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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 February 4th, 2009, 05:07 PM   #1
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Competitors to a used HVR-A1

I'm considering buying a used HVR-A1 with a reported 30 hrs of use, offered for $1200. It's a 2 year old camera now, tech moves so fast. I'd appreciate any comments on the price, and if there are now competitors out there that might make more sense. A warranty would be nice too. I'm thinking about the new Sony's and Canon's, tape and solid state or HDD in this price range.

Thanks,

Tony
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Old February 4th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #2
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Tony, how desireable is the combination of a small form factor and XLR inputs? If you want both of those, the competition would be I suppose be something like the Canon HV30 (HDV tape) or HF10 (AVHDC flash) with a Beachtech XLR adapter bolted on the bottom.

Otherwise you'd be looking at a larger form-factor camera and at least 2.5-3X the price for a new one.

The A1 has better manual control than the HV30 or any of the compact HD palmcorders ... you'd be looking at $1999 for a larger, non-XLR FX7 to get equivalent control together with a new warranty (although that would give you 3 chips as well).

If low-light capability is important, the A1 is not strong in that respect.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 08:20 PM   #3
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Thanks Graham

Low light performance is always important, but so is good audio and some manual control. I've read that the A-1's manual controls are limited and somewhat difficult to access. Could you compare them to those on the HV30?

Finally, how does the $1200 price sound?
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Old February 5th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #4
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Tony, I've not used an HV30 although I've held one a few times. It feels light and plastic-y compared with the A1, and I vaguely recall it doesnt have a fully manual shutter (although you can use a workaround). But a lot of people swear by them!

The A1 has a front lens ring for manual focus/zoom , a toggle for manual exposure, a button for backlight, an external mic input, and a Lanc port for running a remote control if you have it on a tripod or shoulder mount. Most everything else is LCD-menu based.

So ... compared with the other small cameras I don't think any of them have better manual control and many are missing some or all of those features (for example Lanc on the HV30). The Sony lacks a proper 24P progressive mode, which the HV30 has.

Compared with bigger cameras the A1s controls are limited and a bit fiddly, but then those cameras are bigger so it's a trade-off.

To me the price sounds fair, or even good! There are several on EBay that have not sold recently at a "Buy it now" of $1700-1800. One that was a full kit with a couple of add-on lenses and it did sell used for $1800. There are none for sale below $1700.

The HC1, which is essentially the same camera without the XLR module and some menu features sold originally for $1000 less than the A1 - they now sell used on Ebay for $650-$850.

One camera that looks interesting, not released yet though, is the Panasonic HDC-HS300. B&H are quoting about $1400 for it, though you would need a Beachtek for $250+ if XLR is important.
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Old February 6th, 2009, 12:01 AM   #5
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IF the size form factor isn't an issue and you don't mind XLR adapters have you considered that a brand new HD1000U is $1400?
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Old February 7th, 2009, 09:44 PM   #6
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Hello Tony

I own 1 Hvr-A1u, 2 HC-5, and coown 2 HC-9(with a friend).
My favorite camera is: All of them, no winners .

My usual everyday camera(cary with me) is A1u, if I want to keep a low profile its HC-5,(the second HC-5 is for tape deck). The 2 HC-9 is for a 3 camera set up(with A1u).

But A1u is the one I trust the most for rough weather or having a pro look(when XLR is on it), but the exposure and some function is better with HC-5 and HC9.

I bought my 2 HC-5 $499 new(canadian) and the HC-9 $1050 new(canadian), the A1u was $2900, +wide angle and extra battery(bigger).(but it was in may 2006).

My A1u had a drum change last summer($400).

I really think that for the money you say you want to spend on A1u, you should put it on HC-9. You will get a warranty(1 year) and the pleasure of smelling a brand new camera.
I would not trust someone selling a A1u(specialy if its me) because a lot of those cameras
have been to war(really) or work for TV station or government agency or extreme sports use.
Just go for the HC-9, and a Beachtek or for the same price a audio recorder or a good mike.

Its just my opinion
but it what I would do today.
Mart
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Old February 8th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #7
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alternatives for HDV camcorder purchase....

>IF the size form factor isn't an issue and you don't mind XLR adapters have you considered >that a brand new HD1000U is $1400?

Would I be correct in assuming that these just have the same or similar one chip as the HC series? I too am looking for a good lightly used prosumer HDV camcorder but I'd like a 3 chip. I already own an XLR adaptor so I'm already covered there.....
suggestions?
I've got 2 HDR-3s as secondary camcorders and want the 3 chip to be used as the main camera to do multiple shot live band recordings where the 3 chip would be located stationary near the sound board to get a direct audio feed and the other cams would be hand-held for other angles of the performers....
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Old February 8th, 2009, 03:39 PM   #8
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Part of the reason i would recommend it (HD1000U) is that electronically and interface-wise it is very similar to the HVR-A1U, but in a shoulder mount body w/o XLR inputs. There are some subtle upgrades in the HD1000U to the A1U (having shot with both the images in the 1k are slightly better) but I don't know specifically what those enhancements were. They mesh well together, but the biggest bonuses (IMHO) is you get a fresh warranty on a newer model that will resale well for awhile. Of course it isn't 3 chip, it is 1 CMOS but I have gotten very good results with mine and it sits nicely on your shoulder if you have an extended run and gun. Of course in that size body, everyone sees you coming and you can't always tuck nicely into tight quarters.
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Old February 8th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #9
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Id rather get Panasonic's TM300 than the HS300.

The only camcorder that you can consider a true upgrade is JVC’s HM100. I think it’ll get released for around $3,000 to $3,500 but so far JVC have quoted $4,000.
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