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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 September 23rd, 2006, 06:29 AM   #1
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The stats of the FX7/V1 turned me off. My thinking is that 1/4" chips are too small to have decent light sensitivity and exposure latitude. The opinions of Spot and the others have swayed me back to looking at these cameras. The footage throws enough of an objective influence to keep me listening. Considering that the CMOS chips are not supposed to smear and may give better exposure latitude is a huge selling point for me. I believe that exposure latitude and resolution are the two key characteristics that film have over video. With HD, there is enough resolution to make a decent image. Now, the possibility that the gap between low-end HD products and film is closing in the realm of exposure latitude makes me very excited.

I don't expect a full compliment of test video from a first-look, but there are some things that I am also interested in that I don't think have been mentioned:

Is the focus ring like that on the FX1/Z1 or the old non-indexed style like the PD/VX cameras? Can the monitor/eyepiece be flipped for shooting with 35mm adapters? How comfortable is the exposure knob? I hate the exposure wheel on the VX2000 since it is stuck behind the LCD. Is there a knob for Auto-Exposure adjustment? I like cams where the operator can leave it on automatic but can add or subtract a bit of exposure to taste. How clear is the LCD? Is it like the daylight-reflective one on the FX1? How is the balance and grip comfort? Is the zoom smooth or does it start and stop harshly? Is there sometimes a long pause before recording like on the FX1? Is it easy and fast to load tapes?

Image quality is of paramount importance, but living with the camera effects the operator tremendously if the ergonomics and useability functions are not good.

Maybe some of those were covered, but I don't think they are all in one place...one place deserving of a sticky?
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 07:32 AM   #2
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Hi Marcus. These are good questions, and that other thread was getting pretty long and covered lots of ground. So I've started a new thread here.

Douglas can give you much better insights into most of these since he's used the camera and I only fiddled around with it, but I'll make a few comments based on what I observed.

Is the focus ring like that on the FX1/Z1 or the old non-indexed style like the PD/VX camera
The Z1 does not have an indexed focus ring either, it turns continuously. However I find the action nicer on my Z1 than on my Vx-2000 or PDX-10. From what I could tell the V1 is like the Z1. But I believe the zoom ring on the V1 is more like the VX-2000 in that it rotates continuously without end stops like the Z1. I think this would be an improvement, since the Z1 zoom ring is pretty coarse due to the limited range of movement.

Can the monitor/eyepiece be flipped for shooting with 35mm adapters?
Not certain, but I doubt it. I didn't see anything in the menu which would do this.

How comfortable is the exposure knob?
I assume you mean the iris wheel? From the little bit of playing I did it felt good. But I do like the Z1 knob a lot. However I think they did a nice job of regrouping all the focus and iris controls on the V1 (see photo). The menu wheel on the V1 is more like the wheel on my VX-2000. Its a small plastic wheel instead of the large metal wheel on the Z1. I never saw much advantage to the wheel on the Z1, and from the playing I did the V1 menu wheel felt fine.

Is there a knob for Auto-Exposure adjustment?
Not completely sure here. There is Auto Focus Assist however, like the Z1, where you can set focus to auto but overide manually. And there is a new feature where the screen shows you all the settings the camera is using when you put it in auto mode, whereas the Z1 doesn't really do this (I think... I never use auto exposure myself).

How clear is the LCD? Is it like the daylight-reflective one on the FX1?
It looked nice, but I think the resolution is slightly lower than the Z1. I asked the question about the transreflective screen but didn't get an answer. I *think* it is however. They said the screen was a new design which offers higher contrast (or was it the viewfinder? I got a little confused there :-)

How is the balance and grip comfort?
I only held it for a short period, but it seemed to be very well balanced and had a good feel to it. I liked the size and form factor better than my Z1.

Is the zoom smooth or does it start and stop harshly? Is there sometimes a long pause before recording like on the FX1? Is it easy and fast to load tapes?
Didn't have any chance to try these in depth. I am a little disappointed that they moved the tape door back to the right hand side however, but it seems like a reasonable compromise given the smaller size of the camera.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 07:43 AM   #3
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You ask a lot of questions Marcus and until we do the ruthless A/B test alongside an FX1 we really won't know if this is an upgrade or merely Sony filling in the huge gap between the HC1 and FX1. I suspect it's the latter.

