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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 October 15th, 2010, 11:53 AM   #16
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Looks like the lens is still off-axis relative to the CCD block or the CCD block is off relative to the lens. I think the CCD block and lens assembly may fix to a metal skeleton beneath the plastic at some point. My bet is on that gap in the casework under the audio socket panel. A granular fracture pattern and slight displacement of the parted pieces may be holding the crack slightly apart. A solvent glue might soften enough of the granular surfaces to allow the faces of the crack to come more closely together. You might find that there is a very slight twist to the crack as well.

The crack as it looks to me would tilt the lens axis slightly upwards and to the left, which may throw the image downwards and to the side as your LCD screen image suggests. I think that part of the casework may be part of the lens assembly, in which case it might be an expensive replacement part to get it right again.

The defect will likely only show when the lens is at wide-angle, widen out as you zoom in and maybe creep back in momentarily at about 20percent of the zoom travel before disappearing again. A zoom lens characteristically throws a bigger patch of light on the focal plane as it is zoomed in.

The offset might only as small as 0.5mm - to 1.0mm for it to show like this.

The CCD block itself might have been shocked sideways a little in its fastening. It is a heavy component for its size.

Depending on how much you are willing to spend, Sony Professional might be your best bet.

Last edited by Bob Hart; October 15th, 2010 at 12:02 PM. Reason: error
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Old October 15th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #17
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Hey Anthony--

If you head over to Sony NXCAM HXR-NX5U Forum at DVinfo.net you'll find enough opinions to make your head spin.

When I bought my Z5s, the NX5 and its little brother came out about five minutes later. I actually knew Sony was about to announce a new cam that week but ordered the Z5s anyhow. At first I was irritated that I hadn't waited for the "newer, better" cam, but after reading a lot about it, I'm happy that I went the way I did.

Originally, Sony was offering some really high rebates on the NX5 and the FMU recorder, which made the price of the NX5 with FMU only a few dollars more than the AX2000, so going pro was a no-brainer. Now there's a bigger price gap and given that the AX has some pro features previously unavailable on the prosumer line, it may be a better deal if you don't really need the additional features of the NX. But there are still reports of firmware issues from some, and I personally like being able to record to tape if I have to -- even if only for backup.

But these are very viable alternatives for you if they're in your budget, I think. For me, in more than 20 years of camcorder ownership (forty if you count film cams), my Z5s are the first cams I've ever had where I am honestly not looking to upgrade at all. There's only one feature on the Z5 that bugs me (common to the NX5 but not an issue on the FX1000 or AX2000) and it is no more than a minor annoyance not worth going into here. Even if someone offered to swap my Z5s for NX5s right now, I wouldn't, but that's just me.
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Old October 15th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #18
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Repair or Not?

Adam. I agree with your assessment re keeping a tape based camera with the option of going to tapeless using the Z5. Having used tape based cams since 1987, I like the fact that the tapes last in storage and I'm not risking everything on one medium (SD or CF) not to mention the high cost of the cards right now anyway. However, yeah, the price differential between the AX2000 and your cam is huge for me and that's not in my budget right now. I think I'll keep my sights on buying a Z5 in the future and then have the best of both worlds. Thanks for your input.
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Old October 15th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #19
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Let us know what you go with and how it works out.
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Old October 15th, 2010, 01:50 PM   #20
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Bob. Your appraisal is probably correct as I can zoom in and the image has some clarity if I move the camera around near an object but that's no good. I've already received a quote of around $2300.00 just for the parts as follow: "lens assembly, mechanism plate and associated parts" and "drum assembly, replaced." The latter is wierd but I guess I've put a ton of hours on this cam since 2005 so it needs to be replaced and they state they will return the camera in "factory fresh" condtion. The total, with labor, is therefore $2,515.73. I could buy an AX2000 new for $3,500.00 and its the new technology and lens.
Thanks for your kind assessment of the situation.
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Old October 15th, 2010, 05:45 PM   #21
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Repair or Not?

