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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 January 24th, 2009, 11:59 PM   #1
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Help HDR-FX7 or XH-A1 !

Im in need of a new camcorder. Im looking at the Sony HDR-FX7 or the Canon XH-A1. Im new to HD and all that stuff so Im thinking of the HDR-FX7. The Canon is $4000 and the Sony is $2000. I dont know if im willing to put out 4 grand for a camcorder that ill use for skate and snowboard vids. Is was hoping that you guys could give me advice and help me out. and give me the goods and the bads of each camera. Like which one would be good entry level guy new to HD. Also which one is light but not flimsy. And which one shoots well in SD because i need a laptop and editing software that can take and edit HD, i dont know how to downconvert yet. thxs alot.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:29 AM   #2
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Neither cam feels flimsy but the FX7 is alot lighter.

Both cams can shoot in SD but you wouldn't bother - just shoot in HD and set the camera to downconvert (It'll take you all of 30 seconds if you read the manual).

XH-A1 will be much better in lowlight if you like to shoot at dusk/evenings.

XH-A1 has XLR audio intputs you but probably won't need them for skating.

XH-A1 has a wider field of view but either cam can take a Wide-angle adaptor.

FX7 is a bit easier to learn/control so is a good staring point, but with alot of time and practice you will be able to tweak the images on XH A1 a bit more.

For me, the FX7 was an easy choice at half the cost of the Canon, because I don't shoot in lowlight, I rarely need external mics, and I always shoot at nearly full telephoto. I love my camera and highly recommend it.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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I think you could pick up the Canon for closer to $3K than 4, but still.

You'll get great pictures from either one... I don't think I've ever heard anything bad about the Canon, but I have no actual experience with one.

Looking at the features and the prices, however, it looks like the FX7 is a better value in terms of what you get for the money. But of course a lot will depend upon how much you need the additional features on the Canon... are they worth a grand to you?

B&H has all the specs on both cams. Check them out and compare them there. My sense is the Sony is more compact. Sonys have a reputation for having colors that are more pumped.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:40 AM   #4
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Sonys have a reputation for having colors that are more pumped.
Yeah the Sony produces much more vibrant colours, but that is not necassarily a good thing.

My Canon HV20 (I'm told the colours are similar to the XH A1) produces a much flatter image with less saturated colours. It can sometimes look a bit dull but it looks great after colour correction and keeps alot more detail in the image.

The FX7, on the other hand gives more intense colours, but doesn't hold up so well with colour correction where things sometimes start to look a bit funky and un-natural.

The XH A1 might be better if you want that grungy street/skate feel. But if you don't want to pay the premium for that, then you can get the same look in post-production, it's just a bit more work, thats all.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 03:59 AM   #5
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The FX-7s colors can be adjusted to suite your preference,there is NO way its colors are too vibrant ,for me its the other way if anything but as i say colors can be turned up if required.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 04:14 AM   #6
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No, definitely not too vibrant. It's closer to what most consumers expect to see when they playback video's on their TV, rather than what alot of film-makers tend to shoot for optimal post-production flexibility.

But the FX7's colours start to wither in lowlight...
What lighting conditions do you normally shoot in Martyn?
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Old January 25th, 2009, 04:45 AM   #7
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No, definitely not too vibrant. It's closer to what most consumers expect to see when they playback video's on their TV, rather than what alot of film-makers tend to shoot for optimal post-production flexibility.

But the FX7's colours start to wither in lowlight...
What lighting conditions do you normally shoot in Martyn?
Low light does not worry me john as i very rarely film in it but the FX-7s low light is not as bad as some think[i have owned a 2100]
and the fx colors are better than the 2100 in daylight for me.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 05:05 AM   #8
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the FX-7s low light is not as bad as some think

I agree with you on that one... but then again some peoples standards are different.

I was filming surfing a few months ago and it really started cranking at dusk. I kept filming and getting usable images an hour after the sun had gone down...

The photographers were all shooting in pairs with the camera guy on land and a guy with a remote flashgun in the water, getting these cool sidelit shots. I was on land with shutter at 1/25th, iris as open as it could go at full telephoto. I'd get these interesting shots were everything was hard to make out, then all of a sudden, right as the surfer was at the critical moment of a turn, the flash would light everything up. Only problem was the flash would put the surfers off and they would blow it - not a problem for the still guys who already got the shot but really annoying for the video guys.


