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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 January 20th, 2008, 02:04 PM   #1
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Upgrading from FX-1's

I'm a wedding videographer currently using a pair of FX-1's. I was thinking about buying 2 of the Z7's and pairing them with the FX-1's. From what I've read, there aren't a lot of differences between the two cameras (that I might use). The CF stuff sounds great, but I shoot a lot of weddings and don't want to take the chance of storing them all on HD's. I already use Wide-angle adapters on the FX-1's, so that isn't a big deal either. The other big difference is the change from CCD to CMOS. Does anybody think that will make it any better in low-light? Sorry if I noobed anything up in here.

Thanks,

Chad
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Old January 20th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #2
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The CF stuff sounds great, but I shoot a lot of weddings and don't want to take the chance of storing them all on HD's.
I think I'm set to record HDV to Compact Flash with a pocketful of 16GB and soon 32GB cards, then put the selects back onto HDV tape using an M15 deck for archiving (I may be wrong, but I think it will take the pseudo timecode, so there may be a blind chance of doing a batch capture).

I tend to end up with hours of stuff in long continuous chunks too, so a deck with 4.5 hours per tape can cope with the raw footage and it can happen offline using a hand-me-down computer as I'll actually be working from hard disk most of the time.

There is BluRay at around 50 GB, but that's less than 4 hours footage per disk.

FWIW, various brochures and beta tests claim that the Z7 is around 1.5 lux or equal to a PD150. There may be some weasel-words in there, but if the Z7 handles low light like a PD150, I for one will be happy with that. I feel perpetually stuck at f2.8 with +3dB gain indoors with the Z1 (thank goodness for black stretch).
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Old January 21st, 2008, 12:20 AM   #3
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The Z7 should be excellent in low light: as good as a PD150 or EX1 if early reports are correct. This is probably the main reason I am looking at this camera. I have an HVR-A1, and love the footage I get outdoors in daylight, but don't find it adequate indoors in any kind of low light. The Z7 should fix this.

I am also looking forward to using the Compact Flash for quick dropout free transfers along with the tape for fast reliable archiving. That and the lens that can be replaced with a wide angle lens. This camera looks like exactly what I need.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 04:52 AM   #4
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The Z7 should be excellent in low light: as good as a PD150 or EX1 if early reports are correct. This is probably the main reason I am looking at this camera. I have an HVR-A1, and love the footage I get outdoors in daylight, but don't find it adequate indoors in any kind of low light. The Z7 should fix this.

I am also looking forward to using the Compact Flash for quick dropout free transfers along with the tape for fast reliable archiving. That and the lens that can be replaced with a wide angle lens. This camera looks like exactly what I need.
Ditto. Exactly my thoughts too (and I have a HC1 which I love, as long as the sun is out!) and use a PD150 a lot when it's not. A friend has the V1 and I know that's not the solution I want, great though it is in many ways.

This all assumes the Z7 lives up to the expectations both you and I and no doubt many others have (and it's not exactly cheap is it!)

I've looked at the EX1 (a friend here has just got one) and very nice it is too but the (currently) VERY expensive storage format and limited run time with two 8GB SXS cards, issue on archiving etc. means I'm not yet ready to make that leap to leave tape behind just yet. Cheap compact flash for PC download (16 or even 32 GB should be easily affordable, bigger cards coming) and tape for archive and secondary back-up is ideal for me going forward for the next few years.

Anyway, can I quote you word for word when I try and justify the expense of a Z7 with my wife later this year? (!!!)

:=)
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; January 21st, 2008 at 06:38 AM.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 10:28 AM   #5
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I am getting ready to do a new documentary on doctors falsely accused of Medicare fraud. I am going to do literaly hundreds of hours of interviews. As much as I would like to use an EX1, especially for the same price as a Z7, I just can't.

Imagine the following: "Hold that thought Dr. Baker, I just have to do a quick transfer of footage to my laptop..."
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Old January 21st, 2008, 11:33 AM   #6
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Imagine the following: "Hold that thought Dr. Baker, I just have to do a quick transfer of footage to my laptop..."

Laurence, I'm just brainstorming - correct me if i'm wrong or completely out of my mind :)

Honestly I can't imagine how the above can possibly happen in a pre-planned documentary. You have 2 - 8 GB cards with the camera - get another 16 GB for $850. That gives you 160 minutes of HDV in a row.

That is 2 hours and 45 minutes !! I can't imagine anyone talking for more than a 2 hours 45 minutes with regards to one thought. I'd think even a bio break would be due by then - ha ha.

Even if you have the 2 - 8 GB cards - gosh that is almost 1.5 hours. More than HDV tape

Even if you are interviewing and don't have time to dump the first card , while the second continues to record - you are still way ahead.

Also - are you shooting on a mini-dv/hdv camera right now. That is only 60 minutes. If you want to use the existing cards - if you can dump every 40 mintues (which would take like 5 minutes - in which u can continue to work) you still don't have a problem.

