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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 16th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #1
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Z1U footage Soft?

I see a lot of FX1 and Z1U footage that is really soft, and not just on motion shots. Most what I see is progressive WMV, but I have seen some M2T's that are pretty soft. Is this due to the deinterlace or are people just having issues focusing these bad boys?

Has anyone gotten clean, well focused pics with these cams even on a deinterlace?
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Old January 16th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Szarleta
I see a lot of FX1 and Z1U footage that is really soft, and not just on motion shots. Most what I see is progressive WMV, but I have seen some M2T's that are pretty soft. Is this due to the deinterlace or are people just having issues focusing these bad boys?

Has anyone gotten clean, well focused pics with these cams even on a deinterlace?
Beats me...

I've never seen anything out-of-focus (obviously unintentionally that is) either in what I've downloaded, or shot with my own HDV camcorders... apart from leader stuff when pulling focus, but that gets chopped in post anyway.

Are you intending purchasing an FX-1 or Z1?

If you are, then why not go and test run one of the cameras to see how easy and well these cameras can be focussed. If you end up not liking the camera/s having tested it/them, then don't buy one.

Last edited by Boyd Ostroff; January 16th, 2006 at 08:34 PM. Reason: removed argumentative comments
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Old January 16th, 2006, 06:35 PM   #3
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I'd have to agree with Steve; I find Z1 footage remarkably sharp. However, all of the low(er) cost HD cameras have viewfinders and screens that leave a little to be desired. I actually like the LCD on my Z1 quite a bit - it's very good for focusing at SD resolution but obviously can't display anywhere close to 1920x1080. However if you rack back and forth just a bit it's pretty easy to get focus right, and the expanded focus button is a huge help. Unfortunately it doesn't work while recording though.

However, many people have commented on how sharp the Z1 is. The complaints that are voiced more often relate to it having more of a "video look" instead of a "film look," but that is the subject of a whole different debate...
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Old January 16th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #4
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I'm not accusing anyone of being an inadequate camera person nor am I slamming the Z1U camera. I am simply stating that I have noticed a lot of footage I have viewed in WMV mostly (obviously deinterlaced) that seemed soft to me. Simply wondering if people have experienced such a problem with deinterlaced Z1U footage. I have seen interlaced footage that is fairly sharp, so I know it can produce some sharp images.

Here are some examples:

http://www.vilekyle.com/Films/Ideals/index.htm

http://www.steadicams.com/ (vids under showreel and recent projects)

Simply asking if anyone seems to have the same experience with deinterlaced footage.

Last edited by Boyd Ostroff; January 16th, 2006 at 08:35 PM. Reason: removed argumentative comments
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Old January 16th, 2006, 08:38 PM   #5
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OK guys, I just had to edit this thread. Let's just discuss the technical issues and refrain from analyzing each others motives. Thanks.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 08:53 PM   #6
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I deinterlace almost eveything I shoot. One thing that saves it a bit is that I also reduce the frame size to 1280X720 after deinterlacing - so the loss of resolution is not quite as severe. Also, if you know you are going to deinterlace, you may be inclined to shoot it with a sharper setting. That would reduce the perceived softness.

And I must admit to trashing a lot of footage for the lack of shooting with an external monitor. But heck, it is difficult to use an external monitor while on vacation or at sporting events. After a little practice, you begin to develop a feel for the focus. But I have yet to become reasonably perfect. It may not be possible, I am not sure.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 10:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Szarleta
I'm not accusing anyone of being an inadequate camera person nor am I slamming the Z1U camera. I am simply stating that I have noticed a lot of footage I have viewed in WMV mostly (obviously deinterlaced) that seemed soft to me. Simply wondering if people have experienced such a problem with deinterlaced Z1U footage. I have seen interlaced footage that is fairly sharp, so I know it can produce some sharp images.

Here are some examples:

http://www.vilekyle.com/Films/Ideals/index.htm

http://www.steadicams.com/ (vids under showreel and recent projects)

Simply asking if anyone seems to have the same experience with deinterlaced footage.
It seems like the examples you have linked to are 'pushing' the boundaries of what HDV and the FX-1/Z1 provide natively, either for artistic effect and intent in Kyle's case, or for visual impact with the showreel piece I viewed. Both have been optimised for web access, and have been reduced heavily in bitrate and resolution, which will have a significant 'hit' on the quality evident in the footage as shot with the camera.
Neither sites indicate the processes or software used in their creation, so it's not clear whether what you may be seeing is a deliberate outcome or a side effect of the working process with the software/equipment used in their creation.

