Should I sell my 2 HC1's? at DVinfo.net

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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 March 30th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #1
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Should I sell my 2 HC1's?

Should I sell my 2 HC1's and get 2 HC7's?

Would it be beneficial for me? How?

I do a lot of Church and theater videos. There is usually good light in the Church but the theater can be anything from A to Z when it comes to lighting.

With all the tweaking I can do, the HC1's have just a bit too much noise in low light than what I can tolerate. Shutter speed at 30 gives too much of a jerky motion that doesn't work well in theater especially when a performer is ballet dancing and the video must be smooth.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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Old March 30th, 2007, 08:20 AM   #2
 
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My recommendation would be to borrow, rent an HC7, or purchase one that offers a return w/in XXX days, to see how it performs.
The HC7 does perf better in low light, but it might not perform well enough to make the difference for *you.* We all have various levels of tolerance for noise and/or weak image quality and you're the one that is working in your own very specific environ.
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Old April 4th, 2007, 12:37 AM   #3
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HC1 v. HC7

Hi Danny -

Just got an HC7 in hand today, comparing with my HC1...

I don't think you'll be THAT excited with the improvement in low light performance - from what I've seen so far the auto slow shutter feature (switches to 30 instead of 60 when it thinks it's needed) gains some extra low light performance, but the noise cost IMO is pretty high. It will go to "darker" places, but there's a LOT of noise as the lights go down.

Overall theres just a little improvement over the 1... then again, if you set the HC1 shutter to 30, you're about in the same place - ride the exposure lever to balance noise on either cam and that's about the best you can hope for.

I also think based on my early evaluations that the HC1 performs better in "moderate" lighting, with better color saturation as the light drops. This may be in part the LCD on the 7, as it doesn't seem to be as "accurate" when compared to the viewfinder and the taped footage - got to poke at that a bit and see if the LCD needs adjusting or if it's a "feature".

Still have some exploring to do, but I don't think the HC1 has met it's "match" - it's still a pretty good camera overall - reminds me of the venerable TRV900 - upgraded, replaced, but not really surpassed... not perfect, but not bad at all!

That said, the 7 is nice for the compact form factor, which I liked in the HC3, and it's a better camera than the 3 in a number of respects - headphone/mic jacks, OIS, extendable viewfinder, better resolution to name the obvious things so far.

Just off hand I think the 7 is a good camera, with a more "consumer-y" saturation than the 1, but I don't think I'd run out and replace a perfectly good HC1. In fact, I think I'd grab the HC1 kit for a "serious" shoot before the HC7. Then again, the 3 was always the "grab and run cam", so the 7 may prove itself after it's been around a few days!

Oh yeah, if you EVER use the zoom/focus ring, KEEP the HC1, the wheelie thingy is not a substitute... according to my measurements, they COULD'A put a real ring on the 7... then again, you would block the mics every time you adjusted focus... sigh. Then again, I like the spot focus function... compared to the wheelie!

If you had an HC3, the upgrade is worth it IMO, the HC1 is a FAR more difficult call.

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Old April 4th, 2007, 02:35 AM   #4
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"I don't think you'll be THAT excited with the improvement in low light performance - from what I've seen so far the auto slow shutter feature (switches to 30 instead of 60 when it thinks it's needed) gains some extra low light performance, but the noise cost IMO is pretty high. It will go to "darker" places, but there's a LOT of noise as the lights go down."

I read that if one turns off the auto slow shutter that the results would be much better and that the noise would be reduced as well.

Please do me a favor, go to the settings and turn off the auto slow shutter and make some more tests and see if it is indeed better and then how it compares to the HC-1.

Yea, a ring would have been much better than a little wheel but since the cam is designed for consumers, I am not surprised that they did it this way instead.

I almost bought an HC3 once but because of the lack of mic and headphone jacks I said no way.

The new Cannon HV20 model (did I get the model number right?) without a LANC is also a no way for what my needs are. For those who can live without a LANC that may be a different story but my way of doing video absolutely requires a LANC.

Now if I had the budget, I would be looking at those nice cams that costs approx $3,000.00 and all of these limitations and problems would either be eliminated or significantly reduced. It is a miracle and a blessing from God as it is that I can even get what I have.

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Old April 4th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #5
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Hi Danny -
Yep, the missing LANC is a big issue on the HV20... made the decision of the 7 easier for me too, although I will eventually try out the Canon... when finances permit or the right deal comes along!

