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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, 2010, 01:15 AM   #1
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Buying a second hand FX1

I am going to have a look at an FX1 to buy from someone.. I was wondering how do you check the hours used on them ? I asked the person about it and they said they didnt know how to check in the menu. What would be considered low hours ? Also is there anything else worth specifically checking ? I was going to take my laptop and do a quick recording and then capture on vegas while.. Is there something else to look for ?
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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:07 PM   #2
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You have to take it into a shop, where they have a special diagnostic remote they use to check the hours.

I would look for less than 500 hours of TAPE RUN. I seem to recall that Sony's recommended "service interval" for heads was 500 hours, while the "replacement interval" was 1500 hours.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #3
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Thanks again Adam.. Really appreciate your help..

I dont think i will be able to take it to a shop though, i dont really know the person who owns it so i can really only inspect it at his house and decide from there.. I am going to go through most of the main features and check they are all working.. Im taking a torch to get a good view inside the tape compartment to look for any unusual amounts of dust etc.. He says its in as new condition so hopefully its all good..
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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:35 PM   #4
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Make sure you take yourself a laptop, and a firewire cable, to be sure the firewire port is working. Better yet, have seller demo that aspect to your satisfaction. Unless you have another HDV camera or are shooting in SD, you won't be able to get footage out of camera, if that port is damaged. These ports are notorious for frying. I have and FX1 that suffered from that, though I also have a Canon HV20 that will offload the footage.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:44 PM   #5
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I've not heard that you can check the FX1's hours (as you can the Z1's) but it sounds plausible, and I'm sure Sony repair workshops can do just that to counter customer claims that 'it was only used to fill two tapes before it went ping'.

OK Randy, some things to check on an FX1.

1) The front element. Make sure it's completely unmarked and pristine, as the tiny focal lengths at wide-angle will bring any imperfections into sharp focus. Huff gently onto it to check.

2) With a bright LED torch, take a look inside the tape deck. It should be squeaky-clean and shiny-bright in there, with no gunk on the pinch roller and capstan.

3) Look at the screw heads that dot the body. They should be undisturbed.

4) Check the obvious, like loading and unloading a tape and listening to the noises.

5) Check the zoom motor likewise.

6) Put headphones on and listen to the mics.

7) Shoot some film. Check that the auto-focus works, as does the Steadyshot. Watch the footage on a good big TV if possible.

8) Call up the menu on the sidescreen. You should be able to scroll and select at will.

9) Put the camera in manual and make sure all the buttons along the bottom (iris, gain etc) work correctly

10) Haggle. Ask if he'll throw in spare batteries, fresh tapes, a camera bag. You have the money, you're in charge. And good luck.

tom.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 12:28 AM   #6
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thanks for the help.. I had a look at the camera it seemed to all work but it looked a bit worn, i got the feeling it was an early version of the FX1 and had been through a lot of work and probably owned by a few different people. Its a shame i couldnt check the hours used on it, im sure that would have supported my theory..

There was some signs of rust around the screw heads on the body, only small but it was definately there which suggests its been exposed to the enviroment.. Things dont get to that point without a fair bit of repeated exposure... There was some indication they had been unscrewed also but i guess that could have been a regular service..

Also the eye piece was quite loose, when you lifted it up and down, and the firewire connection wasnt tight really either, again just more signs to me of years of use.. From what i could see everything was still functioning but it made me wonder about how much life it had left from its current point.

Ive decided i'll wait to buy a new model and just hire something in the few instances in the meantime.. Without knowing the history on this type of item and also feeling a little unsure about a few things isnt a good recipe as lots can go wrong.. Not like buying a coffee table..

Tom i appreciate your suggestion about looking at the screws because i might have overlooked that and it was a big deal for me when i saw those signs of rust on there..

