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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 February 23rd, 2006, 10:41 AM   #1
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Sony HDR-FX1 vs Panasonic DVX100B

I am looking to move into a more capable prosumer camera. I plan to use it at least for (a) fund-raising and short documentary style videos for non-profit groups, and (b) shooting travel video that can be incorporated into documentaries.

What should I look for? Probably an adequate level of manual controls. Quality video reproduction. Size and weight are important. 24p ability might be somewhat important. Iím not certain about HDV. Cost is important.

The choice seems to be between the Panasonic DVX100B and the Sony HDR-FX1.

Both seem to be good cameras. Both cost about the same. The DVX100B has a proven track record and 24P. The Sony is HD and has CineFrame24 but Iíve read both good and bad reviews of that and would like to hear your experience. HD is probably less important right now, but might give some of the travel clips a longer useful life. In terms of picture quality on SD will they be about the same?

Iíd like to hear your thoughts. Anything associated with editing that should influence the decision?

Dale
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 12:48 PM   #2
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I could not imagine spending money on an SD camera right now. HD is the future. I just went through this exact same exercise and I bought a Sony HVR-Z1U. I realize you donít care about HD now, but in a year when you are being asked to shoot HD for a job, are you going to sell the SD camera at a big loss? (Ďcuz no one is going to want to buy it then) The FX1 does both SD and HD now. Also I beleive the DVX100B has 4:3 sensors and you loose resolution going to 16:9. The FX1 has 16:9 sensors to start with. Once again, the future is 16:9 not 4:3. Given that the cameras cost the same, why would you buy older technology that is guaranteed to be obsolete?

Go somewhere that you can see and shoot with both cameras. The FX1 HD picture will blow you away. You could easily get 24p from the FX1 by either shooting 60i and converting in post, or shooting CF24 and capturing with CineForm ConnectHD which will reverse-telecine it into true 24p. Iíve done that with my Z1 and it looks great. Some will argue that itís not as good as acquiring in 24p but itís darn close.

Understand that I am biased because I own an HDV camera and I know how outstanding the picture quality is even when downconverted to SD DVD. This is why I couldnít imagine spending good money on an SD camera now.

~jr
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 02:31 PM   #3
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This sure isn't even close to making an apples to apples comparison (two very different cameras).

A little more info might help folks to respond with answers that would be more useful to you.

Do you expect to transfer anything to film? (you mention progressive shooting modes)

Will you be shooting much in low ambient light settings where you can't add lighting?

What aspect ratio will you be shooting in mostly? Will you want to shoot much 16:9?

What camera are you currently using? What editing system are you currently using?
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 02:45 PM   #4
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I posted this response earlier, and it actually shows up in my posts, but I don't see it ih this thread now. I wasn't intending to be controversial, so I don't know why it would have been pulled:

You are recommencing a debate that seems to go on forever.. Bottom line from what I've seen from all of the threads on this issue is that each camera has assets and liabilities. To get to an output you are lookong for there are post production techniques and work arounds galore.

I chose FX1 because I wanted HDV as an option. Since I got it, I shoot everything in HDV, and decide how to handle from there. You can actually convert to DV right out of camera in 4:3 or 16:9 If you want to actually do a HDV project and your system is up to it, you can get Premiere Pro 2.0 upgrade for $200, and be running there. Its great, despite what you might hear from Vegas and Final Cut heads. Cineform Aspect HD for $500 will give you added capability (claimed better color rendition), but your intermediate files take up about five times the space... You will likely be adding big hard drives. Warning: Once you work with HDV or HD, you will never really be satisfied with your DV options.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 03:24 PM   #5
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I'll definitely agree with Chris on the comment about never being really satisfied working with DV once you've worked with HDV. After you've worked in HD, even really good SD does start to look pretty weak.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 07:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright
I'll definitely agree with Chris on the comment about never being really satisfied working with DV once you've worked with HDV. After you've worked in HD, even really good SD does start to look pretty weak.
So true. I've never appreciated HD more than after using and editing SD footage.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 07:26 PM   #7
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the only advantage of the DVX is the great "out of the box" cinelook, created by the internal cine gamma settings.
You can get a look close to this when using cinegamma at the FX1 and additional CC in the Post. It looks not exactly as the DVX, but it looks good.
In all other things the FX-1 is far superiour (resolution, true 16:9). The DVX also is more sensitive in low light, but you can use the gain of the FX-1 to compensate this. even with +12db gain the FX-1 has less noise then the DVX with no gain.
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Old February 25th, 2006, 10:39 PM   #8
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I appreciate the comments. To respond to a few questions, I don't plan to transfer anything to film. But I do like the film look for what I'll be doing. I've heard comments on that in the Sony all the way from Cinnegamma gets you very close to Cinnegamma is worthless. I did see a demo that had a lot of stutter in 24 but 30 was a bit better. It was straight off the camera.

I will be shooting in some low light settings at times where I can't add much light. So far as the aspect ratio I don't know that I would need to shoot 16:9. I'm not sure I have a strong preference. Perhaps I should?

I am currently using Adobe Premiere 6.5. I would like to upgrade to Premiere Pro--I checked somewhere a few months back and was told it wasn't offered any longer. If you know where I can get it, let me know.

If I understand right, to edit in HD would take up a ton of hard drive space and be slow, but if I wanted to capture in SD and edit in that, I should be able to. Does that sound right?

Thanks for your comments.

Dale
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Old February 25th, 2006, 11:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Lundy
I've heard comments on that in the Sony all the way from Cinnegamma gets you very close to Cinnegamma is worthless
Sorry, you lost me there. Cinegamma has nothing to do with 24fps. I believe you're talking about Cineframe 24 and 30. See Adam Wilt's article on them here: http://adamwilt.com/HDV/cineframe.html

Editing HDV footage doesn't take up any more hard drive space than regular DV. It does take a fast computer however. Of course you can shoot in HDV but set the FX1 or Z1 to downconvert on the fly and then capture as regular SD DV.

