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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 May 13th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #1
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New FX1000 Owner

Hi!

I recently sold my XL2 in favor of a camera which can record high definition video and I ended up buying an FX1000!

I love the camera, you can view some of my videos I have taken with it so far at: Blue Belton Productions on Vimeo

Anyway, I have some questions from a new owner!

First off is batteries. What do you all recommend and where should I buy them? Keep in mind I am located in Canada...

Secondly, I will need a charger which perhaps can be used with a car lighter outlet or inverter, as a great portion of my footage will be taken in the field and I will need to charge up in the field. I looked at the Sony charger, but 200 dollars seems a bit steep considering I just spent just over 3 g's for the camera...

I am thinking of a CRC-15 raincoat for water protection...have not decided on a case yet however.

Using a manfrotto HDV501 head with a set of york legs...it is a decent field setup I am happy with.

For sound I am somewhat perplexed. Not sure whether to fork out a couple hundred for a rode video mic and wind muff or to just hold off and spent a ton on a wireless system...\

Thanks for your replies!
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:08 PM   #2
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Glad you like your FX1000. I loved mine as well, and only sold them to move up to the Z5 -- essentially the same cam with a few extra features I wanted.

Whenever I buy a new cam, I always get two Sony NP-F970s to go with it. Life is too short to risk on knockoffs; buy the real thing. The two-pack costs more than buying two individually at most places. I always buy from B&H. Virtually any charger will work, though, and many can charge (or at least hold) two batts at once.

The Rode VideoMic is nearly perfect for your system. For mounting on-cam, you don't need anything else. But off-cam, wireless is a good option (a lot of folks like the Sennheiser G3 series), or you could get a Zoom H4n.

Petrol and Porta Brace make some nice cases.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 12:51 AM   #3
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I second what Adam says about batteries. I happen to have a bunch of FP750 batteries left over from my VX2000s, and they work fine for what I do. In shooting weddings and stage performances, I've gone well over two-hours on an NP 750 with my FX1000. When I buy new batteries, however, I've been going for the 970s. Last time I looked, there was only about a $20 or $30 (USD) difference between the NP770 and the 970, so it doesn't cost that much to get the bigger batteries. I've been persuaded ( a couple of times) to try after-market brands) but always wound up taking them back and getting Sony-branded batteries. The after-market brands (whose names I can no longer recall) had trouble communicating with the cameras (VX2000s) and wouldn't charge reliably (especially when run from an inverter). Never had any such problems with Sony batteries.

A good place to buy them is from one of the DV info sponsors. (Though, I'm not sure how that works when being shipped into Canada.) You also can find the batteries at some big-box electronics retailers, on-line sellers, and Sony also sells them direct. Last time I looked, the prices were all pretty close when you factored in shipping.

As for carrying cases, I have to ask, what are you carrying, where are you carrying it to and how are you getting there? Is the case only for hauling your FX1000? Are you looking for hard cases that you can take on airlines or just something to hold everything in one place when you drive out to the field? Are you looking for a soft case? Or something else?

The reason I ask these questions is that there is no one recommendation here. Cases and bags are a personal thing. For me, neither a hard case nor a bag would work. I never have to fly to a gig. I do a lot of multi-cam shoots (weddings, stage shows, etc.) as well as legal work (such as video depositions.) That means I haul a lot of stuff around with me. What worked for me was adapting a Stanley Fat Max rolling tool box from the hardware store. It holds all five of my cameras (including an FX1000). The Fat Max has lots of compartments for all the fiddly connectors I seem to need from time to time. It also holds my various microphones, a couple sets of earphones, MRC1 units, extra batteries, and etc. I can pile my tripods on top when rolling into a gig. I can plop the thing on a rear seat in my car and strap it securely with a seat-belt.

This is great for me but could be useless to somebody else. If I ever had to hike into gig, it would be worse than useless.

Much of the same kinds of things can be said about determining which microphone(s) to use with your FX1000. The answer almost always turns out to be more questions about what you want to record and where and how. You mentioned using the rig "in the field" which makes me think you might not be interested in a wireless lavalier system.

The Rode mic that you noted can be a good start if all you are looking for is a shotgun with a somewhat narrower pick-up pattern than the the FX1000's on-board mikes. The Rode comes with a shoe mount and, if I recall, it also uses a 1/8 inch mini plug so it should connect directly into the FX1000.

