Lack of a Nice Slow Zoom on the HC-1 and A1: Hey Sony, This is a Serious Problem! 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 September 20th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #1
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Lack of a Nice Slow Zoom on the HC-1 and A1: Hey Sony, This is a Serious Problem!

Reports from several new owners of production HVR-A1s reveal the disturbing news that the poorly conceived zoom rocker control of the HC-1 has unfortunately been carried over to the A1.

Unlike the zoom rocker of the Z1 and FX-1 which has an easily controllable deliciously slow speed, the HC-1-A1 combo is saddled with an onboard rocker capable of only about a ten second zoom from full wide to full telephoto.

For HC-1 owners this is certainly a major drag; obvioulsly even Sony makes lots of consumer DV camcorders with much better zooms than that of the HC-1. However, the other wonderful qualities of the HC-1 make this a passable if inconvenient trade off.

However, for those souls hoping to earn their keep at least in part with the A-1, this is a serious design failure by Sony and one which demands public airing and a firmware fix.

Why go to all the trouble of creating a professional portable hand held HD camcorder if the damn thing cannot be properly controlled without an outboard LANC? Without a proper easily controllable slow zoom the A-1 simply cannot be used properly for ENG or filmmaking without a tripod and LANC controller.

Sony needs to understand loud and clear that this design flaw is simply unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately lest the A-1 meet a similar fate as the first generation JVC HDV camcorder whose sales suffered mightily from JVC's inability to address that camcorders software shortcomings.
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Old September 20th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #2
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Unfortunately the zoom rocker on the PDX-10 (which the A1 will replace) is also pretty terrible. But doesn't the A1 allow you to choose either zoom or focus from a ring as well (can't remember)? The PDX-10 doesn't; I got a Varizoom LANC controller for mine right away.

The way Sony thinks I wouldn't be surprised is this was almost intentional. They clearly dumb down the less expensive models as an incentive to get the better ones.

But I agree with your sentiment; it really shouldn't be that way. :-(
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Old September 21st, 2005, 02:28 PM   #3
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You know, I just checked my old DCR-TRV20 that I've had for years now, and I can do a 30 second plus zoom no problem. There really is no excuse for steps backwards like this.
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Old September 22nd, 2005, 11:55 AM   #4
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The zoom control can be switched to the focus ring, allowing you to zoom as slowly and fluidly as you want, but with the sacrifice of manual focus.
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Old September 22nd, 2005, 07:06 PM   #5
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Fluidly? How so? There is no way anyone can get a slow enough, smooth zoom completely from wide to tight. You're forced to reposition your hands somewhere in the middle.

Yes, for minor zooming, the ring is really good, but for full zooms, out of the picture.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 06:51 AM   #6
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THe LANC zoom on the FX1 is not very good either. ALL the other older Sony's that I have at home( VX3, PC10, TRV50, TRV740) have slower zooms that do not stop abruptly . In particular the LANC zoom control on the TRV50 is far superior to my FX1, both for high and low speed and can be started very slow and end very slow. I have two Sony Lanc controler on tripods and also the Manfrotto. This LANC zoom control is the one thing I am really disappointed with on the FX1

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Old September 23rd, 2005, 08:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans
THe LANC zoom on the FX1 is not very good either. ALL the other older Sony's that I have at home( VX3, PC10, TRV50, TRV740) have slower zooms that do not stop abruptly . In particular the LANC zoom control on the TRV50 is far superior to my FX1, both for high and low speed and can be started very slow and end very slow. I have two Sony Lanc controler on tripods and also the Manfrotto. This LANC zoom control is the one thing I am really disappointed with on the FX1
Ron, it is probably the LANC controller and not the FX1 zoom that is at fault. The FX1 has a great slow zoom when using the rocker.

Pick up the incredibly cheap Vidpro TT800RC tripod (well under $50 on the web).
It comes with a remarkably great LANC controller that can be detached and used as a substitute on your other tripods.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 09:43 AM   #8
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No its not the controller even the rocker on the FX1 isn't as smooth as the TRV50, it still has an abprupt stop rather than a slow stop. Its the stopping I am talking about rather than the speed of the slowest zoom. For the other Sony's I have, even letting go of the controller will result in a controlled stop, but on the FX1 its very abrupt as hard as I try to get a very slow stop. Maybe I should send my FX1 in to Sony to see if there is something wrong with it.