I know people who are shooting weddings with 2 - 8 GB and 1 - 16 GB card without a sweat - and that is non-stop crazy chaos :)

I also think ur workflow would be really clean - all files on the laptop ready to edit , preview. I'd take the solid state approach in a heart beat.

Then again - you know the job best and what tools will fit - so there maybe something i'm overlooking.


Thanks :)
Paul
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Old January 21st, 2008, 02:26 PM   #7
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You're probably right. If I just bite the bullet and buy an extra 16GB card I'd probably be fine with the EX-1
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Old January 21st, 2008, 04:35 PM   #8
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...at $850 a throw...gulp!!!!
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Old January 21st, 2008, 05:04 PM   #9
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Especially compared to deals like this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Elite_Pro.html

16GB for $155 after rebate (limit two). $310 for over two hours of record time sounds pretty good for a start doesn't it, not to mention that I already have batteries, chargers, and a lanc controller that will work right off...
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Old January 21st, 2008, 06:16 PM   #10
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Any difference between tape/CF?

Other than the obvious (quick transfer), what is the benefit of recording to CF cards? Will the CF cards record at a higher resolution?
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Old January 21st, 2008, 06:29 PM   #11
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There are definitely lots of advantages to going to a card rather than a tape:

1/ Faster transfer
2/ no tape errors
3/ instant review of previous shots
4/ no need to find the end of tape after previewing shots
5/ ability to delete bad takes and reuse the space
6/ cheaper
7/ just fooling around.

There are also times when going to tape makes more sense:

1/ when you need hundreds of hours of source footage for a documentary.
2/ when you are travelling to remote areas where you don't want to bring a laptop.
3/ long days when you don't want to archive after shooting all day.
4/ not wanting to bring redundant hard drives to a shoot.
5/ you are shooting something that will be edited by someone else.

Then there are times when shooting to both at once makes sense:

1/ You want a permanent backup, but don't want to spend time capturing either.
2/ Extra safety on an interview or shot that is hard or impossible to do again.
3/ You want to avoid spending ours burning raw footage to blu-ray or XD cam optical drives.
4/ you want to give the footage to one person but keep a copy for yourself.
5/ you want to review shots without rewinding the tape.
6/ you want to mail the tapes from a remote location to yourself in case of theft or damage of your computer.
7/ you want to mail tapes to an editor, yet keep a copy until you are sure they arrive safely.

Then there is the option of going to card, but having tapes handy if you run out of space.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 06:51 PM   #12
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I'm a wedding videographer and we have a few months of weddings waiting to be edited. A CF card just isn't really an option for us right now due to the back up strategy. I could always build a RAID 5 array, but I still feel safer with tapes. I was hoping to hear that the CF captured the video at a higher res or less compressed.
I think the fact that you can do both at the same time is really helpful as well.

Last edited by Chad Dyle; January 21st, 2008 at 08:32 PM.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 03:19 AM   #13
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Nice summing up of the pros and cons of solid state and tape, Laurence, and yes, being able to do either/both is good.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Dyle View Post
I was hoping to hear that the CF captured the video at a higher res or less compressed.
Chad, not quite what you want, but worth mentioning that you can record HD to one media and SD to the other. That could be useful if you want an SD edit now (via CF) yet want to archive the rushes in HDV for possible future HD use
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 07:35 PM   #14
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Advantage of solid state media

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Dyle View Post
Other than the obvious (quick transfer), what is the benefit of recording to CF cards? Will the CF cards record at a higher resolution?
Laurence has made lots of very good points on the advantage of CF or solid state media. From a practical use standpoint, here's mine.

From a wedding/events shooter/editor perspective, the ability to edit immediately. Most of events require 4-6 tapes, or about 4-6 hours. Tape to PC transfer take up about the same time. This is not just about the regular edits but even fast/quick edits.

If one is doing an SDE (Same Day Edit) where the wedding is shot today but to be shown at the reception 2-3 hours after the event, CFs cut off the time for transfer dramatically. Even last minute shoots can be added to the edit! Imagine the cake cutting or first dance just being cued in the blank time line of the NLE software. Once that part is finished, that 5-10 min segment is transferred in seconds instead of 5-10 min. Then minor edits, then it's off to the render process, then it's ready for presentation! SDEs are added revenue streams to a wedding shooter and a good marketing tool.


As for archival, I still think tape is the best. We still have to wait for the new disc media to prove their worth. What can be done in the mean time is to use the tape now to backup the copy of the files from the CF. And that can be done in the background or in another machine. I plan to go this route in addition to HD backups.

But if you ask me, another option is to use CFs themselves as the archival storage themselves. If a wedding in AVCHD requires about 16-32gb CF for a 4-6 hour shoot. In time, the price will drop to U$100 or less for a fast 32gb CF type storage (likely SD) and that can be factored at the medium of archival itself. Compression issues aside, this shows how smaller the files are for the same resolution.

This medium can be debatable but at least tape is still an option for archival. But it can always be done post or simultaneously while editing (not rendering). The important thing is the files are in the computer in less than 1 hour and ready to be edited instead of 4-6 hours, maybe even more if you do multiple cameras or or shooting documentaries, etc. One just need to practice good backup routines religiously and not cut them off in the workflow.

