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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 August 23rd, 2005, 09:48 AM   #31
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Ken,
Do you have a laptop with a Firewire (IEEE-1394) port?
Why don't you - if you have such a laptop at your disposal - try using VLC in record mode with your FX-1? Using the camera in this way (if you set VLC up correctly, that is) negates recording to tape, so you could at least remove the tape mechanism from the equation.

I would also say, from my observations of the clips from my FX-1e, that the HDV MPEG2 m2t stream would probably become pretty horrible to watch if vibration got to the level of noticeable at the camera. Of course the fact that the image is also much more 'detail sensitive' because of the increased resolution, would also play a part in showing up vibration degredation. Indeed; even very small rapid vibration would cause the image to 'degrade' regardless of the in camera image-stabilisation mechanism's settings.

That is however; something that has nothing to do with HDV as a format.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 09:56 AM   #32
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Ken, your frustration comes through loud and clear. We hear ya. But here are my random observations on the issue. They probably aren't helpful to you, but should be food for thought as others consider a camera purchase.

1. Evidently you bought the FX1 shortly after it was released (you said the Z1 wasn't even on the market yet). This is always a risky proposition since there won't be a lot of feedback yet. Future buyers will now have the benefit of your experience if they plan to use an FX1 for a similar application. Of course they may not have the same problems, but at least there will be an awareness of a possible issue.

2. Don't repeat this and rush out to buy the new Panasonic or JVC camera since the situation is the same there. Especially in the case of the Panasonic, nobody has even gotten their hands on one yet, let alone put it to a torture test like yours. Now it's fine to be the first kid on the block with a new camera if you're willing to accept the inherent risk, but it doesn't sound like you are.

3. I try to read everything I can about the FX1 and Z1, and really dug around before buying my Z1. This is the first time I've read about a problem like yours. Can you point us to others who are experiencing the same problems?

4. The pre/post MPEG2 compression issue is something I've never been completely clear on, and your experience muddies the water even more. A number of people say with authority that the component video output and DV mode recording don't subject the image to MPEG2 compression, but I've never seen anyone explain how they've determined this.

5. You mention all the hardships and additional cost that this problem has created for you. I know that's frustrating, but I also have to think it's foolish to pin the success of your entire project on one $3,000 piece of gear. Chris pointed out much earlier that you could sell the camera and only take a small loss. Why didn't you do this long ago? You're just banging your head against the wall now and not getting your project done. Since you have obviously reached some firm conclusions in your own mind, just get over it, sell the FX-1, buy a good DV camera and make your movie! The little PDX-10 shoots excellent 16:9, much better than a PD-170. And it only costs $1,600 which probably makes a lot of sense for a camera that's getting lots of abuse and being put at risk. It also comes from Sony's pro division.

6. Augusto's point about buying from Sony's pro line is excellent and people really need to take this to heart. I've seen lots of stories about the level of service being better on these cameras. For example, people report that it takes weeks to fix a problem on the VX-2000 which could be resolved in days on the PD-150.

7. Related to number 5 above, I know that this issue is really eating you but the fact is that very few of us are using our FX1's and Z1's in such a way. We'd be reading about these problems everyday otherwise. Think about the time and energy you're putting into your "crusade" here. I'm glad that you've made us aware of your problem because it may help someone else. But consider what you could be doing if you devoted the same energy to something positive. Put this behind you and move forward with something fun and creative. Beyond that, DVinfo exists to inform and educate. It's good to make others aware of your pitfalls and disappointments, but we can't allow it to be your "sword of vengance" against a camera company, especially when there don't seem to be widespread reports of a problem like this.

I wish you the best of luck with your project, and hope you'll keep us informed as it progresses.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:00 AM   #33
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You should say Sony Consumer Division, not just Sony. You are dealing with the consumer division and they have more laxed ways to deal with problems. I have been there. I learned my lesson and I will never buy Sony consumer products again intended for professional use. I am 100% sure you would have gotten a different response from the professional division. Trust me.

It is not just the XLR audio or the extra features. I understand you bought it before they came out. And I bet the Z1 is more rugged than the FX1. I know quality control is more stringent with their professional products. What it could be a 'reject' for one component of the Z1, it may pass as Ok for the FX1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Eberhard
Sony says it's the nature of the format. And it is not electrical interference. I'm sure my clothes dryer is clear of such interference.

So if someone at Sony cares about things like this, how do I get hold of them? Maybe they care about discussion groups questioning weather the unit is worth a purchase because to some of us it has an unacceptable major problem. I'd love to speak to someone who actually cares. I'd love to find out it is only my unit. Even if I sell this unit. At least I can get on with my work. It's beginning to look like a year's lost time to get my cross peninsula DVD out.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:24 AM   #34
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You say you had problems at an idle? Did you spend any time analyzing the problem? By my experience the FX-1 would fall apart with the idling vibration. That is exactly the nature of my problem. Even on the quad after the vibration reaches a higher pitch, the problem goes away, or at least the double edges get smaller. What puzzels me is that the DV formated camera showed a problem. That's why I am curious about a critical analyzes.

