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UHM Media Lab Director: Don Kozono

2350 DOLE ST. KHET Studio B Manager’s Phone: 956-3358
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Camcorder Updated 5/20/08
UHM Media Lab Tutorial 1


This Study Guide was created to help students prepare for the PD-170 DVCAM Camcorder
Certification exam, which is necessary to reserve and use the PD-170 DVCAM, specifically for
classroom purposes. This Study Guide provides all essential information on the proper handling
and use of the PD-170 DVCAM, including an explanation of contents, procedures to
demonstrate, and required features and techniques to know.

1. Never force anything! If something you are attempting to do requires any amount of
excessive force, STOP and review your methods.

2. Never over tighten! This may cause the stripping of threads. The use of excessive force
which can damage the equipment.

3. Never leave the camera equipment unattended! Camera and other video equipment
are prime targets for theft.

4. Never leave the camera equipment exposed to any heat source! e.g. - in the trunk
of a vehicle. Excessive heat will cause camera parts to melt.

5. Never take the Media Lab equipment to the beach or near shorelines!
e.g. - where sand and salt air/spray can contact the equipment. Sand and salt air/spray
can clog and damage the sensitive equipment.

6. Never use equipment in “risky” situations/environments**! e.g. - any type of airborne
devices or locations including airplanes, helicopters, skateboards, motorcycles, rollerblades,
etc., night time shoots in low lit and/or unsafe areas, and “remote” areas which require
transport of equipment over rough terrain.

7. Never touch or attempt to clean the lens! There is a high probability of scratching
and permanently damaging the lens without the proper cleaning materials. Only use the
cleaning cloth provided.

8. Never aim the viewfinder or the LCD screen directly at a strong light source! This will
cause permanent damage to the viewfinder/LCD screen. (e.g.- the sun, very bright light, or its
reflection from an object.)

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

1. Recite the “Safety Principles” of the Media Lab.
2. Identify all 15 items included in a Media Lab SONY DVCAM camera package plus the 6
items included in the optional Wide Angle Lens and Filters kit.

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

1. Proper handling of the tripod (to avoid costly damage):
a. Never lean a collapsed tripod against a wall, lay it on the floor.
b. Always open tripod legs by pulling all 3 legs outward at the same time.
c. Never attempt to pan or tilt the head with the pan and tilt locks tightened down.

2. Memorize and identify the following Tripod Parts:

1. Tripod head
2. Tilt lock
3. Pan lock
4. Pan handle
5. Release lever (for camera plate)
6. Camera Head Lock
7. Bubble level
8. Leg extensions
9. Leg extension lock
10. Spreaders
11. Spreader lock (for collapsed tripod)
12. Camera Wedge Plate (remains
attached to the camera)

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide
Complete the following Camera related demonstrations:

A. Demonstrate how to properly extend the tripod legs.
Unlock the spreader lock (11) holding the tripod legs together. Unlock the leg extension
locks (9). Extend legs and re-lock.

B. Demonstrate how spread the tripod legs and adjust the head so that the head is level.
Drop one leg to the ground and pull on the other 2 legs so that they open evenly. Adjust the
tripod head by loosening the head lock (6) until the bubble in the level indicator (7) is in the
center. Retighten the head lock.

C. Demonstrate how to mount the camera on the tripod.
Before mounting the camera to the tripod, make sure that the tilt lock (2) and pan lock (3) are
locked and all leg extensions are secured so that the tripod does not move or collapse when
mounting the camcorder. After mounting the camera to the tripod, be sure to loosen the pan
lock (3) in order to avoid accidentally knocking the tripod over.

D. Demonstrate safety procedure.
Always double check tripod stability prior to mounting the camcorder.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To avoid potential accidents with tipping the tripod over, never leave the
camcorder unattended, especially when tripod head (tilt lock) is in an unlocked position.
ALWAYS BE AWARE OF THE STATUS OF THE TRIPOD! To avoid damage to the tripod
head, never force a pan or tilt when the tripod head is in a locked position. This will cause
permanent damage to the tripod head!

Setting Up the PD-170 DVCAM Camcorder Unit

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

Setting Up the PD-170 DVCAM Camcorder Unit
A. Demonstrate how to safely mount and release the PD-170 DVCAM Camcorder
Unit to the tripod.
Lock the tripod head with the pan and tilt locks. From the back of the Tripod, slide the camera
wedge plate onto the tripod head. Gently push down on the camera to cause the lock to
engage. Make sure the camera is securely mounted to the tripod by pushing the camera
plate locking lever (5) to the right.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Pan Lock should be unlocked after the camera is secured to the
tripod head to prevent the accidental tipping over of the tripod if the pan handle is pushed.