As for resolution, they're the same as HDV. But it's the compression that many balk about. For certain things, they won't be satisfactory (likely fast action sequences), but for some of us, they may be enough (weddings or slow moving events). Of course, if they just open up past 17mbs with 25mbs as the theoretical limit, things can get better. Even at 20mbs, will help. But we will just have to wait for the next cameras for them to increase it.

For other applications, I'm sure, 25mbs is not going to be enough. But then again, that's why you buy those U$6-10k cameras. You also buy them for their color space, expandability, more controls, etc.

But as far as CF/SD or whatever storage, I hope it gets better because some applications, heck maybe almost all applications can benefit from solid state storage. It's not just the convenience, it's the speed, and lesser overall problems, except maybe for archival purposes where we do need tape to tide us over for a while.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mel Enriquez View Post
Laurence has made lots of very good points on the advantage of CF or solid state media. From a practical use standpoint, here's mine.

From a wedding/events shooter/editor perspective, the ability to edit immediately. Most of events require 4-6 tapes, or about 4-6 hours. Tape to PC transfer take up about the same time. This is not just about the regular edits but even fast/quick edits.

If one is doing an SDE (Same Day Edit) where the wedding is shot today but to be shown at the reception 2-3 hours after the event, CFs cut off the time for transfer dramatically. Even last minute shoots can be added to the edit! Imagine the cake cutting or first dance just being cued in the blank time line of the NLE software. Once that part is finished, that 5-10 min segment is transferred in seconds instead of 5-10 min. Then minor edits, then it's off to the render process, then it's ready for presentation! SDEs are added revenue streams to a wedding shooter and a good marketing tool.


As for archival, I still think tape is the best. We still have to wait for the new disc media to prove their worth. What can be done in the mean time is to use the tape now to backup the copy of the files from the CF. And that can be done in the background or in another machine. I plan to go this route in addition to HD backups.

But if you ask me, another option is to use CFs themselves as the archival storage themselves. If a wedding in AVCHD requires about 16-32gb CF for a 4-6 hour shoot. In time, the price will drop to U$100 or less for a fast 32gb CF type storage (likely SD) and that can be factored at the medium of archival itself. Compression issues aside, this shows how smaller the files are for the same resolution.

This medium can be debatable but at least tape is still an option for archival. But it can always be done post or simultaneously while editing (not rendering). The important thing is the files are in the computer in less than 1 hour and ready to be edited instead of 4-6 hours, maybe even more if you do multiple cameras or or shooting documentaries, etc. One just need to practice good backup routines religiously and not cut them off in the workflow.

As for resolution, they're the same as HDV. But it's the compression that many balk about. For certain things, they won't be satisfactory (likely fast action sequences), but for some of us, they may be enough (weddings or slow moving events). Of course, if they just open up past 17mbs with 25mbs as the theoretical limit, things can get better. Even at 20mbs, will help. But we will just have to wait for the next cameras for them to increase it.

For other applications, I'm sure, 25mbs is not going to be enough. But then again, that's why you buy those U$6-10k cameras. You also buy them for their color space, expandability, more controls, etc.

But as far as CF/SD or whatever storage, I hope it gets better because some applications, heck maybe almost all applications can benefit from solid state storage. It's not just the convenience, it's the speed, and lesser overall problems, except maybe for archival purposes where we do need tape to tide us over for a while.
I'm not sure what you mean by 17mb/s. HDV 2 (1080i) is 25 mb/s and HDV 1 (720p) is 19 mb/s. It so happens that DV tape will hold the up to 25 mb/s compression of HDV. The recording medium really has nothing to do with quality; it is the format that dictates quality. Now if you're talking AVCHD, that's a format that can benefit from higher bit rates, but remember AVCHD tops out at 24mb/s but uses a more efficient MPEG-4 codec.

The Z7 and S270 give you the best of both worlds: faster transfers and less chance of errors with flash, and archival workflow with tape. Gosh with any recording device, it's nice to have a backup. The only sticking points are whether or not the quality of HDV is good enough for your use and the price. Remember, these cameras will only come with Sony's Carl Zeiss 12x lens. Interchangeable lens for Sony means. . . stock it with the cheapie, and you buy the expensive glass if you want. Don't expect the glass to be any better than what's on the Z1 and FX1. Also, the low light performance is based on that 12x lens. Put better glass on those cameras and they might be a bit more than a stop better than the V1.

In my opinion, the Z7 is not an option. At $6500 USD, I rather buy the EX-1 for the same price. The S270 is more attractive because it is shoulder mount, capable of using up to 4 and 1/2 hour large DV tapes, capable of 4 channel audio recording, SDI and HDSDI with timecode, hybrid recording and interchangeable lens. Of course, all that comes with a steep price of $10,500 USD.

The only advantage of the Z7 for what I can see is it's a bit better than Sony's V1. . . larger sensors, hybrid recording, and interchangeable lens if you want to go there. Now if the Z7 was five grand, I'm there but not at $6500.
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