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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 February 25th, 2005, 11:21 AM   #1
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Z1 DVD from Sony

I got the DVD I mentioned in another thread (can't seem to find it). It's not exactly what I expected. I thought it was going to have footage shot in HDV and in DVCAM mode from the Z1, but it is a very nice sales promo on the Z1, shot all HDV, edited and downconverted, obviously, to SD for the DVD.

They use a pretty good variety of shots, including sun sparkling off water, lots of moving shots, low key stuff, good highlights, etc. Naturally, since it's a promo show, the images look great. The only thing I didn't like was the 24p stuff. The 30p looked good, but the 24p was very stroby. It looked about like the XL1's frame mode, except better quality images. I doubt I could tell the difference between the 30p and 60i if they hadn't pointed it out.

The stuff looks better than I expected, but I was watching it on the comuter monitor. I'll have to take it home and see what it looks like on a regular NTSC TV.

I still don't know what the camera looks like when shooting in DVCAM mode vs. HDV mode.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:21 PM   #2
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Hey Bill, what DVD are you talking about? I looked everywhere and can't find anything about it.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:22 PM   #3
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It's called the "Sony HDV Sampler, Standard Definition DVD Downconverted from Sony HDV Original." A friend of mine got it at Sundance. I'd assume they would be available from dealers, etc. It might have been something they only handed out at Sundance, or you might check

www.sony.com/professional

Or if you have a local Sony pro dealer, check there.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:26 PM   #4
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It's called the Sony HDV Sampler. A friend of mine got it at Sundance. I'd assume they would be available from dealers, etc. You might check
www.sony.com/professional
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #5
 
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We've asked Sony for permission to stream this from our website, we're still dealing with the legal stuff involved, but should have it up soon.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:56 PM   #6
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Thanks guys!
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Old February 26th, 2005, 03:33 AM   #7
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It's doubtful that you'd be able to tell much difference between CineFrame 30 and 60i on a computer monitor (which would convert the 60i to progressive for progressive display). You should see a night-and-day difference when watching it on an interlaced television.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #8
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I watched it last night on a 35" TV and still could tell no real difference in the cineframe 30 shot over the normal one. It was a moving shot, camera on a steadycam or dolly, woman walking rapidly toward the camera, brick building on one side going by. The 24p was typically juddery, the 30p mode looked about like the 60i shot. I could see no difference in resolution, though the movement was a little less smooth. Still, the difference in motion was almost insignificant. I considered the 24p mode unacceptable, though the resolution still looked good.

As I mentioned earlier, I have no way of knowing how they edited the footage. They could have transferred everything to "real" HD, edited with Avid Symphony and its sophisticated color correction tools, or helll, they could have spent gazillion bucks and a week with a top notch colorizer at Optimus in Chicago or someplace like that.

Overall, the stuff looked really good on my home TV. It did not look like it came from a 1/3" chip camera. I was all prepared to be underwhelmed by HDV, but I've got to say that, from this particular sales presentation, I'm impressed. But again, I'm sure they went all out to make the stuff look as good as it possibly could. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of "film look" treatment too. I really would like to see good quality raw footage out of the camera. Still...if you can get this kind of quality from this camera...well...hmmm...I could be on the verge of revising my opinion about why a guy like me needs to always shoot with a 2/3" chip camera....

Of course, the bar always goes up--they make a 1/3" chip HDV camera that looks great, their next step is to go for a 2/3" chip HDV camera and here we go all over again.

Based on the DVD, which I've watched 4 times now, if I needed to shoot something soon that required a "handycam" type of small camera, then I would very definitely be interested in getting the Z1 and the deck...but if there is no pressing urgency, I'd have to wait to see what Panasonic is going to do at NAB in this small camera arena. Assuming they do a 720p thing, then the question would be which format is best, and if they come out fairly equal, then the question would be which camera you like best. Or if the 720p thing comes out way ahead...maybe we don't really need another HD format after all.

Also, I don't know whether what I saw that looks good to me is the result of the camera or the HDV or both. That's why I really want to see the same shots from the same camera both in HDV and in DVCAM. I'd like to see the HDV downconverted on a DVD followed by the same footage shot and edited the same way and put onto DVD the same way. I think that would let me know what the camera really looks like. It could be that I'm seeing the result of a really excellent 1/3" chip camera...or the new format...or the result of what you can do at a really top notch post house. I have to keep reminding myself that I've watched a good sales pitch, not a camera test.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #9
 
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I can't go into the particulars, but I can tell you that there was no magic done with this footage. No special color correction gimmicks, nada. I also have the raw footage from the Latin America launch of the camera, the footage that was output to film. Looks just as good, and has just as much a sales pitch without words. :-)

I can post that footage, simply because I own some of it. (I need Sony's permission though, just for courtesy)
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Old February 26th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #10
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Well, that is good to know. When I watched the stuff at home again last night, it was amazingly good. On occasion I've put in a DVD of a documentary that's been shot with other 1/3" chip cameras, and it looks great, but if you go back to your regular cable TV programming, then by comparison the doc stuff looks soft. I was watching something off network TV last night when I switched to the DVD, and it didn't look soft at all. Obviously it doesn't look like something shot with an $80,000 camera or with film, but it holds its own much better than I expected.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 11:41 AM   #11
 
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Now here's where the true question comes in....

How can you tell it wasn't shot with an 80K cam or film? Or a 150K camera or film? I've seen, and shot comparisons with a number of cameras at this point, and granted, I've needed to do a *little* processing, but I've been able to fool some of the best when putting Varicam, 900, and Z1 footage side by side.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 02:22 PM   #12
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I think the footage from any 2/3" c hip HD camera would be sharper. I would say the color might be nicer, but the colors on the stuff I saw were great, so I don't know if anyone would notice anything other than sharpness. Wide angle shots are always going to be sharper on a bigger chip camera.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 02:37 PM   #13
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Hey, Douglas--got a question...I just watched the Sony DVD again, for about the 5th time. There's one shot of the deck, a low angle with clouds and blue sky in the background. Was that a chroma key shot or did they mount the deck on something and shoot it outside?
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Old March 1st, 2005, 02:52 PM   #14
 
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If I recall correctly, it's mounted on a tripod plate with a rotator underneath it.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 04:44 PM   #15
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I was hoping it would be chroma key, but I sort of figured that was the case.
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