I did experiment with auto slow shutter on and off for a bit last night in a dimly lit room - you can't really tell it "kicks in", but there's definitely more noise, and the same seems to be apparent with a manual 30 shutter setting. I've got to play with it a bit more and see how it interacts with the exposure and AE settings. Not quite sure yet how the function "works", it may yet prove usable once I figure it out... it seems like it should just automatically open up the shutter, but there may be some other mojo going on there too... in which case manual setting would be better.

Comparing the HC1 and the HC7, they are pretty close if set manually at 30 (or lower, if you can stand the motion blur), with MAYBE a little edge to the 7... It's not "huge", I'm not sure exactly how to evaluate it other than to say you will see just a bit more capability in low light, but as always at the price of a noisier final result. Set the HC1 to 30, and see if it's tolerable for you... yes? no? almost?

I don't think ANY camera will be able to go into a low light situation without giving up either color or resolution or both - some are better or worse, but you can't "create light" out of darkness, unless you can use an add on light.

You don't mention the range you need, but you "might" be able to gain a little if you run a small "fill" light - the 3w one is not much, but does help, and the 10/20 with a proper diffuser so you don't blind anyone is helpful... they aren't TOO distracting. If you're able to go in close enough to go wide and be 10-15 feet from your subject, you might pull off a bit better result? I've noticed that the add on lights really seem to help in low light conditions.

I'll also test against a Z1 out of curiosity - I know that both the FX1 and Z1 do fairly well as the light drops off. Big lenses help ;-) If you really want a better low light cam, maybe keep an eye out for a used FX1? Every once in a great while one can be had just over 2K...

You're really pretty blessed to have the HC1 pair you do, and I mean that sincerely - I originally planned to eliminate the HC1 with the HC7, but after side by side comparison, the HC1 will be around for a while.

The return of the headphone and mic jacks is definitely a plus, and overall the 7 does things the 3 didn't, while retaining the small form factor, which works super well for the "family cam" and should give more pro results in a multi-angle shoot. Does it "blow away" the HC1? Not from what I can see, unless you consider stills, where it does leave the HC1 in the dust. But if stills aren't a primary consideration, the ring trumps the wheel. I got used to the wheel on the 3, so the 7 is a good upgrade for that camera from the 3 for me. AND it's given me a renewed appreciation for what the HC1 CAN do!

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Old April 5th, 2007, 12:37 PM   #6
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Hi Again Danny -

WELL... I tested a bit more. I'm going to give a slight edge to the HC7 - it was a tiny bit better in low light and a bit less noisy than the HC1 - I need to actually run some tape to compare - this was based on subjective LCD/VF image - and I'm not convinced that is a good test based on some outdoor/dusk footage I shot. The actual video from the 7 was much more impressive than what showed in the LCD/VF.

The Z1 was clearly more capable in the same lighting - far less noise, and a brighter picture. The HC7 did alright though. I'll second Spots observation that the 7 is in second place against the Z1... the HC1 kept up OK at 30 shutter as well...

I know even adding the 3w light would have helped enormously. Really bad lighting in my "office"...

I begin to suspect that low light performance is a somewhat subjective thing - I'm having trouble even from one part of the same room to another - one cam looks "better" in one spot, the other in another... argh.

BTW, I noticed that CNet just posted a review panning the HV20 for low light performance - rating the HC7 better.

So far I'm happy with the 7 and it's growing on me - got to shoot more test video!
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Old April 5th, 2007, 02:43 PM   #7
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Hey Dave, thanks much for the replies and all.

My main problem with the HC1's is not just the noise in low light but the kind of noise. If I set the white balance to a +4 the noise won't be quite so obvious. The biggest problem is with the blue noise. It can be extreme if the cam is set wrong.

From what I read, there are a number of Sony cams that have this problem.

If the noise is a fine grain and not so obnoxious then I can live with that.

As for the people who review cams, they don't have the time it takes to really get to know the cam they are reviewing. They don't have the time to learn what tweaks there are that would make a huge difference in how well the cam performs.

When I use my HC1's at church, auto exposure is a major no no. The big windows make that obvious. At the theater with all the fast changing light levels, I have no choice but to use the auto exposure. The trick is in how to use it. I use a setting of -4 so that the spot lights won't wipe-out the video and also to allow me to get the lower light levels which can happen a few seconds later. I am operating both cams at the same time and I can't make adjustments on both cams that fast.

