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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 July 12th, 2005, 06:01 PM   #16
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Some interesting - although controversial - points here. I just got back from Argentina with my Z-1 and am completely happy. Sure, there are plenty of nitpicks... it ain't perfect. But I've had a VX-2000 for 4 years and a PDX-10 going on 3 years, and the Z-1 has improved on absolutely every aspect of those two cameras. I think Sony learned a lot and listened to users on the Z-1.

Regarding low light, I completely agree about the clean gain boost (the PDX-10 is pretty good at that too). And if you're shooting DVCAM instead of HDV then you can set the shutter at 1/25 (PAL) or 1/30 (NTSC) and gain another stop with no apparent resolution loss because of the oversampled CCD's. I shot a really dark rehearsal last week and people were amazed at how bright and clean the footage looked (much was shot at 1/25 with 15dB gain boost). So if you're comparing low light in DV or DVCAM mode with a PD-150/170 (which is the only fair comparison since that camera can't shoot HDV) then I don't think there is a lot of difference when you consider the clean gain boost and slow shutter speed. But of course it would be foolish to buy a Z-1 if low light 4:3 DV is your priority - the PD-170 would be a better choice for that.

I understand the original point about accidently pushing the iris BUTTON, but the iris WHEEL is phenomenal on the Z-1. I really like the size, shape and location, and you can to totally smooth imperceptable adjustments.

I almost always work on a tripod, so the handheld issues don't really affect me. Aside from any of these nitpicks though, the ability to shoot both PAL and NTSC was why I bought the Z-1. There just isn't any other camera that can do this (AFAIK), and I need to work with both.

I found one minor "gotcha," although I have not really looked into it closely so I might be stating this poorly. It seems that you can set the camera and VCR modes to either DV SP or DVCAM independently. When you set the camera to DVCAM, a blue LED is always on saying "DVCAM." I needed to make DVCAM tapes sending DV over firewire to the camera as a deck. The DVCAM LED was on, so I didn't think twice about it. But it turned out I was making DV SP tapes. You have to set for DVCAM in a different menu when the camera is in VCR mode. This is kind of misleading, although the LCD screen does properly display either DV SP or DVCAM when in VCR mode.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 06:41 PM   #17
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Z1 and PDX10 working together

Boyd,

I too own a PDX10 and am looking at purchasing a Z1. I have been reading your posts and was aware that you were in Argentina. I was just wondering whether you had had a chance to intercut footage from these two cameras. If the look is right - then I intend to hang on to my PDX10, as it is a phenomenal camera in a very small footprint, but if there is too great a difference between the two (I will use the PDX10 for run and gun and shoot with the Z1 mostly off a tripod), then I might have to sell the PDX10 and buy another small HDV camera (looks like the HD1 at this stage).

I would appreciate your thoughts.

regards,

Graeme
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Old July 15th, 2005, 09:34 AM   #18
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Sound issues

I basically agree with most of the strenghts and weaknesses detailed by other users, but my biggest problem with the camera is working with sound levels while shooting. I often work as a 'one man crew' and have to alter levels as a shot is happening. I find the buttons way to small and the meter not always easy to read. I am thinking about trying to mount a small mixer on or below the camera to get an easier way to accurately play with levels while shooting.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 11:06 AM   #19
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David:

I know what you mean. On my last shoot I was struggling turning up and down those knobs. I think what it makes it more difficult is that clear plastic cover on those knobs. I know they tried to make it difficult for us to accidentally move the knobs but I was thinking that maybe it would be better to remove the clear plastic cover to operate the volume buttons in an easier way.

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Originally Posted by David C Wright
I basically agree with most of the strenghts and weaknesses detailed by other users, but my biggest problem with the camera is working with sound levels while shooting. I often work as a 'one man crew' and have to alter levels as a shot is happening. I find the buttons way to small and the meter not always easy to read. I am thinking about trying to mount a small mixer on or below the camera to get an easier way to accurately play with levels while shooting.

Last edited by Augusto Manuel; July 15th, 2005 at 11:07 AM. Reason: typo
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Old July 15th, 2005, 12:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
But of course it would be foolish to buy a Z-1 if low light 4:3 DV is your priority - the PD-170 would be a better choice for that.
I must disagree with you on this point. I have done enough events to satisfy myself that on a even comparison between the two cameras, there is nothing to choose from a low lighting point of view. In fact, the footage I have when comparing the two cameras in exactly the same lighting conditions - good, low and very low - the FX1 and Z1 comes out tops.

Coupled with the greatly enhanced features and quality of the HDV cameras, this becomes a no brainer to me.

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Old July 15th, 2005, 12:32 PM   #21
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Jeremy, this is interesting to know. I haven't A/B'ed my Z-1 and VX-2000 yet, but experience just last week shooting an extremely dark opera impressed me. However I'd still stand by my statement from an economic if not technical point of view. If you want to shoot low light 4:3 DV then why would you spend $4,800 for a Z-1 (or $3,200 for an FX-1) when a $2,900 PD-170 will do the job?...
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Old July 15th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #22
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Graeme: I haven't intercut any PDX-10 and Z-1 footage yet, and don't have any immediate plans to do so. However my impression is that they'd work pretty well together. I think the PDX-10 will not look quite so good as the Z-1, but probably not a huge difference. It would be ideal if you could plug them both into monitors side by side and fiddle with the picture profile on the Z-1 to bring it as close as possible to the PDX-10.

