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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 April 14th, 2011, 11:54 PM   #1
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buying an z5u. new or used?

I've got a question for those of you more familiar with this line of cameras.

I am looking to by a Sony Z5U, as a primary camera for filming weddings in HD. I have found an offer of $2,200 for a camera in good physical condition, and the following readings.

Operation 130 x 10H
Drum Run 95 x 10H
Tape run 62 x 10H
Threading 117 x 10H

The owner said he has babied it and gotten it cleaned ever year or so. Is this a fair price for a camera with these readings?

Should I offer less? (I already countered with $2,000) Should I splurge and buy a new one for $3,500. Granted, my budget right now is right around $2,000, so that might be tough, but I don't want to buy a camera and then be faced with replacing the heads or anything soon thereafter.

Anyone with solid knowledge of this camera please advise. I will be very appreciative.

Thanks!
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Old April 15th, 2011, 12:47 AM   #2
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

fwiw, looks like a good buy - many people are attracted to the card / disk recorders nowadays (though you can get a cf card recorder for the z5 as well), so 'older' tape models are passe.

since i have one i can say it's a great camera. pretty robust as well.

it's got a few hours on it - but unlike analogue, the heads last 3>4k hours.

of course, check it out fully; zoom, iris, buttons, and of course, stick a tape in it and record a bit, they playback - preferably in another cam/player (just to check the heads / tape path are aligned properly).
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Old April 15th, 2011, 01:25 AM   #3
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Appreciate the response. Yeah, I will check it out before buying for sure as well. I do like cards, but seeing as I'm already shooting on an HVX200, which I also use for my commercial shoots- I wanted a tape based 2nd camera for event videography. I also have a vx2000 that I ran into the ground, so I can get mor euse oiut of all the peripherals with the z5u.

The guy selling the z5u is trying to go to a hard disk camera, but I actually prefer the reliability of tape. Not to mention the p2 cards I use are extremely expensive. Though I do realize the sd disks for the newer models are much cheaper, there's just something I like about tapes. The ability to just throw it in a file desk and have it there a decade later for a client...

Do the heads really last 3-4 thousand hours now though? If so, I feel much better about buying this camera! I always thought that getting anywhere near 1500 was the kiss of death....

Thanks again!
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Old April 15th, 2011, 02:39 AM   #4
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

analogue days ;-( digital last much, much longer ;-)

i have the mk whatever cf recorder on my z5, but i always shoot with a tape loaded - makes archiving and sleeping easy at might much easier. it also means i can keep my main clients happy since they ALL demand tape, even though they know i can supply footage in file format....
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Old April 15th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #5
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

That's awesome. Thanks for the reassurance! He just accepted my offer of $2,000 for it, so I guess Ill jump at it.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

I wish I'd seen this thread just a few hours earlier... with those numbers, I think you are looking at a cam nearing the end of its usable life for tape purposes. If you were planning to record only on an MRC I'd say it's a great deal, but with close to a thousand hours on the drum and heads you will be looking at expensive maintenance, and soon.

Analog vs. digital doesn't enter into it... spinning heads against 1170 abrasive tapes are what they are.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 08:03 PM   #7
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

hi adam,

interesting - my old vx1000 had about 2.5k on it's heads when i got rid of it (and it's still going!), my v1 about the same, and my z5 is pushing 2k.

in my experience analogue would certainly give problems well before head failure.

that said - my cameras we're only ever used to record - never as decks, or even playback in the field.

ymmv.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 10:57 PM   #8
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

For Jeremy's sake, I sure hope I'm wrong and you're right.

I get that analog might show symptoms before digital would, but that's completely unrelated to any actual damage occurring to the heads and mechanical parts. In analog, if there's a problem the picture gets worse. In digital, if there's a problem the picture just goes away.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 07:46 PM   #9
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Well, I am actually supposed pick up the camera on Monday. I haven't paid for it yet. I have dne extensive research on it however. Speaking to Sony, they say the drums will last generally around 1500 hours. Figuring them to be on the conservative end, I figure the camera might be at the halfway point. Paying half the price of a new one seems reasonable, though. Am still a tad nervous about buying used. I've always bougt new,until now.
So you're saying that if Im shooting on the card, the camera is fine? Do you know how much it would cost to get the heads replaced?
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Old April 16th, 2011, 07:51 PM   #10
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
I wish I'd seen this thread just a few hours earlier... with those numbers, I think you are looking at a cam nearing the end of its usable life for tape purposes. If you were planning to record only on an MRC I'd say it's a great deal, but with close to a thousand hours on the drum and heads you will be looking at expensive maintenance, and soon.

