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Old March 5th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #31
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I found these 2 comparisions between Sony XR520 and Canon HF S10

Translated version of http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs//20090204/zooma397.htm

Translated version of http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs//20090212/zooma398.htm

Personally I think Sony has better stabilization + low light performance and Canon has better details when you have correct light (I think this mostly because of 24Mbps vs 16Mbps).

I think for person like me Sony is the winner.. I point and shoot, family stuff only. For someone that uses tripod, post processing, twicking, Canon is better because you can achieve better quality in your final product.

Anyone have an idea when XR520 will be available in UK?
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Old March 5th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #32
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Dave, I sure can't argue about the look of those night shots or the steadiness of the OIS. But man oh man, a GPS in a camcorder has got to be the most lame 'add-on' I've ever seen in the world of video! :)
Ken I'm not a fun of GPS and movies, but I found this quite interesting for pictures. Have you seen google maps photos (panoramio)? I think Flickr also allows you to see an album on the map now.

But anyway one of the reasons why it's not popular in DSLR's is because it drains the battery and takes a while to initialize - I wonder how sony did that?

And certainly I would prefer to pay a bit less for XR520 and not have GPS :)
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Old March 13th, 2009, 09:44 PM   #33
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Quick notes on 520

Checked it out at the Sony Style store in Costa Mesa, CA today.

1) Dumb MStick free space problem.
Deleted files, had about 100MB free on a MS, wouldn't record at all. Warning sign appeared. Had to delete nearly 300MB free just so it could say '1min' free on the LCD before it could start recording --- and my recording was only for a few seconds anyways, only took up 38MB in the end!
I can see parents and such going nuts trying to figure out why they can record to MS when there's more than enough space. Well, gotta make that indicator display 1min or more first by deleting files.....
and even dumber, dropped an unknown AVF_INFO folder (hidden) on the stick filled with ~105MB of junk files (only the video in the AVCHD folder was all you need) on the stick as well. sigh....

2) Very touchy zoom to get slowest craw zoom to work. Just a touch less pressure and it's back to a full stop, can't really feel it getting close to 0/no-zoom unlike other camcorders. A little too much and it's zooming faster. Not as easy as the Canon HF11 to dial in.

3) Nice high-res screen. You can read the print off a letter page ad in the store after framing it top-to-bottom. Wish all camcorders had high-res LCD screens like this.
But once again, touch-screen interface, so you're always messing up the screen with dirty fingerprints!
And trust me, after you've picked up a camcorder used by everyone going through the store, the touch sensor doesn't work well - sometimes, you have to push OK or the on-screen buttons several times to get them to register. Wishing for real buttons.....

4) RED Memorystick write LED not very bright. Might not be able to see it in daylight outdoors, and that's bad. No on-screen indication of this either, so you'll have to cup your eyes over this and make sure you're not removing the stick mid-write.

5) Bulky and heavy (vs. lighter HF11), more like a 1st gen HDV camcorder. Not jacket pocketable in all cases, not slim in any direction.

6) 24Mbps video looks fine indoors. Did a zoom out in store and noise was decent for dark black areas, focus worked fine, resolution looked good, and nothing really out of place.
That said, face detection focusing while zooming might not work for everyone - it'll keep relocking to another face as you include more people. Better to turn off if you're zooming in/out of scenes.

7) Stabilization seemed good most of the zoom range, 1-handed hand-shake noticable once you're at the last 3/4 of the zoom range. Nothing that would suggest miracles here zoomed in, probably decent zoomed out for walking about. As stable as Sony's prior AVCHD models from last year, if not more so.

8) Everything takes multiple screen presses to get to settings. Nothing where you can just list them all in a column and scroll through. So expect to get lost if you haven't read the mnaual and you'll have to look in several locations. (Why they have a Home and Menu screen buttons with burried settings for each is beyond me.....)

