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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 May 4th, 2006, 08:24 PM   #1
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Adam's Custom A1U

So after about a month and a half I have finally bought everything I wanted for an ultimate camera. With the help of Laurence Kingston and others, I have managed to build a nicely customized A1U. First off, here are some pictures:

Custom A1U on a tripod with all accessories:
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic1.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic2.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic3.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic4.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic5.jpg

Custom A1U on the Spiderbrace with camera light wireless boom:
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic6.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic7.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic8.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic9.jpg

Custom A1U with shotgun mic and wireless handheld / lavaliere:
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic10.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic11.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic12.jpg

Regular A1U: (look how small it looks without accessories!)
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic13.jpg

Hard case for camera and Canon gadget bag for accessories:
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic14.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic15.jpg
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic17.jpg

Finally, the tripod, boom pole and Spiderbrace:
http://www.adster.net/host/files/1/Camera/pic16.jpg


Preface:
At the start of the year, I was itching to buy myself a nice professional camera for projects, weddings, films, etc. I came here to DV info and did my research and finally purchased an A1U. Not soon after buying it I realized that to make it really function like I want I need to purchase accessories - a lot of them! I used Laurence's custom A1U thread as a base point but made a few changes. Here's what I got:

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Accessories in the pictures:

Camera

1) Sony A1U (duh) - $2499.99
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=384527&is=REG
(I got this cam due to the great recommendations here at DV Info)

2) Rode NTG-2 - $249.00
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=367747&is=REG
I bought this mic for a few good reasons. A lot of reviews said this is the best mic under $500. I chose it over the NTG-1 because of the optional battery so I can use it as a wireless boom mic as well.

3) Sennheiser G2 100 Series Wireless Microphone Kit - $599.99
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=324228&is=REG
Hands down the best economy wireless set you can buy. It comes with a body pack and a wireless lavaliere mic as well as a wireless XLR plug, so you can make your boom mic wireless! (a big selling point for me). The transmitter also comes with a shoe mount and an XLR cable. Perfect for the A1U

4) Sony HVL-20DMA On Camera light - $96.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...367190&is=REG&
This light shines either 10W or 20W worth of light. Best part is that it uses the same batteries as the camera, so just get a few and their interchangeable! Perfect for weddings & interviews.

5) Sony VCL-HG0737Y Wide Angle Lens - $149.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=396837&is=REG
I chose this lens because it's the only lens approves for HD on Sony's site and it's clear that they made this lens with this camera in mind. They look great together.

6) Cavision LH77 Lens Hood - $49.00
http://www.cavision.com/lenshoods/LH77.htm
This is a 77MM rubber lens hoos made specifically for the Sony Y wide angle lens. This hood combined with the Y lens really gives the camera that professional look and feel. The lens can also take 82mm filters if needed and it blocks glare!

7) Sto-fen #OM-EZ Omni-Bounce Diffuser - $16.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...u=89908&is=REG
This is made for a Canon lens, but fits perfectly over the HVL-20DMA light. Softens the light quite a bit so you don't have that hard edge kind of look.

8) NRG 59111 Shoe Mount Adaptor - $24.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=114982&is=REG
On a camera, shoe mounts are rare. This one adds 3 additional mounts including one side mount, good for the Sennheiser wireless pack!

9) Random InfoLithium type M batteries - $25.00
http://cgi.ebay.com/NP-QM91-FM91-FM9...QQcmdZViewItem
I bought this battery and charger on eBay and it works great with the cam. I bought a 2nd smaller capacity battery from the same vendor and it does not work with the cam (gives an error about using official Sony batteries and turns off) but it works great with the light. If you're going to buy batteries off of eBay, BE CAREFUL! It may or may not not work with the A1U! You have been warned...

10) 1.5 ft Right-Angled XLR Cable - $17.48
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=262152&is=REG
I bought my blue colored one locally from the same place that Laurence got his - TAI Audio in Orlando, Florida. If locally is not an option, B&H sure is!

11) Sony MDR-V150 Headphones - $14.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=225498&is=REG
I don't need anything spectacular when it comes to sound monitoring, but these work great at a great price.

Mounts

12) Velbon CX-690 Tripod - $39.88
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004TY7I/
The Velbon CX-570 seems to be greatly reviewed here at DV Info as a good cheap Tripod. Well, this is a little higher of a model for the same price as the 570 and it ships free!

13) Spiderbrace 2 - $64.95
http://www.spiderbrace.com/
Great product. Not even going to go into it. Do a search if you really wanna see the 212343 positive reviews.

14) Pro78-SM Boom Pole & Shock Mount - $79.99
http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-PRO78-SM-Mic...QQcmdZViewItem
I bought this because frankly - I ran out of money. It's not a bad boom pole, but it is a little cheap. I would highly recommend a pole with an XLR cable integrated. It does come with a shockmount however, and that works great!

