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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 February 19th, 2012, 05:12 AM   #46
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Does anyone have issues with Ninja portability?
How does the Ninja attach to a Z5 or 7 when working in a number of locations outside - is there a clip or velcro strap you can use?
Is it durable when bumped or even dropped?
Thanks
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Old February 19th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #47
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Since nobody has responded to the questions about vibration resistance, mounting and portability, I'll offer my 2 pennies worth based on the little I know.

Some of this comes from having read through the manual for the Ninja when I looked at the possibility of getting one. Some of this comes from comparing footage shot with MRC-equipped FX1000 (the prosumer Z5) with that from an NX5 (the AVCHD version of the Z5).

When it comes to comparing the Ninja with an MRC for a Z5, here's how I respond to the questions that Gerald and Chirs posed.

(a) Mounting: you can mount the Ninja into the tripod socket on the bottom of the camera. It is similar to to the way you insert an XLR adapter unit between tripod and camera. The Ninja is vertical so you can see the screen, Atomos said you also can mount a Ninja topside to an accessory shoe. I do not recall if Atomos sells the shoe-bracket-adapters, so check the web site. The touch screen has (I think) a single record button which will seems less awkward that doing tapeless recording with an MRC. When going tapeless with and MRC (no tape in the carriage), you have to press two buttons (record and play) much like on VCR. The buttons are small enough that I've often found it easier to use two hands. (Interestingly, using an MRC with a Canon camera, I can work with the camera's record button whether or not there is tpe in the carriage.)

I tried researching the LancC connections but never found out how it works with the FX1000/Z5 cams and a Ninja. The Ninja's manual --- at least when I looked at it --- basically said nothing more than that there was LanC connectivity and it allowed for "remote" operation. (Maybe this means you can run the Ninja from a tripod controller?)

(b) In terms of portability and blance, the MRC unit has it hands down over the Ninja with a Z5. Tthe MRC simply snaps into the back of the Z5 and runs off the same battery. A lot less extra weight and no balance problems for handheld shooting. WIth a Z5 on a tripod, its pretty easy to start and stop recording even without tape in camera.

(c) Cost -- you have to figure in both device and media.

The MRC goes for $750 (US$) and 32 gb CF cards run about $60 to $70. A 32 gB card will be good for about 180 minutes of recording HDV from a Z5. You'll want a couple of cards (for when you do not have time to download and back-up the card contents and for longer shoots. So, to start with, figure about $900 to go with an MRC.

The Ninja is $995. The ProRes recording format requires a lot more space than straight HDV. It needs about 100 gB/hr. for the highest quality ProRes recording. (In other words, ProRes files will use roughly 7 times the space of ordinary HDV.) To get 3 hour recording capacity, you would need some 300-340gB laptop drives. Last time I checked, 2.5" drives with 300-340 gB capacity seemed to be going for between $80 and $120 depending on the maker and whether you want 7200 rpm speed. (Atmos says that the Ninja works fine with 5400 rpm dirves, by the way.) You would want to buy two drives for the same reasons you would want at least two CF cards with an MRC. So, a comparable cost on a Ninja with 6 hours of recording capacity would be roughly $200 to $250 more than an MRC. Having the ProRes HQ footage might be worth an extra $200 to you. It might not.

The economics look a lot different if you need to run in higher vibration environments, like the concert shooting that Gerald mentioned, More on this in a moment, but the cost of an SSD is about 4 to five times the cost of a mechanical 2" drive. I looked at SSD's a couple of weeks ago when I had to hurriedly build a new editing workstation. The prices for 300gB SSD were well north of $500. (They may come down in the future when the Asian factories recover from the Thai and Japanese disasters, but that seems to be a long time coming.) So, equipping a Ninja with SSD capacity can be considerably more expensive even if you got one mechanical drive and one SSD. Still less than half the cost of buying a comparable camera to replace a Z5, though.

(c) Durability and vulnerability: not a good idea to drop anything with an lcd screen. That said, one of my MRC units fell off a top shelf onto my editing desk and it still works fine. If this had happened while recording, I'm "guessing" I would have lost some video. But maybe not, One of my MRc-equipped fixed cams was knocked over at a dance rectal last spring and I lost no video.

The Ninja is bigger and heavier than an MRC and thus more susceptible to damage from falls. As you would expect, the Ninja manual has specific cautions about this.

(d) Disk shock and vibration resistance/hard drive stoppage (Gerald's question about extremely loud concert environments).

Maybe Jeff can speak more to these variables since he has actually used the Ninja for concert shoots.

Without his direct experience, I offer my 2 pennies worth.

As I recall, the manual for the Ninja specifically said to use SSDs in high vibration environments. Atomos was not specific about this means. How much vibration and noise is "too much" for a mechanical harddrive? One thing that occurs to me is that, if you are shooting the kinds of projects where you need to use ProRes rather than HDV, you probably have the kind of budget that will cover at least one SSD. Otherwise, I'd say that CF cards with an MRC would be a much more budget friendly way to upgrade and prolong the useful life of a Z5 where you may be shooting in stressful environments.

