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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 8th, 2006, 11:25 AM   #1
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New to forum and thinking about an A1

While this post is mostly about FCP and a Mac choice, I will be using an A1 so I thought I'd get your guys opinions too. I've also posted this on Apple's FCP forum.

Due to an upcoming job I might make the jump from FCEHD to FCP and I've some decisions to make that I need help with.

First off, I'm pretty proficient with FCE (in the SD realm). I also know Motion1 and DVDSP2 and AE6.5Pro fairly well. I've mostly shot video with a borrowed Canon GL-1 and have only made some promotional DVD's. Basically I'm not a newbie but am self taught (thanks to my Amazon bill).

Everything that I've done has been through my G4 Powerbook 1ghz w/768Mb ram.

The new job will be for a 35 - 40 minute instructional DVD. The client will need 20,000 copies. Video will be under controlled conditions and most of the audio will be voice over.

Now it's true that I may be able to complete this with my current system (I no longer have access to a cam however), but I'd like to move up. I have to decide by June 10 because we shoot around the 20th. Therefore any thoughts on the items below would be a big help:

1-I'm torn between the 17" MacBookPro and a G5 2Ghz Dual Core. Priced out they cost about the same. Not sure how I'll get the final product into a format that a replicator can use but perhaps this alone will make my decision due to the laptop's closed system.

2-So far I've squeaked by without using a separate viewing monitor. I know, I know, bad bad bad... I intend to mend my ways. Is this better done with the G5 or would the laptop do fine?

3-In the future I'd like to do more corporate promo vids and instructional type projects. I'm also going to document an unrelated 15 year project that I'm starting for my real job (hence the HD cam, in 15 years when the project is complete, I'd rather not have half of the documentary be in SD). Vacation vids and the grand kids growing up are in the offing as well. No movies per se. All in all, perhaps FCP is overkill. I've read the comparison chart.

So, does anyone see any problems with my reasoning above? Clearly you guys are A1/HC1 centric here (as am I), but is there a devil's advocate around too?

Thanks for the time.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 11:58 AM   #2
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I have the HC1, but thought about and researched the A1 and the FX1.

I am reasonably happy with the HC1 given the price I paid (~1500) and knowing up front there were limitations (poor low light performance and purple fringe problems, to name a few) because of the single CCD architecture.

Essentially the A1 is the same unit, with upgraded software and exterior add-ons.

I don't know if there is still a $500 rebate, but I would have gone for the FX1 over the A1 for the $500 price difference (e.g., at Amazon). I would have bought it at the time, if I could have afforded it. Looking back, I still would have got the FX1 over the A1.

I would certainly look at the pluses of the FX1 over the A1 before buying either.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #3
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Hmmm? Now that's interesting. Why the FX1?
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Old May 8th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #4
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Well, it looks like that, after rebate, the FX1 is a little more then $1000 more expensive then the A1U:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...785841-6950425
Sony A1U - $1,999.00 after rebate

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00068JKR0/
Sony FX1 - $3,047.13

Theres no doubt that the FX1 is a slightly better camera, larger, lighter and just overall better - however it does not come with XLR ports. You'd have to buy a BeackTek adapter for XLR abilities. I bought the A1U because it was the perfect mix of features and price. You just have to realize what that perfect mix is to you.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #5
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The FX1 is no contestant to the A1 after the introduction of the rebate. Sure you get more manual controls, but the audio is far inferior as it lacks the controls and the XLR abilities that the A1 offers and the video resolution is very comparable (in proper lighting that is). If you're constantly on the move, the A1 won't hold you back like the FX1 would. It's size/weight are great for both documentaries and family/travel recording. I personally find it to the be the ideal camcorder for those seeking professional functions at a moderate price tag.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
The FX1 is no contestant to the A1 after the introduction of the rebate. Sure you get more manual controls, but the audio is far inferior as it lacks the controls and the XLR abilities that the A1 offers and the video resolution is very comparable (in proper lighting that is). If you're constantly on the move, the A1 won't hold you back like the FX1 would. It's size/weight are great for both documentaries and family/travel recording. I personally find it to the be the ideal camcorder for those seeking professional functions at a moderate price tag.
All good points, but a simple XLR to mini-plug solves the XLE issue. And, if you use an RF mic, it will likely terminate in a mini-plug.