Cases

15) Vanguard VGP13 Hard Case - $39.99
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006JQLK/
I bought this case because I really wanted to get a hard case with foam inside. I think it protects the equipment better and gives more of a professional feel to the gig.

16) Canon 200DG Gadget Bag - $50.94
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002Y5WZC/
Perfect for all those little things that don't go in the hard case. Cables, chargers, batteries, manuals, tapes, anything that doesn't fit!

Total Cost: $4019.96

-------------

What would I do differently?

1) I wish I had gotten a better boom pole. The one I have now works pretty good, but if you add the wireless XLR pack to the end of the Rode NTG-2, it becomes too heavy to stay properly in the shock mount. I could add an 8ft XLR cable but that would kind of defeat the theory of a "wireless" boom now wouldn't it?

What I have been looking at is this boom pole:
K-Tek KE89CC - $179.95
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=319988&is=REG

2) When getting a hard case with the foam that you pluck out, make sure you plan exactly where everything's going to go and make sure you have everything available to put in immediately. The case was the first thing I bought, so every time I got another accessory I would pluck out the foam and put it in - but I had not planned so ahead of time, so the arrangement of my hard case is less then stellar but it's not super bad. One day I'll get another case and start over.

3) I sold my ECM-NV1 on eBay to pay for the Rode NTG-2, but when I sold the mic I also sold the little rubber spacer it uses to stay in the shockmount. I didn't think about it at the time, but I kind of needed that to make the Rode fit. I called Sony, and they sell that rubber piece but it was a whopping $11.05 with another $11 ground shipping. No thank you. So I just ended using the soft side of some velcro, and it seems to fit perfectly. I haven't tested audio with it yet, so there might be all kinds of noise that I don't know about. Rode sells a shockmount that fixes this exact issue, the Rode SM5 but it is becoming extremely hard to find one and harder yet - at a decent price. B&H had a used one for $30 but when I went to purchase it, some other shifty person was a little quicker then I. Oh well.

-------------

Thats really about it! I would love to hear what people think of this setup and if someone has something add or change, by all means, bring it up! I'm always looking to make things better. Thanks to everyone at DV Info for their help, especially Lauren Kingston, Alex Thames and Poppe Johansson.

Last edited by Adam La Prade; May 4th, 2006 at 10:53 PM.
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Old May 4th, 2006, 09:47 PM   #2
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I wish! Your set up seems perfect (with the exception of the problem with the wireless pack and the boom pole). I have yet to get a better microphone. Seems like I have to add the NTG-2 microphone to the list. I was between the NTG-1 and the Sennheiser ME64. I know both are different types, and that is why I am split.

Anyways, congratulations on your setup. I have yet to post mine. I'll do it this week sometime.

PS - Where in Orlando are you? I'm by Sea World; Williamsburg. You're the second person here that I met from Orlando. :)
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Old May 4th, 2006, 11:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
I wish! Your set up seems perfect (with the exception of the problem with the wireless pack and the boom pole). I have yet to get a better microphone. Seems like I have to add the NTG-2 microphone to the list. I was between the NTG-1 and the Sennheiser ME64. I know both are different types, and that is why I am split.

Anyways, congratulations on your setup. I have yet to post mine. I'll do it this week sometime.

PS - Where in Orlando are you? I'm by Sea World; Williamsburg. You're the second person here that I met from Orlando. :)
Thank you! I decided to go with the NTG-2 over the Sennheiser for a few reasons, price being the main one. I seem to remember reading an article here about how the Rode beats out the Sennheiser by a hair but I cant seem to find it right now.

I live in East Orlando, over by the University of Central Florida but I work full time at Universal Studios. Is Sea World over by Buch Gardens?
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Old May 4th, 2006, 11:46 PM   #4
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How well does the NTG-2 perform indoors? Being a shotgun mic, I am reluctant to use it indoors much as it seems to be too directional.

Sea World is by Universal Studios. I have a lot of friends at UCF and visit there quite often.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 01:29 AM   #5
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Very nice. How much were you able to sell your ECM-NV1 for? I'm thinking of doing the same, since I've never used it once, and it's just been sitting in the plastic bag ever since I got the camera.

I still need a few things to finish up my setup, but that'll come later.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 05:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
How well does the NTG-2 perform indoors? Being a shotgun mic, I am reluctant to use it indoors much as it seems to be too directional.

Sea World is by Universal Studios. I have a lot of friends at UCF and visit there quite often.
Sorry, you'll have to excuse me. I had a brain lapse there for a second. When you said Sea World, Williamsburg I thought Williamsburg, VA (which incidently has a Bush Gardens but not a Sea World, heh). Then I saw your location, and it said Orlando and...well, yeah. Blonde moment :-P

As far as indoors, the NTG-2 dies pick up quite a bit of background noise including the A/C units, squeaking chairs, etc... which is why I kind of plan on using the wireless lav's for indoor interviews and scenes. I haven't tried the Sennheiser ME64 but the cost just really turns me off to it :-/



Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Very nice. How much were you able to sell your ECM-NV1 for? I'm thinking of doing the same, since I've never used it once, and it's just been sitting in the plastic bag ever since I got the camera.

