My thoughts on the 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 November 25th, 2004, 12:22 AM   #1
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My thoughts on the FX1

Hi all,

I just want to say that the postings I read on this board really help to to decide to wake up last Saturday morning and call Samy's Camera (In Venice) to inquire about the availability of the FX-1. I spoke to a very nice gentleman named Glen and he told me that they did have 8 FX-1's in stock and that if I wanted to come down we could hook it up to their 46 inch plasma and have some fun. We spent about an hour tossing it around and checking out the amazing pictures on the Plasma. I also own a 65 inch Sony HD projection TV with the Voom satalite and I have been watching HD regularly for about a year. All the flavors (1080, 720) so I am very used to the amazing pictures displayed in the HD format. Let me tell you, this camera is a marvel. I have never seen a $3400 dollar anything produce that picture quality of this thing. I am not rich but let me tell you I couldn't leave without that camera in my trunk. I left with the HDR-FX, a decent Japanese made Tri-pod, a Porta Brace Camera Backpack, the spotlight add-on and two Sony HDV tapes.

My ear to ear grin grew even larger when I got home and plugged the camera into my HDTV. My girlfriend, roommate and I could not believe the quality. My roommate works in master control at Fox Digital and I am an editor for the FX Network, so we watch alot of TV, this thing is good. It's amazing. I went down to the local park Sunday and shot some ducks in a pond along with some trees, flowers and other colorful things. When I got back to the pad to view these moving pictures again was floored three people sat in my living room for over an hour watching ducks trees and other various nature shots. It 's like you just want to watch the shots this camera produces, regardless of the content its that beautiful. You could start an art museum with this thing.

I don't know when progressive capture is going to arrive, but I don't think the lack of is a big deal. This thing makes great video. I deliver onlined content to television stations everyday and the FX-1 blows away every flavor of SD and stands up admirably next to 4:2:2 HDCAM and 4:4:4 Viper, I watch them both regularly.

I am going to spend some time next week with the Telecine engineer at my work. Where are going to hook it up to HD scopes, view it on our HD broadcast monitor, clone it to HDCAM and D-5 (to examine the results of quality) and put its pictures side-by-side with HDCAM, Viper and 2k & 4k transfers. I will then delivery my full evaluation to you all.

Samy's in West LA is going to have a Sony expert come down on December 1st for training on the FX-1.

Once again thanks for the information
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Old November 25th, 2004, 01:48 AM   #2
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Looking forward to seeing your HD camera side-by-side test. Thanks!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 02:18 AM   #3
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Wow. look forward to this. Thanks Scott!

Hmm with the price of the Aussie dollar at the moment... i'm serouisly thinking of getting one "sent over" ;)
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Old November 25th, 2004, 07:50 AM   #4
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Scott, have you managed to upload any video to a computer for editing?
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Old November 26th, 2004, 06:01 PM   #5
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Have loaded footage into computer

Yes I have captured footage from my FX1 to my PC. I downloaded the CAPDVHS.EXE and it work great . I hooked up the FX1 with a firewire and my XP asked if I wanted into install drivers for this camera. I guess XP had the proper dirvers because I did not use a CD and the camera was seen by the computer and CAPDVHS.EXE. With CAPDVHS.EXE all I did was press record and play on the camera, the footage was captured with no frame drops. I played the footage with the VLC player.

CAPDVHS.EXE and VLC likes can both be found in this forum. I want to note that the info I gained through this forum allowed my do do this (great resource). Im sure one day very soon it wont been so complicated to capture and edit using well known apps such as Xpress Pro and Premiere. But in the mean timey this apps work well. The footage looks interlaced until you set the program to progressive playback in the video settings.

If anyone has an FTP or server that I can upload my footage to (I have some great stuff) let me know and I'd be happy to.

One important thing I've noticed while doing some test shooting is that in low light situations the pictures show alot of grain, while in well lit setting (for me it was outside, with good lighting) grain is minimal. With that in mind anyone can point and record but if you want to get the best pictures possible nothing replaces the experience of a good videographer with good lighting skills.