Also one question, the small zoom on the top handle of the camera seemed to zoom really slow, the manual ring was ok and the zoom lever on the side was faster and more normal speed.. Just the top was really slow... Is that just a setting ? I wasnt sure..
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Old April 28th, 2010, 12:39 AM   #7
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Yes, there's a switch on the side of the top handle near the top zoom rocker that you set to H or L.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #8
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And to add to Adam's post, the H & L settings are set by you, in the menu, so you can have them as slow as you like or as fast as you like.

Randy - I'm pretty sure your instincts are right, and your careful look around the FX1 shows you should walk away (or pay very little). Corrosion does indeed show that the camera might have spent many hours on the beach, and that's where hours meters can lead you astray. An FX1 with hundreds of hours that's been used as a backup camera at summer weddings can be a lot younger than one with a tenth of the hours that's been used in sand-storms on the beach.

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Old April 28th, 2010, 02:17 AM   #9
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The seller had around 1500 pound on it ($2300 usd).. The market for everything including second hand is usually a bit higher in Australia though... When i look on ebay USA i see FX1s for a lot less than they go for here but of course its NTSC so no good to me.. But for the price wasnt the problem for me its just id hoped it would be in a bit better shape.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
... the H & L settings are set by you, in the menu...
Right, I neglected to mention this. Also note that the zoom speed is fixed when using the top handle zoom rocker, not variable like when you use the side grip zoom rocker, where the harder you push the faster it goes. I'm sure there's a good reason for this.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #11
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I donít know the market in Australia and you needs. But here in Sweden I think Z1 once sold better than FX1. There are more Z1 on the second-hand market than FX1. You have hour meters on Z1, and XLR inputs, Dvcam-recording and some more features than on the FX1. I bought my first Z1 a year back, when I went from SD to HD. That one had 120 drum hours on it, in excellent condition, and I paid about half the new price asked 2 years back. I was pleased with the camera and a month ago I bought me a second Z1. That one had 10 (!) drums hours and was really in mint condition. And the price was even less than my first Z1 and the few FX1 I have seen in ads in Sweden cost more. My first Z1 has about 150 drum hours now.
My first Z1 looks really worn compared with the second one. Both have really been taken care of, and Iím the second owner of both. The upper handle on the first one has already a smooth finish, and from quite little use. So what Iím trying to say is that the hours meter on Z1 is very helpful and it is really hard to judge a camera from its look. But of course, all glass must be clean from scratches, all buttons must function, the tape transport should run smooth and silent and so on.
But the best way to save a camcorder for long use must be to by a HDV VTR like the HVR-M15 or a cheap camera like Canon HV20/HV30.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 01:29 PM   #12
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i had considered a Z1 second hand from overseas because i could possibly get one as cheap or maybe even cheaper than a local FX1.. And still doing PAL would be suitable for me.. But, after looking at the FX1 today i have decided to just wait a bit and go brand new.. I was thinking sony service out here probably costs an arm and a leg also so if i had problems chances are getting it fixed would take my costs up to being almost the same as buying one new anyway.. I dont know why but everything in Australia is like 30% more expensive than anywhere else, thats even after you factor in exchange rates.. Theres a manfrotto tripod i want to get.. In Australia its over $1200 AUD, i can buy it from B&H and have it shipped for just over $700AUD. Thanksfully anything under $1000 we dont pay import tax on either.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 02:03 PM   #13
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You're still able to find new FX1s? Really? They haven't made any for a while.

Even if you can find one, it would be about the same price as an FX1000, which is a vastly superior cam...
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Old April 28th, 2010, 09:39 PM   #14
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I didnt mean a new FX1, just a new camera.. I figured that would probably be the FX1000 or similar.. I can get one of those for about 25% more than the second hand FX1 i looked at so its worth it i think..

When you say FX1000 is vastly superior, in what way ? I have read about the two cameras a while back and recall some differences but interested to hear your thoughts.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 11:13 PM   #15
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Chris Barcellos, I have the same problem with firewire port since I bought my FX1 used. How did you fix yours and what did it cost?
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