hvr-a1u vs dsr-pd170 at DVinfo.net

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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 15th, 2010, 09:47 AM   #1
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hvr-a1u vs dsr-pd170

been shooting with pd170 for several years for a global travel video, in absolutely ridiculous conditions

unfortunately i was recently "relieved" of my 170, so i am in desperate need of a replacement. money is a huge huge issue, my budget is 1200 usd. depressing, i know.

interested in the a1u, due to its size and updated format. but scared of its low light capabilities and its durability. the 170 was one tough camera, which is essential

its amazing how the 170 has retained its resale value, while the a1u's has plummeted. this scares me, any thoughts as to why?

do i stick with 170/sd, or delve into the unknown a1u/hdv? thats the question

all my stuff is shot handheld, and the lighter rig sounds very nice. the lower profile is also a plus for authorities. i dont want a professional "looking" camera, avoiding that actually.

appreciate any feedback you guys might have, as ive been trolling this forum for weeks now. have no specific brand loyalty, but it seems like sony is the way to go.

many thanks!
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Day View Post
interested in the a1u, due to its size and updated format
Its format is "updated" only relative to DV. In the HDV world, the A1u is ancient and has long been supplanted by better models. It does have a lot of manual features for a compact cam, though.
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do i stick with 170/sd, or delve into the unknown a1u/hdv? that's the question
And it's really one that only you can answer. If your clients demand it, then you should switch to some form of HD. If not, maybe not.
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Originally Posted by Scott Day View Post
all my stuff is shot handheld, and the lighter rig sounds very nice.
You do realize that the smaller the rig, the more unstable it will be handheld? That being said, you should probably look at the XR550v or CX550v in your price range.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:56 PM   #3
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Scott, let me throw this out to you as one who still uses his 150 and 170 every weekend and then some. Lots of hours on each never a problem with either.
If the 170 is out of reach how about a 150. The basic differences are really quite minimal. The 170s iris wheel is smoother due to the additional stops inbetween which the 150 doesn't have, the lowlight capability of the 170 is slightly better than the 170 but by very unscientific comparisons shooting both cams under the same set of circumstances the difference is about 1/2 stop or less. Again no science jsut shooting both on tripod using identical lighting manual exposure both set the same same gain same custom preset, letting the cameras choose the f/stop then the of course seeing what that is, oh yeah, WB'd both cams to the same white card at the same time. Cameras were about 6 inches apart.
The VF on the 170 seems a bit better but the operation of the 2 is identical plus I would have to guess the 150 is somewhat less moneywise than the 170. I've seen 170s with slightly higher hours around the $1200 range also.
Anyway, I agree with Adam. Unless your clients are all over about HDV I would stick witht the PD series. Tough, reliable, you know the camera inside and out and produces a great image.
Just some food for thought.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #4
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I'd second Adams' recommendation of the CX550 (the XR is a couple hundred more), Sony has also released a "pro" version of the CX550 (MC50U) which I believe is "sort of" the replacement for the A1U (yeah, I know, no XLR's and less features by a mile).

"Ancient" is a rather apt desscription though - there have been so many advances in sensor design since the block that's in the A1U it's going to really look dated. And the AVCHD format has taken firm hold and offers better quality than HDV. Footage from the CX550 is very clean sharp and noise free under all but the worst conditions (meaning you'll get some noise in REALLY bad light).

The only challenge is what features you'll get with your budget... and that anything in that budget will be somewhat limited in that respect. That said, the CX550 has a killer IS system, so no problems "handheld" or with a monopod, it sees in bad light like a bat, and overall it's a pretty sweet little package once you get to know it. And you won't even get a second look if you shoot with it - looks as plain vanilla "tourist cam" as they come!

You'll need a fairly stout computer to edit AVCHD, so be aware of that issue if you choose to make the jump.


HMMMMM, just occurred to me that the SONY section of the boards is WAYYYYYYYY overdue for a makeover, to add in all the AVCHD models, which have been posed in the AVCHD tread, but don't have their own "home".... Chris?
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Old August 16th, 2010, 03:59 AM   #5
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really appreciate the thoughtful responses. its nice to be able to consult this forum to make tough decisions

its looking like im gonna stick with the pd-170

thanks for taking the time to help me out, it made things much easier

best.
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Old October 17th, 2010, 12:51 PM   #6
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The only thing you didn't talk about is aspect ratios, Scott. If your market wants 16:9 then an A1 will trounce the PD170, almost regardless of the light levels. This is before we get to the SD vs HD argument.

A friend of mine has been trying to sell his DVX100A and the response has been deafening in its silence. A mighty fine camera, but 4:3 plonks it firmly and squarely in the last century. But then again, if you and Don want 4:3 footage then the 170 is tough as nails, reliable and almost bomb-proof (the DVX certainly isn't btw).

tom.
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Old October 20th, 2010, 10:18 AM   #7
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I have a (2005) HC1 which is same as a1u without xlr and firmware, also a (2008) FX7 plus a (2010)cx550v
Only the cx550 equates with the pd170 low light performance but then you are out of the firewire world (I wish they would realize that firewire is much more to us than a way to get video off the camera)
If you shoot outdoor sports for instance, the HC1/A1U images still 'look' better than the other two
If your clients expect to see a big camera, you have to 'puff' up the look of either the a1u or cx550 as shown on a thread here called prosumer perception.
It's easier to protect a smaller camera.
For hand held, nothing absolutely nothing beats the cx550
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