Mark Wood's Cameras

Erik Jay
Mark Wood is a very down-to-earth kind of guy, but he knows his art and works at his craft. He keeps his toolbox simple, too, using a famous workhorse of a mini-DV camera, the Sony DCR-VX2000, which was introduced in summer 2000.

With its excellent build quality and features that the first-generation VX1000 lacked, the VX2000 was a hit. Four years later, Sony sought to further improve it with the VX2100 but, as the online user forums indicate, Wood was not alone in sticking with the earlier model, with its reputation for durability and ease of use.

Some users feel that the unit is heavy when used for long periods of time (weight is 3 lbs., 6 oz.), but plenty of other directors are shouldering 8-lb. Canons and 10-lb. Varicams for those obligatory POV shots. Be that as it may, the VX2000 stayed close to its predecessor's original ergonomics even as the components evolved.

The VX line's standard battery, the NPF330, was notorious for its short 45 minutes of use; for 16 hours of shooting, owners bought the optional NP-F960 unit. Other cost-cutting features marred the camera's high-end aspirations, including a meager 4MB MemoryStick and 640x480 pixel resolution for stills. However, Wood does take snapshots with the VX2000 to block out shots.

Consumer camcorders use one CCD (charge-couple device) for all three colors, whereas professional-grade units use three, one each for red, green and blue. A three-CCD design contributes to the VX2000's good color reproduction, and Sony's exclusive high-performance HAD (Hole-Accumulation Diode) sensors include the near-infrared light region, resulting in greater range and more realistic colors.

The VX2000 has 12x optical zoom, while the digital zoom goes to 48x with little degradation. The unit also incorporates a more expensive type of image stabilizer; as opposed to digital stabilizers used in consumer models, Sony's Super SteadyShot optical stabilization does not decrease picture resolution.

The camcorder's 58mm, seven-element, aspherical lens eliminates image distortion, while a dual-mode filter ameliorates problematic lighting conditions.

The VX2000 provides a decent amount of manual control — focus, white balance, shutter speed, etc. — as well as several automatic modes. The 200,000-pixel, 2.5-inch LCD panel is crisp, as is the viewfinder. Avoid the onboard microphone for audio, of course, and opt for an outboard unit to take advantage of the 12- and 16-bit recording. Audio is saved in a standard PCM digital stereo format.

Finally, an IEEE 1394 connection — Apple's "FireWire," Sony's "iLink" — allows uploading of video to a computer for editing. The flash memory card that was part of the specification in 2000, a 4MB MemoryStick, is woefully inadequate for this task, but today you can get a 1GB MemoryStick for what that tiny one cost six years ago.