Sony Z1u vs. Panasonic HVX-200 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 April 18th, 2005, 01:32 AM   #1
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Sony Z1u vs. Panasonic HVX-200

I know it is too early on the game. But any thoughts on the new Panasonic HD camera which will sell for less than $6000 and record a much better HD signal ?

What advantages would there be for HDV over the P2 based camera?
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Old April 18th, 2005, 01:46 AM   #2
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The only real advantage I can see is the use of DV tape and potentially a lower pricetag.

Oh yeah, and Sony makes better camera batteries than anyone else.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 02:20 AM   #3
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HDV is the video format, P2 is the storage medium, so you can't compare them.

Anyway, it might not be all about format. For instance, if you want an interchangeable lens system camera that shoots HD in this price range, you have one (1) choice - the HD100, and that's HDV. If you want shoulder mount, then again the same.

If you don't want those then maybe there is no benefit to the HDV cams over the HVX200, other than the HD to tape thing.

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Old April 18th, 2005, 04:33 PM   #4
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We have yet to see how the camera performs.

On paper it is certainly a better camera, and I cannot imagine in practice it being anything less than amazing HOWEVER the question ultimately is how much they expect people to cough up for these P2 cards.

It is all theoretical at the moment. We have not got set prices from Panny yet at just how much they will cost. HDV on DV tape is a bargain however I think everyone will agree here that once the P2 cards become affordable then the Z1 will certainly be inferior in every respect however when will this happen? How many cameras have been released by JVC, Panasonic, Canon and Sony in the past two years? A lot. Everything is moving so quickly.

RRP is $6000, however how much for the P2 cards? You must factor this in before you make your decision, and also it is very much when you need the equipment. People who bought the Z1 in January will have been accumulating a great deal of work in HD and paying their bills. 4th quarter for the HVX and no affordable P2 cards means this camera is definitely NOT competing with the Z1 imo. It will be more expensive. That said I do not want anyone thinking I am biased towards the Z1. Hardly. The HVX features a mechanical zoom lens, true progressive and for me the salivating prospect of SLOW MOTION. On top of that you have four audio channels in DVCPro formats, a standard DV tape deck for 16:9 progressive and a host of other features. Clearly it is a better camera, but Sony have already sold well over 3000 (first batch) of these units, started to create an infrastructure for HDV and have Final Cut Pro 5 coming out supporting the format.

Anyway, you can talk and talk and talk, at the end of the day it is what you want from the equipment and at what cost. You make the decision.

Naturally the HVX is still an AMAZING price when you consider what you would expect to pay for 1080 24P, and even if you pay an extra couple of thousand dollars on a number of P2 cards A LOT of people will not be complaining. But for documentary filmmakers it may be even a year until it rivals their XL1s and PD170 (and indeed Z1s).

For a music video shoot however this will surely be the winner. I mean, renting out this camera plus renting however many P2 cards for a week will save you so much money over film equipment (and the crew to go with it), and being able to dump the footage straight onto your HD will probably revolutionise indie videos. Get a Da Vinci session and hey presto, a 35mm looking video at a fraction of the cost, with that gorgeous slow mo effect, HD res etc etc etc. Wow.

I would just like to say that I do feel Panasonic have approached the HVX very positively. Looking at the specs I feel there is very little compromise, whereas with Sony, when you can't get blimming Peaking and Zebra readings at the same time you wonder whether they understand what flexibility means.

I just NEED to know how it performs in low light (not sure if the lens specs have been provided), what kind of battery consumption we are talking here. The setup just does not scream documentary to me at the moment.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 05:22 PM   #5
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Yes, it's a shame it's announced to far ahead of the realease. The thing I'm really interested in now, is the HDD solutions? There was a rumour about direct to HDD (My preferred choice), but then there has also been mention of them working with the Firestore people for a solution (Not ideal). What that means in the final price is what will make my final decision. If I can record to HD, on a nice little unit (With exchangeable HDD's) plugged onto the HVX somewhere, and get that at a sensible price (i.e., not Firestore price), I will be one very happy camper. I can shoot stuff and give an HDD straight to someone afterwards.

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Old April 18th, 2005, 08:58 PM   #6
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May I add:

As it stands a 4GB card costs $1700 (http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/P2/).

