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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 April 9th, 2008, 04:06 PM   #1
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I'm keeping my Z7U's...

I went from 2 VX2000's and a Sony DV Handycam 5 years ago to 2 Z7U's and a Canon HV20. I am glad I waited and did not get the Canon A1's. The Canon's cannot do a simultaneous zoom/focus. (The focus is locked until you stop zooming.) I use the Canon HV20 to play back tapes when necessary, and also to act as a 3rd locked down shot. It matches almost perfectly, just a little color correction needed, as long as you have good light for the Canon. Here's the strengths and weaknesses about my Z7's:

1. Low light performance: matches my VX2000's, very realistic to my own eyes.
2. CF Card recording: can't beat the speed in downloading files over real time tape transfers. I use the Sandisk 133S, 16 gig cards, no problems. However, I do check all of my clips to make sure they all play back in Premiere Pro. Very rarely, but it does happen, I'll get a corrupted file. I then have to get the tape out, find that clip, transfer it, then I'm good to go. It's rare for me to do this, but easy to rectify. That's what I like about dual recording, you have a backup.
3. Multi-format recording: HDV, DV, 16X9, 4X3, 60i, 24p, the list goes on. I can use it for almost any shoot, and double record everything.
4. A real lens: a real focus ring, a real zoom ring and an iris ring. Yes, there may be a little play in the zoom, but I have not had any problems with this. I have not noticed a lot of play like some folks are finding. I have been using manual lenses for many years. I am not zoom crazy anyway, I like to move the camera.
5. Autofocus: This is the only weakness I have found so far. I don't use it unless I am willing to take a chance on it. I am used to manual focus and rarely use this feature. I have used it for the bridesmaids procession walk, no problem yet. The reception is another story, probably due to low light and too many other hot spots in the background that will throw it off. Autofocus seems to be a bit too sensitive on this lens. I like to keep the focus ring in the B position (closer to the camera body) and do manual focus. In this position, the foot readout is always in the LCD screen, so if you are on a wide shot and can judge distances well, you will not have a problem with using manual focus. I would not use this method, however, on a tight or even medium shot, unless you have done practice. Shooting low light in HD you gotta be right on the money with focus. I'll always zoom in tight and check focus for the close ups, or I'll just stay a bit wider if I don't have time.
6. Balance: A little front heavy, especially if you put a light on top (close to the front) of the camera. I put a wireless receiver on the back, velcro'd to the tape eject door. That puts a little weight back there and helps. Also, I use the biggest battery, which is heavier. I also use the Anton Bauer EGripZ, which really helps. All in all, very happy with this.
7. CMOS issues: May have a bit more flashes when still photographer goes crazy, but is not objectionable. Looks gorgeous outside.
7. Appearance: It's black, looks very professional, most folks (even the Still Photographer's) take notice.

It's not the "Perfect" camera. But, it was a big step up for me and I am very happy with my choice. The combination of the low light and the CF recording is what sold me. I am only shooting 1080, 60i at present, so cannot offer any feedback in the other areas that this camera can offer. It has so many menus and features, I'll probably never use them all, but it does indeed make beautiful pictures and has the most real camera/lens feel for this price range.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 05:13 PM   #2
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Can you post some footage? I shoot all kinds of things from talking heads, corporate training, weddings. I am still amazed that no one is putting up their videos. I would love to see someone put up something on vimeo that is well done and longer than 15 seconds. Anyone out there with an interview shot with the Z7? Sports? an edited piece of anything? Thanks guys It's just frustrating to see all the EX1 stuff but hardly any Z7
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Old April 9th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #3
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thanks for your impressions on the z7u

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Gradin View Post
I went from 2 VX2000's and a Sony DV Handycam 5 years ago to 2 Z7U's and a Canon HV20. I am glad I waited and did not get the Canon A1's. The Canon's cannot do a simultaneous zoom/focus. (The focus is locked until you stop zooming.) I use the Canon HV20 to play back tapes when necessary, and also to act as a 3rd locked down shot. It matches almost perfectly, just a little color correction needed, as long as you have good light for the Canon. Here's the strengths and weaknesses about my Z7's:

1. Low light performance: matches my VX2000's, very realistic to my own eyes.
This is very good news. I have a vx-2000 myself and I want to have the same low light capabilities but in HDV. I was thinking of the A1 too, but decided to wait longer. The z7u is for sure the substitute for the vx. Too bad it is a bit pricey even with the cuts. Who knows, maybe the competitors will introduce one in the U$4k range. In any case, the z7u is the one to gun for me now. :)

How is the color? The same? Warmer like the VX?


