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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 July 13th, 2006, 03:49 PM   #1
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Z1U handling

I'm dumping my XL1s, and getting a couple of Z1U's. I can't find one local, and will have to travel to philly to check'em out. Anyway, I've searched and only found image comparisons. My question deals with handling and getting the shot in live events.

I shoot corporate stuff, and a good deal of stuff in the hospital ORs, where you don't get a rehearsal or second take. The XL1s is not the resolution king for SD, but having quick access to focus/zoom rings, push button focus, and a quickdial iris, it rules. For those of you folks whom have logged some considerable hours in the trenches with these sony's, do they perform the same? That is, how well laid out are the manual controls vs. the XL1s?

Is the cam more happy on a tripod, or is it at home on a rig? The XL1s is a forward heavy cam, it's not a true shoulder cam. So, I use a three point varizoom brace (the one with the abdomen arm), and assume it would suit the Z1U as well. How do these cams perform for run and gun?

Unlike the movie crowd, I'm all for details. That is, if I shoot a needle, I have to see the needle. How's the edging and detail while in motion?

I have about two months till purchase, and hope to get my hands on a rental before then. What concerns me most is paying more attention to getting the shot, than fighting the camera.

I could go for an H1, but could get two of these Sony's for the same cost. I'm not really a fanatic about any particular camera, those days are over. It's the final output matters, and I need a camera that will work with me in getting the shot. Thanks.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 04:27 PM   #2
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Hey Peter! No experience with the XL series, but I know the Z1 is a lot smaller and lighter. See the following for discussion of shoulder braces:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=70660
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=57910

I suppose you might be able to rent a Z1 from Videosmith in Philadelphia, but if you just want to play around with it then why not trek up to NYC and visit B&H Photo? They have them setup along with all the other popular cameras in a "shooting gallery" with a miniature village sort of set and you can play to your hearts content then even make your purchase while you're there. And if you've never been to B&H it's well worth the trip just to see the place :-)

Or if you have a hard time setting any of this up then contact me privately. No promises, but I might be willing to bring my Z1 and shoulder rest into the office in Philadelphia one day for you to try, but it would have to be a brief session right there on-site.

Again, I don't know how it compares to the XL, but the controls on the Z1 are a big improvement over my VX-2000 and PDX-10.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 07:30 PM   #3
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The trip to NYC sounds cool. I wasn't aware that BH had a "video village" :)
(I could probably get the company to fund the trip and make a day of it. They owe me for missing out on NAB...)

I was set on renting for this last shoot from videosmith, as you recommended earlier. Turned out that the physician and our marking team thought it best to do a walkthrough instead. So I brought my HC1 and XL1s anyway. I told them I needed to test for our HDV upgrade and get a feel for the location (which I did). Long story short, I like the video from the HC1, but I need to have the controls of the XL1s. (Being able to find the controls without looking away from the viewfinder is critical).

I'm hoping that the Z1 does it for me. Then again, at BH I'd get to put the H1 through it's paces as well, (my local vendor cancelled his H1 orders and is using a pany HVX instead. Not the right tool for my needs).

Do you know if BH has decent parking? I've gotta schedule this trip. Thanks Boyd!
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Old July 13th, 2006, 08:33 PM   #4
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You are kind of limited to what you can do at B&H in that the cameras are glued to tripods and you can't handhold them. Also, they have been set and reset and tinkered with so many times that its hard to draw a bead on their true abilities. If you want to really play with this camera, and you are coming to NYC, I would suggest that you try Abel Cine. They are much more knowledgable then the salesman at B&H, will allow you to hand hold and play with the camera as much as you want, and have a nice unhurried enviornment for you to play in. If you are in the city when I am, I would be happy to meet you and let you play for a couple of hours with mine.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 09:40 PM   #5
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Heh, yeah the demo cameras at B&H have seen a lot of handling. B&H has a lot right across the street - see the info on their website. I think you get free parking with a $100 purchase. B&H is at 34th and 9th, which is not far from the Lincoln Tunnel so you don't have to deal with much NYC trafifc. But personally, I like being able to park and lock the car myself. You can do that at the Madison Square Garden garage, around 34th and 10th. But be prepared to pay in the $15 to $20 range IIRC....

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...08274,0.015643

I'm sure Abel is a good place also (another of our sponsors :-)

http://www.abelcine.com/store/home.php

But regardless of where you buy, B&H is worth the trip because there just isn't anywhere else like it!
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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:00 PM   #6
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I'd like to visit both locations. However, I may get an opportunity to rent a few times. I may just visit BH for the sake of taking possession, (I'm not a fan of fedrex or UPMess when it comes to sensitive equipment).

I've carefully studied the brochures and various pictures from the net. It seems the push button focus and iris knob are properly spaced and within thumbs reach of each other. If I use a rig, I could keep one finger on the iris knob and thumb the push button focus. If I'm quick, I can reframe the action and get enough material to work with, cutting out the framing fodder. (The ratio of framing fodder to usable material, if you will, on the HC1 is much higher than even the XL1s).

I can see where it'll take some practice to get the feel right. I may score the focus button surface so I can find it by feel alone, as it's proximity to similiar settings buttons may make it difficult.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:18 PM   #7
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Yes, you can reach both controls but I wish they had made the location and shape of the PUSH AUTO button a little easier to find personally. I also wish they had made the MENU button unique - it's easy to hit the PICTURE PROFILE or P-MENU button by mistake. Heh, I guess that's better than hitting the shutter speed or white balance button accidently like you can on the VX/PD series ;-) One other little gripe: in manual mode, be careful not to move the scroll wheel unless you have pushed the MENU button. Otherwise you'll change the shutter speed!

I'm like you, I'd much rather buy something in person at a store - that's how I got my Z1. Just be aware that you'll pay NYC taxes on a store purchase. Now as far as Pennsylvania is concerned, you're liable for paying the 6% sales tax even if you order over the internet (see http://www.revenue.state.pa.us/reven...4&revenueNav=|), but I think the NYC tax is 8%.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:06 AM   #8
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Yes, definately visit B&H, even if it is just for the experience.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 01:15 PM   #9
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We have 3 z1u's and the biggest complaint from the shooters was handling noise with a microphone mounted in the mounting clamp. If we mounted a rubber band mount on the cold shoe it blocked the use of the flip screen. As a result I invented an accessory adapter that allows a rubber band mount to be located on the sside of the camera, using the camera mic clamp. This has eliminated all handling noise, and leaves the top shoe open for a light and radio receiver.


Take a look : WWW.THEJ-ROD.COM
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Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
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(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

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