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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old November 13th, 2007, 08:22 PM   #1
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How tough is a sony Z1P?

Hi, I work for a small media company in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. We recently upgraded to HDV and bought 2 sony Z1P cameras. Both have died in the space of about 3 months.

One had a sticking focus and zoom controler problem, so couldn't focus or zooom in or out.

The other had its LCD display fry along with the viewfinder, working on one shot, moved the camera and then nada. This one also refused to eject the tape for about a day.

Has anyone else run into similar problems with these cameras?

Previously we were using Sony PD-150's, we got about 3 years out of them with regular servicing, a much more robust camera methinks.
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Old November 13th, 2007, 08:25 PM   #2
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Hi David and welcome to DVinfo. I got my Z1 in June 2005 and haven't had a single problem with it yet. I have done absolutely no maintenance. But my usage has been light to moderate.

BTW, I moved your post to our Z1 forum which is the correct place to discuss this issue.
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Old November 13th, 2007, 09:36 PM   #3
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I've used my Z1 miles offshore sharkfishing in Florida and the Bahamas, in rainforests in Costa Rica, including going down ziplines and rappelling and filming in the mists of waterfalls... also lots of mud involved. Also filmed for a week on a beach. And a few days on airboats in a swamp.

Never had to do any maintenance other than cleaning, though I keep my camera in a Pelican case whenever I'm not shooting.

It's a tough camera, as far as what I can tell. :)

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Old November 14th, 2007, 12:42 AM   #4
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The Z1/FX1 seems to be a little more delicate. The PD150 is a smaller camera and the casework seems to be stiffer, therefore less inclined to movement or twisting which will in turn cause stuff to move inside. The tension system in the Z1/FX1 tape transport may be a little more susceptable to dust and drying out as it is a different design. My camera got dusted at an outdoors music gig and problems started soon after despite a clean, first showing up as bad captures.

The PD150 used on the same dusty shoot did not cause problems but the serviceman said that regardless, it had needed attention.

Heat and vibration from the roads may be in combination, your worst enemy.

Heat will tend to drive off the light fractions in permanent lube anywhere in the lens, that is assuming there is any.

If the designed guide bearing surfaces in the lens are dry plastic or nylon on metal, rapid shaking from dirt roads may cause premature wear and tight spots from wear debris building up on the surfaces.

This combination will also tend to loosen ribbon cable ends as the plastic which forms the end clamps and the ribbon cable insulation itself becomes more compliant in the heat and the vibration may cause a resistive joint if there is movement and some wear debris builds up.

Not much I can suggest as a remedy except try to keep the dust out, the heat away and transport the camera in a padded case with the lens set to wide-angle and the front of the camera facing up. Don't let the weight be taken by the camera battery.

This position will impose less intense vibrational loads on the guides and followers inside the lens and avoid worn spots midway along the guides which might become sticky otherwise. If the lens fails, it then more likely fails in the most useable position.

The retention of the tape might be related to dewing if the camera was moved in and out of airconditioned environments. The front floorwell of an airconditioned car can get quite cold and damp.

Sometimes if you are slack like me, the camera bag gets planted there for short commutes if I am alone in the vehicle.

Last edited by Bob Hart; November 14th, 2007 at 12:54 AM. Reason: error
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Old November 14th, 2007, 12:51 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone for your input, I'll see how we go with our replacements and let you know how well "They" stand up.

Thanks again
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Old November 14th, 2007, 05:28 AM   #6
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HI David,

Its been a couple of years since I was in the Kimberley - but I understand the environment you are working in. In my opinion it is probably the harshest camera environment I have ever seen - the heat and dust in the dry are absolute killers. I have bounced my Z1 around Antarctica (yes that was cold!), and other extremes such as the jungles of South America, the Atacama Desert and the also the top end (for all non-Australians this is the Northern Territory). It has never missed a beat - but I always carry it in a dustproof bag! I use a Lowe Pro Dry Zone 200 backpack for travel and keep it sealed when I am in really harsh environments. Knowing the Kimberley - I suspect that your problem is fine red bulldust - so a dustproof bag would be a wise investment I reckon!

I was looking at Cape Leveque the other day from a plane and really wished that I was down there on the ground. You sure are working in paradise!

All the best,
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Old November 14th, 2007, 07:45 AM   #7
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The Z1/FX1 was design for North of the Equator use.... it can only handle twists and turns up here and things twist and turn in the opposite direction down under..... it's not really meant to be used upside down....

hehe....

Actually... the only issues I've heard are....

mic holder loosening up

firewire port blowing

lcd screen going out

lube inconbatabilities with older sony tapes versus newer or other brands.

Knock on wood, I've never had issues with the z1/fx1's.... Canon video camera I've had bad luck with and a friend with a JVC has had his repaired 3 times.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 10:31 AM   #8
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Mine's been dropped from a crane, been attached to a 4' tripod that was tipped over onto grass, fallen from a desk at least twice and still works great. Knock on wood.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #9
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If a camera survives a one-off heavy thud, it obviously has survived if nothing has been broken off and it still works. The event itself draws your attention and checks are done.

Rapidly repetitive slamming of much smaller magnitude is another matter. You are more likely to be unexpectedly ambushed by a non-operative camera.

Scenarios - Carriage in vehicle on rough or corrugated roads, even in padded case, worse in poorly fitting padding in case, sitting loose on floor in vehicle, transport in rear cargo areas of large widebodied aircraft, which can be violent places.

Last edited by Bob Hart; November 14th, 2007 at 04:21 PM. Reason: error
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Old November 15th, 2007, 01:59 AM   #10
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Yes the environment in the Kimberley is quite extreme, we're coming into the WET! which means high humidy combined with high heat, so perhaps a dust and mud proof bag. It will be interesting to see how the Z1 copes with these conditions as opposed to the heat and dust.

Just so you know, when I transport my camera gear it goes into a pelican case with laser cut mouldings, this then goes onto a matress (high density foam) and it all sits on the back seat of the land cruiser, its the best we can do at the moment.

For anyone thinking of coming over this way, wait 4 or 5 months, the temp is going up as is the humidity and the stingers are starting to come out in the surf. Some of the locals are prediciting an early wet with a big cyclone season, hmm I should be able to get some decent footage from all this.
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