Adam mentioned the Sennheiser G3 wireless system. A nice thing for you would be that the receiver uses a 1/8th inch mini-stereo plug, so you would not need an XLR adapter to use it. However, (a) it costs about 4 times what the Rode costs; (b) it comes with both a lavalier/bodypack as well as an XLR transmitter (although you would need to buy a shotgun mike and mounting system to use it that way); (c) you can only use one kind of mike (lavalier or shotgun/handheld) at a time; and (d) you still need to buy a shotgun mike and a mounting bracket.

If you are looking for a mike to mostly use on camera, the extra expense of wireless set up plus buying a separate shotgun mike might not be worth it for you. Good shotgun-type microphones can be had for somewhat more than than the Rode though less than the G3 system and can be hooked up with readily available cables. Of course, if you go that route, then you've still got a couple of additional items to buy. You need something something to mount your mike to your camera (the FX1000 does not have a built-in mike holder like on the Z5) and you'll need some kind of XLR adapter (most decent shotguns have XLR connections rather than the 1/8th inch mini plugs.) Try scanning B&H for video camcorder brackets. (Or you could try what I did and cobble mounts together out of a shoe-bracket, some threaded rod and a mike-holder from a Radio Shack mike stand).

Several companies make XLR adapter boxes (passive mixers) that will work with an FX1000. Over the years, I've acquired ones made by Sign Video and Studio 1 and have recently used them with my FX1000. (I've also borrowed a Beachtek.) They can provide you with the ability to take line-level inputs (say from the sound system at an event) and convert them into mike-level inputs for the FX1000. They are designed to fit between your tripod mounting plate and the base of the cameras. This is convenient but can make the FX1000 somewhat bulky for handheld shooting. I learned to live with the bulkiness when I was using VX2000s earlier in the decade. Some of the adapters now come with belt-clips and cables long enough to reach the ports on cameras like FX1000s. If you are shooting mostly from your tripod, the bulkiness won't be an issue.

If you have or are planning on getting an MRC tapeless unit and plan on using it at the same time you will be running an external mike, be aware that there's only one shoe on the FX1000. You will need to think about alternative mounting methods or brackets. (Search "video brackets" at B&H and you'll find an interesting array of add-on brackets including some which provide a side-handle that can make it easier to hand-hold your now bulkier FX1000).

Lastly, if you are looking for shot-gun microphone, be sure that you are looking at ones that take their own batteries, preferably standard AA or 9v that you can pickup almost anywhere. The FX1000 does not provide a means of powering external mikes.

Can't comment on the CRC raincoat.
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Old May 15th, 2010, 11:12 AM   #4
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Chris,

Here are some thoughts from a few years of experience:

Battery: I'd go to Ebay first to shop for one or two brand new Sony FM970 batteries (not knock offs). These batteries last a LONG time in the field, especially if you use the viewfinder more than the LCD. You are going to really have to use your camera a ton to run out of juice with these batteries, plus what you already have. That said, I really have fallen in love with the new Sony Dual battery charger. Check on Ebay, maybe there is a 12v adapter for it, or another charger that works off 12v. I've purchased genuine Sony batteries in new packs off Ebay multiple times and I got a great deal and never gotten stung. B&H is also good and if you feel more comfortable, that go with them.

Mic:
Here's my honest opinion on the mic situation, see if this fits with your wants/needs. You are correct, good audio is almost as important as good video. Depending on what content you are shooting, you might need 'Either' a good on cam shotgun, mic on a boom, or wireless. Or, like most shooters, you 'Will' need all three at some point in time. That's why I ponied up for the Z5 because of it's better audio features. Still, your cam can produce good audion if you have the right set-up. I like a good on cam mic as most of my talent shots are up close. Wireless is going to be pricey and that might be something you save up for. I don't find myself using wireless as much as I probably should just because of the hook-up process.

My experience is, if you are going to use an on-cam shotgun mic, wind noise will be major concern. I haven't had much luck isolating wind noise with a mic muffs ...and I've tried. I've tried the Rycote Softies too, which are pretty overpriced for what you get (IMO) and even then I was still getting wind noise and rumble from wind blowing over the mic itself (even though the pick-up portion is supposedly 'shielded'). They work better on a pole I think. I haven't used the Rode mic you listed, but there are a couple things that I noticed that would concern me: 1) The footprint seems like the mic will interfere with opening up the LCD, making you have to remove the mic to open the LCD. That would be a huge pain in the ass to do every time. 2) Mic quality seems to increase with price. I'm sure it's a nice mic, but consider something with a little more punch, like a higher end Rode or NT. 3) Wind noise will be a factor my hunch would be ...even with a 'furry' on it. A Furry will make it somewhat better, but not cure the problem in windy conditions, my hunch is. 4) The Videomic will stick up like a sore thumb and personally, I like compactness. 5) No matter what, I would encourage you to keep looking for a mic situation with a shock mount, or make one. I believe Rode was offering a free blimp with purchase of one of their mics a while back. They might still be, don't know. You could adapt that to your cam.

