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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old August 25th, 2007, 03:51 PM   #31
 
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I don't think I could have said it better than Dave did. :-)
I will add that for "shooting people" I don't use these small cams. They're too small for that sort of thing in our workflow, unless they're locked down on a good tripod. Small cams like this (for us) are perfect as high-risk cams. I've destroyed 4 small format HD cams so far, and expect to destroy a few more before we move on to the next forma.
Motorcycles, ATV's, horseback/saddlehorn mounts, skydiving, paragliding, BASE jumping...these are all where we use small format cameras. And these sorts of activities will task IS more than anything that handholding will remotely approach.
IS on small cams is next to useless if you can't hold the cam still. This is why manufacturers like Glidecam exist. IS isn't there to make crappy handheld video stable; it's there to remove minute shake.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 05:55 PM   #32
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I've just come off a high-end shoot that happened to use a few different cameras of the 1/3" chip HD flavor, all handheld/all the time. My feeling now is that IS is really useful with this form factor because it has quite a bit of weight to hold for lengths of time in the hands (next time I will probably spec one of the handheld rigs that counterbalances it over the shoulder). The difference between having the IS on and off was night and day to me; in fact for longer lens work sometimes it was almost too steady to still appear to be handheld! In comparing this to my little HV20, I realize that the tiny weight of that camera means there will be less of a fatigue factor over time and in some ways I can keep the actual camera steadier as a result, but the reduced mass lends itself to a higher-frequency chatter in the frame. So my conclusion is that the handheld wonkiness is different but not necessarily more or less between the two styles of camera. And both can neatly be tidied up with a good IS, to a point (really erratic shaking and wobbling will be more of an issue, of course--and forget about trying to erase footsteps).

Regarding using IS on a Steadicam type rig, the common wisdom is that for almost all purposes it is a bad idea as it will counteract what you are trying to achieve with the rig. A cheap stabilizer that allows vibration through may well benefit from IS as it is the better of two evils but most should deliver better and more accurate results with the IS turned off.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #33
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YEs Dave thanks!
I just looked at my first professonal gig (not client based, self produced) on a TV with HC3, and surprisingly it was ok. so pleased. On computer was bit worried, seem bit more jumpy there. maybe that was the hard drives fault.

The bigger issue was the sound, which is great tight, but as go farther, you get so much extreaneious noise. maybe not fault of the camera. maybe I gotta stay tight if using on camera mic.

thanks Doug.
I "forgot' to turn steady shot off when using tripod, yet footage was perfect anyway.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 08:46 PM   #34
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I feel better about my HC3 I purchased last year after reading some of these posts. I've enjoyed using mine, but wish it had manual focus, better zoom control, and mic inputs/levels (I bought the sony hotshoe mic adapter, which allows mic's although only AGC.). I haven't been using the steady shot, so I might give it a try.

I was looking into AVCHD, but I think I'll stick with tape till late 2008 to let things stabilize and see what CPU prices due and how editing suites adapt better to multiple processors.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 08:49 PM   #35
 
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the HC3 does have manual focus.
Select the small button at the front of the camera, the roller wheel is a focus control.
I agree that mic inputs would be nice, and it would be sweet if the zoom had a better ramp, but c'mon...it's a super cheap cam.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 07:23 AM   #36
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I shoot handheld most of the time for my amatuer work. Over the years I feel I've gotten pretty good as holding my old Canon Elura with optical IS. I rarely would see minute camera shake.

Now I have a HC7 and I'm finding it very difficult to avoid minute camera shake. Maybe it's the shooting in HD, or maybe it's the IS. I'm still experimenting and I hope I'll become a better handheld shooter with this camera.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 07:24 AM   #37
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Sorry Doug, I wasn't clear. I do use manual focus but should have said I'd like a manual focus ring on the lens. The little wheel is a little more difficult to use and doesn't have any "feel" to it. I've had other inexpensive Sony cameras that used rings, this is my first with a shuttle focus.

I use my HC3 with an AT Pro-88 mic to document and share projects at work. My biggest adjustment to HDV has been keeping things in perfect focus; manual focus being much more important than it was in DV. I'm in an environment where monitors and bigger rigs are undesirable, so I have to rely on the built-in LCD. Things can look fine on the LCD, but more than once I've gotten back to home base to find my focus was slightly off. Many times it's amateur mistakes like zooming in a little too tight (just beyond focal range) and not being able to see it until you get back to a larger screen.

It's a great camera for less than $1K, allowing me to get places where a larger camera wouldn't do and risk shots I wouldn't try with a more expensive setup.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #38
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Charles - I'm going to have to experiment with taking the IS off when on the stabilizer - I've actually got an old Hollywood VS1 that has excellent bearings and balance, and is "right sized" for the small cams - an HC1 is really too heavy for it, but the 7 with a couple extras (WA, big battery) is AOK. It's handheld, but flyweight even fully loaded. I've always figured the IS would complement the stabilizer, but thinking about it, I can see where they might fight!