Point is, one needs to really get to know their cam in order to get the most from it.

I have tried the shutter speed of 30. The most recent play I did a video of had one scene that was quite a bit on the dark side and with a lot of blue lighting which is the worst for the HC1. I tried the 30 speed and it had more noise than the 60 with that scene. However, in very low light in the audience 30 looked real good while 60 looked poor. The performers ran down some steps into the audience and then back to the stage in a chase scene. They also enter and exit by way of the audience a number of times during the play.

What is interesting about this is that with one type of low lighting, 30 can cause more noise and in another type of lighting 30 can significantly reduce it.

There is no one size/setting that fits all.

If a reviewer has things setup that favors one cam and is a problem for another cam then they can easily assume that one cam is superior to the other. This is why it is best to view sites such as camcorderinfo.com as a source of basic information about the cams but take their reviews which are typically errant with a grain of salt. Even with their best effort they will not be able to determine what works best with the cams they are reviewing in the short time they have to review them. This is why reviews from users are so important. Especially from ones who have multiple brands/models of cams to compare and have had time to really get to know the in's and outs of the cams.

As time goes by, you will be able to make a more accurate and informed comparison between the HC1 and HC7 cams. So far you are doing quite well and thanks.

Because of the way I am using my cams at church and the theater, a light cannot be used on the cams. Even if I had one, I am a usually beyond 50 feet from what I am getting a video of and the light would be of no help at all. Even if I were close, a light would not be allowed.

I don't need a huge amount of better light capability but I do need at least some. I especially need to have the noise level be reduced and/or at least a finer grain to make it less noticeable. With church and theater, I am kind of on the outer edge of what the HC1's can handle. So a little more may be enough for me and then again it may not. I will need to continue to explore this a bit more. Budget says that I can't rent or buy an HC7 to test for myself. So I am counting on whatever user information I can get from those who have the HC1 and/or the HC7 cams.

Good heavens, when I get rolling, I could almost write a book.

So I will close for now.

Back to editing...

Thanks much,

Danny Fye
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Old April 5th, 2007, 02:49 PM   #8
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You are not indicating if it has to be HDV or 16:9.

The PD and VX line is the low light king in prosumer, and still will be in the foreseeable future. One for sale here, for instance:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=89915
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Old April 5th, 2007, 03:01 PM   #9
 
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As someone who reviews a lot of cameras, I take umbrage with your post, Danny.
A more accurate depiction might be that reviewers don't take the camcorder into a church and shoot a church play with bright windows with people running through aisles.
Rather, the camera is tested in more real world type settings.

I've tested and purchased the A1, very little experience with the HC1, but they're essentially the same camcorder. I also own several V1's, several HC3's, and a couple HC7's. I buy them just like anyone else, and they all function as expected in the when used as they should be used.
It's rare that I'll use auto exposure; although it's tested as part of a general review strategy, I'd hope that most users will find a means of using the camcorder outside of automated functions, as no camcorder can operate at full potential in auto modes.
If you're working in extremely low light, which your posts suggest you are, then a small-chip HD isn't a good choice for you, and likely never will be. Light sensitivity MUST be sacrificed when moving from SD to HD on the same size sensor.
The "blue noise" is the result of improper white balance in most scenarios.
You do need a "huge amount" of better light based on your posts. It suggests you need at least 3 stops more, and you're not able to bring in more light. Rather than shooting at reviewers of camcorders, you'd likely do better purchasing a camcorder that functions in the environment which you need it to function.

I'd suggest I've gotten deeply involved enough with the camcorders that my company has purchased roughly 25 HDV camcorders over the past 2.5 years, most of them being Canon or Sony models. And we do shoot in low light. But the camcorders you are attempting to use simply are not optimal in the environments in which you are using them.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 03:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
You are not indicating if it has to be HDV or 16:9.

The PD and VX line is the low light king in prosumer, and still will be in the foreseeable future. One for sale here, for instance:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=89915
If it didn't have to be HDV or 16x9 then I wouldn't be looking at HDV cams.

I sold the VX2000 cam I had and got the HC1's. The low light capabilities of the VX2000 were much better but its 16x9 capabilities were poor. Also in low light, the color from the VX2000 was disappointing. I did use it in the same theater I am getting video at now and in one low light scene it didn't do anywhere near as well as I thought it would. Course the HC1's are naturally worse but not as much as I thought they would be.