----

Doesn't have Canon's dual-AF system, so the focus isn't snapping into lock as fast (fast on the 520, but a smooth fast, not a Canon quick fast) indoors. But nothing 'objectionable' for most consumers. Here, I still prefer the Canon AF because AF lock still occurs as fast as light drops (uses infrared light and sensor to AF in addition to contrast AF).
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Old March 14th, 2009, 03:23 AM   #34
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My own SR12 just edges my hdv FX7 in very detailed resolution card tests i have done and i am sure the hdv canons have no more resolution than an FX-7.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 04:08 AM   #35
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There's a German (?) site that just posted some shots from the XR520 (camcorder-test.com). Their comparison shots seem to be fairly consistent, and frankly if the low light is as good as it appears from their test shots, it's close to matching the EX1 and EX3, maybe even less noise. VERY impressive new sensor (EXMOR-R).

Sony should be trying to get the new sensor into something a bit more professional (meaning w/manual control) ASAP... I'm a bit surprised how good the new XR's look, they appear to be giving the "high end" of Sony's line a serious run for the money.

Now if they would just stick the "R" sensor block in something like the old TRV900 or the FX7...
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Old March 14th, 2009, 04:33 AM   #36
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David -

The other files are required for longer clips, and for "housekeeping" functions. Most users willl be using a new clean stick or the HDD... not an almost full MS... User malfunction is not a reason to knock the camera.

Zoom - presuming the usual "Sony feel" is there, should be fine...

Glad to hear the screen is so sharp. Touchscreen isn't everyone's cup of tea, and it's no big deal to have a small stylus available... it's VERY efficient and effective for spot focus/exposure. Manual controls/buttons would be nice though.

I've turned my SR11 off while it was running (emergency battery change, whoops). Didn't lose anything. IF the user is using the MS to record to, they again should be smart enough to stop recording, wait a few seconds, THEN remove the MS - again, user malfunction isn't a valid criticism.

The XR series have a viewfinder and the HDD, not to mention a healthy size LCD screen (3.2" vs. 2.7"). Not as pocketable, sure, but I'd rather have the VF and big LCD most times... still I hope they will continue in the tradition of the SR11/CX12 and release a MS only version in "pocket size" - seems like the CX7 and CX12 were both "late" announcements (Aug/Oct instead of Jan/Mar), so maybe it'll happen.

XR does 24Mbps? Thought it still topped out at 17... expect it will look good either way. Face detection is a mixed bag (I think it takes a good bit of the cameras processing horsepower), but when it works it seems to work well.

Low light and stabilization both seem to be superb with the XR's, look far superior to anything else in class from samples so far.

And yes, Sony's newer menu system is a pain in the rear to learn to navigate... much prefer the HC style, or something like the FX7. I'm sure that they felt the menus were effective for the intended user... it's just a shame to have the level of quality that this camera looks like it can put out and not have some real control functions easily accessable!

I'll still be watching for the street price to come down a bit, but the XR500/520 is looking pretty good in many respects.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 07:19 AM   #37
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There's a German (?) site that just posted some shots from the XR520 (camcorder-test.com).
Looks like the total score is better for both SR12 and Canon HF11 than XR520 which I find a bit strange. Yes maybe XR520 lacks zebra etc.. but I think the weights to the individual tests are not set correctly when camcorder with better low light, stabilization and same resolution is loosing to another camcorder with few more functions that only semi-pro people will be using. I think people still forget that XR520, SR12, HF11 are 'CONSUMER' camcorders and lack of manual control is not the most important for the market this camcorders are trying to address.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 07:30 AM   #38
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Sony is still stuck at 16mbps according to Sony's own specs (you can download their manual), so zero change there. I don't know why they can't go to the limit of the AVCHD format, 24mbps, as Canon has for the last two years.

It definitely helps with fine detail and motion and is something very welcome in the world of AVCHD. Maybe next year.

But also consider that Sony has apparently done a nice job with low-light improvements as well as image stabilization. Everything I've seen, including downloaded clips, show that there has been a dramatic improvement in OIS...surpassing Canon's OIS. So I think Dave Chien is understating the improvement on this end.

