you cannot see focus in the viewfinder at wideangle lens settings. I have divided the lens bar indicator into equal sections. 6(5.9) mm, 20mm, 35mm, 46mm and 60mm(59) with 35 mm being the middle, 20mm at 1/4 and 46mm at 3/4.

You can find out the f-stop by pressing the exposure button.

Lens FL f2.0 f4.0 f8.0 f11.0

6mm 4' 2' 13" 10" wide

8mm 7' 3.5' 2' 1.3' (for settings just off full wide)

20mm 35' 20' 11' 8' 1/4

35mm 130' 65' 33' 24' 1/2

46mm too shallow to use, focus on subject 3/4

60mm " " " " tele

As you know when focused on the hyperfocal distance, everything from infinity to 1/2 the hyperfocal distance will be focus. If you are shooting in low light (f2.0) and want the focus fixed and not search and nothing will be closer than 2', lock focus at 4 feet and shoot. Outside the focus at wide angle is enormous.

Here is another trick. Since the auto focus is so good on this camera you can make "rocking crane" moves on two legs of the tripod. Collapse one tripod leg part way and go wide angle. With the other two legs on the ground and the camera at 90 degrees to the legs, arm the camera into an object for a close up and then arm back for a wider shot looking more up. Adjust leg/camera angle to suit. A sandbag will keep the camera from slipping on smooth floors.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.