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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 7th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #1
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Vacation of a Lifetime: HC1 or HC3 or A1?

Hi all!
New to the board since beginning my search for a new camera.
Going to Bora Bora and want to take as much home as possible, so I'm looking at an HDV.
Dilemma is this:
I'm not a pro or even amateur, just hobbyist. I AM a computer guy.
After Bora Bora, I'll probably only do vactions and special events.
I do have an HDTV.
I do have a computer and software capable of editing HDV.

I am leaning toward the A1, but have a question: it doesn't have HDMI as far as I can tell, so which output would I use to play my movies in their full glory on my Sharp Aquos?
Is the A1 worth it for a hobbyist as myself?
Excellent board!
Tim
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:58 PM   #2
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If you are really just a hobbyist, I suggest the HC1 or HC3. On a vacation, you want the simplest camera possible. The A1 has some professional features that you don't need. The HC1 or HC3 should capture HDV video nicely and you can edit away when you get back.

The HC1 has microphone inputs and an earphone output. The HC3 is said to have better low-light performance and is smaller. There is only about $100 difference in their price. You choose.

Have fun,
Buddy
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:54 AM   #3
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Thanks Buddy!
But that's not what I was wanting to hear...I WANT the A1, but I think you are probably right, the A1 may be too much camera for me.
One more stab at it though.
Is the A1 easy enough to use for a hobbyist? I'm tech savvy, and I already have a DV camera that I use. It's a Canon Optura 20, which I have been very pleased with. But when I bought my HDTV, I started salivating over the quality!

Also, any takers on the outputs? I know the HC3 has HDMI; which output would one use on the A1 for HD?
Tim
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Old May 8th, 2006, 10:27 AM   #4
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If you are willing and have the time, with some research and about a month of practice, I believe you can learn to use the A1 well enough. The HC3 is a point and shoot camera. You will get better results from the A1. The "superior" low light performance of the HC3 is not really much better if you know how to use the A1. The HDMI outputs will look slightly better on fixed pixel displays (LCD), but not that big a difference. I use component outs and they look amazing.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #5
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Bora Bora, here I come...!

Now THAT's what I wanted to hear...Just ordered it! Ouch, but When I get back from Bora Bora, It'll all be worth it...
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Old May 8th, 2006, 05:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cool
Thanks Buddy!
But that's not what I was wanting to hear...I WANT the A1, but I think you are probably right, the A1 may be too much camera for me.
One more stab at it though.
Is the A1 easy enough to use for a hobbyist? I'm tech savvy, and I already have a DV camera that I use.
Absolutely no problem whatsoever. The A1 is easy to use. If you don't need all the features straight from the word go, then you just use what you need and dig into the menus etc when you like !! It's like learning about PC's - nobosy will expect you to be a C++ application developer after 1 week.....but that doesn't mean you can't start using and enjoying a computer pretty quickly. (analogy tailored for your background a little...).

The A1 is, more or less, the same hardware and software as the HC1, with certain menu features removed / switched off. Hardware wise, of course there's the XLR module and ext. mic etc. but other than that, it's essentially the same easy-to-use cam. Now of course, to get the absolute best out of it may take a little longer, and a tool is only as good as the person holding it, but you'll be fine.

No HDMI, but you can i think connect the A1 direct to your TV in a full digital connection if your TV has a firewire socket. (not many do, i know).
Otherwise the best quality is via component connection.

I'd advise to take a circ.polariser filter to Bora Bora, and also a simple monopod as that will make your footage much steadier than just pure handholding.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 07:06 PM   #7
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COOL! Tim, that is.
It's ordered. I am looking for a monopod, and what's a circ.polariser? Is it some sort of polarization filter? can you recommend one?
Thanks again for the advice. Really, just confirming my decision was a good one. (That's a lot of money!)
Tim
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:41 PM   #8
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Agreed about the minimal differences between HDMI and component viewing. It depends on too many variables beyond the camera to justify a purchase. I've seen component look better than HDMI/DVI and vice versa.

