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Old December 28th, 2006, 08:53 AM   #1
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Sony z1U vs. Canon Xh-a1

Question....

I'm looking at purchasing 3 or 4 HDV vameras in the next month or so. I've narrowed it down to the Sony and The A1 of Canon. Have there been any head to head comparisons on these cameras? I know if I'm not careful this will turn into a gang warbetween the Canon faithful and the Sony faithful..... but, here I go...... What are some of your thoughts on which is better?

Any feedback is appreciated!
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Old December 28th, 2006, 09:08 AM   #2
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i'm having the same struggle, bryon, i'm looking to add another camera to our studio, and of the five different cameras i've used, i have to say that i love the FX-1 the most, which leans me towards the Z1U, just for the sheer ergonomic pleasure....but the lack of progressive images--and the beauty of the footage i've seen coming out of the A1--makes this a tough call. for the money, it's hard to buy a new Z1 at $4300 versus a new A1 at $3699 plus progressive options.

and yet and yet and yet! i just love my FX-1. it's so durable, also makes pretty pictures and i can match a Z1 with incredible ease...
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Old December 28th, 2006, 10:26 AM   #3
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I Went with Canon

Byron:

I just went through this decision making process. We have used Sony cameras for over 25 years, ranging from old tube-style studio cameras to DXC 637's and DXC-D50's and PD150's and 170's. When we finally decided to get into HDV, we rented for a while to see what worked best for us. I really liked the Z1U, and it is after all a Sony. But for our needs, the XL-H1 worked better. The things we liked were:

Interchangeable lenses (and arguably better leneses, too).
Clear Scan
Time Code in and Out (we do a lot of two camera field shoots)
Genlock
Many more knobs and buttons for controls rather than menu settings. I find this makes the Canon much easier to operate.
A real field view finder.

Of course, the Canon cost a lot more, but it was the only camera that had all the features that we needed.

But they are both excellent cameras. Your needs may be different than ours.

Edit: On rereading, I noticed you were asking about the A1, not the H1. So interchangeable lenses to do not enter into the comparison. But the rest of the comparison is still valid. Sorry about not reading closer.

Mark

Last edited by Mark Hislop; December 28th, 2006 at 11:33 AM.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 03:26 PM   #4
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I've used both the FX1 and Z1U as a the DOP of a short film and other video production projects. While great lenses, I feel that the CCDs, and the internal HDV compression software wasn't as good as what is avaliable now.

I'd recommend the Canon A1 anyday over the Z1U, or the Sony V1U (which has the best image IMO).

I feel that the FX1 and Z1U are good cameras yes, but have been surpassed.

Both the Canon A1 and Sony V1U are cheaper as well.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 03:55 PM   #5
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Byron, if you haven't already read it, check out Adam Wilt's article at DV.com on the Texas HD Shootout. It included testing of the Z1 and the XL H1. You could probably pretty much read the article and replace "XL H1" with "XH A1" and "$8,999" with "$3,999" and it'd be pretty accurate ;)

Overall, time marches on, and the Z1 - while a ground breaking camera at the time - has been kind of left behind in my opinion. The real-time MPEG2 encoder does not appear to be as robust as Canon's or likely Sony's own latest encoders. The increased sharpness of the new cams really makes them pop and of course if 24P is something you'll ever use, the choice just gets easier.

Overall I'd say the newer cams are better in many ways, have additional features - and cost less. That's just how tech works...
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:27 AM   #6
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I have both a Canon A1 and a Sony FX1. And whilst the images out of the FX1 are really lovely, the A1 is in another ball-park.

The Z1 is a great camera, but it's kinda long-in-the-tooth now.
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Old January 4th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #7
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I was pretty much set to buy a Z1 when the XH A1 was announced. I got the Canon and am totally pleased with it. As far as I'm concerned, both the Z1 and A1 are very compatible, but the Canon does a very nice 24P (F, in Canon terminology).

Actually, I've probably shot more with the Z1 than I have my XHA1, which I've only been using for about a month. In addition to the 24 fps capability, I prefer Canon's 20X lens.

There are some things about the Z1 I like better--it's a little bigger and feels just a bit better balanced to me, I like the LCD up on the handle, and it has a wider range of adjustments on the focus shift device (handy for dolly shots).

It was difficult for me to move to Canon because all the cameras I've bought in the past 20 years are Sony, from Betacam SP days through DVCAM with the DSR500 and 250. Overall I like the look of the Canon footage better, especially at 24fps. Also, I think with the Canon you can shoot at a lower light level before having to go to a high gain. When you do have to use a higher gain position, the Sony is probably a bit cleaner. However, with the Canon I think you'll always be at a lower gain.

Overall, I don't think you can say one camera is better than the other, but in my opinion, the Canon has a nicer looking, less video-ish image.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 12:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor
Overall, I don't think you can say one camera is better than the other, but in my opinion, the Canon has a nicer looking, less video-ish image.
Yes, I think the image from the V1 looks a little "electronic".
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Old January 5th, 2007, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Leith
Yes, I think the image from the V1 looks a little "electronic".
I would have to agree, and that the A1 in comparison looks more 'organic'. But this is how I would compare Sony vs Canon products in general.
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