This should not be taken as an offhand comment. I can say that I've never had noise and vibration cause an MRC to shut down or fail with an FX1000 even when there was so much noise and vibration that that the shaking made the footage unusable. I've also done some similar shoots in the past while feeding a camera via On-Location to a laptop computer, all perched on the top level of very springy bleacher seating. As long as I hand-held the camera (and had image stablization enabled), I had no problem with recording to the lapop. Whether this was a bad an environment as Gerlad ran into, I cannot say. What I can say is that that my laptop's mounting for the drive was likely much better than the mountings for the internal hard-drives on consumer handycams. Also, some 2.5" laptop drives are more vibration resistant than others. Plus, you may get gyroscopic effects when hand-holding a camera with a mecahnical hard drive, and those effects can contribute to problems .

The Ninja mounting set-up may be more vibration resistant than, say, what you would find with the a hard-drive mounting in a consumer handycam. (Although the Ninja manual did mention the possibility of gyroscopic effects when the Ninja is mounted on a camera.) These variables make it hard to generalize about when you can get by with a Ninja using mechnical drives and when you must have an SSD.

Gerald's example of the hard-drive camera --- which I'm assuming was a small consumer cam --- may not translate directly to running a Z5 with a Nina. The Z5/ninja combo wil have several times the mass of a handycam and will likely be sitting on a reasonbly sturdy tripod which may counteract the kinds of difficulties that make a small handycam's drive fail to record. I can say I've never had any trouble with starts/stops when using my NX5 (which is essentially a Z5 with a 128 gB SSD) nor any trouble with starts and stops with the MRC units I use. I've only worked once with a hard-drive equiped consumer handycam and it seemed very vulnerable to vibrations.

These points, I think, bring us back to Adam's earlier points. It seems to me that, unless you truly need/want the benefits of ProRes recording and are regularly shooting in stressful environments , the economics favor getting an MRC. . If you will be shooting in less stressful situations and need or want the ProRes frmat, a Ninja with a mechanical hard drive may well be worth the extra couple hundred dollars.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 01:50 AM   #48
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Jay, thanks again for that in-depth reply - I really appreciate the volume of information in that post. It answers my question perfectly. I already run the MRC from a Z5 and am extremely happy with the quality, ease of use and positioning on the camera. For me pro-res is not necessary as most of my footage ends up on the web, not broadcast, although some is played on large display LCD's for corporate promotions.
Since most Sonys have a very similar button and menu set-up I occassionally hire an XDcam for broadcast needs and charge accordingly - this could be a better option than a Ninja for me.
Cheers mate.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 03:33 AM   #49
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Jay, thank you so much for all that info :)
Food for thought on so many levels.
Im leaning towards the MRC now, fact is, when comparing footage from my Z5 to my hacked GH2, the Z5 stands up pretty well even though it is only HDV. Good enough for multi cam shoots anyway.

Now I just need to find a back heavy shoulder mount. Is it just me or is the Z5 extremely front heavy and awkward to hold for long periods?
Anyone suggest a good shoulder mount?
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Old February 20th, 2012, 04:49 AM   #50
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

+1 jay. excellent summation (again!)

and i agree entirely with chris - if i need anything better then i'll hire it. however, considering the quality i'm getting from the z5, and having shot with other cameras i really can't see the need, other than perhaps for heavy-duty chroma-keying for broadcast, and even then, with a proper setup, i doubt i'd bother.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 10:44 AM   #51
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald Webb View Post
Is it just me or is the Z5 extremely front heavy and awkward to hold for long periods?
Anyone suggest a good shoulder mount?
It's not just you. The large FP975 batteries can help with the front-rear balance but add substantially to the overall weight. The big batteries make My FX1000 and NX5 cameras awkward in a different way. If I did more hand-held shooting, I would probably look at a shoulder brace but, for now, a monopod works for me.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #52
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Let me add another thought to my essay. This is why I would think about getting a Ninja rather than an MRC.

I mainly shoot from tripods, so the size and positioning of of the Ninja would not be a problem for me. I do a lot of multi-cam shoots. When I have the time, I often convert my HDV and AVCHD footage to Cineform AVI. This allows for easier color matching and, when running a seven track multi-cam edit in PPro, the conversions make for a lighter load on the system. (I have an array of disks and RAIDS so the requisite disk space is not a limitation for me.) Using Ninjas and ProRes would save some of the transcoding time and make camera matching easier.

So, If I did not already have MRC units, that is why I would be looking at the Ninjas rather than the MRC units.
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Old April 19th, 2012, 04:45 AM   #53
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Re: How much longer to keep the Z5?

Just to revisit the Ninja/MRC debate again. I recently have been ingesting my MRC m2T files with an editor into FCP and the amount of time they take to transcode into Pro-res via mediastream is extraordinarily long - does anyone else get this?
Mediastream seems to transcode each file and make it 5 times bigger when it's turned into pro-res? My editor mate recently transcoded about 50 files in a batch and it came out as one big 140gb file that was unreadable?
Anyway, I digress...for pro-res editing in FCP Ninja may be the way to go perhaps? However I use PPRO5.5 so not sure I want to go there at all.
Anyone heard about the recent NInja 2 release?
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