I will!! Lots of options to consider.
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Old October 15th, 2010, 06:51 PM   #22
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I personally would get a FX1 cheaply and then wait to see what comes out in the next year. Panasonic has a new $4K camera with a single 1 1/3" chip that is supposed to demolish the DSLRs. That is where the future lies, I believe. I'm anxious to see if Sony and/or Canon jumps on this. They may already have something in the works.
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Old October 16th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #23
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We already saw what happened in less than 5 years when HDV was replaced by AVCHD but now that I think about it, the HDV format replacing DV was sort of like how Blueray replaced analog dvd; using the existing technology to go to the next step and now we're at the tapeless format. Can't imagine what format will be replacing SD/CF? The FX-1000 and Z5 replaced my FX-1 ccds wtih CMOS while Panasonic kept the CCD technology in its HMC-150. I'm also looking at that cam though it's now "old" in terms of how long it's been out. I like what the 3 CCDs did for my videos. Maybe a used one in my future.
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Old October 16th, 2010, 10:28 AM   #24
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Anthony.


Just for curiosity, mount your camera onto a solid tripod or to a piece of wood, switch it on to "camera" and then, whilst looking at the LCD, gently force the crack into a more "closed" position to see if the image begins to become more centered. If it does restore to a centered position, it might be possible as I mentioned earlier to use a solvent glue on the crack.

If you are in risk-taking mode and you are assuming the camera is a "write-off", you could go a bit furthur.

Obviously. it is desirable to dismantle the camera to see if anything is broken inside but that is beyond the skill of most of us.

If the crack closes up tight before the centred position can be reached, something else inside might be also bent out of shape. Otherwise, it might be necessary to drill or engrave two small slot-shaped holes at the points where the ends of the crack disappear into solid plastic. At these points the plastic will have become stetched to almost parting and will be wedging the crack open.

Drilling or using an engraving tool to open out these stretched areas with a 0.5mm wide slot back into the crack about two millimetres long, may enable the crack to remain closed on its own or to close tighter and be glueable.

I find that with a Dremel tool, when making fine excavations into plastic, that it is more controllable to use a fine drillbit rather than an engraving bit and to lay the bit over at about 45degrees and drag the bit through the plastic. Use a little force to make the drill spiral cut the plastic before friction starts melting it.

Practice a lot on coffeejar lids first because is it a dark art. With practice you can do reasonably tidy cutouts and shapes in thin sheet plastic and not shatter it.

You have to be extremely careful for the drill bit not to go through and hit something critical inside. This trick is likely to throw bits of plastic dust onto internal optics.

A slower and more controllable method would be to sharpen a small jeweller's screwdriver and use this as a scraper to scrape out a slot at each end of the crack. You will find you can use these little screwdrivers as spade drills, with a thumb providing the pressure and fingers of the other hand turning the shank left and right.

You could also use a thin electrician's soldering iron to melt two thin channels at the ends of the cracks whilst holding the crack firmly closed. The channels would not need to entirely penetrate the thickness of the plastic, only soften it to allow the stetched areas to become reset and the crack to close tightly under pressure.

This method will make an ugly result which will have to be trimmed off afterwards but may reset the stretched plastic without creating dust inside. Because it will be clean, it might be the preferred method. There is a risk though of smoke from the plastic staining optical surfaces inside.

So melt without burning the material and stroke the melt area with the soldering tip like wiping ink onto paper with a pen nib to works carefully deeper into the material. Don't breath the fumes. They are toxic.

If you can get the crack to close up tight and restore the optical centre under pressure, then the next step will be to find some suitable solvent adhesive to hold the rest of the crack closed. You would need to take exceptional care NOT to let the solvent adhesive get near the zoom or focus rings otherwise they will become locked up.

To avoid that happening, you might need to slip a piece of oiled or buttered paper in between the ring and case where the glue might run over and wick in.

Such a repair may not last long in use.

This is all theoretical and my comments should not be taken as well founded.
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Old October 17th, 2010, 04:45 PM   #25
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Repair or Not?

Thanks Bob for the infor. Unfortunately, I'm mechanically challenged. There is no apparent crack to the body now that the repair center has put the lens back into place, almost. I'm probably going to send it to a New York City outfit which many people recommend. If the estimate is too high, then I'll consider buying either
the AX2000 or the professional version. Thanks for the hel;pful suggestions though! Cheers!

Anthony
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Old October 17th, 2010, 10:41 PM   #26
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Anthony:

As often seems to be the case, I agree with much of the practical information Adam has provided.

