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Sony HVR-Z7 / HVR-S270
Handheld and shoulder mount versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.


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Old November 19th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
I wouldnt disparage the 1/3in Exmor sensors as "crippling" a camera until you've read/seen their performance. These are the same sensor types as the EX1, just a little smaller. They days of taking the attitude of "if it's not got a 2/3in or 1/2in sensor it must be hopeless" are over. Advances in sensor design, (particularly CMOS sensor design), signal-to-noise ratios, and digital signal processing have meant that sensors of a smaller size can now have amazing performance.
Well said. It's very likely the EXMOR 1/2-inch are "equal" to the last gen 2/3-in and this new gen 1/3-in EXMOR chips are "equal" to the last gen 1/2-in.

If you so you can't compare by chip size.

According to the Japan site:"Furthermore, the CMOS sensor in column A / D converter and a minimum subject illumination 1.5 lux." (The shutter speed of 1 / 30 second fixed, auto - iris, OTOGEIN time.) That means a sensitivity of 3lux at full gain, wide open, and at 1/60th second. This is a "good enough" for most all applications.

Realistically, it means one can drop gain in half -- to +9dB -- and be about a stop more sensitive than the V1. Maybe more.

Also, it's possible the EXMOR noise canceling technology will allow high gains be used -- perhaps +15dB.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 04:41 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
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Realistically, it means one can drop gain in half -- to +9dB -- and be about a stop more sensitive than the V1. Maybe more.

Also, it's possible the EXMOR noise canceling technology will allow high gains be used -- perhaps +15dB.
duing my completely non-scientific look, I played with the Z7's gain. (This is on their monitor in a completely uncontroled environment. The room had a slightly less that normal lighting level -- not as dark as to be a strenuous test, nor anywhere near bright enough to be where video is normally shot at. There were video projectors in use -- and the lighting level was perhaps adjusted in deference to them.)

It was tough to tell much difference in the picture at first gain boast (maybe +9, but don't know specifically how the camera was setup) The image was quiet and smooth, without much grain being introduced.

At high gain the picture could be usable -- but my recollection is that the picture had more contrast, and the colors lost saturation. There was noise -- but much less than I'd expect at max gain. But there is a very noticable image difference between high and low gain. But it would be very usable if you really needed it.

Last edited by Barry Richard; November 19th, 2007 at 05:20 PM.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #153
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Whether or not the chip is as good or better than the EX1's is debatable until we see it, but I had hoped that companies would be trying to move away from HDV (a consumer-grade compromise technology) rather than moving HDV up into "pro" level equipment.

That's why it seems to me that they made a pro-featured, shoulder-mount camera and then saddled it with inferior technology compared to the handheld EX1.

Sony has more camera "lines" than other companies have individual cameras. At some point, there is such a thing as too much choice.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 05:46 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by Joseph H. Moore View Post
, but I had hoped that companies would be trying to move away from HDV (a consumer-grade compromise technology) rather than moving HDV up into "pro" level equipment.

That's why it seems to me that they made a pro-featured, shoulder-mount camera and then saddled it with inferior technology compared to the handheld EX1.

Sony has more camera "lines" than other companies have individual cameras. At some point, there is such a thing as too much choice.
Sony! The One and Only. What is your definition of pro? The EX1 uses MPEG Long GOP. Same as HDV. Sony is very commited to MPEG. What else are they going to do? These are under $10k cameras and a lot of professionals have been using HDV for a few years now. Even TV stations are using them.

BTW, if your definition of "Pro" is 4:2:2, go spend $75 to $100k or wait until NAB when Sony is slated to announce a 4:2:2 XDCAM HD camera. Those cameras won't be under $10k though.

There are many professionals using HDV. So to infer that HDV is for only "consumers" or even looks consumerish is not accurate. In fact, it is sort of insulting dude.

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Old November 19th, 2007, 06:02 PM   #155
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No insult intended. We're talking about camera technologies, not each other's mothers. ;-)

We all know the genesis of HDV ... and it wasn't for quality! Just because HDV is insinuating itself into pro workflows doesn't mean that is a "good thing."

The EX1 does stick to long-GOP, MPEG-2, but at least it raises the bit rate by about a third. Coupled with bigger sensors, it should yield a noticeably cleaner image.

PS. I use an HDV camera right now, and I'm glad to have it, but its always kind of sad to compare the live monitored image versus what happens to it after being crushed into HDV.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 06:22 PM   #156
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Then I challenge you to a duel to defend my mother's honor. Just kidding.
I'm just a little sensitive when people use the word "consumer".