Not considering low light capabilities, 16x9 is a must for theater video as far as I am concerned. Also a LANC is essential as well. So the Cannon HV20 is out of the question.

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Old April 5th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle View Post
As someone who reviews a lot of cameras, I take umbrage with your post, Danny.
A more accurate depiction might be that reviewers don't take the camcorder into a church and shoot a church play with bright windows with people running through aisles.
Rather, the camera is tested in more real world type settings.
Hi Spot,

I don't think Danny was poking at guys like you who actually USE the cameras... rather at the sites that have a camera for a couple of hours and declare a "wiener"... CCI and CNet have EXACTLY opposite "opinyuns" of the HC7 and the HV20... THAT'S not confusing...!

Personally, I'd rather have YOUR take on the two cameras than any other "reviewer" - have you gotten hands on with the Canon? I know the HV10 wasn't up to the extreme video tasks, but wonder how the 20 fares. I'm going to guess from my little time with the 7 it's going to perform quite well. Based on what I'd seen you post, I felt pretty good going with the HC7, and after some initial disappointment (I don't think the LCD does the actual video justice, or is that just me?), I'm liking the camera quite a lot, it's a keeper.


"real world" is wherever we are unlucky enough to have to shoot under less than ideal conditions! And that's a LOOOONG way off from a "reproduceable" lab environment! Sounds like Danny has been getting the most out of his HC1's under the circumstances - your white balance suggestion might be one more variable for him to try - I'm guessing that the lighting conditions are changing between stage and audience? AWB could be playing tricks?

Thank goodness for these forums where we can all channel our experiences and observations and yes, "opinions". I can appreciate Danny's frustration with "reviews" as YMMV...

In the end it's all about learning to use WHATEVER cam you've got to the best final result. I "just" found out how much extra low light performance can be squeezed out of the HC1 <wink>, that should come in handy!

DB>)
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Old April 5th, 2007, 03:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle View Post
As someone who reviews a lot of cameras, I take umbrage with your post, Danny.
A more accurate depiction might be that reviewers don't take the camcorder into a church and shoot a church play with bright windows with people running through aisles.
Rather, the camera is tested in more real world type settings.

Rather than shooting at reviewers of camcorders, you'd likely do better purchasing a camcorder that functions in the environment which you need it to function.
Hold on there Spot, I apologize if my post is a negative to you. I didn't mean for it to be so. My point is that it takes time to get to know the in's and outs of a camera well enough to give an accurate review of them.

In your case, you own and use the cams on a regualar basis and have had the time to really learn about what their in's and outs are. Most other reviewers, especially those at camcorderinfo.com don't have the time it takes to learn the in's and outs of the cams and their reviews suffer a lot because of it.

As for real world use of the cams, the reviewers at camcorderinfo.com using a chart to review the cams with is as far from real world as it gets.

You said, "A more accurate depiction might be that reviewers don't take the camcorder into a church and shoot a church play with bright windows with people running through aisles."

Not all my videos are of people running through the aisles in a theater play (not church play). Maybe the reviewers should consider taking a camcorder in a church for a more accurate/real world video and review with the cam(s). At least it would be a whole lot more informative than shooting a chart.

I consider the reviews you have on cams to be superior to what I have seen on camcorderinfo.com. I hope you will understand my point about the fact that it takes more time than a weekend review to accurately report on how well a cam does.

As for the white balance, if I set it so that the white walls in my house are indeed white, the blue noise will be terrible. Auto white balance and/or just plain indoor settings will also show the blue noise but not so bad. I practically have to make everything orange to get rid of it. The church and the theater are much better than my house. Still can be a challenge at times.

As for this thread, my main concern is not about reviews and HDV vs SD. I was mostly wondering if it would be of any real help for my needs to sell the HC1's and get the HC7's instead.

Now for another reason that I haven't mentioned yet. No matter how I record HDV, be it tape or FS-4 HD, I ocassionally get 2 black frames in the video and they are a pain to find. I can zoom all the way in using Vegas and the frames are not black even though when played, they are. What I haven't been able to do is determine if this is a problem with the cams or something else.

