FX7 or V1 for the South Pacific 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 February 8th, 2007, 09:05 PM   #1
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FX7 or V1 for the South Pacific

Of course this question is dependant on the situation.

Basically, I will be making my first documentary on the poorly studied and rarely visited seamounts (underwater mountains that do not break the surface) in the South Pacific. Also, being filmed would be life on some of the neighboring remote atolls. So the camera will be used for a combination of underwater and surface shots.

The goal of the film is basically to document an amazing part of the world and to bring a bit of awareness to the public. I am not sure how this film would be distributed.

Cost is what makes me begin to question which camera to purchase, especially since I need to buy two cameras (One as a backup).

From what I see, the main differences between the two are 24p/30p ability and XLR audio input. With the FX7, I am wondering if I could get by with a XLR/mini adapter. Of note, there is not much potential interference on a remote South Pacific Island other than an occasionally used radio tower to contact the outside world. I do not know if this could even be an issue.

Also am questioning that for this type of documentary and not knowing how it will be distributed, is 1080i an ok format to use.

By the way, I know this is the Sony FX7/V1, but I will make the note that the Canon A1 probably will not be an option as a decent underwater housing will not released in time. Plus the Sony’s size combined with a smaller underwater housing may be advantageous for long distance travel and life on a small sailboat.

Thanks for reading my lengthy post. As this really is once in the life time opportunity for me, I am concerned about making a wise decision on gear while trying to keep cost in control. I appreciate your thoughts.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 01:42 AM   #2
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Jonah,

Does the difference in physical layout of the two cameras make a difference in the housing? The V1U has the XLR connectors and adjustment block up top and the mic holder protrudes out the side. Of course, the mic is removeable.

I don't think you will get interference on 1/8" plugs on the FX7. I used the VX2000 for years with no cable interference. XLR is really needed for long runs where the mic cable might encounter electrical interference. A stage might have all sorts of power lines running under it for lights and other equipment so a stage mic cable could pass around dozens of power lines with AC current. If you are only going to have short cable runs and can keep your mic cable away from power or other noise-generating equipment, don't worry too much about the cable. The big benefit from the XLR connectors on the V1 is the variety of mics available.

I think the big benefits of the V1 over the FX7 may be in the image enhancements possible by Knee, Black Compensation, and the additional light sensitivity possible by shooting progressive. Personally, I don't like 24p, but I can shoot 30p at 1/30th of a second without it looking too bad. The added motion blur is less noticeable than several db of gain that would be needed in dark situations. I think 30p at 1/48th shutter is probably viable in most situations as it adds half an f-stop of light sensitivity yet retains the standard film shutter speed so motion blur is not excessive. Check and see if the FX7 also has the daylight white-balance +/- adjustment selection. The ability to manually adjust the white balance cooler or warmer on the V1 is really nice as I can dial in some warmth if the situation is right. Without this feature, people need to use color temperature cards and trick the white balance. I can just dial in the color temperature to taste.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 02:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
I don't think you will get interference on 1/8" plugs on the FX7. I used the VX2000 for years with no cable interference. XLR is really needed for long runs where the mic cable might encounter electrical interference.

I think the big benefits of the V1 over the FX7 may be in the image enhancements possible by Knee, Black Compensation, and the additional light sensitivity possible by shooting progressive. Personally, I don't like 24p, but I can shoot 30p at 1/30th of a second without it looking too bad.

Check and see if the FX7 also has the daylight white-balance +/- adjustment selection. The ability to manually adjust the white balance cooler or warmer on the V1 is really nice as I can dial in some warmth if the situation is right. Without this feature, people need to use color temperature cards and trick the white balance. I can just dial in the color temperature to taste.
I completely agree on the lack of need for XLR in most situations, especially if you clip a wireless receiver to the cold-shoe. You won't miss the Cinetone or the Gammas. Compress/Stretch can be easily done where needed in post. Knee might be useful, but I'll bet you would never NEED it.

The ability to alter the look of Outdoor is very useful in mixed CT light or in outdoor shadows. But, neither of these conditions are likely where you are going. Remember, you really should use Manual WB anyway. Plus you can warm/cool tone in post.

Do not even consider 24p or 30p. You'll wind-up with motion judder you don't need. Shoot 60i and you've got sources you can do anything with.

Bottom-line, the FX7 is fine. I would put the money in a good dual-channel, diversity wireless with a pair of lav mics for interviews. And, a folding cloth reflecter -- with white and gold sides.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 07:55 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I appreciate you taking the time and your input. You have convinced me the FX7 is a wise purchase for my situation.

Now I can used the money saved towards the numerous accessories I need to procure as well.

By the way, Aloha, Marcus. I lived in Hawaii for 8 years way back when.

Thanks again.
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Old February 11th, 2007, 07:23 AM   #5
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I already have a Lectrosonics wireless, so the extra V1 functions were a bit of a splurge but didn't stop me from getting something critical. I should probably still get a good shotgun mic, but that can wait. I'm sure the FX7 will be a fantastic camera. It's quite a nice image for $2850 and it's footage was part of the reason I bought the V1U.

Get a really good wireless or you will regret that mistake. I got a cheap wireless and it bit me like a hungry swarm of black tiger mosquitos (Hawaii reference). Wait, maybe the black tiger variety is too new for you. The buggers come out during the day or night and we were afflicted by them because of last years super-heavy rains. They are the most aggressive mosquitos I have ever seen. They make dive-boming runs at you and persist until they bite you or they are dead. Fortunately, most of the year we have no mosquitos at all. :) Aloha!

