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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 October 15th, 2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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low cost 2nd camera to support FX1000

Question: I am looking for 2nd camera to support my fx1000.

Needs:

1. Something that will match up fairly well in editing.
2. Low cost but still work for what I am using it for.

What I will use it for:
2. Will be used at dance recitals.
3. At the studio to be a semi always on camera to catch those funny moments at rehearsals and practice. (will record right to Laptop most the time as it sits on tripod


More info: I have read a lot of posts but having hard time finding it again. I read where several users were using a consumer HD handy cam with success as their camera they set up for whole stage, and use the fx1000 for pan and zoom.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 09:31 PM   #2
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I would check out the higher end Sony consumer cams and maybe the higher end Canon consumer cams. I have a HV40 and it puts out a nice image, but there are newer tapeless options that would work out better. The thing is, what audio and imaging controls do you need? It sounds like in this particular instance, you don't need that many. So, that means you should be able to get by with a more basic consumer HD cam. You should be able to adjust to match skin tone between cams in your NLE. I haven't paid that close attention to the newest consumer models lately, so I won't mention any specific models. I hope you don't think this is a non-answer.

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Old October 24th, 2010, 02:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Standley View Post
Question: I am looking for 2nd camera to support my fx1000.

Needs:

1. Something that will match up fairly well in editing.
2. Low cost but still work for what I am using it for.

What I will use it for:
2. Will be used at dance recitals.
3. At the studio to be a semi always on camera to catch those funny moments at rehearsals and practice. (will record right to Laptop most the time as it sits on tripod


More info: I have read a lot of posts but having hard time finding it again. I read where several users were using a consumer HD handy cam with success as their camera they set up for whole stage, and use the fx1000 for pan and zoom.

Michael:

I think the "consumer handycam" is the Sony CX550v and its predecessors. Current price for a 550v is $1100 ($US) at B&H. That price includes the comparatively massive NP-FV100 battery which basically lets you shoot for 5 or six hours.

The wide angle field of view is at least as wide as that on the FX1000. For shooting dance recitals, I've found them particularly useful for placement down front angled across the stage toward the opposite wing. The CS550v does a good job with low light situations and handles stage lighting well. It easily switches over to manual focus. (You zoom in all the way, make shure the focus is sharp, switch to manual, and the zoom out to you shooting range; this avoids the focus-hunting that auto focus does to you when stage lights go up and down).

I've got a pair and they match with my FX1000 pretty well for the dance recitals I've shot. The trade off for the wide wide-angle is that optical zoom only goes out to 10x. That means, basically, you do not want to place one in the furthest back balcony of 2000 seat auditorium if any of your dance recitals will be videoed in rooms like that. Even such a large room, it works well for a full a stage shot as long as long as you can place it mid-room. For venues that are not so large, you can put one anywhere that is convenient.

Be aware that the CX550v shoots AVCHD so editing will require either: (a) hardware and software that handles AVCHD natively; or (b) transcoding software like Cineform's NeoScene ($99).

It would be hard to beat a CX550v for use a "semi-always on" camera at the rehearsals and practice. Definitely more convenient than what I used to do, which was run a cam via firewire through a laptop using Adobe On-Location and an external firewire disk. The CX550v has 64 gb of internal flash memory. That represents about 6 hours of max quality (24Mbps AVCHD) recording time. Add in a 32 gb Memory Stick/SDHC card and you can shoot all day. Or, you can drop down 17Mbps "FH" mode and get 7+ hours on the internal memory alone. Or, you could drop down to SD mode and shoot for several days before needing to clear the memory. The large NP-FV100 battery will go for at least 5 and maybe 6 hours of shooting, and possibly longer, If you really need longer times, use the plug-in power brick.

The external connector ports are analog, USB, and HDMI. There is no firewire port. Sony apparently figured that tapeless recording to files does not require firewire controllability.

If you really want to stick with camera with firewire and tape capabilities, you might want to look at the Canon HV20/30/40 series. If memory serves, a new HV40 can be had for $850. The downside to getting the HV40 would be the extra editing time with color matching to your FX1000 because of the usual Canon-Sony differences in color balance. The Canon does have a firewire port so you could run a feed to a laptop as you discussed. The tapes will be interchangeable with the FX1000.

