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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 September 15th, 2008, 01:08 PM   #1
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HC9 Vs SR11

Hello all. I was wondering if any of you could answer a quick question.

I stupidly purchased a Sony HDR-SR11 without reading much about AVCHD. I have a PC and use Adobe Premiere Pro 3. As we all know, Adobe doesn't currently offer software to work natively with this format. So, even more stupidly, I returned the camera, and traded it in for the Sony HDR-HC9. Though I do like the camera, I feel as if there is certainly a quality loss in image. I'm now using Voltaic HD to convert test M2TS files to AVI, but haven't been successful in finding an SR11 M2TS file to comapre to. The reason I'm testing is because I'm considering going back to the SR11. I'm fickle, I know, but before I do anything, I thought I'd ask if anyone has used both these cameras and could say for sure which has the better picture quality. I like being able to index my shots with the SR11 on the HDD, rather than having to capture it all. But I'd be giving up my warrenty if I switched cameras (sell and buy private party).

Any thoughts would be helpful, including "STFU, and deal with it :P"
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Old September 15th, 2008, 02:04 PM   #2
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In short, having used both cameras, the SR11 is going to give you a better picture in almost all situations. I did a side by side with the CX7 (same sensor section as the HC9) and the SR11, honestly the differences were minor.

In good light, the difference is going to be pretty hard to spot, with the SR giving a touch more detail, better lattitude and smoother gradients in tough color areas (less blocky). Honestly, probably not a difference unless that nagging voice in the back of your mind keeps you up at night saying "your video could look better..." 99.99% of people won't notice the differences unless you sat there and pointed them out.

Low light conditions, the SR is going to have an edge, as the signal processing is a bit less noisy, but it's just as easy to get a light for your HC9, and probably better overall anyway.

Bottom line, if you can't process the AVCHD footage from the SR11, doesn't matter how much better it is... if you CAN work with the HC9 footage. So really you're looking at sucking up a bigger investment overall, as you have to do something with what you shoot, right?

I went through the learning curve with HDV, AVCHD wasn't a big deal, and being on PC/Vegas, it was just another workflow to learn and adjust to. For ME, the workflow was the clincher, the PQ is a bonus. I guess I feel better knowing I'm starting with better raw footage... and I can get to editing it faster (although long render times are annoying!).

FWIW, the HC9 has better manual controls, so if that's an issue, it's a "+" for the HC9!

HTH a bit!

PS - You might check out a post re Adobe PP supporting AVCHD in the AVCHD part of the forum! Software eventually catches up if you're a bit patient!
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Old September 15th, 2008, 02:25 PM   #3
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Cost really won't be an issue. Assuming I can sell my camera online and get about 900/950 for it, Amazon has SR11s for the same price. So I'd really just be trading. But again, I'd lose the warrenty that I initially purchased on the HC9. I am one of those people that sits there thinking about how to improve the quality. I have both Premiere Pro 3 and Sony Vegas, so I suppose editing won't really be an issue. I have no experience with Sony Vegas at all, and that's why I was hoping for the Adobe Support of AVCHD. I did read that the next installment of Adobe PP will have that sort of support. I'm interested to hear that the camera has better low light performance, and it does have the 5.1 stereo.

When you say that the HC9 has more manual controls, what do you mean? I had the SR11 for about 2 weeks, but I didn't really get too familar with it, so I'm not quite sure what's offered on the HC9 that's not on the SR11

Greatly appreciated, friend.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 05:00 PM   #4
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At eBay prices you'll still be close to a straight trade, but probably around the $700-800 price point in todays stinky economy...

PP3 looks lke it's going to support AVCHD according to other posts just surfacing today, so software will catch up.

HC9 has dedicated shutter speed IIRC, just a bit better control over the manual settings really, but I've not missed it. I'm good with what the SR11 can do. I prefer the control knob over the wheel, the bigger screen, and tapeless... 5.1 is sorta cool, especially if you want to mix your DVD's to feel like "you are there". Last school play I did, the screeching baby was there in all his ear shattering glory right alongside my left ear in the surround mix, just like being there! And definitely got better results in similar lighting (poor!) than what my HC7 could produce - HC9 was a bit better than the HC7, but I don't think either was as clean as the SR11.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #5
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I greatly appreciate all your comments!
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
... HC9 was a bit better than the HC7, but I don't think either was as clean as the SR11.
I wonder how it could be cleaner with more compression and smaller sensor size,
men, I'm going out to make some side by side :)

HC9 - HDV, 25 mb/s, 1/2.9 inch
SR11 - AVCHD, 16 mb/s, 1/3.13 inch
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Old September 16th, 2008, 12:36 PM   #7
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Compression algorithms improve over time. Technology improves over time. Bionz and Exmor may be "marketing terms", but judging from the results, I think they are more than that.

