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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 August 2nd, 2008, 03:18 PM   #1
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Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270

For the ones who are interested, Doug Jensen of Vortex Media has out a new 2 DVD-set for the HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270.

Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 04:33 PM   #2
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Thanks Ivan!

I've just ordered this. I was very impressed with Vortex's "Interview Lighting" DVD. Very well compiled and had really useful information with very little fluff.

I will post my thoughts about this one once it gets to New Zealand and I've had a watch.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #3
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Ditto.

I just ordered up a copy of Doug Jensen's "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270". I can't wait to see the disc. A few months ago I ordered a copy of a Z7U training disc by a different author -- which didn't work for me at all. I was surprised how many glaring errors about the camera there were in the presentation -- not to mention new features not even demoed or explained -- focus marking quickly comes to mind.

As soon as the page about Doug Jensen's new HVR-Z7U popped up on his site (Vortex Media), I combed over the text to see what the two discs include -- and for $90.00 it looks like a sweet deal. I also looked the info page for the Vortex EX1 two disc training DVD and the cost for the 3 hour training is $125.00. Interestingly, Vortex is only charging $90.00 ($35.00 less) for their 3 hour - two disc set pertaining to the Z7U. Love it. I ordered quickly in the event the price goes up should this be an introductory offer.

I have two other Vortex DVD's, and both have given me invaluable info. about my cameras while offering lots of great tips too. If you do any kind of interview work, check out the Interview Lighting DVD. Itís cheap Ė and itís served me nicely.

Finally, if someone gets their "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270Ē DVD in the mail soon, please post a line or two and let us know your thoughts. Once I have a chance to see my copy, I will write something here about the new disc.

Ian
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Old August 9th, 2008, 09:23 PM   #4
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GRRRRRRRRRR.....

Why is this $90+$20 direct from Vortex, and $79+$6 from EBay... I hate that!!! :(
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Old August 10th, 2008, 03:34 AM   #5
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what about Inside the Sony HVR-Z7 from Vasst i think Douglas is on this forum i am sure he has helped me out with issues before.

They are quite popular

Just my 2 cents

Rob
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Old August 10th, 2008, 06:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by John Knight View Post
GRRRRRRRRRR.....

Why is this $90+$20 direct from Vortex, and $79+$6 from EBay... I hate that!!! :(
Thanks for the heads up John :-). . . . . I always forget to check out Ebay as well until its too late. I see the same Ebay dealer also has the Vasst HVR-Z7 DVD for only $49.95 - a discount of $30 off the Vasst site. Checked out the online Vortex sample video and it looks good. The Vasst DVD sample was a link to a YouTube video and wouldn't load for me.

Mark
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Old August 10th, 2008, 01:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Robert Bec View Post
what about Inside the Sony HVR-Z7 from Vasst i think Douglas is on this forum i am sure he has helped me out with issues before.

They are quite popular

Just my 2 cents

Rob
I have been very disappointed with VASST products in the past. VASST videos seem to be rushed to market and are lacking the detail that I find in the Vortex videos. I picked up a copy of the VASST DVD for the Z7 and was really disappointed. It felt like he was reading from the manual rather than explaining and/or showing how the camera works. On a side note I was really disappointed that the DVD menu itself didnít work properly. I felt that the production was amateur rather than produced by a professional organization. Anyway, I guess it is all in the eyes of the beholder, and that is just my opinion.

On the other hand, Doug Jensenís work at Vortex has always exceeded my expectations. Their productions are top notch and worth the money. I always learn something new and valuable that enhances my own work. I have ordered the Z7 DVD from Vortex and canít wait for it to arrive. I have never felt let down by the professional quality of Vortex products.

As far as training resources, I donít even visit the VASST site anymore. My first stop is Edward Troxelís site http://www.jetdv.com/.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 02:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tim Ducharme View Post
I have been very disappointed with VASST products in the past. VASST videos seem to be rushed to market and are lacking the detail that I find in the Vortex videos.
Yes - I second this.

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Originally Posted by Tim Ducharme View Post
On the other hand, Doug Jensenís work at Vortex has always exceeded my expectations.
Yes - I second this!!
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Old August 11th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #9
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Review of the Vortex DVD "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270"

Hello,

Here's a review I've written of the new Vortex training title, "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270" . . . I hope this information is useful . . .

