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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 18th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #1
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Cameras: Sony Z5U / Z7U: Low Light? Lens?

Hi.

I'm pretty much down to 2 choices for a new camera: Sony Z5U & Z7U. The Ex1 is SWEEEEEEET, but I'm not sure about the work flow and expensive media.

Here are the factors.
I'm used to working with a Sony VX2100, with a bayonet mounted Century Optics .65x WA adapter. That lets me get most of a small room in the frame, though a little soft on the edges. I adore the low light ability with this camera as I shoot live bands occasionally. I also have the Greg Winter audio Mod, which cleans up the audio to DAT quality. I have a Sound Devices MixPre semi-permanently mounted to the camera for awesome audio quality.

Z5
So I'm looking hard at the Z5 for it's 20x Zoom, which also happens to be the widest (I think) stock lens out there now. I have heard of "ramping" when you zoom in close with the 20x, and effectively losing some f stops. I want to know if the wide end of this lens is as wide or close to as wide as my VX2100 with the Century .65 adaptor.

Z7
Issue: Probably won't spend another 3,000.00 for another lens. I hear this lens is 12x zoom, but actually both cameras are about the same when zoomed in full Tele. The main difference being the wide end on the Z5 is wider. Is this accurate?

Considerations/Questions:
ē I will (at least eventually) get the CF recorder if I get the Z5, so basically both cameras are the same price.

ē I believe the Z5, Z7, and VX2100 all have a 72mm lens size for WA adapters, so if the new cameras can take bayonet mount, theoretically my Century .65 WA should work. Right? This is where I need info. {{{EDIT}}} I just looked at the VX2100 specs and I guess the filter size is 58mm, so I think my Century WA will be useless... Dang. But can the Z cams accept bayonet mounts?

ē Due to the nature of lens', the Z7 with the stock lens should do better than the Z5 in low light in the tele range? No ramping with the Z7?

So on one hand, if the Z5 20x zoom is as wide as my VX2100 with the .65, I would feel good about that camera, and live with the ramping (given it's not as bad as some guys complain).

On the other hand, if the Z7 really does better in low light, and my .65 WA works with it, I could have a comparable range of operation as my VX2100. {{{{EDIT}}}} Given I buy a new Schnider Optics .65 adapter.

And finally there's the issue of that damned asterisk next to the 1.5Lux rating... it says at "1/30 shutter, and auto iris, auto gain". On the VX2100 I just use the standard 1/60, and control "Exposure" manually. So I'm not sure how comparable these Z cameras are in low light.

Can some kind soul(s) break it down for me? I live in the heart of Humboldt County (Arcata) and these cameras will never be in a store for me to try. I have to go by specs, and what others have to say. I believe the Z7 has other extra features over the Z5, which I like, but I think the deciding factor would be the glass. I could pay off my car for what I'd be shelling out, so this is an important purchase that I don't want to regret.

Thanks for reading.

Chadfish
________

Last edited by Chad Johnson; April 18th, 2009 at 09:11 PM.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:54 PM   #2
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Does anybody have any wisdom concerning the lens differences of these cameras?
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Old April 20th, 2009, 03:57 PM   #3
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Chad, I donít necessarily have specifics but I can give you my opinion as a Z5 owner coming from a PD-170. Keep in mind, Iíve only shot a couple of events with it so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
Here are the factors.
I'm used to working with a Sony VX2100, with a bayonet mounted Century Optics .65x WA adapter. That lets me get most of a small room in the frame, though a little soft on the edges. I adore the low light ability with this camera as I shoot live bands occasionally. I also have the Greg Winter audio Mod, which cleans up the audio to DAT quality. I have a Sound Devices MixPre semi-permanently mounted to the camera for awesome audio quality.

