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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 21st, 2006, 04:24 PM   #1
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Camera differences.

Folks...I'm confused, and my brain is busting after a long day in front of my computer.

Can someone please spell out the basic differences between the HVR-A1 the HDR-HC1 and the HDR-HC3. The Sony website is completely useless.

No long technological details required, just the basic differences would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Old July 21st, 2006, 05:36 PM   #2
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Off the top of my head, so may not be a complete list:

HC1 and A1: The camera bodies are basically the same, same lens, same CMOS, etc. Hardware wise the A1 comes with an XLR audio module and external mic, and standard accessory shoe; it has some extra physical buttons as well. Software wise it has a bunch of additional settings/controls over the HC1.

HC3: Compared to HC1, doesn't have external mic input, or the large focus ring. Is smaller. Is reported to be slightly better in low light than the HC1. In good light they are very similar. HC3 is cheaper.
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Old July 24th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #3
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The HC3 is strictly consumer, no bones about it. But it's a great camera, nonetheless.

The A1 has a few more features than the HC1, like a balanced XLR input/adaptor and more, but they are closer to the same camera. The HC1 sold pretty quickly, and Sony had no other plans to make more. So they made the HC3.

To be honest, my friends priced out an A1 and a fully equipped HC1 (including an adaptor or two) and saw that the A1 wasn't that much more money, plus it has the professional tech support. So they went with the A1. And they love it.

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Old July 24th, 2006, 09:29 AM   #4
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I guess it depends on what your friends needed and/or already had, and the price difference where you live.

I considered the HC1 and the A1. When I bought (back in November) here in the UK the best price I could get for the HC1 was 1000, the A1 was 1700. That is a big price difference to me! 700 pounds is about $1300! The only adapter I needed to buy was a 10 bracket to mount my external mic. But I already had an external mic, and didn't need XLR input.

Not saying the A1 isn't worth it, and if you needed to buy a quality mic and XLR module separately (and get a rebate) then it is a different story.
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Old July 24th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #5
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Mark,

Exactly right. My friends needed something like the XLR input the A1 came with, and that was $200 or so, along with some other things. It was just another $200 or so to get the A1.

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Old July 24th, 2006, 10:51 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone - I think the A1 is definitely for me. I have a company producing videos for the medical profession, and to be honest with you, I'm just too lazy to do the camera work (hauling around lights, tripods etc), so I subcontract to guys who love doing that sort of stuff. I produce, and edit (much more fun methinks!)

But..the odd occasion does arrive, when we need a simple interview taped, and it's just not worth getting a pro guy in with his truckloads of equipment at $1800 a day.

So we need something that will produce a nice image, with good sound quality and for this I need the XLR inputs.

Thanks for all the comments, and help
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Old July 24th, 2006, 11:54 AM   #7
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XLR is the deciding factor. Get the A1U.

I got an HC1 for family use and gave it a go on a few jobs, (shooting a PICC placement proceedure for training - taping wasn't required, but it was an opportunity to test the device), and I found it rather clumsy for run and gun or live action. I wasn't concerned with audio, as we'll do a VO in post. With the imager being the same as the A1U, and video that intercuts with the higher end cams, it has possibilities. Problem is, it wasn't quick enough to reframe, focus and follow the clinician. I would suspect that the A1U, which differs little in such respects to be equally challenged.

What video we did get (that was framed and focused correctly), was astonishing. In fact, quite useful for B-roll. I was happy with the results. Therefore, if you shoot locked off or have setup time, the A1U is an ideal camera. I also think in such situations the added menu functions of the A1U vs. the HC1 will come into play and also benefit, (black stretch being one of them).
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