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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 March 25th, 2009, 06:15 AM   #1
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Z1U questions

Im new to the video field and Im looking for a little bit of help or guidence. Im a Marine Corps Videographer with some basic formal military schooling. We use the Sony Z1Us with avid express pro.

My question:
What fairly simple / cheap things can I do to the camera to get the best quality footage?

Ive been reading posts on this site for the past few months and a lot of the stuff is a bit over my head. So thats why I am here today to ask for some help.

Thanks,

Charly
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Old March 25th, 2009, 11:17 AM   #2
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"Best quality" means different things to different people. For some, it's a crisp picture with vivid colors, for others might be smooth video, depth of field and gently rolled-off pastel colors, and so on.

Only you can define what is best for you. Perhaps turning your question around would give you more answers: what are you doing with your camera?

What are you shooting? Under what conditions? What is your final product? The proverbial devil is in these details.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 01:44 PM   #3
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We use the cameras for basic efp's documenting any type of training, exercises, or forward deployed missions.

Im not really sure what would benefit our type of shooting here at our level. But when I watch other videos such as skate videos, random history/ discovery channel videos, it seems like we are not producing the same type of detailed picture.

I know theres a lot more to it, and TONS more I have to learn... Im just looking for a nudge in the right direction with some hints along the way.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #4
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Erm... efp's?

Picture profiles might be the place to start and tweak the settings from there.

See http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-hvr-...-settings.html
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Old March 25th, 2009, 08:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Mabry View Post
But when I watch other videos such as skate videos, random history/ discovery channel videos, it seems like we are not producing the same type of detailed picture.
I don't know what you are watching your footage on, but if you are using the HD outputs from the Z1 to a good set, I would think that your picture should look at least as detailed as most of what you will see on TV. While it obviously can't match what a $70,000 HD camera can produce, it is certainly no dog either and can produce great looking video.

As for your shooting, getting focus nailed, having the correct white balance and smooth and steady camera moves should be a good starting point.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 09:46 PM   #6
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Hi Charles,

If you are not getting what you want out of the camera consider:

Are you using full manual control? Sony camcorders let you think you are in control of the camera when you are not. Make sure you see the icons for iris, gain, shutter, focus and white balance in the LCD. If one of them is missing, the camera is automatically adjusting it which can mess up your shots. Foirgive me if you know this already, but you say you are new to it.

Use your ND filters when outside in too much light. If you just close the iris, the image will get soft. Avoid F11 for example.

The Z1 is a great camera, but it's one of the earliest HDV cams and needs a lot of light to look its best. Try to light your subjects well if you have the equipment, or find areas with lots of natural light.

Try to be more specific with the problems you are seeing, and that will help us help you.

And here's a thank you to you and your comrades in the military, who train and work around the world, risking your lives in many cases, for the benefit of all of us.

Best of luck.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 08:00 AM   #7
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I never take a white balance reading with a white card. The best investment I have made are "warm Cards" from Vortex Media. Vortex Media: VIDEO & PHOTO Tools and Training

Also, I invested in some good Tiffen filters, which are great for interviews.

A good tripod is more important than the camera, at least in my documentaries.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #8
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Did you get an instructional DVD with the camera? There are some good ones out there. Give me an address where to send it, and I'll mail mine to you.

Oo-rah,
Doc (a long time ago)
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Old March 27th, 2009, 10:45 AM   #9
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Personally I think the best way to learn is to simply plug the camera into a decent quality HDTV or monitor using the component video cable and play with all the settings. That way you can see exactly what the results are. I would also second the idea of using full manual control, unless working under difficult conditions which don't allow enough time to set everything.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #10
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If I'm asked what's the best way to get sharper, more detailed pictures I always say use a good tripod. It's not supposed to sound flippant, but even Steadyshot has its limitations.

And I agree with all Vito has to say - though I'd go so far as to say don't use any aperture smaller than f/5.6. Keep using those ND filters, way before the camera asks for them.

Next - keep the front element spotlessly clean. Avoid filters and add-on lenses and always use the lens hood.

tom.
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 06:04 PM   #11
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The way you light will make the single biggest difference to the quality of your video production.

Also:

Use the 'expanded focus' function on the Z1 to ensure accurate focus.

Don't use picture profile 4.

Don't use gain.

Don't shoot with a wide angle lens adaptor unless you really need it. If you are using one make sure it is good quality.

Do some basic grading and color correction in post.

Ensure you are exporting at the highest possible settings.
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Old April 6th, 2009, 02:49 PM   #12
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Since i read in this forums i improved a lot with the camera;i could suggest to shoot and watch in HD tv so you can see why this camcorder has been on the top for the last years(even if the technolgy has changed is always a great cam!).
Every day you'll find out new stuff about it....
I wish somebody could sell me a training dvd for cheap!

I wish you all the best and thanks 4 what you do guys!
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