Here is a test anyone with the FX-1, or Z-1 can perform. If they have an older formated camera to do a back and forth comparison, it would be best. Put the camera on a mono pod, place it on a lightly vibrating cloths dryer. View the tape on a good monitor. Look at the edges of objects and look for double edges. Put a DV camera on the same mount. The difference is this. The DV camera looks like the camera is sitting on a cloths dryer and it's vibrating. Of course it does, I'm not a total idiot. Now look at the HDV, in each frame there are two edges on objects and a smear on solid color. That's a big difference. The viewer sees that the camera is mounted in a position with vibration and understands that, such as a pro auto race mount behind the driver. But the HDV picture is unusable.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:28 AM   #35
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I will second what Boyd said earlier--don't rush out before you (or someone else, like here) tests a camera. I bought the JVC HD10 nearly sight unseen. Ugh...

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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:29 AM   #36
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Ken, I'm wondering what your final distribution method for your project is going to be... are you releasing on DVD? Going for broadcast on cable / satellite? If so, have you considered shooting in standard definition native 16:9? There are several DV camcorders that will do this, and it seems to be a much more robust format for what you're doing.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 10:29 AM   #37
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Ken,

The idle, much older car vibrated a lot, and both the FX1 and the DVX100a had issues. If you're going to shoot in an automatic transmission car at a stop, on ANY camera, put the car into neutral, problem solved. That's what we did.

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Old August 23rd, 2005, 11:35 AM   #38
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My final distribution as a product is SD, DVD, yes I understand. But I was hoping to be able to sell the HDV TV version of the program at some point in the future. It's time to archive in HD. Especially when dealing with such a scenic environment like the one I'm in. The DVD would be sent out as an example of the HDV version as well. The tapes could be made available as stock footage too. For the small expense that HDV has brought about, it seems a shame to shoot in SD.

The idle: I wish I could shut my ATV off and still shoot. That would save gas too. Not all of us have such an easy option.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 11:57 AM   #39
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So it seems I should shut up and eat my cake. In fact I am. My associate is going to test a few other cameras and buy the one that past the test on the spot. My production is held up now because of Hurricane season and the risky nature of making plans. I only posted this to inform other buyes, and I must admit, to let some steam out. The rest of this thread I have been answering others conceptions of the problem. So now I wont do that any more... If some one does the test I suggested, would they please email me at kene3@mac.com to let me know your results... I would love to use HDV, if it worked in my application. Thank you all for your input... Ken
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 01:49 PM   #40
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If some one does the test you suggested, please post the results about it *here* for all to see... private email helps only one person; our message boards help that person plus everybody else. This is an online community, please keep the community spirit in mind when posting here.

Also Ken, nobody is suggesting that you should "eat cake," it's just that some folks are trying to offer some viable alternatives and solutions to you in an effort to assist you with overcoming this issue. The regulars here at DV Info Net have a real "let's solve the problem" approach to things and sometimes it requires some thinking about other options that you may not at first be willing to try. I think Boyd said it best by suggesting that you should consider getting out of that camera and perhaps even the format, get into another shooting package and put this experience behind you. That's why I recommended 16:9 standard def. Ultimately the point is that you are not "stuck with the camera" by any means -- sell it and get rid of it; you'll find that the FX1 still holds a fairly high value among potential buyers.

Meanwhile as far as letting off steam, I can appreciate that, but DV Info Net is not a "stop the presses" kind of site. We're a usability site; an improvise, adapt and overcome type of community. If you're not interested in that and are instead on a mission just to spread the word, then there are a variety of other message boards out there on the web that are much more reactionary than this one that seem to thrive on sensationalism... and those are excellent places to let off steam / make waves / get yer ya-yas out or whatever.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:15 PM   #41
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Okay, I'm getting mixed messages here. Maybe I am understanding Boyd wrong. But the impression I got from his post was to get off the discussion group with this subject. That the subject was well covered and I should stop posting. And I don't think I have been letting out steam to any great extent. I expressed my frustration, and I also addressed all the solutions people have come up with. None of them where new to me and I have already tried all of them, or at least the one's I could try, and I believe I responded to all them with a rational approach.

Below is what gave me the message to get off the board. Boyd seems to think I'm just venting. So if that's the impression, I quit. I don't want to come across that way.

"But consider what you could be doing if you devoted the same energy to something positive. Put this behind you and move forward with something fun and creative. Beyond that, DVinfo exists to inform and educate. It's good to make others aware of your pitfalls and disappointments, but we can't allow it to be your "sword of vengance" against a camera company, especially when there don't seem to be widespread reports of a problem like this."

It was in response to this aditude that made me say, send me the results. According to Boyd, the subject is over and done and I am just yeilding a "sword of vengeance." It may be over to him, But I still need to know a few things, like, what are the results of someone's test. I understand the purpose of the forum. That's why I was interested in the results. Even if Boyd is not. Who is the moderator here, I only want to get along.

