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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 June 29th, 2006, 11:45 AM   #16
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I think you will like the HVR-A1 (I say this as an owner) as long as you can accept it's limitations, which primarily are along the lines of poor low-light performance and lack of total manual control. But the big plus is form factor and features. It's a tiny HDV camera with XLR balanced audio inputs with phantom power, and that is a big plus for me.

While I currently do professional shooting with the JVC GY-H100 and Panasonic AG-HVX200, I use the Sony HVR-A1 for personal documentary shooting and I really like it's small form factor and ability to transform from consumer mode (using the built-in mic) to professional mode (adding the included audio adapter for connecting my phantom powered shotgun and lavalier microphones).

I've written about this camera in my blog at: http://kino-eye.com/2006/03/14/a1u/ and it's mostly qualitative impressions, and there you will also find two other posts on the camera, one doing a side-by-side comparison with it's big brother, the HVR-Z1, and the other with some frame grabs of the camera in low-light situations. In summary, if you don't mind the noise from the video gain, it's really not horrible in low light, it's simply not as sensitve as it's big brother, the HVR-Z1.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lopponen
If you press the exposure button then iris and gain are fixed...
LOL! yes for sure that would do it...
But what i meant (i *think* your post was in humour...) was theres no way to lock gain *only* or to lock iris *only*.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 05:15 PM   #18
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Got the A1U earlier today and just finished a quick test shoot of the kids outside and inside. First off, amazing how small it really is - I'd seen the pictures and read the comments, but it still surprises you.

I do have some questions on the initial setup along the lines I mentioned earlier, and will start a new thread to get some discussion pertaining to that; I appreciate all the help you guys have given me, and would love some feedback on the new thread, if you get a chance - thanks again!
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Old June 29th, 2006, 08:13 PM   #19
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Congrats on the purchase Mohit! I received my A1U today as well but its charging up as we speak. Let us know how it works out for you on vacation.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #20
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I'm back from my vacation, the A1U performed beautifully! Have barely had a chance to really review and play with the footage, but so far so good. Thanks very much to everyone who helped with their suggestions during my initial purchase period :)
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Old July 12th, 2006, 01:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Howard
The best breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the A1 I know of is in Alan Roberts' (R & D man for the BBC) article. There's a great rundown on settings in a table that's in the article.

http://img.hexus.net/v2/lifestyle/al...n_res_sets.pdf
Can anyone re-send me that file? It seems to be out now.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 02:45 PM   #22
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Well, I found the article on a different URL:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp...HVR-A1-HC1.pdf

Unfortunately it seems that the A1 is not recommended for pro applications in SD and with some concerns in HDV, and that is what I was intending to use it for.

Will try to find out more about that angle.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 02:53 PM   #23
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What is being talked about is shooting in SD mode in-camera instead of HDV mode. If you shoot in HD mode and later down convert the output to SD in your computer, the output will be great.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 03:56 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Howard
What is being talked about is shooting in SD mode in-camera instead of HDV mode. If you shoot in HD mode and later down convert the output to SD in your computer, the output will be great.
I see. Files would be much more heavier to work with though.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 09:48 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Howard
What is being talked about is shooting in SD mode in-camera instead of HDV mode. If you shoot in HD mode and later down convert the output to SD in your computer, the output will be great.
Personally, I was sorely disappointed with the outcome. Better than shooting straight DV, but still, nothing spectacular and very disappointing in my opinion.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #26
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Wow Alex. The first time I dropped the output into Premiere using Cineform HD and exported it I was blown away and knew I had made the right choice. And that was before I had really learned how to really work with it.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 11:44 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Personally, I was sorely disappointed with the outcome. Better than shooting straight DV, but still, nothing spectacular and very disappointing in my opinion.
I find that surprising and i think you're the 1sat person i've read about who is not impressed with SD footage downconverted this way.
You are talking about shooting in HDV and then downconverting to SD and then viewing SD footage yes?
Of course you have to view the SD footage, realising that it IS still SD footage and will in no waty compare the the HDV footage. The point here is that the SD footage gained this way is generally regarded as being EXCELLENT DV footage better than almost any SD camera, but of course you have to judge it against other SD footage and not HDV footage!
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Old July 13th, 2006, 02:43 PM   #28
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Stu, yeah, I'm talking about shooting in HDV and downconverting to SD to put onto a DVD and viewing on my HDTV 27" LCD. I don't know, maybe I did something wrong? But when played on my TV for my family and friends, all complained that it was a bit fuzzy and nowhere near good resolution. Compared to Mini DV cameras shooting straight SD, yes, my HDV-->SD downconversion is much better, but that SD is imo and that of my family/friends still pretty poor and unimpressive.

