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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 September 4th, 2010, 02:00 AM   #1
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auto - wow!

did a job yesterday when i shouldn't have. feeling like death warmed up - headache, queasy stomach, and inability to focus either eyes or mind for more than a minute.....

however, i'd promised (it's an ongoing doc), and i couldn't find anyone to step in and shoot a couple of talking heads, a presentation in a room full of people, etc., all requiring the usual cutaways, etc.,

stuck camera on legs, put everything in auto, aim in the approx direction, and prayed it would be over sooner rather than later.

today feeling much better and with some degree of trepidation reviewed the footage.

as the title says - WOW!

frankly i'm not THAT old school where i believe everything should be set manually, but i still have a tendency to 'play' with my settings to find the 'best'. well, i think the z5 has just become my main cameraman, i'll concentrate now on framing etc., and not worry as much as i used to over the technical details (i will, of course, keep an eye on them, just in case the camera thinks the sun's come out at night....)
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Old September 4th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #2
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This is what I've been saying for a while now. The Z5 isn't perfect, but it's pretty amazing in what it can do, and it usually does it better than I can. I think much of the current crop of cams have evolved to the point where we can, as you noted, concentrate on the artistic intangibles and leave a lot of the technical details to the cam quite often, in normal/unchallenging situations.

Glad things worked out for you.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 06:38 PM   #3
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thanks adam....

really though, i was truly astounded, even the audio; shot for ambient and ev100 came out perfect.

it has to be said though that nowadays, when budgets don't even stretch to a decent lunch, the lack of a soundman, gaffer, etc., means the more i can trust the camera to do the right thing, the less i have to think about all the technicalities and the more i can concentrate on the aesthetics.

it still wont make up for a decent lunch, but it's a start!
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Old September 4th, 2010, 07:08 PM   #4
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You bring to mind another good point: the included mics on the Z5 -- both the onboard internal and the included shotgun -- are surprisingly good for what they are. More than serviceable in a pinch. As good as sound recorded by a sound pro with topnotch kit? No, but certainly usable in most cases.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #5
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Congrats on fulfilling a commitment. If I've discovered anything about production working pros, it's that they deliver. Always. If they don't, it doesn't matter what they've done before or how well they've done it or what awards they've won, they're not a pro. Also, if you are a pro working an area, you know word spreads quickly if someone has been screwed.

As far as the automatic functions on the Z5, I've tested them in a number of situations. Experience and understanding and characterizing the behavior of Z5 in either auto-exposure or auto-focus or both gives me confidence in selecting settings for certain situations. There are those who say one should NEVER auto-expose or use AF. I will say that those folks are restricting their choices and possibly losing coverage. Given unrestricted choice, I would use a $300,000 cine camera and top-end pro audio gear for all my shoots, with a full crew of pros, dedicated focus pullers, grips, gaffers, and gophers. But every shoot is a compromise. In literal run and gun ENG situations, sometimes the AF and auto-exposure gets me coverage that would be lost entirely otherwise. However, I know my camera enough to know how my footage will look even as I shoot. I accept a transitioning exposure quality as I go from a dimly lit room into a bright courtyard outside because either the camera is going change exposure settings automatically or I'm going to do it myself. Either way - exposure will adjust. If I make an in-camera cut, I lose critical audio coverage. I have other examples as well but you know what I'm talking about.

The Z5 is pretty dang good in handling auto settings. We do what we can manually but until I grow two more arms and hands and have the power to ask a CEO of a major global corporation to return to a building and restart his speech on the way to his waiting helicopter, that auto-exposure will be on. I'll get paid while other folks write indignantly on this forum, "I NEVER use auto-exposure."

