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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 25th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #1
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To go HD or not to go HD...That is the question

Hey everyone,

I'm debating whether to go HD for an indie film I'm shooting this summer. Right now, I'm shooting with a Sony PDX10. It's a great camera, and I love it, but I've been thinking about selling it and picking up an FX1. There's a couple of issues--one being the cost of the upgrade. The other is that I'm extremely concerned about the quality of the MPEG compression on HDV. Every time I look at an HD picture (usually on HDNet), I "make my decision" to go HD. Then I think, well, that stuff is all shot with the HDCAM and DVCPRO HD stuff. (And no, I can't afford the HVX-200 :( ) Plus, right now is there really much point in going HD for a film? Our theatre can't project HD, I can't afford transfer to film, and the film is destined for DVD and VHS distribution--which means no HD there either.

I dunno--the issue's been driving me nuts. I'm just looking for some input. Any indie filmmakers here that would be willing to share their thoughts? Any comments on the compression artifacts? Any other thoughts?

All are apprieciated! Please help me figure out what to do here--PDX10, or FX1?
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Old April 25th, 2005, 10:58 PM   #2
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As always with technology, the longer you can hold out the better.

If you think you can make your PDX10 last another year, then who knows what the cameras next year might look like.

It sounds like you don't *need* to go HD right now.

I understand the *want* to though. :D

The mind justifies what the heart wants.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:42 PM   #3
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I faced a similar decision less than 2 months ago. I had decided that a PDX10 met my immediate needs (delivery of 16:9 content on DVD), but I was *VERY* to purchase the FX1. And like you, every time I turned on my HDTV I thought to myself, "I've GOT to go HD!" But the more I thought about it, the less it made sense: a camera of the FX1 level just wasn't going to produce the kind of beautiful DiscoveryHD-quality work I was used to watching (not to mention that there's no way that I could shoot such high-quality footage in the first place). And at this time -- and the immediate near future -- I can't deliver HD on DVD anyways.

I ended up buying a PDX10. It met my needs, and I can edit it on a modestly powered Mac, so it didn't break the bank. And I figure that since it's a true 16:9 and has such a small form factor, I figure that I'll be able to use it as tight-spot "B" camera once I do migrate to an HDV camera in the future.

Now if only I knew how to USE my camera. ;-)
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Old April 26th, 2005, 02:54 AM   #4
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Isn't it interesting that the only posts to the original query are decidedly negative to using HDV.

I'll assume Eric has the logic to figure out what his (and his alone) decision will be.

BTW, Just wondering whether you've measured the actual bit-rate of the HD you're seeing from HDNet? I'd be very surprised if the broadcast stream is as high as the HDV stream from the FX-1/Z1. Looking at video from the FX-1/Z1 on proper HD equipment is an experience.

I'm an unashamed user of HDV, who figures that if you can't see the logic in it for the use you intend... find another board with SD proponents to ask for advice.

Seems like you're more interested in coming up with excuses for not taking the HDV plunge, and maybe if someone here tells you too, "go ahead!!" "Why not work with a video resolution that allows greater flexibilty than SD, and if you're worried about DVD distribution, SD isn't going to make it any easier to get a good result - so how much worse off could you be", you will have a scapegoat if you perhaps find HDV doesn't end up working for you.

I think you will find many of the really serious HDV'ers are too busy with their production projects to even find the time too reply to posts like this anymore.
That's how serious the format's defects must be....
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Old April 26th, 2005, 08:00 AM   #5
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Oh believe me, if I had the money, I would have purchased the FX1 instead and jumped feet-first into HDV! Everyday, I wish I were shooting HDV instead of DV. But unfortunately for my particular needs (Widescreen non-HD DVD delivery) and my particular budget ($5K for everything; cam, audio, pc, nle, etc) I came to the conclusion that I only required SD, and that my budget could be streched further with a less-expensive SD camera.

But if I had the money, I'd certainly jump at the FX1.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:13 AM   #6
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I'm doing something similar

and I have gone with the Z1. After viewing the 24p footage of Vegas 6 at NAB I'm sure I'm in the right place. However, I notice you are from Dallas - as I am -- and my friend who has an FX1. How long is your shoot? We might be able to work something out if I can get your services when I shoot.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Crisdale
Isn't it interesting that the only posts to the original query are decidedly negative to using HDV.
Hey Steve, I don't think my post was negative towards HDV at all.

