I went to Ginza Sony Plaza to look at FX1 at DVinfo.net

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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 October 11th, 2004, 09:47 AM   #1
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I went to Ginza Sony Plaza to look at FX1

Since Mark Kubat asked me about FX1, I went to Ginza Sony Plaza by my bike and checked it out.

They had two FX1s that you can actually try, one on a reasonable tripod and one with the shoulder pad. One with the tripod was connected to a wega TV with a composite cable.

I tried the tripod one first. Since it is using mpeg compression, I guessed that it would not be so great when the cam is panned quickly. They had a fake arranged flowers in front of the cam with a couple of halogen lights. First, I tried the zoom ring and the rocker zoom. FX1 has a toggle between ring and rocker which I had assemed that the rocker would work even it is turned to the rocker position, but I was wrong. The zoom ring feels like how it is on VX2xxx series, but since it has a little handle, it is easier to zoom in/out all the way. However, the ring is rather heavy like the similar sony cam, so you have to hold the cam very tight, otherwise it would wabble when you tried to move the ring fast in its extreme range.

I could not figure out the functions of each buttons on the side, each says iris, gain, shutter speed, white balance. The first two seems to be adjusted by the silver knob in the front the rest seems to be adjusted by the revolving menu selector (the one that partially showing but most of the knob is hidden in the chassis). It was confusing to me when I guessed that the silver know would adjust all of those function. However, FX1 has a lot of buttons, I saw much less parameters in the menu as I see in today's most DV camcorders.

The LCD display was nice and clear. The placement of the LCD feels somewhat awkward in the beginning, but After you get used to it, the position seems to make sense.

After I played around with the function, finding out how most of the adjustment work then I started taping.

First I taped the fake flowers. The fake flowers consist of color variations and gradation, so it was I deal to evaluate the color reproduction. I tried to zoom in and out, focus in and out, then wabbled, panned fast in front of the flowers. As I switched the cam to play, watched the video closely, the video looked excellent, especially the color and the details. The shaky footage looked regular, I could not see degradation when I played it in the regular speed. But when I play it back in the slow mode, ah, now I can see what Video Alfa magazine editor was talking about. When you play the shaky footage slow, I saw less resolution in especially "red carnation". However, I was shaking and wabbling the camera really fast, which I would never shake my cam this fast for any reasonable purpose. It made me think that how in the world Sony was able to do this (chaging the resolution or gradation) in real time instead of getting disappointed with the result. It vary the resolution in very natural manner in a way. Some really picky people might not want to use slow play back if the image resolution/gradation was less as a result of fast panning. If there are a hundreds of pingpong balls with various color moving in front of the cam, it may not do good, but how often you have to shoot that? By zooming in and out fast on the flowers didn't result in lower resolution/gradation, though even with the zooming ring and the lever, I could not zoom much faster.

After checking it out on the tripod, they let me shoot with the cam with the shoulder pad and play the tape back on the Wega TV. I shot people walking by, panning and zooming in and out. I was amazed how well the stabilizer worked. Lately, I worked with Canon XL2, Panasonic NV-GS400, AG-DVC30 and so on, I felt like something wrong because the image was so stable when I played back. The skin and hair of people looked amazing. Also, I did not see any of resolution degradation in real life shooting. I would have better idea if I see the footage played back on larger screen like 100 or 120 inch with a projector because even GS400 and XL2 look relatively nice on a 42 inch monitor, but I must say FX1 is higher in resolution if the image is stable or in normally panning situation. I assume that FX1 is okay for following fast moving objects as I worried before I tried the real thing (I shoot downhill/4X/Dual mountainbike race), but maybe not good in the pingpong ball example (not tested so not certain).

The showroom was very bright, so I would not know how this cam works in the dark situation. Because of this, I would not make a final decision to order this yet, but for shooting under normal condition, to be able to get this kind of resolution is especially nice if you are thinking about projecting the image on larger screens. If you are aiming for monitors smaller than 40 inch or so, this HDV business may not excite you much, but making DVD from the footage shot by FX1 might look nicer than XL2 because the resolution is higher in most cases.

*I only tested the cam with 1080i mode. Since FX1 can shoot in DV mode, having anamorphic dv mode with this high quality optical architecture might result in superior resolut in even 16:9 DV mode, but it is only my guess.

*I was amazed how the staff (girl) can put the cam back in defaut setting. She was very fast, believe me (lol).