No doubt the Ex1 will most likely look better. As I understand it, EX1 (CineAlta branded) was developed and manufactured by a different section within Sony than the HDV offerings. So maybe you have a point.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #157
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I'm just a little sensitive when people use the word "consumer".
Me too David. I've reviewed every HDV camcorder from Sony and JVC. I firmly believe HDV suffers from the BELIEFS folks have about it. I've never seen an MPEG blocking artifact in JVC's 720p. And, why would I? The 19Mbps for 720p30 is TWICE the bit-rate offered by ATSC 720p60. And, there are zero artifacts on ESPN or ABC sports. When JVC introduced 720p60 there was much worry that it would show artifacts. It didn't because in the 2 years it took to get the chips to 60Hz, JVC improved the encoder.

The whole HDV artifacts rumors came from the Z1. This was the first HDV camcorder the vast majority of folks ever saw. In fact, safe to say many had no idea HD1 even existed. HD2 was assumed by a Sony biased world to BE HDV.

Unfortunately for Sony, the Z1's encoder was poor. And it's CineFrame terrible. For XDCAM HD and the V1 the coder(s) became far far better. As good as JVC's 720p60 encoder. And, the 25Mbps data-rate offered more bandwidth.

So despite the FACT that the V1 shows no artifacting, the anti-HDV crowd -- believing the anti-long GOP BS put-out by Panasonic -- continued to claim HDV was flawed. Too continue this claim into 2008 is to simply deny the facts. (Likewise the BS about being hard to edit.)

I seriously wonder if there is any real difference in the encoder chip used in the EX1 and the new HDV camcorders. Why would there be? We already see JVC EVERIO switching bit-rates on the same encoder.

Consider this: in HQ mode the EX1 must encode 1.33X more pixels than an HDV camcorder. Simplistically, that means the data-rate needs to increase to 33.33Mbps. Now add in the 1.5Mbps PCM audio and you get => 34.83Mbps. Bottom-line, the actual amount of video compression may be nearly identical between XDCAM EX and HDV.

That's not saying the EX1 won't look better as it has higher rez and uses VBR, but it's not going to be night and day.

For me the issue isn't quality, it's price. I can't image spending another $1,000 (or more) to get a CF box when the same money would buy SxS cards. The S720 simply would become too expensive at $12K -- or more.

The S270 needs to be priced about the same, or a $1000 more, as the DSR-250 which it replaces. Say about $6000 with HDMI and $7000 with HD-SDI. So there's a $3,500 premium that I just don't understand. It can't be in the lens, the chips, or the encoder. A DV transport is dirt cheap. Can Sony really charge $3,500 for a shoulder box?

Or, put another way, for $12K one likely can get an EX1, several cards, plus the coming XDCAM HD VTR. Something isn't right about the pricing.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 11:44 PM   #158
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I agree, but interchangable lenses is the only point I can offer as to why the HDV costs more. That is the one feature missing from the EX1, highlighted by these recent HDV releases.
You make a very good point about the 1.33 bitrate increase. Hopefully people will understand that.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 02:57 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
Me too David. I've reviewed every HDV camcorder from Sony and JVC. I firmly believe HDV suffers from the BELIEFS folks have about it. I've never seen an MPEG blocking artifact in JVC's 720p. And, why would I? The 19Mbps for 720p30 is TWICE the bit-rate offered by ATSC 720p60. And, there are zero artifacts on ESPN or ABC sports. When JVC introduced 720p60 there was much worry that it would show artifacts. It didn't because in the 2 years it took to get the chips to 60Hz, JVC improved the encoder.

The whole HDV artifacts rumors came from the Z1. This was the first HDV camcorder the vast majority of folks ever saw. In fact, safe to say many had no idea HD1 even existed. HD2 was assumed by a Sony biased world to BE HDV.

Unfortunately for Sony, the Z1's encoder was poor. And it's CineFrame terrible. For XDCAM HD and the V1 the coder(s) became far far better. As good as JVC's 720p60 encoder. And, the 25Mbps data-rate offered more bandwidth.

So despite the FACT that the V1 shows no artifacting, the anti-HDV crowd -- believing the anti-long GOP BS put-out by Panasonic -- continued to claim HDV was flawed. Too continue this claim into 2008 is to simply deny the facts. (Likewise the BS about being hard to edit.)

I seriously wonder if there is any real difference in the encoder chip used in the EX1 and the new HDV camcorders. Why would there be? We already see JVC EVERIO switching bit-rates on the same encoder.