I'm a head-over-heals-in-love owner of a FX1. I love this camera and the image it produces.

I bought it a few months ago because I needed another camera and since I was buying a camera anyway, I seriously looked at HDV and decided it was the way to go. Had I not *needed* a camera at that time, I would have waited as long as I could to see what was coming down the pike.

That's what my council was to the original question. Nothing negative about HDV at all, all I was saying was what we all know. The longer you can hold out for buying new technology the more options you'll have. But of course you've got to buy when you need it, as I did with the FX1.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Waters
However, I notice you are from Dallas - as I am -- and my friend who has an FX1. How long is your shoot? We might be able to work something out if I can get your services when I shoot.
Wait...do you mean ME?

LOL, believe me, you don't want MY services unless you need a Graphic Designer & Illustrator (my actual profession). I'm just now getting into video, and to be completely honest I have no skills whatsoever.

And FWIW, my shoot is on-going, it's outdoors, and it's all over the country. :-)
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:47 AM   #9
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A lot of us are wrestling with this issue. See the new issue of DV magazine where Adam Wilt kicks it around a bit.

It isn't just the cost of the camera either, it's all the other stuff to consider. You will probably need a faster computer, and your workflow is going to be slower than SD. You will also need more disk space. How about a monitor? And don't forget those other goodies which won't be compatible with your PDX-10, like wide/telephoto adaptor lenses, filters, batteries. Is your tripod good enough to support the heavier camera and will the higher resolution images show up any of its quirks? How about a carrying case/camera bag? The FX-1 won't fit in the same space as a PDX-10! The list goes on and on. My only point is that you could easily spend several thousand above and beyond the price of the camera just to get up to the same level you enjoy in SD.

Don't take this as negative, please. I only bring it up because you seem to be worried about the cost. I'm pondering all these same things, but in my case I would pass over the FX-1 for the Z-1. I have a project where they want PAL SD video, and the Z-1 would give me that. In fact, if I go this way then I suspect that the HDV mode of the camera would get very little use for awhile due to concerns about editing and storing the footage. Clearly we have a ways to go before HDV workflow is as quick and easy as DV (see some of Adams observations in the above mentioned article).

But the Z-1 and FX-1 sound like they are also very nice SD cameras, and the manual controls appear to be much, much nicer than our little PDX-10's. Tough choice...
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
It isn't just the cost of the camera either, it's all the other stuff to consider. You will probably need a faster computer, and your workflow is going to be slower than SD. You will also need more disk space. How about a monitor? And don't forget those other goodies which won't be compatible with your PDX-10, like wide/telephoto adaptor lenses, filters, batteries. Is your tripod good enough to support the heavier camera and will the higher resolution images show up any of its quirks? How about a carrying case/camera bag? The FX-1 won't fit in the same space as a PDX-10! The list goes on and on. My only point is that you could easily spend several thousand above and beyond the price of the camera just to get up to the same level you enjoy in SD.
Well, in terms of other accessories, I have a Bogen-Manfrotto tripod that supports studio camerass, so I'm good there. I'm editing on a Dual 2.5Ghz G5, so that works fine. 900GB of storage should be plenty for the time being--and I don't have any accessories for the PDX10 other than (cheap) camera bag.

I think what I'll end up doing is trying to get the money to buy and FX1. If I can, I'll upgrade. If I can't, I'll wait. We'll see what happens--you'll be hearing from me!
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Old April 26th, 2005, 10:07 AM   #11
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Great Question to HD or not to...

