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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 3rd, 2005, 08:35 PM   #16
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I've just been playing around with the controls on my HC1 and what I find is that if I fix the shutter speed at say 1/60 then use the exposure lever to adjust, even though the Shutter Speed button is then greyed out on the menu, it does still stay at what was set, and the aperture varies when you alter the lever. Now of course the range is only small (f1.8 to f4.8) so adjustment outside that range at the low end involves adding gain to the sensor amp(which you see on the data code).
At higher light levels the only way to bring the level down to the correct range would be to raise the shutter speed (which of course we have fixed).

In fully auto mode the camera goes through 4 stages of adjustment from low to high light levels
1. There is a variable gain 18dB amplifier for low light levels. Shutter speed is 1/60
2. The aperture starts to reduce from f1.8 towards f4.8 (7X)
3. At the same time there is an varying adjustment in the DSP reducing the gain eventually by about 7X
4. At high light levels the shutter speed is raised - highest I have seen is 1/250 but I'm sure it goes higher for snow!

Hope this helps the discussion!

Gerald
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 11:26 PM   #17
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Thanks for that Gerald.

So it sounds like the HC1 in that respect in that the exposure lever of course does adjust exposure, but it's not possible to force the camera to adjust ONLY the aperture or ONLY the gain. - it decides on gain and aperture levels.

What i'd been hoping is that you could fix the shutter speed and then use the exposure lever to tell the camera "this is to adjust APERTURE ONLY - do whjat you have to do with the gain to get the correct exposure".

Obviously you can choose a PROGRAM AE mode like Portrait which will bias the exposure towards larger aperture for lower depth-of-field, but it's not the same thing as having direct control over aperture only or gain only.

Am i correct in saying that the data code info is, as per the HC1, only visible in playback of footage, and not available on screen during shooting?

thanks again
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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:10 AM   #18
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Stu,

Yes unfortunately the data code is only available on playback! This means that there is no way to tell what the exact aperture is while you are recording. Of course, with the aperture range being so small there really wouldn't be a lot of benefit - for instance it's very different from the f1.6-f11 range that I have on my old GL1 - which did give you a lot of flexibility in depth of field!

Gerald
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Old August 6th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #19
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Stu and Douglas,

I have a correction to make!!! Hope you were not too much misled!

When the shutter speed is fixed at 1/60, the aperture on my HC1 actually goes to a min of f9.6 at highest light levels using the exposure lever. On Auto the aperture min is f4.8 after which the shutter speed varies.

I now agree quite well with Lorins analysis (though his camera stopped at f8) - see the "High Dynamic Range" thread.

Gerald
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Old August 6th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #20
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Hello all,

This is my first post here. I have been lurking here for a while, and I finally needed to inquire something myself. Most of the time, all my answers are already addressed to.

Douglas, in your review, you mentioned that the A1U will have a street price of $2700 USD. That has led me to hold on purchasing my HC1 and wait for the A1U to come out. However, when doing more research on the A1U around the net, I only see pre-order prices at around $3500. SONY's press release also states that it will be released at around $3500.

I am definetely not willing/able to spend $3500 on the A1U, but $2700 is feasible.

Thanks in advance...
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Old August 6th, 2005, 07:25 PM   #21
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Is there an update as to release date for A1?

Just curious - that press release said early fall - is there any likely chance for "late summer" release?

Cheers and thank you!

Mark
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Old August 6th, 2005, 08:08 PM   #22
 
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I can't comment on the ship date, I will have one with me at WEVA next week if you'll be there to see it.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 06:22 AM   #23
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Douglas, could you address my question regarding where you got $2700 from? That is keeping me from going through with the HC1 and I wanted to know if that statement is valid still.

Also, you will have an A1U next week? Are you planning on reviewing it further?

Thanks in advance...
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Old August 7th, 2005, 06:36 AM   #24
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One place here in sweden charges about 2800 + VAT for it. I think they are accepting orders now. Electronics stuff tends to be a lot more expensive here.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 10:08 AM   #25
 
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Sony Broadcast Professional's HDV senior product manager told me that the list price hadn't been fixed in stone, but the street price would be approximately USD$2700.00.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 10:22 AM   #26
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Wow...that would be amazing. Thanks a lot Douglas.

Do you know if that will be the price when it starts to be sold? Do you have any predictions as to when exactly it will be sold? Also, are you getting a hold of the A1U next week again? I would love to hear more about it.

Thanks a lot for the price update.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #27
 
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I still have the A1U, and will have it til the end of the WEVA show this coming Wednesday night. I don't know an exact shipping date, and for me to "guess" wouldn't be appropriate. Sony said mid-september, so I assume that's the time period. I'm buying one. My two gripes are pretty minimal, and it's so small, it's a great "Put on the ATV and go" sort of camera.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 01:00 PM   #28
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Wow...you are so lucky.

Since you still have it, you might be able to address some concerns that I having. First of all, do you feel that the A1U is worth the extra $700? Seems like paying $700 for the mediocre audio module and lens hood might not be worth it. Aside from the assignable button, is there independent control of gain and iris, or is it only manipulated via the exposure lever? What other internal features does it provide that the HC1 does not? Does the HC1 also have the "black strech" feature you mentioned? Finally, and most importantly, have you noticed any signs of the rolling shutter effect that people have been complaining about on the HC1?

Are you able to see that effect with the A1U?

Your review is very detailed. However, I was wondering if it's possible to have more comparative information between the A1U and the HC1.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 02:05 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
Seems like paying $700 for the mediocre audio module and lens hood might not be worth it..
The audio module sure looks identical to the one on my PDX-10. If that's the case I wouldn't call it "mediocre," unless you also feel that way about the PD-170. I connects through a "smart shoe" and not the 1/8" miniplug like a Beachtek would use.

If this camera is like the others in Sony's lineup (PD-170 vs VX-2100, PDX-10 vs HC-1000, HVR-Z1 vs HDR-FX1) then there will be a number of additional controls which are mainly implemented in the firmware. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the consumer versions are crippled by their firmware ;-) It's interesting to look at the price comparisons (these are from B&H)

HC-1000: $1,400
PDX-10: $1,600 (with rebate)
14% more for the pro version

VX-2100: $2,400
PD-170: $2,900 (with rebate)
21% more for the pro version

HDR-FX1: $3,100
HVR-Z1: $4,800
55% more for the pro version

Now I don't know when the a1 will sell for $2,700 but using the current B&H prices we have

HDR-HC1: $2,000
HVR-A1: $3,500
75% more for the pro version

But if the A1 does sell for $2,700 that would make it cost 35% more than the HC1. Interestingly, that would place it right about where one would expect in this lineup....
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Old August 7th, 2005, 05:44 PM   #30
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Hi Douglas
Can you tell me if the HVR-A1 will record in HDV 16:9 while simultaneously exporting a (Firewire) DV SD 4:3 like the Z-1? Can a previously recorded HDV tape be played back on the HVR-A1 and exported to DV SD 3:4?

I have the FX-1, which will NOT convert HDV 16:9 to DV SD 3:4 (only DV 16:9). If I could play back recordings made on the FX-1 with the A1 and do the DV 3:4 conversion, it would solve a major problem for us.

Thanks,
Ben Hardy
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