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My three top recommendations regarding the new Vortex Media "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270" training DVD are -- 1. BUY IT . . . 2. BUY IT . . . 3. BUY IT! I ordered it at the Vortex website last Friday and Iíve watched it twice already . . . itís awesome.

This new training DVD from Vortex is top-notch from start to finish. Itís not the first training DVD to reach the market for the Sony HVR-Z7U, but it is the best by a long mile. I now own two different Z7U training DVDís and this is the one the offers the goods Ė it fully covers all of the core features and settings. This certainly isnít the case with my other Z7U training disc. As an example, the other DVD I purchased only alludes to the new ďfocus markingĒ feature that Sony offers on the Z7U, whereas the new DVD by Doug Jensen gives a full account of what focus marking is . . . Jensen skillfully illustrates how to use this new feature. He also carefully and effectively instructs us in the use of the new compact flash unit which Sony debuted with the Z7U. The other Z7U training disc that I purchased (by another author) flubbed his way though this portion of the training, leaving me with little or no useful information on compact flash recording.

In a perfect world, Sony would be including Jensenís disc with every camera shipped since the training and tips go way beyond what the manual conveys Ė thus making it the perfect companion for the Z7U.

After watching "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270"it is apparent that Doug Jensen has spent a lot of long hours with the camera. A great deal of time and effort goes into how he supports his training Ė utilizing lots of quality footage shot with the Z7U. The first disc I bought, prior to buying Jensenís, barely has any sample footage shot with the camera. I'm not sure if the presenter on that other video really has the full grasp of what the Z7U is all about or knows how to effectively demonstrate its feature set. Just one example of how Jensen effectively uses Z7U footage is in his side-by-side comparison of what the cameraís default image looks like, out-of-the-box, compared to several picture profile examples. I really like that Doug Jensen shares some of his favorite settings. He is cautious about his suggestions, reminding the viewer that picture profiles and other setting choices all boil down to the subjective nature of personal preference. Right from the start of the DVD I knew that Jensen was on the right track. In chapter two Doug takes us on a tour of the camera. Every time he shows or mentions something which will be explained in detail in later chapters, there is a graphic which appears on screen indicating which chapter to navigate to in order to get the full story of that detail instantly. Very nice indeed.

I have a few other Vortex titles Ė and have come to rely on them all. This is the first camera training DVD that Iíve seen where Doug Jensen hosts. The others I own are written by Jensen, but are fronted by professional hosts. Itís an added bonus to have the author of the material step forward and share his knowledge on-camera directly with us. This is a nice touch. I mentioned earlier that Jensen has spent appreciable time with the camera. After doing some shooting and then determining what the Z7U has to offer, he goes about his work. First, he makes great choices in how he presents his training. He has the rare talent of making difficult things seems simple. He works from a well crafted script - which serves the training well Ė since in three hours he covers more than I would expect one could. Some skilled trainers are overly verbose, making things way more complex than they actually are and in the process end up taking time away from the training. One stand out moment is how quickly and perfectly Jensen explains time code. He even improves upon his similar explanation of time code from his "A Complete Guide to the HVR-Z1U" DVD. A nice addition to the disc is seeing Jensen attach a Fujinon accessory lens to the Z7U camera body. In fact, Jensen includes valuable footage which heís shot with the Z7U using a couple of non-Zeiss lenses. The comparison of these lenses against the stock Zeiss lens is wonderful. This demo will have you drooling if youíve been waiting for an HDV camera that allows for the creative freedom of lens choices and options. Sweet. He is quick, however, to inform that the use of a non-Zeiss lens means giving up the use of ďshot transitionĒ and other camera functions. Itís important to note that as he extols the virtues of certain ďcoolĒ features, heís also taken the time to uncover any side-effects that may occur from their use. As fair warning to shooters recording with the compact flash recording unit, Jensen demonstrates how when hitting the ďstopĒ button you may not be recording all the video you thought you just shot. His workaround is perfect and simple Ė donít be ďtrigger happyĒ.

I should mention that the disc is beautiful looking. Itís a straight forward, clean, and well shot presentation which includes lots of stunning footage examples heís shot with his Z7U. I find I trust the advice more from someone like Jensen who knows how to produce, shoot and edit great training support material compared to those who offer marginally acceptable training DVDís. In other words, when this project is presented as professionally as it is, it lends credence to the credentials of the trainer.

