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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 July 18th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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New A1U Owner Questions

Greetings! I'm now the proud owner of a brand new HVR-A1U! Cigars to everyone! So far it's great. Amazing pictures.

Few newbie questions for you experts out there:

1. Chargers--I'm going to buy a couple extra Sony M Series batteries (I've read bad reviews of Impact batteries here so I think I'll go with the more expensive Sony's). I want to get a charger as well so I don't have to only rely on the on camera charger. I see at B+H a Sony "BCT-RM Portable AC Charger" is listed for $39.95, and a "Sony ACV-Q50 AC Power Adapter / Charger" is for $64.95. Anyone have any recommendations or pros/cons on either one, or a rec for another charger for M series batteries?

2. I'm going to be going to E. Europe in September to shoot part of a doc I'm working on (Romania to be exact). What are the recommendations for a power converter/adapter/surge protector (and/or anything else that will prevent me from frying a couple thousand bucks worth of equipment) that will work with the voltage in Eastern Europe? (which I believe is 230V 50HzHz).

3. I've read a bunch of posts about shooting abroad which definitely help. Just thought I'd ask here if anyone has any other tips for shooting in Eastern Europe or other developing countries? I lived in Romania for two years so I know all the ins and outs, however I never carted around expensive video equipment while I was there either. :) Any advice from veterans of shooting abroad (on anything, really) is appreciated!

4. What's the best way to cart a tripod on airlines? I see tripod cases at B+H (Fiberbilt for $176.95, etc.). Anyone recommend one of these or something else so the throwers, er, I mean baggage handlers won't beat it up?

5. Does anyone recommend getting the extended 2-year warranty on the A1U for an extra $99.95 or is that a waste of cash?

Thanks in advance! Regards.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 04:08 PM   #2
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Congrats Bob!

I have an HC1 and love it!

With regards to the battery & charger questions here is my opinion:

I currently have 1 Sony FM50 & 2 QM71D batteries.
I also have a Sony 10w/20w light that can use either batteries but needs the QM71D to use the 20w power so that's why I have an extra.

Anyways, I personally want to get the Sony ACV-Q50 charger for a couple reasons.

1) It can Quick Charge the QM71D batteries which I like because they take FOREVER to charge with my current charger which is the Sony BCT-RM you mentioned. I like the BCT-RM because it is small and very portable but want a unit that can supply me with constant power while being able to charge my other batteries at the same time.

2) It can supply your camera with AC power while charging your battery.

3) Finally, it's just nice to know that no matter what happens to my batteries (forget to charge them, they run out, etc..) I will always have AC power (if I have a power source) if I need it!

So in my opinion, spend the extra $$ and get the Sony ACV-Q50 charger. I will when I get some extra $$.

Have fun shooting video in HD! You'll love it!

OH yeah, Use manual focus when you can! Focusing in HD is very noticeable.

Regards,

Charlie
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Old July 19th, 2006, 09:15 AM   #3
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Thanks a lot for the info Charlie. I'll probably go with the ACV-Q50. Regards.
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Old July 19th, 2006, 09:58 AM   #4
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Congratulations Bob.

I've had bigger cameras and I usually fedex them ahead (insured) to a reliable location or confidant. I'm not a fan of fedrex or UPMess. However, dragging a large pelican case and all that gear added to the druggery, not to mention delays in baggage, airport security scrutiny and those "extra" searches.

With the A1U/HC1, it's small enough to carry on. That's an added measure of insurance for certain. It's possible that an entire kit could fold down and fit easily into a rolling luggage bag, or medium sized duffle for carrying over your shoulder, (I have an old KATA bag for an XL1s, and I'm going to use to for my entire HC1 kit. A side project of mine to have everything in one pack).

A concern I have, especially for lone wolf projects, is having your stuff ripped off. The HC1 itself does not impose an image that would draw much attention. (When telling folks it's a Hi-Def camera, I still get raised eyebrows).

