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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 20th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #1
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FX1 or another PD170?

I am in the market for a second camera right now. I am a wedding videography and currently use a PD170 & TRV900.
The TRV900 isn't doing the job I want it to. The low light ability isn't the greatest and the gain noise isn't as nice as the PD170.
So I am in the market for either another PD170 or I have been thinking of getting the HDR-FX1, because it is the latest and greatest.

Can anybody tell me why I should get one over the other?
What is the low light ability of the FX1 in reality? I hear the gain is cleaner than the 170, but in reality how does it match up?

I need to decide on something quick, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old July 20th, 2005, 09:38 AM   #2
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Jeff: if you need to make a quick decision I'd say you're safer getting another PD170, because it's something you're familiar with and then you'll have two matching cameras. However, I just shot a wedding using two Sony HDV cameras and I'm very impressed with the resulting footage, including in all but the very dimmest low-light situations. I haven't used a PD170 so I can't make that comparison for you, but HDV is worth checking out before you spend too much more money on DV equipment. If there's a rental shop with an HDV camera near you, I'd suggest renting one for a day and test it in a variety of conditions running side by side with your PD170, then make a decision about what to buy. Make sure you have access to a good HDTV to display the resulting footage...
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Old July 20th, 2005, 09:59 AM   #3
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Thats the other thing! I don't even have an HDTV!!
But I just can't help but feeling like buying the PD170 is like buying something on the backend of the technology cycle.

Plus all the manual controls on the FX1 are very very nice.
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Old July 20th, 2005, 10:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Toogood
I just can't help but feeling like buying the PD170 is like buying something on the backend of the technology cycle.
I'd agree with that assessment and am working on doing a full conversion to HDV myself, but that's something you want to think through carefully before you make any buying decisions. Once you buy one HDV camera you may find yourself wanting another one, plus you'll need a fast dual-core or dual-processor editing system, some software upgrades, an HDTV display for viewing your output, and so on. By the time you're done you're looking at an investment of at least $10,000 or so, and for now it's a bit of a challenge to market HDV due to distribution limitations. Personally I think HDV is great and am wondering what to do with the DV camera I bought last year, which pales in comparison to the image quality from the FX1. But I wouldn't recommend making any quick decisions right now unless you're sure you know what you want.

Maybe you could simply rent a second PD170 for your next few events while you assess your options more carefully? In one sense that's money down the drain, but making a quick decision now might cost you more in the long run.
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Old July 20th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #5
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The Z1 is attractive because it also shoots DVCAM just as the PD170. So you don't need to use it in HDV mode until/if such time arrives that you need it. In a way, you'd be future-proofing yourself (assuming that HDV becomes a viable and widely accepted format).

From all I've read, it's not quite as good in low light as the PD170, and for weddings, that could be an issue.

One thing you might consider is to get a VX2100 as your second camera. It should match the PD170 fine and costs a lot less since it's not DVCAM and doesn't have XLRs, etc. I think the VX2100 isn't much over $2,000 these days.
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Old July 20th, 2005, 12:18 PM   #6
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I can't find any here in Canada though, everyplace I call says the VX2100 is discontinued.
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Old July 20th, 2005, 12:51 PM   #7
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Jeff:

Firstly I have it from reliable sources (thats always subjective) that Sony plan to stop production of the VX2100 and later to start scaling down the production of their earlier DV cameras due to the advent of the new HDV range currently (and shortly) available.

Bill made a valid comment in future-proofing yourself by having an HDV camera. I do believe that this will be a VERY popular choice for prosumers and proffessionals alike in the future - much the same when DV first arrived on the market a few years back.

You don't have a HDTV - me neither, yet I am working on that one if people will just allow me to test:). These are becoming more readily available and will be dropping in price - methinks that by year end come Christmas, the price war and competition will be on amongst the manufacturers to capture the high end market.

Quote:
But I just can't help but feeling like buying the PD170 is like buying something on the backend of the technology cycle.
That was my reckoning (amongst others) when I first purchased a HDV camera (FX1).

