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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 December 14th, 2008, 08:53 AM   #1
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Z7 or no Z7 - What do you recommend??

I have an EX1 and I have to say, it's unbelievably good value - incredibly sharp images and (generally) very user-friendly.

My problem is that the resulting DVDs (moving subject on a grassy background) are utter garbage from this camera.

Swear at me all you like you guys - I've been a professional stills photographer for many years, so I know garbage when I see it. Please don't ply me with recommendations about downconversion - I've tried just about every possible way that's open to my Mac G5 and my head's spinning with suggestions (mostly tried and unsuccessful) from the EX1 guys.

I've also produced DVDs in SD (via PD170) and the footage has been excellent (once I learned the limitations of the camera). Then I moved on to a Z1 and found the downconversion OK on that too.
_______________

OK - so now my dealer has pointed me towards the Z7 and on paper, it seems to be just what I want.

Unless something miraculous happens in the next few days, the EX1 will have to go (sadly) so should I buy a Z7 or not?

What's the quality of the downconverted SD like (compared to other SD)?

Are there any serious problems with the Z7?

Someone on the EX1 forum told me there are issues with recording HDV and SD simultaneously. Is that the case?

Is there a particular firmware that I should insist my dealer gives me before I take this camera on?

And lastly - with that card recorder thingy on the back, what's the max battery life I can get (whilst recording two codecs).
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Andy Nickless View Post
I have an EX1 and I have to say, it's unbelievably good value - incredibly sharp images and (generally) very user-friendly.

My problem is that the resulting DVDs (moving subject on a grassy background) are utter garbage from this camera.

Swear at me all you like you guys - I've been a professional stills photographer for many years, so I know garbage when I see it. Please don't ply me with recommendations about downconversion - I've tried just about every possible way that's open to my Mac G5 and my head's spinning with suggestions (mostly tried and unsuccessful) from the EX1 guys.

I've also produced DVDs in SD (via PD170) and the footage has been excellent (once I learned the limitations of the camera). Then I moved on to a Z1 and found the downconversion OK on that too.
_______________

OK - so now my dealer has pointed me towards the Z7 and on paper, it seems to be just what I want.

Unless something miraculous happens in the next few days, the EX1 will have to go (sadly) so should I buy a Z7 or not?

What's the quality of the downconverted SD like (compared to other SD)?


Are there any serious problems with the Z7?

Someone on the EX1 forum told me there are issues with recording HDV and SD simultaneously. Is that the case?

Is there a particular firmware that I should insist my dealer gives me before I take this camera on?

And lastly - with that card recorder thingy on the back, what's the max battery life I can get (whilst recording two codecs).

If you mean downconvertion within the camera it is great. I can't speak for a software after the fact conversion because I don't know what you use.

I do HDV to tape and SD to the card and have not had any problems.

I am not sure if there has been a firmware upgrade. I'd be interested in this myself since I got one of the very first camaras.

I have not had any problems with the camera however the lens has a very narrow depth of field (at least in indoor lighting with max or near max zoom (under 100 feet)) and you need to be very careful with focus in some situations.

Throw away the stock battery and get a larger one on ebay. You'll get a few hours even with the lcd on.

you might also want to wait a few days until the Z5 ships.

Last edited by Keith Forman; December 14th, 2008 at 11:32 AM.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #3
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Please don't ply me with recommendations about downconversion - I've tried just about every possible way that's open to my Mac G5 and my head's spinning with suggestions (mostly tried and unsuccessful) from the EX1 guys.
Please forgive me if it's something you've already tried, but have you been shooting the original in 1080 or 720p/50 mode?

Whatever the relevant merits are of each if you actually want HD, 720p/50 should downconvert much better than 1080i to 576i/25 - it's a relatively straightforward matter of producing an SD field from each HD frame. Originating in 1080i means a de-interlacing process before the downconversion.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:29 AM   #4
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. . . have you been shooting the original in 1080 or 720p/50 mode?
1080p David, so there's no deinterlacing involved.

