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Old March 25th, 2009, 08:48 AM   #1
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Sony Z1 - or any other?

my background is photography, now going into independent film making, sorry if my questions are a bit naive.

I am about to buy a camera that will do with my independent film productions for a while, able to spend GBP 2000... used Sony Z1s are around this level. I did some research and it seems the camera would fit my purposes well. I am wondering if you'd agree or would recommend any other (maybe newer) models for my purposes. Most important for me is:

- very good and easily accessible manual control (zoom, Iris, gain, shutter speed, white balance..)
- large and comfortable viewfinder
- good to work with in all sorts of conditions (lowlight, unfavourable weather etc.)

As far as I can see the main weaknesses of the Z1 are:
- impossible to exchange the lens
- not great performance in lowlight conditions
- interlaced "cineframe" image

would you agree? any camera in the same price range that might suit me better? are there any other weaknesses in the Z1? I assume it works well with Final Cut?
And a last question: will I have problems editing HD footage on my macbook?

(Processor Name: Intel Core Duo
Processor Speed: 2 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 2
L2 Cache (per processor): 2 MB
Memory: 1 GB
Bus Speed: 667 MHz)

Thanks!
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Old March 25th, 2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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I've got a ton of time on the Z1 and I like the image quality, especially at the price now that it's several years old. Battery life is phenomenal by my standards (5-ish hours on a $200CDN battery). My beef with the camera is solely regarding focus being controlled by servo. Difficult to repeat focus moves. If you shoot auto focus or locked focus, you'll be fine. If you do a lot of follow focus stuff, you MAY be disappointed.

The camera IS a workhorse, though. We've shot internationally on documentaries that have aired nationally and had great results with it.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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follow focus

Thanks Shaun. you mentioned a few things I haven't thought about. What exactly is the problem when doing follow focus with the servo? Is the response too slow?
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Old March 25th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #4
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Hi Ben,

I shoot on the Z1 and it is a great camera, as Shaun says a workhorse...

I don't see its fixed lens as a real issue, as at the wide end it is quite wide end its wide enougth for me but lacks a bity on the tele side for my taste.

Low light is pretty much as good as it gets for an HDV camera... most are worse. You'll need to step up the EX1 if you wnat better low light in a handycam...

To me its main weakness is the lack of true progressive... I do use the Cineframe 25 which if you are outputting to DV is pretty nice... the resolution does drop significantly though if you keep it in HDV...
Also it is a tape based camera and I for one can't wait to get a solid state model, as its a real pain downloading all the footage off a tape...

As to editing can't imagine you'll have an issue, I edited on a Sony Vaio A417M single processor 1.86 Ghz in Premiere CS2 & CS4 for a long while. So I reckon your computors will do just fine.

Other cameras to look at are the Canon A1 (best value for money), the Sony EX1 (best low light and quality), or even the new JVC GY HM 700...(best ergonomics...) I like the look of these..but both are dearer than a Z1....

cheers
Gareth
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Old March 27th, 2009, 03:42 PM   #5
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I'm a Z1 user for many years. Great camera. Comments by others are on target:

Weakness include:
- Fixed Lens/Servo: But at this price range that's what you get. The problem with a servo lens, is you don't have the control of a professional camera, that allow snappy zoom and focus effects seen on The Office, or very smooth zooms without abrupt start and stops.

- Interlaced: If you need the 25p/progressive look this isn't the camera for you. Since, my work is primarily event/performance jobs this has no impact on me.

- No Slow Mo: New generation cameras offer this see the Panasonic. I don't need it but would be nice for the occasional wedding mood shot.

- Gain/Aperture control: I'd prefer that after the aperture dial was opened up all the way, it would then increase the gain if turned more. This how it used to work, now they've gone to a preset switch which I absolutely hate for live shoots.

- Tape based recording: capturing sucks, but you have a backup + more reliable than tape less.

Pros:
Ergonomics, Good Value, Big Viewfinder, Built in XLR audio inputs, Lasts forever on the big batteries, Good in low light, Good image quality, very dependable, relatively light and compact, Lens has a good range.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 05:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofran View Post
- Gain/Aperture control: I'd prefer that after the aperture dial was opened up all the way, it would then increase the gain if turned more.
Note that the new Z5 does in fact have this feature. Well, sort of.
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