Sony FX1 or the A1U? 3CCDs versus a single CMOS 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 January 4th, 2006, 11:55 PM   #1
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Sony FX1 or the A1U? 3CCDs versus a single CMOS

Okay, here's the deal. I plan to grab either a 3CCD Sony FX1 or a HVR-A1U. The thing is the A1U is simply cheaper and already has an audio set-up. Plus this will probably be a transitional camera (used a few times then sold) but I don't even know that for sure. If I do end up using it consistantly I'd prefer it to be an FX1 but again those are future concerns.

My biggest question is what are the colors like with a single CMOS chip? Are they even comparable to a 3CCD camera? I'll be shooting a lot of night scenes too but I'll have general control of some of the lighting.

Also what's up with down converting to DV. With the A1U downconvert? I know I can downconvert in the FX1 by setting the firewire out to DV but what about the A1U? Anything I can do here. I believe someone said I could do this by connecting another camera to in record mode and simply record the footage out from the A1, but I can't seem to find anymore info on anything like that.

-Nate
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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:37 AM   #2
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1) To answer your first question, that you are going with the A1 because it is cheaper than an FX1; it's only about a $500.00 difference.
2) ccd vs cmos - you need to browse the hc1/a1 thread. However, this question seems to be trying to come up. I was hoping that someone with more objective testing could answer this. That said, I will give my opinion tested with my own eyes. I have a Z1 and an A1. I like the A1 over my Z1; I thought that the long gops was why my pans looked so jerky with the Z1;however, I can pan slightly better (less jerky) with my A1. Long gops are probably still an issue. The only difference I could think of is that the cmos handles hdv long gops a little easier. Also because of the A1's size, I find myself reaching for it over the Z1. I think the A1 shoots at 90% of the Z1, as far as detail is concerned.
3) The A1 down converts DV just like the FX1, and has an added crop function
4) colors- I think they are fine. This topic is also discussed in HC1/A1 thread. Also, If you are really interested in any cam, I would urge you to rent it for a weekend. I would never buy a cam based on specs, or what others have to say about it.
Check this thread http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=57226
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Old January 5th, 2006, 01:01 AM   #3
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Get FX1; the low light capability alone is worth many times the price difference.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #4
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You're right. B&H has a good price on the FX1 but $500 is still $500 less. I'll have to see both for myself. I've seen the FX1 in action but not the A1U.

-Nate
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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Squitieri
1) To answer your first question, that you are going with the A1 because it is cheaper than an FX1; it's only about a $500.00 difference.
2) ccd vs cmos - you need to browse the hc1/a1 thread. However, this question seems to be trying to come up. I was hoping that someone with more objective testing could answer this. That said, I will give my opinion tested with my own eyes. I have a Z1 and an A1. I like the A1 over my Z1; I thought that the long gops was why my pans looked so jerky with the Z1;however, I can pan slightly better (less jerky) with my A1. Long gops are probably still an issue. The only difference I could think of is that the cmos handles hdv long gops a little easier. Also because of the A1's size, I find myself reaching for it over the Z1. I think the A1 shoots at 90% of the Z1, as far as detail is concerned.
3) The A1 down converts DV just like the FX1, and has an added crop function
4) colors- I think they are fine. This topic is also discussed in HC1/A1 thread. Also, If you are really interested in any cam, I would urge you to rent it for a weekend. I would never buy a cam based on specs, or what others have to say about it.
Check this thread http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=57226

Lou since you own both the Z1 and A1, is there a drastic difference in low light shooting between them. Mainly interested in softly lit ballroom setting for light source.
I know that the Z1 gives you much more manual control over the cameras gain and exposure, and while the A1 doesn't let you set gain, you can adjust the exposure ubtil but gain is needed, then teh A1 will start adding gain in. I guess the A1 exposure control is a lot like my VX2100, in that you can't adjust the gain manually, just exposure and the camera does the resy when needed. BTW I do know that the VX2100 will be much better in low light than either the Z1 or A1.

I am looking to start using HD footage this year, and was looking at starting with the A1 (like the built in audio features and small footprint, that I can use as a personal cam or event filming cam) and then add FX1, maybe add a Z1 instead if I can wait and save up enough.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 05:43 PM   #6
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Well, the original thread was cmos vs. ccd, but I'll give ya my 2 cents about the low light thing. It is all about personal style of the shooter. I am not a big fan of gain. I don't like to set the up higher than 3, because, for me it diminishes what I am going after with HDV, which is high resolution video. Because of my personal preference, and the fact that the A-1 has many other ways to tweak it in low light, other than gain (read why hear)http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=57226 The difference in low light isn't drastic. I would say the Z1 is notably better. Truly, you get what you pay for.
Also, I have to ask; by the nature of your questions that you are trying to cut costs by getting the least expensive camera for the application, and rightly so.But did you know that the computing power to edit HDV costs 3x an Fx1, or 4x an A1 ?
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Old January 5th, 2006, 06:01 PM   #7
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Actually Z1 is so noise free, you can raise the gain a lot more than on a number of competing cameras.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 06:14 PM   #8
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Hey Petr, you are right. I was refering to the quality of the video; it seems when the gain is raised up in excess, the video looks a bit flat, no depth, and colors start to fade.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 07:26 PM   #9
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one factor no one has mentioned is the size factor. Yes with the big
mic, the A1 can look "professional", but if you are planning on using
this camera to make money, go with the FX1. I have an HC1, Z1 and
Fx1. The HC1 is a gem of a camera!!! I used it as a balcony cam
on the last wedding I shot (it's first time out). Video from it is
absolutely incredible. Vivid colors and details. If you are doing a
two cam shoot by yourself, FX1 and HC1 all the way. Not to mention
the HC1 makes a great deck.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Squitieri
Well, the original thread was cmos vs. ccd, but I'll give ya my 2 cents about the low light thing. It is all about personal style of the shooter. I am not a big fan of gain. I don't like to set the up higher than 3, because, for me it diminishes what I am going after with HDV, which is high resolution video. Because of my personal preference, and the fact that the A-1 has many other ways to tweak it in low light, other than gain (read why hear)http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=57226 The difference in low light isn't drastic. I would say the Z1 is notably better. Truly, you get what you pay for.
Also, I have to ask; by the nature of your questions that you are trying to cut costs by getting the least expensive camera for the application, and rightly so.But did you know that the computing power to edit HDV costs 3x an Fx1, or 4x an A1 ?
Lou thanks for the feedback on the comparisons of the Z1 vs. the A1.