There are 2-3 years between the HC7/9 and the SR11/12/CX12. In technology that's a LOOONG time.

The software is still coming up to speed for AVCHD, just as it did for HDV. Compression/decompression are hardware/processor dependent to a large degree - meaning higher compression requires more horsepower to deal with. We all know HDV took more horsepower to deal with than DV... 4x the info after all... AVCHD is about the same amount of data, but is stuffed into a smaller package, requiring more "grunt" to stuff and un-stuff...

You have to remember that each link in the chain (sensor/processor/software/codec/NLE/etc.) offers opportunities for optimization and the end result is only as good as the weakest link.

I highly recommend putting any two cameras side by side and matching everything as close as possible (framing makes a huge difference), THEN shoot some video... I find it very misleading as I read "reviews" to have two shots with entirely different framing and settings and declare one is superior to the other. Scene and lighting can change in just a few minutes time - you have to shoot simultaneously to get even remotely valid data. From a practical standpoint, I see the difference in footage shot with the SR11 over the 7/9 series cameras... and that's what counts to me, even if as a practical matter the difference is pretty small!
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Old September 28th, 2008, 05:52 AM   #8
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Canon Boosts AVCHD Bit-rate

Canon has just announced a new group of three AVCHD Vixia minicams, that use a 24 Mbps rate. This compares to their previous AVCHD models that have a 17 Mbps rate and the Sony SR11/SR12 which have a 16 Mbps rate. This might level any quality difference between AVCHD and HDV, but might make the AVCHD recordings even harder for some computers to upload and edit.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 12:49 PM   #9
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I did just build a new machine for editing, so I'm not worried about that. The only issue is that I'm still not having good luck with AVCHD. I am very fluent in Adobe Premiere Pro, and though they say that they will suport AVCHD in their next installment, I'm not sure if I'll have the money to upgrade. VoltaicHD gave me some results, but I couldn't really tell if it was keeping the initial quality
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Old September 30th, 2008, 10:08 PM   #10
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Will Sony Match Canon's Increased AVCHD Bit-rate?

What do you bet that in next year's Sony AVCHD models, they will increase the bit-rate from 16 Mbps up to something close to Canon's new level of 24 Mbps? I'd wait to see, before I'd trade off an HC9 for the current SR11. I think there's probably a solution at hand for your conversion and editing of AVCHD files. Many other people are doing it. I haven't tried working with AVCHD, but my quad-core, 3 GB RAM computer handles everything else very smoothly. My 4-way CPU meter shows less than half its capacity used for HDV/m2t/AVI and any other format, so I think it would be able to deal with it.

Next year's Sony lineup may not include any small HDV models, but we don't know for sure. The models like the SR11/SR12 may be replaced with new ones with larger-capacity harddrives and probably higher bit-rates. They're not likely to put more pixels on the 921K screens they have now. What I'd like, would use a 100-GB CF card, that Sony provided with a full-speed transfer rate. How about one with this CF card and also a 32-GB Pro Duo slot? By the way, I really like being able to keep my original footage on cheap DV tapes, from my HC9. I have Hi-8 tapes from 19 years ago, that still play back without glitches. They are mostly Sony ME types and a few TDK ME and MP. I have been using a couple of Sony DV Exellence tapes for several years, for utility recording purposes. I transfer clips onto them, to play back into a DVD recorder or to a computer. I copy over them repeatedly and they haven't yet shown any glitches or visible dropouts.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 09:33 AM   #11
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Well, I still have my HC9, and since there haven't been any offers to buy it here or elsewhere, I'm sort of stuck with it. I was looking at the canon XH-A1, but without selling the HC9, no can do. So for the time being, looks like I'm sticking with the HC9. I'm not displeased with it, and my 2.8 quad core, 4gig RAM comp handles it all very nicely. I'm just wishing the picture was a bit better. That's why I've been interested in an upgrade, or anything that can clear up the image. Again, it's not bad. And maybe I'm being too picky...
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