I'm not clear on what you're doing though; what format is the finished piece going to use? If you plan to uprez the PDX-10 to 1080i I suspect you won't be so happy. But if you're working in SD anamorphic 16:9 then I think they are a pretty good pair. But these are just my overall feelings based on looking at lots of PDX-10 footage, and now looking at Z-1 footage on the same screens.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #23
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Z1 And Pd170

How about matching the PD170 and Z1 in SD mode. Any thoughts on that or have you done any two camera shoot with those two cameras and if they can be matched without much effort in SD???????


Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Graeme: I haven't intercut any PDX-10 and Z-1 footage yet, and don't have any immediate plans to do so. However my impression is that they'd work pretty well together. I think the PDX-10 will not look quite so good as the Z-1, but probably not a huge difference. It would be ideal if you could plug them both into monitors side by side and fiddle with the picture profile on the Z-1 to bring it as close as possible to the PDX-10.

I'm not clear on what you're doing though; what format is the finished piece going to use? If you plan to uprez the PDX-10 to 1080i I suspect you won't be so happy. But if you're working in SD anamorphic 16:9 then I think they are a pretty good pair. But these are just my overall feelings based on looking at lots of PDX-10 footage, and now looking at Z-1 footage on the same screens.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 01:16 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Jeremy, this is interesting to know. I haven't A/B'ed my Z-1 and VX-2000 yet, but experience just last week shooting an extremely dark opera impressed me. However I'd still stand by my statement from an economic if not technical point of view. If you want to shoot low light 4:3 DV then why would you spend $4,800 for a Z-1 (or $3,200 for an FX-1) when a $2,900 PD-170 will do the job?...
No argument on the ecomical point and it wasn't my intention to dispute that, merely the quality of the footage in direct comparison.

I had a query from someone wanting to purchase a camera and he wanted to know what the footage was like if shot on DV. After a bit of enquiry, he would only be doing DV and nothing else - now thats a no brainer too - then you purchase a PD170!

My post is in reference to someone wanting to buy one the HDV cameras because "its the latest and greatest". Many, and I mean many people are buying these cameras for the wrong reasons!

My viewpoint is to the future and from reliable sources I am told that by the middle of end of the year, Sony will be downscaling its production on DV cameras.

Cheers
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Old July 15th, 2005, 01:29 PM   #25
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Actually we have nothing to argue about :-) I'm only shooting DV at this point, but still felt there were compelling reasons to get the Z-1. The manual controls are better (IMO) and the picture profiles allow more adjustment than custom presets on the SD Sony cameras. But the huge thing which many people seem to dismiss is that the Z-1 covers NTSC and PAL DV, with HDV as a "bonus." That was what tipped the scales for me. Shooting in HDV while downconverting the firewire output to SD gives superior results and also leaves you with a high def tape for future use.

People have been quoting various Sony sources ever since the FX-1 intro about their plans to scale back prosumer DV cameras. I personally believe this is true as well. There's a reasonably credible rumor that production of the VX-2100 has already ended. There are nice rebates on the PD-170. My guess is that the PDX-10 has reached the end of its road with the A-1 taking its place. Looks like we're just beginning a major transition here.

But I'm really happy with my Z-1, and it should give me nicer images than my old Sony's in SD mode, better controls, and HDV when I'm ready for it :-)
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Old July 15th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #26
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I also wonder sometimes when we see these posts that we immediately jump to the defense of our cams :)

I have the pleasure of owning both a Z1 and FX1 and have used the PD170 along with the FX1 before getting my Z1 - hence my defense :)

I still also believe that if it were not for the FX1 and Z1, the PD170 would be my cam of the day for what I do - probably the best cam Sony ever made. But since using the FX1, the PD range became a no brainer for me - just too many advantages with the HDV cameras - I just wish the guys wanting to purchase these cameras do a bit of soul searching and hands-on testing BEFORE they buy the camera.

Yes, its not perfect in every respect but KNOW the limitations and adjust accordingly. These cameras fall within a price bracket and must be judged in accordance.

There are people who are fiercely brand loyal and I fall into this category with reserve. Sony has served me well over the years and until I really hit a bump, I'm staying where I am.

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Old July 15th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Rochefort
I still also believe that if it were not for the FX1 and Z1, the PD170 would be my cam of the day for what I do
The only problem with this for me is that I want to work in 16:9 and the PD-170 is a poor choice for that. That's where the PDX-10 can fill the gap in their SD line. But the Z-1 really covers all the bases.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 02:23 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
The only problem with this for me is that I want to work in 16:9 and the PD-170 is a poor choice for that. That's where the PDX-10 can fill the gap in their SD line. But the Z-1 really covers all the bases.
Now your talking :)
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Old July 15th, 2005, 04:20 PM   #29
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Jeremy do you do weddings around Johannesburg?

I live in the states but my wife is from S.A. We are having another wedding in S.A. this December and I have been really trying to find somebody there that can shoot HD. It is even better that you have two HD cameras. I know Cape Town is a long distance from Johannesburg.

Please send me an e-mail so we can talk about it.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #30
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Z1 Pal - Ntsc

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !! Boyd !!! Don't let the word spread out too much. I just made close to $5,000 in June shooting PAL in an NTSC world for two foreign customers... it is no secret that the Z1 is two cameras in one but why would you want to emphasize that point and let everyone jump on the bandwagon and share your profits.... mmmm ... The Z1 is the first camera in the world to be able to record two television formats. And that is phenomenal for some of us with international customers.

[QUOTE=Boyd Ostroff]Actually we have nothing to argue about :-) I'm only shooting DV at this point, but still felt there were compelling reasons to get the Z-1. The manual controls are better (IMO) and the picture profiles allow more adjustment than custom presets on the SD Sony cameras. But the huge thing which many people seem to dismiss is that the Z-1 covers NTSC and PAL DV, with HDV as a "bonus."
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