FX7 vs. HDR-HC1 at DVinfo.net

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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 December 4th, 2006, 05:07 PM   #1
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FX7 vs. HDR-HC1

I jumped on the HDV bandwagon with the Sony HC1 when it came out and have a couple of issues with it that I'm wondering if the FX7 deals with better for run & gun documentaries. I'm mostly a 'point & shoot' filmaker.

1. The autofocus is pretty unreliable on the HC1, is it better on the FX7?
2. The tape takes several seconds to start recording after hitting the record button. (this sucks when filming animals)
3. Does the FX7 look better in low light than the HC1?
4. What are the 3 CMOS chips doing in the FX7 compared to the 1 chip in the HC1?

Any other advantages that might be useful? Thanks for any help.

Last edited by Chris Hink; December 4th, 2006 at 07:10 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 07:24 AM   #2
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I'd like to know about the autofocus on the FX7 as well. The HC1's has given me quite a few problems. With Sony's "no interest till 2009" promotion ending in a few days, I would like to pick up the FX7, but only if the the autofocus has improved.

I shoot a lot of fast moving objects (trains) and using autofocus is a big help for me. My old Canon GL1 had incredible autofocus that never gave me a minutes trouble.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 09:17 AM   #3
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Old February 1st, 2007, 09:43 AM   #4
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I have a Sony HC1 as well as a V1U. I'm not positive the issues on the V1U will translate to the FX1, but I can provide my input:

1) Autofocus: a bit better than the HC1, but still gets confused sometimes. I use manual focus a lot and then use the Auto button on the V1U as well as the peaking display to get good focus.

2) I think that it is the nature of HDV for the recording to sometimes take a couple of seconds to start to record after hitting record. I think this has to do with the recorder having to calculate the GOP points to start recording. In any case I've noticed this with the V1U. Having the unit in record pause helps to make this quicker.

3) The V1U in low light has higher resolution than the HC1, but there is definitely objectionable noise at gains higher than 6db. The good thing about the V1U is that in 'underexposed' areas there is still more detail, so I think it would be possible to increase the gain in post. The V1U's noise at 6db+ gains also exhibits a 'banding' that I've talked about in another post (http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=84024) that talks about this. It is probably my least favorite aspect of the camera, because it makes pans when using high gain very ugly. I'm trying to work around it by increasing the shutter time, manually setting gain, but I've not mastered getting around it completely. The HC1 in low light would tend to reduce resolution. Probably if you're not moving the camera the V1U has a lot more ways to shoot detailed video in low light.

4) From my use of both cameras on the same material, (the other day I used both simultaneously, the HC1 as the B camera for about 4 hours on a documentary shoot) the perceived resolution of the 2 cameras is surprisingly similar. I think the HC1's built-in noise reduction smooths the picture a bit more so it may mask some detail. I think the 3 Cmos of the V1U adds a much richer color range as well as more lattitude. On the same scene and lighting, shadows and highly exposed areas lose detail on the HC1 but details are still apparent with the V1U. This is what I'm most happy about with the V1U, the richness of color and the lattitude. It's quite apparent when viewing the HC1 and V1U picture side by side on a good HD monitor.

I also like the ergonomics of the V1U. The focusing, zoom, iris and a few necessary buttons are all within reach of your left hand when you need to adjust quickly. The V1U is surprisingly light, although quite a bit bigger than the HC1. It's handle makes carrying the camera even easier than carrying the HC1 and producing low angle shots more easily.

To Sum Up:

You may not be 'blown away' with the Picture quality between the 2 cameras, but if you look at similar material between the 2 on a good monitor, you'll notice the difference. You also have a lot more control of the image settings on the V1U. You may miss the HC1's touch screen, but you'll like the manual controls and ergonomics of the larger V1U (FX7) better if you've found the miniturized controls of the HC1 lacking. I think they are a good compliment to each other.


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Old February 1st, 2007, 10:02 AM   #5
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I owned the HC1 for a couple of monts and sold it mainly for the poor lowlight performance; then I had the V1 for just a couple of days, effectively. I agree with all points of Keith's; I'd only add that the barrel distorsion and CA (or otherwise inflicted color fringing/separation) was surprisingly MUCH less visible on the HC1 than the V1. This constitutes the strongest points of the HC1 tiny lenses.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 10:19 AM   #6
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The reason is that the little lens was not that hot. I used to have an HVR-A1U (same as HC1) too. I felt that the barrel distortion, CA etc. was minimal because A1U footage was much softer than my Z1 or XL-H1 (not a very good lens).

I sold the camera because of image softness, high noise levels in low light, and the lack of faithful reproduction of reds. It also had a lack of professional manual controls and exposure was hard to adjust in small increments.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 06:31 PM   #7
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Auto focus

I think the auto focus is very good on the FX7, except in low light when it can "hunt" a bit. (coming from VX 2000).

The good part about it is it has a manual override, even in auto mode, so you can quickly grab focus yourself, without having to hunt around for a manual button to push

Cheers Vaughan
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Old February 2nd, 2007, 10:48 AM   #8
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I found the auto focus on the FX7 very responsive. I have filmed model plane footage and with zoom it gave me excellent results. I don't know about the HC1 as I never owned one. Generally I am very happy with my choice with the FX7; just the camera I wanted with most items in the auto mode and only some essentials for manual adjustments if you want. Also I hear people that the low sensitivity of this camera was not good but let me tell you I have filmed in low lights indoor footage with my TRV80 that has 7 lux and the results were good and with this camera that has 4 lux the results are excellent.

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