The 1"/4 chips only give me concern for dof control, nothing else. Having a 20x zoom doesn't really help as background blurriness can only be increased by zooming in tighter, and that's often what you don't want. The FX7's chips are less light sensitive than the FX1's though - as Sony is happy to admit.

I agree entirely with you about the position of the exposure wheel on the VX/PD - hiding it behind the side-screen made it impossible to use for any low-angle shots. Not only that, but it was only the PD170 that got the smooth aperture changes - all the other models show quite unacceptable exposure bumps on screen.

The FX/Z1's aperture control wheel is superb. Big, chunky, beautifully damped and easy to 'roll' with your left thumb as it supports the camera. Excellent. Invisible changes on screen, too.

I know the FX7 puts this control around the lens, but this is only moving it to a historical position, not a more accessible position in my view.

You also talk about the LCD panel, back to the silly position on the side of the camera I see. The FX/Z1 can have it dead centre-line of camera - ace for run 'n' gun tracking shots that require Dutch tilts and so on.

Sony list and sell a 'Hoodman' for the FX7, something they've not listed for the FX1. This would suggest that it is not easily visible in daylight which will be a pity. The top screen on the FX1 is a revelation to anyone coming from the near useless one on the VX2000.

My concers are like yours, with the ergonomics of the beast. The FX1 cured a lot of the VX/PD complaints, but the move to a smaller, lighter camera may well have introduced some compromises in this department.

My guess is the street price of the FX7 will undercut the FX1 and the 20x zoom will reel the punters in. That's all to the good - Sony don't want you deserting to the Canon or Panasonic camp.

tom.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 10:47 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick

The 1"/4 chips only give me concern for dof control, nothing else. Having a 20x zoom doesn't really help as background blurriness can only be increased by zooming in tighter, and that's often what you don't want. The FX7's chips are less light sensitive than the FX1's though - as Sony is happy to admit.
The difference between 1/4 and 1/3 inch chips regarding DOF is insignificant. If you really want serious DOF without using zoom/backing up is to go to 1/2 or better, 2/3 chips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
I agree entirely with you about the position of the exposure wheel on the VX/PD - hiding it behind the side-screen made it impossible to use for any low-angle shots. Not only that, but it was only the PD170 that got the smooth aperture changes - all the other models show quite unacceptable exposure bumps on screen..
I can see the point for low angle shots making it a tad more difficult, but if you like the PD, you'll like the V1. It's also smooth in roll; no detents (thankfully).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
You also talk about the LCD panel, back to the silly position on the side of the camera I see. The FX/Z1 can have it dead centre-line of camera - ace for run 'n' gun tracking shots that require Dutch tilts and so on.

Sony list and sell a 'Hoodman' for the FX7, something they've not listed for the FX1. This would suggest that it is not easily visible in daylight which will be a pity. The top screen on the FX1 is a revelation to anyone coming from the near useless one on the VX2000..
First, Sony also sells a hood for the cam as an accessory, and second, the Hoodman 400 (same as for Z1) fits remarkably well. I'm sure Hoodman will come up with a new model, because the 400 just barely sits on the bezel, it could easily go 1/16 or so wider for a more sweet fit.

I wish the panel was in the same place too, but if we all had our "wishes" fulfilled on this camera, it would be a Z something or other. It's not. It's intended to be a new camera. Perhaps the Z something or other, should it ever arrive from Sony, will have all of our wishes fulfilled. But by then, we'll have seen whatever great stuff Canon or JVC have to offer the HDV world and we'll want that, too.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 11:21 AM   #5
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Thoughts from a non professional prosumer:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
I agree entirely with you about the position of the exposure wheel on the VX/PD - hiding it behind the side-screen made it impossible to use for any low-angle shots. Not only that, but it was only the PD170 that got the smooth aperture changes - all the other models show quite unacceptable exposure bumps on screen.
I have VX2000 and these two are certainly primary issues..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
You also talk about the LCD panel, back to the silly position on the side of the camera I see. The FX/Z1 can have it dead centre-line of camera - ace for run 'n' gun tracking shots that require Dutch tilts and so on.
I have FX1, and I actually like the LCD position on VX2000 more because of the access to panel underneath. On FX1, to see the panel, and what you are selecting, you need to be above camera, on VX, you can have it on high tripod and still have visual access.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 12:24 PM   #6
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Chris, you can have the tripod mounted FX1 high above your head and easily see the top screen when it's tilted down. Or have I misunderstood you?