QUOTE=Stephen Gradin;857204]
2. CF Card recording: can't beat the speed in downloading files over real time tape transfers. I use the Sandisk 133S, 16 gig cards, no problems. However, I do check all of my clips to make sure they all play back in Premiere Pro. Very rarely, but it does happen, I'll get a corrupted file. I then have to get the tape out, find that clip, transfer it, then I'm good to go. It's rare for me to do this, but easy to rectify. That's what I like about dual recording, you have a backup.
[/QUOTE]

How long does it take for you to download the 16gb files?

And you are right about having redundancy. I like to be able to record to tape for archival purposes. The CF is for easy transfers and faster time to start editing. It's great for SDEs.



QUOTE=Stephen Gradin;857204]
3. Multi-format recording: HDV, DV, 16X9, 4X3, 60i, 24p, the list goes on. I can use it for almost any shoot, and double record everything.
4. A real lens: a real focus ring, a real zoom ring and an iris ring. Yes, there may be a little play in the zoom, but I have not had any problems with this. I have not noticed a lot of play like some folks are finding. I have been using manual lenses for many years. I am not zoom crazy anyway, I like to move the camera.
[/QUOTE]

Not much use for the multi-format, but it's nice to have. As for the lens, well, having an interchangeable one is good in case one wants to do shallow DOF or increase the range or go wider.

BTW, how's the battery life? About the same as the VX?

QUOTE=Stephen Gradin;857204]
It's not the "Perfect" camera. But, it was a big step up for me and I am very happy with my choice. The combination of the low light and the CF recording is what sold me. I am only shooting 1080, 60i at present, so cannot offer any feedback in the other areas that this camera can offer. It has so many menus and features, I'll probably never use them all, but it does indeed make beautiful pictures and has the most real camera/lens feel for this price range.[/QUOTE]

Have you tried still captures while shooting? How is the image quality? Is it like a P&S camera or better than that?


Thanks for sharing with us your experiences and impressions on the camera!

-Mel Enriquez
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Old April 9th, 2008, 11:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy B. Turner View Post
Can you post some footage? I shoot all kinds of things from talking heads, corporate training, weddings. I am still amazed that no one is putting up their videos. I would love to see someone put up something on vimeo that is well done and longer than 15 seconds. Anyone out there with an interview shot with the Z7? Sports? an edited piece of anything? Thanks guys It's just frustrating to see all the EX1 stuff but hardly any Z7
I don't know if this helps. I don't have the time to set up a vimeo account yet, but this piece was shot entirely with Z7 cams

http://www.firstsightpictures.com/ne...thtrailer.html
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Old April 10th, 2008, 12:26 AM   #5
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Yes! Thank you. I would love to see a higher quality version up on vimeo if you get a chance, but thanks for sharing that. (One of the better wedding sites I've seen too I might add :)
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Old April 10th, 2008, 12:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Gradin View Post
I went from 2 VX2000's and a Sony DV Handycam 5 years ago to 2 Z7U's and a Canon HV20. I am glad I waited and did not get the Canon A1's. The Canon's cannot do a simultaneous zoom/focus. (The focus is locked until you stop zooming.) I use the Canon HV20 to play back tapes when necessary, and also to act as a 3rd locked down shot. It matches almost perfectly, just a little color correction needed, as long as you have good light for the Canon. Here's the strengths and weaknesses about my Z7's:

1. Low light performance: matches my VX2000's, very realistic to my own eyes.
2. CF Card recording: can't beat the speed in downloading files over real time tape transfers. I use the Sandisk 133S, 16 gig cards, no problems. However, I do check all of my clips to make sure they all play back in Premiere Pro. Very rarely, but it does happen, I'll get a corrupted file. I then have to get the tape out, find that clip, transfer it, then I'm good to go. It's rare for me to do this, but easy to rectify. That's what I like about dual recording, you have a backup.
3. Multi-format recording: HDV, DV, 16X9, 4X3, 60i, 24p, the list goes on. I can use it for almost any shoot, and double record everything.
4. A real lens: a real focus ring, a real zoom ring and an iris ring. Yes, there may be a little play in the zoom, but I have not had any problems with this. I have not noticed a lot of play like some folks are finding. I have been using manual lenses for many years. I am not zoom crazy anyway, I like to move the camera.
5. Autofocus: This is the only weakness I have found so far. I don't use it unless I am willing to take a chance on it. I am used to manual focus and rarely use this feature. I have used it for the bridesmaids procession walk, no problem yet. The reception is another story, probably due to low light and too many other hot spots in the background that will throw it off. Autofocus seems to be a bit too sensitive on this lens. I like to keep the focus ring in the B position (closer to the camera body) and do manual focus. In this position, the foot readout is always in the LCD screen, so if you are on a wide shot and can judge distances well, you will not have a problem with using manual focus. I would not use this method, however, on a tight or even medium shot, unless you have done practice. Shooting low light in HD you gotta be right on the money with focus. I'll always zoom in tight and check focus for the close ups, or I'll just stay a bit wider if I don't have time.
6. Balance: A little front heavy, especially if you put a light on top (close to the front) of the camera. I put a wireless receiver on the back, velcro'd to the tape eject door. That puts a little weight back there and helps. Also, I use the biggest battery, which is heavier. I also use the Anton Bauer EGripZ, which really helps. All in all, very happy with this.
7. CMOS issues: May have a bit more flashes when still photographer goes crazy, but is not objectionable. Looks gorgeous outside.
7. Appearance: It's black, looks very professional, most folks (even the Still Photographer's) take notice.

It's not the "Perfect" camera. But, it was a big step up for me and I am very happy with my choice. The combination of the low light and the CF recording is what sold me. I am only shooting 1080, 60i at present, so cannot offer any feedback in the other areas that this camera can offer. It has so many menus and features, I'll probably never use them all, but it does indeed make beautiful pictures and has the most real camera/lens feel for this price range.
I agree with this post. Although this is not a , perfect camera, neither are my 2100s or 170s. What this is is a very cool camera. I find that I like it more and more as I use it. So far I only bought 1, but that will change very soon.

Bruce Cleveland
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Old April 14th, 2008, 08:27 AM   #7
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I pretty much shoot the same way you do and primarily do weddings. The only problem I'm worrying about now would be with the CMOS sensors and florescent lights. Have you noticed any banding or problems with this yet? Unfortunately, so many of the places we shoot are crappy flor. lights and I can't have that much bad footage to work around. If you have seen this issue, can you fix it by adjusting your shutter speed ?

Thanks!
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Old April 14th, 2008, 12:07 PM   #8
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Bruce O

Fantastic clip. NIce and solid. What effects did you use there to get
that colorization?

Back to the Z7, i was and have been so tempted to get one of these,
but now with these issues, i am seriously going to hold off.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 12:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
Fantastic clip. NIce and solid. What effects did you use there to get
that colorization?

Back to the Z7, i was and have been so tempted to get one of these,
but now with these issues, i am seriously going to hold off.
Thanks Scott! I finally lowered my ethics and joined kiss ass university and then you left. You were one of the few to tell it like it is.

I am a Vegas user and I always start with curves and 3 way CC, then add a few other filters. I am also Beta testing the new MB looks and it really works well for my workflow and mindset.

Z7 IS a great camera. The CF is amazing as I just captured a whole wedding day to the project drive (7 tapes) in less than half an hour, where i would have had to monitor the edit bay to change out tapes over a full day. There are some issue with corrupt m2ts on the CF as well as the lens issues that you have seen, which definitley make it a wait and see if i hadn't already purchased.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 02:27 PM   #10
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CF recorder

was the main reason for me to get this camera. I tell ya, if I decide to
gut my business and go back to being a one man crew (which I am very
tempted to do) I will get a Z7, or an EX1, and just shoot onto
solid state media all day. I will let my accountant decide if I should
spend da money by the end of the year. What filter set are you using?
I have DFT for FCP, but it takes FOREVER to render.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
was the main reason for me to get this camera. I tell ya, if I decide to
gut my business and go back to being a one man crew (which I am very
tempted to do) I will get a Z7, or an EX1, and just shoot onto
solid state media all day. I will let my accountant decide if I should
spend da money by the end of the year. What filter set are you using?
I have DFT for FCP, but it takes FOREVER to render.
EX1 is not without some major issues as well. Vingetteing, expensive batteries with very short life. I can do a 10 hours of footage day, edit right off the cards simultaneously for SDE and transfer it all in less than an hour to project drives for $860 whereas the same thing on an EX1 workflow is at least $3200 plus you cant do as much and it is not as flexible.