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Old September 24th, 2005, 01:48 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=Todd Mitchell
However, for those souls hoping to earn their keep at least in part with the A-1, this is a serious design failure by Sony and one which demands public airing and a firmware fix.

Sony needs to understand loud and clear that this design flaw is simply unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately lest the A-1 meet a similar fate as the first generation JVC HDV camcorder whose sales suffered mightily from JVC's inability to address that camcorders software shortcomings.[/QUOTE]

It is ironic that since both camcorders were designed and are built by Sony consumer's division -- that previous Sony consumer camcorders do better. However, it seems to be a fall-put of the physical design of both. The control doesn't have enough travel.

Don't expect any Sony fix. If they cared -- would they really bring back a bottom loader?
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:29 AM   #10
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Sony Responds(!) and Requests Our Input.

Here is a copy of an email I received today:

BIS Product Support" <BIS.Product.Support@am.sony.com>

I have received a response from Product Management regarding your concerns with the zoom on HVR-A1U camcorder. Although there are no current plans to change the zoom speed, he said he appreciates your comments and will continue to monitor customer feedback from all sources regarding this camera.

Thank you.

Mike M.
SONY
Product Operational Support Center (P.O.S.C.)
(800) 883-6817

Obviously I cannot do this alone. Please send your emails to Sony at the address above and let them know how we feel.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 09:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Unfortunately the zoom rocker on the PDX-10 (which the A1 will replace) is also pretty terrible.
Hopefully, those wonderful people at bebob

http://www.bebob.de/international/zoe_dvl_eng.html

have worked on the A1 in the same way as their controller renders the PXD-10 zoom utterly usable. I've got a Zoe on my FigRig with either PDX-10 or Z1, and the set-up rocks.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 01:41 PM   #12
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I think my problem with the FX1 zoom is that there is no ramp on the slow speed. It just starts or stops abruptly. IT looks like the zoom on the TRV50 at least has a ramp that gently stops or starts and this is what really makes the difference. IT doesn't matter how the zoom is controlled ( rocker, ring or LANC) still get the sharp stop or start that just isn't there on the other Sony's I have. Maybe its a power saving improvement!!!!!

Ron Evans
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Old September 25th, 2005, 03:53 PM   #13
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solution

i took a small rubberband (about 1/2" diameter) and wrapped it twice around the zoom rocker and it let's me get a nice slow zoom.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 02:15 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans
I think my problem with the FX1 zoom is that there is no ramp on the slow speed. It just starts or stops abruptly. IT looks like the zoom on the TRV50 at least has a ramp that gently stops or starts and this is what really makes the difference. IT doesn't matter how the zoom is controlled ( rocker, ring or LANC) still get the sharp stop or start that just isn't there on the other Sony's I have. Maybe its a power saving improvement!!!!! Ron Evans
The abrupt zoom is due to the 'smooth zoom' feature that is crippled on the FX1, but exists on the Z1u (very stupid stuff that Sony does). However, you can go into the menu and set the handle rocker to 1 for a slow crawling zoom. This seems to affect both rocker arms on the FX1. I think that a LANC controller could overcome this with zooms that are designed to ramp the zoom at the start or stop. Setting the zoom to 1, however, is the slowest setting so there's nothing left to ramp. The typical 'slow' zoom speed of the FX1 is 3 (out of 6 I think).
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Old November 11th, 2005, 05:10 AM   #15
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Fantastic SLOW zoom on the HC1E

Hi Todd .. belated reply .. but I've just bought the Libec ZC-3DV . .as I had the same complaints about the infitie acceleration zoom on my HC1E ...this liitle control sits on your tripod pan arm.. and allows massive control of the speed of the HC1E zoom .. from crawling slow to infinitely fast ... so it works through the LANC connection ... means that it's only a control problem on the camcorder.. not the actual motor behaviour in the camcorder.

Problem solved .. this control also fixes Panasonic camcorders too ..its format is switchable.
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