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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 June 24th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #1
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I'm going HD. Z1 ? V1U ?

Hi,

I am not happy with the 16:9 results of my PD 170 , it looks a bit blurry ,so I want to go for a native 16:9.

The HVR Z1 looks very good but isn't that outdated now ?
Would the V1U be a better choice?
Do I need all the specials on the Z1?
I am making a instructional yoga DVD so It must look good but not super.

Thanks
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Old June 24th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #2
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If i was you get the Sony Z5, Thats what I went with, now waiting for it to arrive, I cant wait to use it!

If thats too expensive then probably the XHA1 would make more sense.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #3
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The selling point of the V1U is 24p and for your use its not important, so I'd lean towards the Z1, save more money and FX1. But in my opinion there shouldn't be a sharpness issue with pd170 and if your final output is SD then I think your not going to see much of an improvement with an HD camera.

Softness is most likely due to technique. In low light and or low contrast (floresent lighting) and wide open aperture contributes to soft image. If the camera is set to auto focus it could be focusing on the background. I'd highly recommend you rent or borrow before spending all that money to see if its really the camera. You might be better off putting the money into a professional lighting set up and/or making sure you technique is correct.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 01:33 PM   #4
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Lighting

Thanks for that,
I used pretty hard daylight lamps and indeed the contrast was not very good.
I am all new to this game but I understand a native 16:9 gives a much sharper picture than an anamorphic, thats why I want to change camera.
Focus was manual most of the time but later I realised the iris was set a bit over exposed too.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #5
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I recently ran a test between Anamorphic and Down converted HD. My conclusion was they were virtually identical. Judge for your self I posted stills of each.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-hvr-...verted-hd.html
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for that link,Very interesting conversation.

Q. You used a Z1 and I am using a PD 170 , would there be a major difference as Z1 has 1280:720 pixels ( please correct me if I am wrong) and the PD170 has .. eh .. a lot less, enough for 4:3 SD ?
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #7
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Pete -

Several flaws in your methodology, first being if you shoot in SD mode with an HD camera, you're typically going to get a better result than an SD camera - more pixels to start with on the imager (not to mention imaging technology has advanced quite a bit in the last few years), and I'm sure the electronics in the camera are optomized for downconverting while recording vs. downconvert in post.

Another issue if you're going to SD final, shooting in HD you can pan zoom and crop in post and still get good results, again starting with more pixels gives you more to work with.

Bas - more information about your budget might help, and there's a LOT of info on various cameras on this site. The Z1U is several years old and the V1U only slightly "younger", while the technology improves with each generation... There's the FX1000, the Z5, the very popular Canon line (probably due for a refresh), the Panasonic HMC150...

IMO you can't go terribly wrong with any of the HD choices available in the new or slightly used department, but you should take some time and learn lighting, as that can help a LOT whatever camera you shoot!
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Old June 24th, 2009, 08:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bas Paul View Post
Thanks for that link,Very interesting conversation.

Q. You used a Z1 and I am using a PD 170 , would there be a major difference as Z1 has 1280:720 pixels ( please correct me if I am wrong) and the PD170 has .. eh .. a lot less, enough for 4:3 SD ?
I was addressing your comment that you want true wide screen not anamorphic. First off, "true wide screen" in the past has been used to describe anamorphic, because before anamorphic, cameras cropped the SD image to give wide screen proportion resulting less than 480 vertical lines while anamorphic uses the full vertical resolution.

My example, shows no real difference between anamorphic and down converted HD (which you refer to as true wide screen) on the Z1U. Like I said before you should compare your pd170 to the camera you intend to buy. I would assume a newer generation camera should give you better color and image quality but I don't imagine it will be dramatic as this is blurry (pd170) this is sharp and clean (HD camera).
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Pete -

Several flaws in your methodology, first being if you shoot in SD mode with an HD camera, you're typically going to get a better result than an SD camera - more pixels to start with on the imager...
Digital photo cameras crop the sensor when a lower resolution is selected. I would assume that a video camera does the same. If you have technical papers to prove otherwise... but it's still a moot point because the end result matters not theoretical advantage. Just as consumer photo cameras pack more pixels into a smaller chip. Meaning more pixels doesn't mean more quality. PD170 and HD camera both use 1/3 inch sensor. I'm a firm believer that visual proof is greater than numbers.

