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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, 07:43 PM   #1
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Sony about to release a new HDV consumer camera...

This looks to be confirmed amongst Sony insiders... a new consumer smaller HDV camcorder called the HC3

Specs:

- External battery, NP-FP60 (standard). NP-FP71 or FP90 recommended.
- it DOES have a viewfinder. It's weird - you can actually unscrew it, pullt the viewfinder out to clean dust out.
- definitely 1080i, 25Mbps.
- toploading tape compartment.
- Nightshot
- 5lux minimum illumination (f1.8). this is BETTER than HC1's rated of 7lux.
- camera can downconvert recorded HDV to DV like HC1.
- memory stick duo plugs into camera straight in middle of the plastic section that the LCD screen normally covers.
- Has an 'EASY' mode. this mode used on other Sony lower-end cams (like HC40). indicative of target audience.
- Automatic lens cover !!! It is POWERED and opens when the camera is in TAPE or MEMORY mode. how cool.
- minimum focus, 1cm at wideangle, 80cm at telephoto.
- it's got a flash.
- can also record in DV mode.
- Has WB SHIFT (like HC1 and A1)
- has HDMI socket as well as ILINK. (Sony obviously thinking of their HDTV sales..)
- Spot meter and Spot Focus modes are there
- It's got a histogram mode !
- Tele-macro mode is there.
- usual Sony selection of PROGRAM AE modes
- Zebra patterning mode.
- Usual White Balance
- new mode : SMOOTH SLOW RECORD. It records a 3second clip as a 12second slow-motion clip. Intended for stuff like golf swings, people playing fast sports.
- Got a Quick-start mode for HDV1080i. it "slightly reduces" start time to REC.
- Aha ! this is new. It's got an external rotary dial at the front of the cam, on the left side (where the 3-way slider is on HC1). This external dial can be used to change some settings WITHOUT going thru the LCD menus.
You chan change Focus, Exposure, AE SHIFT and WB SHIFT with this external dial. It's called the CAM CTRL dial.
- OK it's got a direct Burn-to-DVD feature (as seen on other Sony cams). If you shot HDV it automatically downconverts to DV before writing to DVD.
- 1/3in. CMOS chip, 2,103,000pixels. 16:9 movie uses 1,434,000pixels.
- the usual Carl-Zeiss Sonnar t* lens. 10x optical.
- Focal lenght (movie mode) = 41mm at wideangle, 485mm at telephoto. (35mm equivs.)
- 30mm filter thread on the lens. pretty small !
- Confirmed LCD screen resolution of 211,200pixels (16x9). This is MUCH better LCD screen than HC1. almost double the resolution on LCD.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 08:17 PM   #2
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first impressions: looks like an HDV version of the HC1000.

cool, better sensitivity, but less pixels. it also seems that it has a wider lens.
yet again, the "intelligent" hot shoe is here to stay.
looks like they also dropped the zoom/focus ring. i guess top-loading tape, hdmi, and an external rotary dial make up for it.
hopefully they release an HVR-A3 to go with.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 09:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
new mode : SMOOTH SLOW RECORD. It records a 3second clip as a 12second slow-motion clip. Intended for stuff like golf swings, people playing fast sports.
SWEET. I figured this had to come eventually with CMOS technology. (all high-speed digital video cameras use CMOS because of its easy clocking). It sounds to me like they're dumping the extra data to a RAM buffer and writing it at tape speed.

I also wonder what the frame rate is? 12 seconds from 3 seconds is 4x slow motion... One has to wonder if they're clocking the CMOS at 240 fps, or 120 fps, or if they're using motion interpolation from a 60 fps acqusition. If it's actual clocking, this is great news... it means Sony is experimenting with variable frame rates on CMOS, and if they're putting it into a relatively small camcorder like this one, you can only imagine what the next-gen FX/Z1 series will be like!

-Steve
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Old January 26th, 2006, 11:30 AM   #4
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Steven - we need to find out more about " smooth slow record ". There's rumor of a fx1 update also in the wind - if Sonys' doing this on a obviously consumer oriented camera , then wouldn't they just blow the market with variable framerates on an fx2 ? Kurth
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Old January 26th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #5
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I have seen the picture.
Looks like a consumer model. I do not think it could have the 'pro' capabilities of the A1, like XLR connections, and so on.
In my opinion, a camera for vacations.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 12:56 PM   #6
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Have you read the specs, definetely a consumer camcorder. It doesn't even compete with the HC1. Hence the smaller price tag.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
Have you read the specs, definetely a consumer camcorder. It doesn't even compete with the HC1. Hence the smaller price tag.
I'm most likely not up to par with all of the specs and what they all mean. The only things i'm comprehending though are that they can both regard in 1080i hd but the HC3 is a little better in low light because of the 5 lux rating compared to the 7 lux rating of the HC1.