Good Luck
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Old November 26th, 2004, 06:56 PM   #6
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Hi Scott,

Thanks for your great reports -- keep 'em coming please!

I can host some clips for you but they would need to wait until after this weekend, when I'm back in the office on Monday. Can you pick out a couple and coordinate with me at the first of the week. Hope this helps,
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Old November 26th, 2004, 08:44 PM   #7
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Scott,

Sounds great. I've transfered some footage to our HDCam decks as well and its really impressive.

The night time footage is where the FX1 shows its great weakness. But quite honestly, for the money, its unreal.

Mind you, I know several other folks who work in the film industry (as I do) who have returned their cameras. So to each is own I guess. But quite honestly, for the money, it floored me as well.

Look forward to your posts.

-alex
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Old November 27th, 2004, 02:34 AM   #8
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I've just been looking at my first FX1 shot video on my Aquos 83cm LCD HDTV and I am amazed at the quality. Definitely superior to the HD10u!! Clean and sharp details, and as I was at an air show, I managed to get some reasonable action type shots of two helicopters performing in amongst a locust plague!!! I didn't notice any aberations or artifacting as the choppers did high speed passes, tight turns (the rotors look like they aught too) and no nasty blocking in the sky which was essentially cloudless. Even the fluttering locust wings showed up perfectly!!!

I did notice two 'glitches' during playback - the dropped GOP kind that is. I used a brand new JVC M-DV63PRO cassette that I had spare from my HD10. Fortunately the dropped GOP's can be edited out in this case, but that may not always be the case...... I'd better get some of the new Sony HDV tapes pronto!!!

Scott; unlike you, I have found the low-light performance of the FX1 outstanding. But then I'm coming from the HD10 which is atrocious in anything less than daylight equivalent.
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Old December 1st, 2004, 01:44 AM   #9
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Conflicting Settings, Maybe?

Something weird occured in some footage I shot this weekend. I went up to the Getty Center in Los Angeles to shot a sunset and some scenic shots of the LA skyline. I also wanted to test the cine-whatever its called mode (you know the fake 24p mode). So I went to the highest part of the place put my FX1 on the tripod, set the fake 24p mode and recorded a bunch of skyline shots. I zoomed in, zoomed out, racked focus and paned across the skyline. I also got a great sunset where I tested all the ND filters and got some cool looking shots by adjusting the spotlight and backlight features. When I got home I excitedly hooked up the FX1 to my HDTV and began to review the footage. The sunset shots looked amazing but when I viewed the skyline shot I noticed that when I panned in fake 24p mode it looked very jumpy. Even my girlfriend (a school teacher) noticed it. To be honest with you it looked terrible. I understand that during movement in this mode the camera adds a motion blur to look similar to 24p footage but in the case of my shots the movement looked very jumpy as if the camera was trying to catch up with the pan. At first I was very dissipointed. This footage was practically unuseable and the whole mode itself looked pretty unuseable. Upon further review I noticed that I had the steady shot feature on the whole time. Maybe this jumpy looked occured because of a conflict with these two features. Maybe the steady shot mode was affecting the smooth movement I was trying to get in the fake 24p mode? It is only a guess at this point. I plan to recreate these shot soon and I will remove the steady shot feature while Im on the tripod. I hope this fixes the problem. If it doesnt I will have to deem the fake 24p mode useless.

Have any of you noticed this problem? If so, let me know your work-around. I will keep you posted on my findings.