B. Demonstrate the 2 ways to power the camera: with a battery and then with the AC
Power Adapter and OPTIONAL Power Strip and Extension Cord.

To install a battery, lift the viewfinder, and insert the battery pack with the arrow mark on the
battery pack facing down. Slide the battery pack down until it is locked or you hear a "click"
sound. Turn on the camera by pushing in on the lock release button on the power switch
and rotating the switch down to point at the “camera” designation. To remove the battery,
first turn the camera off, then lift the viewfinder, and while pressing the Battery Release
button, slide the battery pack up.

CAUTION: Always turn off the camera before disconnecting power. If the power is removed during recording or
playback, the tape remains wound around the video head cylinder and could become damaged when power is
restored. Also, the camcorder will automatically shut off after being in pause or “standby-mode” longer than 5
minutes to avoid damage to the tape.

To power the camera from an
AC outlet, begin by working
from the wall-outlet to the
camera. First plug an
extension cord into the outlet.
Plug the power strip into the
extension cord. Make sure the
power strip is turned off.
Connect the AC adapter cable
to the power strip. Plug the DC
cable straight into the DC slot located on the back of the camera, to the left of the battery
gap and below the memory card slot. Turn on the power strip first and then turn on the

C. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of using AC vs. battery power.
The advantages of using battery power are: increased mobility and the ability to shoot in
the field. Disadvantages are: Possible loss of power during a critical shot. The
advantages of using AC power are: Continuous power supply. Disadvantages are: Lack
of mobility, possible electrical ground interference.
UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide
A. Demonstrate how to connect the microphones to the PD-170 DVCAM camcorder.
• To mount an on-camera microphone: On the audio-block loosen the microphone holder
screw and open the cover.
• Place the shotgun-mic into the holder with the model name upward, close the cover, and
tighten the screw.
• Connect the XLR-plug of the shotgun-mic to an INPUT connector.
• If using INPUT 1 set the INPUT LEVEL (2) selector to MIC and set the +48V* (3) switch
to the ON position to supply phantom-power to the shotgun-mic. Select the channel to
be used, using the REC CH
SELECT switch (1).
• To record a mono signal connect
the mic to INPUT 1, set the REC
CH SELECT to CH1•CH2 (1). To
send the sound signal only to
channel 1, set it to CH1.
• To send the sound signal only to channel
2, plug the microphone into INPUT 2, set
INPUT 2 to MIC, turn +48V to ON*, and
make sure the REC CH SELECT (1) on
INPUT 1 is set to CH 1.
• Set the INPUT LEVEL to MIC when using a
microphone. Set it to LINE when connecting such devices as audio
mixers, amplifiers, CD player, VCR’s or other audio devices. It is not recommended to
use MIC ATT.

NOTE: If a microphone is plugged into INPUT 2, make sure that the REC CH SELECT switch on INPUT 1 is set to
CH1. If the REC CH SELECT switch is set to CH1•2, the camera will exclude the audio from INPUT 2.

B. Demonstrate how to access and set "Manual Audio".
• Locate and press MENU on
the side of the camera.
(Under the LCD Screen)
• Rotate "thumb wheel" (2) to
highlight "tape" icon in the
• Depress the thumb wheel
• Rotate wheel to AUDIO
MODE. Depress thumb wheel. Select FS48K.
• Rotate wheel to AUDIO SET.
• Depress thumb wheel.
• Set AGC CH1 & 2 to "off".
• If you are using two inputs Set Man Gain to SEPERATE.
• Push MENU button to exit menu.
• On the back of the camera push the AUDIO LEVEL button (1).
• Rotate the wheel to manually adjust the audio recording level
for CH 1.
• Depress the thumb wheel to switch between CH 1 & 2.

* Supplying phantom-power to dynamic microphones can damage the mic. Thus, it is important to determine whether
or not the microphone needs phantom-power. Before connecting a microphone make sure that the +48V switch is set
UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide
to OFF. If your audio display and headset do not reveal audio signal, then turn the +48V to ON. Don’t forget to turn
the phantom-power OFF when not in use.

C. Demonstrate where to attach the headphones & control Volume.
The headphone jack is located under the guard cap on the right side of the camera directly in
front of the cassette tape door. Use a 3.5 mm stereo mini jack stereo mini jack.
To control the volume level in the headset, push the + or – button on the LCD screen next to the
word “VOLUME”.
Explain the difference between audio recording level and volume. The audio recording
level is the level at which the sound is being recorded. The volume level is the loudness of the
headphones or speakers. Adjusting audio recording level also affects the volume of the
headphones. Adjusting the volume does not affect the audio recording level.