Many may not be familiar with Sony's G lens, but in my opinion it's a definite improvement over the Zeiss lens used for years. The G lens is a joint developement between Minolta & Konica, two very well-respected lens makers. I recently bought a Sony Z5 HDV pro camcorder with the new G lens. This is a successor to the Z1 and the improvement in PQ is dramatic in my opinion. Its picture blows away any camcorder I've ever used before. Of course there are other factors that go in to the improvement (sensor, processing, etc.) but it seems to me that the lens is playing a huge role in the improvements I'm seeing.

Of course this doesn't guarantee the consumer cams are blessed with the same quality G lens, but I'd bet it's still an improvement over the Zeiss lens which I was never overly impressed with.

I traded my SR12 for the Canon HG21 last year and I find it takes superior videos to the SR12, but with the new lens, new sensor, improved low-light and OIS, the new Sonys are surely worth looking at. I'd sure look at them if I were in the market.

I'd also take CCI's reviews with a large grain of salt. Anyone that owns or is very familiar with camcorders they've reviewed, knows there are times it seems they're not looking at the same camcorder you are.

An excellent example of this was a recent comparison of the Sony FX1000 to the Canon XL-H1. Just for starters, the FX1000 is about $3,500 and the Canon is over $6,000. Second, CCI made a big issue over the 'brightness' of the two camera's images in low-light at 0db gain. If you guys have done much shooting in low-light with cameras whose gain can be adjusted, you know that you don't use 0db of gain in situations like that. The more important test is how do both cameras look with say 9db or 12db of gain? THOSE are realistic conditions and the camera that had a brighter image at 0db of gain may all of a sudden look FAR grainier AND dimmer than the other cam at higher gain settings.

The above is not theoretical and is precisely what happens to those two cameras they reviewed. In fact the Sony FX1000 blows the Canon away under REAL WORLD low light conditions where the user will obviously dial in gain to get a usable image. The Sony presents a much quieter and brighter image at the higher gain settings.

So I say this to emphasize the point, use your eyes as the final determiner of picture quality and reviews like CCI's for just some added info, but not the source for which camera is the 'best'.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 08:03 AM   #39
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Sony should be trying to get the new sensor into something a bit more professional (meaning w/manual control) ASAP... I'm a bit surprised how good the new XR's look, they appear to be giving the "high end" of Sony's line a serious run for the money.
Dave, they did, they're called the FX1000/Z5. The low light of these two cams is nothing short of extraordinary and unprecedented for HD anywhere near this price range.

If you're familiar with the Sony VX2000/VX2100 (the Kings of low light), suffice is to say that the new Z5/FX1000 are every bit as good as these two SD camcorders, but with far far better colors and image sharpness...obviously since they're HD. Of course these are all larger and more expensive cams than the XR's or small Canons.

Yes, it's amazing the image these small cams can produce, but trust me Dave, when you see the image the larger Sonys produce, there is a 'depth' and color breadth that only the larger, 3-chip cams can produce. Of course there is a huge disparity in the adjustment capability too, but hey, you may not want to take a 5lb camcorder to a family gathering! ;)
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Old March 14th, 2009, 01:12 PM   #40
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Dave, they did, they're called the FX1000/Z5. The low light of these two cams is nothing short of extraordinary and unprecedented for HD anywhere near this price range.

If you're familiar with the Sony VX2000/VX2100 (the Kings of low light), suffice is to say that the new Z5/FX1000 are every bit as good as these two SD camcorders, but with far far better colors and image sharpness...obviously since they're HD. Of course these are all larger and more expensive cams than the XR's or small Canons.

Yes, it's amazing the image these small cams can produce, but trust me Dave, when you see the image the larger Sonys produce, there is a 'depth' and color breadth that only the larger, 3-chip cams can produce. Of course there is a huge disparity in the adjustment capability too, but hey, you may not want to take a 5lb camcorder to a family gathering! ;)
i think like me dave wants a mid sized cam with the new sensers i find my fx-7 too big for casual use now,something between the consumer sr-12 and fx-7 is my dream.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 03:39 PM   #41
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Hey Martyn, at least your FX7 is a size down from the Z5! :)
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Old March 14th, 2009, 06:41 PM   #42
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Ken -
Are the sensors in the FX1000/Z5 the EXMOR "R"? I thought the XR's were the first to have the new reverse CMOS tech - frankly after seeing the test shots on the German site, the XR's were so close to the big boys, I was loading pictures back and forth and comparing thinking there must have been an error.

