Canon XL2 vs Sony HVR-Z1U at DVinfo.net

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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 September 25th, 2005, 07:31 PM   #1
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Canon XL2 vs Sony HVR-Z1U

Over the past few months, I've been saving my money and I'm finally able to afford a good camera. For the longest time, I was pretty much set on the Canon XL2 because of its wide array of features and uses to me, but over the past few weeks, I've started to think about hi-def. It will likely be quite a few years before I'm able to buy another camera and with hi-def becoming more and more common, I've been considering the Sony HVR-Z1U instead. There are pros and cons to each camera so I figured I'd list them and see what you people think.

Pros of the XL2:
- interchangeable lens
- awesome 20x standard lens
- shoulder style... sort of (I do lots of ENG freelance shoots so I prefer this)
- rear XLR inputs, good audio configuration panel, BNC output
- neat things you can do with Firewire
- progressive frame settings
- slightly cheaper

Cons of the XL2:
- not hi-def
- no side LCD screen
- not as good in low-light
- weird CCDS (4:3 shape, native 16:9, chops off all sides when shooting 4:3)

Pros of the Z1U:
- hi-def
- hi-def can be converted to SD output
- beautiful LCD screen
- can turn off the backlight of the LCD screen so the sun brightens it up and uses very little battery
- awesome in low-light
- nice snap zoom and good focus ring
- can replace the zoom bar with a percentage, shows manual focus length in meters
- handle zoom has 2 custom speeds (awesome feature!)

Cons of the Z1U:
- early stages of hi-def - will be greatly improved over the years
- no progressive
- 12x lens is kind of weak
- apparently the audio is compressed when shooting in hi-def
- a bit more expensive
- I could be wrong, but I've heard that Sony's hi-def settings aren't true hi-def (1080i)


I do freelance camerawork for a local TV station so I'm more used to an over-the-shoulder style camera. I've used the Canon XL1s quite a bit and enjoyed it a lot. I got to borrow a Z1U for a couple days and also enjoyed it a lot. I haven't been able to use an XL2, but I understand it's essentially identical to the XL1s in feel except that the manual zoom and focus rings are improved and it comes with a built-in shoulder pad.

Now I understand that a very important part in picking a camera is making sure it's comfortable to use. I can honestly say I'm equally comfortable with both cameras, so I ask for your help in comparing the technical advantages of each, rather than anything related to the cameras' feel.

Is hi-def needed at this point? Will it be needed in the next 4-5 years (when I'll be buying a camera next)? Is getting a first-generation camera of a new standard better than getting a tried-and-tested camera of an eventually extinct video format?

Uses for the camera include taping bands, interviews, documentaries and short films.

What should be a fun and exciting time for me is quickly becoming more and more stressful. What should I go with?


Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Thanks,


-Mark
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Old September 25th, 2005, 07:38 PM   #2
 
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Myself, I can't imagine anyone buying any kind of an SD camera right now, not if they have an eye for the future. Immediate needs still call for SD, but HD downsampled to SD is still much nicer looking than any affordable SD cam is going to be. Whether it's the Sony or JVC, or if you wait for the new Canon XLH1, you'll be much happier.

As to your Cons of the Z1U:
- early stages of hi-def - will be greatly improved over the years
Greatly improved? I doubt it. Not in MPEG2 transport streams. Somewhat better, but not greatly.
- no progressive
This is true for HD
- 12x lens is kind of weak
Can't comment there, personally, because I don't need more than what I'm currently using it for.
- apparently the audio is compressed when shooting in hi-def
This is true for all HDV camcorders, and if you're only shooting dialog, it's not a problem.
- a bit more expensive
- I could be wrong, but I've heard that Sony's hi-def settings aren't true hi-def (1080i)
Not so. What you might have heard is that the CCDs aren't 1920 x 1080, but none of the HDV cams are.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #3
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Are you really worried about what camera you'll be buying in 5 years??

In that time span the Z1 will be only available on eBay for something like $1k. There will be dozen of other options, way better than Sony's first HD camera. The market will be flooded with HD. HDTVs will be the standard, or at least will have taken up 50% of the market.

Or maybe a giant asteroid will have kill us all, so it doesn't really matter.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 09:47 PM   #4
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Well the day your local television station decides to broadcast the news in high definition which could be as early as tommorow you will be glad that you have a high definition camcorder. As far as the 12x lens versus the 20 x lens the Sony camcorder has 4 times the resolution so the effective magnification power is a whopping 48x.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 02:26 AM   #5
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I've decided to go with the XL2. There's not a lot of use in hi-def for me quite yet and it would require me to make some major computer upgrades, which I can't afford. I love the XL series and I absolutely cannot wait to receive my XL2 next week!!

Thanks for your feedback, everyone!
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Old September 27th, 2005, 04:45 PM   #6
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A major pro of the Z1 for me is it has the ability to be switched to record in either 50i or 60i, therefore also downconvert in-camera to PAL or NTSC respectively.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #7
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All around, the Z1 is a superior camera. No question about. But you can buy what you can only afford.
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Old October 6th, 2005, 02:35 PM   #8
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if you can't afford the z1, get the fx1.. its still better then the xl2..
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Old October 6th, 2005, 02:47 PM   #9
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A few posts up, I wrote that I had decided on the XL2. I actually changed my mind again and am now a proud Z1 owner.
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Old October 6th, 2005, 03:15 PM   #10
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Hi Mark, thank god you changed your mind. Good though the XL2 is, it's not a patch on the ZU1. You will be very pleased with your purchase.
Best of luck
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Old October 6th, 2005, 04:12 PM   #11
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And if you feel yourself pining for the XL2's 24p, just switch your Z1U to 50i or CF25, and gloat.

-Steve
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