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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 May 10th, 2008, 09:38 PM   #1
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How the Sony Z7U failed me beyond words...

So it's been a short while since I fronted the lens issues with the Sony Z7U and Sony's management, and after all of the time spent on the phone, emails, message boards, and whatever else, the issues are being fixed on a hush-hush, if-you-have-the-problem-call-Sony basis. I can't blame them as the issues are somewhat sporadic, as well as some users not worrying about it for some reason or another.

One of my cameras, the one that I had overnighted to Sony a few weeks ago, came back last week and I used it for a fairly high-end wedding this evening. Oh, and while high-end is a loose term, what I mean by that is someone who spends several hundred thousand dollars on the event and a significant investment with me, as well as other finite details. Upon receipt of the camera from Sony, it appeared to be working fine and focusing from left to right seemed corrected. I never did lengthy testing, just some small things here and there, and figured that it'll work great tonight - oh, was I ever wrong.

Well, here's how this camera failed me this evening and how bad it actually failed.

1> I began filming prep about 10am. Everything was fine, and for these (and most filming for that matter), I do practically everything in manual - manual focus, iris, white balance, gain, shutter speed, etc. Things went fine. Filmed on and off from 10am - 1:45pm, noticing some interesting results with regards to sync recordation between the tape and CF. For those that read the CF review I did a few months back, I did have some sync issues, but read on and find out just how bad this was...

2> Ceremony started at 2pm. I had a 5-cam setup, but only one Z7U this time as the others are being used for another project elsewhere. The CF / tape sync was a complete mess, and I soon noticed that the lens was constantly showing a flair of sorts - never saw this before but just imagine a lens flare on the lens when there's no sun - or any relevant lighting. Heck, it was raining most of the day.

3> CH Hour was when the fun began. Sync issues were really screwing me up, and you'll soon find out why...the focusing became insanely bad, so bad that I just couldn't focus.

4> Reception soon followed and filming was absolutely ridiculous. I don't even know words to explain the stress and aggravation I have right now....

...So, here's a nice list of all the wonderful problems this evening and what it has cost me in terms of what was supposed to be done...

1> Auto focus is no longer existent. It was at the beginning of the day, but the lens/camera decided otherwise. While I do manual for most things, filming dancing in manual is very difficult and that's what I had to do the entire time. Why? Well, the ring that goes back and forth between auto and manual basically stopped working. Sure, it moves the way it should but in auto, the numerical distance figure appears but nothing can be focused - the image is just blurry the entire time, no matter what you do with the camera - this shouldn't happen, nor the numerical distance appearing in the first place. In manual, it appears with the manual focus icon and it works fine, but became much more difficult to focus anything. I also had this crazy flare of sorts in the image...sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn't. Why was this so critical this evening? Well, I was supposed to do an SDE of random dance shots, with the help of an assistant who would offload the footage from the CF and sync it to the tape of another camera for multiple angles between both. Why could I not do this?

Problem #1 - - - - The lens is a piece of crap. I'd use other words but I am so aggravated by this camera that I officially have no confidence or faith in it and don't have a clue what to do with what was recorded.

Problem #2 - - - - The SDE couldn't be done because the footage looks horrendous, and (go to #3)

Problem #3 - - - - I used Transcend 32GB cards - 3 of them over the course of five tapes. The total sync differential between the recorded footage, in length, to that of the cards, was 17 minutes and 12 seconds. So, we couldn't properly sync anything, and, I can't rely on the cards' footage as I'm somehow missing 17+ minutes of footage throughout the day that is on the tapes. This is one of the reasons why I did the CF test a while ago to check sync issues but this is appauling and there is absolutely no reason at all for this to happen. I know that the CF device does need to close the recorded session and properly buffer and record the next segment, but if it's in sync, then the tape and CF card should record and stop simultaneously and not have one start while the other one is still thinking about what to do. I would have been better off just using CF cards and no tapes. Sony has recommended that everyone uses their 306x CF cards, claiming that they are better, but the only thing they do better is transfer the footage to a computer (or similar device) as the bandwidth needed to record to the card, from the camera, is achieved by a 133x card, hence the reason of the minimum requirements. So, for Sony to recommend their product, I think, is a sad excuse.

So, where does this leave me? That's a heck of a good question. I'll be calling and emailing Sony Monday morning. At this point, whether it's a small claims court case to cover the cost of whatever will happen with this evening's footage with regards to what I did not and still won't be able to provide the client, with a quality product, or a replacement camera - or perhaps an EX1 with some cards, I am overly perturbed. I, again, have to play the single-person-with-a-large-voice versuse the conglomerate, Sony.

We'll see what happens. Anyone want to buy me a drink?
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Old May 11th, 2008, 01:21 AM   #2
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Wow, I am so sorry to hear that. If you were in LA. I'd buy that drink for you.