There are lots of invaluable tips that the author shares which I wouldnít have likely stumbled upon on my own. The ďFocusĒ chapter alone gives me added insight into the focusing capabilities the Z7U has with what Jensen terms ďhybrid focusingĒ.

The first Z7U training DVD I purchased is riddled not only with misinformation, but in my opinion is poorly shot and itís incomplete too. You see the host talking about camera accessories, for an example, which are supposed to be shown on-screen Ė but never appear! Itís sloppy and poorly edited. The misinformation is plentiful Ė more than I cite here. For an example the host says that there is no difference when setting the auto gain control to "off" or to "O". Ouch! This mistake alone can trip someone up majorly. In the audio chapter of this DVD I couldn't figure out what "automatic manual gain" was all about that the host talks about. I went to the Z7U owners manual to try to get more information, only to find he is referring to "Audio Manual Gain" (not automatic) -- now THAT makes sense. Another glaring error is found when the presenter shows us how to use the assignable RET button on the stock Zeiss lens. Yes, indeed he does show a button, but it's NOT the RET button as he says and illustrates -- it's another button (the L1 or L2 button) that he's already addressed properly. He doesn't seem to know that the RET button isn't found on either this lens or camera, or any other Carl Zeiss lens as far as I know. It's a button found only on other accessory lenses. I hate to sound critical, but it's my opinion itís a poor effort. Itís fair to comment that itís both sloppy and lacking especially after spending a fair bit for a DVD which has me scratching my head for answers, only to find the manual often at odds with what is said / shown on his DVD.

And now that a new Z7U training DVD by Jensen does say it all so nicely in a beautifully organized fashion, I want to share the differences from my perspective between the first video I bought and Jensenís Z7U DVD set. The two offerings are night and day in terms of quality of training, accuracy of information and presentation. Jensenís disc is far and away the true contender. I want to support the Jensen effort for two reasons. First, for me a new camera kind of exists in a void until itís properly understood. Jensenís material really helps in this department. And the other reason I write this review is that I hope that Jensen and others of his caliber continue to support the next generation of cameras with training materials. Without the sales and our support we likely wonít have these tools made available in the future Ė especially when the market for these titles is relatively small.

If you are looking for a tool to help demystify the Z7U and its daunting feature set, I highly recommend "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270". Not only have I learned a lot about the camera and its settings . . . I also find this DVD helps me re-examine the ways I shoot and gives me the confidence to rely more on manual settings and not worry about playing it safe in the ďautoĒ world.

A couple of minor criticisms: I wish there had been a little more information about some of the gamma settings and color settings such X.V. It would have been interesting to learn a little more about things I am still hoping to better understand. But as Jensen says in the DVD, there isnít time to get into all the settings. If I had my way, the DVD would have a running time of nine hours long, or so. Iím, however, pretty happy with what is offered at running time of 3 hours.

The Vortex Media website has a fair bit of information about this new DVD. The text I read there states that the cost of the $90.00 disc set should repay itself many times over. That's true. Believe me; if you are professional shooter who is serious about getting the most from your HVR-Z7U -- I have no doubt that "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270"is one unbeatable bargain.

So, if my above ramblings about the new Z7U DVD sound like a sponsored endorsement Ė they arenít. Iím happy to personally endorse something I value which already contributes to my better shooting and my improved understanding of my Z7U.

Ian
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Old August 15th, 2008, 05:39 PM   #10
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Hi Ian,

Thanks for the great review.

I received my copy yesterday and absolutely agree with everything you've written. BUY IT. BUY IT. Did you hear me? BUY IT!

This DVD will suit everyone. From those who don't even own the camera and want to gain a good insight to it's capabilities before making the investment. To those who own the camera, familiar with most of the features, but confused by some of them and need things clearly and professionally explained in an unbiased fashion.

It's probably one of the most professionally produced training DVD's I've ever viewed. Doug is a natural presenter and his completely unbiased approach is a breath of fresh air in an industry with it's fair share of know-alls.