Don't forget that you also need other things like a decent tripod, extra batteries, a polarizing filter, and Steve's right about the reflector. While you are getting lighting, you should look into a small video light as the FX7 is not as sensitive as it's Sony SD predecessors.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 08:28 PM   #6
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Hey Marcus,

I do not remember the Tiger mosquitoes; however, I do remember the Tiger sharks. A little different bite I guess.

I will listen to your guys recommendation for a quality wireless .

Thanks
Jonah
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Old February 13th, 2007, 08:48 PM   #7
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I'm not sure which underwater housing your getting but the
Amphibico housing does allow underwater audio for the
V1...

If your not going alone and you did say you wanted two camera's then you
could do like I did last year while shooting Komodo underwater... we brought
two cam's/housings, I shot with one, a friend shot with the other cam and afterwards we combined the footage and it worked out quite well as we had different perspectives of the trip. But end the end we also had over 10 hours
of video to edit thru... took a while for that. We did the shoot in 9 days and
each day was 5 dives so there wasn't much time to do land footage, though we did get some of the komodo dragons and such.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 05:30 AM   #8
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"I think 30p at 1/48th shutter is probably viable in most situations as it adds half an f-stop of light sensitivity yet retains the standard film shutter speed"

I made an error. The V1 can not shoot at 1/48th at 30p. I wish it could, but I confused that with 1/40th at 24p. I don't know why there is both 1/48 and 1/40 for 24p, but I melded those into what I thought about 30p. Still, 1/30th doesn't look nearly as bad as too much gain. Even 9db of gain is noticeable and anything over that is bad. With 1/30th shutter in a dark situation (fire artists performing in a park at night), I can get excellent results. The V1U does not switch to 15fps when the shutter speed is lowered to 1/30th in 30p unlike 60i cameras.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 05:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
I don't know why there is both 1/48 and 1/40 for 24p,
If you view as degrees it is 180 and 216. I found the 216 far nicer as it adds a bit more motion blur.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #10
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"I found the 216 far nicer as it adds a bit more motion blur."

See what I mean? Some people even prefer the slower shutter speed. I really think V1 owners should look into 1/30 shutter at 30P as an option for low-light shooting. It might look odd during daylight with fast motion, but people expect night to look different and slower shutter (with normal framerate) may be acceptable. I read that "Colatteral" was shot with 270-degree shutter which is about 1/32 and I don't think most people but cinematographers with their own preference were upset by the motion blur in that movie.

On the topic of wireless mics:

I think that the Sennheiser Evolution series have had lots of praise in their price bracket. They cost about $500. I have also used ~$500 UHF systems from other makers that also worked well. I am not aware of a good system that costs appreciably less. I use a Lectrosonics as I wanted the very best after a disaster with a poor wireless years ago. The Sennheiser was not available at the time. My Lectrosonics 100 series was about $1200 and it is possible to spend several thousand on a digital/hybrid system. As long as you get a multi-channel UHF system, you should be fine. Don't get a single-frequency system as you have no options if there is interference on that channel. The very cheapest system I have used that fits this discription is the Samson micro32 which is at B&H for $350. It's probably fine for fairly close ranges, but you might want something better for general use because you don't always control the situation. With my Lectrosonics, I can shoot a wedding from behind the altar and hear the bride and groom after they exit the church over 100' away behind a concrete wall. I have never had a dropout while the subject is in visual range. Unfortunately, it might be bad to mix systems as they will have different audio qualities. This means you probably need identical systems and they both need to be top-notch. One good thing about lav systems made for recording, and not performance, is that they use omni mics. This allows one mic to pick up decent audio for about 5 feet around it if the environment isn't too noisy. For events, I put a single lav on a key person or location. For speeches, I tape the mic on the podium. What you might try is buying one good mic for now and get another after you have decided whether or not it is right for you. That way, you don't buy two mics you don't like.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
It might look odd during daylight with fast motion, but people expect night to look different and slower shutter (with normal framerate) may be acceptable.
Given the BBC report on video looking too sharp to look like "film" the 216 shutter helps -- even in the daylight.

I recommended a diversity system because it prevents signal loss upon movement. I know nothing about wireless mics other than everyone says the good ones are expensive. Oh, and every cheap one I've tried didn't work.

Remember dual-channel handles 2 mics into stereo recording. This is not the same as diversity which uses dual antennas.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #12
 
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Let's keep the subject of wireless mics to the "Now Hear This" forum, please?
Some of the audio information presented in this thread is inaccurate, and would be best served by all to discuss audio in the audio forum.

Let's keep the shutter angle discussion going.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:15 AM   #13
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Jonah, which housings will you be using for the FX7? AFAIK, only aquavideo has one that's available.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #14
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Drew – I was going to get the housing from Gates, which is due to be release the end of March or early April at the latest. They are supposed to have a very good choice in optics including the high-end Fathom lens.

Marcus – The Sennheiser G2 is exactly what I was looking at. As I have a specific audio question, I will keep it to the audio section as suggested.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 05:41 PM   #15
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Jonah, are you sure they'll have the Fathoms lens for the FX7? The SWA44 works for the HVX200, FX/Z1 but with the 62mm FX7 there may be another lens for it. Make sure.
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