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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 August 2nd, 2009, 03:17 PM   #1
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'Back Focus' problem with Z5

Hi guys, been happliy shooting with my Z5 since April this year.

At this weekends weddings, I noticed a problem with the focus, the very same problem that happened to my FX7 last year, this problem seems to be know as 'Back Focus'

My normal method of focussing (zoom into full tele-zoom on subject, ajust focus, then zoom out to desired framing)

Problem is that all of a sudden, when I do this, when I zoom out to wide, the whole frame is out of focus.

I took some stills at todays wedding to illustrate the problem (not the best lighting conditions but its fairly obvious that there is a problem)

Pic 1 = Fully zoomed into object (a light stand) I adjusted the focus, it read 9.8m.

Pic 2 = After pic 1 was taken, zoomed out to full wide, didnt touch the focus ring.

Pic 3 = After pic 2, I then adjusted the focus as it was obviously not correct, the focus meter read 0.3m


This was done with macro focus set to 'on', and focus assist set to 'off',

I tried all combinations of macro focus and focus assist, but the problem was the same.

I didnt think it would an issue with any of them as I have been shooting with the above settings since I got the camera an its been fine (until this weekend)

Has anyone else had this problem with a Z5/FX1000?

I'm covered by the silver support thingy, but I can't afford to be without my camera, even for 7 days, as I have weddings to film every friday and Saturday till October!

Any help, advice, suggestions as always are much appreciated

Thanks

James
Attached Thumbnails
'Back Focus' problem with Z5-pic-1.jpg   'Back Focus' problem with Z5-pic-2.jpg  

'Back Focus' problem with Z5-pic-3.jpg  
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 04:46 PM   #2
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Your stuck, there's not many options.

You either need to buy an extra cam, rent a cam, borrow a cam, or not send it in.

I'm in the same boat, I have another issue and I can't send the camera into Sony because I've work to do.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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Hi Jeff, thanks for replying.

Whats the problem with your Z5/Fx1000?
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 09:10 PM   #4
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One cam has a dropout issue and another one has a bad microphone input.

One also has what appears to be a slowly deteriorating tape mechanism as it opens sometimes, sometimes not.

These cams are, IMO, more cheaply built than my past Sony's. They used plastic where there used to be metal for the tape mechanism, and just the fact that two different cams have issues says a lot to me.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 07:23 AM   #5
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Please help!

So I sent the camera back to Sony (had to send £100 hiring another Z5 over the weekend!)

They've emailed me saying this:

"Hi James

We have conducted a hot/cold testing, and checked the unit over a period of 2 days with no fault found. We have just checked the unit over now and concur with this, but would like to add the following information which may contribute to the lack of focus.

Firstly the unit has focus macro set to on (stated in notes and as camera is set up). As you know, the macro function is used when the subject is less than 3 ft from the front of the lens; you were focussing on a subject at about 9.8M (approx 32 ft). Use of the macro lens means that optimal focus is within the macro range, not at further distances.

We also believe that low lighting conditions such as the ones in the photographs may have a detrimental effect on the quality of focus.

(For a focus deviation this bad, if the lens was faulty we would expect it to generate a 6x error). To this end, because the error log is full of "Battery too hot" and "Non-Standard battery” errors we advise you to replace the battery with the original to prevent these error occurring and concealing the lens error (the error log only has 6 entries).



Best regards"

Now its may be possible that the problem has magically fixed itself, but i doubt it.

The camera is due to be delivered back to me today.

If (as I suspect) the camera has not magically fixed itself, what can I do to prove to Sony that there is problem?

I'm thinking I would go to the hire place, ask to do a side by by side comparison with their Z5, take stills etc....

Anyone have any thoughts?

FWIW, the level of customer service from Sony Prime Support so far has been less than stellar.

Cheers

James
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Old August 19th, 2009, 08:36 AM   #6
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James, as Sony commented you shouldn't have been using Macro Focus as your subject was more than 3 feet away, and the lighting was very poor. So based on the example you gave us it was your using Macro Focus and poor lighting that caused the focus problem.

How does the focus work in well lit conditions?
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Old August 19th, 2009, 09:10 AM   #7
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Hi Jeff,

I keep focus macro on as I tend to do alot of 'shift/rack' focus shots at my weddings.

That was my first thought, so i turned focus macro off, problem was still there.

Lighting conditions dont make a difference either, it just so happens that the stills i took were in a darkened room.

I just got the camera back, and, at first inspection, the problem seems to be fixed ?!?!?!

The only difference (and this may well be obvious to some but it wasnt to me) is that when I sent it back to Sony, I removed all accessories (as instructed)

This included removing a UV filter that I was using as a lens protector.

