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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 4th, 2007, 07:02 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by David Jasany View Post
In a nutshell, I like the Sony HC7's build quality. It's not prosumer grade, but it's a lot closer to it than the HV20s quality. It makes me wonder what else under the hood on the Canon is compromised.
The answer: The power supply.

The HV20 has the exact same power supply inside as ALL Canon consumer camcorders. And trust me, my Optura 20 broke 4-5 times in the past 3 years because of overcharging the battery.
I wait for the day cost-efficient global shutter 60fps capable CMOS sensors emerge for use on major manufacturers' cameras. (Sony, Canon, etc.) Rolling Shutters are a plague.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 09:20 AM   #17
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I'm a long time Sony devotee. I bought the HV20 because it was an inexpensive entree into 24p, which I wanted to explore. My "jury" is still out on that. In addition, the camera has its little quirks-- different from ones than in the Sony cameras, but it seems every camera at any level under $10k, let alone $1 K, has issues you have to deal with. That is the nature of these beasts. You give and take.

So putting that aside, it is clear to me that the Canon HV20 was designed for the consumer, period. It is only those of us who want to transform it into more that are debating it merits. And it has a lot of merit. The camera is easily mastered in terms of manual adjustment, locking exposure. It does seem a bit touchy in terms of the image stabilizer, and I have turned it off for most applications. The instant autofocus actually works fantastic, in my opinion. And the HV20 marries well with my Letus35a.

In the end, you are looking at a camera that no one should consider as a long term answer in terms of professional video production. As a tool for the serious ameteur trying to put together a film or two or three in the next year, I think it is a fantastic opportunity, and that where I am going with it.

At a $1000.00, it has to be considered the "saturday night" special of HDV cameras, and to consider it or the the more expensive HC5 or 7 as the answer to your future professional HDV producti0n needs is, I think, a bit of a stretch...
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Old June 4th, 2007, 11:20 AM   #18
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Hi David -

re autofocus - I've seen the Canon 'hunt' once in a while, particularly zoomed - that's a "feature" of ALL autofocus methinks. The control wheel on the Canon is a bit better than the Sony - but I'd rather not use either "wheel" for focusing. IF a manual focus ring is on your "hot list", NEITHER of these cams will make you happy, but...

Here's where the Sony works for me - the spot focus function works quite well for "faking" rack focus - I have that on the first screen of my p-menu so it's fast access (my p-menu only has 2 screens, so it's fast for anything I need - I LIKE the customizable touchscreen menu). Of course with the spot focus you're relying on the cameras "focus assist" to focus on a specific spot on your screen, but it does that pretty well.

The other option that you have on the Sony is a LANC that can control focus. Most are expensive, BUT... there's a $30 one from Giottos that is not too big, straps to my bracket rig, and while it's not as tactile as the Sony LANC controller, it's usable AND it includes manual focus! Bottom line is it's not as tactile or responsive as having a pair of rings on a lens barrel like an FX1/Z1 or FX7/V1, but it WORKS on a camera 1/4 (?) the size and weight, and far more portable!

The best camera for the job is the camera you have WITH you, and I can easily drag around an HC7 with selected accessories in a small camera bag, or a pair of HC7's and an HV20 with all the accessories I usually need in a hard case that is not even as big or heavy as my Z1... and the whole "multi-angle" rig cost less... which camera is "best"?

While a "big" camera may have more features, the small form factor camera, when you know how to use it, can be a far more effective "acquisition device" - that's why the HV20 at under 1K has everyone so excited. The HC7 got panned, but it's a pretty exciting camera too, all things considered!

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Old June 4th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post is clear to me that the Canon HV20 was designed for the consumer, period.
Hi Chris -

While I agree on the "consumer" target market, it's a "high end" consumer to be sure - there are lots of camcorders for WAY less money (OK, not with HD...) with equal or better build quality. I think the negativity comes from "I paid HOW MUCH for this plastic-y thing??"...

1K is a lot to drop on a video camera (8-900 discounted), and to have it in a relatively cheezy plastic shell is sort of annoying... The editing hoops for 24P make that point "marketing" for most consumers - only a pro will spend the extra effort or time or money to be able to work with that "feature". I'd say Canon threw that extra "feature" on there to pull in EXACTLY the guys who are all over this camera - pros who want a small cam for a deck, and a portable high quality camera and don't want to lug an A/G/H1 around on vacation, but gag when forced to watch video from the average SD handycam... (all hands in room go up)

About that plastic case - after putting headphones on both cameras, I've got to say the Canon shell is far more microphonic. Camera noise was more noticeable from the internal mics, and there was an odd reverb/echo "quality" that actually shocked me - handling noise was objectionable if handheld (brackets helped), and while the audio was more crisp on the highs, probably due to the preamp design, it was NOT up to par in my book - I've got to review some footage I shot with both cameras to compare, but an external mic seems like almost a necessity with the HV20 - the mics in the 7 are passable as is, and adding an HGZ1 sounded pretty good, and is still compact.

I understand Canon had to "cut corners" to meet a price point, that's reality, and for what it does, it ain't bad, but also reality is I only paid about $50 more for my HC7's (not counting accessories) - for the $50, I feel like I got something QUALITY instead of a "toy" (they're ALL toys, right <wink>?).

I think what strikes me is that by the time you add up all the "negatives" (additional external mics, shaky OIS, no LANC), and figure out what it will cost to bring the HV20 up to the HC7 where possible, the ONLY "win" is PQ and maybe low light performance (which is PQ...).

For the average consumer who thinks CA means "California", EITHER cam will deliver jaw dropping video, only when one gets extremely picky can one decide which PQ is "better" and then its "opinion". I jump on color discrepancies, someone else might be more focused on sharpening, somebody else might be finicky about low light... ad nauseam. Bottom line, pick one, be happy.

You ARE getting what you pay for, and the price point of the Canon is SWEET and dropping, so you can't COMPLAIN, but if you are inclined to be at all picky on build quality, the HV20 is going to bug you... possibly a lot.

I'm happy with the HV20 since it keeps company with the HC7 in my kit, and suits a purpose... but if I had to choose one, the HC7 would stay and the 20 would go, and that would be a quick decision.

Reminds me of another industry I'm in where "customizing" a cheap(er) product is common so you can get the "features" of a higher end product... when you start adding all the costs to bring the cheaper one up to comparable specs, you end up spending the same or more... economics is what it is...

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Old June 4th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #20
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Thanks DB for the great post regarding the HC20 and HV7 and the focus explanation. I was surprised to hear you say the HC7 was panned because I have yet to find any significant complaints or negative reviews about it. I know CCI wasn't wild about it and gave the HV20 top honors, but not without bringing to attention the faults of both cameras. It seems like specmanship and pricing caused most of the attention to be on the HV20.

I also think you nailed it with your comment that user's looks for and focus on a specific attributes that may be important to their needs. I just read an editorial in DV that commented on this very thing but but as related to video camera reviewers and test labs. Everyone comes from a slightly different point of view and what they consider important. I guess that's just human nature.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been heavily partial to Canon's still and camcorders. In fact, I dislike some of Sony's proprietary implementations. But for what's important to me and given that we really only have 2 HD DV consumer cameras to choose from, I think the Sony is the best for me. I'm not a professional and don't intend to replace my camcorder every time a new model comes about. Just to give you an idea, I'm still using my Canon Elura that I purchased at the end of 1998. Another article in DV called the original Elura "one of the best little cameras ever made." So I'm spoiled and have high expectations for a consumer camera.

Last edited by David Jasany; June 4th, 2007 at 06:15 PM. Reason: clarification
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