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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 January 25th, 2006, 10:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Tews
Hi,

Why did you go with the Rode mic?
How is the mic that comes with the A1U?

Thanks!
The Rode NTG1 is a great sounding shotgun mic. It is also smaller than most shotguns and fits on a camera well. I use it on shoots that are exlusively outdoors.

The mic that comes with the A1 is an ECM-NV1. This is the standard Sony camera mic that comes with such cameras as the PD-150, PD-170, PDX-10 and is often shown in Z1 literature (though that camera does not come with a shotgun mic). The NV1 is not horrible, but it's not that great a mic either. The pattern isn't that tight, it's almost more of a cardiod than a shotgun, but this is not neccessarily a bad thing on a camera mic. My complaint with the NV1 is that it has no real low end frequency response. I know why they did that: to minimize camera noise without using a better shock mount. I just think that a better mic is a worthwhile investment. After all, as DSE always says: audio is 75% of the picture.

I actually only use the NTG-1 on shoots that are exclusively outdoors. A shotgun mic is really good outdoors, but they really aren't that good indoors. The reason is that a shotgun may sound directional, but it's really not exactly what is going on. The way a shotgun works is by combining audio that comes in to the sides of the mic with the audio that is picked up at the tip out of phase. The result is that audio that is picked up by the sides of the mic and the front of the mic is, for the most part, cancelled out. This works well outdoors where sounds are picked up directly from their points of origin rather than reflections around a room.

Indoors this doesn't work well at all. What happens is the sound is being reflected all around the room and and phase cancelling reflected sound doesn't work because much of it is already out of phase. Instead of directionality, what you get is a wierd boxy sound.

This is why many people (like me) prefer a cardiod indoors. Because it sounds better and, strangely enough, is actually more directional indoors than a shotgun. Some people split the difference and use a hypercardiod. Microphones are rated on a continuum: omni - not directional, cardiod - a little directional, hypercardiod - more directional, shotgun - super directional.

In an ideal world you would use the following: a shotgun outdoors, a hypercardiod indoors in regular environments, a cardiod in highly reflective environments. In mixed environments, I tend to go with the safest option, a regular cardiod.

Which mic is the best? If I was more of a purist, I would go with something like an AT4051 cardiod in the most reflective of environments, an AT4053 in less reflective environments, and a 416 outdoors. I would also only use a windscreen when necessary and then only as much windscreen as I needed. I'm not that much of a purist though and I don't work in an environment where I can pick my next shot.

A Sennheiser ME64 is a great all around camera mic. It is cardiod so it is safe everywhere. It has a strong mid-high frequency presence peak, so it has a high degree of intelligablity even with a heavier fuzzy windscreen. It has good low frequency response, yet isn't bad for handling noise. This is actually the mic I would most recommend as the best all around permanently mounted camera mic.

Why do I have an NTG-1 on in the picture then? I've been doing mostly outdoor work lately and a good shotgun is the best choice outdoors.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 10:35 PM   #17
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Just a side not on the difference between the NTG-1 and ME64 mics. I've done a number of interviews over two days for a current project. For all these interviews, I had a mic on a boom over the talent so I wasn't worried about the camera mic sound. On the first day I used the ME64 as a camera mic and on the second day I switched it with the NTG-1. In neither case is the camera mic destined for the final mix. It was just an experiment.

Here's what I found: the ME64 actually sounded pretty good. It was a little distant and I could hear more room ambience than I like, but it could be used. The NTG-1 sounded awful. It sounded boxy and picked up a whole lot more room noise than the ME64.

If I had done this same interview outside, it would have been quite different. The ME64 would sound decent but the speech would be buried in a wash of the sound of everything going on outside. The NTG-1 would have picked up the speech nicely and rejected all sorts of extraneous noise.

What I would love is a NTG-1 sized mic with a three way switch that gave you cardiod, hypercardiod and shotgun options! If anyone knows of such a thing, please let me know!
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Old January 25th, 2006, 10:38 PM   #18
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For an Alan Barker recommendation of the ME64 as a camera mic, check out the following link:

http://www.alanbarker.com/index.html?body=whyk6.html
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Old January 26th, 2006, 01:29 AM   #19
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Really cool Laurence. Thanks for the information. Nice to hear that the adapter can remain on the entire time. I am definetely getting one of those. Will the adapter work with any tripod as well?

Pete, the reason why he went with the Rode microphone is because it is superior than the one included with the A1U. The microphone that comes with the A1U has been reviewed as mediocre by most experienced users. I find it to be quite amazing, but I am coming from a series of consumer camcorders. The Rode microphones seem to be the best ones out there for the price. If you have the chance, snatch one of them.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:06 AM   #20
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Good line Laurence: 'Would I rather have a Z1? Only when it's dark!'.
But what of the other concessions to compactness that the A1 bears - the bottom loading and that awful exposure control adjustment?
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Old January 26th, 2006, 07:09 AM   #21
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The tripod adapter works with any tripod I believe. You can load and unload tape without removing it from the tripod when you use the adapter.