*The cam was bit heavier than I wanted it to be, but since it has nice large zoom ring so I can't complain.

*The shoulder pad works like how XL1 was held. The pad is pushed against your chest. I would rather have real shoulder pad.

Sorry for my not-so-fluent English.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 10:34 AM   #2
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Your English is fine. Thank you for struggling through it with your thoughts and experiences.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 10:39 AM   #3
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Very interesting, thank you for the report.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 11:23 AM   #4
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Thanks Kaku!

Your english was excellent.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 01:00 PM   #5
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Superb report. Many thanks!

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Old October 11th, 2004, 05:08 PM   #6
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thanks Kaku - you're the man

Kaku, as you broke news first about Panny GS400 to us this summer, I knew you'd be able to come through again - we are very excited and I'm sure any post you make will now attract a lot of interest - wow!

Combined with the recent reports from people here at Govt. expo, it looks like this thing is the real deal.

I wish I could teleport to Japan...

Thanks, Kaku - great hearing from you again!

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Old October 11th, 2004, 08:21 PM   #7
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but ready?

Hi Kaku,

Is the FX1 already selling in Japan? How much is it over there?


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Old October 11th, 2004, 08:36 PM   #8
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Thank you for all of your comments.

Ric, FX1 will be available on Oct. 15th. That means this week. I heard that Pro Video Station in Shinjuku received over 100 units on order (must be more by now) and they are guessing that they will not able to deliver all. The price is around $4000 but not certain.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #9
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I join all the others in thanking you for your insights. By the way, where is this Alfa magazine report you referred to?
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Old October 12th, 2004, 08:38 PM   #10
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CORRECTON: I realized that the silver know I was talking about is stricktly for iris.

Lynne, VideoAlfa does not have any content on the web. It is only worthy professional video magazine in Japan. I will try to give you the summery of what upcoming article will say.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 02:26 AM   #11
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Alfa Video magazine will include sample DVD?

Kaku, if I remember correctly from your summertime reports on GS400, that video magazine usually includes a sample DVD of some footage? Or was that another magazine? Any indication if next issue will have HDR-FX1 sample clips?

If you get any sample footage, magazine or otherwise, can you indicate so here?

Kaku, will you be going back to check the camera again?

Here are some questions for you!

*Any idea how good/bad the audio is?

*Any idea how the cineframe/cinegamma modes look to simulate filmic effect?

*What does the store say about editing this stuff (ie. do they just say "oh, the software support is coming soon?")

Kaku, do you think this cam beats XL2? Are you more excited about HDV now that you've seen it firsthand? Should they have called this camera "Godzilla?"
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Old October 13th, 2004, 02:58 AM   #12
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I probably go to Pro Video Station in Shinjuku (we have our HD NLE displayed there) after 15th to look at the cam good again. They will probably let me take it out of their shop for a spin.

I have no ideas about sample footage on magazines at this moment. Maybe DV Japan or Video Salon would have them. I only provide my clips to a bike magazine called "FunRide".

I can't imagine audio quality would be so horrible. I have everything professional to evaluate the audio quality, so my impression will be rather strickt but I'm not that picky about what you get out of video equipment.

I tried the preset on cineframe/cinegamma mode, but did not try long enough to see how good it is. Personally, I would prefer interlaced video for today's typical monitoring situation (remember people are making noise about flickering or morle happening with XL2? That is happening because people are watching progressive footage on interlaced monitor), especially for my mountainbike video. So I would do the other test I need to do first, but the frame mode thing would come at last. But if I had the time, I will try.

To me, XL2 was too heavy for what I do and progressive mode was not needed to me unless it would do 60p. I was interested in XL2 mainly because I thought progressive format would give me higher resolution on my footage projected on 120inch screen. It was nice, but I also needed more frame rate for fast moving object. XL2 is good for shooting something on a tripod and still or very subtle movement, like the film camera. So, in order to get better resolution, HDV is one way, and so far, FX1 seems like to be able to fill my demand. There would be problems on quickly panned or many color objects moving fast, but that would be very rare to happen, so as long as FX1 would shoot nicely in the dark (this would be the last test), then I would sell my last DSR-PDX10 then go for FX1. I said FX1 is bit heavier than I thought and I was right, it is 500 grams heavier than VX2100 according to the web specs. By the way, the optical architecture on FX1 seems to be performing better than VX2100 for low light situtation according to the web site, too. It supposed to be less noise.
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