Z5
So I'm looking hard at the Z5 for it's 20x Zoom, which also happens to be the widest (I think) stock lens out there now. I have heard of "ramping" when you zoom in close with the 20x, and effectively losing some f stops. I want to know if the wide end of this lens is as wide or close to as wide as my VX2100 with the Century .65 adaptor.________
No, it is not as wide as the 2100 with the WA lens. I have the same lens for my PD-170.
Shooting in 16:9 though, does give a nice wide angle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
Z7
Issue: Probably won't spend another 3,000.00 for another lens. I hear this lens is 12x zoom, but actually both cameras are about the same when zoomed in full Tele. The main difference being the wide end on the Z5 is wider. Is this accurate?
No, thatís not true. Itís a significant difference when you zoom in. The trade off being the loss of a couple of stops from the ramping. I didnít think that was going to be a big deal until I shot a service on a cloudy day. To clarify, it was inside but normally a bright location. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I would have abandoned the tighter shot for the wider shot with no ramping. I was able to make it better in post but I donít have the time to waste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
ē I believe the Z5, Z7, and VX2100 all have a 72mm lens size for WA adapters, so if the new cameras can take bayonet mount, theoretically my Century .65 WA should work. Right? This is where I need info. {{{EDIT}}} I just looked at the VX2100 specs and I guess the filter size is 58mm, so I think my Century WA will be useless... Dang. But can the Z cams accept bayonet mounts?
Not sure but I found I can do without the WA on the Z5

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
ē Due to the nature of lens', the Z7 with the stock lens should do better than the Z5 in low light in the tele range? No ramping with the Z7?
That is supposedly true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
So on one hand, if the Z5 20x zoom is as wide as my VX2100 with the .65, I would feel good about that camera, and live with the ramping (given it's not as bad as some guys complain).
Itís significant in a dark location

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
On the other hand, if the Z7 really does better in low light, and my .65 WA works with it, I could have a comparable range of operation as my VX2100. {{{{EDIT}}}} Given I buy a new Schnider Optics .65 adapter.
If youíre shooting in 16:9, you may feel like you donít need the WA. I think there have been some screen shots somewhere on the forum. Theyíre both great cameras but I donít care what anyone says, theyíre not as good in low light as the PD-170. Last shoot was very dark and I was wishing I had my old buddy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
And finally there's the issue of that damned asterisk next to the 1.5Lux rating... it says at "1/30 shutter, and auto iris, auto gain". On the VX2100 I just use the standard 1/60, and control "Exposure" manually. So I'm not sure how comparable these Z cameras are in low light.
I donít think anyone shoots in 1/30 but it would obviously give you more light. The camera is better than most in low light but in a dark location you will notice a difference between the Z5 and VX2100. Some will say thatís not true, but after using the PD-170 for the last few years, I would disagree. The HD does capture a lot of detail in the dark though. Also, to be fair, maybe Iíll be able to do a little more tweaking after Iíve had the camera for a little longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
Can some kind soul(s) break it down for me? I live in the heart of Humboldt County (Arcata) and these cameras will never be in a store for me to try. I have to go by specs, and what others have to say. I believe the Z7 has other extra features over the Z5, which I like, but I think the deciding factor would be the glass. I could pay off my car for what I'd be shelling out, so this is an important purchase that I don't want to regret.
I have to go right now but will try to address that shortly
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Old April 20th, 2009, 04:17 PM   #4
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This article may be of some help. He talks about the lighting/ramping with the 20x versus the 12x of the z7

EventDV.net: In the Field: Sony HVR-Z5U

Keith
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Old April 20th, 2009, 04:29 PM   #5
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Thanks Rob

It's good to know about the significant loss of low light ability with the 20x zoom. It's too bad, because I think that lens would serve me better for the work I do, and the likelihood of buying another lens on the Z7 is low. However it's an awesome camera. If a WA adapter looks great on it that may well be the way to go.

One question I have that you may or may not know: If both the Z5 & Z7 are zoomed all the way in, are they comparable as far as how close the subject looks? I seem to remember somewhere that the Z5 is much wider than the Z7, and you just have further to zoom to get to the same place is the Z7. I have to admit that I get confused when talking about lens sizes.

Thanks!

