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Sony HVR-Z5 / HDR-FX1000
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Old November 15th, 2009, 11:44 PM   #1
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Sony HVR - Z5 Focus Problems!

Hi my name is Brendan Wing, I produce a TV show here in Australia called YouFishTV, which, in the past has always been shot on Sony Z1P's and FX1's. I have joined DVInfo to get some advice and help with a new camera I have just taken delivery of, the new Sony HVR-Z5P. I bought it as my older Sony cameras were getting a little unreliable.

IMO the big pro's about the Z5 are: we dont need to run a Wide converter as it is native 29mm and it works in much lower light and can be switched from Interlaced to progressive.

The big negative so far is the fact that the camera is intermittently searching for focus whilst shooting at night under strong lighting. This is a massive probelm for us because 50% of our work is done at night in boats. Imagine you're filming away talking to the host fighting a fish and then the fish of a lifetime surfaces beside the boat, you pan down to look at it (like youve always done) and BANG, the camera looses the plot and blurs out for a second or so until it locks on again. ITs costing us big time and I wanted to know if this is a common complaint about the Z5P or am I doing something wrong. I really need to know what to do as I have no confidence in the camera at all now and have been leaving it sitting idle whislt the old cameras continue to soldier on.

Some background info: We use LED Flood lighting overhead and halogen mounted on camera aswell. We have NEVER EVER had this problem in the past or even now using the Z1 nd FX1 and we always use it on AUTO due to the fact we are moving so much and the action is so intense. Thgere is no possible option of going manual in our scenario not should we if the predacessor cameras never needed too. We shoot in 1080i and will need to continue to do so for some time. ND Filter OFF, Auto Focus and Auto Focus assist ON.

It really feels as though i have downgraded and wasted my money as I have a $6000 camera sitting there I cannot use. To be honest I thought i did my research and I was very happy and excited to be picking up and using this new Cam but now I am just deflated and frustrated. SO can any of the experts in here guide me and tell my what is causing my issues and if there is a possible fix.

Please HElp,

Winga
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Old November 16th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #2
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This issue you describe is the same with the FX1000 and something that does not endear the camera to me, among other things. Under certain conditions the auto focus can be VERY slow with these cameras. There are many scenarios when auto focus is handy if not necessary. As an aside, the video school students I ocassionally hire invariably resist using any auto features and their footage usually comes out spotty at best.

I personally use auto focus as a starting point, in fact I use full auto as a starting point in most all situations, then go into manual and adjust from there, as the auto feature usually starts out nearly perfect except for backlit situations. From there with minor manual adjustments I can usually stay on track. If/when things go crazy, I switch to auto again and start over.

All I have found I can do is go into manual focus at certain points and use that setting until it needs to be changed...remember you do not have to be in full manual mode. To keep the camera you will need to learn how to use your manual focus, which can be done. It will just take some practice; even with fast paced scenarios there is a rythym to things. You will eventually learn when to go into manual focus to avoid losing focus.

The only solution other than that I can think of is to move to a different cam with quicker auto focus, though I have no idea what that would be.

I suspect that the Panasonic HMC 150 would not fit into your workflow, and you might investigate the EX1. I don't know if the EX1 has quicker auto focus or not, but if it does it might be your only solution other than learning to work with the camera you now have.

Good luck. This slow auto focus issue, among other things caused me to feel somewhat disappointed with the FX1000, but I have learned to work with it. It has certainly made me a better shooter. For fast action filming under the conditions you describe the Z5 would certainly be a challenge to work with but it could be done.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #3
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I never ever use auto-focus and wouldn't recommend anybody to do so unless they wanted that auto-focus video camera look.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 10:31 AM   #4
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Wow, Brendan, that is quite a website/business you have going there.

BTW, you can go into the controls for your account here on DVinfo.net and set up the "instant notify" feature so that you can receive an email when someone posts a response to your thread. Lately I have found the notifications a tad slow, but it is a very useful feature when you don't need to constantly check in to see if you've received some help.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #5
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I agree with Jeff and Justin, learn to use the manual focus. The Z5 has tools that will help, like Peaking and Extended Focus.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #6
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Brendan, bottom line, unfortunately you will need to adjust your shooting technique and put more work into using the camera to get the images you want.

I came to the camera from the VX2100/PD150 series of cameras and the auto focus was very quick. I was forced into learning using manual focus because I bought two of the cameras almost simultaneously and I felt stuck with them.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; November 16th, 2009 at 03:15 PM.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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As Tim stated, the peaking feature is a must if you want good focus. I was a little disappointed with the Z5 auto focus as well but now I shoot much more in manual. Truthfully, without the peaking I wouldn't trust the focus much. Just make it an assign button so you can turn it off.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 06:42 PM   #8
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Manual focus is not an option and from experience no camera man is good enough to do it in the environment we wrok. The speed at which we work when a fish is jumping etc or the focal length change from an anglers face to a fish in the water is so quick it has to be auto focus. I think I will sell it and go back to second hand Z1's, they are brilliant focussing tools, never ever a hint of focus search. etc.

The Z5 is just crap. It says low light but the grain as a result is also bad.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 12:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendan Wing View Post
The Z5 is just crap. It says low light but the grain as a result is also bad.
Well Brendan, if the Z5 is just crap and you are selling it, I am offering you $200 for this crap camera and I will pay the transport costs.

Stelios
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Old November 17th, 2009, 12:51 AM   #10
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Brendan, the slow focus issue might be a CMOS issue, as the Z1 was CCD if I'm not mistaken. You might see if you can get your hands on a Panasonic HMC150, which is also CCD. It might have a faster auto focus.

On the low light issue, though, the Z5 is well known to be superior to the Z1. If you use the camera again, reduce your auto gain to 12db and your grain issue should improve a lot.

The Z5 requires adjusting out of the box, and has taken me a long time to adapt to. I personally have never cared for CMOS chips.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #11
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thanks for the advice and email too guys. Gonna sell it and got a Z1 lined up cheap. Thatll do until they fix it up. THe things a z1 will do still amazes me in editing, the 3.0lux is still ok for what we do which is under good lighting. cheers agian

Might even look at one of these 5dMkII while im at it.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 05:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Stelios Christofides View Post
Well Brendan, if the Z5 is just crap and you are selling it, I am offering you $200 for this crap camera and I will pay the transport costs.

Stelios
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Offer rejected.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:26 AM   #13
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Hopefully your not lookiing at the Canon for the video for your fishing show.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 10:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brendan Wing View Post
Might even look at one of these 5dMkII while im at it.
LOL - you're not serious are you?
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