4GB will get you :
16 minutes DVCPro
8 minutes DVCPro 50
4 minutes DVCPro HD.

Naturally these cards will drastically decrease in price. People however are going somewhat ott, predicting a huge drop in price in the coming months. Just because the HVX is coming out in the Winter does not mean these cards will suddenly become the bargain of the year. This is an expensive medium (amazing performance, but still state-of-the-art, downright expensive).

If you consider the HVX to be a future proofing camera then I think you're crazy. Unless you are going to use it straight away there is little reason to buy it in my opinion, in the hope of seeing the media storage drop in price. Why? Because Sony/Canon/JVC are probably already cracking on with new cameras to compete with the HVX. Really. It's an amazing camera, and cannot wait to see what people will achieve with it, but the costs certainly price it way ahead of the Z1.

If anything I look forward to what these first generation cameras will lead the way to next year. From HD on a mini DV tape to true 1080p within a year, we have been spoilt in terms of technological riches. No doubt the biggest question on everyone's lips are, how many Xl2s have Canon ACTUALLY sold? : )
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Old May 15th, 2005, 08:58 PM   #7
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Will the real HD cam please stand up!?!

The HVX200 is an interesting cam at the the very least. However, I'm running with the pack about the P2 cards. Unless panny supplies a card with the camera, I don't think it will fly too well with a lot of people.

As far as the HD side of it, since this cam is sporting the "time tested" DVCPro HD format, at full res, and offers 1080p 24 (Cine Alta-ish) as well as variable framerates in the 720p mode (Varicam-ish), it could possibly rock the Prosumer and Professional HD worlds. For broadcasters, it offers a "disposable" cam for reality shows, and the relibility of solid state recording "no moving parts". Other Panny cams with P2 have proven themselves indespensible in Iraq because there's no heads to get clogged.

It's truly an amazing prospect.... But....

The P2 cards, like everyone has said, are "prohibitively expensive". Panny has a solution to this though. You can't go direct to HDD, but supposedly, on the fly "dubbing" from the P2 card to an off the shelf USB 2.0 HDD is possible. This means that a 4 minute record time on the P2 card just went to "unlimited". On paper it sounds too good to be true, so let's wait and see.

I don't think it will dissapoint, unless it doesn't come with at least a small P2 card in the box.

"Real" HD for $6000.00... We'll see. It won't be if you have to spend a couple thousand on P2 cards, so I think the FX-1/Z1 are here to stay. Besides, the FS-4HD is on the horizon, and even though adding this brings the price point closer, the FX-1/Z1 are already here, and making loud noises.

The only reason I haven't bought one of the puppies is I can't afford it right now, and the sample files I've downloaded, well, they make my dino of a computer cry in pain.

Maybe it's time to upgrade...

Rob
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Old May 15th, 2005, 09:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
For broadcasters, it offers a "disposable" cam for reality shows
I would have thought reality shows were the _last_ place you'd want to faff around with P2 cards. Do you really want to have to change cards in all your cameras every 4 minutes?

The Z1/FX1 would seem far better suited to reality shows... I mean, honestly, who cares whether reality shows are shot in 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 in the first place?
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Old May 16th, 2005, 08:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Grant
Do you really want to have to change cards in all your cameras every 4 minutes?
Most broadcasters would be able to afford the high capacity P2 cards, and use both slots. This would greatly increase the record time, especially if they chose to shoot in the DVCPro or Pro50 formats.

Don't get me wrong. I agree, but I've had quite a bit of experience with local broadcasters, and I know that unless I'm working as a Stringer, they all but turn their noses up at the DV tapes I send them. In fact, one of these "network types" refused to take DV, and insisted I shoot BetacamSP, so I just shot my stuff, and bumped it up to Betacam, and they never knew the difference. Many broadcasters look at HDV with the same snotty superior attitude as they do DV. This cam fits the bill to satisfy those particular people without the need to bump up/over to DVCProHD (which it already records) or D-9, etc.