For somewhat less money there's also the CX350v. Basically, the main differences are: (a) the the 350v has a slightly smaller sensor than that in the CX550v (" as opposed to 1/2.88" sensor, so the 350 is not as proficient in the low light department and "only" gives 7 mp for still camera shots); (b) the 350v has a slightly longer range on the telephoto (so not quite as wide on the wide-angle end); and (c) the 350v has only half of the onboard flash memory (32 gb instead of 64, so recording times longer than 3 hours require you to swap in SDHC/Memory Stick Duo cards.)

Hope this helps.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 09:37 PM   #4
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I find the HV 30 matches up well as long as long as you know how to use it. Amazing camera. Run in Tv mode and adjust the exposure to -2 and it rocks. Very poor for long shots, but up close it is a fine match, IMO. For dance recitals, if you're using plenty of light, it should work out.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 04:01 PM   #5
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I did not mean to suggest that the Canon HV series cams are anything but very nice second cams. I've had an HV20 for years, What we are talking about here is how easily HV footage matches up to that from the FX1000. My recent experience is that the Sony CX550v much more closely matches my FX1000 than my Canon HV20 does.

In every multi-cam shoot --- regardless of which cameras you use --- it is a good idea to use "white balance set" function. The HV cams, the FX1000 and the CX cams all have this function. (Put a large white board/placard under the stage lighting, zoom in full with each camera, and click in each cam's menu to start the white-balance set.) Even when I've used white-balanced cams, I've found the FX1000 footage still tends to have the characteristic Sony warmth (a slightly redder tinge) while the Canon HV footage tends to Canon's typically cooler tone.

The differences are not insurmountable, by any means. It is just a question of budget and workflow. With an HV40, Michael saves some money on equipment costs but has increased editing work.

The "TV mode" (what Canon calls its aperture priority settings) has uses, but I've never found that the HV's "TV mode" helps with matching to my FX1000. I've used TV mode when I know I will have fixed lighting or when I have had somebody to run the camera. However, using the HV20 as a fixed cam with stage lighting that tends to vary from dance to dance --- one dance, done under full stage lights, is followed by a single soloist lit only by a spot, and that solo is in turn followed by a large dance number with lighting and spots that change throughout that number --- it works better for me to use the HV's Spotlight AE mode rather than the TV mode.

One other factor that may matter to some folks and not others is how wide the wide angle is. The CX550v has a 30mm equivalent lens while the HV series have a 43mm equivalent lens. If you need placement close to a stage or need to shoot in smaller rooms, the extra width to the CX zoom is very useful. But, if Michael only wants full stage shots, the extra width won't matter.

Indeed, depending on how willing he is to work with SDHC cards instead of internal flash memory, Michael might want to consider the much less expensive Sony CX150. It seems to sell for about $450.

Here's a suggestion for checking out some of the differences/similarlities in images. Go to a store and shoot some comparison footage. To compare anything in the CX line, you'll need to buy a high speed SDHC card. (To minimize cost, I'd suggest getting a 8 gb card; our local Costco has some for about $22). Take your FX1000 (with tape loaded) along with the card to a store that sells Sony CX cams and the HV40 and run some side by side tests. Pan around the store with the FX1000, maybe zoom out the window to the street. Put the tape in an HV40 and repeat. Put the SDHC card in a CX cam (or two) and repeat. Take the card and tape home. Copy the files from the SD card and capture the footage from the tape. Import it into your NLE. Put the footage into a multi-cam sequence and see how similar or dissimilar it all looks to you. While a computer monitor won't be color accurate, it certainly will will show you the relative differences between the cameras.