Consider this: in HQ mode the EX1 must encode 1.33X more pixels than an HDV camcorder. Simplistically, that means the data-rate needs to increase to 33.33Mbps. Now add in the 1.5Mbps PCM audio and you get => 34.83Mbps. Bottom-line, the actual amount of video compression may be nearly identical between XDCAM EX and HDV.

That's not saying the EX1 won't look better as it has higher rez and uses VBR, but it's not going to be night and day.

For me the issue isn't quality, it's price. I can't image spending another $1,000 (or more) to get a CF box when the same money would buy SxS cards. The S720 simply would become too expensive at $12K -- or more.

The S270 needs to be priced about the same, or a $1000 more, as the DSR-250 which it replaces. Say about $6000 with HDMI and $7000 with HD-SDI. So there's a $3,500 premium that I just don't understand. It can't be in the lens, the chips, or the encoder. A DV transport is dirt cheap. Can Sony really charge $3,500 for a shoulder box?

Or, put another way, for $12K one likely can get an EX1, several cards, plus the coming XDCAM HD VTR. Something isn't right about the pricing.
Very informative- i felt extremely nourished after reading this.

With regards to interchangable lens on the new line up, is it that great of a step especially on the z7 ? using a J9 lens on it, i am sure wold make it front heavy...
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Old November 20th, 2007, 03:58 AM   #160
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...With regards to interchangable lens on the new line up, is it that great of a step especially on the z7 ? using a J9 lens on it, i am sure wold make it front heavy...
from looking at it that would seem to be a reasonable assumption --

but read my earlier post about how balanced it felt in my hand and on my wrist.

I was holding it for minutes, not hours -- but nevertheless I was very surprised that I had almost no forward stress on my wrist.

Sony positioned the handhold/wrist strap so as to be in balance with that big lens. The Z7 felt better to me than my XHA1.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #161
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Sony has more camera "lines" than other companies have individual cameras. At some point, there is such a thing as too much choice.
I totally agree on this.

Im not sure about the exact price points, but Sony can certainly cover every price point between 1K and 10K.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 03:19 PM   #162
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We all know the genesis of HDV ... and it wasn't for quality! Just because HDV is insinuating itself into pro workflows doesn't mean that is a "good thing."
Its good and its bad.

Its good because people are getting a good looking HD image. I am not a fan of the codec, but so long as you are "just" looking at the images they are pretty good.

Its bad, because its hard to explain to a lot of people why better codecs and cameras are worth the expense. Too many clients and "producers" can't see or understand the difference between formats- and the limitations of HDV.

I've had HDV specified on jobs that really ought to have been HDCAM SR.

Quote:
The EX1 does stick to long-GOP, MPEG-2, but at least it raises the bit rate by about a third. Coupled with bigger sensors, it should yield a noticeably cleaner image.
Well, being a nitpicker, it raises the data rate 40%.

Quote:
PS. I use an HDV camera right now, and I'm glad to have it, but its always kind of sad to compare the live monitored image versus what happens to it after being crushed into HDV.
Well, that is why I've decided to skip owning an HDV camera.

I almost bit on the HD SDI Canon's- because of the HD SDI and the ability to bypass the HDV encoder.

I think I am going to bite on the XDCAM EX1... maybe twice, but I am still unhappy about 4:2:0 Long GOP encoding.

So, I am buying into Cineform SOLID or AJA ioHD to go with my EX1s.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 12:08 AM   #163
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So despite the FACT that the V1 shows no artifacting, the anti-HDV crowd -- believing the anti-long GOP BS put-out by Panasonic -- continued to claim HDV was flawed.
Uh... HDV is flawed. So is XDCAM, and DVCPRO HD... and HDCAM SR and every other codec- including uncompressed ones and even cineon/dpx.

Its just a question of what the tradeoffs are.

Staying in the ballpark for an example, DVCPRO HD handles color far better than HDV and XDCAM. Of course DVCPRO HD trades resolution versus the latest version of XDCAM at 35Mbps, and sucks up way more bandwidth than either.

Now that I've been pedantic, let me say this.

Panasonic has exaggerated the importance of intraframe codecs, but intra is an improvement over GoP- especially Long GoP codecs. That isn't an endorsement of their marketing, but I am saying that its a long way from "BS"

Reconstruction of Long GoP frames is imprecise, and can vary between NLE's. (More specifically, it varies between the codec implementation on various systems.) I've witnessed this moving between Avid Xpress and Media Composer.

Also, intra formats are more robust. If there is an error during recording intra formats only lose the frames directly affected. GoP formats suffer damage to the affected frames- and to every frame which references those frames.

