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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 December 9th, 2004, 09:51 AM   #1
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If you shot in DVCAM mode would it be good as other Camcorders

If you shot in DVCAM mode would it look as good as shot with the canon or panasonic?
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Old December 9th, 2004, 10:21 AM   #2
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DVCAM is a way of spreading the same digital data across a larger surface of the tape. This, in theory, diminishes the possibility of dropouts in the signal and thus better preserves the data over repeated recordings and playbacks and over time. So in a worst case scenario (worn out tape) you might see a difference in the image because of more dropped frames in DV mode than in DVCAM mode. BUT there is no basic image quality difference between DV and DVCAM (or SLP) tape modes, as there is also no difference in the case of consumer cameras than can do DV at LP tape speed. In the case of LP, it's the other way around: you get less data integrity than in DV SP mode, this is why a pro user will never use LP, and might prefer SLP (DVCAM) if available. But, with good tape and a good camera or VTR, there is usually no visible difference.

Now, whether the FX1/Z1 image is as good as that of other camcorders, well that remains to be seen. According to specs, it might be better because resolution is much higher in HDV than in DV, however there is more to an image than resolution. Vertical smear, lattitude, color fidelity, noise, low light and response to high contrast might be better with the other cameras. We will just have to wait and see.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 12:44 PM   #3
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Having shot side-by-side, fundamentally-identical scenes on the XL2, FX1 and DVX, I can say that no, as a DV/DVCAM camera the FX1 isn't quite up to the level of the other two.

Ignacio's dead-on with the smear, latitude and low-light/sensitivity comments. The FX1 has easily the weakest low-light performance of the three cameras; the DVX was consistently 1.5 to 2 stops faster than the FX1 (meaning, it needed on average only 1/4 the light to resolve the same brightness image as the FX1). The XL2 was usually about 1/2 stop faster than the FX1.

As for latitude, again no contest -- the DVX exhibits about 2 more stops of latitude. Highlight handling is similar, but the DVX can see much, much further into the shadows than the FX1. The XL2 is about 1/2 stop, maybe 1 stop more latitude than the FX1. The FX1 has more latitude than the JVC HD1, but only about 5 stops overall, whereas the XL2 looked more like 5.5 and the DVX clocked in at around 7.

There were times when we'd get equivalent exposure on the cameras, the DVX would be at f/stop 4.0 and the FX1 needed to be wide-open at f/1.6. And even then, the FX1 would only be able to expose the brighter parts of the picture, and darker areas would fall to complete black, whereas the DVX was able to see much deeper into the shadows.

As for noise, both the FX1 and XL2 deliver a less-noisy picture under dark conditions than the DVX does. All three cameras have noise in the dark areas, but the FX1 (and to a lesser extent, the XL2) appear to have some heavy-duty coring going on to control the noise. The DVX "detail coring" was set to neutral in our testing (as were all settings) so it could perhaps have helped control some of the noise, had we cranked it up.

So, no, as a DV camera the FX1 is not up to the standards of the current standard-bearers, the DVX and XL2. If you want an interlaced DV-only camera and like the Sony look, the PD170 would be the better choice. The FX1 is an interlaced high-def camera, and in that context it shines brightest... any other usage (as a DV camera, as a film simulation camera, etc) it loses compared to the other two.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 01:16 PM   #4
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Barry

your opinions viz the latitude intrigue me

did you shoot some greyscale charts and if so can you load 'em up so we can all have a look?
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Old December 9th, 2004, 01:52 PM   #5
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Barry,

Was your comparison with all three cameras shooting DV25?

I have been saying the FX1 is not very good in low-light.

I haven't done any serious lattitude tests, but side by side with my DV5000, I thought the FX1 in HDV mode had better latitude. We saw more in the shadows on the FX1 than the DV5000.

The FX1 in HDV mode has very little to no noise with gain at 0db. I am not sure what coring is, so I am not sure how to look for that.

I agree, if you want a DV camera, but a DV camera. If you want an affordable HD camera buy the FX1.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 03:12 PM   #6
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We shot all sorts of things, including color charts and grayscale charts and set up a still-life set that had 10 stops of latitude (from f/0.7 to f/16, assuming ASA 400 and verified by a spotmeter).

The article is being put together now and pictures are being sorted out -- we have something like six hours of footage so it takes a while to sort through it, sync it up, and make comparisons. We shot DV and HDV mode, and are comparing straight DV from the FX1 as well as downrezzed-HDV to DV by the camera and downrezzed HDV-to-DVD done by Vegas software using "best" render quality settings.

A DV5000 should smoke the FX1 in latitude tests, I'm quite surprised to hear you're finding the opposite. Tiny pixels = worse latitude, that's basically an axiom, and it held true in our testing: DVX had better latitude than XL2 which had better than FX1. The DV5000 has bigger pixels than all of them, and should probably do at least a stop better than the DVX (just guessing), which would put it as much as two to three stops better than the FX1.

All our testing was done at 0db, and all three cameras had noticeable and significant noise in the dark areas of the charts (like the MacBeth ColorChecker -- the black area between color chips was crawling with noise from all three cameras, the DVX was noisiest, the XL2 and FX1 were cleaner).

"I agree, if you want a DV camera, but a DV camera. If you want an affordable HD camera buy the FX1."

The FX1 is such a superior camera to the JVC HD1/HD10 that it's a complete no-brainer -- if you want an affordable HD camera, the FX1 is the one to get (at least until the Z1 comes out, but then the issue of "affordable" comes into play). But if you want to make DVD's for standard-def release, or for US broadcast work, we found the XL2 and DVX do a better job than the FX1 for DVD release. And if you want a filmlike look, the DVX is far superior, with the XL2 right on its heels. But for interlaced HD display, that's where the FX1 stands head and shoulders above the others.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 03:52 PM   #7
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Barry,

I'm quite content to wait until we can see your tests (assuming they will be freely available) but in respect of latitude (among other matters) I cant see what you are saying

Perhaps you had inadvertantly left cinegamma 'on' in one of the picture profiles, which would explain/definitely crush the blacks

Until we see your results...
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