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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 July 16th, 2012, 07:16 PM   #1
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How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

In the race to chase the one-trick pony of shallow-depth-of-field and the perceived "convenience" of drag-and-drop footage, we sometimes forget that good solid cameras such as the Sony A1U still give great results.

It is sometimes easy to forget that just because a new model comes out does not mean that the footage from good cameras such as this one suddenly get worse. Just for fun, I used it this weekend to make a one-minute film to see if we could write, shoot and edit in one day. I am still amazed at how good the footage is from this camera. Plus, with years under my belt, I know the many 'tricks' to optimize the results, indoors or out.

In the past year, I have worked with young filmmakers shooting on DSLR who fail to understand the many many compromises inherent in using a still camera to shoot video. They chase the shallow-depth-of-field ideal, but fail to understand that there is WAY more to focusing the viewers attention than just a shallow-depth-of-field. (This is why I Call it a "one-trick-pony.") There is STORY, LIGHTING, ACTING, CHARACTERS and STORY.

(Did I say "story" twice? Hmm ... well, someone needs to tell new filmmakers to stop reading about the newest and latest cameras, and start learning how to tell a good story!)

I also worked with a filmmaker who lost their entire film because they only archived their AVCHD footage on two hard drives instead of five.

It is to the point that I almost don't want to help out new filmmakers any more if I know they are shooting on DSLR. I know they are going to cheap out on something else too.

I will be so happy when new cameras on the market put an end to this DSLR trend!

In the mean time, I still have fun with my A1U; it only takes me an hour to capture an hour of footage; the footage is easily and reliably captured by ANY editing program; I don't have to use any intermediate conversion programs to get my supposedly "drag-and-drop" footage ... and I take a $5 tape and throw it on my shelf as a permanent archive.

The other strange thing about the Sony A1U? It is still selling brand new today for what I paid for mine five years ago!
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Old July 17th, 2012, 11:40 AM   #2
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

I don't really think that sort of behaviour has anything to do with the camera, it's merely the difference between a hack-job and professionalism.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 02:15 PM   #3
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

I agree with Mark, none of that really has much to do with the camera. Certainly, the fact that DSLRs can be obtained fairly cheaply means there are more people shooting with them who don't really know what they are doing - but if someone takes the time to learn the camera and workflow the results can be far superior.

I had an A1U, it's a great camera but it honestly doesn't hold up well to a DSLR used properly. Calling a DSLR a one trick pony ignores many of the features that make them better than the A1U. True progressive footage, custom color profiles, a huge selection of interchangeable lenses, etc all give options that can be used in service of the other things you mentioned - "STORY, LIGHTING, ACTING, CHARACTERS and STORY" - which are important regardless of the camera you choose. Converting to an intermediate format really takes no more time than capturing from tape, but it's also become less necessary as editing software has evolved. The A1U may still be selling for what you paid for it - but if you're willing to learn how to get the most out of a camera then I'd say the money could be better spent on a DSLR.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:51 PM   #4
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

FWIW, broadly speaking, "One Trick Pony" isn't all that bad of a description. Everyone knows DSLRs lack professional viewfinder, audio, headphone, and servo zoom. You can't add a remote control that you normally use in most event based shooting. So they are limited in functionality and are narrow in scope. But, for a video camera, they do however take great stills.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

The Sony A1 was my first camera.
Followed by a Canon XHA1.
Then a Canon 5Dmk2.
And next week I will take delivery of a Canon C100.

Which camera do I love most - the 5Dmk2.
Does that mean I don't love the A1?
No.

I filmed a transatlantic trip under sail using the A1.
With its small form factor, self-archiving media (HDV tape!) and onboard XLRs it was the perfect camera.
Even two weeks ago it was earning money as a B camera.
And it is the only one of my cameras that offers infra-red shooting at night (very useful at 2am in mid Atlantic).
It still has a lot going for it.

So why move on?
Shallow DOF field has its place.
But the ability to shoot in low light, use different lenses and have an improved dynamic range are also huge benefits.
The biggest of these is improved light sensitivity. This is the game changer: to be able to capture gorgeous images and tell a story with minimal kit in just about any situation.
Hmmmm....
But hang on. The A1 has IR nightshooting and the C100 doesn't.
Back to the drawing board ;-)
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 12:16 PM   #6
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

Sensor tech has come a LONG way since the HC1/A1U... great little camera from an ergonomic standpoint, but very long in the tooth.

I'm pretty sure the current Sonys still have night shot (IR), and there are many updated features and capabilities in say an NX30, which would be somewhat equivalent to the old A1.

Video cameras still have their place, but now that almost any phone or P&S camera shoots "HD" video... I would expect the "consumer" segment to fade away, and with it will go the "prosumer" cams that had their R&D/development costs offset by consumer sales.

The market may look very different in another 5 years...
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Old November 24th, 2012, 06:24 AM   #7
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
... I would expect the "consumer" segment to fade away, and with it will go the "prosumer" cams that had their R&D/development costs offset by consumer sales.

The market may look very different in another 5 years...
Hi Dave. While I hope you are wrong on your prediction, I feel that you are probably closer to being right. Perhaps the consumer camcorder will survive, but in a much different form than what we are accustomed to today. Could the form/shape and performance of the GW77 be a harbinger of things to come?
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Old November 25th, 2012, 12:24 AM   #8
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

Well, I started this thread a long time ago just for fun, and as a bit of a rant against filmmakers who spend so much time waiting for the next greatest technology to appear that they forget to go out and actually make a film.

In the meantime since I started this thread, the A1U finally did go out of production; the one-minute film we had fun making that day back in July played at the Toronto Urban Film Festival for something like one million commuters per day; a 12-minute short I made on the A1U won an acting award at the Action on Film International Film Festival in Monrovia and I have been asked to direct more films than I have time for in the next two years.

Sadly, my first love is working behind the camera, handling guns for the actors and keeping cast and crew safe when firearms are on set.

But every now and then, out comes a camcorder; we get together with some friends and we just make a movie to re-ignite our passion for the love of the art of filmmaking.

So, given that I don't like the DSLR form factor (plus, I have a decent DSLR with 10 or 12 really good prime lenses if I really need shallow depth of field shots) now the decision becomes ... do I go with a large sensor prosumer camcorder or one of the latest generation in backlit small sensor camcorders that do such a great job at high gains.

Right now, the Panasonic AC90 is looking pretty good, even though making a jump from Sony to Panasonic is not to be taken lightly.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:37 AM   #9
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

I think that's the lowest priced 3 ring solid state camera I've seen. But with a 1/4.7 3-mos sensor, how is it in terms of low light performance vs some of the single chip consumer cams from Sony?
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Old November 30th, 2012, 01:31 AM   #10
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

Tim Aikan posted some almost noiseless 30 dB footage on the Panasonic forum.

I just didn't see the Sony HXR-NX30 as replacing the A1U. (Sorry. It's ugly.)

I see the HXR-NX70 as being a similar good solid camera that will be made and sold for many years as a better (if slightly higher cost) A1U replacement.

Or perhaps the replacement for a Sony A1U is a Panasonic?
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Old December 24th, 2012, 03:25 AM   #11
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Re: How many other 5-year-old cameras are STILL being sold brand new today?

Well,
I have just posted my A1e for the sixth time to a service agent after only 18 tapes in total. It's incessant in refusing to load the cassette due to moisture alarm.
The HC1 is not yet quite as bad. I am using both cams in dedicated UW housings & if anyone is aware of a cam which would fit/work in the Amphibico EVO housing I would appreciate a link.
cheers & merry Xmas all
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