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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 December 8th, 2009, 11:00 PM   #1
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HVR-Z5U / NXCAM -Focus, Zoom, Iris Rings

It is to my understanding that the upcoming Sony NXCAM will have the same Sony G lens and chassis as the Z5U...

Assuming that is correct, then I am concerned about two aspects of the new NXCAM based on your feedback regarding the Z5U. How is the feel and effectiveness of the by-wire rings on the Z5U? My main concern is the manual focus. Does manual focus have a mechanical-like, smooth feel? Is it truly usable manual focus?

Also, I would like some feeback on the weight of the Z5U particularly when used handheld? Is it impractical to handhold for prolonged periods?

Thanks, Rick DeBari
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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:39 PM   #2
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So much of this is based on personal preference and feeling, that I think your best bet is to head down to NYC this weekend (not Saturday) and check out a Z5 in person at B&H. That's what I'd do. If these issues are of concern for you, than others' opinions may not hold true for you.

But here's my 2 cents anyway: They're fine, and yes, it's heavy. But I never shoot handheld, ever, and rarely even touch the rings. I use a LANC controller on a tripod virtually all the time. The rings move more smoothly than mechanical rings would, but obviously lack the tactile feedback of a real mechanical ring. The Z5 doesn't have the bulk of the Z1 but it's close; with the included shotgun mic and optional MRC1 and 970 batt attached to the back it weighs in at 6 lbs, 4 oz. I can't imagine ever hand-holding this beast, but I suppose others might.
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Old December 9th, 2009, 09:43 PM   #3
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The rings move smoothly with a little drag but not much. That being said though, the resulting action doesn't lag or jitter like on some of the older cameras I have used in the past. On a PD150/VX2000 (at least in my experience), you could do an ok manual focus, but not a smooth zoom, especially at the beginning when you'd start to turn the ring. On the Z5 it's completely responsive when you start to turn it. At least mine is. The exposure ring is fluid w/o any stepping in exposure (nice). Hope this helps.

You know, if this is an issue with you, have you consdiered just biting the bullit and buying the Z7? What I didn't know about the Z7 before I got the Z5 is that the included lens has automatic functions AND can be fully manual. It's only about $200 more if you were considering the MRC-1 recorder (with a Z5) because it's included with the Z7. Also, there are a couple other nice focus features I don't think are avail on the Z5 (like focus memory ...for pulling a programed rack focus). I probably would have gone with the Z7 if I had known about these features.

Mark Goodsell
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Old December 10th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #4
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I've used a Z1u on a few occasions in the past and I'm assuming this NXCAM would probably be better although I only held a Z5 briefly at at a show, never for a gig. I was able to get very good focusing with the Z1u's ring. I didn't notice any issues at all. Holding a Z1u for many hours is an another story.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #5
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Thanks for the good info guys!

If I go to B&H to check these things out in person I best not bring my credit card. Otherwise, I will no doubt walk out with either a new EX1R or NXCAM!
RD
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Old December 12th, 2009, 12:35 AM   #6
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Well, the NXCAM's not available yet, so you're safe there if you go soon....
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Old December 12th, 2009, 07:35 PM   #7
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Most likel;y the same picture quality. Of course, since there is no tape transport, it will be lighter than the Z-5/7 series. I still prefer my SONY which I use in tandem with the flash drive recorder, especially if the picture quality is the same. The tape is a good backup to my files...but that is my own personal opinion.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 07:34 AM   #8
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NXCAM series it should be slightly better than Z5 and the rest of the HDV camcorders because it records 1920x1080. And the AVCHD codec is quite a match for hdv, actually some said that it outperforms 35mb/s XDCAM (less artefacts). It should be lighter but the reviews sad that the prototype has about the same weight.
I can't wait for the release of this camera.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 03:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lou Bruno View Post
I still prefer my SONY which I use in tandem with the flash drive recorder, especially if the picture quality is the same. The tape is a good backup to my files...but that is my own personal opinion.
That's the reason I didn't go with the EX1. Tape is still the most reliable and easiest for storage.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:54 PM   #10
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...Of course, since there is no tape transport, it will be lighter than the Z-5/7 series...
I wouldn't necessarily make that weight assumption right now. For instance, Panasonic HPX170 didn't drop in weight compared to the HVX200 with drive. You have to separate the hype from the reality. Manufacturers are not dropping tape because they are coming up with great new technology. It's just that tape mechanisms are an expensive component in a camera. Any weight that's "saved" by dropping the tape drive can be made up with flash card accommodations and circuitry. And there is no impetus for the maker to make the subsequent model any lighter.

Also resolution specs are not the last word in sharpness either. I've tested "full HD" (1080) images against a really good 720 image such as those you'd get from a JVC ProHD series of cameras. On a 30 high res monitor, clients always preferred the 720 image to the shots taken on the 1080 camera whose name I won't reveal because I know about flames.

Still, I am very curious about how Sony will implement its first pro-level AVCHD cam. The numbers say AVCHD can produce a significantly superior image over HDV but I've never sold a client "numbers." I sell images and that's what matters in the end.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Rick DeBari View Post
Also, I would like some feeback on the weight of the Z5U particularly when used handheld? Is it impractical to handhold for prolonged periods
I quite regularly do handheld shoots with the Z5+light for two to four hours. While my arm does feel it the next day, it's certainly not impractical - and I'm a relative newbie at this.

So while it could be lighter, hand holding it is ok in my experience.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 09:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mark Goodsell View Post
Also, there are a couple other nice focus features I don't think are avail on the Z5 (like focus memory ...for pulling a programed rack focus).
The Z5 does this - it's called a Shot Transition and it works well - although it requires pre-programming to set the start and end positions, so it's not really something you can do on the fly without interrupting recording. You can transition zoom, focus and iris, set the transition time and you can even set some curves (which you can't do on the Z7).

Once you have set up your start and end shots, you can transition between them in any direction repeatedly on demand. It's a great feature, and I use it a lot.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:20 AM   #13
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I was able to get very good focusing with the Z1u's ring. I didn't notice any issues at all.
REALLY?!?!? In my experience the Z1 is absolutely the worst focus set up I have ever used. I use One Touch Auto almost exclusively with the Z1 when I'm forced to use it as the focus ring on my client's unit is so useless - I'll be focused at 5 - 8 feet and turn the ring SLIGHTLY and the display now says infinity. Ruins a perfectly good tracking shot nearly every time.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 04:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Rick DeBari View Post
...Does manual focus have a mechanical-like, smooth feel? Is it truly usable manual focus?
Also, I would like some feeback on the weight of the Z5U particularly when used handheld?
I'd like to address the question of "feel" and usability on the focus ring of the Z5. My short answer is "it's good."

Others seem to have issues with the focus and zoom ring. I'm not one of them. I believe both are dampened enough. Any less friction and zooms and focus would be inconsistent. Any more friction and you'd be moving the camera during adjustment.

While I tend to focus by feel, I miss the ability to see a scale on the focus ring. But it isn't too hard to get used to.

Since I handhold a video camera rarely, I can't say much about holding the Z5 for long periods of time. When I DO hold the camera, I don't think it's overly unwieldy or impractical. For events or times when I'm recording and need to move quickly in crowds, a monopod with a pan and tilt head gives me stability and takes the weight off. I've toyed with the idea of a shoulder mount kit but that seems to be restrictive. I also like Sony's solution where a wearable suspension harness can hold a camera via a collapsed monopod. This should be acceptable in place where officials might give you the evil eye if you were to lay down a tripod or monopod.

Dave
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