For example, PAL has 576 pixels of vertical resolution versus NTSC 480 pixels. That's a 20% increase in resolution. But it be rather presumptuous to assume that would translate into a visible difference because there are a lot of variables just like there are in the way the camera captures anamorphic vs down converted hd. I'm not knocking the Z1 I own it and am very happy with it. I'm just trying to point out before making a big purchase to know how much better it really is. In this case make sure the softness is really the fault of the camera. If money isn't a big issue by all means just get a newer camera.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 10:51 PM   #9
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Pete, back in the old SD days when there was virtually no HD, all of the BetaSP camcorders decks were recording the same old 540 lines of resolution. But the cameras themselves had up to 850 lines of resolution. And for some reason or another, the cameras that were 850 lines, produced a better image than the BetaSP cameras that were 650 or 700 line cameras. I am not an engineer so I can't give you the technical explanation of why it works, but it does. And I have seen footage from a VX2100 (virtually the same as the PD170) converted to 16 x 9 and it doesn't hold a candle to footage shot in a V1 and downconverted to SD when viewed on a 50" plasma.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 03:32 AM   #10
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Thanks a lot lads,
I've done some improvements with the lighting and exposure settings that gives me way more contrast.
However due to recording in 16:9 settings it looks too pixelated.
After reading tons of threads and reviews the balance is tipping to the Canon XH-A1.

Bas
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Old June 26th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bas Paul View Post
Q. You used a Z1 and I am using a PD 170 , would there be a major difference as Z1 has 1280:720 pixels ( please correct me if I am wrong) and the PD170 has .. eh .. a lot less, enough for 4:3 SD ?
Yes Bas, using the PD-170 makes a huge difference. If I understand correctly, Peter used a Z1 for both images, the only difference being the capture mode (HD vs SD). 1280x720 doesn't apply to the Z1, it is HDV with final output at 1920x1080 but processed anamorphically at 1440x1080. The actual pixel dimensions of the Z1 get confusing due to the way Sony maps the CCD's, but there are a LOT more pixels available than a PD-170 in 16:9 mode.

You start out with a 720x480 frame on the PD and then chop of the top and bottom to make 16:9 which gives an effective resolution of 360x720. That's why you find the image soft. We have discussed this extensively in the PD/VW forum, for example: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-vx21...t-pds-vxs.html

If you are working in 16:9, almost any of the HD cameras will give you better results in my experience. In fact, just this morning I am editing some opera performance footage I shot on a VX-2000 in 2003. There is just NO comparison to what I shoot now with a Z1. I'm sure the Canon will work well for you also, but from what I've read, the z1 might have a slight edge in low light.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 12:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff View Post
Yes Bas, using the PD-170 makes a huge difference. If I understand correctly, Peter used a Z1 for both images, the only difference being the capture mode (HD vs SD). 1280x720 doesn't apply to the Z1, it is HDV with final output at 1920x1080 but processed anamorphically at 1440x1080. The actual pixel dimensions of the Z1 get confusing due to the way Sony maps the CCD's, but there are a LOT more pixels available than a PD-170 in 16:9 mode.

You start out with a 720x480 frame on the PD and then chop of the top and bottom to make 16:9 which gives an effective resolution of 360x720. That's why you find the image soft. We have discussed this extensively in the PD/VW forum, for example: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-vx21...t-pds-vxs.html

If you are working in 16:9, almost any of the HD cameras will give you better results in my experience. In fact, just this morning I am editing some opera performance footage I shot on a VX-2000 in 2003. There is just NO comparison to what I shoot now with a Z1. I'm sure the Canon will work well for you also, but from what I've read, the z1 might have a slight edge in low light.
If I had know from the start that the pd170 was cropping instead of shooting anamorphic then yeah that's why its soft. I also agree there's no reason to jump to Canon, because all of Sony HDV prosumer line would address your image concerns. It's just a matter of picking a model that fits your budget.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #13
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Just to nitpick a little... "anamorphic" is only the format and it doesn't tell you anything about how the image was captured. It merely means that 720x480 gets stretched to 854x480 on playback.

You could create the anamorphic image optically using a lens adaptor, and (assuming good glass) that would give nice results on the PD series. Some other SD cameras, like the PDX-10 have high pixel count 4:3 chips which can still produce a full resolution 16:9 cropped image. But unfortunately the PD-170 does not. If you set it to 16:9 mode, it still produces an anamorphic image. It's just a rather low quality one.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 07:12 AM   #14
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It s all clear to me now, thanks.
I just decided to buy the Canon XH-A1s and I'll have it this week.
There,s pro's and cons to every camera but for me and my budget this one came out best for me, It was either this or the Z5 but that was too expensive.
Bas
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