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720p/50 should downconvert much better than 1080i to 576i/25
I know - hindsight's 20/20 isn't it!
Thanks for your help though.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:51 AM   #5
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Disregard.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #6
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What would make you think the Z7 would be any better?
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Old December 14th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #7
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What would make you think the Z7 would be any better?
Steve
The Z7 can deliver Hardware (rather than Software) Downconverted SD.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 01:48 PM   #8
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1080p David, so there's no deinterlacing involved.
Just one last thought. It's not possible that the 1080p is being treated as psf, rather than true p, is it?

In which case, it could go be seen as interlaced, and go through an (unnecessary) de-interlacing process before downconversion, which may well give worse than expected results.

I'd be inclined to test some Z7 material before getting rid of the EX, and it may also be worth trying the EX in 720 recording mode.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 02:07 PM   #9
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The Z7 can deliver Hardware (rather than Software) Downconverted SD.
What does that mean? Is that an SD SDI out? And you would shoot in SD?

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Old December 14th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #10
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I cannot recommend Z7 to anyone with high standards since it gives distortion in black areas when in lowlight situation even with no gain. I am certain that Sony has cheated with the software to give it better lowlight result or higher contrast in black areas by having a dark area gain that you can´t control.

Here are som unaltered m2t-files that shows what I am talking about.
www.medix.nu/E296283.M2T
www.medix.nu/00_0002_2008-05-09_113306.M2T

Sonys response was this is how it is... We will not do anything.

I would recommend any other brand.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:27 PM   #11
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What does that mean? Is that an SD SDI out? And you would shoot in SD?
It downconverts in-camera, Steve
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:39 PM   #12
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It's not possible that the 1080p is being treated as psf, rather than true p, is it?
In which case, it could go be seen as interlaced, and go through an (unnecessary) de-interlacing process before downconversion, which may well give worse than expected results.
I've never heard of psf, David.
Is there some way I can find out and / or remedy it?

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I'd be inclined to test some Z7 material before getting rid of the EX
I certainly intend to - especially the SD side of things

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it may also be worth trying the EX in 720 recording mode.
Yes. I already have some 720 footage - I'll see how it downconverts.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:58 PM   #13
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The Z7 can deliver Hardware (rather than Software) Downconverted SD.
say WHAT? The EX1 can deliver hardware downcoverted video as well. Just plug in to the component out. Easy as pie.

Honestly, If you can't get a clean SD downcovert of 1080p footage from the EX1 shooting a moving subject with the camera remaining still, you need to re-examine your methods. I've seen and tested the footage off this camera in a similar setting, and the results are stunning.

Not sure what you're doing, but works fine for me.

Best of luck with your Z7.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:47 PM   #14
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Best of luck with your Z7.
Well, the EX1's still here - but I'm looking at my options. I agree it's a wonderful camera.

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Just plug in to the component out. Easy as pie.
Erm . . .
I presume you mean output via component to capture card? (Can you recommend one)?

Quote:
If you can't get a clean SD downcovert of 1080p footage from the EX1 shooting a moving subject with the camera remaining still, you need to re-examine your methods.
My immediate problem is the (XDCAM EX) footage I have on my FCP timeline. It looks stunning as HD but unfortunately, I don't have all the BPAV folders so I don't have the option to re-ingest.

Any help would be very welcome.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #15
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I've never heard of psf, David.
Is there some way I can find out and / or remedy it?
Psf means progressive, segmented frame. It's effectively how films have always been shown via telecine, the films are inherently a progressive image at 25fps and they had to be transmitted over an interlace system at 50 fields/s.

In a true progressive frame the lines are carried in order - 1,2,3,4,5...1079,1080. For compatability with interlace equipment, it's possible to change the order to create two fields out of that frame such that the first carries the lines 1,3,5....1079 and the next field 2,4,6,...1080, and on to the next frame. The data hasn't been changed in any way - just reordered - so unlike de-interlacing the process is transparent and reversible. The reason for doing it is purely compatability with equipment which can only handle an interlace signal.

Psf material should be detected as such in an NLE, and treated accordingly. You may have to look at something like project or clip properties to see if that's the case - if it reports 1080i, then it's likely it's treating it the wrong way. Same applies to whatever software you use for downconversion.

Practically, I'd suggest just shooting some 720p material and seeing how it downconverts. EX material SHOULD be capable of giving a good quality downconversion, and IN THEORY better than from a Z7.
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