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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 1st, 2014, 11:05 PM   #1
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Z5 focus issues - advice?

I seldom use my 2010 Z5U since we began shooting with a DSLR rig in 2013, but it has very low hours and I still use it to record long format meetings and "run and gun" events. In March at a dinner reception, I noticed that the focus was going soft as I would zoom out from an object. The venue was dimly lit. The next day I shot some interviews with more light, but the problem persisted so I switched to auto focus as a temporary solution.

Yesterday, I took the camera out to shoot again - this time, the focus is "stuck" on auto focus. Doesn't matter what mode I'm, in or what position the auto/manual focus switch is in. The focus ring does nothing to change the focus. Yet, auto focus is working.

Has anyone experienced a problem like this? The warranty has expired and I'm not sure how much I'm willing to spend to repair an aging HDV camera. Thanks!
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 01:43 AM   #2
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

have you tried factory reset? see manual for details as i can't remember ;-(

i had problems with my canon ax1 after not using it for months. had to reset. my z5 gets a work-out regularly, and if i reckon it's going to be out of action for more than a month i simply leave a fully charged battery in it (just to keep the internal battery charged)
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 11:21 AM   #3
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

In my experience you're better off leaving it in auto and not spending money to fix it, if it is indeed broken. Leslie's advice is great (and I do the same re: batts).

I rarely take my Z5s out of autofocus. Their AF is virtually perfect all the time and faster than I am.

I did have a failure of the AUTO/MAN switch on one of them and that was an issue as I couldn't do anything manually, like WB and stuff like that. So that had to be fixed.

But if AF is the only thing you are locked into, I wouldn't worry unless you are doing very specialized stuff where manual focus is absolutely necessary.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

Thanks for the advice guys. Factory reset and leaving a charged battery on the camera are both great tips. Unfortunately I do need manual focus because at many events there are audience heads in the foreground that compete with my subject for attention. I'll try the reset and report back.
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Old June 6th, 2014, 01:11 PM   #5
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

Here is a much overdue update: I tried the hard reset and ... (drum roll, please) the focus control is behaving normally again! It only took 5 minutes to configure the button presets on the camera back to the way I'd set them. A fantastic resolution to a worrisome problem - thanks again for the tip!

FYI, I was told by two different repair shops "that lens is known to have a lot of problems" and one recommended a replacement for $1,000. The 20x G lens is the same lens used on several Sony cameras (Z5U, FX1000, NX5U, and new HXR-NX3). If the lens is known to have a lot of problems, would Sony use it on four different professional-grade cameras over five years and counting? Hmm.

I have to wonder if some of those repairs might have been avoided by resetting the camera.
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Old June 6th, 2014, 06:54 PM   #6
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

glad it worked!

i doubt there's any coherent problem with the lens, otherwise there would be an uprising considering the number of cameras it's used in...

sometimes i think repair shops tend to just 'swapping out' components rather than waste time finding out what's actually wrong - and in some cases justifiably so since the costs involved tracing a problem could well exceed the replacement part cost.
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Old January 21st, 2015, 05:25 PM   #7
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

Thought I was done with this issue. Used my Z5U as #2 on a shoot in December. Did a factory reset immediately prior to the shoot. Everything looked okay in the viewfinder, used expanded image, push auto focus (momentary) and focus peaking to assure everything was sharp. But in post I saw the images were soft. My lens isn't holding focus through zoom. It's a fixed lens - is back focus even adjustable?
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Old January 21st, 2015, 08:21 PM   #8
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

These lenses never hold focus through the zoom range, which is why it is better to leave it in auto. You cannot focus at one end and assume it will be the same at the other. However, the SHOT TRANSITION function is a perfect solution for this (sadly missing from later iterations of this cam).
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Old February 17th, 2015, 03:36 PM   #9
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

For those who are still viewing this thread ...

Adam, I appreciate your response but the focus was sharp at both ends of the zoom when I first got the camera (2010). Since I have a Ninja 2 recorder, I've concluded it's better to repair the Z5 than replace it. So I sent the camera to Sony (Teaneck, NJ) with a thorough description of the problems I've been having. Their analysis concludes the following:

Confirmed symptoms reported by the customer.
Unit requires replacement of VC board and lens assy.

So it's not just the lens - there's a circuit board problem as well. I'll post the results when I get it back.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 02:27 AM   #10
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

please do...
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Old February 19th, 2015, 10:31 PM   #11
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

They certainly know more about this than I do. Please let us know how it works out, and also what it cost to get it fixed.
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Old March 5th, 2015, 02:51 PM   #12
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Re: Z5 focus issues - advice?

Adam and Leslie,

The camera has been returned. Cost of repairs was $795 not including shipping. Seems to be working fine, I don't have a shoot this week but I'll post an update when I take it out for a spin.

It'll be nice to have a working camera with effective controls for zoom and focus while shooting. I love the image on my DSLR but I do miss the controls on the Z5!
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