Having everything in one bag, and a quick release on the tripod would help. If you walk away from your rig for any reason, take the camera with.

One thing to remember, something I learned in the Navy, is not to draw attention to yourself. Try not to stand out if you can help it.

Even though the HC1 size seems convenient, I don't recommend anything handheld, If I can help it (unless it's a reality piece), using a monopole braced against a hard surface at the very least.

Locked off, well lit on a tripod, these cams produce a professional image.
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Old July 24th, 2006, 09:15 AM   #5
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As for the warranty, go for it. With the A1 (and Z1), you're getting Sony pro tech support vs. the Consumer dept. for the FX1, HC1, or HC3. The guys and gals in the pro tech support department are great and can help you out more quickly. The Consumer guys and gals aren't bad, but my friend's experience took a bit longer to solve an FX1 issue than if he was in the pro area.

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Old July 25th, 2006, 08:24 PM   #6
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A1u Answers

I would not get an aftermarket battery - only Sony. Off brands can be dangerous, as lithium ion batteries need a voltage regulator built in to keep them from (literally) catching file in high drain circumstances. You have no recource with off brand. If you want a battery that will catch fire, buy a Dell. <g>

Also be sure they are the "q" series, NP-QM71D, for example.
The non "q" ones won't charge quickly in the above recommended quick charger. I only have the BC-TRM slooow charger. However, it is rated 120-240, 50/60 hz, so it will charge in Europe with a $5 adapter plug so my square prong goes in the round holes they have over there. (I dunno anything about Romania)

I am avoiding pluggin in my A1u on the road, I don't want some of the less reliable power grid to zap it while charging a battery overnight. No idea how power is over there, but rather zap a battery and charger NOT a battery and A1u!

As pointed out above- low profile is a good thing. I carry my a1u in a camera bag with the "expensive camera inside" logo cut off. (Same thing for my fly rods- I want people to think I got them at walmart).

Where are u getting a $99 warranty from - is that Sony? Where?? I want one!
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Old July 25th, 2006, 10:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Harring

As pointed out above- low profile is a good thing. I carry my a1u in a camera bag with the "expensive camera inside" logo cut off. (Same thing for my fly rods- I want people to think I got them at walmart).

Where are u getting a $99 warranty from - is that Sony? Where?? I want one!
Thanks for the info everyone. Definitely helps. Low profile is a good idea. Especially in developing countries. I'll keep that in mind. I have one of the gray hardshell camera cases but now I'm thinking I won't even bother bringing it. I may just get a nondescript camera bag. I plan on carrying the camera on the plane anyways so I won't have to worry about the baggage handlers tossing my stuff around, so the hardshell case probably isn't totally necessary for this trip.

Jim, the $99.95 extended warranty on the A1U is through B+H (at least that's where I saw it because that's where I bought my A1U). It's listed as an "Accessory." One major catch, though, it has to be purchased within 30 days of the original equipment purchase. I bought mine about 3 weeks ago so I think I'll go ahead and get it for piece of mind.

Anyone have any recs on a tripod case or a better way to cart those around on planes?

Thanks again!
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Old July 26th, 2006, 12:41 AM   #8
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Tripod tripping

Bob
On overseas trips, I carry a gitzo tripod for Z1, and the A1 as a backup camera. Monopods seem to work very well for the HC1/A1U. If you want to use a tripod, try this: Take the head off the tripod, and pack it, and the legs in the bottom of one of those hard base duffels, that also has a softtop big zipper top compartment. You can buy 'em for about $40 at Sams or Costco. I use some bubble wrap. Carry a modest tripod bag with you, fold it up and use it at your destination. Use the top compartment for camera extras that don't break. Now you can put the bag safely in airplane baggage. Carry the camera on board in a case or a padded backback to keep a low profile. Take the mic off and pack it separately (unless you are using a bag that accomodate the fully assembled camera).You can still whip the it out in an emergency and get a picture.
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