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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 31st, 2008, 06:40 AM   #1
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Z7U or EX1...tough decision.

Some of my work is in the wedding industry....most of my work is for corporate/tourism and mostly displayed via flash on the web.
I have owned a Z1U since its' inception and have been very pleased. I also owned Panasonic 100s, Canon XL1 and JVC DV500, as well as a BetaCam..."anyone want to buy a BetaCam?" LOL .
Since its' announcement, I had planned seriously on getting the EX1...promise of inexpensive memory cards, 1/2" chips, etc. We even just got a new 8core Mac to handle it. But now, with the inherent lens issues, more costly cards and a better understanding that 25mbs on the EX1 might be the same compression quality as HDV, I'm having second thoughts.
Aside from being able to use all may accessories from the Z1U as well as the expensive Canon lens and controller from the old BetaCam, not to mention the host of other features found on the Z7, and record to tape as back-up, could the EX1 picture really be so much better in 35mbs to justify giving up these features found on the Z7U at 25mbs?
I'm down here in Key West so it makes actually getting hands on comparisons difficult...but I really appreciate any thoughts pro and con about both these unique cameras.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:13 AM   #2
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I ordered my Z7 from Tapeworks last week but I'm still having pangs of "did I make the right choice?" For me, it came down to a couple of things:

1/ I love the look I get from my current HDV camera except in low light. Either camera should be very similar to my old VX2000 in low light.

2/ Most of my shooting is done with a wide angle lens attached and with the camera sitting on a Spiderbrace with a lanc controller on the left handgrip. The EX1 wouldn't be too friendly to this. I would eventually be able to buy a controller, but it's going to be a lot more money. The revolving control grip on the EX1 is something that ergonomically would be difficult for me. From all reports, the EX1 is akward hand-held, but with the way they did the controls, it's not going to work that well on something like a Spiderbrace either. The Z7 will just let me keep working the way I already do, and with a wideangle lens replacing rather than adding onto the stock lens, it will be nice and short and light as well.

3/ I just got a 16GB Transcend Compact Flash in the mail today. It was under $80! I have two slightly more expensive Kingston technology cards on order as well. Hopefully all three will work. That's 48GB for less than the price of one SxS 8GB card! If the Transcend works OK, the first thing I'm going to do is order their 32GB version for $179. At the prices of the SxS cards, I'd be sticking with the included 8GB cards on the EX.

4/ A replaceable lens is a really big deal to me. I've been looking at the Phil Bloom stuff and it is simply outstanding. None the less, I know I would never want to work with that much glass hanging off the front of my camera. In the Z7 brochures, they have pictures of the camera with a cinematic style lens replacing the stock lens. Now that (both on the tripod and on a Spiderbrace) is something I could live with. I've been working with add on wide angle lenses for long enough to know that I really don't like the add on approach. It's front heavy and akward.

5/ Backing up footage is important. Simultaneously going to memory card and tape will save me hours every day that I work. I'll save on capture time by going to the card and I'll save on backup time because I will already have a backup on tape. I have an absolute fear of losing important footage. The extra safety is a huge deal.

6/ The Z7 has an audio limiter. I'm a one person show when I shoot. With the Z7 it looks like I will be able to set a reasonable level, engage the limiter, and have pretty decent audio for the most part no matter what happens. With no limiter, I'd be forever fidgeting with the audio levels, setting levels below optimum for safety, and still having having clipping no matter how much I messed with it. A limiter is super important.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:12 AM   #3
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Laurence, your reasoning sounds good and has really tilted the scales for me. I will be holding off on purchasing a Z7 for a little wile. Mainly because I just bought two new V1s. But I think a Z7 is in my near future. I have many times in the past been an early adapter but I am going to try to wait and see how people like these cams before diving in. I am deeply invested in Sony products and will probably stay with them. But I do want the interchangeable lense. I can hardly wait to see some of your video shot with the new Z7.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 01:00 PM   #4
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Another thing that is sort of silly, but will affect me in a very practical way: The Z7 has two shoe mounts: one for a light and one for a wireless (at least that's how I see it). Talk about something that is really important, easy to add, and costs next to nothing!
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Old January 31st, 2008, 01:04 PM   #5
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Wow that is really interesting. I wish I had that on the V1s.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:11 PM   #6
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Same position...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Hollenback View Post
But now, with the inherent lens issues, more costly cards and a better understanding that 25mbs on the EX1 might be the same compression quality as HDV, I'm having second thoughts.
I finally got my grubby paws on a Z7 at a UK trade show today. Like you, I've been salivating over the EX-1, and had an afternoon playing with one when I should have been working. I handed it back with exactly the same feeling I had with the JVC HD100 - heart wants (*needs*) it, head has a few issues.