I'm almost in the same position as Adam. I ordered an FX1000 and a Z5 "a few minutes" before the NX5/AX2000 were released. (okay, it was a few weeks before Sony sprang the things on us.) At that time, the FX1000 was selling for about $600 ($US) less than it is now. My local dealer had the FX1000 but somehow couldn't come up with a Z5. So I wound up (a) getting a consolation prize of a discounted MRC unit for my FX1000 and (b) getting the heavily rebated NX5/FMU package through Tapeworks Texas. Because the FMU was back-ordered. I used my NX5 in for a month or so in much the same way one would use an AX2000. The NX5 has some extra features that, for me, made it more useful for the specific things I do (e.g., LPCM audio, smooth gain and white white balance shifts), but not everybody needs or want those. I've been ahppy using my FX1000 except for limitations. One limitation is that mounting a tapeless recording unit (such as the Sony MRC) can make the camera heavy and awkward for hand held shooting. Another is that you need a mike bracket and an xlr adapter (Sign Beachtek, etc) for adding external mikes/ I put up with these kinds of issues with my VX2000 cams. The FX1000 is bigger and heavier than the the VX2000. Combine the XLR adapter and mike bracket, and handheld shooting becomes an issue for me. No problem with tripod shooting, of course, and that is mainly how I deploy my FX 1000.

I mention this for perspective for my recommendations which follow.

I can recommend the AX2000 if you've got the computer hardware to edit AVCHD or if you have an intermediate like Cineform's NeoHD on Canopus HQ (if you use Edius.) Still, getting an AX2000 would be $1200 more than fixing your current rig and $700-$800 more than an FX1000..

My suggestion would be to rent an Sony Z5 or NX5 (or EX1) for your upcoming gig and see if you want what you get for the extra $1200+ over the cost of fixing your current rig. The control layouts are similar enough that it will easy to pick up one the newer cams and use it right out of the box.

If you go through the threads in the NX5/AX2000 forum from last spring, you'll find a lot of discussions of the two cameras. You want to look at the threads from the spring because most of the threads over the summer have been about narrow technical matters and highly specific challenges or questions that won't address much of concern to the issues you've identified. Apart from the tape-tapeless thing. the main things you get with the AX2000 that you don't get with the FX1000 are (a) built in XLR feeds and mike holder; and (b) the active steady shot image stabilization, which can be worth the price of admission. But, again, depending on the hardware and software you have, you may or may not want to move to AVCHD editing.

I agree with Adam that the FX1000/Z5 and the AX2000/NX5 basically work as well in HD as the trusty old Sony VX2000s did in SD/DV. This is especially true for the kinds of low light shooting I do for weddings and events.

If I were in your situation, and had the hardware or software to cope with AVCHD files, my inclination would be to go for an AX2000 rather than an FX1000 or repairing the FX1. My rationale would be this: (a) your FX1 will continue to work as a record and playback device without any repairs, so it will function for archiving and back-up and working with your older HDV tapes; (b) the AX2000 has the shotgun mount and XLR input that you'd have to add to the FX1000; (c) the AX2000 also has the better image stabilization; and (d) both cams can make use of your existing stock of Sony batteries. (The FX100 and AX2000 come with the NFP550 batteries which, for me, are barely borderline useful.)

Hope this helps you sort through your choices.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 05:53 AM   #27
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Jay. Your discussion as well as Adam's helps very much indeed. Thank you for your perspectives on the merits of both the AX2000 and staying with a tape-based system. For years, (5), I have used my FX-1 at sporting events and weddings with the Beachtek XLR adapter and Rode VicMic as well as the NP-970 battery and it's a heavy rig to handhold indeed. The AX2000 would be considerably lighter, not having all that paraphenalia to deal with and the fact that there's no tape transport either. I would have to buy a decent shotgun mic but that's a small trade off instead of jumping more bucks to buy an NX5. The cost of the SD cards still phases me, compared to the cost of DV tape but, hey, it's the future and how much longer is tape going to be available if Sony is pushing the tapeless format?

I think my cpu can take the load of AVCHD format. It's an Alienware Aurora;Nvidia GeForce GTX260 graphics card;6 gigs memory, quad core precessor with a clock speed 3.33 ghz and 64 bit operating system; Windows 7 Home Premium. I'm using a software program that lists AVCHD as an editable format.