To answer your question on the PD170 lowlight versus the FX1 - 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. For each situation, there will come a solution - just plan ahead.

Weddings are notoriously lit low making it a nightmare for videographers - I make sure that BOTH my cameras have lights on at eg. a reception where low lighting REALLY starts mattering - its not as though the lights will be on the entire night - just for your key shots.

Coupled with the greatly enhanced features and quality of the HDV cameras, this becomes a no brainer to me - but thats my personal viewpoint.

Good luck with your choice and as many have said before, if you doubt - hire one and test for yourself

Cheers
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Old July 20th, 2005, 03:01 PM   #8
 
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FWIW, I don't own an HDTV yet either. I do have a WUXGA projector and an 11' screen, plus my Sony 234 monitor, but that's not the same....:-)
I've been holding out for a "true" HDTV that supports 1920 x 1080, I've got the space for it, so waiting. However, we also own 3 Z1's, and just ordered an A1, so lack of monitor hasn't set me back from jumping into the HDV arena at all.
FWIW, we're selling our FW 750, and staying in the HDV arena for a while. Or at least that's the plan
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Old July 20th, 2005, 03:43 PM   #9
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Jeff,

If you already own a PD170 I think it's best if you get another to match. Unless you do what I did. I just sold my PD170 at a really great price of 2,800 and was about to purchase Tommy Haupfear FX1 but was no longer available. However, I got one at a better price of $2,450 and it's practically brand new. With the money left over I bought a brand new Beachtek DX6 for $160 on Ebay. Anyway, the ONLY reason I'm changing over is the true widescreen on the FX1 and the HD is just the icing on the cake. I'm looking for a buyer for my VX2100 and hoping to get another good deal on an FX1.

I don't have HDTV but I do own a 42" Plasma EDTV that does 720p. It didn't look as good on my plasma when I hooked up my FX1. But I will write another thread on this issue. Maybe DSE can tell me why.

It's really a tough choice.


Ray
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Old July 20th, 2005, 04:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Saavedra
Jeff,
I don't have HDTV but I do own a 42" Plasma EDTV that does 720p. It didn't look as good on my plasma when I hooked up my FX1. But I will write another thread on this issue. Maybe DSE can tell me why.

It's really a tough choice.


Ray
I would be interested to know how you connected to your Plasma - DVI / Component??

Cheers
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Old July 20th, 2005, 05:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Rochefort
I would be interested to know how you connected to your Plasma
Please see this thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=48042
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Old July 21st, 2005, 07:13 AM   #12
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Thanks for all your help, I think I am just going to try and rent a 170 or 2100 for the next couple of months to get through this busy season and re-assess the situation next year.
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Old July 25th, 2005, 09:45 AM   #13
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Jeff, as a former PD150 user who now touts an FX1, I would urge you don't even consider the older camera.

The FX1 delivers more solid, accurate colour than the PD, which is not surprising considering it has a much newer and bigger res CCD. The 16:9 picture looks much more professional than the PD's 4:3 view. I am also sure you will find the HDV part useful at some point as well. The PD just does not give you these things.

As far as low light goes, a lot of people on this forum who appear (to me at least) to have no real experience of using a variety of cameras, have argued this point far to much. The FX1's picture looks better than the PD's in low light. The pd looks grainy and shallow in comparison. The FX1, even if it may be a stop and a half less sensitive (which is nothing) gives the better picture in these conditions.

It's a different camera altogether. When you get to know the FX, it's not even worth making a comparison to the old PD.
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Old July 25th, 2005, 10:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Poore
As far as low light goes, a lot of people on this forum who appear (to me at least) to have no real experience of using a variety of cameras, have argued this point far to much.
I would suggest refraining from these kind of remarks since you don't know for sure what each persons' background is.

Speak from your own experience and let the readers of the forum decide for themselves.

Cheers
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Old July 25th, 2005, 01:08 PM   #15
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Jeremy, you should read my post more carefully and you might realise it is my own opinion.

Anyway there are people here who have not had extensive/or any experience with both camera's and I am trying reflect my experience, and hopefully add something to the discussion going on here.
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