I litterally have to play the entire video and stare at the screen to catch these critters and I often miss a few of them. Since I get this with both tape and FS-4 HD I doubt there is a drop-out problem. At least not the normal type.

Both HC1 cams do this. Is it the cams? Is it Vegas? Is it some other problem? Note: I don't capture with firewire in the way one would with tape when going from the FS-4 HD to the computer so I doubt if that is where the problem is. I do merge the HDV files from the FS-4 HD but I know that isn't the cause of the problem because I get the same problem even if I don't merge them.

So they only thing left that I can think if is try a different HDV cam. Now if I could only find a way to do that. The only way I can get an HC7 is to sell an HC1. If the problem is solved then fine, else???

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Old April 5th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Hi Spot,

(I don't think the LCD does the actual video justice, or is that just me?), I'm liking the camera quite a lot, it's a keeper.


your white balance suggestion might be one more variable for him to try - I'm guessing that the lighting conditions are changing between stage and audience? AWB could be playing tricks?

DB>)
I should have made it more clear that while I use auto-exposure I don't use AWB.

Typically from my experience the LCD's on cams don't do the actual video justice. Another reason to get to know the cam. One has to know the difference between what they are seeing on the LCD vs what is really there.

Interesting problem is once one gets used to how one cam behaves and then goes to another cam, then one has to learn what to expect from the other cam. This is probably the case when going from the HC1 to the HC7.


As for me, I am going to dissapear for a while and get back to video editing.

Later...
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Old April 5th, 2007, 11:51 PM   #14
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I would have advised you into getting the JVC HD7 because of all the manual adjustments that you are able to do in this camcorder but because we donít really know how the low light capability is compared to the HC7 and the HV20, maybe you should wait until you see the camcorders that will be showing at NAB. The 16th to the 19th of this month isnít that long of a wait.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 02:21 AM   #15
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Hi Danny -

I replicated the "blue noise" - adjusting the WB made it significantly worse... noticed it in dark portions of the frame with the HC1 - it's not that bad here, but if the majority of your frame were dark... like in a theatre... I can see the "problem"...

For the good news, the HC7 DID NOT show the same noise. SO, if that's a major part of the issue, maybe pick one up and try it. There is noise, and I noticed what I would describe as a sort of strobing effect to the noise - difficult to describe, but I found it more annoying if locked on a single point, didn't notice it when moving around as much...

I've never seen the dropout/black frame - that's strange, and likely something else in your setup. Does your capture show any droped frames when you capture? Sounds like they are always at the same spot whatever storage system you're using, so not the capture, but I can't imagine what could cause it in camera (cameras? do both do it?).

I have to agree with your frustration with reviews, I've A/B'd the HC3 which I'll be selling shortly with the HC7 - it's simply incorrect that the 7 is worse than the 3 in low light as the CCI review stated. They handle it a bit differently, the 3 does fairly well with a overall bright picture, but I can see the 7 manages a bit more in the darkest areas - enough to make them more usable. And the additional resolution of the 7 is a HUGE plus - you'd expect degradation with the added pixels (smaller pixels = worse low light, or so the argument goes), but it holds up and gives better detail and equal or better low light performance under the same bad light conditions in a "real world" room. I'd shoot with the 7 before the 3 ANY time!

Still need to shoot/capture some footage, but I'm seeing the 7 doing a decent job in low light, looking better the longer I fiddle with it. Sure wish it had a ring though - thinking about trying a Giottos LANC, which I see has a focus function... wondering if it would work with this cam...?

DB>)

Addendum - hooked up the firewire and put up the Vegas capture screen full screen, didn't stabilize the cams, so didn't actually capture, don't want to make anyone seasick! HC1 looked great (tried 60 and 30 SS), HC7 looked great (tried auto SS and manual - couldn't see a huge difference at 30 beween the two... 60 seemed darker than the HC1 @ 60)... HC3, not as good - brightness was OK, but detail loss was VERY noticeable (same as my impressions above). I think the 7 holds up, but frankly the 1 still looks a tad better to me when all things are considered... I think if you set the HC1 to 30, you're not going to see a massive improvement with the 7. I'd try to figure out the dropout issue and keep the 1's and see if anything really superior comes along (or look for a used FX1) if it were me. I like the compact size of the HC7, so it makes sense for some of my purposes, but the HC1 is sticking around...

Last edited by Dave Blackhurst; April 8th, 2007 at 03:26 AM.
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