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Old September 14th, 2010, 04:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
The Z5 is pretty dang good in handling auto settings. We do what we can manually but until I grow two more arms and hands and have the power to ask a CEO of a major global corporation to return to a building and restart his speech on the way to his waiting helicopter, that auto-exposure will be on. I'll get paid while other folks write indignantly on this forum, "I NEVER use auto-exposure."
Well said Dave. I often get the feeling here that there are some who want to think those who do use Auto, are something less than professional. I guess they think that after 30 years without an auto feature, then what was good for them is good for you too. It gets to be quite competitive around here sometimes (IMHO). But, hey, that's people for you.

Yes, the Z5 is pretty dang good at what it does. Just wish the NX5 was as good (:
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Old September 14th, 2010, 06:23 AM   #7
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It is my humble opinion that it doesn't matter matter if one uses AF/AE or not. I have always felt that you use the best tool for the job, egos be damned. In a seminar for instance once you have an exposure and focus set (for the most part-things do change and circumstances dictate) but by and large whether it is set by AE/AF or manually, it's a braindead operation. It rarely changes. I'm not talking about the "hollywood presention shows" where the CEO of the company comes out in a splash of rotating color spots with the exposure changing by 4 stops, I'm talking about the "typical" boring 'here's Doctor So and So to talk you to sleep about his new way to do such and such' or my other favorite accountants (no offense to accountants), hmmm, lawyers fit in there nicely also...anyway we've all done these types of seminars and honestly I could in most cases have my 12 year old grandson operate the camera and he would do a fine job.
Auto exposure and Auto focus are right more than 90% of the time, do I use them? You bet, All the time. No but when possible I do. Sometimes it's not only the right thing to do it the ONLY thing you can do. Do I care if someone calls me non professional because of it? No, because I'm still getting paid and the client doesn't care if it was shot by a monkey with a good eye all they want is the footage.
Long live AUTO!
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Old September 15th, 2010, 04:27 AM   #8
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You don't think the NX5's as good as the Z5 Claire? Can you be more specific for one such as me who shelled out more dosh to bypass the Z5 and go from Z1 to NX5?

You mean the Z5 is superior in its handling (agreed), its LCD display (agreed) or maybe its auto features - which is what you imply.

tom.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 06:45 AM   #9
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Hi Tom.

I got my NX5 about 2 months ago. I find the pictures are softer compared to the Z5, so have been using it as the b roll. I edit on the HDV timeline (1440x1080 anamorphic) and drop in the NX5 footage - Adobe Prem Pro CS4 has no probs with this (if you do, make sure your disc management system is all up to par).

It's not the back focus issue - checked that but it just lacks the sharpness I was expecting. Everytime I compare the two in the edit timeline, the NX5 footage is just not as sharp. Could be because I'm putting 1920x1080 into a 1440x1080 timeline, or my media (Sandisk Extreme class 6 16gb), though I doubt it - but need to check.

I'm waiting to get over my busy time which is in about 10 days to do some tests, but I think I'll end up sending it back to Sony for a checkout.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 10:47 AM   #10
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I'd say you've done some pretty clear and scientific tests there Claire, so I'd be interested to hear what Sony have to say about it. OK, you're doing a CS4 down-convert of the NX5's footage which never helps sharpness much, so why not film in the HDV mode up front?

Or why not do a brick wall test with the NX5 in 24mbps mode and the Z5 in HDV mode and compare those shots? I'm pretty sure Sony will tell you to do that.

I can't see the card having any detrimental effects - I use class 6 Transcend 16gb.

tom.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 11:03 AM   #11
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Thanks Tom. I won't add any more to this as I don't want to hijack the topic. But yes, I need to get down to the bottom of it - just not had the time. I'll report back in the NX5 cat.

Thanks tho.

:)
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Old January 18th, 2011, 12:08 PM   #12
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Any more news on this Claire - or did I miss it on the NX5 page?
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Old January 18th, 2011, 12:48 PM   #13
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Hi Tom,

I have my email and other-stuff PC on while working at my edit station so I saw your post pop up.

