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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 April 23rd, 2007, 03:15 AM   #1
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Need opinions on V1 Purchase

Hey guys this is my first time posting here but I have been reading the forums for more than a year now. I'm looking for opinions on what camera to get and you all know between which ones :) either the Canon A1 or Sony V1U. I have been following both these cameras for the past couple of months and I still can't make up my mind. However I need to buy one of them this week or next week as I am about to go on a trip in May and do some shooting. I would like to know what you guys would recommend. As for the price difference, I'm not to worried about it because at B&H, it is only a $300 difference between them. But first I will let you know what I'm looking for in a camera and little background of myself.

First of all I've been filming for the past couple of years, the first camera I got was the DVX100 back in 2003. So I'm looking to upgrade now to HD and wanted to know which one of the two compares greatly to it: in terms of use, ergonomics, weight and performance. I mostly do weddings and event videography. But I also help as a volunteer for a youth group and I film their conferences (mostly held in a theater or hotel) every year. For that same youth group I do little video shorts for the talks (here is an example of the type of shoot I would do for them, it's youtube so not the best quality but you get the idea: And in between the gigs I have, I like to just go out and make little movies.

So judging by my background and the type of shoots I do, what camera would you guys recommend? Here some questions I have:

1) As far as low light, I know the A1 is supposedly better than the V1U, but I wanted to know how bad is the V1U compared to it? When I was filming with my DVX100, I had the original one so I couldn't use Gain in progressive, so I'm used to having to light certain scenes. So is the V1U as low light tolerant as the DVX? Alot of the weddings have low light at the reception. But I also have a mini-frezz with a dimmer to help with lighting. Would the V1U be fine with that?

2) Which one is the sharpest between the two in progressive? I know this might be a hot debate, but in terms of picture quality, if both were shot outside in equal lighting, which one would a produce the better picture? Which one has the better progressive mode (I shoot alot in 24P)?

3) As for ergonomics, I'm used to recording hand held with the DVX and it's fine for me. However I'm looking to buying the Steadicam Merlin and would like to know which would be easier on the arms between the two. Which one would I be able to use hand held alot? How is the OIS between the 2?

4) I'm shooting a dance competition in May (here is the website so you can see the location: and would probably be using 60i for it, which between the two cameras would be perfect for the scene: in terms of lighting (the only light will come from stage lights) and in capturing the fluid dance movements.

5) Workflow: I use FCP at home and I wanted to know which one works the easiest with it? I was planning on buying a Firestore also so I can just record into quicktime and just import it (I was looking at Sony's HD unit but it only records to m2t and FCP seems to not support it right now, I could convert with MPEG Streamclip but that is more time taken). I understand that FCP doesn't support Sony's progressive yet.

So in conclusion guys (sorry long post). What would you guys recommend base on my background and the type of shoots I do? I'm looking for an all around camcorder that would fit my style and b easy to edit with in post. I would really appreciate all the info I can get, this community has been so helpful!
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 08:13 AM   #2
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Practical sensitivity between the two isn't nearly as great as one might think. Both offer similar performance, and both offer similar features. I'd say that no matter how you slice it down, you can't go wrong with either. If you have legacy gear ie; batteries and such, that could sway the decision one way or another. If you have no legacy, then it's really a matter of which one 'feels' right to you.
Neither camera can be said to be "better" than the other. I personally love the menus of the A1, although I find the binary interface to be non-intuitive and I have to pay close attention to what I'm doing. The V1 is slighly less deep, and uses sliders/graphical interfaces to show values.
Some prefer the topslide out LCD on the A1 for viewfinding. Others prefer the side panel. YMMV. I do like the iris ring on the A1 better than the wheel on the V1, but can also say that I *could have* messed up a shot with the A1 the other day when I had it held tight to a chunk of beanbag, and pushed the cam up. With the smaller, left side iris wheel of the V1, this couldn't have happened.

