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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 27th, 2005, 06:05 PM   #1
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First shooting experience, from prep to post

Right, have five minutes to report back on a film I made for my degree (final year, deadlines looming, scary stuff).

Basically it is a 14 minute documentary that focuses on the stories of survivors from a conflict that took place in Cyprus in 1974.

The Z1 was used for static talking head shots, using natural light, and cut aways in a dim Greek Orthodox church. Was NOT editing in HDV (uni has FCP HD 4.5) so downconverted in camera to SD and went about my business.

First off, sound quality is excellent in HDV format. Don't care what the numbers say, the interviewees come through beautifully, great detail and clarity, and basically indistinguishable to DV sound. May I stress however that I required little to no sound processing in the edit, which will theoretically lead to a degradation in sound fidelity.

Secondly, camera performed admirably in a relatively dark church. As I am filming a wedding next month I am completely confident now that the Z1 is up to the task. With 6 db gain it is brilliant, and even with no gain, the lens wide open (no zoom on it) we are talking about perfect picture brightness. Of course all churches aren't the same, and natural daylight was coming through windows, however still quite dark.

The 'Shot transition' feature is a godsend. I am not aware if other cameras have this feature but basically it allows you to configure two shots, A and B. You then specify the length of time you want the camera to transition between A and B (from 2 to 15 seconds in length), which allowed me to pull of some quite beautiful pull focuses whilst zooming without touching the camera! It's such a simple idea, and indeed you may even save time as it will pull off perfect results on demand. This is an excellent feature as the size of the camera and lens puts it at a disadvantage to shoulder mounted cams.

Battery power is excellent. 2 hours with LCD open with battery supplied, which was more than enough for my interviews. Will be getting betteries, and can't wait to be shooting run-and-gun docs with the Z1's efficiency. If there is one thing to be said of Sony it is that their product's battery performance is, dare I say, the best in the world. A truly priceless asset to have in my opinion.

Camera can take about 3-5 seconds to start recording from the moment you press the button. Not a problem on this shoot however it was something I noticed in HDV mode, as usually it never takes this long with PD170 etc.

I mentioned some time ago that I was infuriated with the Z1 NOT having a db meter on the audio channel meters. I am quite happy to say this is not the case. Simply press 'status check' on back of camera and you will get both channels on the LCD screen, with a decent reading of db. Thank goodness for that.

Motion artefacts: basically didn't see any. Sure, talking heads, but just thought I would say I have yet to see any.

Drop-outs: Four or so hours of footage and no drop-outs. Using standard Panny DV tapes.

Picture quality: Editor at uni rates the HDV > SD to look as good as digibeta with the shots I showed him. I think it looks sweet, very rich in colour, great detail, wish I could have got greater DOF with interviewees however very happy with results.

Overall, for a relatively undemanding shoot for the Z1, it performed admirably.

Can't wait to start shooting more demanding footage, and really am looking forward to when I get FCP5 and start editing HD footage. Hoorah!
Chris Jothi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 27th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jothi

I mentioned some time ago that I was infuriated with the Z1 NOT having a db meter on the audio channel meters. I am quite happy to say this is not the case. Simply press 'status check' on back of camera and you will get both channels on the LCD screen, with a decent reading of db. Thank goodness for that.
Put the audio in "manual" vs. "auto" and you'll have full-time mini audio meters on the LCD.
Mike Tiffee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 28th, 2005, 02:50 PM   #3
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Shot Transition

I also found the 'Shot Transition' to be an awsome feature. It is just like if you had your own camera assistant pulling focus for you, doing rack exposures, zooms, etc. It is amazing. I think that this camera even without HDV recording would be worth its price. It comes packed with so many features, it is unbelievable. The amazing part of Shot Transition is that you cannot just programmed the speed of your rack focus, rack exposure, etc. transition but also adjust the way it would start and finish. You can program it to start very slow then buid up to a linear speed and finish in a gradual way. Does this thing have a brain inside ??????

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jothi
Right, have five minutes to report back on a film I made for my degree (final year, deadlines looming, scary stuff).



The 'Shot transition' feature is a godsend. I am not aware if other cameras have this feature but basically it allows you to configure two shots, A and B. You then specify the length of time you want the camera to transition between A and B (from 2 to 15 seconds in length), which allowed me to pull of some quite beautiful pull focuses whilst zooming without touching the camera! It's such a simple idea, and indeed you may even save time as it will pull off perfect results on demand. This is an excellent feature as the size of the camera and lens puts it at a disadvantage to shoulder mounted cams.

!
Augusto Manuel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 28th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #4
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I agree shot transition is great but at least on the FX1, all the settings are lost the moment the camera is put into standby.

Ron Evans
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