And Douglas, I'm right with you when you talk of big chip sizes but even so, the 1"/3 chip is 1.8x the size of a 1"/4 chip in surface area, so not to be sneezed at in the dof game.

Of course having chips just over half the size of the FX1's means the FX7 can have a considerably smaller lens, a lens with less covering power. So we get a 20x zoom that's faster than the FX1's at nearly all focal lengths for almost the same physical dimensions.

Faster? How? Well the FX1's tops out at f/2.8 at 12x zoom whereas the FX7's is f/2.8 at 20x. What this means is that when the FX1 reaches the 12x zoom position it's most likely at something like f/2.4 - very similar to the VX/PD in fact.

tom.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 03:09 PM   #7
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Tom:

I am talking about whats underneath to LCD, the panels with various buttons for adjusting things, display, etc. Not the end to the world.... but just one reason I don't mind the side mounted LCD on the VX2000,
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 06:50 PM   #8
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Maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen anything concrete regarding the V1 low light performance. My A1 1/3" CMOS is really dicey in low light, my Z1 is significantly better.
Is the V1 closer to the A1, as good as the Z1, or has no one really had a chance to look at the low light issue yet? That's going to be a critical issue for me. If it turns out to be on a par with the A1, I'll probably stick with my fat, heavy Z1 until the Z2 eventually arrives.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 08:19 PM   #9
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For comparison, here are Sony's lux ratings

Z1U 3 lux @ 18db, F1.6
V1U 4 lux @ 18db, F1.6
A1U 7 lux @ 18db, F1.6

I've only seen a short snippet of V1U video with the hyper-gain (from the DVD we received at the press release). It goes from complete black to what looks like a 750/1000 watt spot light on a tiger's cage. So it can "see in the dark", but the snippet is very grainy, I think the example was shot at 36db.

The black stretch, black compress, and contrast enhance features should be useful for low light situations.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 08:31 PM   #10
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Speaking of ergonomics, if you take a look at Boyd's picture the V1U center balances on the area that says "3 CMOS Vario-Sonnar". So when I was holding it from the bottom, my thumb very naturally ended up there. The engineer we spoke with said they specifically moved all buttons out of that area just because of that reason. He also mentioned that it was a very common request from users. Notice also the camcorder handle is just a little bit forward of that area which I found made it very natural to control the camcorder using it's center weight.

That japanese engineer was full of all kinds of useful little tid bits of information :-) he really liked showing off his baby, and he had good reason to be proud.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 11:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wisniewski
That japanese engineer was full of all kinds of useful little tid bits of information :-) he really liked showing off his baby
And here's the proud father with his baby.... and Michael! :-)
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 11:14 PM   #12
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That looks like a really nice size cam. I can't wait to own one!
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Old September 24th, 2006, 04:02 AM   #13
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Thanks for the lux levels Michael. If those are really meaningful, the V1 should shoot natural interiors close Z1, which is doable for me. I'm not looking to shoot in the dark, or use hypergain
The V1 really does look small in the pics- much smaller than the Z, maybe smaller than the PD 170. It is an intreguing camera. I remember being astonished at the disconnect between the A1 size and its capability, looks like the V1 will follow suit in that regard.
I'm really loving my Z1, but it is kind of a fat little pig of a handful. The PD form factor was ideal in my book, for handheld.
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Old September 24th, 2006, 04:59 AM   #14
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FX7/V1 vs FX1/Z1 size

Just take a look at this pic:
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php...e=post&id=3760
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Old September 24th, 2006, 09:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Young
The V1 really does look small in the pics- much smaller than the Z, maybe smaller than the PD 170.
The size looked just like my VX-2000. It is definitely smaller than the Z1, however when I first arrived at the event and saw all the V1's setup on tripods, I thought they were Z1's, so it isn't a huge difference in size.

The attached photo should give you another reference for its size.
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