That exposure control isn't so bad. I do wish that the display was a little clearer on how much gain was being used though.

The thing about documentaries is that the medium doesn't have to be transparent like it does in a dramatic work. The illusion isn't shattered because you see a little grain in a night shot. If I was shooting dramatic work, I think I'd be happier with a Z1 or the new Canon where I could (and would) really tweak the shot. For documentaries though, the A1 kicks butt. Run and gun stuff is usually shot in auto mode anyway, and the picture is so much better than what we're used to seeing in this genre. This camera can get in and out of cars and public transportation and is easy to manage in all sorts of situations where nobody is making allowances for a camera being there.
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Old February 1st, 2006, 01:37 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston
Laurence, are you able to use HG0737Y's lens cap with that sunshade?
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Old February 1st, 2006, 08:31 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston
The tripod adapter works with any tripod I believe. You can load and unload tape without removing it from the tripod when you use the adapter.
I've discovered a few people own incompatible tripods and have made a second (and third) product to help them. I will be posting about it soon in a different thread.
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Old February 1st, 2006, 09:31 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petteri Salmi
Laurence, are you able to use HG0737Y's lens cap with that sunshade?
No, but the lens hood lets you use an 82mm screw in UV filter to protect the lens instead. I like this better. Actually I'm using a Cavision LH80M/P hood instead now. Just $50 with the adapter ring to make it fit the HG0737Y lens!

http://www.cavision.com/lenshoods/LH80.htm
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Old February 10th, 2006, 12:51 PM   #25
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Short right angle XLR cable length and source?

Hi Laurence, thanks for sharing your A1U rig and insights on accessorizing it. Thanks to Bob for posting pictures for it too!

Just out of curiosity, where'd you get your yellow xlr cable from and how long is it? I'm having a hard time trying to find a source for xlr cables with a male right angle connector in lengths shorter than 1.5'. I suppose I could always make one, but it's been a while since I've picked up the ol' soldering iron so I don't trust my DIY skills. Looking at your cable in the pictures it looks to be about 6" or so?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 02:23 AM   #26
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Congratulations to all of you who had contributed to this thread, specially to Laurence Kingston. In my opinion this is the most interesting thread I've read about the A1.
By the way, Laurence you seem to be the 'guru' of this site concerning the A1. Could you take a look to this thread: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60555
Perhaps with all your experience you can add something valuable.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #27
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We have a pro audio shop called TAI Audio about 20 minutes drive from my house. I often buy stuff there even when it's not the best deal just because it's nice to have a place to actually try stuff out nearby. I got the 6" cable right angled cable there.

http://www.taiaudio.com/catalog/

Yeah, I've been following that link. Six clicks left seems to be the magic "no gain" number. I'm not sure yet how much gain you can really get away with on this camera. It isn't nearly as much as it is with the FX1/Z1, that's for sure.

I'm hardly a guru at this point. I am having fun learning this stuff though. As far as I'm concerned, it's just fun to be part of the "hi def" club for such a small entry fee!
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Old March 26th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #28
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Thanks for sharing the source for your 6" right angled cable Laurence. Yeah I know what you mean about having a local place to try stuff out. Prices are anywhere from 10% - 20% higher than buying online. I feel bad, but I often test drive the gear at the local shop, but end up buying from B&H or Adorama. On top of that the local shop doesn't stock as big of an inventory as the B&H/Adorama. So for something like a 6" cable, it would need to be special ordered

A little trick I picked up over the years...make friends with the employees/owners of the local shops. Ask them if they can pricematch. Most of the time they won't, but will often bring their price down to get your business. I try to support the local economy as much as I can, but if there is a better deal online...you know where my money is going...ie the $500 rebate on the A1U. The rebate was good for contintental US purchases only.

I admire your humility in denying your guru status. If not, a guru then you should be made a moderator of the "kick-ass-super-cool-A1U-setup" forum for DVinfo. :P
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Old March 27th, 2006, 08:09 AM   #29
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Hey, quick question. Honestly, what is the real differences between the A1U and the HC1 besides a bit better color capturing through the lens and the added mic attachment.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 08:39 AM   #30
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Comparison Table of HDR-HC1 and HVR-A1U

This has been discussed a lot in the forum. The search function is our friend. Here's a couple pertinent threads from our board:

HC1 or A1U?

Why Did You go for the A1U over the HC1
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