When I first noticed the problem, I took the UV filter/lens protector off, but the problem was still there.

Is it possible that the problem was casued by using a UV filter/lens protector? And jus took a bit of time to correct itslef after I removed it? Seems like long shot.

If it is the UV filter/lens protector, what can I do to protect my lens!?!?!

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to discuss it with me,

I'll do a proper test at this weekends weddings.

Figers crossed
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Old August 19th, 2009, 12:15 PM   #8
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I agree with Jeff. I think "focus macro" contributes to the problem. The V1/FX7 seemed to have back focus issues but many of the problems could be contributed to focus macro being turned on.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 02:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Strange View Post
I keep focus macro on as I tend to do alot of 'shift/rack' focus shots at my weddings.
I've also heard of this happening with the macro function. Why don't you just assign it to a quick button if you use it that often. That way you can turn it on and off when you want and hopefully alleviate your focus problems.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Strange View Post
If it is the UV filter/lens protector, what can I do to protect my lens!?!?!
James you don't need a lens protector with the Z5, since you have the lens hood attached in front of the lens. It's very very unlikely that something will damage your lens. I believe that the UV filter/lens protector is a myth...

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Old August 20th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #11
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Don't give up!

Hi, James . . .

Sorry to hear about your back focus issues with your Z5. When you get your camera back, go over EVERYTHING you can think of to test your unit for back focus issues.

Assuming the problem hasn't been fixed, I would do a test shoot and then output it to Blu-ray or DVD for Sony to see, if you have to return it to service again. You could talk your way through the test, mentioning what distance you are from your subject (showing the problem on screen as you talk). And tell them what to look for as you narrate the test footage. We had a hard time getting someone at Sony to view the footage. Either they watched the video without listening with audio -- or they didn't pay much attention until I forced the issue.

I have had two years of fighting with Sony of Canada over back focus issues for both my V1U camcorders -- and then BOTH my Z7U's. The Z7U has a back flange adjustment for the removable lens system that simply does not work right -- at least with my cameras.

Bottom line: Sony kept returning my cameras over and over and over again saying they were "repaired" or "nothing is wrong" . . . well, there is something wrong. Only after complaining to the top at Sony did anything get done . . . and it was even then still a battle.

The only way that the Z7U back focus issue was ever resolved was Sony putting on a talented service tech to totally set up the focus of the camera from scratch. The interesting thing I learned was that the focus couldn't simply be corrected by one simple adjustment. Careful calibration of the focus was achieved by doing adjustments and corrections at every one of the ND filter settings. If focus was only fixed for, let's say, ND 3 -- then focus when using any of your other filters would be just as bad as before.

The problem I had was that nobody until quite recently had any idea of what to do. And nobody at Sony service took any initiative until writing to the President of the company and others -- then all of a sudden -- the cameras worked. Amazing how that happens.

Keep on top of it!

Let us know how your repair works out.

Ian
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Old August 24th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #12
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Just picking up on this "focus macro" do you guys/gals have it set to on or only enable it when required. As its default is set to on then I can't see why it would cause an issue.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Greg Laves View Post
I agree with Jeff. I think "focus macro" contributes to the problem. The V1/FX7 seemed to have back focus issues but many of the problems could be contributed to focus macro being turned on.
How do you turn off the "focus macro" of the FX7? There is nothing mentioned in the manual.

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Old August 24th, 2009, 05:11 PM   #14
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Hi guys, I got my Z5 back from sony, and shockingly enough, the problem is still there.

Its DEFINITELY nothing to do with focus macro being on or off. The problem happens whether is on or off, likewise lighting conditions don't make a difference, it happens in bright sunlight, it happens in a dark room.

I've uploaded a raw .m2t file so you guys can see it for yourselves.

its at FILES


Ian, do you still have the letter(s) you sent to high level sony folk? I'd love to have a read and maybe 'borrow' some choice phrases.

Its such an obvious problem I cannot beleive sony repair centre 'tested it over a period of 2 days, and found no fault'


With regards to focus macro, I also thought that since the default setting was on, that it is fine to shoot with it on, i find that it gives you a better focal range (for want of a better phrase)

Anyways, have a look at the file and let me know your thoughts

Again, any help/suggestions are much appraciated.

Stelios, I also have an FX7, I don't think there is 'focus macro' setting, but the FX7 suffers from the same fault (mine does anyway)

Cheers

James
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Old August 25th, 2009, 03:52 AM   #15
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I think it is just a matter of not enough light, to allow the auto focus to perform its job. Under such circumstances I prefer to focus manual.
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