Chad
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Old April 20th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman View Post
This article may be of some help. He talks about the lighting/ramping with the 20x versus the 12x of the z7

EventDV.net: In the Field: Sony HVR-Z5U

Keith
Thanks Keith. I have read that, and just read it again. Being that I'm not the most numeric minded person, I wish he just would shoot the same figurine from the same distance, full zoom on each camera so I can see the difference. I'll keep at it though. The Z5 hasn't been out long enough to get a lot of real world reviews. The article is a great resource over all and I appreciate it.

Take care.

Chad
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Old April 20th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #7
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I used a VX-2100 for about 3 years and have used a Z7 for a year now.

The Z7 is a significantly better camera for all the reasons listed in this forum.
I also feel the stock lens on the Z7 (at 16x9) is wide enough for what I do. Seems that I was always using a WA adapter with the 2100 but find I can get by without one on the Z7.

The low light capability of the Z7, while good, is definitely more restrictive than the VX-2100. I can characterize the difference as "VX-2100 - I don't ever care what the light is like" to "Z7 - I better check to see how much light there is".

The other big difference is the weight. The Z7 is definitely a tripod camera while one is fast and footloose with the 2100.

Would I go back? nope.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 06:25 PM   #8
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Thanks William.

I have a WA adapter and a Sound Devices MixPre semi permanently attached to my VX2100, so I'm weighing in at 7 lbs as it is. I rarely go hand held without my shoulder mount rig, so I bet the Z7/Z5 would be lighter than I am used to.

I wish someone would go to a dark club and record a band on a moderately lit stage. That's the test for me. Hey, does your low light ability go up when you record in DV mode? It seems you'd be taxing the chips less, so it seems possible.

Chad
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Old April 20th, 2009, 06:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
One question I have that you may or may not know: If both the Z5 & Z7 are zoomed all the way in, are they comparable as far as how close the subject looks? I seem to remember somewhere that the Z5 is much wider than the Z7, and you just have further to zoom to get to the same place is the Z7. I have to admit that I get confused when talking about lens sizes.
Since the Z5 is 20x and the Z7 12x you canít zoom them all the way in because itís not apples to apples. I believe the Z5 has a slightly wider lens overall. I would do a search on the forum for it, Iím sure itís here somewhere.

The reason I chose the Z5 over the Z7 is the following:

20X zoom
On board mic for Run & Gun (recording nat sound)
I also had heard of some focusing issues with the Z7 but that is a moot point due to the Z5ís own focus issues. You will have to do more manual focusing on both units but the Z7 lens I believe handles that better.

The bottom line is do you need a camera at this point? Do you need 16:9 or HD and will you make money with it. If I had a chance to go back in time I probably would still take the Z5 over the Z7 for the lens and mic. If I had the chance to go back in time and make another choice, I think I would wait for another camera to come out. Donít get me wrong, I donít want to trash the camera because it is a great camera, but there are some annoying things that Iím sure will be fixed in the near future. Just my opinion.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #10
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Rob

What I'm saying is I know that the Z5 will have a greater range, but it starts wider than the Z7, so it very well could look the same when both cameras are zoomed all the way in. It's 20x from the starting point. If that starting point is x8 less than the Z7 then they will appear the same when zoomed all the way in. I just don't know the way to figure this out on paper.

Do I need a new camera? Well, I continue to get by in this small local market doing TV spots and seminar DVDs on the trusty VX2100. However our competitors are already into HD and boasting a nicer IQ in their work. I have wanted to go HD(V) for a long time. I love Sony cams, and I doubt they will come out with something new before 2010. So these two are the main contenders. I'm tempted to go EX1, but the workflow is more involved than I want, and them cards is EXPENSIVE. So yes the lineup is not perfect, but I believe they are the best bang out there. If I could only hold them and caress them... then I can tell how acceptable to me the low light is. I would continue to make money with a new cam. Nobody has asked for HD anything except my boss. Hey bought a used Canon HV 20 thinking we were going to be able to brag we're HD now. I refuse to use it for anything more than a capture deck, as I think the picture quality of the VX is better by the time things get on air. Anyway I buy all my own gear. I'm not rushing here, I just want as much info as possible to help me decide.

