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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 February 27th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #16
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Which one to get?

Tom,

Many thanks for that analysis. I'm still wondering if the FX7, even at the sale price, is worth the difference.

Has anyone used both cams and compared them? If so, I'd be grateful for your comments here.

I can see that the Sony has much better ergonomics, which could make a difference in a longer shoot.

Last edited by Gordon Inkeles; February 27th, 2009 at 06:32 PM.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 08:36 PM   #17
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Get the camera that works for you the best within your budget. The FX7 is less portable but it has better controls due to having room for all the buttons and wheels. Both cameras produce a nice image. Don't be fooled into thinking that the larger chip in the Canon has better low light because it is divided up into the three colors by its filter. Add up the area of all three FX7 chips to get the total size of the pixels. There is nothing wrong with single-chip cameras but you must do the right math regarding the size and sensitivity of each pixel.

If portability and cost are your primary considerations, get the Canon. If control and impressing the client with the bigger camera is important then get the Sony.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 04:49 PM   #18
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Having done multicam shoots with both the FX-7 and the HV20 I can tell you that in my opinion the image quality from the FX-7 is definitely superior. The FX-7 had a crispness and color definition that clearly surpassed the HV20. As I was editing a multicam shoot I was looking at a direct comparison of the two images with the same lighting/etc.

Just another opinion.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 12:55 PM   #19
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Image quality is somewhat subjective, and you need to keep that in mind. What is your expected delivery format (web video, for instance you won't probably be able to see any difference...).

The HV20/30/40 is several years old now, as is the FX7 - I did some tests with the HV20 and FX7 side by side and much preferred the FX7 - and of course the better control set is a big step up over the HV's. I didn't like the way Canon handled bright colors, esp. the reds, and the detail seemed worse in the blacks/shadows, although the video looked quite sharp and crisp. Unless you're particularly anal, you'd probably be quite satisfied unless you put the HV against a bigger camera.

Depending on your time line, you may want to wait for the reviews of the latest generation small cameras (HF-S and XR). The Sony XR500/520 in particular look to be stunners in low light conditions from samples I've seen. NO "real" manual controls to speak of, but in a controlled shoot with an experienced operator, you can make 'em work surprisingly well.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 01:09 PM   #20
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Delivery format

Dave,

I want a program that will work on HD TVs, as a DVD and later in Blueray. I don't want it to look dated in a year or two.

I'm not a pro, just an amateur who wants to do some video work. I'm experienced as a still photographer. Again, I need good skin tones in the final product. My upper budget for a camera would be in the current FX7 range, around 2K.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 05:43 PM   #21
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OK, then you definitely want to think higher end, while the HV series will probably be fine, my experience is that the newer AVCHD cameras are getting a better picture overall (you'll have to keep in mind the editing headaches, plan on a fast quad core computer).

I'd rate the FX7 better than the HV20, but the newer "pocket rockets" in the AVCHD category are giving larger more expensive cameras a serious run for the money, particularly if you can control your shooting conditions.

It sounded to me like you're really concerned with low/mood lighting. Keep in mind that typically in a "pro" shoot, they light it up big time, and post it to give the illusion of whatever mood they are after... BUT, you may want to keep an eye on the XR series, it looks to be pretty good in low light from the samples I've seen. Less noise and cleaner picture, which MIGHT be able to let you pull off a lower ambient light shoot - one night sample I saw looked quite good.

Since you're a still photog, have you considered the Canon 5D Mk2? Might be worth a look if your primary gear is due for an upgrade cycle, and the video results from that cam are pretty amazing.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 07:40 PM   #22
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Budget

Dave,

You make some tempting suggestions, but my budget won't permit anything more costly than the "sale priced" FX7 at $1,800. I'm wondering if the HV30, at 1/3 the price would give me what I want.

I'm also wondering if the larger chip in the HV30 would permit me to soften the background, while keeping the subject in focus.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 12:57 AM   #23
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Where are you finding an FX7 for $1800? I'd check the place out very, very carefully at resellerratings.com before I'd buy. My bet is you'll never get it at that price (and if you do, let us know).

You'll get better DoF control in the FX7 due to having more controls and larger glass.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 01:57 AM   #24
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You'll get better images out of the FX7 no doubt... I'm seeing it more and more often when I compare my footage out of the FX7 to another "HDV" camera.. HV10,20,30 or the HC3/5/7/9 series... the FX7 always looks sharper/more detail with better image quality overall...

the MSRP dropped to $2000 so $1800 isn't unreasonable, but yea be cautious either way.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 02:18 AM   #25
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I'm not so sure Adam. 'Larger glass' it may have in that it has a 20x zoom as against a 10x, but the Canon has a 1"/2.7 chip - i.e. bigger than 1"/3 whereas the FX7 is a lot smaller at ".

