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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 20th, 2007, 04:42 AM   #1
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easy questions for any FX1 owner..

Hi,

I was about to buy a second panasonic DVX100 for weddings when I saw that i can get a HDR-FX1 for the same price. I have read a lot about the low light performance not being excellent on the FX1 and using standard sony premium DV tapes is as good as the HD tapes but have some other questions..

I have read about needing a higher spec PC to edit HDV.. Or at least needing some more software to capture? I assume I do not need a higher spec pc as such as it still records onto DV tape and therefore file size and properties of transfered video will be the same as for example the PD150 that I also have? In short if I use a 720x576 PP2.0 project containing footage from an FX1 as well as a standard def camera will I be wasting the capabilities of the FX1 or will it still look higher resolution?

What frame rates does this camera shoot in? Does the PAL model have a 25p mode?

Ive seen HD video feeds on HD plasmas and its incredible. Im not expecting a camera that records onto DV tape to be as good as this, but do you think there will be a noticeable improvement from standard 3ccd camera footage (XL1s, DVX100, PD150)

Also does this camera have native 16:9 mode and if so can I switch it back to 4:3 and crop it in post if required as this is what i do with the DVX so would probably have to do that with the sony too.

Any other tips would be much appreciated..!

Last edited by David J. Payne; July 20th, 2007 at 05:47 AM.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 07:55 AM   #2
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You can downconvert from the camera, so that would let you use your DV software. Much better result editing in HDV and rendering out to PAL or NTSC. Editing HDV requires computer grunt, but there are ways for working around that if necessary (at least in Vegas). Capturing not a problem, but DV software won't do it. There is free HDVSplit and PP should be fine. The camera has a cineframe mode that records pseudo 25P, by discarding a field and interpolating; quite good, actually. The camera is 16:9 native and that is its only mode; crop to 4:3 in post.
The general thing is to work in HDV through post and render out to whatever you want. If you down-convert (or record) in camera to DV, you'll not see better resolution than DV. Depends on your work, but best results are obtained by converting m2t to avi using the Prospect HD codec (for PP) and editing with that, rendering down to SD at the end gives results very superior to working with SD. Vegas 7 cuts native HDV very well and many people find DIs unnecessary. Don't know about PP, but I believe it has the capability.
Finally, buying SD equipment is a waste of money. This is still a debating point with many, but that's rather debating whether the world is flat. However if all your gear is SD and you can buy another camera that you need for almost no money because its SD, then you are probably justified. That's all a business decision; to stay in the stables or to run with the horses.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #3
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well the thing is theyre exactly the same price.. so like you say, i cant see the benefit in buying another SD camera, however a couple of people have said the DVX has better picture quality despite being SD vs HDV. This i cannot understand..

So are you saying that by filming in HDV and editing in a standard 720x576 timeline I will still see an improvement in the HDV over the SD?

Thanks for your reply. It seems there is a lot more software considerations than I first realised.

edit: i should explain the problem I have with creating a HD timeline in PPro and editing with that is that I will also have a 2nd cameras footage in there which is SD. Im not sure what I should do in this situation... short of buying 2 of the sonys!
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Old July 20th, 2007, 08:42 AM   #4
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If you already have a DVX100, then buying another one makes sense because their color, sharpness and everything else will match up nicely in edit. It really doesn't make sense to have a DVX100/FX1 combination shooting in a live event. Editing and shot matching will be a pain.

The FX1 will have much better low light performance so if you're willing to take the chance with shooting with mixed cameras and all the associated headaches, then go for it.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 08:49 AM   #5
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Your other option is to shoot in HDV and get the camera to downconvert to DV when you capture. You will have a HDV tape that you could re-edit in the future. This will give you a 16x9 DV video to edit with now. The FX1 will also shoot standard DV in 4x3 too. So you could just use as a DV cam in the interim till you get a second HDV camera. As far as performance goes in my experience the image is better than the DVX100. I have only used the DVX100 original model so my comments are comparing this to my FX1. The DVX100 shows unacceptable grain above 6 db but I often use 12db on my FX1 with a better image. This results in better low light performance than the DVX100.

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Old July 20th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #6
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thanks a lot guys. Ive read that the FX1 doesnt perform too well in low light but you guys say it does.. that was always one thing that I thought the DVX100 did ok. Compared to my previous camera (XL1s) anyway.

I agree it will be a huge pain with mismatched colours and quality for the time being. I suppose what you are saying is 2 FX1's are better than 2 DVX100's but possibly 2 DVX100's will be be better than one of each...

Am i making this more complicated than it needs to be...?!

From an editing point of view, after playing around with PP's presets I cant see how I could edit together FX1 widescreen footage with SD 4:3 footage without scaling up the SD footage and losing all the quality. Any ideas on this?

Last edited by David J. Payne; July 20th, 2007 at 09:37 AM.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 10:45 AM   #7
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David..

I own two HDR-FX1's and I can say firsthand that the lowlight performance is *NOT* that particularly good and I'd venture to say that the Panny 100 probably does a better job in low light situations.

With that said, virtually EVERYTHING else about the HDR-FX1 is superior. When I purchased mine nine months ago, It was straight up between the Panny 100 and the FX1 despite the FX1's costing about $500 more combined. Frankly, it was probably one of the best decisions I could have made. I simply love the 16:9 HDV image this camera brings in.

Yes, you need a much stronger computer to natively edit HDV footage.

My recommendation.......

Hold off on buying any new camera as long as you possibly can... Then, when you have to... Go buy (2) brand new Canon A1's. You'll get a few more features plus a true 24frame mode in the Canon over the Sony's.

