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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 March 9th, 2015, 10:51 AM   #1
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Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

Looking for some advice on repair/replacement.

I work on videotaping church services and other events for a small church. We broadcast our services on the local cable company. In 2011, we purchased a Sony HVR-Z5U with the MRC-1 flash unit. About a month ago, the camera started reporting ďreinsert the cassette, the tape tab is lockedĒ error. For awhile, it would still record to tape, then it recently it stopped. I sent the unit to Sony repair in NJ and was quoted about $800 to fix the problem. I held off on the repairs because we could still record to the MRC-1.

To add to the problems, just last night, I connected the battery and heard a very loud motor sound. I didnít think that the Z5U had any moving parts inside of it that could make that loud a sound! Sure enough, something broke inside the focus portion. I now get the 32:60 error, and the camera is completely useless. Iím working on estimate to see what it would take to fix this problem. Iím guessing itís going to be another $800.

Since I now have two problems with this camera, can anyone give me some advice as to what we should do?
1.) Can anyone recommend a reliable service center that might be able to fix both problems? If so, am I looking at roughly $1500 to $2000 for repair?

2.) If the cost of repair is $2000, am I better off just investing in a new camera? I suppose a NX5U would be my next logical move. If I was to upgrade, are there other cameras I should consider? I donít necessarily need tape anymore, and Iím open to other brands. I would love to have great low-light capability. I sometimes had trouble with the Z5U when shooting dimly-lit events.

I appreciate any comments. It was disheartening to see a $4000 camera become useless. Fortunately I had a spare backup to get my current job done.

Thanks,
Bill
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Old March 9th, 2015, 11:05 AM   #2
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

If the repair bill is $2k, yeah, I'd get a new cam. But the NX5 isn't necessarily an upgrade; it lacks some of the Z5's features, although they may be features you don't use.

If it were me I'd look into a used Z5 from B&H. They're cheap right now and you can use all your accessories, including the MRC, with it.

In terms of low-light, the Z5 is absolutely fabulous -- I'm not sure what you were expecting. The NX has the same chip so won't be an improvement, and frankly I doubt you'll find a better cam from other brands.

But "better," of course, means something different to every person. All depends upon your needs.

Of course, no way to know about any local repair places as your location is incomplete and possibly misspelled if you mean the Berkeley in CA. But for things like this it's best to go to Sony.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 07:57 AM   #3
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

This is nuts, I actually had the same error on mine over the weekend, ughhhh. Anyway I have a camera repair store near me. He stated its the magnetic focus which is very sensitive which has been thrown off. He said he'll have a 25% chance of fixing it, which would cost about $400, otherwise it needs a new lens, which costs $1400 installed. Granted I could buy a used Z5 for just a bit more, but who knows what condition that lens is in or how much time it has left.. I'll just go with the new lens.

It was the oddest thing, the cameras been a beast and very rugged & durable. Trust me, over the 5 years I've had it its been knocked around, tipped over, taken a bit of a beating. However last weekend I barely had anything happen to it. I was shooting, then removing it from the tripod when it was that grinding sound?! I shut it off & on again, removed the battery, even tried to reset the camera, all to no avail.

Anyway I realize it might only have 2-3 good years left as my A-camera (I shoot mostly weddings) however I'm not ready to upgrade just yet.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 09:14 AM   #4
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

I had the same issue with one of my Z5's last June. Royal Camera of Hanover Park, Il quoted me a price of $610 to repair or twice that to replace lens. I went with the repair, had the cam back within a week, and cam is once again rock solid.

Seems to be a fairly common issue with this cam. I believe the Z5/FX1000 were the first cams to use this lens. Wonder if other later model Sony cams using this lens experience this problem?
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Old March 10th, 2015, 11:33 AM   #5
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

I had the same lens problem with my Z5u last spring. I died during a shoot and after checking out some repair places online,I sent it to camcorder repair center (.com). Cost me $580 for the repair. I live about 15 minutes from the Sony Repair Center in NJ and when I brought the camera in to them, they told me $800 to repair the camera, whatever the issue.

My camera came back working well but I have since sold it and moved on from Sony.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 12:20 PM   #6
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

Thanks everyone for the replies. I guess this is a well known problem with the Z5U. I talked to the Sony repair in NJ and the camera could be fixed under the same price as the cassette problem $800 or so, total. I guess that is the flat rate for repairs. (Would I have to pay $800 if only the headphone jack was loose?? HA HA). At that price, I may proceed with the repairs to both the cassette portion and the lens problem. Alternatively, I may consider a used Z5U, at roughly $2500.

As for low light, the Z5U does have the best reputation for performance. I'm guessing I don't quite have the settings right for my low light concert shoots, and that's why I'm seeing some grain/noise in the picture. I probably did better setting-wise with my old Sony VX-2000. I'll learn more.

One step further, in a perfect world, let's say I had the chance to upgrade from the Z5U. I see used Z7U's for sale. I also see a few 4K cameras:

Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder $4500
Sony PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM Camcorder $5500

I would assume the price jump of $1000 or so over the Z5U is for the 4K capability. Does anyone know how either of these perform in low light? A cleaner picture would be more important to me that more resolution of noise. What would be the next step up from a Z5U?

