Pro Z1 will be presented in Toronto on Thurs. night... 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 November 16th, 2004, 10:36 PM   #1
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Pro Z1 will be presented in Toronto on Thurs. night...

Hi folks.

I'll be attending the monthly meeting of the Canadian Corporate TV Group on Thurs. night - the featured presentation will be Sony Canada presenting the HVR-Z1U!

Very little info right now in terms of agenda/setup - what would you guys like me to watch out for?

Hey, is it true in New York last week someone asked about "shutter speed" and Ott, with Z1U in hand, closed the little black flaps on the front and said "Seems pretty quick to me."

Ha ha.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 12:29 AM   #2
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A definitive answer on 24p v. cineframe 24 v. progressive scan CCDs v. 2:3:3:2 pulldown, etc., would be real nice.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 06:00 AM   #3
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Ask if they know the specific time when Final Cut Pro will support their camera! Maybe they've gotten wind of a date?

Also, ask them to cut the crap and never screw us on audio again. Esspecially on a "Pro" camera - it's totally ridiculous to give us an amazing video camera that shoots HD, but not have uncompressed audio.

Note: Yes, I know that we knew it was compressed the whole time. But, I just want to send them the message it's totally stupid considering sub-$500 video cameras from Best Buy even have uncompressed audio going onto mini-DV tapes. My brother has a piece of crap video camera, but the audio is even better than what this Z1 is!

I will be buying it, but still please tell them about my disappointment in audio!

Thanks!

Murph
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Old November 17th, 2004, 07:30 AM   #4
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Does the Z1 CineFrame 24 function actually have two modes?

Detail the differences between the two. Thanks!
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Old November 17th, 2004, 09:05 AM   #5
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Chris -- compressed audio is part of the HDV format. It's in the specification. That's why you have uncompressed on cheap Mini-DV camcorders and compressed on the new 3-chip Sony HDV. But look at it for a minute. The audio bitrate after compression is 384Mbps. Realistically now... you can't hear the difference between uncompressed and 384Mbps. What difference does it make. So many other factors are going to influence your audio quality... you take a cheap $350 Mini-DV camcorder and compare the quality of the audio to this camera. Which one is going to sound worse? And the question of uncompressed audio vs. 384Mbps has no impact on that comparison.

Now if the bitrate was substantially less, if it actually was heavily compressed, then maybe it would be an issue. But come on, we're talking about 384Mbps here. If you can't live with that high level of quality, then certainly the visual limitations of the HDV spec would be equally undesirable... in which case this question becomes one of format choice (where you would need to move up to HDCAM). Just my two cents.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 09:06 AM   #6
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Randy -- for details on the Z1 please see my comparision chart at this link. The Z1 has one each CF24, CF25 and CF30 frame rates.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 09:22 AM   #7
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Chris, since you put it that way I'll just buy an HDCAM. (not!)

I'm happy with the camera, but I guess having any compression on the audio bugs me. The general rule we all know is that audio is more important than video, so it just bugs me. I know it's perfectly fine.

There is one thing I'm confused about regarding the audio on this camera through. The extra "tweaks" it has on-board. Does anyone know the benefits of these extra tweaks?

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Old November 17th, 2004, 11:34 AM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Christopher C. Murphy : Chris, since you put it that way I'll just buy an HDCAM. (not!)

I'm happy with the camera, but I guess having any compression on the audio bugs me. The general rule we all know is that audio is more important than video, so it just bugs me. I know it's perfectly fine.

There is one thing I'm confused about regarding the audio on this camera through. The extra "tweaks" it has on-board. Does anyone know the benefits of these extra tweaks?
-->>>

Digital compression in audio, as long as it's not MP3, is not such a real problem. At least if we are recording human voice or noises.

The problem is when you have to record music, particularly orchestration, as compression does just that: it compresses dynamics and music has no heart.

The tweaks are probably there so people that do not care for audio at least can get a decent track and do not blame Sony for the bad sound. As long as you leave things off or get to know how they work, so you won't let your levels trigger the protections, tweaks shouldn't be an issue.

