V1U impressions from DV Expo West at DVinfo.net

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Old November 19th, 2006, 11:40 AM   #1
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V1U impressions from DV Expo West

I saw the V1U at DV Expo a few days ago so I thought I'd share some notes.

The Camera

They had three V1U's on display but all of them were tied down to fluid heads. So I couldn't pick one up and see how it felt hand-held. The grip is not as curved as I thought it would be like an ENG grip. The grip is also a lighter grey color than the rest of the body. The camera is noticeably smaller and narrower than the Canon XH-A1/G1 and the HVX200. Man, I had forgotten how massive the HVX200 is. The back end of it is just one big imposing brick. If you're interested in industrial design aesthetics, I would say the V1U is the most elegant looking (other than the cheesy color for the grip), following by the XH-A1, then the poor HVX200 which is just plain homely. No offense to all you HVX200 owners out there.

The focus ring feels about the same as the XH-A1. It is stiffer than the Z1's ring.

The zoom ring turns continuously and it is always active. The zoom rocker has no speed limiter or special quick zoom feature like the XH-A1, as far as I could tell. The maximum zoom speed did not feel especially fast. I also noticed that the zoom has a very pronounced feathering when you zoom fast and stop. So as you are zooming out fast (or zooming in) and you let go of the rocker, the zoom continues on slightly as it slows down to a stop. I'm not sure what to think of this feature. It's much more noticeable than any other camera that I have used before. I don't know if this is the same or different than the Z1.

I liked the histogram and the peaking displays. With peaking you can select low, mid, or high and three different colors: white, red or yellow. The LCD and VF were nice, but other than being bigger, I can't say they were that much different than the XH-A1. One of the Sony reps did say the LCD was a trans-reflective panel so it's probably better in sunlight than the Canon. I also like the large eyecup on the V1, which was very comfortable even with glasses on. You can also assign Steadyshot on/off to one of the custom buttons.

The zoom can be displayed as a bar or a number. The focus can be displayed as a distance but not as a scaled number.

The interval recording only works in 60i mode. It has the same settings as in past Sony cameras. When in progressive, interval recording is disabled. I couldn't figure out how to access the picture control menus so I don't know how extensive those controls are.

Footage

At their booth, Sony showed recorded V1U footage on a large Sony consumer plasma screen and a smaller consumer LCD screen. They also showed some of the same footage projected onto a roughly 20 foot sized screen in a separate room.

The footage in the booth consisted of the following:

People waiting at an outdoor train station (24P, late afternoon contrasty lighting, medium to full telephoto). Almost all of the shots had strong highlights and deep shadows. The latitude looked good (especially if you are use to 1/3" SD-DV cameras like me), but I can't really say if it was vastly superior to the competing products. It definitely looked nice--just don't expect miracles.

Indoor studio photo shoot with a female model (24P, studio lighting, medium to full telephoto). Very beautiful images. Lots of extreme close-ups of her face and eyes showing an excruciating amount of detail. But it didn't have that edge enhancement video look to it. The lens looked sharp throughout its zoom range. The footage reminded me of one of those cosmetic or hair products commercials on TV, except this was shot on a 1/4" HDV camcorder.

Scenes of Times Square and cabbies in Manhattan (24P, outdoor, mostly even lighting--seems to be in the afternoon, late afternoon). Mix of wide, medium and long shots. Footage of signs, people, cars, etc. Colors looked really good. Motion quality looked good. Wide shots did not look soft. Long shots of the cabbies had a wonderfully filmic quality to it. Apparently the real secret to getting the film look is to just shoot scenes of Manhattan cabbies ;)

The projected footage had 10 minutes of footage, half of it in 60i and the other half 24P. The 24P footage was exactly the same as the model photo shoot being shown on the expo floor. The 60i footage had outdoor scenes mostly under bright mid-day sun. There were grass and flower fields, beach scenes, mountain lake scenes and a soccer game. Mix of wide, medium and long shots. This 60i footage is the same footage on the V1 promo DVD and probably the same footage Boyd saw at the V1U press conference.