Unfotunately, here in Connecticut, I can't find a media house that rents out AVCHD cams; just tape based and DV only at that. Renting a tapeless cam out would be the ideal way to test out editing this format. I've been reading on the B&H site pluses and minuses to editing AVCHD but I think my pc can handle the load of information.

As I've said above, the cost of repair has been estimated at $2500.00 by one local servicer and that's really
turned me off from having it repaired at this point. I might send it to another service center for their opinion.
If I do not repair it, yes. My cam is still useful as a playback/recorder unit for HD and audio so it has some usefulness, just not as a camera anymore. Thanks for your insights.

Anthony
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Old October 18th, 2010, 01:54 PM   #28
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Here are some other considerations that may help you in choosing a replacement cam or in confirming your choice.

1. Since you have a Rode VideoMic, you might not need to buy a new shotgun for an AX2000, at least not unless you are looking to upgrade. The AX2000 has a standard mic jack as well as the two XLR inputs. On my NX5, the 3.5mm mic jack is on the right side of the top handle, just below the shoe-mount. If you get a new shotgun, you may find that the barrel is narrower than the quick-release clamp on the AX2000. Any hardware store will have rubber o-rings in the plumbing section. A few of those rolled over the barrel will give your the right spacing for the clamp.

2. Buying some SD/SDHC cards will indeed have a much higher up front cost than, say, buying some mini-DV tape at Costco. But, you repeatedly re-use the cards. Shoot the project, dump to the hard drive, delete the files on the card (always deleting in the camera itself!), and you are ready to go again. Plus, since you've still got your FX1, you can still archive/back-up your projects to tape.

3. There's another advantage to cards: much longer uninterrupted recording times for shooting sporting events and weddings. While each 16gb SHDC card will hold roughly 1 hours of highest quality AVCHD video --- versus 63 minutes for standard tapes --- and 32GB cards give you something like 170 minutes, the AX2000 also offers "relay recording" with its two SD slots That means the AX2000 seamlessly continues onto a second card when the first card is full. After the camera switches to the second card, you can eject and replace the first card with a fresh one and, when the second card is full, the camera will seamlessly switch back to the first slot to continue the recording. With an MRC equipped Z5/FX1000, using 32 gb CF cards, you can get up to about 170 minutes. You can run tape in parallel and swap tapes as long as you let them run all the way out before opening the carrier. But, getting an MRC unit with an FX1000 (assuming you can use the NPF 550 battery that came with your FX1) costs about $250 more than an AX2000. Getting a Z5 with an MRC costs about the same as an NX5 with an FMU . The economics seem to favor the AX2000 unless you need the extra features of the Z5 or NX5.

4. One extra feature in the NX5 that may interest you when you shoot sporting events, is the NX5's capability for shooting 720/60p. I've experimented with shooting dance with that format and found that it was somewhat better for viewing on DVD when compared with or mixed into 1080i. Even so, I stick to 1080i because I do a lot of multi-cam shoots and all my other cams record 1080i. That is not a consideration if you are shooting sports events with a single camera. Whether the 720/60p capability (or the other NX5 functional differences) are worth another $500 to you is a question that you will have to decide for yourself.

5. The AX2000, Z5 and FX1000 are all CMOS based cams which means they all exhibit flash-banding, if that matters to you. Flash-banding has never bothered me or my clients but it is a serious problem for some folks. I've recently read somewhere on DVinfo about software for fixing this on imported files, but I can't remember where. (Might be part of the EX1 "Clip Browser" software?) If flash-banding is an issue for you, do a search and see if you can find software fixes.

6. One final consideration for going tapeless. No dropouts.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #29
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Repair or Not?

Great explanation Jay. I think in the end, I'm going to keep the FX-1 as a recording/playback unit. I also have a friend that's who likes to "dabble"in electronics who says he can restore the cam if he gets the lens assembly
on, say EBay. Meantime, I'm leaning towards the AX2000 and really appreciate the in depth review of that cam.
It will help me in my decisions. Thanks.

Anthony
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 05:25 AM   #30
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Repair or Not?

Jay. Have you experienced any ot those famous 2 gig frame drops that people are complaining about.
After 2 gigs of acquisition, the camera drops the recording and adds a new file thus breaking up the video.
Have you experienced this? At least with tape, aside from "drop outs" you get steady recording till the tape runs out! Your thoughts on this. Thanks.

Anthony
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