I maybe wrong, as I haven't yet tried these HDVs, but my experience with the VX2000 and PD150, with their crappy audio preamps, showed that you could get good audio if you followed certain rules.

The worst of all was AGC, present in most cameras in the consumer era, and if you were smart you could find a way to beat them.

Of course I am talking of using quality external mics, not the ones on the camera. If possible using external control to operate them properly (preamp or mixer). This is not properly provided by Sony not even in their more expensive cameras. The preamps are better, but not the implementation of your audio control. And that is the key to it.


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Old November 17th, 2004, 12:42 PM   #9
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How about asking the resolution of lcd and viewfinder?
Does z1 have automatic zoom-in-zoom-back function for focusing?
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Old November 17th, 2004, 03:26 PM   #10
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Toke, your questions are answered on my FX1 and Z1U Comparison Chart.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 06:02 PM   #11
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Ok,
thanks Chris.
Does that "AF assist" mean this zoom-in-zoom-back function that many newer ENG-lenses have?

If those lcd's have 250kpix, what is their resolution; 1000x250, 500x500, 250x1000 or what?
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Old November 17th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #12
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Toke, I'm not yet sure exactly how AF Assist works on the Z1U yet. However both cameras have an Expanded Focus mode which lets you zoom in on the image in the display itself to check focus (this zoom is not recorded to video though -- it's just a feature that magnifies the image on the display).

The LCD display is 1120(H)225(V). This type of pixel measurement usually takes into account three pixels (one for each color, r, g, b per one unit of width. So it's really 1120 / 3 = 373 pixels wide by 225 pixels high. Which is roughly native 16:9. Hope this helps,
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Old November 17th, 2004, 10:19 PM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Hurd : Randy -- for details on the Z1 please see my comparision chart at this link. The Z1 has one each CF24, CF25 and CF30 frame rates. -->>>

Yes, but the Sony Power point presentation lists the Z1 as having 2 Cineframe 24 modes:
http://www.miketiffee.com/hdv/chart.jpg

I'd like them to clarify that. Will it offer 2:3:3:2 as well as 2:3:2:3? Or what do they mean.

Auto Focus assist allows you to turn the focus ring while in auto focus and adjust the focus.

One thing I would love is to be able to activate the expanded focus mode while recording. On the FX-1 it only works while in the pause/standby mode.
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Old November 18th, 2004, 12:37 AM   #14
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That was actually part of a pre-release PDF document written in Japan. It is confusing to some degree. It mentions "two modes" for CineFrame 24. This is an error on the chart. Well, not so much an error as it is just not a good explanation. There are two modes because the camera is switchable 60Hz / 50Hz. One way you get CineFrame 24. The other way you get CineFrame 25. That's what it means by "two modes" and actually there are really three if you count CineFrame 30 as it has that as well. Like many pre-release documents, this is just a slight point of obfuscation that has led to a bit of misunderstanding. I was at the Sony press conference in New York for the official announcement of the HVR-Z1U and the question put to Sony was, "how is CineFrame 24 different on the pro model." The official answer is, it's not different. It's the exact same thing. On the PAL consumer FX1 you get CF25. On the NTSC consumer FX1 you get CF24 and CF30. On the pro version Z1U you get it all, CF24, CF25 and CF30. And the only pull-down method in either camera is 2:3 and nothing else. Hope this helps,
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Old November 18th, 2004, 11:41 PM   #15
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walks like a duck...

Ok, folks... just got home from the supposed pro Z1 preview...

Man, talk about false advertising - the e-vite that I got to this event promised a pro Z1U and boy, Sony Canada ALMOST got away with it...

the cam was black.

It had XLR's.

It had 2 recessed audio control meters on the back.

But it was an FX1 mocked up to look like a Z1!!!

We only found this out at the end of the presentation when we were given some hands-on time with the demo cam they brought to show off. Oh, boy. Ultimately, the presenter conceded that this cam was probably in fact a mock-up - he seemed genuinely surprised himself - maybe he's been practicing in a mirror?

We went into the menus to try to set shooting mode - wha? Only HDV and DV - no DVCAM setting.

We tried to change from HDV 1080 60i to 50i - not possible.

Oh, and the gain only went up to +18db...