I just recently placed an order for my A1 and I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival. I was also deciding between the HC1, HC3, and A1.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 11:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cool
COOL! Tim, that is.
It's ordered. I am looking for a monopod, and what's a circ.polariser? Is it some sort of polarization filter? can you recommend one?
Thanks again for the advice. Really, just confirming my decision was a good one. (That's a lot of money!)
Tim
Yes. - it's a circular polarizer filter. Circular refers to the way it polarises, not the physical shape (although obviously it is round!). Make sure it's a circular polarizer and not a linear polarizer.

Many companies make filters, but the two most well-known i think are B+W and Hoya.
Go and do a search on www.bhphotovideo.com for "polarizer". Filter to Hoya and B+W. 37mm is what you need. Prepare yourself a little as polarizers are amongst the more pricey filters. It's worth spending the money as the more expensive ones are multi-coated and that's a good thing.
If you get a Hoya, try to get a SMC (=SuperMultiCoated) but i checked and i don't think Hoya do a SMC polarizer in 37mm. But they do do a 37mm polarizer - just not in SMC. Can't go wrong with Hoya or B+W.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:56 PM   #10
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Excellent. Ordered a Hoya. Also a monopod. I love B&H. I've ordered audio equipment from them before.
Now I need to get my passport.
OFF TOPIC
Anyone been to BORA BORA?
Tim
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Old May 9th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cool
Excellent. Ordered a Hoya. Also a monopod. I love B&H. I've ordered audio equipment from them before.
Now I need to get my passport.
OFF TOPIC
Anyone been to BORA BORA?
Tim
Hi Tim
Been to Bora Bora as well as the other islands. I have the A1, just returned from Africa. First thing, you need filters. Especailly the polarizer. Get a tripod, you need to have the camera stationary and let nature do the movement. With the A1 you can use a proper microphone and get much better sound. Trust me, sound makes a big difference. Even the waves crashing on the the beaches will be more exciting with a proper mic. It appears you do not have the time to really investigate all the nuances and benifits the A1 has, so worst case put it in auto. Bora Bora is a very bright environment with lots of reflective light. Use the polarizer and a tripod with a good mic and you will be amazed.
DKane
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Old May 10th, 2006, 11:45 AM   #12
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Good advice there from Dkane i think.

What mic are you going to get for the A1 Tim? The standard mic isn't the best. Recommend something like a Rode NTG1 + Deadcat windshield. That'll work well and give a really noticeable improvement over the standard Sony ext.mic.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 01:14 PM   #13
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Thanks for the insight, guys.

Dennis
I ordered the Hoya HOCP37 37mm Circular Polarizer Glass Filter from B&H.
What other filters might I need?
I have ordered a good tripod as well as a monopod.

Stu,
For $250 I am hesitant to order the NTG-2, but as this is the "trip of a lifetime" -- should I trust the stock Sony microphone?
I can hardly wait to see the footage, and I can already see this is going to be more than just a hobby.
Tim
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Old May 10th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cool
Thanks for the insight, guys.

Dennis
I ordered the Hoya HOCP37 37mm Circular Polarizer Glass Filter from B&H.
What other filters might I need?
I have ordered a good tripod as well as a monopod.

Stu,
For $250 I am hesitant to order the NTG-2, but as this is the "trip of a lifetime" -- should I trust the stock Sony microphone?
I can hardly wait to see the footage, and I can already see this is going to be more than just a hobby.
Tim
Tim
The polarizer is very good, I might recommend a neutral density filter as well. Remember video has a very narrow exposure latitude (all video cameras) so you must be carefull when shooting during midday. This is possibly the worst time for video. Your best shots will be in the morning and later afternoon. Keep the sun to your back if possible. The ND will help in those situations where the polarizer is not having much effect. A haze filter might be of value also.
regards
DKane
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Old May 10th, 2006, 06:10 PM   #15
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I admit i haven't actually heard the stock Sony mic that comes with A1 but a lot of people who then 'upgrade' to another mic do say its then obvious how average it is. Rode NTG1 is a bit cheaper : $229 at B&H and it's also shorter too (compared to NTG2) so that should keep the package size down.
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