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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.


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Old October 10th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #1
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Is the extra money worth it for the FX7?

I have been asked by a few people if the extra $1k or more for the FX7 is worth it compared to the many consumer HD camcorders that are on the market today. They point out the newest of the cams from Sony, JVC, and Canon, which all produce great quality video and half the cost or better.

Now, I have see footage from the FX7, shot in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton NP, and it is really spectacular when shown directly through to an HD plasma TV. However, I have not seen any similar footage from any of those consumer cams, so I cannot comment about any comparisons.

Can anyone here give any opinions as to the PQ between the FX7 and those consumer HD offerings from Canon (HV20), JVC (HD7), and Sony (CX7)? And in your opinions, is it worth the extra money?

Thanks.
Mike
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Old October 10th, 2007, 09:51 AM   #2
 
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If pushed to make a choice, the FX1, FX7 would be my first choices against any of the small cams or AVCHD cams.
FWIW, we own a Panasonic AVCHD cam and two Sony AVCHD cams, as well as the V1 (Pro version of the FX7).
The compression of AVCHD looks great, until motion at the camera is induced ie; pans/tilts. it then washes out a little. On YouTube, I've posted footage from both that can be compared to other vids all shot with the V1, Z1, Canon A1, Sony A1, or Canon XLH1
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Old October 10th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #3
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I have two Sony FX1s and an HC1 and definitely prefer the former for any important work, especially in poor lighting. The HC1 is fine in daylight but the image goes to heck in a dimly lit room where the FX1s would still produce a usable image. I'd expect the same for any of the low-cost consumer HD cams due to their small sensor size.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 03:28 PM   #4
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Hi Mike -
Having owned a few cameras along the way (and still do), here's my take.

The PQ is not going to be THAT noticeabe to the majority of viewers - 90% won't catch any difference between the little cams and the big ones - watch Survivorman - I thought the stuff shot with the small cams holds up well (heard they were HC3s?) against the Z1's he's shooting, perhaps even looks a bit better because the small cams saturate the colors so they pop... so much for "accurate" colors...

IOW, just shooting HDV is a night and day difference in PQ from SD... the minor differences between cameras/recording formats are not nearly as noticeable, except to those of us who are very particular <group hug>.

Personally I had an HV20 for a bit, nice, but liked the Sony HC7 better... for the $$ though, decent to jump into HD - it's really cracked the market open... haven't seen the JVC, but clips I saw were not up to par IMO, user reports were not favorable either.

NOW, the key question you ask... FX7 worth the extra 1K???? HMM, pretty good manual control, 3.5 screen, real focus and zoom rings, some nice features like VF and LCD on simultaneously, display of camera settings live on screen, probably some other things I've never even messed with... you do get quite a bit for the extra $$. You also get a bigger heavier camera that you may or may not find as convenient, and a picture quality that many have described as almost "3D" - that's as good a description as I can come up with... there's a certain quality to the FX7 that is unique and very nice. Doesn't kill my back like the FX1/Z1, but there's that pesky "rolling shutter" when flash is being used nearby, not enough of a problem for me to worry about it though!

That said, the HC7 is a great little cam, and decked out with the right accessories can do a great job in a small package - it doesn't quite have the same "pop" that the FX7 does, but the footage looks great, and there's enough manual control there to get you by if you learn the cam.

Go down a notch and the diminutive CX7 (check out some of Spot's skydiving footage on YouTube) it does a pretty darn amazing job in a "pocket cam". So far, I'm finding the PQ to be decent, I'd rate it better than what I got from my retired HC3, and it's so small, it begs you to take it along just in case something worthy of video "happens"! Practically no manual controls other than via touchscreen (no where to put them!), but probably a sign of cameras to come!

In short, different cams for different purposes... it certainly is a great time to be jumping into HD, prices are down, used cams are available at reasonable prices, new are cheaper than their predecessors. First thing is to decide exactly what your usage pattern will be. I'd venture to say the small cams get more use for me, simply because they are handy. As great as the FX7 PQ is, it's not something I want to lug around for "fun". And oddly enough, both the HC7 and the CX7 with their single CMOS do better in low light... which is better for improptu shooting... still prefer the FX7 if it's a "serious" shoot for the extra control though!

So pick whatever one fits your budget and your shooting/lifestyle!

HTH!
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Old October 10th, 2007, 06:44 PM   #5
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wow... I didn't even start this thread and I found that post to be extremely helpful. Quick question though: what does PQ mean?
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Old October 10th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #6
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Mike:

You can produce some very nice footage with the diminutive HV20. I have one I bough primarily to learn a bit about 24p, but which I use a lot in place of the FX1 I continue to own. But FX1 still has a lot more serious control capability, and a bit better low light capability.