I sent it back to Sony and less than five days later it was returned. Was it me or does it now look okay? No it wasn't me but they said no fault was found. Hmmm... what I do suspect is that a number of new products leave the factory having had a speedy trip through QC and into the box and out. Can't prove it, but the guys at the service centre said okay - I even had the DVD on which I gave sample of the problem returned.

No problems with focus now compared to previously - was it me? Did they correct a known tweek? Really don't care as I'm back in the groove. So it's all inconclusive I'm afraid. If it wasn't for the fact I'm often in Run & Gun mode I would use auto focus much less, but like most things you acquire it takes a little time to become accustomed to the wrinkles.

Anyways, I've been using the NX5 again as the B roll to my events - on legs using manual everything with Steadyshot and Macro switched off and no complaints with focus after about 8-10 or so gigs since. I still have to use the sharpen effect notched up 20 points or so in the Prem Pro timeline but no noise or artifacts to speak of and I get a pretty good match with the Z5 footage at a project setting of 1440x1080.

I'm waiting to visit BVE in Feb to do some more fact-finding and maybe decide to change - to Canon perhaps - better lenses I hear - no, not DSLR, please no, no!

How's things with your NX5 Z5 Tom?

:)
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Old January 18th, 2011, 02:30 PM   #14
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Interesting. What you're saying (quietly) is that Sony immediately recognised your particular camera's - ah - foible, and corrected it. The problem's not spoken about in polite society in the same way as Rolls Royces don't break down; the smartly suited engineer repairs the fault and leaves no calling card.

The good news is it didn't cost you and even better news is that the camera's performing better. I like the sound of that. Sharpen effect? I tend to want to add a Canopus sharpen to any footage that I've downconverted in Edius. I know it makes purists wince, but it makes the DVD look good.

Change to Canon, huh? The 305 (or whatever the new XH-A1's called) looks to have a much better top screen than the NX5 - it's bigger and slides out both sides, neat. I'm going to BVE to look for a monitor, about 5" diagonal, as I fine the NX5's top screen so poor in sun/daylight.

How's things with my NX5? Well I've just written a pretty ruthless appraisal of the camera for Film and Video Maker. I got so carried away it was carried over two issues.

Here are my conclusions:

The NX5 does have its fair share of design compromises, but then again it has a hard act to follow Ė the Z1. But if it all comes down to on-screen results then the NX5 is a sure-fire winner, a sophisticated, configurable, controllable, adaptable business-like tool. Itís a beautifully built, tightly-toleranced machine. Doors click shut, switches snap to, dials turn without backlash.

This camera feels more solid than the vice on my workbench. Itís balanced in the hands and cameras like this can go from parties to picnics, from breakfast to broadcast. It may seem a lot of money at £3700 but in real terms itís peanuts. I can say this because Iíve just opened my Tecno catalogue dated 1996, and 15 years ago the Sony VX1000 was selling for £3600, with a penny change. That camera was standard definition, 4:3, MiniD, 10x zoom, no side-screen, no XLRs, not even a zoom ring. Petrol cost 52p per litre back then and £3600 was probably a good deposit on a house. As you can see, I give the NX5 8 out of 10 and the Tom Hardwick thumbs up. Iím deeply impressed.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 04:28 AM   #15
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Your write up looks interesting Tom. I must say though I too like the "feel" of both my Z5 and NX5.

Nah, if I were to change anything it would be the Z5 in order to move to native 1920x1080 and solid state storage to eliminate ANY risk of drops. I only use new tapes on each project, but the occasional drop can still happen - I just got lucky it was never in a crucial shot.

The Canon 305 (with 50mb/s mpeg2 and 4:2:2 colour space) looks interesting but it's very early days. Likely wait until NAB before spending yet more money. Another thing also is that my Sony formats edit like butter in the Prem Pro CS4 timeline so changing that probably means taking on board a proxy software package like NeoScene or something - and one thing might lead to too many other things.

Wear a white carnation in your button hole with a rolled up copy of "Angling Times" under you arm and I'll say hello to you at BVE lol.

:)
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