I still need a few things to finish up my setup, but that'll come later.
I sold mine for about $170 on eBay. It's a great way to upgrade your mic and save a ton of $$. Truth be told, I got my NTG-2 on eBay new for $200 but that was a one time auction, I linked to B&H because I know they're reputable and reliable. You can get a lot of these things on eBay if you have the time to wait for shipping, etc.. and it'll save you a little bit of cash. But I know DV Info doesn't endorse such things so I just linked to the sponsors site.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 09:21 AM   #7
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Hi Adam, very nice sytem. Thank you for taking the time to detail all the items you purchased, this has given me some great ideas.
Regards
Dennis Kane
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Old May 5th, 2006, 11:40 AM   #8
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The ME64 is definitely worth it. It behaves well in even highly reflective environments. I've tried using it in places including big stage halls, dance studios (which have hardwood floors everywhere and mirrors - not a lot of dulling furniture at all), and large tiled bathrooms. The audio that I get doesn't sound boxy or echo-y at all.

I also wish I had gotten the NTG-2 instead of NTG-1 now too. I hadn't considered the versatility of using the Rode NTG-1 on a boom. But since I only have the NTG-1 that requires phantom power, how would I use it on a boom? Do I just have to hook up a recorder that provides phantom power and clip it on my belt or something? What if I wanted to hook up the NTG-1 to a wireless setup? Would that work? In other words, does the wireless setup provide phantom power?
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Old May 5th, 2006, 04:53 PM   #9
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No screen hood on Adam's A1

One thing that Adam's amazing A1 does NOT have is an LCD screen hood. I know these can be useful with other camcorders but perhaps the A1 does not need one ?
Cheers
Mike
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Old May 5th, 2006, 05:02 PM   #10
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What would they be used for, just making the LCD screen viewable under bright lighting? You could probably make it yourself out of those binders and cutting it up, then velcroing it on.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 11:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
But since I only have the NTG-1 that requires phantom power, how would I use it on a boom? Do I just have to hook up a recorder that provides phantom power and clip it on my belt or something? What if I wanted to hook up the NTG-1 to a wireless setup? Would that work? In other words, does the wireless setup provide phantom power?
The wireless setup I bought does not provide phantom power to the mic, however the Sennheiser G2 500 series does. Here is a link to their EW100 kit with a 500 XLR adaptor (provides phantom power)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=349264&is=REG

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Wade
One thing that Adam's amazing A1 does NOT have is an LCD screen hood. I know these can be useful with other camcorders but perhaps the A1 does not need one ?
Cheers
Mike
Interesting that you brought that up because I was seriously considering getting one. The problem comes with the A1U's LCD size, 2.7 inches. I've looked at LCD screen hoods and they all seem to be wither a 2.5 inch or a 3 inch, not a 2.7. Also, I use the LCD so much for settings that it would be a pain to take off the LCD hood to use the touchscreen. This is something that I will continue to look into however...possibly build one?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:07 AM   #12
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Nice sunny day here in Yorkshire so I have had the A1 outside with an LCD screen hood fitted. The hood is only 5.5cms deep (2 1/4 inches ) so unless you have abnormally short fingers you should have no difficulty reaching the touch screen menus. The Hoodman H300 fits fine. Available your end from www.hoodmanusa.com/camcorder_hoods.asp
Only snag is I honestly can't see much difference between having the screen on or not ! I had the A1 on a Spiderbrace2 and my eyes were some distance from the screen perhaps if I had got up close to the hood things would have looked better. Any one else had experience with the A1 / Hoodman combination ?
Cheers
Mike
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Old May 6th, 2006, 10:32 AM   #13
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So basically, the LCD hood is useless?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 11:23 AM   #14
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Begins to look that way.
Certainly I didn't see much, if any, improvement when hand held or on the Spiderbrace. There might be occasions when it might be useful. If you were filming on tripod you would be able to get up close and squint into the hood. That might improve the definition of the image. But the sun has disappeared now and who knows how long it might be before I can put that to the test.
I'm curious to know if others have experience of the A1/Hoodman combination.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #15
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I am looking for a nice camera bag / case (I guess I prefer a bag) for my HDR-HC1 with many of the accessoires you are also carrying. I have the HDR-HC1, wide-angle lens, few extra batteries, the cables, a Rode-NTG 2 shotgun microphone, a Spiderbrace 2 and a Manfrotto tripod. Some of the accesoires like the Spiderbrace and tripod do not have to go in the bag. I am also planning to buy a Rode NT-3 as well as a videolight, and some filters. All of these accesoires need to fit in the bag comfortably. Furthermore, I want a weather-proof bag and am willing to pay for quality.

I have been really satisfied with Lowe Pro bags in the past and hope someone can give me some advice for which I have to look.
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