For me the greatest technical innovation is the Sony PD170 because it:
1. focuses down to inches.
2. has a magnificent manual zoom.
3. is supersensitive to light.
4. an excellent zoom range especially with the addition of the Century wide-angle adapter.
5. only 3 dollars per tape.
6. extremely useful automatic focus, also manual.
7. manual and automatic exposure control.
8. single system picture and sound plus two sound inputs.
9. as you shoot, you control exposure simultaneously while observing recorded images.
10. steady device in the lens makes for a steadier picture.
11. unlike the 10minutes 16mm film camera magazine, each tape runs 40 or 60 minutes, virtually no run-outs.
12. with tape you needn’t change stock.
13. camera can be held in many positions with viewer still visible.
14. holding camera below chin, a camera person can see much more than is in the eyepiece.
15. holding camera below chin, camera person's gaze is available to subjects to assure rapport.
16. camera much lighter (only 3 or 4 pounds vs.20).
17. can vary shutter speed.
18. camera costs only around $3500; a 16mm film camera with lenses and
magazines around $100,000.
19. the zoom lens is so good you need no other lenses.
20. easy to film in tight quarters; for example, in cars.
21. totally silent.
22. less intrusive.
23. batteries are tiny (3"x 1 1/2"x 1"), weigh little, run for as much as 8 hours.
24. quality satisfactory for TV and can be blown up to 35mm.
25. all you need to shoot goes into a normal camera bag.
26. when necessary can shoot all alone.
27. no waiting a day for rushes. Results are immediately available.
28. fewer or no problems with hot or humid conditions.
29. can go straight to edit; no processing negative, workprint, or transfer to tape.
30. is a near perfect one-up on the 16mm film camera.