So the answer Gordon is yes, the HV30 does give you good differential focus effects but you have to be in manual because really you want to be shooting at maximum aperture for the least dof. Also it has a 61 mm focal length as against a not-much-more 78 mm on the FX7.

tom.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 02:33 AM   #26
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My SR-12 has a max zoom of 58.8 and my FX-7s zoom max 78 there is a huge difference in this,which is for wildlife close ups this cam is top notch.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 01:16 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Inkeles View Post
Dave,

You make some tempting suggestions, but my budget won't permit anything more costly than the "sale priced" FX7 at $1,800. I'm wondering if the HV30, at 1/3 the price would give me what I want.

I'm also wondering if the larger chip in the HV30 would permit me to soften the background, while keeping the subject in focus.
The only reason I mentioned the 5D was because it might serve both sides (photo AND video), and is pretty stunning in low light with that huge sensor, but I understand the budget thing, as it keeps me from buying one too!

A 10% discount off MSRP doesn't sound unreasonable to me, most vendors SHOULD be able to offer that in this economy without batting an eye.

The minor difference in chip size isn't going to amount to much in changing your Depth of Focus (DoF), and if that's important (getting away from a "video look"), you probably won't be excited by either camera when coming from a photography background.

There are ways to "fake" DoF, but I'm presuming you're also shooting in what will be relatively cramped quarters, meaning you can't zoom in much (which can give you shallower DoF), and you're already fighting low light with a wide open aperture while trying to avoid noise (you lose stops as you zoom in).

Neither of these camera is going to be a knockout in low moody light. Perhaps the answer is to go with the HV30 and some lighting to bring up the ambient light to where almost any of the HD cameras will give great results?

As others have noted, the FX7 is going to give you a sharper picture, and while an experienced pixel peeper will spot it right away, if your content is compelling, properly lit, and well produced, 99.99% of viewers won't notice or care. The camera is a tool, the FX7 is a "better" tool commensurate with its price, and offers a lot for the $$, but the HV20/30/40 represents a compelling package for the price. $600 vs. $1800 won't result in 3x "better" image quality, and I think that's what you're trying to evaluate... and like many things, the improvements will be incremental, not linear with price. In my mind what you can shoot with a sub $1K camera is "close enough" to what a bigger more expensive cam can shoot that it's not worth the difference (I've seen footage that indicates my SR11 holds up well against an EX1... I'm not "seeing" $5K difference in image...)



Keep in mind also that you're probably going to have to augment the audio, especially with the HV, so budget should include that consideration. I guess what I'm getting at is you may want to do the budget with audio/light/camera/needed accessories, and see what is realistic - you can easliy end up spending as much in outboard gear as you would for a second camera...

Which brings up another angle, in theory you could get two HV30's for multi-angle shooting which can reduce takes and recording time... just to complicate your thought process!
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 02:32 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
I'm not so sure Adam. 'Larger glass' it may have in that it has a 20x zoom as against a 10x, but the Canon has a 1"/2.7 chip - i.e. bigger than 1"/3 whereas the FX7 is a lot smaller at ".

So the answer Gordon is yes, the HV30 does give you good differential focus effects but you have to be in manual because really you want to be shooting at maximum aperture for the least dof. Also it has a 61 mm focal length as against a not-much-more 78 mm on the FX7.

tom.
You're probably right... you obviously know a lot more about lens physics than I do. But I was actually referring to the diameter -- the FX7 is about twice as wide across at the front element as the HV30 or similar compact cam -- and I seem to recall something from high school physics about larger diameters having better resolving power and light gathering abilities and all that stuff... none of which probably affects DoF, upon reflection.

Note that in 35mm terms, the max tele of the FX7 is 748mm, compared to the HV30's 436mm: a huge 72% difference. So that added Focal Length could help with DoF as well.

I can only tell you that using both HC3s (admittedly not the same as an HV30, but similar) and FX7s, the DoF is unquestionably more controllable on the latter.

Last edited by Adam Gold; March 3rd, 2009 at 03:10 PM.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 03:37 AM   #29
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'Probably right' Adam? I thought I was your hero. Yes, the FX7 has a much bigger front element but this has far more to do with its 20x zoom ratio than its resolving power or light gathering. The Canon has only a 10x zoom and it's f/1.8 at that - meaning the whole lens assembly can be made more compact, even though it's feeding a chip with twice the surface area.

And it's this latter point that influences dof greatly because the focal lengths are much longer for any given field of view. OK, the FX7 has far more zoom and at full tele you can indeed have a very limited dof, but the point is to get this short dof you have to zoom in very tightly. But you're right - the control afforded by ensuring you're filming wide open does indeed have great bearing on this issue.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 12:35 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
I'm not so sure Adam. 'Larger glass' it may have in that it has a 20x zoom as against a 10x, but the Canon has a 1"/2.7 chip - i.e. bigger than 1"/3 whereas the FX7 is a lot smaller at ".
correct me if I'm wrong, but FX7 is a 3x1/4" CMOS and HV20/30 is a single 1/2.7" chip,
that would make a big difference, not in the day light though
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