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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 14th, 2006, 04:53 PM   #1
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Using a Z1 from a PD170 user?

I've been hired to tape an interview but the client wants me to use their Z1 in 16:9 with DV-CAM in SD mode.

I'm a PD-170 user and I've never touched one of these so I need a quick primer. Does white balance, exposure and focus settings work about the same? Do you set 16:9 in the menu system?

The client also doesn't want to use the stock mic so I'm going with a Senn ME66 on one channel and a wireless for the other. Is the audio setup similar to the PD170?

Thanks for any help.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 07:02 PM   #2
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I have a Z1, VX-2000 and PDX-10. The Z1 still does things the "Sony way" for the most part, but there are more menus to dig through.

White balance is a little different. There's a 3 position switch. In PRESET position the function is determined by the CAMERA SET > WB PRESET menu selection. In positions A and B you can set two different custom white balance settings using the WHT BAL right above the switch. You should see the white balance icon at the bottom right of the screen. If you don't, you on auto white balance. Push the WHT BAL button under the tape door to toggle between auto and the selector switch.

Make sure the AUTO LOCK...HOLD switch is in the center position, just like other Sony cameras. You should see the F stop, shutter speed and gain displayed on the screen whenever you're in full manual mode. If any of these aren't displayed then push either the IRIS, GAIN or SHUTTER SPEED buttons under the tape door to toggle between auto and manual. Be sure to double check this right at the beginning - it's a common source of confusion!

Focus, iris and zoom are pretty obvious I think :-) You can use the EXPANDED FOCUS button next to the zoom rocker to magnify the viewfinder, but it doesn't work while recording unfortunately. There's a 3 position switch next to the battery to select ZEBRA - OFF - PEAKING. Use this to choose zebra pattern (as set in the menu) or peaking - fringes around the area which is (supposedly) in focus. The peaking color can also be customized in the menu.

Gain is controlled by a 3 position switch. You have to program a value for each position using CAMERA SET > GAIN SETUP. STEADYSHOT is also on the same menu, and STEADYSHOT TYP gives you several options there.

To choose DV mode go to menu and choose IN/OUT REC > REC FORMAT > DV. Now you can choose REC MODE as either DV SP or DVCAM from the same menu. Just below that item you can turn DV WIDE REC on or off (you want ON for 16:9)

Make sure the camera is set to NTSC (if that's what you want). It should indicate 60i on the screen. If not, set it from the OTHERS menu - you have to scroll way down because it doesn't show on the first screen.

Audio functions are set using the AUDIO SET menu. Phantom power is set by little switches next to the XLR's on the front of the camera. Choose manual/auto levels with the switches on the back of the camera. Use the volume knobs for manual levels. Also note that the headphone volume is on the bank of buttons which are exposed when you open the LCD screen. Heh, if you're like me you'll keep reaching for the tape door to open the LCD until you get used to the camera ;-)

Take a little while to get used to it. I think it's a logical evolution from the PD series, but there are a lot of new menu items and buttons to find. If you have time to customize things, use the OTHERS > ASSIGN BTN menu to program the 6 user buttons. Also try the PICTURE PROFILE button for a function like the PD's custom presets but with lots more options. The STATUS CHECK button can tell you a lot; punch it then use the scroll wheel to change screens (including audio level meters).

Let us know how it works out!
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Old July 14th, 2006, 09:00 PM   #3
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Yea its easy to go from a 170 to a z1, i went from a 150 to one. The only thing i miss about my PD was the audio layout settings. It was far easier to choose mic/line and which channel the audio input was going to on the PD series. You have to do it though the menu on the z1. The only thing that is similar is the phantom power switches which are located down the xlr inputs.

But i guess if your in an interview enviroment then you'll have the time to set it all up.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, great information. I'll post how it went.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 10:50 AM   #5
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Boyd,

Great explanation!

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Old July 17th, 2006, 06:37 PM   #6
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Just finished working with the Z1U for the first time. Didn't have much time to explore but I got the essentials setup ASAP so I wouldn't hold up the interview.

The first thing I noticed was the camera's size. It wasn't as large as I thought it would be and it seemed lighter than my PD-170. Of course, my PD's WA lens might have a lot to do with that.

Got white balance figured out first then plugged in my LANC controller and that worked great. Don't know why Sony moved WB to the side but maybe it will help people like me who forget to press the audio level button before adjusting with the dial.

I liked the new iris wheel but the audio level wheels were a little to recessed and difficult to adjust compared to the PD. I would think someone with big fingers would have a tough time adjusting audio levels. Maybe that was an intentional design to prevent inadvertent audio changes?

Audio held me up more than anything and after some playing with the menus and switches got both channels to record independently. I'd need more time understanding the Z1U's audio controls since the PD seems much easier to setup IMO.

The thing I remember the most was that beautiful hi-res 16:9 image on the LCD. Almost enough to make me want to go out and buy one.

Special thanks to Boyd for taking the time to help out.
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Old July 17th, 2006, 07:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Harotunian
I liked the new iris wheel but the audio level wheels were a little to recessed and difficult to adjust compared to the PD. I would think someone with big fingers would have a tough time adjusting audio levels.
Glad I could help. I wonder if you looked closely at the cover on the audio dials? I didn't notice this myself until I'd had the camera for awhile, but there's a little tab just above the CH1 dial on the back of the camera. Pull this out with your fingernail and the cover opens up and pivots to the side. This makes it a lot easier to adjust the dials, but it's still a little weird. But I like having dedicated physical controls for audio.

