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Old September 10th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #1
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Best $5,000 HDV camcorder? Looking to upgrade...

Hey everyone, I'm a little torn on which camera to upgrade to next. We currently have a Sony HVR-A1U but I'm looking to step our game up.

90% of our filming is in a controlled environment, 4-point lighting system, filming instructional hair styling videos. But, we're going to be doing a lot more "on the street" type filming, etc I want a higher quality look both for our intructional DVD's and the new filming we're going to do.

I've been looking at the Sony HVR-Z7U and the Panasonic AG-HMC150 almost all day today.

After about 15 hours or researching and reading I'm wanting to hear some other opinons. What does everyone here think? What would you get if you wanted to spend around $5,000?
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Old September 10th, 2009, 10:32 PM   #2
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Sony Z7

Hi Ricky

As a Sony Z7 user I can say it is a great camera.

The learning curve for you will be lessened as you have already been working with Sony gear (similar menus etc).

The CF recording feature on the Z7 is great, yes the 150 does to SD, but the compression is a lot harder to edit than HDV. Especially if you have already been editing HDV, your editing workflow won't change much, except for no more capture times!

The lens on the Z7 is great with the amount of manual control you get being a real help.

If you have any particular questions I can try to answer them, but in general the Z7 is great.

The only downside is that its autofocus is not as good as the Z1 (the camera I moved from). However, the manual lens negates much of this as it is very easy to manually focus, and in controlled situations manual would be recommended anyway.

Cheers

Andrew
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Old September 11th, 2009, 12:03 AM   #3
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Either camera you mentioned will be a big step up from the A1U and both are solid choices in this price range, so the best thing to do (if you can) is try some sample shooting with each one to see how you like them. Some specific differences to consider are zoom range, light sensitivity, weight, recording options and formats, editing workflow, how you like the controls and displays, etc.

I was impressed with the HMC150 at a recent association meeting but see advantages to the Sony cameras also, especially if you still have a need for tape-based recording. We had a long discussion at out meeting about tapeless recording and the pluses and minuses of same, but there is no "best" recording solution for every situation.

Sticking with Sony would make it easier to keep the A1U as a backup camera, but if you're looking forward that may not be a significant concern.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 02:40 AM   #4
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Having owned a Z7 I can highly recommend it, great camera and good pictures and the CF unit is superb. It also shoot to tape and can do HDV and DVcam at the same time.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 07:38 AM   #5
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How about a used Sony EX1?
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Old September 11th, 2009, 10:21 AM   #6
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If you bump that figure up to 6k (or perhaps buy used), I've got to think an EX1, now that it's possible to record economically onto SDHC cards, has to be a top choice in that price range, for most purposes - it's hard not to like 1/2" chips for that kind of money!
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Old September 11th, 2009, 02:06 PM   #7
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I spent quite awhile agonizing over a similar decision recently and ended up with an EX1. I really liked many of the Z7 features, but you just can't get away from the advantages of 1/2" chips, higher data rate and much more sophisticated menu system. I am very happy with the results.

Have also had a Z1 for 4 years and it's served me well (and will continue to do so). The Z5 and Z7 are terrific upgrades from the Z1, but the EX1 is in a league apart IMO. If you do want to stay with the Z series however, ask yourself if you will really ever use the removable lens. The Z5 is a very nice camera otherwise, although you get slightly more manual control with the Z7 calibrated focus ring. But the Z7 iris wheel still spins infinitely (unlike the EX1 which is calibrated - and a great feature).

I really didn't solidify my choice until I spent a little quality time playing with each of these models at B&H. If possible, try to do this. Some things which may not be so obvious from spec sheets and online discussions will suddenly become crystal clear when you get your hands on the real cameras.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 04:10 PM   #8
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Yes, it can be a PITA, but nothing else will get the results it can, out of the box.

Otherwise, what Boyd said, the EX1 is a fantastic tool.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 07:20 PM   #9
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My friend has been shooting "Bizarre Foods" on Travel Channel with the Z7. he really digs it. Your big question is why would you want to stick with tape and with a sucky codec like HDV? If you do, the Z7 is it, my friend is a broadcast snob and he is really digging the Z7 lens options and handling as compared to most prosumer cameras.

If you want to move out of the dark ages of tape and HDV, the HMC150 is sweet but I prefer P2, the codec looks better, whether DVCPRO HD or AVCINTRA 100. Jeez if you are considering the Z7, spend a little more and get a real camera like the HPX300. You might want to take a look Production Diary - Panasonic AG-HPX300

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Old September 11th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
my friend is a broadcast snob and he is really digging the Z7 lens options
This gets back to my point above. It is very cool to have interchangeable lenses, but realize they cost thousands of dollars each. When I was considering the z7 I looked at the Sony wide zoom which is an alternate lens they make for about $2,500. At that price I suspect it's OK but not exceptional as the better glass costs quite a bit more.

You can also use Canon or Nikon lenses, but these are really only useful for extreme telephoto shots (like wildlife photography) because of the 1/3" chips which magnify everything considerably.

So you need to think about whether you're likely to spend thousands of dollars more on lenses and if not then the z5 may make more sense.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 10:39 PM   #11
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3 Canon 7ds.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 04:59 AM   #12
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I recently sold my A1U on Ebay for $1800. It was used very little and was in perfect condition. I used the proceeds toward the purchase of an HMC150.

I like the 150 a lot, and SD recording is truly the way to go. However, if I was able to spend $5000, I would find a way to spend $6000 and get the EX1. IMO it is the standard by which all other cameras are measured. Both the EX1 and HMC150 will hold value real well too.

I would definately not consider anything HDV at this point.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
3 Canon 7ds.
He'd still need a lens, a decent microphone, a viewfinder, another lens, a matte-box, filters and one of those funky shoulder mounts.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #14
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I wonder how long the HMC150 will hold value when/if Canon introduces an AVCHD camera, assuming it is somewhat akin to what the XH-A1 was to HDV when it was introduced. The FX1 was to HDV essentially what the HMC150 is to AVCHD, and while it was still a very viable camera after the XH-A1 was introduced (heck, it still is a good camera), resale value of the FX1 took a significant hit.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 11:15 AM   #15
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You know, if Sony were to essentially take the guts of their Z5, and re-engineer it to offer a choice of recording, using either AVCHD or XDCAM (like EX1 or JVC's new cams) encoding, to SDHC cards (I'd actually prefer CF though), they could have one heck of a big seller.
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