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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, 03:29 PM   #1
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What should I buy with my Z1?

You folks have far more expertise than I do so I am nervous about leaving a post but...........

Having read all your posts carefully I have decided to go ahead and buy the Z1 at a local famous camera store (Los Angeles). I am just an inner city teacher and I want to make a documentary about 3 of my music students at the high school where I teach. I am going to follow them over the next 4 years. I am choosing the Z1 so I can have two versions, one in HD, and the other standard.

1. Should I buy an external microphone for the Z1? Sony's?
2. The highest quality tape seems a must in HD. What do you recommend? Sony's?
3. Do you recommend a shoulder harness? Is so, what?
4. Is special lighting necessary for indoor shots of a school office or classroom?
5. What tripod do you like?
6. As the Z1 is widescreen, do I need to buy an additional widescreen lens? What do you recommend?
7. Good resources on filmaking with a camcorder (internet, books, dvds)?


If no one responds within 24 hrs I am going to delete this post because I realize it may be irritating. You folks are in a completely different league. If there is a more appropriate place to post this please let me know and.............Thank you
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:42 PM   #2
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Scott:

No question is irritating and all experience levels are welcome here, but you should spend some time searching the incredible amount of information already here; the areas you touch on have all been addressed on this site in the past. Once you have plowed through that, if questions still linger, feel free to post in the appropriate forum.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:52 PM   #3
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Hi Scott,

I've moved your post into its own separate topic, because where it was before was pretty much unrelated to your questions, so... here it is as a brand new discussion!

As Charles points out, a lot of the points you're touching on have indeed been discussed here before, but they're always worth re-visting. A search through this forum will yield a variety of existing input... and for what you don't find there, well, just bring it up and I'm sure somebody will answer. We welcome all camcorder users, from beginners up to experts and everyone in between. Welcome aboard,
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 03:54 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wells

1. Should I buy an external microphone for the Z1? Sony's?
I sure would.

2. The highest quality tape seems a must in HD. What do you recommend? Sony's?
Yes, You'll be less at risk for dropout, and potentially have a better image with higher grade tape.

3. Do you recommend a shoulder harness? Is so, what?
Depends on how you shoot.

4. Is special lighting necessary for indoor shots of a school office or classroom?
Not necessary, but better lighting is always welcome on any set.

5. What tripod do you like?
At the budget level, Manfrotto with a ball mount, and a 503 head. After that, any of the higher end Sachtler, Fischers, etc, but then you're getting into serious cash, and it sounds like you're working on the cheaper side of things.

6. As the Z1 is widescreen, do I need to buy an additional widescreen lens? What do you recommend?
No, what would the additional lens be fore? The Z1 is native widescreen, I'm not sure what you'd do with the other lens, unless you want a wide ANGLE lens, and those are very nice to have.

7. Good resources on filmaking with a camcorder (internet, books, dvds)?
You're on one of the best sites right now, but I'll also recommend the VASST side with more than 1000 tutorials and resources (it's free) www.vasst.com
Ken, I've shot successfully with the Z1 on a motorcycle/dirtbike, and even had the cam do a 60foot jump, with only a lost frame on landing. You can read about it in the article I wrote on cleaning out the lens hood, found here in DVInfo.net. It was mounted with tape, cable, and a "beanie bag"
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 04:18 PM   #5
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I'm not an expert, but from what I've learned in the last months with my FX1 I can perhaps be of help to you.

1. Should I buy an external microphone for the Z1? Sony's?

Depends on what you are trying to capture, and the sound quality. The built in mic is fairly ok to me, bu can pick up some hand sounds if you're not careful. In many situations you would also like to have a more directional mic, like a shot gun type, to isolate and capture sound from a single source. Perfect for interviews and sounds far off.

2. The highest quality tape seems a must in HD. What do you recommend? Sony's?

I've not used anything else than Sony's Premium tape, and have had very few dropouts.

3. Do you recommend a shoulder harness? Is so, what?

I've tried Sony's but dont like it. With some practise and the use of steadyshot, I think the camera works ok without any additional support. For steady work, use a tripod.

4. Is special lighting necessary for indoor shots of a school office or classroom?

Depends on what quality and look you're after. With no lighting your shots will look "documentary" when indoors, and as I understand that's ok by you. If you want more than that you need lighting.

5. What tripod do you like?

I found a cheap one that I like: SLIK PRO 700DX. I could use a better video head though.

6. As the Z1 is widescreen, do I need to buy an additional widescreen lens? What do you recommend?

No, there's no need for a widescreen converter, the camera is native widescreen.

7. Good resources on filmaking with a camcorder (internet, books, dvds)?

I like "Nuts and Bolts of Filmmaking", a practical book for low budget camera men. "Picture composition for film and television" is also quite interesting. I also like the classical "The Five C's of Cinematography". I started out with "Digital Videomaker, Guide to Digital Video and DVD production" and can recommend it.
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 04:39 PM   #6
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accessories

We have many Z1's here where I work and been working with them for several months now, and for run and gun and tripod setup shots we are extremely pleased with our rigs. Hope this helps.
Miller solo Dv tripod
Gitzo G-1380 head (green spring)
2 jimmy box wireless holders
varizoom z rock (zoom with z-rock focus with camera focus ring)
audio technica AT897 mic with Rycote deadcat (what wind)
audio technica shoe mount adapter
audio technica low pro shock mount (sets mic out far enough can't hear zoom)
light panels
forget a shoulder mount get a glidecam 4000 used both the glidecam costs just a little more and gives you the freedom to get crafty.
Hope this helps
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Old August 24th, 2005, 01:22 PM   #7
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I bought the AT 897 and it is an excellent mic for the price (about $250 online).

I bought the tripod recommended by DSE. It is steady enough for the camera and light weight. The 503 head is good.

For movie work. I just finished the DV Film class in Austin on shooting video for transfer to film. The two day class was worth the money but if you can't get to the class buy their book "Shooting Digital" by Marcus Van Bavel. This guy taught the class has made two feature length films, been in festivals plus transferred many video projects to film. He covers all aspects in the book.

Last, here is a freebie. M2t files are big, not easy to handle and run quickly (as in on a set and shooting). HDV Rack will record them to hard drive but playback tends to be slow. Womble has a couple of programs often used to cut mpg2 files and splice together without reencoding (as in recording TV shows and cutting out commercials without losing quality). Both of their programs handle m2t files and you can show them quickly - even splice them. Because of the way the information is written you wouldn't use them in a final cut but you can rough cut and show them to talent or a client. You can download a free trial of either of their programs at www.womble.com
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