There are so many variables that can be used in post production, that example clips that do not state how the clips were achieved are really nothing more than advertisements of the abilities of their creator and their own visual sensibilities rather than definitive guides to the performance of the cameras used to capture the original material. Would you judge the native quality of a Panavision camera based on one or two DVDs?

While there are many FX-1/Z1 owner/users who are willing and even desirous of representing their HD/HDV achievements with WMV9, QT, DivX etc. material posted for free access to web users, I've never felt that the quality of any of these has been good enough for truly representing the sharpness and clarity that is visible when viewing full resolution and bitrate projects (both interlaced and progressive) made from the actual HD/HDV full resolution and bitrate source material on appropriate HD monitors or HDTV.

The desire to know whether a particular HD/HDV camcorder is 'good enough' to achieve what one hopes for before purchasing is a natural one. The consternation at seeing something that appears to call initial enthusiasm into question is also natural.

If you cannot find freely available high bitrate 1080i or 1080p material from the FX-1/Z1 on the web (you could try the VASST site), and you don't want to trust our word on the matter, the only truly viable way to satisfy whether the cameras can indeed shoot crisp, clear and very sharp images is to find a retailer who will allow you to demo them.

It seems you got the impression that I am 'hot under the collar' at your original post. Don't know how you came to that conclusion. I had hoped when I joined this forum 2 years ago, that the information I gave would be as good naturedly accepted as the information I received, and up until very recently, that has been the case. It would be befitting this community for a return to a general acceptance that responses are intended to alleviate concerns rather than create them.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 10:30 PM   #8
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I've wondered this too. With 16:9 shooting, the subject almost always looks better a little off-center and out of the autofocus zone. In 4:3 shooting, a subject may be a little off-center, but not to the point where they're out of the autofocus zone. Maybe that's what we are seeing.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 11:54 PM   #9
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I don't know if I could characterize Z1U footage as "remarkably sharp" given the best broadcast HDTV we've all seen. But it's hands down clean, which helps it convey a 3D-like "through a window" 60i reality.

Douglas Spotted Eagle's m2t clips put this camera over the top with me.

A couple of clips on the beach illustrate subtle textures, motion, color and latitude.

Another clip of some motocrossers shows clarity and shadow detail against a backdrop of skyborne highlights and intense motion.

When the smoke clears, I think the Z1U will be remembered for doing so many things well while not being the best at any one.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 03:00 AM   #10
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Douglas Spotted Eagle's m2t clips put this camera over the top with me.
Where are they?
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Old January 17th, 2006, 05:44 AM   #11
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Here:


http://www.vasst.com/HDV/FX-1_images-Surfers.htm
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Old January 17th, 2006, 05:58 AM   #12
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FWIW, raw m2t clips are often viewed with NLEs whereupon shortcomings about motion softness are often noted. My $0.02 is that all the Hdv cams exhibit sharpness even during pans, but the way to view them is on an actual HDTV not NLE. HDTVs do better with interlaced footage. The streaming media players like AVeL Linkplayer2, Snazio, Buffalo, JVC are best at playing raw m2t streams.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Crisdale
I had hoped when I joined this forum 2 years ago, that the information I gave would be as good naturedly accepted as the information I received, and up until very recently, that has been the case. It would be befitting this community for a return to a general acceptance that responses are intended to alleviate concerns rather than create them.
If you would just please carefully watch your wording, and kindly make a stronger effort to be more diplomatic rather than confrontational, then that general acceptance would quickly return. Thanks in advance,
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Old January 17th, 2006, 10:31 PM   #14
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Not really sure what happened, but I think Steve is on record for not being too fond of the Sigma-chip media players in PAL land. I probably overstated the case for them by calling it the "best" way for viewing native m2t streams when clearly they are "one" way that seems to work fairly well for me. So I digressed from the intended observation, which was to just note that softening during fast panning is not how I would characterize the phenomena when viewed on something that handles interlaced footage well, like an actual HDTV monitor.
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