I also prefer the WB location on the Z1 because I was always hitting it by mistake on my VX-2000 and PDX-10 :-)

Yes, the screen is really nice isn't it? It's also transreflective and looks great under full sunlight outdoors.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 12:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
I didn't notice this myself until I'd had the camera for awhile, but there's a little tab just above the CH1 dial on the back of the camera.
Wow, I've had the camera for 9 months and never noticed that! I always found it a bit difficult to do fine adjustments to the audio levels but this will definitely help.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 02:09 AM   #9
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Nice one Boyd, but you say:

''White balance is a little different. There's a 3 position switch. In PRESET position the function is determined by the CAMERA SET > WB PRESET menu selection. In positions A and B you can set two different custom white balance settings using the WHT BAL right above the switch.''

I don't like this w/bal setting as much as my old VX2k. On that camera there were 2 preset positions (daylight and artificial) that were split seconds apart under the scroll wheel. Stepping smartly indoors and out (at any sort of people-gathering) I could very quickly indeed switch the w/bal and know where I was.

But the Z1 only allows one to be placed under the 'preset', the other one being quite a few menu levels down. Am I alone in wishing for a return to the VX/PD system? OK, as a workaround I have 'preset' on daylight, and I've programmed two of the assign butons to be - and + for warming and cooling that, but I still have to push button 5 five times to change daylight to artificial. Precious seconds!

tom.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 02:15 AM   #10
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Tom has a good point there.
I too would like to be able to switch instantly the presets from daylight to tungsten.
It wouldn't have been a difficult item for Sony to have designed into what otherwise is a superb little camera...


Robin
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Old July 18th, 2006, 08:55 AM   #11
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Heh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't notice the volume control covers until I'd had the camera for a few months ;-) Actually I think the door is there to stop you from changing the settings unless you really want to do that.

Different strokes for different folks with the WB thing Tom. I think the Z1 WB is an improvement for the kinds of stuff I do, but I see your point. I don't think I'm alone in accidently pushing the WB button the the VX-2000 when I wanted to check audio level however. Awhile back someone posted how they messed up a shoot on the PD-150 that way and didn't realize it until they captured the footage since they were using the black and white viewfinder!

I also use the same trick with the daylight white balance shift buttons and that's one of my favorite Z1 features. Especially if you're in a place with mixed light sources (flourescent, tungsten, daylight) you can just punch it up and down until it looks the way you want. It's also great for shooting outdoor landscapes because you can quickly see the effect of shifting WB on the sky and trees (I often find that warming the default outdoor setting produces dramatic skies). Each punch of the button in that mode changes the color temperature in 500K steps from the default of 5800K.

But to pick something I'm not crazy about on the Z1, it would be the gain switch. I find it very limiting to only have 3 choices when shooting performances. You need to set one of them to 0dB, so if you want anything moderately smooth that forces you to set the others to +3dB and +6dB, but I often need to boost gain by 12 or even 15dB in really dark scenes when I'm zoomed all the way in. I wish they gave us a knob for the gain, or even gave us the option to control gain like my VX-2000 where it starts cutting in when you turn the iris dial past the full open position.

My biggest gripe is the LANC implementation. You can't zoom slowly using a LANC, which is a big problem for event work. My little PDX-10 can zoom much more slowly with LANC - see http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=55047

Oh well, I guess we have to learn how to work around all these things. All in all I really like my Z1.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
My biggest gripe is the LANC implementation. You can't zoom slowly using a LANC, which is a big problem for event work. My little PDX-10 can zoom much more slowly with LANC - see http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=55047
Boyd,
I plugged my Manfrotto LANC into the Z1U and it worked like a charm. Slow zooms in or out during the interview.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #13
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I guess it depends on your opinion of "slow"...

The slowest zoom I could get with the LANC on my Z1 was 22 seconds and others have observed the same thing, regardless of the brand of controller.

Now you are probably happy with this because that's also the PD-170's slowest LANC speed (or at least that's what I get on my VX-2000). But my little PDX-10 will give me a 45 second slow zoom with the LANC. To me, it's unacceptable that a $1,700 Sony camera has a zoom speed half as fast as a $4,700 camera.

This may not be a big deal in an interview situation, but try shooting a live event where you need to go from a full stage shot to a closeup. 22 seconds seems really abrupt. The Z1 does have a really nice, slow zoom speed of about 100 seconds using the rocker switch but it can't access this with a LANC controller. So I've stopped using the LANC for performances, but that's a real nuisance and it's really hard to get consistent results with the rocker because it has sort of a hair-trigger.

See the thread in my link for more info...
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Old July 25th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #14
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Audio Setup on the Z1U

I too just added the Z1U to our cameras (have the PD-170 as well). My question is that on the PD-170 you have the ability with a flip of a switch to be able to use your onboard (internal) mic on one channel and a XLR input on another channel (like a wireless lav or boom mic).

I have an upcoming interview where I'd like to use the on-board mic as ambient (CH1 or CH2) and a XLR input (either Channel) will either be a feed from my sound man or an input from a Sennheiser G2 receiver - audio coming from G2 bodypack / lavalier.

So far in my testing I've only been able to either use the internal mic or XLR setting as an input. I do have a shotgun I can mount and connect via XLR on CH1 and connect the line in or G2 in CH2 in XLR mode but am checking to see if I have the ability to use the internal mic along with XLR audio.

I appreciate any help with this...

Thanks!
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Old July 25th, 2006, 12:44 PM   #15
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You have a different PD170 to the rest of us Jason, because it doesn't have an onboard mic as such. The Z1 can only be used as onboard or XLR, they can't be mixed.
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