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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 May 29th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #1
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Extra small camera as backup

I have the Z1u (or Z1p in Australia) and I need a more touristy looking camera in some more delicate situations.
In New York, a Panasonic NVGS 500 caught my eye. It is not fully automatic and has 3 chips.
Would the forum recommend this camera as a backup camera able to shoot 16:9 to intercut with the HDV material. I know the output is SD but I am prepared to wear that.
I do not want to purchase the smaller Sony HDV camera because I have read so much about blue cast and general picture quality. I wonder if the NVGS 500 will produce better pictures.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:33 AM   #2
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To be frank, I do not see how you could expect an SD camera to match closely to the FX1/Z1 systems. They are two different worlds in resolution terms. Now if you are telling us that everything you do will eventually end up SD, then thats okay, but if everything is staying SD, IMHO, I think the Sony A1 most closely meets your requirements.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:01 AM   #3
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John,

I have a Z1 and use an A1 as the backup - a very good match. Despite what you have read the A1 is a very good camera, and intercuts very nicely with the Z1, and if you pop off the XLR adapter it looks very much like a handycam and doesn't attract attention - but the picture is nothing like a handycam. SD material looks very amateur intercut with the Z1.

Do not buy an SD camera for backup - you will soon regret it!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #4
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I'm not sure if you would be happy with an SD camera either. But if you think it would meet your needs then see if you can still find a PDX-10 (which was recently discontinued). It does very nice 16:9, has manual controls, removable XLR and an image which reminds me a lot of the Z1 (although obviously lower resolution).
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Old May 30th, 2006, 09:03 AM   #5
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If you don't want to spend too much why don't you go with a HDR-HC3? I've the exact same video shot with the HDR-HC3 and the HDR-HC1 and you really can't tell the difference. The HDR-HC3 has a lot of limitations though when it comes to manual control. I have a FX1 and I would give it a try with the HDR-HC3 and the HDR-HC1. If you are planning to keep everything on SD I'd try a pdx10. It's a great little camera with native 16/9 and it's not TOO hard to match with the Z1/Fx1 footage in SD. It's not the best option for low light shooting though.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 09:45 AM   #6
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John, the A1 (or the HC1 which I have) is the only palm sized cam available that shoots decent HDV. I'm not a fan of the HC1 due to skin tones in manual and ease of use. But for point and shoot, bare bones, it looks like a tourist cam, (unless your attach an XLR mike, light, and shoulder rig to it...)
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Old May 30th, 2006, 10:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graeme Fullick
I have a Z1 and use an A1 as the backup - a very good match. Despite what you have read the A1 is a very good camera, and intercuts very nicely with the Z1 [...]
I want to enthusiastically second that, the A1 can intercut very well with Z1 footage. I did a casual test comparing side by side images shot with the HVR-A1U and HVR-Z1U and I was very impressed with the A1's performance compared to the Z1, where the A1 falls flat on it's face is in terms of low-light performance and the creature comforts of true manual control, but don't let the tiny size fool you, the A1U is a very strong contnder.

If you do end up intercutting SD footage with your HDV footage, you'll find in post it can help to add a little bit of sharpening (in addition to the usual set of color correction tricks, but don't overdo the sharpeining it as it can make things look worse) to the SD footage so it will intercut a little better
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Old May 31st, 2006, 06:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for inputs but puzzled about output format.

I have been assiduously checking out prices and will probably get the HDR-HC3. It is considerably cheaper than the PDX10 and the A1U. Quality except in low-light sounds acceptable. I think it will do the job.
Two things surprise me though.
One is no reference to any other brand of camera but Sony. Nothing worthy?
Two is the assumption that I may not be outputting in SD. We must output in HD.
In Australia at the moment there are no commercial editing houses that can use HDV footage and produce a HDV master. As far as I know, all the production companies output on SD.
Furthermore, no television doco distributors require HDV masters, which probably means that television broadcasters are not using HDV masters for transmission.
Because we make docos for world distribution, we ouptut on SD.
We shoot on HDV because we know that eventually the situation in Australia and worldwide will change but when we produce an HDV master we will need to re-edit the programs.
I would like to know how other television doco producers view output formats.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Sullivan
I have been assiduously checking out prices and will probably get the HDR-HC3.
But it doesn't even have a mic input or headphone output. Get the A1 (or HC1 if you can find one).
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Old June 1st, 2006, 07:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Sullivan
[...] We shoot on HDV because we know that eventually the situation in Australia and worldwide will change but when we produce an HDV master we will need to re-edit the programs. I would like to know how other television doco producers view output formats.
I think you are wise to shoot in the best format your budget allows, finish in the standard that is currently being used for distribution, and thus you have the option to go back and remaster in 16:9 HD when the time comes.

The short of it: for any material that has long term licensing and/or rental potential, it's crritical to shoot with the best format budget and prudence will allow in order to "future-proof" your production and help maintain it's value into the future. I think "future-proofing" is critical, especially in these times of rapid technological change. Anyone who has old material shot in 16mm film can transform their materials into spectacular HD, however, all this DV material is going to look pretty bad when intercut with HD materials, so these are my concerns as a producer of programming that has a long shelf-life.

This philosophy drives all of my days to day decisions. For example, I recently completed a short 16 min. documentary that will be distributed and also used to raise funds for completing a feature-length version in the future. We shot the interviews in HDV with a HVR-Z1U (one of the funders provided us with a Sony HVR-Z1U to use on the project, part of their motivation was being on the leading-edge of small camera aquisition). We completed the piece for it's premiere screening and DVD distribution as a 10-bit uncompressed standard definition master (we had a mix of HDV interviews and SD B-Roll, much of it originated on film, but no budget for the short version for a film to HD transfer).

Now we're ready for the future, since all of the interviews were originated in HDV, and we can easily remaster in any other format. I'm sure by the time we complete the feature-length version, 16:9 HD will be a requirement. The more HD I see on television (we have several friends who have taken the plunge) the more I'm concerned that SD materials are going to look increasingly dated.
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Old June 1st, 2006, 04:59 PM   #11
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HarmlessCam

I have a Z1 and an HC1. I need a HarmlessCam in a number of shooting situations, and the HC1 doesn't raise eyebrows or attract attention. Using it, I am just another civilian. And the video match is quite good, unless you are into the fine video tolerances, which frankly, aren't noticed by a viewer. When traveling, it solves a space and weight problem. I was carrying and FX1 (which I loved) as a spare camera. But the HC1 will serve that need nicely.
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