I love his wry smile when explaining that you should be using this camera in manual. You can tell he wants to scream "If you use AUTO you are a STUPID MONKEY!!" - but he doesn't. And the "Don't mess with the settings - Not broken, don't fix it" message is great reinforcement of common sense principles.

There are a couple of things I would have loved to hear him explain... (a) xy colour and (b) expanded contrast... but as he explains, the camera has a steep learning curve and the purpose of the DVD is to get you up and running quickly, so that you can then experiment with fine tuning confidently by yourself.

Mastering the essential 4 manual exposure functions (gain, iris, shutter and white balance) is absolutely key to making the most of this camera - and these principles are covered in huge depth.

Forget the manual, every Z7 owner should buy and watch this DVD, period.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 03:15 PM   #11
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My review of the 2DVD-set "Mastering teh Sony HVR-Z7U"

Vortex Media did it again! This is one of the most complete training DVDís I have ever seen. 3 hours with a personal professional teacher. Everything is covered from start to finish. I said it with the PMW-EX1 DVD-set that I own, and now I will say it again; this DVD must be in your toolkit like other important equipment you canít without for shooting great HD footage. Some users on this forum have been writing that this 2DVD-set must be included with the camera instead of Sonyís user manual. Well, they absolutely right for 100%. With this 2DVD-set the original user manual is almost becoming superfluous.

What I really enjoy is that Douglas Jensen is doing the presentation by itself. You can feel that Douglas knows what he is talking about, and loves it to teach to others. All the information you get is from a very experienced and professional cameraman. The presentation is kept very simple and straight to the point like all other training DVDís from Vortex Media that I own . But that doesnít mean itís getting boring. No way!

I also liked that they not only tested the stock lens that is supplied with the camera, but also some other 1/2Ē and 2/3Ē professional lenses. Now you already can see how a real wide angle and real telephoto lens is behaving on the camera without having one of these lenses.

The chapter about the memory recording unit for shooting tapeless is another favorite of mine, because you canít find anything about it in Sonyís general user manual. As I said before; this DVD covers it all! Not only the pros, but also the cons of the camera are mentioned in this 2DVD-set. And it is always good to know what the minor points are from your tools.

In this 3 hours of training you will learn more about the camera then when you are looking through the user manual for a whole week. Not speaking of all the tips and tricks you will get that are not mentioned in the user manual.

Because I am living in Europe, I tested this 2DVD-set on 4 different PAL standalone DVD-players. On all four of them they worked flawless. It looked very good on my 40Ē LCD television. And believe me, Iím very critical about picture quality. Most European customers who have bought a recent DVD or Blu-ray Disc player, donít have to be afraid that these NTSC DVDís arenít going to work on their DVD and TV set.

Itís a pleasure to watch this well documented 2DVD-set about the HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270 professional HDV camcorders. Itís another well done masterpiece by Vortex Media!
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Old August 27th, 2008, 09:20 PM   #12
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DOUG ROCKS! I have several of his videos, I enjoy them all.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:16 AM   #13
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Thanks

Thanks for this tip.
I didn't know about this dvd, until now.
Just the givven link didn't work no more.
The link now is Vortex Media: VIDEO & PHOTO Tools and Training
I just ordered the dvd, and can't wait to see it.
Just hope there is not too much difference in the use of the Z7 and the S270...
I have the S270, and it looks like most of the dvd is about the Z7.
But I trust it will be about the same.
Just hope they will send it to Holland fast!
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:40 PM   #14
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Is this something new or is it the same DVD that came out months ago?
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 08:18 AM   #15
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The Vortex "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U" is excellent. My hat goes off to Doug for producing a very informative and useful tool. Anyone, even advanced users of the Z7 / S270, will benefit from purchasing this. I still watch it from time to time and always pick up something new- either a method / technique or an inspiration for developing my own new method or technique. One thing I RESPECTFULLY disagree with Doug on is the digital zoom. I say use that thing if you gotta. It's helped me out in news situations when I couldn't quite get in far enough on my subject (the markings on a helicopter in-flight comes to mind) and there was no time to blow up the image in post. The image is degraded, and that's clearly pointed out in the Vortex video, but it works for me in a pinch. For those of you in PAL land, don't worry. The video will deliver the same results. One more thing I'll mention again here, is that as far as I know, Sony will still customize the Z7 / S270 so that you can switch between PAL and NTSC.
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