This is turning into a battle, not a discussion.. So I bow out, thank you. And I will continue to follow the discussion, and of course I would prefer a test be posted for all to see. You've got me wrong.. Name one thing I said that is inflammatory or rude? Please talk to a few other folks.. Like, Hey Dude!

I already said I was getting out of the camera and the format.. My solution is clear.

Thank you all for you time... Ken
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:58 PM   #42
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I'm sorry Ken, I think you're reading a little too much into what I said. I didn't say to "get off the discussion group" at all. I did point out, as Chris also has, that DVinfo shouldn't be used to prosecute a case in public. Your original title for the thread was "Sony Admits Major Problem with HDV format" which, as Chris noted comes off as being "alarmist". But I was merely pointing out that banging your head against the wall isn't getting your movie made, and a time comes to cut your losses and move ahead. But if you think there's a reason to keep pursuing this then by all means you should.

In fact, the issue does interest me and I just got back from making a few tests of my own. I went out in the pine barrens and drove down a very bumpy "washboard" type sand road with my Z1 on a tripod sticking out my sun roof. I recorded 1080i, manual control, steadyshot off, 1/60 shutter ND2, F4.4, manual focus at infinity. The Z1 was set to downconvert firewire to 480i, I captured in FCP 4.5 and exported these BMP's.

hitting a bump:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/hdvbumps01.bmp

a smoother section of road:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/hdvbumps02.bmp

Then I lowered the camera inside the car and set it for DV SP mode. I turned the steadyshot on for these tests, and if anything that seems to make the problem worse.

a big bump:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/dvbumps01.bmp

a smoother stretch of road:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/dvbumps02.bmp

For reference, here's something similar done with my VX-2000 from an old box of tapes I found from 2002. The VX-2000 was shooting in 16:9 mode, manual controls. Not sure of the other specifics but steadyshot was probably on. I was driving slower and trying to get a smooth shot however:

hitting a bump:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/vxbumps01.bmp

a smoother ride:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/vxbumps02.bmp

Finally, I did something similar with PDX-10 in 2003. Again, I was trying to get a smooth shot and driving slower however. These are also 16:9, steadyshot is probably on and manual controls.

a bump:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/pdxbumps01.bmp

smoother:
http://www.greenmist.com/hdv/pdxbump02.bmp

Sorry, I don't have any good way to capture the full res HDV since I'm still on FCP 4.5. I did watch the HDV on my 1280x720 Samsung 22" LCD via component video at 1080i. It looked about the way I would expect from unstabilized bumpy interlaced footage, and the stills seem like that too.

I never shot a lot of stuff this way because I don't like bumpy footage of driving around, so the whole thing isn't a big issue for me. But I was curious as to what might be going on with the Z1.

Is this similar to what you see?
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 06:40 PM   #43
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At last, a real comparison test. And yes, this is exactly what I'm seeing. Your pictures from the Z1 are as bad as the ones on the FX-1.. Exactly... The person who I mistook as being feed up with me has shown the problem exist on the HDV format in general, at least that's the way I interpret the picts. This format can not be used in many applications. Such as pro racing mounted behind the driver. Or mounted to a helicopter for news gathering. Or maybe not even on a boat on a tripod if the engine is vibrating the boat at all. It's clear that all the old formats are perfectly clear and usable, maybe not like a still shot, but definitely usable, weather you like moving footage or not, a lot of us do it. Now is it being an alarmist to say Sony has not put this limitation up front for us to see. In my mind this confirms my whole experience as a problem with the format and the title "Sony admits to major problem with HDV format." may not be from an alarmist. From your result I believe you see the same doubling of edges when you use the DV format, that again points to the idea that the camera produces an HDV image before converting it to DV and recording it to tape. The pict from inside your car is best... you can see the doubling of edges in the mirror edge, the road edge and the dash line. Such artifacts have never been a problem on any other format. I am of the opinion that this needs to go out to the pro community in CAPITAL letters. This confirms my need to drop the HDV format altogether and look at other technology. The new Panasonic may be an answer for under ten grand. I'll have to wait until I can get my hands on one and test it before I buy it. I'll have to wait until Nov., or later to get back on track with my production. Thank you Boyd... you have crystalized my opinions. Ken
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 06:44 PM   #44
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Just my 2 cents:

Having had a GL2, HC1 and now an FX1 I can tell you the FX1 is not as forgiving as other HDV & DV camcorders.

I was shooting an RC Flying event over the weekend and I had to set the Steady Shot to HARD, and even then is was very problematic to keep it steady, I ended up on the tripod.

I guess it takes a little bit of practice and getting confortable with the cam.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 06:51 PM   #45
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Eberhard
This format can not be used in many applications. Such as pro racing mounted behind the driver.
Ummm....Tell that to the Cline bro's and NASCAR, who are using the Z1 for in-car shots. Same with David Hague and the Australian Holden Racing club. I'm here in Australia, and have just seen some very clean footage from the Monaro club, driving on a track at extremely high speeds. Looks fine to me. (and to the ABC, who have broadcast it)
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