I am starting to think a used Panny with DVCPro50 and real glass is a better option than going HD right now. I just can't get into these camcorders if they don't have the glass and Anton batteries with a batt light. I might wait till Sony puts out a shoulder mount HDV solution. I think once the new FCP is released HDV will blossom. I like the things I have read about keying, that will be the test of the new codec once it is played around with on the new version of FCP. I have decided to rent and wait, although it is a nice sales pitch to say you are shooting in HD. It is still so early for HD, it will be nice when this whole Blu-ray issue is settled and we can actually deliver in HD. No offense to those that love camcorders, I am still getting used to the idea after using full size beta and dvcpro50 cameras for the last 15 years. I still think that S-VHS off of a Panasonic AG-Dp800p (one pass direct into an NLE) looks as good as any DV camera out there but I am not a technocrat, I just use my eyes and ears. It is confusing for me and many others, having DV camcorders shooting better video than full size SD cameras. Prices are all over the place and the order that was once there is confusing. It still is a SD world out there? One thing is for sure, there is a breaking point where glass and CCD matter more than codec. I am going to be watching how they integrate these formats into low end, 1/2 inch shoudler mount pro cameras. I never liked the DV shoulder mount cameras because beta was still alive and kicking but that is changing rapidly. waiting and renting
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Old April 26th, 2005, 10:20 AM   #12
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Eric, our setups are not all that different. I also have a dual 2.5 Power Mac with 2.5 GB RAM, but I have almost 2 terrabytes of disk in various forms. Even so, I'm concerned about storage. All these disks are nearly full with DV footage that I'm not ready to dump back to tape. The situation will be much more critical if I go to HDV.

And I'm loving the speed with which I can edit on the fast Mac. Guess we'll have to see how FCP 5 turns out. Not sure that I'm ready to take a big step backwards in performance just to get up to HD resolution.

And I have a 1ghz G4 Powerbook. While it's no speed demon, it can certainly edit SD footage. Forget it with HDV...

But these are pretty exciting times with so much happening in the industry. Certainly isn't boring! :-)
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Old April 26th, 2005, 03:50 PM   #13
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I think you should not center your decision on the equipment itself but on other more important matters.

First of all, do you really have a story worth to tell right now that will look good on HDV? Or may be SD is all you just need to tell your story ...

You see, equipment does not really matter. It does not matter if you shoot it in Hi8, Betacam, HD, Film, HDV, DV,etc. It is your story that matters. Concentrate on your story before anything else.

If you have doubts on equipment, then don't buy it, and just tell your story with the instruments you have right now. That is if you have one to tell. If you don't have anything to tell right now, then dont tell it and don't buy anything.

I am sure Alan Barker would agree with what I am saying.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Wotila
Hey everyone,

I'm debating whether to go HD for an indie film I'm shooting this summer. Right now, I'm shooting with a Sony PDX10. It's a great camera, and I love it, but I've been thinking about selling it and picking up an FX1. There's a couple of issues--one being the cost of the upgrade. The other is that I'm extremely concerned about the quality of the MPEG compression on HDV. Every time I look at an HD picture (usually on HDNet), I "make my decision" to go HD. Then I think, well, that stuff is all shot with the HDCAM and DVCPRO HD stuff. (And no, I can't afford the HVX-200 :( ) Plus, right now is there really much point in going HD for a film? Our theatre can't project HD, I can't afford transfer to film, and the film is destined for DVD and VHS distribution--which means no HD there either.

I dunno--the issue's been driving me nuts. I'm just looking for some input. Any indie filmmakers here that would be willing to share their thoughts? Any comments on the compression artifacts? Any other thoughts?

All are apprieciated! Please help me figure out what to do here--PDX10, or FX1?
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Old April 26th, 2005, 03:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto Manuel
I think you should not center your decision on the equipment itself but on other more important matters.

First of all, do you really have a story worth to tell right now that will look good on HDV? Or may be SD is all you just need to tell your story ...

You see, equipment does not really matter. It does not matter if you shoot it in Hi8, Betacam, HD, Film, HDV, DV,etc. It is your story that matters. Concentrate on your story before anything else.

If you have doubts on equipment, then don't buy it, and just tell your story with the instruments you have right now. That is if you have one to tell. If you don't have anything to tell right now, then dont tell it and don't buy anything.

I am sure Alan Barker would agree with what I am saying.
I've got the story down, and we're finishing up pre-production. You have a good point--the story is much more important than the medium it's shot on. If you have an awesome story that sucks viewers in, they won't care if it's shot on a black and white webcam (ok, maybe that's a little extreme). Conversely, nobody cares if a film is shot with the best camera on the planet if there's no plot to it. That concept has been well demonstated by some of the crap Hollywood turns out ;)
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