Besides not having a zoom ring and manual focus, why doesnt the HC3 compete with the HC1? I'm the owner of an FX1 and two HC1s and reasons why the HC3 is the inferior (in terms of video quality) to the HC1 would be greatly accepted. =P
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Old January 27th, 2006, 06:04 PM   #8
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On paper (spec-wise) there shouldn't be much difference in the video produced by either the HC1 or 3 albeit the HC3 should have better low-light performance. I'd be willing to bet HC3 footage is probably indiscernable from video of the FX1 or HC1- but that's just a hunch.

We'll have to wait for the cameras to hit store shelves before really knowing- all else is just speculation.

(Sony should offer internal hard-drive recording- no one seems to have nailed this and most enthusiasts who buy an HD cam are looking to edit footage in an NLE- I believe JVC will be the 1st to market an HD-HD (Hi Def- Hard Drive) camcorder.)
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Old January 27th, 2006, 07:32 PM   #9
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Well, the gross and effective pixel count of the HC3 is lower than that of the HC1. No mic-in, ouch! No audio monitoring, ear phone jack. The ring is also a huge drawback.

Last edited by Alexander Karol; January 28th, 2006 at 12:48 PM.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 10:53 AM   #10
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I've been waiting for the hdv palmcorder to get here. I think it will be perfect for an adapter ( redrock ) setup. One thing I hate about all of the 35mm adapters is they end up looking and feeling like a train. It apparently can do macro down to 1 cm. Think about that when you say it has no pro uses ! Yea , Steven , I'd have preferred a hd camera but this will do for now. Sony , despite the hvx and h1 is still in the game , they're just on the other end of the field. Kurth
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Old January 28th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurth Bousman
Sony , despite the hvx and h1 is still in the game , they're just on the other end of the field. Kurth
I think this product makes sense. In my opinion, HC1/A1 are now the mid-range, not the other end of the field, because FX1/Z1 costs twice as much.

They do need to compete in many different market brackets. There was a nifty little Sanyo HD recorder announced at CES that records 720p to SD card for something like $800 that looks interesting.

Last edited by Jeff DeMaagd; January 28th, 2006 at 03:24 PM.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:03 PM   #12
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Jeff - I was referring to the panasonic hvx and the canon h1. Also , another thing to consider is the ability to use this little camera as also a deck , considering there's no cheap hdv decks out there.Kurth
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Old January 28th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
Well, the gross and effective pixel count of the HC3 is lower than that of the HC1.
in my view...=Good ! lower pixel-count is largely what will give this cam 5lux rating, comapred to HC1 7lux rating. Too high pixel-count tends to trash low-light ability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
No mic-in, ouch! No audio monitoring, ear phone jack. The ring is also a huge drawback.
Agree no mic jack is a shame, but honestly, in the target market for this cam, they won't need a mic jack because Sony's market research will show that most of them don't ever *use* external mics. And for those that do want to use ext.mic, Sony will be more than happy to point them in the driection of something like their HGZ1. ker-chiiiing !! more cash for Sony.

Ear jack and focus/zoom ring - same thing. target market won't use them and won't care.

IMHO.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 05:29 PM   #14
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I totally agree with you. I think this camcorder is more "consumerized" version. I am just glad that Sony hasn't released a replacement for the HC1 yet. Gives more time for people to enjoy their investment without feeling bad. ;)
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Old January 28th, 2006, 09:33 PM   #15
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This new model helps clear up a confusion I have with the HC1. According to most reports the A1 and HC1 capture video using a 1440x1080 window. Unfortunately, the only test results for the HC1 measures its vertical resolution at only 480-lines. This number is way too low for a 1080-row window.

I have a computer model that let's me predict (with near perfect accuracy) the resolution that will be measured given a CCD's resolution. It can also work backwards from test data. It shows that the HC1 is using a 1440x810 (16:9) window.

If this number is correct, then the EIS area is 480 horizontally and 630 vertically. For a total of 302,400 pixels within a 1920x1440 CCD that is 4:3. (Actually, perhaps, only 480 of the 630 is for EIS -- the other is simply centering of the 16:9 window on the 4:3 CMOS.)

Now comes the fun. A 1440x810 window has 1,166,400 pixels. Let's assume the HC3 has the same HD video resolution window. Let's also assume that Sony has decided to use the same size buffer area which is 302,400 pixels.

The sum of these two values is 1,468,800 pixels. And, camcorderinfo.com says the CMOS chip has 1,434,000 effective pixels.

Which tells me three things:

1) It seems very much to confirm my model's estimate that the HC1 is working with a 1440x810 window.

2) The HC1's full 1920x1440 and 1440x1080 CMOS is only for 4:3 and 16:9 stills.

3) The HC3 is only giving-up still pix resolution, not HD video rez. The gain is greater sensitivity.

Does all this make sense to HC1 owners?
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