My thoughts on the projected footage were mixed. The 24P footage was simply awesome, no doubt about it. I would be perfectly happy with that kind of footage. But the 60i footage just did not wow me. It seemed soft and over exposed. I couldn't figure out why it was like that since the 24P looked so good. I went home and reviewed this 60i footage on the V1 promo DVD again and compared it to 60i footage on an XDCam promo DVD. There was a very noticeable difference to me. The XDCam was way better. It was like watching 2/3" Betacam SP footage versus 1/3" DV footage. Of course, you would expect the 1/2" XDCam to look better, but I was so impressed by the V1's 24P footage on the expo floor that I would have thought 60i would be a lot closer. Oh well, maybe it can be chalked up to operator error or pre-production issues. I wouldn't make any conclusions until the camera ships and we really know what we have.

Overall, I liked the camera and the footage. I still don't know whether I will buy a V1 or an XH-A1. The XH-A1 is definitely a very nice camera, but it's somewhat large and heavy for what I need it for. I have to give credit to Canon for a more creative and fun show booth. They had a mad scientist scene with a cute, retro model who would pose for us. Panasonic and Sony had the usual stale fruit baskets and bookcases.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 12:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim N Le
This 60i footage is the same footage on the V1 promo DVD and probably the same footage Boyd saw at the V1U press conference.
I have that DVD, and I watched it on my 37" plasma screen at home. There was absolutely no comparison between that and what I saw on the 40 foot screen at Sony Plaza. It was the same footage, but when downsampled to DVD quality it wasn't particularly impressive; my Z1 would have looked the same. But seen in full HD quality it was noticeably sharper than I would expect from my Z1.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #3
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Nice report, Tim, many thanks for posting this... you didn't happen to shoot any photos of the Sony booth at the Expo, did you? (Is there anybody here who did take some photos at the show?)
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Old November 19th, 2006, 03:13 PM   #4
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Yes, I did take some pictures. Here are some views of the V1U, XH-A1 and HVX200. Enjoy!
Attached Thumbnails
V1U impressions from DV Expo West-v1u_left.jpg   V1U impressions from DV Expo West-v1u_right.jpg  

V1U impressions from DV Expo West-a1_left.jpg   V1U impressions from DV Expo West-a1_right.jpg  

V1U impressions from DV Expo West-hvx200.jpg  

Last edited by Tim Le; November 19th, 2006 at 04:38 PM.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #5
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I saw the same V1 footage at both Sony locations at the DV Expo (booth and projection room on the 3rd floor) AND felt the same way about it. The 24p close-ups of the fashion model were really nice and detailed. Great stuff. The 60i footage looked soft and muddy to me - especially on the flower scenes. I was really surprised to see such a difference. The Canon 3-chip HDV footage at 60i - to me anyways - looks superior in sharpness to the V1 60i footage.

Since I'm shooting corporate stuff for my first HD project next year, I'm leaning towards the Canon offerings for this reason. If my client would consider 30p, the V1 would make this a VERY tough choice - at least based on the footage I saw at the show. I'm assuming the V1's 30p would look as nice as their 24p... There's no way my client will want 24p - too much "judder" on motion shots. If only I could afford the XDCAM HD... sigh...

If someone comes out with a 1/3" or 1/2" CMOS camcorder soon - look out!

Stuart
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Old November 19th, 2006, 05:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Le
Man, I had forgotten how massive the HVX200 is. The back end of it is just one big imposing brick. If you're interested in industrial design aesthetics, I would say the V1U is the most elegant looking (other than the cheesy color for the grip), following by the XH-A1, then the poor HVX200 which is just plain homely. No offense to all you HVX200 owners out there.
I thought I was the only one who thought that the HVX is down right ugly. It looks like it was designed by guys stuck in the 1980's.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 06:02 PM   #7
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Thanks for that, Tim. How did the Times Square footage of the V1 compare with the A1 clip that Spencer Lum posted, in terms of sharpness and filmic quality?

The ironic thing is that the bums hanging out in Times Square probably know more about these cameras than most of us ...
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Old November 19th, 2006, 07:05 PM   #8
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The HVX looks and feels like a piece of military equipment. It's got the ergonomics of a tank. Definitely wasn't speaking 'handycam' to me when I first held it. (Not to mention all the 'support' gear I had to use with it on the shoot, but off topic and another story).

