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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 9th, 2008, 05:05 PM   #1
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Improving the Z1U - Is it possible?

OK, so in my long expansive search for info I have come to the conclusion that I am stuck.

I own (5) Z1U's, I am very proud of that but I am ready to improve my picture quality, but I need multiple cameras. So selling all my gear to get a better camera is not possible unless I could buy (5) at a time, which isn't possible. So here is the crux of the question:

#1 - Can I improve the images I am getting by going straight something like an Flash XDR drive or similar? Is there such an apparatus out there like this for component as the Z1U doesn't have HD-SDI.

#2 - This device needs to be portable as I shoot a ton of run and gun. Looked at the AJA-IO and it seems to have the possibilities I am looking for - HOWEVER, it is not very portable being that it needs to be powered and requires a computer.

I don't want to spend a ton of money but I have some money to spend. There has to be something out there to allow me to bypass the firewire and achieve a better picture and be portable. Thanks for any help.

Tim
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Old November 9th, 2008, 06:20 PM   #2
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The EX-1 @ around $6,400 is the next step up. You can always rent if you can't afford it.
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Old November 9th, 2008, 07:30 PM   #3
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Pete,

Thanks, I really like the idea of 1/2 inch sensors, however, I can't purchase (5) of these cam's. I do a ton of multi-cam shoots and I can't afford the investment in another cam as I will need (5). I am really looking for a solution with the cameras I already own. If it was about buying 1 new cam I would already own it.

Thanks I will keep it in mind.

tim
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Old November 9th, 2008, 08:28 PM   #4
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3rd party hard drive add on devices are a means to capturing video quicker than through tapes, they don't improve quality because the Z1/FX1 only outputs DV/HDV.
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Old November 9th, 2008, 08:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofran View Post
they don't improve quality because the Z1/FX1 only outputs DV/HDV.
Except through the component out, which is uncompressed. Good luck finding a portable method of capturing it, though. Even to an intermediate, like DVCPRO HD.

You might try a test. Hook up a Z1 to a HD TV using the component out to view a live image. An aquarium or whatever. Then tape that same image and view it using component out. If they seem essentially the same to you, then not much is going to make your Z1 more acceptable to you.
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Old November 9th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #6
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Pete,

Here's my theory, please correct me as I'm wrong most of the time. :) Anyway, if and thats a big if, I can get the image out of the component output into some recording device I would be getting the image before compression into HDV.

If that is the case then what I'm looking for is some sort of recorder that accepts component input that has a color space and resolution greater than HDV. In my quirkiness I have convinced myself that if I run component out of my camera into the AJA IO and let it compress the image into ProRes the resulting image will be cleaner than HDV.

So in thinking along these lines if I can bypass the HDV compression and get to something else then I will in affect get a higher resolution camera without the expense of an incredibly more expensive camera that I need so many of.

I hope that makes sense.

Tim
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Old November 10th, 2008, 12:04 AM   #7
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I don't think its worth the trouble, the 1/3" sensor is most likely the weakest link. We all would like our footage to look like what we see on broadcast tv but their cameras cost $20,000+.

I'd sell one of your Z1s to fund the purchase of a EX1 as your primary camera in your multi camera operation. Just remember if the client isn't going to pay you more for a higher quality shoot whats the point of spending money to improve your image quality?
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Old November 10th, 2008, 02:41 AM   #8
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Henry Olonga made a mobile capture station that is possibly at price of the AJA IO but it counts the computer and capturing equiptment.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/884676-post5.html

It's a Intensity Pro so that accepts analog component. It's one of the solutions out there if you plan on using a tripod.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 03:26 AM   #9
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Tim - you don't tell us your workflow, but the Z1 performs at it best at wide-angle and wide aperture. Telephoto can be soft and diffraction robs you of sharpness at small apertures.

Tripods can double your picture sharpness over anything hand-held. Differential focus eases the compression artifacts and makes images look better.

You've tried different sharpness settings in the menu while hooked up to a good TV as a monitor? You've investigated black stretch and other options? You're doing the least amount of post production processing possible?

Also I assume you're shooting HDV, doing the edit in HDV and only downconverting in the computer using high quality converters right at the end of the edit? You're delivering on DVD using the best MPEG2 encoder you can afford?

You'll have trouble beating the Z1's image quality unless (as other have said) you leapfrog the Z5 and 7 and hit the EX1. As this is beyond your purse, look to my thoughts above.

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Old November 10th, 2008, 03:39 AM   #10
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Pete's suggestion of switching out one of your cams to an EX1 seems best to me.

Conversley, either the HVR-Z5J or FX1000 could be a possible low cost upgrade that would be effective if the lower light capabilities of either of these two cams would assist you. If your cams are used primarily in a studio or other well-lit environments, these cams would obviously be of no benefit to you. If you shoot in low light conditions the addition of one of these cams to your collection of Z1s could theoretically help a great deal.

The CMOS sensors on these cams are based on the same technology behind the EX1's sensors, so who knows. You could likely sell a Z1 for close to the price of an FX1000, and while you wouldn't have the pro-features, you would have the benefit of what should be a superior picture, at least in adverse conditions.

Granted, the switch to CMOS may be undesireable for you and the relative difference between the two cams might be a complete waste of time and money, but hey, I'm just throwing out ideas.

Reviews of the FX1000 with its Exmor CMOS chips should start coming in soon since it will be shipping very soon. Unfortunately the HVR-Z5J isn't shipping until December.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 10:39 AM   #11
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Like someone said without knowing the specifics of your situation it's difficult to give meaningful advice. Technology for its own sake or trying to get something for nothing, usually leads to bad decisions. I get the impression you're just tinkering around for the fun of it. That's fine as long as you realize that.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 11:41 AM   #12
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The main bread and butter for what I do is multicamera shoots for large venue events. Such as marching band, etc.

I also film groups that travel in the summer. I document everything that happens during the summer and sell these products to organization and they sell them to the public.

I am definitely not tinkering. I am trying to improve the acquisition and footage without investing in replacing the cameras I already own.

I understand the dynamics of getting a new camera and know that by acquiring a new camera I can improve immediately. However, I still use my other 4 cameras during the summer.

My typical day is:

Get my gear ready to go and get my staff on the same page as to what we will be shooting during the day. Also brief them on what we are editing and putting online that night.

I then send 5 cameras into the field, wherever that may be as we travel (15-20K miles per summer) for the day. Those people shoot to tape and bring the tape back to me and I edit this footage for later use or immediate use for online distribution.

Ideally I would not have to capture this footage but its ok if I do, thats why I hire PA's and interns during the summer.

I usually shoot anywhere from 500 to 750 hours of footage during the summer months.

I know the way to go is hard drive, however, I would really like to bypass the compression so that things can improve. I hope that helps understand what we do.

Oh....

We do shoot in fast paced environments at all times. Lots of motion and I mean lots of motion. We shoot maybe 50% tripod, everything else is as fast as it gets with hand held. Literally running at times.

I hope this helps.

Tim
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Old November 10th, 2008, 11:58 AM   #13
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That clears things up. I can now comfortably stand by what I initially said that there is nothing you can do besides upgrading your cameras to improve image quality. A mobile situation such as you describe would rule out component capture.
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