Color on both is outstanding, color caste is slightly different as one might expect.

it's a tough call. I don't believe you could go wrong with either. If you needed HDSDI and T/C, then it's a no-brainer. Get the G1. But since you're a one-man's back to the tough call.
Wish i could be more helpfup. :-)
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 09:13 AM   #3
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Something that may help influence the decision (that I've inferred from other posts) is your style of shooting. The V1U has a lot of stuff in menus. I think, in a run-and-gun style, you'll need to plan out your running and gunning as much as possible and setup your profiles/presets/etc., accordingly. If you're doing more fixed shoots (tripod, or handheld where conditions don't really change), then the menu-driven interface won't get in the way.

I can't speak for the Canon XH-A1/G1, not having physically held one....but that iris ring sure was tempting...but in the end, there's not a whole lot of difference between a focus ring, zoom ring, iris ring vs. a focus ring, zoom ring, and iris dial. Now if only I could remember which way to turn the dial...

Just my opinion. Here's another thing (DSE alluded to): I have a bunch of L-series batteries laying around. Plus, I can buy extras at Wal-m...umm, Target. So, Sony it is!

I wanted to hold out for the XDCAM EX, with almost everything (apparently) controlled by buttons and switches. Unfortunately, I won't have a computer to take advantage of the format until next spring, and I needed the camera this spring....

Oh, well.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 01:30 PM   #4
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Hi Wendell,

I'm in the same boat. I've been lurking around this forum for a few months trying to get as much info as possible. Just like you I'm still undecided between the A1 & V1 but for the past few days I've been leaning towards the V1. I love the menus on the A1 but I'm not crazy about the 2.5 LCD and weight it's a little too heavy for me. I know I have to make up my mind before June 15th to get the rebate but I'm sure that whichever camera I get I will be happy compared to what I've been using all these years.

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Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:42 PM   #5
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The form factor alone is a huge reason why I love the V1U and did not consider the Canon camcorders.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 11:12 PM   #6
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Thank you for all the opinions. So far I've been slowly leaning towards the V1 as I just seem to like the form factor of the camera and the V1 community here is great to rely upon. But however I'm just worried about the low light performance. I'm worried that during a reception or during the dance competition I would have to bump up the gain and not get a good clean picture. However if anyone of you think that the low light performance is not that big an issue; I mean if it's comparable to a non gain DVX100 (I shot no gain all the time with the DVX), than I shoud be fine with the V1. I do am worried about the rolling shutter issue but as people have said, you really have to go to extremes to exploit it and that you won't see it under normal shooting conditions. One other thing that bothers me though is the 24P workflow for the Mac. I know the A1 is supported but so far Apple hasn't said anything about the V1 yet and I'm not sure when I will be upgrading to FCP Studio 2. These little quibbles have been holding me back. I feel like sometimes I want to get an A1 because from reading the Canon forums, it looks like very few users complain about anything major wrong with the camera. However in the V1 side, I see alot of threads about "rolling shutter", "oil paint effect", "FCP incompatibilities", "low light", etc. Seems to make a potential buyer worried :)

Douglas - I really appreciate all the info you gave, like you said, it is a tough decision. Your review was the first one I read of the V1 and that convinced me back then to buy one. One question, as of now, which camera do you prefer using?

Matt - Thanks for the advice also, all my shoots are mixed, hahaha. But I did read from Steve Mullen's articles that the V1's LCD is a pleasure to use compared to the A1. And also that it has a helpful histogram to help you along with your shots.

Kajito and Craig- Yes your both right, hahaha, it's been a tough call to make between these two! However I do like the form factor of the V1 better, it weighs less and seems to fit more for just grabbing the camcorder and going out and recording without having to setup a tripod, etc. Seems like a camcorder I can use more often.

In all thank you again for the suggestions, if anyone else has any answers for any of my questions I had first posted about, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm looking to narrowing down my decision by the end of this week (gotta film a wedding on May 5th!).
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Old April 24th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #7
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Hi Wendell, I'm in the same boat as you mate. V1 or A1? I've had the chance to hold and handle both now (haven't done any shooting yet, but will do soon). And both look and feel like solidly made, serious equipment.