If you're going for the "film look" I'd think you would want 16:9 since that's much closer to the 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is commonly used for film these days.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 02:05 AM   #10
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It sounds like an FX1 could be a good fit for you. It doesn't have to take more hard drive space to work with HDV, but it can make life a lot easier. Adding more hard drive capacity isn't difficult or expensive (rebate deals, regularly offered at CompUSA, Circuit City, etc., can make it downright cheap if you watch the Sunday ads carefully for a few weeks, for the occasional great deals to come along). You didn't mention specs for your current computer system. To edit in HD, you might want to consider a 2.8ghz P4 to be close to a minimum, for processor power, although there are ways to get by with less for a little while. Premiere Pro is definitely available and you could probably get a nice upgrade deal on it. You can get it at B&H Photo or from a number of other reputable vendors. You might want to give Vegas at least a look-see, before making a final decision on a software purchase (competitive upgrade offers are available too). You can shoot either standard DV, or shoot HDV and downsize it to SD if you wish. You might find the latter preferable (read that as, eventually you will). There are many methods for making video look more film-like, but it sounds like achieving a film-like look isn't exactly a burning issue for you really. I would think that some of the travel footage could have some longer term value to you if you shot it in HDV. The shelf life, as potential stock footage, would be much longer.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 10:10 AM   #11
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Sony HDR-FX1 vs Panasonic DVX100B

Yes, I did mean CineFrame 24.

To answer another question I have a 3.0GHz P4 with 1G RAM. Is that sufficient?

John's idea that I go somewhere I can see and shoot with both cameras is a good one. Thus far I haven't been able to find anyone in St. Louis that carries the FX1 or has the DVX100 in stock.

Why is SD better when shot originally at HD? I don't understand that yet. How much better?

Two nagging doubts perhaps you can help me with. First, I hear how good the quality is, but until an HD DVD recording solution is available and an HD DVD player, most people could not watch the HD you recorded, I assume?

Second, have any of you read the shootout article at //www.dvxuser.com/articles/shoot3/ ? Any responses that could help me evaluate it? I was leaning toward HD until I read the article so any thoughts on the article would be helpful.

Dale
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #12
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Dale: Your question: "I am currently using Adobe Premiere 6.5. I would like to upgrade to Premiere Pro--I checked somewhere a few months back and was told it wasn't offered any longer. If you know where I can get it, let me know."

Go to www.adobe.com. Latest upgrade is Premiere Pro 2.0. Will set you back about $200. Also see www.bhphoto.com
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Old February 27th, 2006, 01:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Lundy
To answer another question I have a 3.0GHz P4 with 1G RAM. Is that sufficient?
Yes, a P4 3.0Ghz should be sufficient for HD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Lundy
Why is SD better when shot originally at HD? I don't understand that yet. How much better?
The reason HD downconverted to SD looks better than native SD is simple. You are starting with 4.5x the resolution! There is simply so much more information to start with that details that the SD camera canít even see are getting included in the downconvert.

Think of it this way. Go get a 1 mega pixel camera and take a picture of something. Now get a 5 mega pixel camera and take a picture of the same thing. The 5 MP images has lots more detail. Now resize that 5 MP image to 1 MP with your favorite image editor. Iíll bet it looks significantly better than the one that was taken at 1 MP. Why? Because details are included in the downconvert that werenít even in the 1MP image.

For example, I shot a play this year in a venue that has a black curtain at the back of the stage. In previous years, with my SD camera, the curtain was just a sea of black. But with my Z1, I could actually see the folds in the curtain. When it was downconverted to SD, the folds were still there (not as detailed but still noticeable). Even my wife commented on the detail in the SD DVD I had made.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Lundy
Two nagging doubts perhaps you can help me with. First, I hear how good the quality is, but until an HD DVD recording solution is available and an HD DVD player, most people could not watch the HD you recorded, I assume?
Thatís correct. Most people canít watch it at HD resolution. But remember, even an SD DVD from HD source looks better today! DVDís that can contain HD are right around the corner. We are not talking about a $350 point and shoot camera here. How often are you going to make $3500 camera investment? Donít you want to "future-proof" that investment to last as long as possible? That is what you should be asking yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Lundy
Second, have any of you read the shootout article at //www.dvxuser.com/articles/shoot3/ ? Any responses that could help me evaluate it? I was leaning toward HD until I read the article so any thoughts on the article would be helpful.
Well... it was an article written by DVX users so you have to keep that in mind. It contains some facts, and some half-truths. It lost all credibility for me when it dedicated a considerable amount of space to making the case that 4:3 was a better format than 16:9 because most TVís are 4:3. Considering the DVX is only 4:3 and uses lower resolution and electronic stretching to achieve 16:9, I would say there was some ďbiasĒ in that article. Ďnuf said.

Look, if you want a true 24p camera and that is your most important buying criteria, then there is no decision to make. Buy the DVX100B.

If, however, you might want to occasionally use the 24p format, then IMHO, the FX1 is the better choice. You can shoot 60i and convert to 24p in post, or you can shoot CF24 and use Connect HD to reverse-telecine the footage back to 24p on capture (Iíve done this and it looks very nice). There are several plug-ins that can give you a multitude of cine gamma looks, and your audience will probably be none the wiser.

Bottom line: With the FX1 you can simulate 24p but the with the DVX you cannot simulate HD! Given they are the same price; I would have to say the FX1 is giving you more for your money.

~jr
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