As it is, with the DV/Betacam workflow I use right now, I have to add about $100.00 to my fee just to accomodate these people. I don't want to imagine what it'd cost in the HDV/DVCProHD conversion scenario.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 09:28 PM   #10
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Give me any footage shot on Betacam SP 2/3 inch CCDs and another one on DV 1/3 CCDs and I can tell the difference right away. It maybe different with HDV but there is a difference between Beta and DV which most knowledgeable people would notice. Believe me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Rock
so I just shot my stuff, and bumped it up to Betacam, and they never knew the difference. Many broadcasters look at HDV with the same snotty superior attitude as they do DV. This cam fits the bill to satisfy those particular people without the need to bump up/over to DVCProHD (which it already records) or D-9, etc.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 11:48 AM   #11
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Sorry this is getting off topic, but...

Perhaps I should elaborate...

When I began working in video (before the birth of Betacam and CCD's), I used Sony, JVC, and Ikegami 3 Tube cameras, so I think I know the difference between the PV-DV953 (which I carry for stringer work) and truly professional cameras. Even an untrained eye can see the difference when the images are placed side by side.

On those particular occasions where I "bumped" DV to Betacam, I used both 1/2" and 2/3" DV/DVCAM cameras (750 to 900 lines of resolution). I rented these for jobs that were specifically for broadcast, and since I couldn't afford the Betacam setups they had available, these were my only alternatives.

After recording, I dubbed the tapes through a TBC, doing color correction, etc... I also verified "video legal" with a waveform monitor and vectorscope, so I don't think there was any visible or technical difference. Besides, on recorded medium Betacam is only capable of 20 to 40 more lines of resolution than DV25, and, even if you could see this difference without using a res chart, this "edge" is lost the moment you edit on an analog editing system, or make a copy (even with TBC's). Even if I shot Betacam, I'd never send the original tape, since they usually get filed in the archive, or put on someones desk in the newsroom. Then, it practically takes an act of Congress to get someone to find it and return it to you. A lesson I learned early, in the Detroit market, during the 1980's.

Lastly, the only time I have been questioned about the equipment I used, was after using the JVC GY-DV500 which (on contrasty horizontal lines and edges) has a fair amount of aliasing. Also, the image on this cam is easily "blown out" by bright areas, and even with the ND filters, can be difficult to control at times. This was the first and last time I used that particular camera on a job like this.

I hope this clarifies my previous post.

Rob
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Old May 17th, 2005, 12:06 PM   #12
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It is not the format but the type of camera you use to determine the quality of the images. The Betacam format for the most part uses 2/3 inch CCD cameras to record images. The DV format ususally uses 1/3 inch cameras. DVcam is a bit different because it uses 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 inch CCD cameras.

I can see a difference specially in contract rendition between the type of cameras so the engineers I work with.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Rock
Perhaps I should elaborate...

When I began working in video (before the birth of Betacam and CCD's), I used Sony, JVC, and Ikegami 3 Tube cameras, so I think I know the difference between the PV-DV953 (which I carry for stringer work) and truly professional cameras. Even an untrained eye can see the difference when the images are placed side by side.

On those particular occasions where I "bumped" DV to Betacam, I used both 1/2" and 2/3" DV/DVCAM cameras (750 to 900 lines of resolution). I rented these for jobs that were specifically for broadcast, and since I couldn't afford the Betacam setups they had available, these were my only alternatives.

After recording, I dubbed the tapes through a TBC, doing color correction, etc... I also verified "video legal" with a waveform monitor and vectorscope, so I don't think there was any visible or technical difference. Besides, on recorded medium Betacam is only capable of 20 to 40 more lines of resolution than DV25, and, even if you could see this difference without using a res chart, this "edge" is lost the moment you edit on an analog editing system, or make a copy (even with TBC's). Even if I shot Betacam, I'd never send the original tape, since they usually get filed in the archive, or put on someones desk in the newsroom. Then, it practically takes an act of Congress to get someone to find it and return it to you. A lesson I learned early, in the Detroit market, during the 1980's.

Lastly, the only time I have been questioned about the equipment I used, was after using the JVC GY-DV500 which (on contrasty horizontal lines and edges) has a fair amount of aliasing. Also, the image on this cam is easily "blown out" by bright areas, and even with the ND filters, can be difficult to control at times. This was the first and last time I used that particular camera on a job like this.

I hope this clarifies my previous post.