Of course that's a trade off too. Proponents of long GoP formats value encoding efficiency more than image fidelity and reliability.

Now its up to you to choose where to balance your production amongst these choices.

For example, I like the EX1 camera. Best thing going anywhere near its price. The EX1 recorder leaves me underwhelmed- so I am considering outboard solutions, like Cineform SOLID and AJA ioHD.

Quote:
I seriously wonder if there is any real difference in the encoder chip used in the EX1 and the new HDV camcorders. Why would there be?
Because they are different codecs?

There is about as much difference in the encoder chips as there is in the software codecs. That is to say, they are almost entirely different. You can't decode HDV with an XDCAM codec and vice versa.

If you are asking about relative performance of the two encoder chips, then I expect that the XDCAM is about 50% faster, and likely runs cooler as well. This isn't for codec reasons, but rather to help keep the imaging block cooler, increasing SNR and thus improving overall system performance.

Other than that, the hardware should be comparable.

Quote:
Consider this: in HQ mode the EX1 must encode 1.33X more pixels than an HDV camcorder. Simplistically, that means the data-rate needs to increase to 33.33Mbps. Now add in the 1.5Mbps PCM audio and you get => 34.83Mbps. Bottom-line, the actual amount of video compression may be nearly identical between XDCAM EX and HDV.

That's not saying the EX1 won't look better as it has higher rez and uses VBR, but it's not going to be night and day.
Is this the right time to point out that XDCAM EX HQ mode allows 720p recording as well? That would be about half as many pixels as HDV at the same frame rates, but with 40% more data.

The XDCAM codec is just a more advanced version of HDV.

You are right that the codec won't be "night and day" under ideal circumstances for video. Indeed there may be no discernable difference in viewing the codecs under such circumstances.

If you are working in a situation that "breaks" the HDV codec (and they exist even for JVC's version) XDCAM HD should survive in its HQ mode. Then we have a night and day difference. The relevant question becomes how often you encounter situations that work in XDCAM, but not in HDV. (Or pick any two codecs.)

Does that matter? Depends on the shooter and the project. I think I'd choose XDCAM for storm chasing as an example. Not that I ever intend to be storm chasing.

It is an edge case- and you won't get an undeniably better codec until you spend a lot more on your camera system.

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For me the issue isn't quality, it's price. I can't image spending another $1,000 (or more) to get a CF box when the same money would buy SxS cards. The S720 simply would become too expensive at $12K -- or more.
Well you are comparing the wrong things.

The HVR-S270 should MSRP (I think Sony calls it MAP) at ~$10500 USD. 4 audio inputs, HD SDI, component video and TC in/out. Oh... and don't forget full size DV cassettes.

You should expect it to retail at prices comparable to the XL-H1. If that was your choice of camera, then the S270 should make you reevaluate your choices.

The HVR-Z7U is priced against the Canon XH-G1 and the HVX-200. Even though the MSRP is projected at ~$6500 USD, I expect the retail to be closer to $5300.

I agree that for $1300 I'd rather have the EX1 instead of the Z7.

Of course the EX1 has better image controls, and 1/2" full raster 1080p sensors... that's what draws me to the camera.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 09:15 AM   #164
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I really want to love the EX1, but the media cost (reusable or not) and the cost and time involved in creating permanent archives of XDCAM-EX footage really gives me pause. Since I do this as a sideline, not as my major income generator, I have to be really careful about cameras that will have a lot of ongoing cost associated with them. When you add the cost of a XDCAM disk drive or a LTO tape backup system, the $30 archival tape or disk media (vs. $3 for HDV/DV tape) plus the $900 or so for enough SxS cards to shoot for 4-hours without interruption, the whole thing starts to creep out of my price range. I"m also concerned about the ergonomics of the EX1, as it looks a bit large and unwieldy for a handicam format.

I like the cheap media, instant archiving, modular design and compact size of the Z7. Do I wish it had 1/2" chips and a stronger codec? You bet. But pending some field reports on image quality, reliability, etc., I'm hoping it will be a better fit for me. I'm also intrigued by the idea of experimenting with some alternative optics, especially for a wildlife video I've been thinking about for a while.

Hopefully, if Cineform makes good on their promise of delivering an HDMI/compact flash recorder, I could add that on in a year or two and solve the codec issue.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 12:29 PM   #165
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Hopefully, if Cineform makes good on their promise of delivering an HDMI/compact flash recorder, I could add that on in a year or two and solve the codec issue.
Isn't that proposed recorder supposed to be priced in the $3000 - $5000 range? If your main concern is price then I don't see how adding a $3000 box to your camera would help you there.
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