A1U vs Z1U 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 April 25th, 2006, 03:03 PM   #1
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A1U vs Z1U

When I look at the price difference between these cameras I struggle to justify the higher price for the Z1U. What am I missing?

B&H A1U features page list 30p in HDV. Is this correct?
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Old April 25th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #2
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I haven't used the A1 but I know there are a number of differences. For starters, you have very good manual controls on the Z1, especially the smooth iris knob. As I understand, the manual control on the A1 is limited and a number of functions are accessed through a touch screen instead of dedicated manual knobs and buttons like the Z1. The A1 has bottom loading tapes which can be a nuisance. I think the Z1 has a much higher resolution LCD panel.

Another big difference is that the Z1 can shoot both PAL and NTSC 50i/60i in SD and HD modes. But of course only you can determine whether the Z1's extra features and more professional appearance justify the higher price...
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Old April 25th, 2006, 03:30 PM   #3
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I think the Z1 has dedicated (two of them) rings for focus and zoom. Also, the Z1 performs better in low light. The Z1 uses 3CCDs, while the A1 uses 1 CMOS sensor. The Z1 has much more manual control and buttons and more assignable buttons. It has a bigger LCD screen in a better position, and is much bigger over all. The main advantage of the A1 is cheaper price and smaller size at the expense of manual control, low light capabilities, and buttons, maybe a few more things.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #4
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Thanks- I finally found a review of it also.

I don't think B&H should list "30p" as a feature if it is only an adaptation of 30p.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 04:44 PM   #5
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Z1U vs A1U... My 2 cents worth!

Since I own both the Z1U and A1U, I can tell you that the Z1U has a sharper image no matter what the light setting is. A1U output also has to be corrected in post because the reds tend to be on the pink side. The A1U's output is always less saturated too.

The A1U image appears to be much softer in side by side shoots. That's my main complaint about the A1U... the image always tends to be very soft compared to the Z1U. I have also seen comparison footage shot with both the Z1 and the A1 on the web. The Z1 is always sharper, more saturated, the reds are more faithful, and there is much less video noise.

The following link is a comparison of the Z1U and the HC1 (A1U) side by side in low light. This comparison shows all the HC1s faults when compared with the Z1U. If you download the footage and compare for yourself, you will see that the Z1U is much sharper, has much lower video noise, and the reds are much more saturated and less pink, as I stated earlier.

Visit the following link to see comparison footage shot with the Z1U and the HC1: http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/ar...on_footage.htm

If quality is all that matters, and the money is secondary, get the Z1U. If money is the issue, the A1U is the cheapest HDV camcorder available with professional mic inputs, SMPTE time code and the majority of the manual controls most shooters want.

This may not be a popular thing to say here, but from a looks and ergonomics standpoint, the Z1U looks like a toy camcorder too. The Z1U image can also be disappointing at times and doesn't have real 24p, like the A1U. I know you can shoot Pal 25p on the Z1U, edit it on a 24p timeline, and slow the audio down by 4% to get 24P, but what a hastle, and you still have to get a Pal monitor if you want to monitor during the shoot unless you use DV Rack.

The Z1U is not perfect either. The Z1U, and the Panasonic HVX 200 have the poorest resolution of the four low cost HD camcorders tested in Adam Wilt's "Four Affordable HD Camcorders Compared," piece in of DV Magazine (the A1U was not compared in this article), see the following link: http://dv.com/news/news_item.jhtml;j...questid=123025

And if you want a professional looking HDV camera, get the JVC HD100, or the Canon XL-H1. The JVC and the Canon also do a much better job in the video department.

I'm keeping my A1 because it works well in many circumstances and was so cheap, but I will not shoot a Ferrari red Ferrari or any other red object with it on purpose, since the footage always has to be corrected in post.

I'm selling my Z1U to buy a Canon XL-H1, or a Sony PDW-F330 CineAlta XDCAM HD Camcorder, if I can afford the extra $8,000 (Sony PDW-F330 camcorder: $16,800).

After all, quality is all that counts in the end. The viewer doesn't care what you shot your movie with.

Just my 2 cents worth, Dave.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 04:49 PM   #6
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how much for your Z1, i am looking for one, but not at the price of a new one.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 05:02 PM   #7
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I'm putting it up on eBay... We'll see!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giroud Francois
how much for your Z1, i am looking for one, but not at the price of a new one.
I'm putting it up on eBay... We'll see!
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Old April 25th, 2006, 05:21 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing your impressions Dave, that is very interesting. But please don't cross-post the same thing to more than one thread; it's against DVinfo policy. I've merged the two threads together to keep the discussion in one place.

The other thing I'd point out is that some people felt that test described in the DV.com article was flawed, and Adam mentioned that further testing was needed. That was the motivation for DVinfo's "Texas Shootout" which included in-depth evaluation of 6 cameras using tests designed and personally supervised by Adam over a 3 day weekend. Before jumping to any conclusions I'd encourage everyone to be patient while Adam has the time to analyze the mountain of footage and data from the Texas Shootout. Full results will be published here as well as in DV Magazine, and DVD's will be available with sample footage. Stay tuned to DVinfo for updates on the test results.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 06:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Nelson
...A1U output also has to be corrected in post because the reds tend to be on the pink side. The A1U's output is always less saturated too. ...
Thanks for the info!

What do you do in post to correct the A1U reds?
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Old April 25th, 2006, 07:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Nelson
Since I own both the Z1U and A1U, I can tell you that the Z1U has a sharper image no matter what the light setting is.

Great to get a response from someone with both camcorders. Thanks for the post.
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