My main problem comes from having spoken to a dealer who sells mostly Sonys when looking at the V1 and a dealer who sells mostly Canons when looking at the A1. The Sony guy told me that the difference in low-light and DOF performance is negligable, but everything I've seen on the internet would seem to contradict that (and he also told me you could run Final Cut Pro on PC - which would suggest to me that he's at the least not worth asking questions of, and at the worst an idiot).

The people I spoke to today (they hire Sonys, but don't sell them) suggested the difference in low-light is considerable (DOF with 1/4" or 1/3" chips is going to be very limited either way). However, the V1's CMOS chips give you a nicer image in well-lit situations than the A1's CCDs... All of which makes deciding between the two an absolute pain in the ass!

I think if you're going to be doing VERY minimal amounts of low-light work you should get the Sony (the image is going to be nicer in well-lit situations). However if you are going to be doing regular low-light work (wedding receptions etc...) you should get the XHA1, it can give you a quality image in those situations that the tiny CMOS chips in the Sony just can't match.

I personally find myself leaning more toward the XHA1. I shoot no-budget student short films and low-light performance is a must for me. And on that front the Canon edges out the Sony.

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Old April 24th, 2007, 12:39 AM   #8
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It's a very tough call, IMO. I like them both. Being armed with both, weight and balance are a big consideration, depending on what I'm doing.
Low light...CCD should win on the merits of numbers but the DSP of the V1 is pretty darn impressive. A1 has greater menu depth, but that comes at a cost of more difficult menu navigation. V1 has much better LCD panel, A1 has faster access to certain exposure modes.

I think this one either requires ridiculous amounts of measure and thought, or a personal touch on both cams and see which one "speaks" to you. Can't recommend one over the other. One small factor that plays large for me, the DR60 mounts easily to the V1, and talks to the V1 electronics/menu displays.
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Old April 26th, 2007, 03:05 PM   #9
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Hi again guys. So far I really appreciate all your advice. It's like every night I would lean towards the V1, and then I would read something about the A1 and leans towards that. It really is a pain!

Couple of questions, it's nearing the end of the week so I gotta make my decision soon (the wedding is next week) :)

1) How does the DOF of the Sony compare to the canon A1? I was planning on buying a Letus 35mm later on to help with the DOF. However the clips that i saw that used the Canon stock lens was impressive (the bokeh seemed really good)! Would getting a 35mm hamper the low light performance of the V1 really severly?

2) I was planning on buying Sony's wide angle adapter to help with the wide end. My question is, can I just leave it on the camera the whole time and not take it off (i'm not familiar with wide angle adapters) so I can match Canon's Lens from wide to telephoto. Or do I have to take it off when I want to zoom in and such?

3) One thing though that the Sony has over the Canon is the XLR inputs and how you can record one to the onboard mic and the other to a Line. I know the Canon only lets you do either one or the other. When I'm recording performances I usually plug a Line in so I can get the music and voices that are directly going into the sound board's mixer and I use the onboard mic to get ambient sound such as the crowd response. Does the Sony cost more because of other features that are left out of the Canon?

4) it looks like the price difference between the two is getting smaller to the point where it's even negligible (a local distributor was quoting the V1 for me at $3200). If both were the same price, would I be getting a better deal by buying the Sony because of certain feautres?

5) So far from the sample clips people have posted up, the Canon seems to give out a very organic or smooth look while the V1 seems to be very "video" like or electronic? Is this just based on camera settings and both cameras can give out the same look?

6) How is the color compared on both? I know the Canon doesn't get as colorful as the HVX200. I wanted to know how it compared to the Sony.

7) As for the low light it seems that by only running progressive does the resolution go down when upping the gain (per Adam Wilt's review). My question is, is it that bad or noticeable in real live applications not test charts? Plus I would usually just be shooting in progressive in controlled light situations and would shoot interlace in others (Adam says you don't really notice a resolution drop in interlace until you hit 12+ gain). How is the noise in the canon compare to the sony?

Any other advice would be great guys, thanks for all your help!
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