Z7 and Canon A1 in low light at DVinfo.net

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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 March 19th, 2008, 12:23 PM   #1
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Z7 and Canon A1 in low light

I have to make decission which camera to buy for weddings. For one Z7 I can have almost 2 Canons but I am not sure about A1's low light capability.
How would you compare those two camcorders; any links to actual video files would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 01:00 PM   #2
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It's pretty well known that the Z1 is better in the gloom than the Canon and along comes the Z7 which is even better in low light. But you raise an interesting point - 2 perfectly good cameras or one wonderful one?

For weddings you'll need backup. You can never have enough backup. Go for the two matching cameras I say, and breathe easy.

tom.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 07:34 PM   #3
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i wouldnt be buying a Z7 for weddings at this time until tests have been run

with it's rolling shutter problem and its focus problems and panning which i checked for myself i personally think this camera is a dud

Go for the Z1 way better camera it uses CCD and global shutters cant go wrong.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 01:24 AM   #4
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I think Z1 is worse in low light than A1 - don't you think? A1 has two way noise reduction tweeking; I can't imagine filming candle light reception using Z1...
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Old March 20th, 2008, 02:00 AM   #5
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Er - I don't think Sony are into making a 'dud' camera to replace the all-time best selling Z1, Robert. It's not their way.

Sony's published spec for the Z7 and the S270 (an obvious move on the PD170 name) show a low light lux figure of 1.5 lux, or exactly the same as the old VX2000 and PD150. Ah, but these two new cameras are tested at 1/25th sec shutter speed, so sneaking a full stop advantage over the PD150. Cheating, in my view.

The FX1 and Z1 are rated at 3 lux by Sony, but tested at 1/50th sec. John Beale's real-world tests show the Z1 to be just one stop less sensitive than the PD170 when the light gets really low, so who and what to believe? I'm thinking Sony's tests are not consistent across their camcorder range.

I've just done a quick 'n' dirty test with the Z1 alongside the EX1 here with the lights turned down low in my office. To get the images on the screens to match I have the Z1 at f/1.6, 1/50th sec, +9dB of gain up. The EX1 is 1/60th (you can't select 1/50th in 50i shooting for some reason) at f/1.9 and +0dB of gain.

OK, that makes the EX1 one and a half stops more sensitive, but it would gain a further half stop sensitivity if it could shoot at 1/50th and had the wider f/1.6 aperture of the Z1.

So Marius - you now know which camera to buy for low-light weddings.

tom.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 02:41 AM   #6
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There's some good comparison low-light shots (Z1, Z7 and EX1) shown here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...4&goto=newpost

tom.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 12:20 AM   #7
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Z7 in low light compared

Comparing my Z7 with my FX1 both set the same in a low lit room and just looking at the HD TV, the Z7 is twice as bright, and my FX1 is brighter then the A1 HD I used at a reception. Some people like the Cannon better even though it's not as good in low light at the Z1/Fx1 but for low light the Z7 is twice as good. We will test all 3 cameras at our next videographers meeting here in Orlando.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 04:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
[...]you can't select 1/50th in 50i shooting for some reason[...]
Yes Tom, you can - just switch the shutter OFF :)
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:19 AM   #9
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Now you've confused me Piotr. I still can't select 1/50th sec, shutter switched on or off (under the lens). Can you take me gently through the menu setups to get me there, as shooting PAL I really would like to shoot at 1/50th.

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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Now you've confused me Piotr. I still can't select 1/50th sec, shutter switched on or off (under the lens). Can you take me gently through the menu setups to get me there, as shooting PAL I really would like to shoot at 1/50th.

tom.
Tom, with shutter off (hard switch), your shutter speed is always 360deg, i.e. one full exposure per frame (or field, if in interlaced). Thus:

- at 25p, shutter off=1/25th
- at 50i, shutter off=1/50th

Of course, the same idea applies to NTSC frame rates:

- at 24p. shutter off=1/24th
- at 30p, shutter off=1/30th
- at 50i, shutter off=1/60th.

This makes the 1/50th selection in the shutter speeds menu redundand, and unnecessary - that's why the list starts with 1/60th, 1/100th, and down...

This is how it works with the EX1; from guys like Greg Boston I hear it's the same on it's big brothers like the 900 and alike. Hope this helps,

Piotr
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:37 AM   #11
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Thanks Piotr, I now understand. Even if it says 1/60th ion the menu, 'shutter off' means I'm at 1/50th. Who thought this up? Now if only the EX1 shutter speed selection was as simple and easy to do as on the pD170.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:44 AM   #12
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Tom, actually after I got used to that little joystick that can be used with Direct Menu system, I don't find changing shutter speeds, or PP's, or anything that is accessible to it very cumbersome at all. But it's best to have the Direct Menu set to "Part" rather than "Direct", as the latter setting disables the hard switches of gain, WB etc.
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; March 22nd, 2008 at 08:15 AM.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 11:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marius Boruch View Post
I think Z1 is worse in low light than A1 - don't you think? A1 has two way noise reduction tweeking; I can't imagine filming candle light reception using Z1...
I have an FX1 and just got an A1 recently. On the whole, I can't say one clearly outperforms the other in low light. The A1 seems a little more sensitive and is far more tweakable, but the gain is cleaner on the FX1. I haven't really used the noise reduction on the A1 enough yet to know if it is very useful. The A1 can shoot a sharper image than the FX1, but engaging spatial NR to achieve equivalent noise levels between the cameras might negate that difference (my initial impression is that it does). Temporal NR can be great for stationary shots with little movement in the frame, but doesn't help much where there is significant motion (and can also degrade the image then). My preference is to use NR in post. When NR is used in camera, the effects are irreversible.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 11:40 AM   #14
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Go with the 2 A1s

I have been using the Canon A1s for most of 2007 at wedding and I am happy with the results. It does take some time to get the best picture from the camera but when it works, it produces a great picture.

I did a test between the A1 and the Z7 and the Z7 did have a much brighter picture then the A1 but the A1 had a sharper picture in good light. With the Sony being $2200 more then the A1 (Z7 are selling for $5300 at authorized dealers), I do not think it is worth it. The A1 is still the best “value” for the money in my opinion.

That being said, I am looking into buying a Sony EX1. Since the EX1 has better picture quality then the Z7 or A1, I think it is worth the money and will compliment my A1s nicely.

So I probably just confused you more, sorry. If I did not have a HDV camera yet, and had a small budget, the A1 would be a no-brainer for me.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 12:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jeffrey Fuchs View Post
I have been using the Canon A1s for most of 2007 at wedding and I am happy with the results. It does take some time to get the best picture from the camera but when it works, it produces a great picture.

I did a test between the A1 and the Z7 and the Z7 did have a much brighter picture then the A1 but the A1 had a sharper picture in good light. With the Sony being $2200 more then the A1 (Z7 are selling for $5300 at authorized dealers), I do not think it is worth it. The A1 is still the best “value” for the money in my opinion.

That being said, I am looking into buying a Sony EX1. Since the EX1 has better picture quality then the Z7 or A1, I think it is worth the money and will compliment my A1s nicely.

So I probably just confused you more, sorry. If I did not have a HDV camera yet, and had a small budget, the A1 would be a no-brainer for me.
Hi neighbor (Watkins, MN here). I really like the A1 (a lot), but if I were going to go shoot somebody's wedding this afternoon, I'd lean on my FX1. The A1 might be capable of shooting a better image if you have the time to set it up, but I can get the FX1 set up quicker and it sure is a lot easier to get focus on the fly. That viewfinder on the A1 is pretty rough.
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