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Old July 20th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #8
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Compared to a VX2000 or PD150 the FX1 doesn't do as well in low light but because the gain does not create a lot of grain the FX1 is very good in low light. The FX1 also has custom profiles so that it may be possible to get it close to the DVX100 in colour etc.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans View Post
Your other option is to shoot in HDV and get the camera to downconvert to DV when you capture.
Ron Evans
While this is convenient, I've read that in-camera conversions from HDV->DV are not as sharp as what is available with the top editing programs. I've never seen a comparison, so perhaps I'll get to one and post some examples and even some stills. However, I did the in-camera conversion for some DVD projects shot with a Z1, and, without direct comparison, they appeared to be better (color, clarity) than what I could shoot with my Sony VX2000.

Last edited by Gints Klimanis; July 20th, 2007 at 01:19 PM. Reason: more info
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Old July 20th, 2007, 01:28 PM   #10
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David..
I own two HDR-FX1's and I can say firsthand that the lowlight performance is *NOT* that particularly good and I'd venture to say that the Panny 100 probably does a better job in low light situations.

... stuff deleted ...

My recommendation.......

Hold off on buying any new camera as long as you possibly can... Then, when you have to... Go buy (2) brand new Canon A1's. You'll get a few more features plus a true 24frame mode in the Canon over the Sony's.

Jon
I have an FX1 and a Z1 and agree with all of the light sensiitivity comments. To get the same exposure, you have to open the aperture about 1.5 stops . I find myself using the +6dB instead of shooting wide open to get a little more focusing leeway . The sensitivity of the 1/3" chip (FX1,Z1) cameras is better than the 1/4" chip (V1/FX7), so even today, I'd go for the 1/3" devices. I hope Sony's successor to the Z1 , which apparently is not the V1, will not be a step down in light sensitivity.

As for buying HDV, go for it today. My only regret is that I put off going HDV until September 2006.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 03:10 PM   #11
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is there anywhere i can see some video samples of FX1 footage? I had decided to buy another DVX until I came on here before and it seems HDV is worth the extra.

I have 2 major concerns..

1. will i actually see a difference in quality between the DVX100's SD footage and the FX1's HDV when I burn to an SD DVD

2. what steps i'll need to take to be able to capture and edit the HDV. and especially in order to put 16:9 HDV on the same timeline as SD 4:3 footage.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Payne View Post
is there anywhere i can see some video samples of FX1 footage? I had decided to buy another DVX until I came on here before and it seems HDV is worth the extra.

I have 2 major concerns..

1. will i actually see a difference in quality between the DVX100's SD footage and the FX1's HDV when I burn to an SD DVD

2. what steps i'll need to take to be able to capture and edit the HDV. and especially in order to put 16:9 HDV on the same timeline as SD 4:3 footage.

The problem here David is that this question opens up an entirely new can of worms. As for mixing 16:9 and 4:3 on the same timeline, this is entirely dependant on the NLE software you are using. I happen to use Vegas and it is doable on Vegas. As far as what steps will be necessary to edit HDV, it's going to require a fast computer. Are you working on PC or a Mac? If a PC, I really can't recomend anything other than the fastest of AMD X2 processors or the Intel Core 2 Duo processor as minimums.

Jon
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Old July 20th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #13
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IF one compares the DVX100 and FX1 at an indicated 0db then the DVX100 looks brighter. That is NOT the whole story though. The DVX100 becomes unusable with 6db of gain. The FX1 can be definately used even 12db and consequently can be used in darker environments to get a good picture which is the real test not of the numbers. You will need to use gain on the FX1 to match the picture brightness of the DVX100 but when the DVX100 falls apart with poor grain you can keep on going raising gain with the FX1. I too use between 6 and 12 db on my FX1 a lot to keep the aperture in the F4 range for greater depth of field so that I don't have to keep focusing.
As far as editing in Edius or Vegas with a 4x3 DV project the 16x9 HDV on the timeline can be cropped ( or even pan and zoom in Vegas) and then encoded for DVD from the timeline.

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Old July 20th, 2007, 04:34 PM   #14
 
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The DVX will perform better in low light, end of discussion. It's far fewer pixels on the same size sensor, and of course it will perform better in low light.
It'll also be softer not only due to the lower resolution, but by nature of how it generates widescreen images.
The FX1 won't perform as well in low light, it's easily two stops down, but the far superior DSP of the much newer technology allows for some very impressive processing, so that you can get a more clean image. I have maybe 10 shooting hours with an FX1, maybe 1000 hours with a Z1, and not too much more with the DVX. I'll take the FX1 over the DVX any day, but it can't be sugar-coated, any DV camera will generally perform better in low light than any HDV camcorder or AVCHD camcorder available today.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 04:48 AM   #15
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thanks a lot for this guys its proving really helpful. The lack of low light performance on the FX1 is not the end of the world.

People tend to agree it will give me better picture quality in good light, as i'd have expected.

This decision now hinges on the post production side of things.

Specifically:

1) file size of HDV compared to SD as I transport a lot of footage onto different PC's to edit. Spec of PC's should be ok as they all have AMD X2 or dual core P3's.

2) Will i still be able to see the better quality of HDV over SD once I convert it to SD mpeg for a DVD

3) Putting the two different aspect ratios onto one timeline in premiere pro 2.0. (Do I use their HDV timeline - 1440x1080, the pal 16:9 or the pal 4:3 timeline - both 720x576)

If anyone has just a short 1 second raw clip from a FX1 I could do some tests and answer all of my questions...

Thanks again for all of your help, and sorry to drag this on..
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