The downconverted footage comes no where close to the HDV resolution and is much closer to regular SD than HDV.

Then again, I'm also someone who isn't impressed with HDV native resolution. In fact, when I saw Superman Returns in IMAX, I wasn't impressed with the resolution at all...so go figure? I guess it's my view, same as the way I view video game graphics - none of it seems good to me, just barely acceptable.

Still, I find it odd that if so many people are impressed with HDV-->SD footage, then why aren't my family/friends who don't know a thing about video, film, etc.?

The old DVDs I have of movies - why does their resolution on my TV seem so much more pleasing than my HDV-->SD footage? I have to check to make sure, but I also have this vague impression that these professional movie SD DVDs also look better (resolution-wise) than HDV native footage. May be wrong, but when I connected my camera straight to my TV, the resolution wasn't impressive. When I captured HDV onto my computer as .m2t and displayed that footage on my TV, resolution wasn't impressive - looked nothing like the resolution I was seeing on my computer monitor, which isn't even HD resolution. Perhaps it's because the computer monitor is so much smaller, so it actually looks sharp and like HDV, but when blown up to TV size or larger, it loses its impressiveness?

I did a project once for a show and they projected my HDV projected it to a 20 or 30 feet screen. Later on that night, someone else who did a project but filmed it on a cheap SD consumer camera also had his project blown up to the same size, and really, I didn't notice much difference in resolution between his project and mine. Maybe it was the non-HD screen laptop, maybe it was the non-HD projector...
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Old July 14th, 2006, 05:35 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
When I captured HDV onto my computer as .m2t and displayed that footage on my TV, resolution wasn't impressive - looked nothing like the resolution I was seeing on my computer monitor, which isn't even HD resolution. Perhaps it's because the computer monitor is so much smaller, so it actually looks sharp and like HDV, but when blown up to TV size or larger, it loses its impressiveness?
Your comments are very interesting.

To start with, if you downconvert HDV to SD and look at that in any TV, SD or HD, it would look like SD, not like HDV.

All serious reviews or comments I have seen done by pros concur on saying that downconversion from HDV onto SD is good but not impressive, and very much depend on the tools used.

Second, if you did see a resolution difference in your monitor between HDV and SD, and you didn't continue to see that on your HDTV, I must say something is not right in your TV. Connection, setup, whatever.

There's a startling difference I see in my 17" monitor between HDV scenes shot by amateurs and quality DVD scenes from films shot by pros: the HDV scenes beat them all by a long throw!

No SD DVD can beat a properly screened HDV material. Even if they were badly shot, the HDV scenes should look more real.

Regular TVs tend to "equalize" and "improve" video signals in some way, and properly done DVDs are designed to take advantage of that. Their origin was also film, which is still the leader in shooting resolution, whatever the great advances video has already got to. So DVD scenes should have a great contrast resolution and proper use of lenses' field depth.

The video projector you saw your video on was quite likely SD, so there shouldn't be much of a difference between your HDV video and the SD one.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #30
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HD to SD

These last few posts have been very interesting (perhaps we should start a separate thread for this stuff) since I've been struggling with trying to get the best SD output from my great A1U footage. Using Premiere Pro 2 (and trying the Cineform Aspect HD codec), I've output using Adobe Media Encoder with the MPEG2-DVD preset with just ok results. Also tried the Cineform codec and then coverted to DVD, but not much better.

When I hooked up my A1U to an SD TV via S-Video, it looked very good! The DVD conversions look softer, with less "punch", it's like I've lost a good bit of the clarity of the original footage.

How are others getting the best DVD output from their A1?
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