Usually a combination of curves, 3 wheel CC, brightness & contrast, HSL, MB2 and MB looks. I never have used any of the compositing modes. My render times are pretty fast on a Q6600 system with a good Nvidia card to utlilze MB's GPU
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Old April 14th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #12
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I have spent 3 days filming with Ex1s, but I own a Z7. Pictures aside, I have yet to see the results after post production, I'd say there were some pros and cons of each:

The Z7 is ergonomically better, and to my eyes, better built. Z7 lens handles better and there is less play in the zoom ring. EX1 ergonomics are very poor compared to the Z7 - EX1 buttons placed randomly, un-inuitive, can't be operated in dark. Little things like the improved lens hood removal method are nice improvements (one click and off on a Z7 - EX1- has a thumbscrew Z1 style).

The focus on the Z7 is good, and keeps the good features of a Z1 plus the finite focus ring. EX1 does not have the focus distance readout (as far as I could find!) - a real bummer, but does have a useless depth of field bar in the vf. Z7 macro mode is sweet.

EX1 -I also found that switching from camera to Media will reset your focus - a real problem if you don't check focus when you return to shoot after review.

The EX1 doesnt appear to have the LCD cutoff issues that the Z1 had. Important when shooting for web.

The EX1 SxS cards are lovely, and have a very quick last clip review system - very good for client review. The ingest time from the USB reader is a time consumer and does hinder on location shooting. Buy plenty of cards - and get a data wrangler.

The Z7 review from CF seems cumbersome....it appears you can only review the last clip from tape (not CF) unless you go into playback mode - not as neat as EX1 (unless someone knows otherwise?). The Z7 CF ingest is a pain (on a mac) but not insurmountable.

I am glad I bought a Z7 - it suits my clients workflows, and as a cameraman I prefer it.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #13
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Here's an update that may be helpful:

Bad news:

Read busy post (Z7 Major Problem?) about another lens issue if you haven't already. I am having that problem as well, but didn't really take serious notice until others brought it up. Sounds like the Z7 didn't escape the lens problems that the EX1 had when it first came out (vignetting problems with that camera). Let's hope Sony addresses this soon.

Good news: Dowloading an hour of footage from my 16 gig Sandisk 133S CF cards takes my system 16 minutes. What a time saver, when you have 5 or 6 cards to download. Capturing this many tapes would take all day.

Helpful News:

Focusing issues: I have now assigned one of the assignable buttons on my Z7U to turn off Macro Focus. This camera defaults to Macro. I want to turn this feature off and only turn it on when necessary. Here's why:

I have found that if I leave the camera in auto focus with the Macro on (default), when the camera goes on its hunting routine, the focus sometimes goes into the Macro range, meaning, it goes way, way out of focus. If I turn off the Macro (with assignable button, the little flower comes up in the viewfinder), the most it will go out is 2.5 feet in front of the lens, which turns out to be the closest I can focus when I put the focus ring in true manual focus (slide ring to B position). Now, when the focus barrel moves to the A position (whether accidentally on on purpose), I don't have to worry about it going into Macro. If I stay at the widest setting on the zoom, even in Auto Focus, I shouldn't notice being out of focus or see as much hunting. If I do need to use the Macro Focus for close up stuff, it's just a button away.

Also, I have read here that some folks, when sliding the focus ring from the A position (Auto) to the B position (Manual) report that their camera goes out of focus. Of course, in most instances, this will occur. Unless you know ahead of time the distance you are away from your subject and can turn the focus ring barrel (in position B) to that distance ahead of time, you will, all of a sudden, be out of focus. I now use the assignable button on the lens (just behind zoom handle) for Focus so I can leave the barrel in the A position when switching from Auto Focus to Manual Focus. Now on long shots, I don't have lens wiggle issues when going into manual focus. When I do want a constant read out of distance in my viewfinder, I move the lens to the B position.

Feel free to try these latter two suggestions for focusing and report back with your results or feel free to add some of your own.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Gradin View Post
Here's an update that may be helpful:
Good news: Dowloading an hour of footage from my 16 gig Sandisk 133S CF cards takes my system 16 minutes. What a time saver, when you have 5 or 6 cards to download. Capturing this many tapes would take all day.
Do you use the Sony ExpressCard card reader or can you use the ExpressCard slot on a MacBook Pro?
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Old April 17th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Gints Klimanis View Post
Do you use the Sony ExpressCard card reader or can you use the ExpressCard slot on a MacBook Pro?
Why would you need and Expresscard for a CF?

kdbf
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