I think all the fiddling I've done with various stabilizing approaches leads me to the conclusion that the rig needs to be tuned somewhat to the camera size and weight - what works with a loaded Z1 is hopeless overkill for for an HC7...

For the little cams, I think my brackets seem about the best for a simple "handheld" solution - sort of a mini Fig Rig = good horizon stability/horizontal "targeting", decent fore aft if it's balanced, your arms do a passable job of taking the vertical "bounce" out, and it's still lightweight.

If I really need the floating smoothness, the VS1 is always there and I finally can balance it in a few minutes! Unless I score a Merlin on the cheap (as long as I'm dreaming, throw in the new vest/arm too!), it'll have to do!



Kevin - DON'T rely on the footage you see on the computer unless you've got a LOT of horsepower - the display will more than likely be "jumpy" in full resolution while editing - keep in mind that the computer has to recreate the long-GOP frames on the fly, and this is taxing on most machines (IOW the computer has to rebuild 15 i <?> frames on the fly).

It's disconcerting at first since you've probably displayed SD footage without problems - remember HD is about 4X as much info, and HDV compression/decompression factors in unless you transcode the footage to AVI so that the computer isn't chugging along creating the frames... and desperately trying to catch up!

As for the mic, I think the camera probably "zooms" audio with the W/T - I've had cameras where you could turn that on and off, and the Sony gun/zoom can switch modes, don't see a switch on the 7, and don't recall one on the 3, so it may "autozoom" with the lens, thus the changes in ambient sounds. You might want to consider a secondary audio source - wireless (now you need a mic in... DOH!) or perhaps a small recorder closer to the talent (iriver/giant squid mic or maybe a Zoom or similar).



Roger and Spot - For manual focus on the cheap, try the spot focus function - it's amazingly effective. Another option on the cheap is the Giottos LANC (hard to find, but...) - it has manual focus functions for around $30-40... I've got the older RC2020, but I've seen a newer version I'd like to try - the older one is not the greatest controller (focus pretty good, zoom so-so), but maybe the new one is more refined... I use it so I have control when on my bracket rig. ANYTHING is better than that wheely thingy... although I do use it to adjust exposure, it's "accurate" enough for that...
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Old August 26th, 2007, 01:43 PM   #39
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I went from a VX2100 to a HC7. Just like the bigger camera, it just takes practices. The inertia of the 2100 made it easier. But the skill learned eventually comes out. I can hold longer shots now because there is less fatigue.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 02:29 PM   #40
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Dave, I'll look into the spot focus function a little closer.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 02:41 PM   #41
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Less fatigue, and a camera you can take pretty much anywhere in a small bag! That's what really makes the 7 my personal fave. Just learn to hold 'er steady and shoot thoughtfully!
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Old August 26th, 2007, 09:49 PM   #42
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Can someone tell me about zoom control?
on the hc3, you zoom and just juts up fast. is better control meaning that is would go slower and smoother?

YEs Dave! I was mislead by the computer (at 1/2 resolution -- full wont even fit on the screen) jumply, but fine on the TV. and I have dual 1.8 G5 Mac.

On sound, unless I have an overhead boom with shotgun, which is too much hassle for what i"m doing, it seems best best is just to get real tight to the talent. As soon as I even shoot a person full body, I hear all sort of stuff outside the apartment. unless someone has more ideas on that.

George: so practice, meaning you just have to concentrate on a steady hold. not intuitive as you would like to get lost in the moment.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 10:00 PM   #43
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Kevin,

I've found zooming on the HC3 pretty difficult to do smoothly, especially if you are trying to start slow and gradually pick the pace up, then ramp back down to your final zoom. Zoom rate seems to occur in very noticeable, discrete steps.

I was looking today for a more precise rocker-arm type LANC zoom control, but all I found were button units and really expensive tripod mounted systems.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 12:36 AM   #44
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Roger -
Unless you spend a lot, all the LANCs are probably going to be "2 stage", IOW fast or slow... only better control is the on cam control. You might look at the Varizoom brand, I think some of those allow variable speed for a somewhat reasonable price...

Kevin - be one with the camera <wink>! You'll find that as you practice stable holds, you start to feel how the camera fits into the scene you're shooting and with practice you'll "get lost in the moment" fairly easily - any new cam is going to take some setting used to - these micro size monsters are probably the easiest to adapt to - they won't be so apt to get the talent freaked, and they are very easy to control and get different angles and camera techniques handheld or with lightweight gear!
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Old August 27th, 2007, 08:03 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Carter View Post
YEs Dave! I was mislead by the computer (at 1/2 resolution -- full wont even fit on the screen) jumply, but fine on the TV. and I have dual 1.8 G5 Mac.
Glad to read your footage was fine on TV. Most of my experience with seeing small jittering was during the editing preview process. I'm looking forward to finishing my current project and seeing how the final product looks.
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