Analog vs. digital doesn't enter into it... spinning heads against 1170 abrasive tapes are what they are.
Oh, so the threading means there have been 1170 hours worth of tape run through it? The 950 is how often the tapes were being recorded to it? So the threading number is more important than the drum count?
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Old April 16th, 2011, 08:46 PM   #11
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Also let me ask, if I do buy the harddrive attachment for the back, would this be as good as buying a newer camera that only films on a harddrive? Or are there limitations to this harddrive in terms of disc capacity that arent in newer cameras? Ive looked and looked, and it's tough to find any used z5u for less than $3,000, so this will surely be the best deal money wise.

Worst case scenario- and I have to replace the heads? Is that gonna cost me more than $1,000? I figure even if that happened, id be looking at $3,000, or close to it, for what would basically be a newly refurbished camera right? Or are there other wear and tear factors that Im not counting, besides the heads?

Ive seen it, and it's in great physical condition. Hardly a scratch on it, and I know he took care of it, having it serviced at 500 hours.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate the feedback. Youve got me doubling up on my research right now.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 09:28 PM   #12
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Operation 130 x 10H=1300 hours of ON time
Drum Run 95 x 10H= 950 hours of drum time (the drum has turned for 950 hours)
Tape run 62 x 10H= 620 hours of tape have run thru the camera
Threading 117 x 10H= nothing to worry about! this number by Sonys own statements doesn't get multipled by 10

While the camera does have some hours on it the hours are about midlife depending on the enviornment the camera was used in. For instance, if it was used in Iraq or Afghanastan or on the Deadliest Catch, I'd pass on the camera but if it was used in a typical or "normal enviornment" sure I'd buy it if I was looking.

As for the cost of replacing heads, depends. Pinch rollers, tape transport, recording head? I had it done on a PD about 4 years ago at Sony, complete R&R and at the time their flat rate was $575.00. I could have gotten done for a bit less at a place around here but I had already sent it in. So there you go. Figure $400 to $600 for a complete R&R when needed which is still a long way off for this camera.

As for a card writer for the camera, yep, the same one for the Z7, pop it on shoot away. Theoreticaly it should last forever. No moving parts. Nothing to wear out.

IF the camera was serviced at 500 hours then you should be good to go for quite a while. Generally service would be clean the pinch rollers and heads, align the heads and transport and a general cleanup of the camera but you might ask him what was done just to put yourself at ease about it.

Actually sounds like a pretty good deal.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 09:56 PM   #13
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

Thanks Don. Feedback much appreciated. I would expect the cost of changing heads to be even more, but yeah, I was thinking (hoping) the wear and tear had the camera at the midpoint. It was actually used to filming weddings, so no major heat or issues to worry about there.

As for the cards, would shooting on a new NX Cam be equivalent to shooting on the card via the z5u? Im asking because the owner selling his z5u just bought an NXCam.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #14
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

z5 = hdv

nx = avchd

personally the last thing i'd want to do is edit is avchd on anything but the fastest pc i could afford!

ymmv
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Old April 17th, 2011, 01:43 AM   #15
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Re: buying an z5u. new or used?

On the meter, Don has explained everything correctly except the last one. Your drums have spun against tape for 950 hours, although only 620 hours worth of actual tape have gone through because Drum Run includes STBY time. The drum only spins when there is tape in the cam, hence the difference between power on time and drum run time. The 117 x 10 means there have been 1170 [I]unI]threading operations... it does get multiplied by ten (as 117 tapes could not equal 950 or even 620 hours) but it's not hours, it's operations.

950 out of a life of 1500 means your heads are about two-thirds gone, conservatively. But again, if you pick up a card unit, no worries. No moving parts = no problem and virtually indefinite life.

The whole NX vs Z5 thing is a personal choice... personally I wouldn't trade my Z5s for NXes for anything, not only for the reasons Leslie noted but because I like the option of using tape if I want and also because the Z5 has some features the NX lacks. Ones I actually use. But they are indeed virtually the same cam (body, chip, lens, internals, firmware).
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