So I'm beginning to cool off on the EX-1, especially if I take a cold hard look at what earns me money: SD and long record times. The Z7 answers many criticisms I had about the Z1 (even little things like underscan now available in SD mode). The 'paint' features seem strong, and the 1080p50 looked gorgeous - only the DoF gave it away.

Then there's the stuff I already have, the batteries, the Century wide and tele converters, the LED ring for my Chromaflex, the matte box, all can be shared.

And will my clients notice the difference between the Z7 and the EX-1? Probably not.

OTOH, I got to play with a humble Z1 with a Red Rock M2 with a little 35mm Nikkor (wide angle AND restricted DoF - wow!). Now, that was an image to get excited about. For the price of 3 16GB SxS cards, I could get a great system together.

The Fujinon lens and the half inch chip on the EX-1 are awesome, but the camera is an answer to the HVX200, not the Z1. I love the HVX200 dearly, but my Z1 earns money. So I think I'll be going Z7.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:19 PM   #7
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The Z7 does look very nice. If I had 4 grand I would get one. It's aimed at a very different market to the EX1. It certainly is going to be a great camera to buy. Especially with better glass that the standard lens on it.

I have been working on the Sony stand at the exhibition, hired to talk about the ex1, as I use it so much. But it has been interesting to see the new z1 and 270. I wouldn't want the 270 but the z1 for more looks like the perfect HDV camera. Not sure if I would ever touch the CF recording though...
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bloom View Post
Not sure if I would ever touch the CF recording though...
Interesting - obviously the SxS cards are super-fast (and perfect for MacBook Pro owners), but in the Z7 it would seem to be the ideal way to shoot HDV: no dropouts, no agonizing wait for recording to start like on the Z1 (doing a Private Jones 'Don't Panic! Don't Panic!' impression as the REC indicator flashes away and your shot disappears in front of your eyes).

Is it the CF format you're unhappy about? Or memories of dubbing onto tape until the wee small hours, or the slower transfer speed?

I was thinking about buying one for my Z1 too...
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:34 PM   #9
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the format it records in is no good for me! I am told it's not FCP compatible? please correct me if I am wrong.

But the main reason, being as an EX1 owner operator the reason I would buy the z7 too is for those situations when I know I can't get to a computer to dump off, so I need a great quality tape camera instead! For example I was to go into a third world country and sleep in a tent. I wouldn't want my ex1 as it would mean my macbook pro and a blu-ray burner. That would be ridiculous. So in those situations, and in many others tape is still a vital format and it's great that sony, canon and to a lesser degree JVC (come on guys! Where is 1080p??!) are still making cameras that use it. The Z7 looks to be a real winner!

I think it's a real shame Panasonic don't have an HDV tape camera. Would have been great to have an HDV DVX100 quality camera.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 07:00 PM   #10
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Oo-er. FCP 6.0.3, anyone? I'm sure Apple will have to support the M2T (whatever) files from CF, or Sony updates the XDCAM app to cope with CF. I can dream, can't I? OTOH, I have had great success recording direct from FireWire direct to hard disk via the MBP and apps such as Veescope, CaptureMagic, and a few others. Even QT Player for HDV...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bloom View Post
Especially with better glass that the standard lens on it.
I asked at a couple of booths if I could fit the Fujinon lenses designed for the JVC HD100 onto the Z7 and didn't exactly get outright denial. There's a very nice wide, albeit at £5k, that made the HD100 into a very interesting camera (unfortunately costing more than a standard F330).