The A1 is almost too light. And, is very small to use.

And, the FX1 is a far, far better camcorder. For example, you can capture red as red, not as pink.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Mullen
All good points, but a simple XLR to mini-plug solves the XLE issue.
Adding an XLR-to-minijack plug to an XLR mic and using it with a minijack-only camcorder doesn't give you full XLR-module functionality, with the integrated pad and 2-channel stuff for eg.

FX1 is a great machine, no doubt, but for a lot of people who aren't doing pro-shoots it's generally going to be a bit too big and heavy for their purposes. So it's just a matter of different machines suiting different people and different applications.
A film director clearly wouldn't be in the slightest bit happy with an HC3 or HC1 and a complete novice would be equally discontent i'd think with an FX1.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes
Adding an XLR-to-minijack plug to an XLR mic and using it with a minijack-only camcorder doesn't give you full XLR-module functionality, with the integrated pad and 2-channel stuff for eg.

FX1 is a great machine, no doubt, but for a lot of people who aren't doing pro-shoots it's generally going to be a bit too big and heavy for their purposes. So it's just a matter of different machines suiting different people and different applications.
A film director clearly wouldn't be in the slightest bit happy with an HC3 or HC1 and a complete novice would be equally discontent i'd think with an FX1.
But I think the original poster implied this would be for a semi-professional application (i.e., corp. training videos in-doors or some such).

Personally, I think the HC1 is too light. Yes you can do it hand-held, but the stabilizer is software, not optical, and introduces other problems. Unless I'm braced against a wall or leaning on something (and even then) using a tripod or monopod (with stabilizer off) makes the better picture.

And too small. Try to find and accurately touch ANY button on the HC1/A1 hand-held (be careful even on a tripod or monopod) without it adding to camera motion. That's why I also added a LANC controller to my arsonal.

Another reason I went for the HC1 vs the A1 was that my research indicated a mic like the Rode Videomic was better than the A1 mic -- there are even people on this board that are using a Rode with the A1. Why buy an A1 and turn around and replace the mic?

I am not sure exactly how the A1's XLR unit is integrated into the "HC1's" body (thru the AIS?), so I can't comment on that. There are HC1 users who are using XLR adapters.

The HC1 (and I will assume the A1) has some serious purple-fringe problems in certain circumstances (and yes, I had heard some reports about this but still bought the HC1). I recently was filming a babbling brook outdoor in full sunlight and the purple-fringe next to the sun-glinted water ripples was horrible -- really noticable on my high-def monitor, less noticable on a TV.

My opinion is still the same, if you don't have a major problem with the extra $1k (which I did) I'd go for the FX1 (if Sony is even still making them, ala the HC1). In the end, I knew that I would also need accessories (tripod, monopod, LANC, mic, etc.) and have nearly a grand in those. I thought at the time it would be better to have the HC1 with quality accessories than an FX1 with none. And a few years down the line when a camera with the quality of the FX1 is selling for $1500, I've got some great accessories that will work with it as well.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #9
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I currently have a Rode VideoMic so that expense has already been absorbed.

Not that it matters in my situation but how can a stereo mini, converted to an XLR be better than a straight XLR? I can see how, on the A1, it's better to go that way if you have a stereo mini mic due to the extra controls through the XLR. But wouldn't it be better to just go XLR from scratch? Fewer connections, less noisy.

If I had the extra grand, and Sony still made it, I'd look at the FX1. But, since I'm just beginning and I'd like a little more portability for trips I guess I'm sold on the A1 at the moment. I still have a month to decide though.

Assuming I succeed with the shoot and produce a good quality DVD for the client, maybe I'll look for an FX1 (or better) and use the A1 for travel and as a second cam for multi cam shoots.

Can we talk a little more about the red issue on an A1?
I've red the posts here but have yet to find an image showing the problem. Anyone have one to post? With FCE, I have a 2 way color corrector. With FCP, it's 3 way. And, with AE6.5Pro I have Color Finesse. It's true I'd rather not mess too much with color corrections but given my options above do I have what it takes to deal with it?
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #10
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If you actually read through the red threads completely, you will find that people have posted images of the red problem, including myself. I think there are even some video clips.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 08:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
If you actually read through the red threads completely, you will find that people have posted images of the red problem, including myself. I think there are even some video clips.
Ooops. My bad, sorry.
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