Rob
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Old May 17th, 2005, 12:27 PM   #13
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There seems to be some confusion here between the camera and the format it records to. It's not meaningful to compare a 2/3" chip camera recording to Betacam SP to a 1/3" chip camera recording to DVCAM. If I take the 26 pin output of my DSR500WS and record simultaneously to a Betacam SP deck and the camera's internal DVCAM deck and then A/B the Betacam tape with the DVCAM tape on a good monitor, most people can not tell any difference. To my eye, the DVCAM looks a bit better in highly saturated areas.

To say that the Panasonic camera is better than the Z1 is also confusing. The camera may or may not be better. The DVCPRO HD format is, most likely, a bit better than the HDV format.

What happened with DV in its early days seems to already be happening to HDV. A 1/3" chip camera is released first and all the pros say it's a non-professional format, Betacam is better, etc. But after the fully professional 2/3" chip cameras came on the market, that argument pretty much disappeared (although you still have people who, when they say DV, are thinking 1/3" chip camcorder instead of 2/3" chip ones). I bet if DVCPRO HD had come out first in a 1/3" chip camera arrangement, some people would be saying it's not as good as Betacam. The format is, no doubt, a bit better than HDV, but a 1/3" chip camera is still a 1/3" chip camera and no matter what the format it records to, it can only be as good as the image the chips generate.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 12:36 PM   #14
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I think you your clarification is worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor
There seems to be some confusion here between the camera and the format it records to. It's not meaningful to compare a 2/3" chip camera recording to Betacam SP to a 1/3" chip camera recording to DVCAM. If I take the 26 pin output of my DSR500WS and record simultaneously to a Betacam SP deck and the camera's internal DVCAM deck and then A/B the Betacam tape with the DVCAM tape on a good monitor, most people can not tell any difference. To my eye, the DVCAM looks a bit better in highly saturated areas.

To say that the Panasonic camera is better than the Z1 is also confusing. The camera may or may not be better. The DVCPRO HD format is, most likely, a bit better than the HDV format.

What happened with DV in its early days seems to already be happening to HDV. A 1/3" chip camera is released first and all the pros say it's a non-professional format, Betacam is better, etc. But after the fully professional 2/3" chip cameras came on the market, that argument pretty much disappeared (although you still have people who, when they say DV, are thinking 1/3" chip camcorder instead of 2/3" chip ones). I bet if DVCPRO HD had come out first in a 1/3" chip camera arrangement, some people would be saying it's not as good as Betacam. The format is, no doubt, a bit better than HDV, but a 1/3" chip camera is still a 1/3" chip camera and no matter what the format it records to, it can only be as good as the image the chips generate.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 03:59 AM   #15
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I don't think the Panny cam is better than the Z1, especially since I've seen footage from the Z1/FX-1 and for a cam in this price range, it's un beatable (at least for now), and the Panny is still just a dream.

Also, all I was saying about the DVCProHD format was that it's an established format, and has proven itself over time, just as DVCAM HD, and especially Betacam have. This can change quickly because I believe (as do many others) that HDV has the potential to "reshape HD as we know it".

Beyond the capable resolution of the format, all image quality is subjective, and, yes, the better the cam, the better the overall "subjective" image quality. If you take the camera out of the picture (no pun intended) then DV25 is DV25. Wheter it's DV/DVCAM/DVC Pro 25, is irrelevant (except for locked audio and head width). It's all Digital video at 25Mbps with 5:1 intraframe compression, 4:1:1 colorspace, with a maximum resolution of 500 to 530 lines of resolution.

I'm sorry if some misunderstood me. I think that the Betacammers/Pro HD'ers etc., need to get off their high horse. I'd guess, that if cropped to 4:3 and downrezzed to 720X480, HDV would equal Beta without a problem. But that's the point. it would have to be cropped and down rezzed to equal beta as a format.

As CCD technology improves, I think we'll see less of a difference between 1/4" and 2/3" chips, save for the depth of field. Unfortunately, most manufacturers (except for their "Pro" lines) limit their producs by keeping camera resolution about equal to the format resolution, forgetting about subjective image quality. The FX-1/Z1 blur this area with the HDV format in a quality cam.
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