D. Demonstrate how to focus the viewfinder
• Tilt the viewfinder up.
• Locate the lever under the viewfinder.
• Move the lever back and forth until icons in the viewfinder are sharp and in focus.

E. Demonstrate 3 ways to “zoom.”
• Press the main zoom lever (1).
The zoom lever is pressure
sensitive e.g. more force faster
zoom, less force slower zoom.
“W” for wide-angle, “T” for
• The second lever (2) is set at
two constant speeds H: Fast or
L: Slow. The zoom handle
lever may also be switched off.
The switch is located on the
side of the handle and controls
the speed of the handle zoom only.
• Turn the zoom ring (3), the inner ring.

F. Demonstrate how to calibrate
the “focus” and explain what
indicators are displayed in
the viewfinder.
• Slide FOCUS switch (2)
to manual.
• The "hand, mountain
or person“ icon appears
in the viewfinder or LCD
screen indicating that
you are in manual focus
• Zoom all the way in on your subject.
• Use the viewfinder, not the LCD screen.
• Turn the outer ring (1) on the lens to the left or right to focus the subject.
• Zoom out to the desired frame.
UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

Auto Lock/Manual Functions
Operate this camera in the manual mode by switching the AUTO LOCK SWITCH (1) to the
center position.
• To deactivate automatic Gain push in on the GAIN button (2) and turn the thumb wheel
so the gain setting is at “0db.” Gain is used in low light situations. Gain enhances the
picture in low light, however it also increases the noise, which may be seen in the dark
areas of the picture. Use with caution.

• To deactivate the
automatic shutter press
(3) button and rotate the
thumb wheel till the
speed is set at “60.”

• Press the WHT BAL
button (4).
• Rotate thumb wheel (6)
to the icon of two triangles and a square.
• Place a white object where your talent is.
Focus on the white object, filling 80% or more
of the screen.
• Press and release the thumb wheel (6).
• The icon will rapidly flash.
• When the icon stops flashing, the white balance is set.
• Re-white balance whenever the lighting conditions change.

D. Demonstrate and explain how to use the “exposure” adjustment
• Make sure the AUTO LOCK switch is
in the middle position.
• Set GAIN to 0 and set SHUTTER
SPEED to 60. Leave them on.
• Press the IRIS button (2) until the
display indicates manual iris, you will
see the f-stop in your viewfinder or
LCD screen.
• Turn the wheel (1) to adjust the
• Use the viewfinder, not the LCD screen
and adjust the picture in the viewfinder till it looks
the same as it does to your naked eye.
• One can also use the automatic iris to compare the auto setting to the manual
setting. Keeping in mind that the auto setting is one-half to one-stop over exposed.
Make note of the F-stop you have set, press the IRIS button to switch to automatic
iris, then press the IRIS button back to manual iris to see the F-stop of the automatic
UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

E. Demonstrate and explain the “ND” feature.
• The Neutral Density filter allows you to
reduce the amount of light in your
• ND FILTER switch is located between
the zoom ring and the focus settings
• ND filter 1 lets in ! of the quantity of
light giving you about 1 1/3 stops more
and ND filter 2 lets in 1/32 of the quantity
of light giving you about 2 2/3 more
• The filter allows greater range of exposure in bright
lighting conditions and can create a shallower depth of field.

F. Demonstrate and explain the "Zebra" feature.
• Use the zebra pattern as a guide for adjusting your exposure.
• The ZEBRA switch (1) is located on the side of the camera behind the LCD and has two
• With the selector set to 70 the zebra pattern (diagonal stripes) will appear wherever an
object has a reflective light value of 70%.
• 70% is the approximate exposure for
human flesh.
• Set the Zebra switch to 100 to check for
areas of high brightness and

G. Demonstrate how to access Color Bars.
• Under "Menu' (2) access "Etc." scroll
down to Color Bars.
• Depress the thumb wheel, and rotate to

H. Demonstrate how to attach the optional
"Wide Angle Lens".
• Remove the lens hood and lens protection filter. Place the filter in the accessory filter
• Position the camcorder with its lens pointing upward (without pointing toward a bright
light source) in order to better fasten the lens.
• Attach the wide-angle lens hood base mount (make sure that the screw is loosened).
• Carefully align and tighten the wide-angle lens to the camcorder lens. It is best to point
the camera upward while attaching the lens to align the threading properly, however DO
NOT point the camera toward a light source, or you may damage the CCD sensor.
• Attach the lens hood.
• Remove the lens cap.
• After using the wide-angle lens, remember to replace the lens protection filter.