Check out the following pictures. Here is what I did with my VX2000 mic situation after years of other so-called solutions I tried and spent good money on. This is a style of mic holder you could loosly adapt to your rig (only on other side of cam) for just a few bucks and a few hours of work. I guarantee you would be satisfied with the results. No wind, it's compact, great on cam audio:

The blimp actually doesn't protrude as much above the cam handle as it looks like in the pic.


I did something similar with my Z5.

There are a lot of little tricks but the results tuned out great. I will outline them below. I adapted a similar strategy to my Z5 mic setup. Here's what I did.

First Choose Your Mic:
I personally chose a Sennheiser ME64 with a K6 powering module (cause your cam doesn't have phantom power). I like this mic set-up because it's compact and isn't quite as directional as the ME66 and most other mics. It's actually cardioid, not hyper-cardioid. I wasn't getting enough off-axis audio with my other shotgun mics. Really happy with this mic. Then 'Make' a wire adapter, xlr to 1/8". Get a 1/8" plug from radio shack with plastic housing, cut off the end of the housing and drill a hole in the side and route your wiring through there. That will make a very compact '90 for you. Fill the hole with silicone RTV to keep the wire from wiggling. Then, get a longer metal XLR adapter (B&H) and install your own capacitor and resistor there per instructions off the web. I threw the rubber part away from the back of the XLR because it added an unnessary 1 1/2" to the length. I filled the back with silicone and covered with yellow tape which you can see. If you do this, you'll have made a great adapter that won't take up a lot of room. Sounds hard, it's not. I think you can buy one of these but at the time I was looking I couldn't find one. Plus my wire and assembly is no longer than it needs to be and I've never had any problems with interference. You can go with an XLR adapter but then you got another piece of crap hanging from your cam. If you don't need it, you can be more rouge w/o it. If you need the extra input, then go with the adapter.

Then Make A Mount:
The goal here was to have a blimp that was both effective and unobtrusive. For my VX2000 I made it so it would be off to the side. You'll want to do this with your cam, only like a mirror image with the mic hanging on the RT side so you can get the LCD open. I fabbed mine up from scratch and welded as per necessary, but you could buy adapters like listed below and weld or screw a frame onto it. Here are some pieces that you could adapt to help make things easier:
Audio-Technica | AT8469 Camera Shoe Mount to | AT8469 | B&H
Testrite | Flash Shoe Adapter | PRO-A5 | B&H Photo Video
General Brand | Flash Accessory Shoe with Tripod Socket | SF947
.
I used the cheap shoe just for the metal shoe piece and threw the plastic piece away.

Then Comes The Blimp:
It's important to have a material that is both strong and acoustically transparent. I took a piece of 1 1/2" PVC pipe and drilled a bunch of holes into it with a Forstner bit. Drill press and a vice is helpful to have. This is a nice, light and sturdy outfit. Then I closed the front to resemple a blimp and tweaked the rear end inwards as well, but left enough room to pull the mic out. PVC is so nice to work with. It's easy to drill and form. Use a heat gun to 'soften' the ends and form inwards with your hands. If your mic is larger in diam, you might want to use 2" dia.

What I did was make a loop with heavy wire that fit over the outside of the PVC tube and brazed (you could weld also) little tabs every 90 degrees. O-rings hook onto those little tabs in an 'X' fashion like you can see in the picture. That's the anti-shock portion. I actually heated the wire with a torch gently as I pulled it tight so it would 'melt' into the PVC and then I pulled the wire tight and tack welded it in place. This way, the wire does not move at all and sits "Flush" with the PVC tube surface so as to make it easier to remove/replace the furry.

I made the mount to fit as needed out of steel and there are holes where it screws into the PVC using small 1/8" countersunk machine screws. The whole blimp with fur screws onto the mount. That means I need to unscrew the blimp from the mount when I want to remove the furry, but I can still pull the mic out the back w/o removing the furry. I almost never needed to pull the mic out as the batt lasted a long time. I didn't want to have an opening for wind to get in.