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Originally Posted by Phil Bloom View Post
nd to a lesser degree JVC (come on guys! Where is 1080p??!)
A half inch HD?00 shooting 1080p to non-tape. Hmmm. With HD100 ergonomics? Get thee behind me - too tempting.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 12:41 AM   #11
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I use Sony Vegas and it handles m2t format clips just beautifully. It even smart-renders m2t. On a decent Intel Core2Duo it's not much different feeling than working with DV on a P4.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 05:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bloom View Post
Not sure if I would ever touch the CF recording though...
From later posts I gather it's the 25 v 35Mbs data rate you don't like, but CF itself is easily able to handle much higher rates than even 35Mbs. The big "WHY?" to me is why the EX doesn't use CF rather than SxS.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 06:07 AM   #13
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The big "WHY?" to me is why the EX doesn't use CF rather than SxS.
At the same show was a lovely box (still in prototype form) that used up to 4 CF cards (which you could AB roll, or ABCD roll!) to record HD-SDI to 4:2:2 50 Mbit (and 100 Mbit supposedly) MPEG2. So for capture, CF is up there with SxS.

However, in rough tests scantly documented (i.e. me mucking around with an EX-1 instead of doing what I should be doing on an on-site edit), I transfered an 8 Gig card in an eye blink, way beyond what used to happen with a 4 Gig card using firewire in my ex HVX200.

Maybe SxS has the edge in transferring to NLE, at or around 10x real time (IIRC it seemed faster - 20 mins of material in 2 mins or less).

With my sanity hat on, I need to consider that thing that Germans have a word for that's along the lines of 'eye-blink-time', in that if technology X takes two and a half twiches of a lambs tail, and technology Y takes three and a half twitches of a lambs tail, but technology Z takes 20-30 twitches, then agonizing over X & Y will probably waste more time than going for Z. Just go with X or Y depending on, phooo - toss a coin. But CF cards can be bought in airports and drug stores with petty cash, and SxS can't.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 06:09 AM   #14
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It's been interesting to play with the Z7 at the Video Forum in London. OK, it's a mildly face lifted Z1 if truth be told, and you've got to want to use different lenses to jump ship. Did anyone go PD150 to 170? Not many. Sony have a wide-angle zoom that starts at (equiv) 28 mm in the pipeline, but that's only wide, not dramatic.

The lens is a good stop faster (f/2) at full tele - something the Z1 cried out for with its tiny pixels. That - in combination with the more sensitive CMOS technology, is quite a pull. The differential focus capabilities were quite impressive, but switching to the EX1 show that with the latter you don't have to try for limited DoF anywhere near as hard.

Very impressive focus assist (not expanded focus, note), and as always horrible jerky 25p. But that's just me. Shame my beautiful Bolex Aspheron vignettes badly of the Z7's 12x zoom, whereas it's fine on the Z1.

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Old February 1st, 2008, 06:54 AM   #15
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Maybe SxS has the edge in transferring to NLE, at or around 10x real time (IIRC it seemed faster - 20 mins of material in 2 mins or less).
Good point, though I wonder if your tests may not have been testing the rest of the hardware as much as the difference between the cards themselves? An SxS card plugged straight into a laptop should have access to a very high speed bus, in a way that a CF card plugged into a USB adaptor won't. (And same applies to P2.) Be interesting to try CF via an Expesscard adaptor, when hopefully the limiting factor will be card performance in each case, SxS will almost certainly be faster, but by how much now?

And nice points made about the "eye-blink time". If the 20 mins of material took 2 mins of material to transfer with SxS, but (say) 4-5 mins with CF, does that advantage merit the big price difference for most users? Compared to the "Z" of tape capture, they really are the X and Y.
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