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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 28th, 2008, 05:27 AM   #1
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Any S270 reviews? User comments?

I just can't find much on the web. If anybody has some pics, please post!!

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Old May 28th, 2008, 10:26 AM   #2
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I have had one for about a month and done four jobs so far. Email me if you want any advice.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 10:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Barry Wilkinson View Post
Email me if you want any advice.
Please post to the boards instead of using private email -- the idea is to share the knowledge with everyone else.

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Old May 28th, 2008, 08:20 PM   #4
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Hi, Barry . . .

With your years in broadcast television, what are your thoughts on broadcast programming originating on HDV from cameras such as the HVR-Z7, etc.? There is a lot of talk about broadcasters NOT accepting HDV as a suitable format. What about for documentary projects, and such?

I know that HDV is used at times for broadcast . . . but to what extent? 16mm film wasn't something that Network television in N. America would air for drama or serial television . . . but that changed after some time. Does HDV have a chance at prime time? ;)

Your input would be helpful.

Many thanks . . .

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Old May 29th, 2008, 02:05 PM   #5
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OK its a fair enough comment about posting here rather than by private emails so I will give my opinions so far. Bizarrely I havent actually seen anything I have shot so far , most of which has been short items for the local TV News programme Granada Reports, part of the ITV( commercial) network in the UK. Also apart from one wedding shot in HD ( which I havent seen ) the rest has been shot in DVcam on tape. ( all ITV regional programmes in the UK still use DV cam and have only in the last couple of years gone over to 16:9!)
I have just sold my DSR 570 shoulder mount camcorder to buy the S270 so that I can shoot both HD and DVcam and it was the only camcorder which could be shoulder mounted on the market to meet these conditions.
My reservations about the camera have been proved correct but I wanted to move onto HD so accepted these.
The two main complaints from my point of view are the quality of the picture in the eyepiece which is magnified from a 1/3 inch LCD through plastic lenses, and the lens which is a compromise. The camera should have been sold lensless as with the 570. There is a distinct lack of availability of 1/3 lenses on the market particularly wide angle lenses. the FUJI w/a costs nearly as much as the camera.
To have such a poor eyepiece on an HD camera is almost a joke were it not for the fact it cost so much. The bigger fold up LCD is better but unuseable for me when shoulder mounted as it is too close for me to see even wearing varifocal glasses and also when its very sunny ( its not always raining in the uk!!) is hard to see clearly. I do like having a colour confirmation of correct colour balance on the camera..the 570 only had a (very sharp) tubed eyepiece which was very good for focus checking and pull focus shots. The later DSR 450 camera had a tube eyepiece and a side mounted colour LCD which was good but of course it was only DV cam.
The lens supplied ( Zeiss made) is only 10:1 and has a range extender which just zooms into the chip so loses sharpness. It has auto focus which I have never used as a cameraman, but perhaps now as focus checking is such a gamble may come into use. What I have been doing is keeping one eye on the distance of the object to focus on and the other on the distance indicator in the eyepiece making the two roughly match. If I am not recording I can check focus with the auto ( you just slide the focus ring on the lens forward to go into this mode) and then come back into manual and set for that distance. The zoom lens is very slow from wide to tight....a guess would be about four seconds to zoom fully in, check focus and then zoom out again, hardly ideal on fast moving action. I want to try the Fuji lens I mentioned before and may buy that to feel in my comfort zone lens wise.
I did a short recording test on DVcam using similar shots on the 570 and S270 and on 47inch lcd tv I would say the 570 was marginally sharper but I would guess that was because of the Canon YJ12 lens on the 570 which must be better quality than the Zeiss lens on the 270.
The good things about the camera are battery life is much better maybe due to not having a tubed eyepiece. I have done all day on the wedding on one PAG L95 with capacity left at the end of the day, but that was without using the camera battery to supply light.
I like the ability to have four audio inputs but havent yet worked out when that may be necessary. The switching on the audio is confusing at first untill you work out the difference between an audio input and an audio channel.
I like the fact the camera is 2/3 the size of the 570 but if I fit proper lens( sorry mr Sony) then it will be about two inches longer and heavier at the front.
The viewfinder is hard wired at the camera end which is strange as my previous viewfinder could be taken off for transport etc. It also means it wont be an easy task to fit a better eyepiece if one becomes available. I think they have built the camera to fit into a market position price wise even though it may have not cost much more to make it better. The trouble if they did that is that the dearer blu ray disc cameras probably wouldnt sell.
I have asked Sony if the eyepiece arrangement on the new PMW EX3( to be released soon) that looks like a Canon XL2 can be used on the 270. Its just a clip on lens to fit the large LCD so you can use that when shoulder mounted and focus for your own eye condition. I have had no reply yet.
I have not used the chip recording box supplied yet but have found the instructions for it to be a bit lacking and the display on the box to be almost unreadable.

I think generally the camera is a bit disappointing but at 61 I will not be buying many more new cameras and this was the only one of any make that I could buy. I do not like operating the cameras like the Z 1 which are painful to use for long periods held out in front of your body. Its a killer on the wrists!
If anyone has any specific questions to ask then put them on here and I will try to answer.
The other question about acceptability of HD formats to broadcast is interesting.
I personally think ( in the UK anyway) that the 270 and HDV may become the standard for HD news as the cameras are relatively cheap are more or less a direct replacement for the UK's standard news camera the DSR 570. It can also shoot DVcam so could be bought to use in standard definition then swap in the future to HD.
The choice for drama and major documentaries here has to be the highest quality ..probably either tape or disc based HD cam level of quality.
Anything below that will be a choice made by the TV company and the producer of the programmes. It comes down to cost and the size of cameras. You dont want to be lugging around a huge heavy battery eating camera for programes such as Police camera action/Car wars/Street wars etc they are ideal for HDV or chip based cameras. I think much of the variation in quality using HDV come s down to the operator and their experience of how to cope with situations where action /light levels and audio are all constantly varying.
I think it will take a while for things to settle down as to which cameras are accepted for broadcast transmissions but what we dont need is more damn formats!!
OK I need a lay down in a darkended room to to recover from my typing this ...comments and questions gladly accepted.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 05:48 PM   #6
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Hello, Barry . . .

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughful reply to my question regarding HDV for broadcast. Much apprecited. You have a point . . . when the dust settles, more acceptance for HDV might be at hand. And yes, let's hope that we get away from formats coming at us from left, right and centre. A few good standards which will, hopefully, be around for awhile works for me!

When you get a chance to have a look at some of the footage you are shooting with your new cam, I would love to hear your impressions of both using the camera and your assessment of image quality, etc.

Thanks again . . .

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Old May 30th, 2008, 05:03 AM   #7
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Thanks for that, as I am semi retired time is not usually a problem. When the wedding we shot on my 270, a Z1 and my AE1 is edited hopefully for the first time on total HD I will try and work a way of viewing it on my HD TV. We are trying to shoot and edit everything on HD now for corporate stuff and weddings( which are a necessary evil and damned hard work) but at the moment have no Blu ray recorder, just one HDV tape recorder between us so quality monitoring is not simple as my colleague and I are 50 miles apart.
I will try and get the raw wedding tape back here and play via component onto the tv from my camera as the 270 doesnt have HDMI out. My AE1 which I use mainly for holidays and family stuff looks surprisingly good in HD blown up to 47 inches, much better than the 570.
The idea of going totally HD is that it makes corporate stuff future proof. We can supply on DVD SD at the moment ,but if they need an update and want HD in the future we dont need to re shoot the whole lot.
What we dont know yet is if the edit suite my colleague uses will burst into flames when we try and render the wedding!!
I will report back.
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