Then The Furry:
The furry is made from material I got from a fabric and sewing store like JoAnnes or Handcock Fabrics. You will find, some furry material has a plastic-ish backing (you don't want this), other hairy material has a more loosely woven cloth back (you want this). It's hard to find the stuff with dense fur and the gorrilla hair that you usually DO see isn't what I was looking for. But, you could trim the gorrilla hair down when you're done if that's all you can find. I actually had to do that on my last one for my Z5. You need to go to a special fabric store, don't go to Walmart and expect to find this stuff. It took me some searching. Then, I also bought a short piece of 1/2" thick batting which is a loose material for pillows. All the fabric was about $5-$10. You just lay it out with the fur face down and batting on top, cut and sew (I use a machine) so as to make a blimp furry. Then turn inside out to get the hair on the outside. The batting gives room to keep more wind out. It sounds hard, but I've made a few furrys and now I can pretty much cut and sew one in 1/2 hour (no, I'm not going to make one for you, you're on your own there). I sewed a draw string at the rear so I can pull tight and keep wind noise into the back of the blimp yet still remove the mic when I need to. I made the whole length of the blimp so the back of the XLR adapter just protrudes out the back of the furry when drawn shut.

Last Details:
This is important: You need to be able to easily turn your mic on/off. Not sure if you can see it in the pictures, but what I did was drill two holes in the PVC slightly overlapping so as to make a single elongated hole right above where the power and roll-off switch on the mic would be. When you start drilling, you might want to drill these holes first so you get them properly aligned. Then, I aligned the seam on the furry to be right over this hole. Finally, I carefully cut the stitching on the SEAM (not the fabric, but my sewn seam stitching), about 2" long. This allows me to slip my finger through the seam and easily turn the mic off, yet, the seam stays closed so no wind gets in there and no velcro needed. It's slick. You can't see the hole, but you just magically stick your finger in there and flip the switch on/off. I didn't have the mic in the pictures because It's mounted on my Z5.

Then, to top it off, I mounted an accessory shoe on top of my mount so I can use a light or other accessory. You must know a buddy that has a welder and some tools. You should be able to make this in a 1/2 day or so. Trust me, it's better than all the expensive flimsy solutions I have looked at. It's lasted years.

As an update, when I made the mount for my Z5, I used wire mesh rather than PVC. This is the wire one might use to keep rabits out of a garden. It has appx 1/2" gaps between the wire. I cut a length, formed it into a tube and cut/shaped the ends into the shape of a blimp ...then soldered the seam on the wire mesh to make a strong tube. Later, I dipped it three times in plastic tool dip so it would have a coating that wouldn't scratch up the mic or have sharp edges which would pull the furry apart when removing. That actually worked quite well. Either PVC or the wire mesh worked well.

I am confident that if you fab up something like this you will have a superior mic mount and if it's like mine, you'll be able to stand atop a very windy mountain and get clean audio (done it).

Good luck,
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Old May 15th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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Good advice above, but just to clarify: The batteries you want are called the NP-F970. Not FM, not FP, not FH, not even just NP. These are all different batteries and they will not work -- or even fit -- on your cam. Sony has a very precise and confusing naming convention for their batts and if you get the letters and numbers wrong you're screwed.

Do not, under any circumstances, buy batteries off eBay. Even Sony-branded ones are likely to be counterfeit. Buy only from B&H or other reputable authorized Sony retailer.
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Old May 15th, 2010, 01:12 PM   #6
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Adam, good catch on the battery model number. My apologies for the error. Too many cam batteries to keep track of in my little brain.. :)
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Old May 15th, 2010, 01:33 PM   #7
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Well, they don't make it easy for you. Their names seem designed to confuse. For example, the NP-Fxxx batteries are called the "L" series. Huh? Is there an "L" anywhere in the name?
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Old May 17th, 2010, 11:59 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great replies;

I'm definately going to try to fabricate something similar to that mic setup Mark... Sound is important and for me it will be essential to capture clean audio,as a great majority of the filming I plan to do is going to be on the barrens of Newfoundland...unfourtunately very windy! After reading what you've written I might think a bit more before commiting to the rode videomic...The lack of XLR inputs is of course a bit of a handicap with this camera but I could always get a beachtek I suppose...although they do make the camera seem more bulky...I found that the XL2's on-board microphone was good enough that I never did have to use the XL2 inputs.

