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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 September 4th, 2006, 09:48 AM   #1
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Opinions wanted from HC3 users

I bought an HC3 yesterday to see how I'd like it and I have an option to return it in 15 days with no restocking fee. I chose it over the HC1 for a few reasons. It's a newer model, loads from the top, and it was even cheaper during a sale. I had also considered the A1U but it was considerably more expensive and apparently also loads from the bottom. That's what I was told, anyway.

I'd sure like to have better manual controls but they're not absolutely necessary. I'd like to hear from others using this camera about what they like and what they don't like now that they've used it a while.


Last edited by Scott Myers; September 4th, 2006 at 12:04 PM.
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Old September 5th, 2006, 06:29 AM   #2
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I'll start first and I'm sure you're going to get a lot more experienced replies. I bought two of them after borrowing a friend's HC3 for a wedding. I put it on "Easy". Stuck it on a tripod to catch a difficult angle.

I reviewed/compared the HC3 footage against two manned Sony VX2100s and one unmanned Canon GL1. I haven't edited the wedding yet, but I chose the HC3 over the GL1 footage.

The wedding lighting was considerably good, so the HC3 wasn't tested in a tough low-light situation.

I wasn't concerned about the lack of a mic jack because I was planning on using just the video and dubbing the audio from other sources.

I chose the camera over the HC1 because the HC3 is supposed to be better in low light situations. I have no plans at present to work in HD and will use it only for SD, unless I want to use it on family outtings.

I think its use is an important factor for you to consider. Is the HC3 going to be your main, complimentary, or back-up camera? If the readers knew that, they might be able to help you better. It would also help if they knew what you were going to use it for (ie weddings, plays, shorts, docs..). Did you buy it to shoot primarily HD or SD?

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Old September 6th, 2006, 08:24 AM   #3
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Thanks, Scott.

I don't know yet exactly what I'll be using it for. As far as my question goes, it doesn't matter anyway. I just want opinions from people using the camera for whatever purpose. What do people like about it and what do they dislike about it.

If there's something that's going to cause me trouble, I can return the camera but I don't have long to make that decision.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 10:01 AM   #4
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I have had an HC3 for about a month. I picked it over the HC1 because of the better low-light capability, top loading and small size. Its biggest disadvantage is the lack of mic input and headphone output.

I got it to use to learn how to shoot and edit HDV. Later, I may use it for a second camera for HDV professional recording, but as yet I have had no customer requirements for HD.

So, most of my use right now is personal to learn HDV. For that its compact size is wonderful. I can almost put it in a pocket. I used it once as a fixed camera recording a theatrical production. The results weren't very good, but I expect I didn't have things set right.

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Old September 6th, 2006, 11:28 AM   #5
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I have had an HC3 for four months, and I like it a lot, despite some of the apparent shortcomings. A portion of it is personal use, where I appreciate its small size, light weight, and ease of use. I also do live recording of standup comedy events, for which I'd prefer better manual controls, but I can get by with what the HC3 offers.

The picture is beautiful, except in low-light conditions. For example, while comedians on a well-lit stage look fine, I couldn't use the camera to take footage of the audience in a typical comedy club.

Sound is a different story; I use a dual system with a separate audio recorder whenever sound matters. I have both the Sony shotgun mic (which is better, but still not good) and the Sony wireless bluetooth mic for the HC3 (which is acceptable in some situations), but I think the general consensus is that if you need good audio directly into the camera, don't go with the HC3.

All in all, an incredible value for the money, unless your shooting is mostly indoors with poor lighting (in which case an FX1 or Z1 would be much better) or if audio is a priority (go for the A1 or Z1, to name just the Sony HDV models).

- Martin
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Old September 6th, 2006, 04:57 PM   #6
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I bought the hc3 for a backpacking trip this summer. I produce hiking videos and wanted to finally do one in HD. Ounces count when you're doing your own serious long-distance hiking (100 plus miles) along with trying to produce a good video. For that the Sony was fine. I also have the bluetooth audio mic which gave me some nice options on recording sound other than the typical wind noise from the built-in mic. I attached the mic on my leg and got nice walking sounds. It seemed to pick up for 50 yds. or more, which was nice.
I should have gotten the WA lens attachment, as there were shots where I just couldn't get in all the grandeur without doing a silly pan. (Actually, I had tried the attachment before leaving on the trip but decided it was just too heavy to justify carrying. Bad decision.)
Once I got back I was hoping to then use the hc3 to shoot high school football. But it turns out that, at least for me, the lcd screen is just too small to follow the ball.
So overall, it's been an ok purchase. But I'll be the first to sell it if a smaller and lighter camera with an external mic (or similar arrangement) jack comes on the market. For me it's all about weight (less is better) and picture quality (as long as it's HD).
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Old September 6th, 2006, 10:17 PM   #7
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I have two HC3's, they're used for one purpose only; skydiving.
With no audio input, no headphone output...it's useless for anything professional other than a second cam capturing reference audio. For that, it works great. The picture is impressive for the cost, it's very easy to set up for nice pictures. It's missing a lot of features found in the significantly more costly HDV cams like the A1, Z1, etc, but when you consider the price and recognize where it's made to be used...it's a good value.
For a first HDV camcorder, it's a little misleading if you'll be using it for much more than family vids. Small form factors are hard to manage, and if you're not familiar with how to shoot the palm cams, it can be discouraging. With a tripod of some sort, and a little practice, it will turn out great pix.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 11:47 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. That's good information to know.

I was out tonight taking some low-light and almost no-light footage and I got pretty good results. I don't expect to get a good image with almost no light.

Here's another question - While I captured this footage, I used the composite out for the first time to feed my monitor. The image on the monitor is fine during playback but when I go into the end search mode, the display also comes up on the monitor and it has a gradient from blue at the top to green at the bottom. Does this also happen with all your HC3s?

Of course, the Firewire connection is on because that's how I'm capturing but the gradient is still there even with the Firewire disconnected. This is only when the HC3 is not playing or not in camera mode. When it's playing or when it's in camera mode, the image is fine on the external monitor.

I was wondering if any of you have that blue to green gradient on the composite out under those conditions (or any other conditions for that matter). It may be normal but it took me by surprise.

Last edited by Scott Myers; September 7th, 2006 at 07:35 AM.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 12:41 AM   #9
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Today i have a GL2 and a D8 camcorder.

I want to buy a HC3 or HC1..
Maybe another one in next year, for 3D stereoscopic shooting :)

I work 90% in outdoor, in nature, so i guess low light issue is not a big factor for me. (but i'm interested: hc3 5 lux is better than sony d8 models, right?)

I cannot make a decision which one should i buy.
HC1 has advanced HAD, but HC3 has clearvid CMOS with 14bit DXP.
Which produce better, sharper picture quality?
Which can handle contrast better? (high dynamic range picture)

Some pros and cons:
- altough i dont have a hd lcd yet, but hc3 has hdmi, in the future this will be good
-hc3 is cheaper, top loading
-hc1 lens is bigger! 37mm
-the zoom rocker is very tiny, so i have to use a lanc zoom for nice pic.

Can i LOCK the settings to: 1/60sec, F-something and 0db grain?
Relaxing clips with waterfalls and music, 3D photos, 3D videos:
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:12 AM   #10
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HC1 does a better picture in daylight. And it also uses a cmos with a 14-bit dxp. It has more pixels so that's the reason good light shots look better. And yes, you can lock the exposure.
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