Since I've never evaluated a CX150, I cannot really comment on how its footage matches up with that from an FX1000. I can point out some other considerations that may affect its suitability to your video needs and budget. It has only 16 gb of internal flash memory (basically, 90 minutes of 24 mbps AVCHD). That means you would probably want to use SDHC cards, probably some 32gb cards in order to allow for 3 hour recording and would need to stop the camera to swap cards as they filled up. The price of cards has come down recently. I've seen 32gb Transcend Class 10 cards going for about $62 right now. Second, the CX150 comes with an NP-FV50 battery, which I suspect may be good for maybe an hour and a half. Unless you have access to plug-in power, you probably want to consider buying one of the larger batteries such as an NP-FV70 or NP-FV100. The FV70 goes for about $65 and probably gives you between 3 and 4 hours of recording time. The FV100 goes for about $110. It will run a CX550v for most of a day but weighs as much as the camera. It also projects out the back so far that you cannot get close to the viewfinder. Not a problem when shooting recitals from a tripod but might be an issue when shooting outdoors in light too bright to see the flip-out view screen.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #6
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I'd be leery of the CX150 - IIRC it's got a tiny sensor. I'd expect it to struggle in difficult lighting conditions. It also may have "older" CMOS technology, but I'm not 100% sure. It'd be safer to stick to either last year's XR/CX 500/520 models or this years "550".

Last years cameras are really quite good, but it's hard to beat the CX550V, especially if the lighting is tough. Spot focus also is a handy feature.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 09:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
Michael:

I think the "consumer handycam" is the Sony CX550v and its predecessors. Current price for a 550v is $1100 ($US) at B&H. That price includes the comparatively massive NP-FV100 battery which basically lets you shoot for 5 or six hours.

The wide angle field of view is at least as wide as that on the FX1000. For shooting dance recitals, I've found them particularly useful for placement down front angled across the stage toward the opposite wing. The CS550v does a good job with low light situations and handles stage lighting well. It easily switches over to manual focus. (You zoom in all the way, make shure the focus is sharp, switch to manual, and the zoom out to you shooting range; this avoids the focus-hunting that auto focus does to you when stage lights go up and down).

I've got a pair and they match with my FX1000 pretty well for the dance recitals I've shot. The trade off for the wide wide-angle is that optical zoom only goes out to 10x. That means, basically, you do not want to place one in the furthest back balcony of 2000 seat auditorium if any of your dance recitals will be videoed in rooms like that. Even such a large room, it works well for a full a stage shot as long as long as you can place it mid-room. For venues that are not so large, you can put one anywhere that is convenient.

Be aware that the CX550v shoots AVCHD so editing will require either: (a) hardware and software that handles AVCHD natively; or (b) transcoding software like Cineform's NeoScene ($99).

It would be hard to beat a CX550v for use a "semi-always on" camera at the rehearsals and practice. Definitely more convenient than what I used to do, which was run a cam via firewire through a laptop using Adobe On-Location and an external firewire disk. The CX550v has 64 gb of internal flash memory. That represents about 6 hours of max quality (24Mbps AVCHD) recording time. Add in a 32 gb Memory Stick/SDHC card and you can shoot all day. Or, you can drop down 17Mbps "FH" mode and get 7+ hours on the internal memory alone. Or, you could drop down to SD mode and shoot for several days before needing to clear the memory. The large NP-FV100 battery will go for at least 5 and maybe 6 hours of shooting, and possibly longer, If you really need longer times, use the plug-in power brick.

The external connector ports are analog, USB, and HDMI. There is no firewire port. Sony apparently figured that tapeless recording to files does not require firewire controllability.

If you really want to stick with camera with firewire and tape capabilities, you might want to look at the Canon HV20/30/40 series. If memory serves, a new HV40 can be had for $850. The downside to getting the HV40 would be the extra editing time with color matching to your FX1000 because of the usual Canon-Sony differences in color balance. The Canon does have a firewire port so you could run a feed to a laptop as you discussed. The tapes will be interchangeable with the FX1000.

For somewhat less money there's also the CX350v. Basically, the main differences are: (a) the the 350v has a slightly smaller sensor than that in the CX550v (" as opposed to 1/2.88" sensor, so the 350 is not as proficient in the low light department and "only" gives 7 mp for still camera shots); (b) the 350v has a slightly longer range on the telephoto (so not quite as wide on the wide-angle end); and (c) the 350v has only half of the onboard flash memory (32 gb instead of 64, so recording times longer than 3 hours require you to swap in SDHC/Memory Stick Duo cards.)