My old Pany GS500 would've seen nothing in those conditions.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #9
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Fx7

Terry - I'd go with the FX7. It's possible that you will buy the camcorder and stop there, but I doubt it. Pretty soon you'll want/need a tripod, lens filters & converters, an external microphone, carrying case, editing software, etc. In my opinion the difference between the two is negligible, especially if you're outdoors and audio isn't a big priority. I've owned an FX7 for several years and even though I now own 4 other HD camcorders (including the Sony EX1 and EX3) I still frequently find myself throwing the FX7 in the backpack simply because its so portable, simple, and rock solid. I wrote a brief review of the camera which you can see here: Camcorder and Equipment Reviews for Nature and Wildlife (note, its a bit outdated and focuses on nature video, but you might find it helpful). Good luck.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 08:53 AM   #10
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Terry, my advice would be to go with the Sony.

I've used the FX7 before, and currently own an XH-A1. The smaller size and lighter weight of the FX7 will be beneficial to you.

Take the money you save by purchasing the FX7 and get a good wide angle adapter, possibly a fish-eye lens. The good WA's are expensive, but well worth the cost compared to the $50 "big box" store lenses.

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Old January 26th, 2009, 03:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dan Licht View Post
Terry - I'd go with the FX7. It's possible that you will buy the camcorder and stop there, but I doubt it. Pretty soon you'll want/need a tripod, lens filters & converters, an external microphone, carrying case, editing software, etc. In my opinion the difference between the two is negligible, especially if you're outdoors and audio isn't a big priority. I've owned an FX7 for several years and even though I now own 4 other HD camcorders (including the Sony EX1 and EX3) I still frequently find myself throwing the FX7 in the backpack simply because its so portable, simple, and rock solid. I wrote a brief review of the camera which you can see here: Camcorder and Equipment Reviews for Nature and Wildlife (note, its a bit outdated and focuses on nature video, but you might find it helpful). Good luck.
Dan,

What is a good tripod that isn't expensive, some what light but high quality and durable. I would like to get on that i can strap to my snowboarding backpack and really not notice that it's there. What would be some good lens filters for the Sony HDR-FX7? What are some good fisheye lens or wide angle lens? What is a good UV protector for the lens? And would a pelican case be a good case for the HDR-FX7. Also does the HDR-FX7 work with Final Cut Express 4. Im looking at getting it and an apple laptop.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 12:21 AM   #12
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Here you can find a good lens for the FX7
Raynox High Definition Conversion Lens Accessories for SONY HDR-FX7, HDR-FX7E, HVR-V1J, HVR-V1E, HDR-V1U, HVR-V1N HDV Camcorders
and yes the FX7 works with Final Cut Express 4

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Old January 27th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #13
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I'm a happy FX7 owner, but I've got to say that if the difference in price isn't a big deal then I'd get the best camera I could afford and that will be the XHA1. If you ever branch out and do anything other than skate vids then the XHA1 has several benefits over the FX7 and the image quality should be a notch better as well.
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Old January 29th, 2009, 12:32 PM   #14
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the XHA1 has several benefits over the FX7 and the image quality should be a notch better as well.
Have you tested that, personally? I haven't. But I had a friend that used both on a shoot and he told me that the footage from the V1 that he borrowed from me was better than the XHA1 footage. He wound up renting a V1 several times after that so I would guess he wasn't just trying to make points with me.
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Old January 29th, 2009, 02:06 PM   #15
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Have you tested that, personally? I haven't. But I had a friend that used both on a shoot and he told me that the footage from the V1 that he borrowed from me was better than the XHA1 footage. He wound up renting a V1 several times after that so I would guess he wasn't just trying to make points with me.
I base it off of two things, neither of which are scientific:

1) The eyeball test. Much of what I've seen shot with the XHA1 to me looks superior to the FX7/V1u, not by much, but to my eye it's slightly better. Again, not scientific just an opinion based on what I've seen.

2) Larger chips are generally preferable and the 1/3" chips of the XHA1 trump the 1/4" chips of the FX7/V1u.

For roughly $1,000 more than the price of the FX7 you'll get larger chips, better in low light, 24p capability, XLR's built in, more manual settings and control.

If you have a tight budget, the FX7 gives you a lot of bang for the buck, but if you have a little more to spend it's my belief that you might be better served going for the camera that gives you more options.

Again, this is from the perspective of a very happy FX7 owner. I'm just trying to give the guy an objective opinion.
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