It's too bad you couldn't hold the V1 in your hand and get a feel for it. I was surprised when I picked up the HC1 for the first time. It's has a solid feel to it, and not like some cheap plastic consumer cam. I would emagine something similiar for the V1.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 09:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lammey
The ironic thing is that the bums hanging out in Times Square probably know more about these cameras than most of us ...
LOL! You know, that's really funny because most of the attendees at DV Expo had no idea what the V1U was. A lot of people, even a Panasonic rep, asked me what camera it was. And yet there is probably a bum somewhere near One Times Square babbling something about ClearVid CMOS sensors to passing tourists haha.

I saw Spencer's footage before I went to DV Expo, so I made it a point to try to compare it to the V1U footage. Keep in mind the V1U footage was shot in more light, probably in the afternoon to late afternoon. But it was at least equal to the A1 in sharpness, color and filmic quality. A lot of the shots were medium to wide lock-offs, so you had time to soak in the footage and see everything going on. There was a lot of detail--but not bad video like detail. There was also a lot of motion--cars going by, people walking, some moderate pans--and the motion quality felt right. During the projected Fashion Model footage, they left in unedited footage where the camera operator does some quick zoom in/outs and pans to reframe for the next shot and during those quick moves I didn't really see any judder. But then again, this was a studio setting so the background was a uniform grey.

Someone else said this in another thread and I have to agree, the V1U footage really has a certain "pop" to it, especially the New York footage and the Fashion Model footage.

Peter, I wish I could have held it too, but it seems pretty solid just from interacting with it.
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Old November 20th, 2006, 04:22 PM   #10
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Buddy, can you spare 4 grand?

Just remember, it's mostly the unemployed (and under-employed) who get to keep up daily w/all these equipment forums!

I think between the V1 and the Canon A1, the real decider could be which one has the more workable focusing aid, if either camera pulls ahead much in that area. -And if neither is much of an improvement, then which has the more accurate (-horrors!) AF. For those hoping to make a feature w/out constant use of an external monitor, that should be the holy grail feature of affordable HD cams.

Note from Adam Wilt's 1st look at the Sony:
"Dynamic range and noise on the prototype looked roughly comparable to those of the Z1, but I'm withholding detailed judgments until a shipping version of the camera is available for test."

If there is not a real measurable improvement in the Sony's DR, then it will probably still be down to the basics: lens specs, VFs, controls/ergonomics.

Speaking of lens specs, the Canon impressively focuses down to ~1m at full tele; anyone know how the Sony's min dist would compare at an equiv focal length?
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Old November 21st, 2006, 08:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Vlad Manning
Speaking of lens specs, the Canon impressively focuses down to ~1m at full tele; anyone know how the Sony's min dist would compare at an equiv focal length?
Hi Vlad

Minimum focus distance is 1cm (13/32in) at full wideangle.
Minimum focus distance is 80cm (2 5/8ft) at full tele.

regards
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 11:03 PM   #12
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Did Sony give any details on the 24p workflow they used?
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 10:49 AM   #13
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No, during the screening they just introduced the video and showed it. I didn't ask much about workflow issues on the expo floor, but the reps mainly said any NLE right now would ingest the video as 60i with pulldown and later when the camera ships, NLE's will be updated to remove the pulldown. I asked one rep if the encoder was using more of its bandwidth to add the pulldown as opposed to Canon's 24F which creates 24 distinct frames and he said yes, it does use bandwidth to add pulldown.

For delivery dates, the reps were saying December. Some said mid December. All of them were very skittish about saying whether other products were coming at NAB. But they were all adamant that the V1U was not replacing the Z1U. Which of course, makes you go hmmm.
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 01:26 PM   #14
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Thanks for that info. Wouldn't it be clever if the encoded data had a 'duplicate this frame' pulldown, instead of actually duplicating a frame. :-) oh so simple compression OSSC? :-)

I'm willing to wait and see what the eventual output looks like. Many aspects of that design appear to be marketing constraints to me, not tech / price constraits at present. This opens the door for clever, young new Web 2.0, ah I mean Video 2.0 companies to arrive. :-)

time will tell
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 07:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Tim Le

For delivery dates, the reps were saying December. Some said mid December. All of them were very skittish about saying whether other products were coming at NAB. But they were all adamant that the V1U was not replacing the Z1U. Which of course, makes you go hmmm.
I've had my fingers crossed for an earlier delivery. Looks like mine will arrive after my next shoot in early December. Bummer...
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