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide
I. Demonstrate how to set time code
• In the menu navigate to TAPE SET(the tape icon). Make sure REC Mode is set to
DVCAM (found under Tape Set).
• In the menu navigate to TC and
depress the wheel
• Scroll to the TC FORMAT and make
sure it is set to DF (Drop Frame).
• Scroll to TC RUN and set to REC
RUN, which will run time code when
recording is started.
o Record-run is simply the
advancement of time-code
every time one records.
o Free-fun will advance the
time-code continuously
whether recording or not.
Many times, for various
purposes of research,
documentation or time management, using the free fun is recommended.
• Scroll to TC MAKE and set to either REGEN or PRESET.
o REGEN: recording proceeds in such a way that the time code continues on (is
regenerated) from the previous time code on the tape.
o PRESET: code is not regenerated, but starts from a preset value and is then
forcibly regenerated. Used when first recording on a new tape.

J. Demonstrate how to properly eject and insert a mini DV tape.
• Open cassette compartment by depressing blue eject button on side of camera in the
direction of the arrow.
• Insert the cassette with the window facing out.
• Close the cassette compartment by pressing and holding the "Push" mark on the
cassette compartment.

K. Demonstrate how to record.
• Depress the red button to record.
• Depress again to stop recording.

L. Demonstrate how to playback what you have recorded.
• Turn the power switch to VCR.
• With the controls lighted, press rewind.
• Press play to see recorded material.

M. Demonstrate how to go to the end of the recorded tape after viewing the beginning
of the tape.
• In "VCR" mode rewind the tape.
• Review the desired footage.
• When finished press "stop".
• To cue up your tape to the last scene shot, press the "end search" button. This will work
with the tape only if you haven't removed the tape or turned
the camera off.

UHM Media Lab SONY PD-170 Study Guide
FRONT DESK: 956-3355
Sony PD-170 DVCAM Updated 5/20/08
Media Lab Study Guide

“Striking” / Packing the DVCAM Camcorder Unit and Libec Tripod

A. Demonstrate how to “strike” the DVCAM Camcorder unit.
• Depress the XLR connector release pins to remove the XLR cables.
• Remove camera shotgun mic
• Remove tape and battery
• All items must be neatly packed in their proper location
• All cables must be properly coiled (“over/under”)

B. Demonstrate how to “strike” the Libec tripod.
• Tripod legs should be retracted and locked
• Head lock should be locked
• Pan handle rotated down and tightened down into position along tripod legs.
• Pan and tilt locks should be unlocked (this prevents
possible damage to tripod head while transporting)

For more information about the PD170, consult the Operating Instructions online at:
or review the Operating Instructions manual included with the camera.

Helpful Tips for “Professional Quality” Video
1. Before starting your “shoot,” preset your time code to 01:00:00;00, and record video color
bars for 30 seconds or more.
2. Record in DVCAM recording mode for best quality. (Records 40 minutes on a Mini DV tape.)
3. Try to shoot your initial footage with at least 5 seconds of “lead” time (e.g. - before you shoot
what you actually want, start recording 5 seconds before you call action). You need this
“pad” footage for editing purposes. The same principle applies to the end of each take,
which requires that you continue to record an extra 5 seconds at the end of the action before
stopping the tape.
4. Adjust the viewfinder correctly before you start shooting. If the viewfinder is blurry,
check to see if it is focused. The viewfinder has its own separate focus, which might
change from one operator to another.
5. Make sure that cables are not in high traffic areas where they might cause someone to trip.
Use Gaffers tape to secure and tape down cables whenever necessary. Lay cables flat on
the ground by removing any knots and kinks. When “striking” the equipment, coil all cables
neatly in the “over/under” configuration as required.
6. Handle all equipment with care.
7. Carefully compose your scene, composition is critical to great video!
8. Use a tripod whenever possible! This is especially important for close-ups and establishing
9. Avoid unnecessary zooms! If you use the zoom lens, make sure the move is initiated with
purpose (e.g. - to reveal a “No Trespass” sign, slowly zooming into a close-up when the
subject is explaining something intimate or important, etc.).
10. Use “motivated” pans, tilts. Again, the camera move should be initiated for a
reason . Have a “complete start and finish” for each move.