Z5 comparision to PD 170 at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z5 / HDR-FX1000
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.


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Old July 24th, 2009, 04:13 PM   #1
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Z5 comparision to PD 170

I'm on a shoot at the moment using a PD 170. I don't know this camera/chipset well and would like to know how the dynamic range/exposure latitude compares with the Z5 which I am considering buying.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:00 AM   #2
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Based on anecdotal info I've seen, sounds like the Z5 and PD170 are pretty similar in terms of ISO rating. Adam Wilt pegs the Z5 between ISO 400 and 500. The PD-170 should be very similar to the older PD-150 and VX-2000, although the gain boost is cleaner - see this old thread: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-vx21...so-rating.html

I would expect dynamic range to be better on the Z5 however because of the CMOS chips. For many years the PD-150 and PD-170 were considered the "low light kings" of the DV world, and the new HDV cameras such as the Z1 were about 1 to 1.5 f-stops slower. If you read threads in these forums now, it seems like we have finally reached the point where you can get comparable (if not better) low light performance on the Z5, Z7 and EX1.

The Z5 will also give you far more options to adjust the image than you find on the PD-170.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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Based on my experience with the FX1000 (same chips as Z5) this cam is not the HD equivilent of the PD170. I've shot 125+ weddings with the older Sonys, 15 or so with two FX1000's and a few with the Panasonic HMC150.

First of all if you're die hard Sony, or even if you just like Sony cameras, the Z5 is a nice camera and you would do worse. If you are shooting most of the time in well-lit conditions it is a fine camera.

It's low light rating is not as good as the PD170 however, and the FX1000/Z5 does not hold its own above 12dB gain as the PD170 did. At 12db it is acceptable for sure. Of course there are those that will tell you you shouldn't shoot above 12DB gain anyway, but that is a subject for another debate.

FWIW, for the last week I've been editing a project shot with the FX1000 and the Panasonic HMC150 and I strongly prefer the images of the Panasonic. The audio from the on board mic of the Panasonic was absolutely abysmal, but image-wise it is gorgeous.

I have heard the images from the z5/fx1000 called beautiful, and I don't get it. IMO, they are satisfactory, no more, no less. The Panasonic's images have the blackest blacks I've seen of any 1/3" chip camera. Most people that disparage the Panasonic do not own one as I have. I've seen people in the Panasonic forum who own both and they usually prefer the images from the Panasonic.

Low light with the Sony is technically better, but the Panasonic holds up much better under increased ISO/gain. You didn't ask about the Panasonic, but I'm telling you because I happen to be editing its footage mixed with the Sony and I thought I'd throw it out there.

The Z5 is a very nice camera, with tons of features. You could do worse.

BTW I sold the Panasonic, AVCHD was not fun, and the pain of converting all my cameras from Sony to Panasonic was not a pretty prospect, so I ditched it, but as I work on this current project with the Panny footage I definitely wish I had it again.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:59 AM   #4
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Thx for the info Boyd

On the issue of dynamic range, do you have any idea how good this range is and how it compares to the JVC 200 series?
And besides that, is the lens sharp at full telephoto.

I saw a post earleir today on another forum that stated it was best to transfer the shot material from MPEG 2 to another format [didnt mention which] for editing. He said the edit would stand up better to the riggors of editing by doing so. Do you know anything about that.
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Geoff
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:04 AM   #5
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What they meant was if your shooting HD the m2t files are difficult to edit directly and you can/could/should convert them to proxie files for editing. then you render using the original files. Vasst Gearshift is the simplest way to accomplish this.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #6
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Thanks Jeff, interesting perspective on things. But I think the FX1000 differs from the Z5 in that it doesn't shoot in progressive mode, does it? You could pick up another f-stop by shooting at 1/30 sec shutter 30p on the z5. You wouldn't want to do that on the PD-170 because resolution would suffer a big hit due to field doubling.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #7
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Thank you Jeff

Yes I had not thought much about the Pana range. Dont like the notion of a Ps card costing a lot of money. Sony have had a good reputation for a long time and the durability of their units is a factor.

Thats a bit disturbing that the low light capability is not as good as a camera a few years older. Bit surprising. So I will think about that. I downloaded several scenes and they looked pretty sharp and within contrast range. How it handles daylight backlight or shadow/highlight is what I need to know more about.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #8
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The FX1000 shoots in 30p and 24p, but in a 60i wrapper.

I'm not a fan of 30p or 24p with this camera, too jerky for my taste. Depends on what you are shooting of course as to how well it would work. I shot a choir in 24p that had very little motion and it looked great.

Yes you can gain stop shooting a 1/30th but again depends on what you're shooting, but I don't have to tell you that Boyd, you already know that!
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Jak View Post
Thats a bit disturbing that the low light capability is not as good as a camera a few years older. Bit surprising.
I don't really think that's a fair comparison. The PD-170 only shoots 720x480 interlaced DV. To level the playing field you could downconvert the z5 HDV to regular DV. That would allow you to use a higher gain boost on the z5 which would surely give comparable results. I've done this myself with a Z1 and find it quite acceptable - and the Z5 is certainly more than a stop faster than the Z1.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #10
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Cards for avchd cameras like the Panasonic are $15-$30, very cheap. It doens't use PS cards.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 10:02 AM   #11
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Shooting HD and downconverting, as several us us in this forum have found, is the same as shooting in SD to begin with, there is no advantage. Several of us have tried it different ways.

One thing I'll say for the Sony, it is a good looking camera. The Panasonic is butt-ugly.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #12
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Geoff, there are several rabid fans of this camera who will dispute virtually anything I say about this camera, so my take will not be the final word, you will get other opinions.


I feel with onboard lighting and at higher gain the Panasonic is superior for quality of image, but as you can see I stuck with the Sony, so obviously it cannot be that bad!


In the end you have to choose for yourself. Another issue I had with the Panasonic is it has no SD option, which is still important part of my work.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 01:30 PM   #13
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I hope I don't come across as a "rabid fan"! The original question was "how does the latitude/dynamic range of the z5 compare to the PD-170." If the question is now "what camera should I buy", that probably belongs in a thread with a different title.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 08:40 PM   #14
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I have a VX2100 and the Sony Z7. While not the same camcorders you are asking about, they are close enough for a comparison. As for your original question about the comparitive dynamic range, from what I have shot, the dynamic range of the Z7(and Z5) is obviously better than my VX2100. I shot some footage of some oil field workers under bright sunlight on Tuesday. One of them had a bright white hard hat and I could expose perfectly for the face and the hard hat was not blown out at all. I was impressed. While the VX2100 is a great camcorder, it would not handle that situation as well.

In regards to low light capability, my experience is that the image from the Z7 clearly blows the VX2100 away at 0 db gain. If you do have to add gain, at 6 db I still prefer the Z7 image. But if you have to go higher than 6 db, I think you can get away with more grain with a MiniDV camcorder than than you can shooting in HDV. To me, it seems like the grain is just more obvious when the camcorder has more resolution. I always shot lower gain numbers on my BetaCam than I would on my MiniDV camcorder. And I use even less gain on my Z7. I generally don't go above 6 db gain on the Z7, if I can help it. When I was shooting on my BetaCam I would usually limit myself to 9 db gain. On the VX2100, I would occasionally go to full gain (18 db) without too much worry.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #15
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Boyd: my comment about die hard Sony fans was not in any way directed towards you. And your right, as to what camera to buy does indeed belong in another thread, and I got off track.
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