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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 June 26th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #1
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Z1U versus A1U

dear all:
I just bought the A1U with the wide angle converter and the big battery; when you compare it with the Z1U (withouth wide angle and Mic) the size and weight it is similar;
I almost ready for change it (the A1U for the Z1U); I like the more control you have with the Z1;
questions;
a) is the incorporated Mic of the Z1 better, equal ot poorer than the XLR of the A1?
b) More important; what about the image quality?
I have read the A1 has a problem with the red; obviously the Z1 should be better because it should capture more light, details and it has 3CCD;
c) Last but not least, do you have some statistic about the change from the DVD to HDV? is it a great tendency or are we in front of a slow change?
Thanks and sorry for the extention of the qeustion.
Marcial
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Old July 9th, 2006, 08:25 AM   #2
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Here are the things I notice about the Z1 vs. the A1:

1. Less smear with the cmos in the A1 (ie, you'll see less "lines" stretching out of bright light areas, like the sun reflected on a building).

2. The A1 handles low light well, maybe slightly better than the Z1.

3. I like both gain options, though I notice a little less noise on the Z1 in higher gain modes. (It's well known that the Z1 has very clean images when the gain is turned up vs. other HDV and DV cameras.)

4. To come close to hitting the Z1's image, you may have to put the color level up a bit higher on the A1. Experiment with both until it looks good.

heath
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Old July 11th, 2006, 11:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
Here are the things I notice about the Z1 vs. the A1:

2. The A1 handles low light well, maybe slightly better than the Z1.

heath
From my experience of shooting with both cameras side by side, the Z1 strongly outperforms the A1 in low light.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:41 PM   #4
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Yes everything i've ever read implies that what Patrick says is correct.

I'm really quite surprised Heath thought that the A1 handles low light well and even possible better than Z1.

And i think the included Sony ext.mic on Z1 is the same as on the A1, but not 100% sure on that issue.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:55 PM   #5
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Actually, the Z1 doesn't (or didn't when I got it) come with an external mic - only the built in stereo mic. I guess they assume that if you can afford the camera, you can afford a decent mic.

Honestly, if you can afford it (both in size and cash flow) the Z1 is a better tool. It is much more flexable, better in low light, and has great picture control. Plus (the reason that I enjoy the Z1 more than the A1) the LCD screen is much sharper which make it much easier to judge on camera video quality.

I'm personally hoping Sony intros a Z2 or something, so I can pick up two inexpensive Z1's to replace my A1's.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #6
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That's right - the Z1 doesn't include any sort of mono mike, just the same built-in stereo mike that the FX1 has and an empty mike holder. I believe the A1 uses the same mono Sony condenser mike as the PDX-10 and PD-170. I have one of these, and it's OK but probably not what you'd buy if you were mike shopping.

I wouldn't hold my breath for a Z2 anytime soon.... this has been beaten to death in "area 51" :-)
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Old July 11th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
[...] I believe the A1 uses the same mono Sony condenser mike as the PDX-10 and PD-170. I have one of these, and it's OK but probably not what you'd buy if you were mike shopping [...]
That is correct, the A1 comes with a Sony ECM-NV1 phantom powered electret condenser short shotgun microphone. It's acceptable, but you'll be happier with a nice Rode, Audio-Technica, or Sennheiser microphone. The one good thing about it is that it makes for a good back-up mic and it gives you time to shop, compare, and really decide the right mic for your shooting.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 07:40 AM   #8
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I have both cameras and often shoot side by side. No question that the Z1 is much better in low light. I love my A1 for its light weight and great picture quality in daylight where it is very close to the Z1, but as soon as the light drops I put it away and reach for the Z1 every time.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 09:52 AM   #9
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Interesting comments. I thought the A1 was much worst than the Z1, but it seems to hold its own quite well.

Of course it should have some shortcomings, like not being so good in low-light. But then no one would go for the Z1.

An accurate comparison would be with the FX1, which is closer in price.

In any case, as I am considering selling my PDX10 and buying an A1, to use it as a second camera along an FX1 or Z1 or any other HDV camera, it does seem to be a good choice.


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Old July 13th, 2006, 08:11 AM   #10
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Agree......my FX-1 is better


Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Pike
From my experience of shooting with both cameras side by side, the Z1 strongly outperforms the A1 in low light.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 09:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlos E. Martinez
Of course it should have some shortcomings, like not being so good in low-light. But then no one would go for the Z1.
As things stand now the FX1/Z1U deliver a cleaner low-light image than other HD cameras in the same price range, and with careful post enhancement can deliver a usable image from the light of a single candle. Not a great image compared to some SD cameras, but a usable one.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #12
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In low light, I consider the A1U to be unusable!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graeme Fullick
I have both cameras and often shoot side by side. No question that the Z1 is much better in low light. I love my A1 for its light weight and great picture quality in daylight where it is very close to the Z1, but as soon as the light drops I put it away and reach for the Z1 every time.
I agree. In fact, I shot the fireworks in Oceanside, CA a few days ago just to compare my Z1U, my A1U and my new XL-H1. All three camcorders were set up side by side and were all set to full auto with factory default settings, except for 24F on the Canon.

The Z1U footage was clear and sharp. The fireworks and the lights on the pier in the foreground were clear and sharp and the sky was dark, almost black, and the video noise was minimal. There was, of course, some vertical smear which is a normal characteristic of 3 CCD camcorders.

The XL-H1 footage was best and the 24 fps motion was exquisite, but that discussion is for a different board.

The A1U footage was another story. The footage was muddy, the fireworks were soft and unclear with lots of smear (the smear was almost like a blur effect you might use in post). Lights on the pier glowed with big halos and the video noise was so bad that the footage was unusable. It looked like it was shot with a cheapie $100.00 MPEG camera. I mean the footage was really really bad.

During the day, the A1U takes fairly good footage but it is a good deal softer than Z1U footage. Footage shot outdoors is very good on the A1U, but still softer than the Z1U. Footage shot with the A1U in low light is poor at best.

In normal room settings with practicals, the A1U still needs help (more lighting) because the noise level is too high. IMHO, in weddings, events, and paparazzi work, where you depend upon available light, the A1U's performance is poor.

Overall I think the A1U would be a good camcorder for shooting porn where a lot of light is used, quality is secondary, and production values are of little concern. However for professionals and serious shooters, this camera is truly substandard.

I regret purchasing the A1U. Go with the Z1U.

And if quality and 24 fps is your thing (it's mine), go with the Canon XL-H1 (IMHO). I know because I wrestled with this purchase for quite some time. I shot many hours of footage before purchasing the H1. I also attended Canon's XL-H1 show at Paramount's Studio 19 in Hollywood to see what others thought about the XL-H1.

I have had many opportunities to compare the Z1U and the XL-H1. I must also say that after using the XL-H1 for a few months along side the Z1U, and even with the XL-H1's problems with chromatic abberation at wide angles and zoomed shots, I finally got to a point that I never picked up the Z1U any more.

The Z1U is a great camcorder overall for the price. The XL-H1 is the best of breed if 24 fps and quality is your goal but it is almost twice as much as the Z1U. The A1U is mainly useable in outdoor settings with lots of light.

I will continue to use the A1U in run-and-gun shoots in daylight because of it's light weight
and ease of use, if, and only if, no other camera is practical.

Sorry for being so harsh about the A1U but I have used it a great deal. It has some strong points, but its low light performance is abominable. It's a good light-weight tool in daylight, but it doesn't get much use. There are too many other good cameras out there, and I own two of them.

--Dave
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