Hope this helps.
Very helpful thank you so much. I really like your idea of going to the store in your next post, i have a 32gig sdhc card, but i think it is only class 6b, but i think it should still work for testing.

For me right now saving time on editing is a consideration.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 12:43 PM   #8
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Dave:
the CX150 has the same Exmor "R" CMOS sensor that the the CX350 uses. From the specs, the 150 seems to be similar to the 350 except for having minimal built-in memory. The sensor in both is a " sensor, which is indeed smaller than the nearly 1/3" sensor on the 500/550 series cams.

Michael:
A class 6 card should work fine. That's what I've used with my CX550.

Also, I just checked B&H and the HV40 is down to $650.

Budget allowing, I agree with Dave that a CX550v is probably the best choice for matching with an FX1000. Well, actually, another FX1000 would be "best" if the budget goes that high. Otherwise, Ron Evans has posted about using the XR500 (last year's 500-series version with a hard disk rather flash memory) for multi-cam theater and dance shoots. He had them paired with an NX5u (a tapeless pro-version of your FX1000) and thought the little cams' pictures were sometimes better than those from the NX5.

As for buying one of the earlier 500/520 series, I'm not sure that they will be easy to find since they are discontinued models.If you can find one of the 500 series, be aware that there are some differences from the 550. These differences might or might not matter to you. The 550 series has 64gb internal flash memory where (I believe) the 500 series had 32 gb. (This might matter for your having the "always on" rehearsal cam. It also lets you go longer between downloading video). The 550v will shoot up to FX AVCHD (24 Mbps) where the 500 series only went to FH (17 Mbps). (But read Ron Evans's postings favorably comparing XR500 "FH" with NX5u "FX" so the extra quality might not matter for mixing to DVD.) The 500 series did not have mic and headphone inputs. (If you do not use an XLR adapter and external mics with your second cam, this won't matter to you.) The 500 series cams only had a view screen and no viewfinder. (This matters for shooting outdoors in bright light where it may be hard to see what is on the viewscreen). The CX550 has a larger viewscreen (3" as opposed to 2.7" (which I find handier for setting a fixed full-stage manual focus.) I believe (and Dave can correct me if I'm wrong), that the 500/520 had more limited manual controls. (But, consider how much you might use the manual controls for a second cam.)

Again, these are differences may or may not matter to you. And, you may or may not be able to readily find one of the older model cams. You might even find that the CX150 could be sufficient for what you want. Test it out and report back.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 12:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
...the nearly 1/3" sensor on the 500/550 series cams.
An excellent comparison in all respects, but note that the sensor in question is actually a hair larger than 1/3", at 1/2.88", or between 1/3" and 1/2".
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Old October 26th, 2010, 07:28 PM   #10
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Semantic error on my part. "Nearly 1/3 inch" does indeed imply "slightly less than." I should have said "roughly" because, as Adam points out, the 550/500 sensor is a tad larger than 1/3 inch.
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Old October 28th, 2010, 12:44 PM   #11
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Michael I also wanted another camera to supplement my Z5 and after some research, I got the Canon EOS 550D. I couldn't be happier. I have a second "camcorder" and a fantastic stills camera.

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Old October 29th, 2010, 02:36 PM   #12
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Stelios,

I just had the sony cx550v show up yesterday right before your post. I will let you know how it goes I did some filming last night at rehersal, I only had time to set the white balance before starting. they are very close, the cx550v was brighter so i will need to play more with settings I think to get a more exact match.

I rushed a multi-cam 1st time learning experience, wanted to get a funny part up for the dances to watch. and i started around 11 PM. While reading adobe to find out how to set up. It was fun to have choices.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 03:17 PM   #13
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On "brightness" you might want to go into the CX550v menu and dial down the AE shift. Ron Evans said, with his XR500, he used settings of -4 and -3 depending on how bright the stage lighting was. So far, I've had pretty good luck just leaving it at the default settings and I dialed up my FX1000 instead.
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