Hmmm....

I could not believe it. This "prototype" will now be going on tour across Canada this month and will be at a big show next week here in Toronto for 2 days... I cannot believe that is not even the real deal.

I wonder if the same sort of stunt was pulled in New York? Did anyone actually see cineframe 25? Hypergain? Did the XLR's really work or were they "glued" on?

Man, what a letdown - we only found this out at the very end of the presentation... So really, can't offer too much, folks. Nothing definitive.

One important consolation: The Japanese demo HDV tape with the geisha girl, the temple, the dancing girl and the rice fields, the parrot, etc. was played out through the cam to the HD monitor - it looked absolutely incredible. HDR-FX1 was water-marked in top right corner - so I guess it wasn't shot on HDCAM - man, it looked SWEET!!!

Brian, the Sony manager, also played out a tape he shot from his first weekend with the camera - all full auto... Some shots looked great, some not so impressive (ie. more dv-like rather than HD)

Sony Canada is promising to have their HD projector at the show next week to show FX1 output to a big screen. I will go to see it for sure just to double check big-screen potential of this cam but I anticipate it's gonna look great.

The Japanese demo footage really shows that if you tweak the settings and get the camera in it's sweet spots, you can really do super amazing things with this camera and cue the M.C. Hammer rap: "You can't touch this."

The demo footage started with a lot of static shots but the dancing girl footage was close up with pans, etc. and it looked incredible - no motion artifacts - very impressive. The highly detailed temple shots and the parrot etc. showing off depth-of-field was incredible to behold.

Interesting highlights: with my comments:

*No true progressive, however camera uses "magic" to get a filmic-type look for cineframe 24 - well, the footage looked stroby and jittery - if the idea is to emulate super-8 on a jumpy projector, then they've succeeded. To Sony, this is "film-look."

*audio: mpeg 1 layer II audio with 256 kbs is "CD quality" - a very professional audio compression scheme, so they say. That's that. That's what Sony is saying. Take it or leave it.

* AF assist was explained, sort of - it's supposed to work like this: you're on auto-focus in poor light and the camera has a tendency to hunt. With af assist, you can fine tune by manually adjusting the focus ring and focus will "stay" although it's in AF... how long does it "stay" if you move cam or something enters/moves in the frame? God only knows.

*Manual white balance colour temperatures can actually be "dialed-in" over a range (can't remember the full range) to be set... at least that's what the slide show said.

*Sony Canada list price in Cdn. ---> $7,200!!!! For you nice Americans, that is waaaay above $4,900... We were told though of course dealers would sell locally for less... yeah, like I should think so...

*Support brace was quote at around 3 to 4 hundred bucks... along the lines of original outlandish price first announced...

*Lanc controller on tripod - but does it access shot transition, other special features? Remains to be seen. No body knows.

*New battery charger on hand - nice - has an lcd on it! Not sure what it tells you...

*special presentation on future of HDTV made no apologies for basically justifying that introduction of HDV now is really designed to pave the way for Blu-ray.

*cineframe 24 definitely lower resolution than 60i on HDTV...

*Sony Vegas/Cineform Connect HD is THE way to go if you want to edit this stuff, folks! Final cut pro avail.? Sometime in the future, of course!

I asked if CCD block, chips, lens element was any different in pro Z1 vs. FX1 and here was Brian's answer:

Sony uses two grades of parts - Grade A and Grade B... Grade A is "premium" whereas Grade B is same but maybe more hastily mass-produced, etc. Grade B parts go in FX1. But Grade A only go in the Z1U. Ultimately, the way the CCD block is glued together etc. on the Z1U can perhaps result in a superior image over the FX1 due to these "nuances" aggregating through the entire cam. Will these nuances be consistent when comparing any FX1 to any pro Z1U? Not likely. But you're bet is safer going pro... Well, that's the way he put it.

*NLE support for Sony HDV should be "fairly much in place" by the time pro ships in Feb. 2k5...

*Cinegamma 2 just brings up shadows more - it's almost like adding more contrast. According to slideshow only, of course...

Well, wish I had more news, folks - I was really anticipating seeing the real pro Z1U in person
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