Thanks,
Bill
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Old March 13th, 2015, 12:05 AM   #7
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

interesting to read what people have moved on to after the z5 (if they're still reading this forum!)
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Old March 13th, 2015, 08:25 AM   #8
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

I wouldn't bother going the used Z5/Z7 route on ebay. For $800 you'll get a recently refurbished(?) camera that's good to go for another couple years.

For $2500 you get the same camera that's lens focus or cassette mechanism could be 6 months away from failure. Trust me, my camera been banged around alot in its 5 year, but always operates like a workhorse. However it was nothing at all which is when my focus basically went. More like the straw that broke the cameras back I would think. Also, having these cameras shipped around the country probably is only going to add to its being banged around a bit. I would stick to repairing your camera.
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Old March 13th, 2015, 11:22 AM   #9
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Hoy View Post
As for low light, the Z5U does have the best reputation for performance. I'm guessing I don't quite have the settings right for my low light concert shoots, and that's why I'm seeing some grain/noise in the picture. I probably did better setting-wise with my old Sony VX-2000. I'll learn more.
What you have to understand is that most concert/theatrical shoots are not, in fact, low light. Usually the subject is brightly lit. But all the dark around them confuses the cam, which amps up the gain.

Two critical things to do are to engage SPOTLIGHT MODE, and also set the AGC LIMIT to no more than 9 -- 6 if possible.

This will take care of your grain problem.
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Old March 13th, 2015, 11:26 AM   #10
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

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Originally Posted by Leslie Wand View Post
interesting to read what people have moved on to after the z5 (if they're still reading this forum!)
There was a thread on this a while back, but no one has contributed to it for months...

Where to after the Z5...
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Old March 13th, 2015, 06:48 PM   #11
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

just hoping someone might jump on this thread ;-)

am seriously looking at a fs700.

but in the meantime, another question that i think was covered way back with no definitive answer:

has anyone SUCCESSFULLY used a cf to sd card adapter with their mrc? one of my major clients has said they'd now accept cards, but cf are still relatively expensive. yes, i could cycle them, but i'd probably need at least 10 x 16gb. quite an investment relative to tape ;-)
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Old March 17th, 2015, 09:46 PM   #12
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

If you are keen on that cam Leslie, check this-
Sony FS700 Super Slow MO Video Camera Lenses | eBay
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Old March 17th, 2015, 11:09 PM   #13
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

thanks gerald, appreciated.

am still hesitating - i actually think a pxw180 or even better a 200 would be much better suited to the work i do. the aspiring cinematographer in me (at 65 i'm still aspiring!!!) likes the 7000, but the professional producer (that pays the bills) sees more practicality in the pxw...

the truth be told, the z5 takes great pics that my clients are still more than happy to pay for.

what do i want! more toys?
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 06:37 PM   #14
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

I took a drive into B&H Photo and Video in NYC last week. Always nice to be able to see and experiment with all the latest cameras. They confirmed what many said here, that the Z5U is a great camera. The other cameras that looked in the same price range were the HXR-NX3 and HXR-NX5U. These look like the Z5U, but without the cassette.

I also looked at a PXW-X70 for $2299 that will have a firmware upgrade, within the next few months, that make it 4K. This camera looked nice, but it didn't appear to be a step up from the Z5U.

I think I will work on getting my Z5U fixed, as someone pointed out, a used one could have the same problems waiting to happen. It's been interesting reading up on the cameras and I'm glad people could comment for a good discussion.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 09:00 AM   #15
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Re: Sony HVR-Z5U Cassette & Focus Repair

So I was told by the repair location I shipped my Z5 to, that the Z5U & AX2000 lenses are the same, no difference, and the AX2000 was about $300 cheaper ($800 vs $1100). They stated they've done this changeout hundreds of times with no complaints, so I agreed. Anybody know if this is true?


I had my first wedding this weekend and am a little nervous. While it was a pretty dark venue, it seems a bit more grainy than I remember my cam ever being. I did shoot manual setting & had the grain off. Specifically, it my blacks which have grain, near static look. Fortunately I do have Neat Video and can adjust the important shots (Dances & ceremony, speeches look fine although I'm not zoomed in to far as I was close to the table).

Any suggestions of the lens recommendation I was given, and of settings to adjust to potentially reduce this. As I said, it was pretty dark, but I'm a bit nervous going forward.

ETA: So I did find these two links online, the Z5U does say "Two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements reduce chromatic aberrations caused by differences in light refraction to minimize color fringing." (ie. Two) whereas I think the AX lens only said it had "a" or 1. Not sure thats really a difference maker but I'm a bit concerned that I made a mistake & should call them for a return. Am I overthinking it? Anyone know anything about these two & the lenses?

https://docs.sony.com/release/specs/HDRAX2000_mksp.pdf

https://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/...es/HVR-Z5U.pdf

Last edited by David Barnett; May 11th, 2015 at 09:40 AM.
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