"But did you know that the computing power to edit HDV costs 3x an Fx1, or 4x an A1 ?"

And yes I am aware that the computer power needed is greater with HD. However after much research I find that using Sony Vegas 6 (Which I have), along with GearShift (for proxy video) or Connect HD from Cineform (Capture straight Cineform AVI, which is 3x larger than standard SD/HD video), and a new system I will build using AMD Athlon X2 4400 (Dual Core Processor), ASUS A8N SLI Motherboard, 4GB RAM, PNY Quadro FX540 128MB Video Card, Soundblaster X-FI Platinum, and a Decklink HD card, with additional stuff I won't get into will run me about $2,500. This system should be powerful enough to run HD, especially since Vegas handles the proxy HD and Cineform files just like DV. Render times will be long, but I can let render overnight.

HD will be expensive, but I figure that if I start with a good affordable cam at first like the A1 and add cameras from there then I sould be alright. It sucks that this is like the dawn of SD video and computing in reagrds to the money and computer hardware that is needed. We will all pay too much for hardware that will be slow or commonplace 4-5 years from now, but oh well.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 09:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes
one factor no one has mentioned is the size factor. Yes with the big
mic, the A1 can look "professional", but if you are planning on using
this camera to make money, go with the FX1. I have an HC1, Z1 and
Fx1. The HC1 is a gem of a camera!!! I used it as a balcony cam
on the last wedding I shot (it's first time out). Video from it is
absolutely incredible. Vivid colors and details. If you are doing a
two cam shoot by yourself, FX1 and HC1 all the way. Not to mention
the HC1 makes a great deck.
Scott good to see you here. I know the HC1 and A1 are similar but, the reason I was even considering the A1 is because of the additional features, like built in XLR, programmable features, black stretch and more. I also like the small size factor to use as a personal cam over the larger FX1/Z1.
I love the manual controls on the FX1, but want a smaller sized cam to start off with.
I will still be delivering SD DVD's for some years it seems, as I really don't see consumers stepping up right away to buy HD or blue Ray DVD players.

So I will still be using my VX2100/PD170 along with A1 for wide shots and to crop and zoom if needed, for my videos.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #12
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yeah, the HC1 also excels as a family camera. I shot with it all
through the holidays, loved it!
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Old January 5th, 2006, 10:21 PM   #13
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Well, I chose the A1 over the FX1 mainly for the audio stuff. I replaced the stock mic with a Sennheiser ME66 which is my favorite camera mic. A standard thing for me is using a wireless lav with the ME66 for backup and a little area ambience. I have a boom setup but rarely have the extra body to make use of it. If I am not using the wireless, I usually send the camera mic to both channels with one channel using the 10db pad and AGC and the second channel set manually. This kind of thing is hard to do with a camera like an FX1 and extremely important to me.

Having made this decision, there are times when I regret going this route. Moderate low light on the A1 is not terrible, but it seems to fall off quickly at a certain point. In a dimly lit wedding reception hall for instance, the autofocus on the A1 does not have enough light to really function properly and will constantly keep searching for focus. Manually setting the focus in minimal light is extremely difficult as well. The grain at these levels is quite pronounced and the quality of the image falls off sharply from being really close to a FX1 to quite a lot worse. I still have my VX2000 and find myself reaching for it below a certain light threshold. At some point I will probably by an FX1 or Z1 and use it primarily for low light shots. Anything with decent light looks great.

As far as appearing professional goes, my run and gun setup consists of the A1, a Spiderbrace, a light and diffuser, a wide angle lens and Cavision lens hood and a wireless receiver. It has that equipment junkie look that makes a customer think he or she has hired a professional but none-the-less, even with all the accessories it is still light, fast and compact. I can get in and out of cars easily with the rig and can hold a steady shot without fatigue at the end of the shoot. I doubt I'd use the heavier camera outside of times when the lighting demanded it.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 10:34 PM   #14
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I totally agree. The A1 is an excellent choice; you won't be disapointed. I also use an ME66, and it works great with the A1.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 12:02 AM   #15
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Have you seen this Rode shock mount? They've been on sale overseas for a while but are just now trickling in to the US:

http://www.fullcompass.com/Products/pages/SKU--89070/
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