If those captures were accurate, the XR's come VERY close to what the EX1 and EX3 can do in low light, and match the FX1000 from what I could see, maybe even a little less noisy image... and the sharpness was quite good, without the strange "ringing" artifacting the HF-S seemed to have. These little guys may be quite the bargain.

The removal of Zebras and the lower bitrate are negatives, but until I see one firsthand, I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt - I have seen some footage shot of R/C airplanes with one that was QUITE good, and motion looked excellent... I think I can live without zebras, though they ARE nice to have.

Martyn, you and I are barking up the same tree. Something near pocket size (BIG pocket maybe), focus and/or zoom rings - they can be small, but both would be nice, and something like the old TRV900 where you can press buttons for Shutter, aperature, etc. and adjust with a small wheel.

It can't be that hard to create a usable interface on a small form factor - there's plenty of blank surface area on these sleek little pocket rockets. And the old TRV900 and HC1 both show it's possible to be both small AND functional.

My thinking is once you chuck the the tape mech, you can cut size and weight significantly, so it's down to having a bigger lens if needed, 3 chips maybe (though I'm not convinced that a single big chip isn't sufficient), and the control surfaces. Think HC1 redeux perhaps, good focus/zoom ring, that little lever thingy for exposure, etc.

I don't even mind the SR11 control wheel, BUT I'd like to have a bit more control - Just SOME access to gain, aperature, shutter, etc, so that those of us who know a LITTLE BIT about photography/videography have something to twiddle with when appropriate.

I like the bigger screen, having a VF is a good thing too (both of which are lacking in the CX12 though I like that camera for size), I can't complain about the touch screen for some things (spot functions make perfect sense), but a few more controls wouldn't kill 'em to include!!!

I've got rigs to increase the size of the camera if I have to for stability (and by the looks of it, may not be as needed with the XR), but I really am not a "big camera" guy - the FX7 was about as far as I'd go, and from what I've seen of the XR's they wil absolutely beat the FX7 for PQ and low light... IMO the "R" sensor (and maybe the new "G" glass?) upped the ante far more than any of the earlier model year to year "updates" - each year seems to get better, but there's a bigger jump here than indicated by first glance or specs.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 10:15 PM   #43
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Dave, I don't think they're "R" sensors in the Z5, just Exmor, but you do have 3 as opposed to just one. I can tell you, based on the videos I've seen so far, that the low-light of the Z5/1000 is at least as good as what I saw from the Japaneese site's video. Keep in mind that the lens of the Z5 is quite a bit bigger too with greater light grasp and the cam probably has more sophisticated processing that helps them achieve their stunning low-light/sharpness results. Even the colors in very dim light are extraordinary.

In terms of sharpness in good light, from what I saw from that site, the bigger Sonys have quite a margin over the smaller XR's. Keep in mind the FX1000/Z5 horizontal resolution was measured at 900 lines...virtually unprecedented in even their price range. But the cam is much bigger and costlier than the smaller XRs, so you 'pay your dues' to get this level of performance. :)

With that said, I'm sure the XRs have a lot going for them and deserve a close look if you're looking for a small cam and don't mind the lack of controls, zebras etc. As I said, if I were in the market for this kind of cam, I'd surely take a close look.

I should mention that my friend was at CES in Vegas and took home some XR footage from the Sony booth. We both looked at it on my 60" Kuro and were a bit disappointed in the overall sharpness even though the OIS was great. There were also a few strange artifacts, but we thought it might have been due to the odd lighting at CES.

I find some of those grabs on the German site more than a bit suspect. The EX3 actually looked soft in those grabs, which is hard to believe even though I've never played with one. My Z5 is virtually always stunningly sharp on my Kuro and it's hard for me to believe the EX would not be as good, let alone better, with its larger imagers. I've never read anyone saying the EXs are 'soft'. Add to this the fact that the site's own verbiage rates the resolution much better ("excellent" for the EX vs "good" for XR) and you wonder if your eyes are deceiving you. The low light grabs also looked better on the small Sony, yet they again rated the EX3 better in their verbiage. Odd site, odd results, contradictory verbiage. Hell, even the resolution chart looks better on the XR, yet the EX is rated better in the verbiage. Something is obviously not right and I suspect it's either sloppy testing or sloppy journalism or, more likely, both. There is no way that the EX is not a significantly better cam than the XR...no way, no how.

