I do wedding video's mainly and currently shoot with a DSR-250 and VX-2000,also have a DSR-20 deck used to tranfer footage from tape to pc.I would like to buy another camera either the pd-170 or hvr-v1u.Although I have not gotten any request for HD yet just wondering if it would be wise to invest in a HD camera since everything I have now is SD.I have read many post about the hvr-v1u,really like the XLR connections which I use on the 250 with lav mic and for interviews.But,what really alarms me is the Low Light issue I've read about the v1u.Also if I'm reading correctly I can shoot with the v1u in SD mini-dv???I do have lights to mount on the camera when at the receptions but at the ceremony many photographers ask you not to use the light.Also this camera would be secondary at ceremony in back of church or in balcony.What are the auto modes like on both units?
This is a tricky question. I moved from a 170 to a V1U and I shoot weddings too, so I feel pretty qualified to answer it.
Why tricky? Well, mostly because the low-light ability is a HUGE change. You need to have a plan to deal with that if you're thinking about the V1U. It typically "sees" the room the same a human eye does.
That's good. That's reality. That's a perfectly fine camea. It's also much darker than the 170. You've probably shot in dark rooms with your 170 and made the video brighter than it actually was. Those days will be over if you get the V1U. A light will be needed in dark situations. That's pretty much all there is to it.
BUT, the V1U puts out a stunning picture, even when not doing HD. I shoot and edit in HD, but then down-convert to SD-DVDs or the web. In every case, the picture I get now is much better than what I used to get.
I think the wedding clips are all converted down to 12 fps for web-use, so ignore the slight stutter. What you CAN see there is the sharpness and color and overall quality. Note the 'toast' video. That's with a small camera light, some gain, and some post-processing computer brightening. You could easily beat that in-camera with a 170, but I have to work hard to get that same look now.
So I'm not sure I can tell you one way or the other. The V1 is going to be more difficult and it's going to NEED lights in dark places that you didn't before.
But if you can make it work, you'll make some awesome picture. I make 24p widescreen DVDs and they look fantastic. I still have my 170, I thought I'd use it for simple jobs that don't need anything fancy. Well, I have NEVER taken it out and used it since I got the V1U. I love the improvements too much to go back.
So hopefully that gives you some insight into the 'pros' and 'cons.' It's worked out for me, but I wouldn't suggest it for everyone. Feel free to ask more specific questions if you like. I still have both cameras and compare them head-to-head if you need to know anything.
Thanks for you quick response and advise.Gathering from what you have said I think the PD-170 will better fit our needs.Like I stated in my first post,we my wife and I have yet to be asked to shoot a HD wedding.So for now and maybe for another year or more we would only shoot in SD with dv-cam or mini-dv tape.