HV20 is fun to shoot. Its a pain, in some ways, to control. It also works well with 35mm adapters to provide that filmic look some are looking for. I've experimented a lot with it in that way.

In well lit situations, without a lot of tweeking, I think the HV20 actually stays with or beats the FX1.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 07:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brennan Callahan View Post
Quick question though: what does PQ mean?
Picture Quality.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 11:09 PM   #8
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I think Chris has nailed one critical thing about the small cameras - the "FUN" factor. It's just a blast to have a small camera that doesn't draw too much attention but gets killer results that are 90%+ of the "big boys". For the "casual" user it might be the determining factor!

I stumbled across a CX7 cheap and picked it more out of curiousity than anything, and it's just "fun" for want of a better word - not much in the manual control department, but so small and light it makes shooting a new experience. Pretty good PQ and low light so far too, and I figure it will actually be there when those "special moments" happen, where the big cam would be comfy at home in it's hard case...

For the low dough, the small cams provide a lot of "bang for the buck", I guess if one is on the fence, it's a cheap way to find out if you like shooting video - you can always step up and keep the small cam for a backup, second angle, crash or fun cam to your "big" serious cam!

One other comment... ALL the cams (Sony and Canon) I've tried look un-be-freakin'-lieveable on a big HDTV... SD never worked for me after playing back the first thing I shot with an HC1...
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Old October 11th, 2007, 01:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
I have been asked by a few people if the extra $1k or more for the FX7 is worth it compared to the many consumer HD camcorders that are on the market today.

Can anyone here give any opinions as to the PQ between the FX7 and those consumer HD offerings from Canon (HV20), JVC (HD7), and Sony (CX7)? And in your opinions, is it worth the extra money?

Thanks.
Mike
Amazingly close when you talk about the PQ of the Canon HV20 and Sony HC7. However, serious work really requires a 3-chip camera. The 3 sensors offer better color sharpness and better manual control, actually better control alltogether. However, the HV20 and HC7 mentioned above are great as backup cams.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 04:05 AM   #10
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Put very simply, and this of course is an over simplification of the real world, you have three kinds of cameras:

1. Shoulder mounted professional cameras,
2. Handheld prosumer cameras, and
3. Handheld consumer cameras.

Before anybody gets mad at me, this is a severe oversimplification, but I use it to demonstrate a couple of points. Three things to consider are important in choosing what is right for you (and forgetting about about features, quality, etc.):

a. Stability. The more steady your shots, the better the result. 1 delivers the best stability, 3 the least with 2 in between.

b. Manual control. Again that follows the same sequence, 1 is best, 3 is least and 2 is in between, depending on the specific model.

3. Light sensitivity. Again this follows the same sequence.

A couple of side remarks having nothing to do with the camera capabilities, but with the impression you make with a camera of type 1, 2 or 3.

Increasingly when using a type 1 camera you may be confronted with questions like 'do you have a permit to shoot' or "TV recordings are not allowed here.' Type 2 cameras do not yet evoke these reactions as much and for type 3 it hardly ever happens. However, using a type 1 or type 2 camera usually makes people aware of you and avoid getting in your way. With a type 3 camera you will often see people disregarding you and walking right in front of you, ruining your shot.

Mobility is another consideration to keep in mind. When on the move, carrying a type 1 camera and a tripod for your shots gets rather heavy, type 2 less so but still a burden, and with type 3 most people do not use a tripod, but then the stability issue is a significant drawback.

Technical ability as a cameraman is another thing to consider. If you are a hobbyist, using your camera let's say 3-5 hours per month, you have a distinct disadvantage in comparison to a professional camera operator, who shoots more than 3-5 hours per day. 20 times as much. So his proficiency with manual controls is much better than a mere hobbyist.

To summarize there is no clear cut answer. You have to consider not only cost, but also your intended use, frequency, proficiency, etc.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 03:22 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies. Harm, Douglas, Dave, and others, thanks for spending the time to give me your thoughts. It is all good to read and very reassuring.

I shoot mostly (90%) from a tripod; alot of scenery, wildlife, trains, etc. The rest would be big family events where most is handheld stuff. It seems to me that the size of the FX7 is just right, with enough weight for smoothing out pans on my fluid head tripod, and yet light enough for some handheld times. I have spent hundreds of hours refining my shooting techniques with my old DV cam. I can hardly wait until I can do the same with an HD prosumer camcorder. A friend of mine has an FX7 and the stuff he has shot, well I agree with Dave that the difference between my DV footage and that of the FX7 in HD is phenomenal.

So, between what I have read here and on other threads, and my very limited exposure to my friends FX7, I will be placing an order shortly for my own FX7.

Thanks again to all.

Mike
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