I havent had the time at work to get with our HD engineer yet, hopefully later this week. I get my results back to you

Happy Holidays
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Old December 1st, 2004, 07:29 AM   #10
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I found the same thing with the cineframe 24 mode ...does'nt look very impressive while panning or maybe I dont know the best settings yet . My dvx looks way better on 24p but again sony is not progressive ...can't complain.The footage is incredible on sony....and is very wide too....my 0.6x wide angle doesnt fit on fx1....too bad.I will still stick with sony.
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Old December 1st, 2004, 07:51 AM   #11
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I've heard/read some debate about this here and on some other forums...from what I've read, the jumpiness can possibly be attributed to the pulldown that's applied. Supposedly once it's removed and the footage is edited as 24fps interlaced footage, it looks fine....
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Old December 1st, 2004, 10:02 AM   #12
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Re: Conflicting Settings, Maybe?

<<<-- Originally posted by Scott Michael Weiss : To be honest with you it looked terrible. I understand that during movement in this mode the camera adds a motion blur to look similar to 24p footage but in the case of my shots the movement looked very jumpy as if the camera was trying to catch up with the pan.-->>>

1. Did you set the shutter speed manually to 1/60? If not, the camera might have been shooting with something faster, which will definately cause what you saw.

2. The camera does not add motion blur as you suggest.

///d@
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Old December 1st, 2004, 04:43 PM   #13
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Shutter Speed at 1/60

If I read the manual correctly, when I choose Picture Profile 4 which turns the Cineframe 24 mode on the Shutters speed is automatically set to 1/60. I checked this and I did have the Shutter speed set to 1/60 when I shot the footage. I read that if I change the shutter speed to 1/30 whlie in cineframe 24 I might get a smoother shot.

I plan to test this feature again with the shutter set to 1/30 and the steady shot turned off. I will let you know how it looks. If anyone has any other suggestions on how to get smooth video during camera movements in Cineframe 24 please let me know.

Thanks to Kevin for the suggestion to edit in 24fps, however I have not yet been able to edit my footage because I have an Avid Xpress Pro w/Mojo setup. Does anyone know when Avid plans to release Xpress Pro for HDV or any info on this version. Avid has been promoting Xpress Pro with HDV capabilities for about six months now but the wonderful asterick on HDV* reads that it will come in future releases. I wish that they would end these false promises and deliver the goods already. Come on already Big Purple!
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Old December 1st, 2004, 05:02 PM   #14
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I think it is rather the steady-shot as you assumed. If you have it on while panning, the SS-system detects a movement and tries to compensate (by 'holding' the image steady), then after a while it gets intolerable to keep the image, because it's too far off, and then it 'jumps' to the next 'steady' image, where you get the same thing over and over again. I guess this would happen 2 or 3 times a second which on playback will look like stutter. I think you should also test it with shutter to 1/60 and no SS, because the 1/60 shouldn't be a problem.
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Old December 1st, 2004, 07:32 PM   #15
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Two things:

1) the motion in CineFrame 24 on the FX1 is kind of awful. Nothing like 24P. I'm still testing and reviewing, but I've seen some footage in CineFrame 24 that would make you want to return the camera (if CF24 was a major reason in wanting to buy it). However, I didn't shoot that particular footage, so I can't guarantee that the guy who shot it didn't do something wrong or have some setting set wrong... although I can't think of what he could have done wrong. I'd like to try to duplicate it before writing CF24 off completely, but so far I am quite unimpressed with it. So far I've just shot it, soon we'll be reviewing it in an HD suite. However, CF24 shows artifacts and rhythmic pulsing even on a still shot! Shoot a resolution chart and you'll see a wild pulsing effect going on. It's an odd digital effect, but it's not a good 24P simulation.

2) the SteadyShot on the FX1 is wild. It actually has three settings, and one of the settings ("hard", I think) the camera will actually slide the picture over after you stop panning -- I don't know quite how to describe it, but it's like you pan the camera, and you stop panning, and the picture continues to slide sideways for like a half a second. It's really weird. And it's definitely the SteadyShot doing it... it's like it has a gentle ramp-out on the effect, but the overall feel is that you don't really have control over the camera for a little while.

So while it's always a good idea to turn image stabilization off on any camera when using a tripod, I'd go so far as to say that it's much more of an issue on the FX1 than it has been on other cameras (at least while using the "hard" steadyshot setting).
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