As I've said, the only way is to look at footage you've shot and compare. Based on my limited comparison of the XR my friend shot with my Z5, it's no contest. I would assume the EX3 is a step up from my Z5, so you do the math. All you do is scratch your head with these reviews. :)

Last edited by Ken Ross; March 14th, 2009 at 10:53 PM.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 01:09 AM   #44
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Yeah, I was rather intrigued by the image results... but Sony has made some bold claims for the "R" sensor, so there may actually be more there than you'd expect. I'm wondering if it's possible that the sensor structure is that huge an improvement, in which case it's a sign of good things coming.

I think that the low light image from the XR COULD be that good, in which case for a small single sensor with relatively small glass, it'd be a real knockout (which would lead to the question - why not 3 "R" chips and some big glass??).

I am always suspect of review sites, but that particular site seems to stay fairly consistent, at least with their still captures (I wasn't really trying to follow the verbage, my deutsch ist "rusty"...).

I think the reason I'm intrigued is that their images have been pretty consistent with my experience for those cameras I've had hands on experience with. Doesn't mean there can't be a glitch, but I usually expect things to look WORSE, not as much better as the shots from the XR were... at least that's my thinking...

I know that you usually expect $ spent to equate somehow with the quality of the results, but we've already seen the HV20/30/40 hold it's own at a fraction of the price of the big cams, as well as many of the other small cams from Canon and Sony... I'm wondering if the XR's will turn out to be one of those glorious flukes?

I've been impressed with what I've seen from the FX1000 as well, so I'm not surprised your Z5 is working for you - looks like a great camera overall, that's why I was wondering if by some chance the "R" sensors snuck in somehow. Clearly Sony is trying very hard to make each camera generation noticeably better.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #45
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Dave, actually the reason I was suspect of the site's info was their results seem to differ so drastically from my own experience AND from their own verbiage vs. their own frame grabs. I had sent this site to a friend (the guy who went to CES) some time ago and he sent me back some very contradictory things to look at. He thought the site was a joke and commented "according to that site, you can better performance from an $800 camera than a $4,800 camera". As I looked more carefully I saw he was absolutely right and that their results flew in the face of my own experience.

If you look at their images from the FX1000 (a stripped down Z5), you and I would come away with the idea the cam is soft. In fact, if you compare it on that site to the SR12, you'll think the SR12 is sharper. You'd also come away with the idea (from the stills) that the SR12 is in the same league as the FX1000 for low light.

Dave, both couldn't be further from the truth. In fact the overall picture quality of the Z5/FX1000 blows away the SR12 in sharpness, color and certainly in low light. Having owned the SR12 and currently the Z5, I know how much better the picture of the Z5 is...no comparison. Color, texture, sharpness, exposure and low light...no comparison. Yet the pictures just don't show it.

Talk about contradictory info, they give the FX1000 a 'very good' for resolution and the HV20 an 'excellent'. WHAT, HUH??? Dave, I've still got the HV20 and you know me, I've done A/Bs with both the Z5 and the HV20...again, the Z5 just blows it away.

Remember, the FX1000 was rated as the camera with the highest resolution that CCI ever tested, 900 lines...nothing was even close in their testing history. Not that I'm a fan of CCI reviews, but that's surely closer to the truth from my experience when viewed on my 60" plasma.

After that I never bothered with that site again. There is something radically wrong with their info. How can their pictures say one thing and their verbiage say the opposite? It just makes no sense, particularly when you know the cam their testing pales by comparison to another they've tested and yet the pictures don't show that.

Dave, by the way, you can easily translate that site to English by clicking on the upper right phrase "this page to English". My German is as bad as yours, but I saw that translation button! :)
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