As the majority of my filming is to be done in secluded areas often only accessible by long hikes; my gear has to be light and if possible water-proof...or at least water resistant. My first purchase will probrally be a rain-coat for my camera and then shortly after a couple batteries. Still unsure of which charger to go with. I like the sony charger but at 200 dollars It seems a little steep...

Any recommendations on formats to film in? I've been rendering to 1080p and deinterlacing for internet playback. I plan to put together an outdoor activities DVD, would I be better off filming in SD format or sticking to HDV? And if I were to do a dvd should the footage be deinterlaced?

So far I have to say I am extremely pleased with the camera. Going from 3CCD to CMOS however I can definately see the difference. The fx1000 blows my old xl2 away in terms of low light performance...which for me is huge. But of course the tradeoff is that the images on occasion seem somewhat blurred...rolling shutter I guess you'd call it? Slow camera movements prevent it though, not a big deal.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 11:30 AM   #9
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Chris,

Good luck on making the mic mount assembly. I'm sure you can handle it. Just read through what I wrote a couple times for the details and I'm sure you can do it, maybe come up with something even better. I'm sure you are going to like your FX1000. If you are just going to stick with the one on-cam mic, you may not need anything else than the regular input. If you are thinking of going with a Beachtek for other mics, then I would strongly consider what the added cost to go to the Z5 would be ...and if you have the possibility to exchange yours for a Z5. For example, B&H will do exchanges (or used to) within a reasonable amount of time if you wanted to go with a different cam. FX1000 is $3,200 and Z5 is $4,000. When you factor in the added cost of the Beachtek ($200?) and the hassle ...and the advantages of the Z5 (CF Recorder), then it may start to make sense to at least consider if there is a possibility to move up, and if there is any merit to it. If that's not possible, then stick to what you have. Just tossing out the idea. I used the mic set-up on my VX2000 for years and never really needed another input for what I was doing. I don't have any recommendations for a rain coat, sorry. Keep checking Ebay for a used charger. I'm sure you can pick one up a lot cheaper eventually as these cams go through their ownership cycle.

I will try to find the wiring diagram for making up a mic cable from XLR -> 1/8".

Best of luck,
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #10
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Chris,

Just wanted to expand upon the microphone and cable setup I outlined above. The beauty of a mic with power, like the Sennheiser line, is if you do it right, you can easily do both power (from the phantom powering module, and go from mono into both channels ...and convert balanced wiring to unbalanced all in a short space which will make your cam more mobile and compact. I think the Rode Videomic basically does this in it's own package. Other mics don't typically do it. Depending on what you selected, you may have to account for adapting to a balanced XLR signal.

Probably would be a good idea to read up on balanced vs unbalanced wiring if you are not up on it already (you might be, just throwing it out). Jay Rose has a lot of info on his site:
http://www.dplay.com/ Going from something like the XLR mic I stated above with a power module to an 1/8" mini means you would be going from a balanced wiring system to unbalanced ...voltage (from the mic) to no voltage (your cam input), AND a mono mic which you will probably want to pipe into both channels on your FX. This is easy to acomplish in one easy cable just like the one I made in the picture above and you put a capacitor in the back of the XLR adapter. Follow the wiring pattern for this which is outlined in this link (2nd Diagram):
Camcorder Mic Adapters

According to Jay Rose in his book: "Producing Great Sound For Digital Video" which I highly recomend, the capacitor size isn't critical ...anything over 100 uf (microfarrad) and 6v. You could rob such a capacitor out of any old TV or radio sitting in a junk pile (or go to Radio Shack). The capacitor prevents DC voltage from feeding back into your system which would lead to distortion on the cam audio which doesn't take this into account (i.e. PDxxx VXxxxx). This wiring arangement also converts so you can use a mono mic in your stereo input jack (and hear audio in both channels). Now, it's possible that Sony made provisions for this in their menu system in the FX, and if so, you may not need the capacitor at all. I know that on the older PD's and VX's ya had to account for this with most powered XLR mics.

Otherwise, a separate powering module for a mic that didn't offer power would look something like this:
Audio-Technica | AT8538 Phantom Power Supply | AT8538 | B&H

I hope what I described above isn't coming off sounding more confusing than it really is. I'm suggesting you could reduce a lot of clutter going this route, get great audio and not need a Beachtek (assuming you are only going to use one mic at a time). You could make this cable set-up in 1/2 hr if you had the parts sitting in front of you with soldering iron ready. I'm sure someone out there makes such an animal already as well. Ok, well, good luck.
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