I've had a shoot go south on me before and man, that is a gut-wrenching feeling....But I have been lucky, and have been able to salvage my material in the past. I have learned though, so now I have back-up gear, for my backup gear.

I have been following the threads on this cam as I will likely be in the market for one this summer. After reading of your experiences....I may go with the "new" Canon XLH1A, in hopes of achieving greater reliability with a more "traditional" design.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 07:39 AM   #3
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glim, been followign your saga on the boards, and I feel for you, but damn son, you put all your eggs in one basket by taking this risk with new unproven gear. Dump those pigs and go back to what works.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 07:42 AM   #4
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Oh, I'm not happy. I could have used other cameras that I had with me, but I didn't for several reasons. Regardless, none of this should have happened in the first place. I can't wait until I start venting Monday morning. Thank g-d I've got patience and persistence!

Here comes round #2 (ding ding ding)
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Old May 11th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #5
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That's awful mate............ so sorry to hear that.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 07:50 PM   #6
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Wow! I shot with mine on Saturday and everything went fine. The footage looked awesome and the camera was perfect. I used a Transcend 32GB card with no tape.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 08:34 PM   #7
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I was finally going to pull the trigger and buy one (Z7) this week, but now...
Sorry Sony, I'm going to have to go with the Canon XLH1A unless you fix these problems for everyone fast. For now this is WAY too big of a gamble to throw a ton of money at. Get it right!
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Old May 11th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Moen View Post
I was finally going to pull the trigger and buy one (Z7) this week, but now...
Sorry Sony, I'm going to have to go with the Canon XLH1A unless you fix these problems for everyone fast. For now this is WAY too big of a gamble to throw a ton of money at. Get it right!

No reason to apologize to Sony...I think that Sony does not read this group--out of site out mind...
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Old May 11th, 2008, 08:55 PM   #9
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I just used mine today to shoot a 6 hour conference on 3 32gb transcend cards. Trying to load the footage using log and transfer in Final Cut pro 6.0.3
each card has 2 hours on it here is what I'm getting.

Card #1 first fifteen seconds log and that is it.
Card #2 first 1 hour and 20 minutes log
Card #3 first 17 minutes log and that's it.

The whole 2 hours for each card shows up when I load them into Mpeg Streamclip, but the conversion/transfer is slower than realtime on my machine.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 08:56 PM   #10
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me too

I was giving serious thought to the Z7. But now I have to reconsider.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 10:16 PM   #11
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Sorry to hear about your troubles. You would figure with a trusted name like Sony that you would have a solid reliable camera. I was seriously considering this camera as well over the EX-1 - I like the tape and card options the Z7U has. Its a bummer you had to learn this for the rest of us. Hopefully Sony will help with a remedy and your able to figure something out and salvage your footage to work the way it was intended.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 11:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston View Post
Wow! I shot with mine on Saturday and everything went fine. The footage looked awesome and the camera was perfect. I used a Transcend 32GB card with no tape.

I used the Z7u at a wedding last weekend I also used Transcend 32gb card no tape Footage looked great heres some raw footage please dowload to view footage I have limited bandwidth

http://www.dvdaction.net/dvdaction_036.htm

I also shot some footage with my EX1 using the compact flash recorder

Jeff I would go with the EX1 OVER Z7. I have not had any issued with my Z7 but I am selling It and Purchasing another EX1. I am starting to do more short films and its easier to match like cams with min. color correction.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #13
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UPDATED 05/12 (early morning when I should be sleeping!)

--------------

05/12 update (yeah, 2am and I'm still awake....have to be up at 6am, too.

Something else, as if it weren't already enough, I looked at all of the clips recorded to the CF cards. Interestingly, not all of them got recorded as A/V files, in that I have some that are video only. That's certainly a first. One of the 'best' clips is 21 minutes long, a full 4G file, which is the first half of the ceremony - no audio! LUCKILY I have this on tape, which seems fine.

So...I had 1,021 total A/V files, spread out over 3 cards, and out of those 47 of them had no audio. This is completely sporadic and has no continuity at all.

Also, here's a clip of some great shots - who the heck knows what the camera / lens were thinking when this was filmed, but something wasn't right. Some were auto, some were manual. Once I noticed this stupidity I played back and forth between manual and auto to see what would happen.

It's about 55 seconds - http://www.baltimorevideographers.co...es/mll/z7u.wmv
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Old May 12th, 2008, 01:48 AM   #14
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Marshall, I just watched your clip, and itís rough. I once lost an entire shoot because my lens was out of collimation, but that was on 16mm. I would have hoped Sony and Zeiss could do better. Keep us posted on what Sony has to say.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 02:11 AM   #15
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I agree those shots are brutal. We appreciate the posts, keep it up if possible.
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