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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 August 26th, 2008, 09:38 AM   #1
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Using z1 as a deck

Hey guys i fear im wearing the heads on my Z1 down as im using it as a deck to capture anything shot on HDV. A HD deck is too expensive, as i only shoot 40% HDV i dont want to go down that route yet. Just wondering what the alternatives are? Would a small HDV consumer camcorder do the job, something like this Sony HDR-HC3E HDV Camcorder PAL? Or would i loose quality when capturing? What do you guys use? Cheers.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 10:42 AM   #2
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Hey guys i fear im wearing the heads on my Z1 down as im using it as a deck to capture anything shot on HDV. A HD deck is too expensive, as i only shoot 40% HDV i dont want to go down that route yet. Just wondering what the alternatives are? Would a small HDV consumer camcorder do the job, something like this Sony HDR-HC3E HDV Camcorder PAL? Or would i loose quality when capturing? What do you guys use? Cheers.
I use my hc1 for all my editing and my fx-7 most tape filming,i am pretty sure as far as playback and recording exported video consumer cams are just as good as prosumer camcorders.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 12:05 PM   #3
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Thanks Martyn. anyone else just using a consumer camcorder?
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Old August 26th, 2008, 12:14 PM   #4
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Martyn's right, any camcorder that replays HDV successfully (ie doesn't crumple the tape) will do just fine, and you'll transfer the file without loss or change or addition.

But look, I've never heard of anyone wearing out their Z1 heads and using it as a replay deck shouldn't worry you in the slightest. In fact I'd go so far as to say that you'll have replaced the Z1 for something more up to date long before you wear its heads out - so I use mine in this mode a lot.

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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #5
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Maybe, but it will dirty the heads.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:43 PM   #6
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A brand new tape fresh from the wrapping can clog the heads, so that's no argument. Heads are easy to clean.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 10:00 PM   #7
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I have used my z1 to capture all the footage I've shot with it. I got the camera in June, 2005 and it's still going strong with no problems.

Your mileage may vary.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 03:41 PM   #8
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I concur the heads wearing out isn't an issue. A Z1 is designed for constant professional use. There are lots of other areas more likely to go long (the lens backfocus, the viewfinder) before the heads "wear out".

One thing that using the camera as a deck MIGHT do (this is just an intuitive guess on my part, I've no evidence of this) is the back and forth of batch capture, the constant fast-winding, rewinding and cueing up might strain the motor, but again, I've never actually heard d of anyone who has damaged their camera in this way, and I know quite a few DV filmmakers who use their shooting cameras as decks.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 09:05 PM   #9
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is the back and forth of batch capture, the constant fast-winding, rewinding and cueing up might strain the motor
I'd worry more about batch capturing being frame accurate than wearing out the motor. For that exact reason, I usually capture entire tapes and chop the clips up on the timeline as opposed to logging and batching lots of clips from the tape.

My theory is that the practice of logging clips before capturing was likely because of incredibly expensive storage costs. Now with hard drives costing so little, there's no reason not to capture it all.

I agree with Boyd that the chances of you wearing out your camera before you want to upgrade it anyway are pretty slim. I use mine to capture everything shot in HDV, and a cheaper consumer camera to capture DV. That cheap camera, by the way, must have a million hours on its heads and still going strong.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 10:06 PM   #10
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I'd worry more about batch capturing being frame accurate than wearing out the motor..... Now with hard drives costing so little, there's no reason not to capture it all.
I think it depends upon your application. For most shooting that makes sense. But for sports (and I imagine nature work as well, to which I frequently compare Baseball) we frequently have a minute or less of decent footage per tape. Last baseball season we shot with 8 cams for some games... we had 50 or 60 tapes at the end of the season. But by capturing only the good stuff we ended up taking an average of maybe three minutes per tape.

No question it's really boring and causes a lot of tape drive wear to go through each tape marking in and out points. But the alternative is worse, in my mind.

I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to manage 4TB of raw footage to make a 15-minute DVD. The HC3s I used for capture were hot enough to fry an egg at the end of the day.

Frame accuracy isn't an issue in capture... I tell Premiere to add 5 second handles to the head and tail of each clip.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 10:50 PM   #11
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I think it depends upon your application.
Absolutely, Adam. I agree completely that your situation is better handled with logging beforehand. I work in events with a 3:1 ratio, so capturing entire tapes works better.

As for frame accuracy, I'm more concerned with RE-capturing an already completed project. If, for some reason, you have to revisit an old project, I'm much more comfortable recapturing a few tapes as opposed to hundreds of clips from a sequence.
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Old August 29th, 2008, 12:23 AM   #12
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That's a good point. I think, though, that you could unlink and recapture with most NLEs with Batch Capture, which should let you just insert the tape and get a cup of coffee while it does its stuff.

I think... at least I hope so...
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Old August 29th, 2008, 06:25 AM   #13
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That's a good point. I think, though, that you could unlink and recapture with most NLEs with Batch Capture, which should let you just insert the tape and get a cup of coffee while it does its stuff.

I think... at least I hope so...
That's the theory. But DV (I don't know if HDV has the same failing) is prone to being not frame accurate with recapturing unless you are using professional grade decks. So I try to recapture with as few clips as possible. I've had to reload projects many times, and so far it works pretty well.

Anyway, we're a little bit away from the original question. To answer Dennis, even a consumer grade camera will be fine for capturing. No quality loss with digital video formats. But he could use his Z1 with no worries as well, and will probably get more frame accurate capture.
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