Until today I was reading that these Z cams are even brighter than the VX2100, so I'm stumped. I have 4,500.00 saved so far and you know how hard it is to keep that in your pants when there's an awesome piece of gear to get. What do I do..... Keep reading and asking questions.

I need low light shootouts between the VX2100 and any HDV contenders.

Anyway thanks for joining in.

Chad
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Old April 20th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #11
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The only reason I didn't buy the EX1 was the fact I still don't trust solid state cards yet. In my mind, I had to have tape backup. If I took that out of the equation, I would own the EX1. If your not using it for over cranking you can get away with much cheaper cards.
If your planning on doing any TV work and don't have a problem with solid state only, the EX1 is the best camera for the price.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 09:44 PM   #12
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Yeah Rob the Ex1 is frickin' awesome.... I'm not afraid of the reliability of the cards. And as far as tape backup goes, I have never actually needed it, though I still have everything I have ever shot. But as far as work goes, we do 30 sec, or 1 min tv ads, sometimes 10-20 min promotion videos. I also do 1.5-2 hr seminars here and there, and the occasional show/play. I have all of my work backed up on external hard drives. It is nice to have the tapes. I've maybe only gotten a drop out 3 or 4 times in 4 years.

What I'm not too jazzed about wiithh the EX1 is the file size, and I don't think I can edit natively in Final Cut Studio 2. Is that correct? But yes, I want that camera... I heard that either with the P2 cams or the EX cams, there are adapters for the cards so you can use SDHC cards. I've read so much in the last few days that it's a blur. Probably the P2 cameras. You mention much cheaper cards: What are those? Sandisk?

Chad
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Old April 20th, 2009, 09:51 PM   #13
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Panasonic doesn't compare, especially in low light. 1/2 chips on the EX1. I think P2 is older technology as well. No camera is perfect and no camera has everything so you have to decide the best features that fit in your workflow.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 10:13 PM   #14
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If they'd just put half inch chips in the Z5/Z7 there's be no issues for me. I'd have the low light capability I need, and HDV is probably the highest rez I need for TV work here. There's no HD local channels here in the sticks of Eureka Ca. The only news station here uses GL-2 cameras for field work.

Personally I have a friend that makes independent films with a HV30 and a Brevis adapter. It looks OK:

Lost Frames

I wrote/played the music using another keyboardist, did half the location audio, and did the audio mix/master for that film "Dragonfly Cat". So I am likely to use whatever cam I have in independent film. Maybe I should think as far as where I am going with format. I don't know if HDV will be good for big-boy release on film. See! I'm now going in circles thinking of saving up and going all the way to EX1. That will really be abut 8 grand with a few big SxS cards.

I think I need some good news about the Z5/7 before I go too far.

PS: Check out by Buddie's films! I have a small roll ad a guy who dies in "Last Love on Earth" I also did the audio work, but not the music in that. They are twisted little films. I think the PQ is pretty good for a 900.00 camera.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 10:44 PM   #15
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Re: Z5 lens vs. Z7 lens. Chad, I think you were trying to figure out how the Z5/Z7 lenses compare on both wide and telephoto. The Z5 lens goes from 29.5 to 590 (35mm equivalent) while the Z7 goes from 32 to 384. so the result is that the Z5 lens is both wider and longer than the standard Z7 lens.

Re: Standard Z5 lens compared to a VX2100 with a .65 WA adapter. I really don't know how these numbers compare to a VX2100 with a .65 WA adapter. But in reality, due to the wider image of 16 x 9, I think that it would be very similar to a .65 WA adapter when compared to a 4 x 3 image of the same heigth. I hope that makes sense.

Re: Low light capability of the Z5/7 compared to the VX2100. At low light and 0db gain, in my testing I would rate the Z7 image quality as clearly superior to the VX2100. And FWIW, I still own a VX2100 so I feel very comfortable saying that. But if you had to add gain (grain), it will probably be much more obvious in high definition than it is on the standard definition VX2100. Just like soft focus is a whole lot more obvious in HD than SD. I really don't know what they will look like if you cranked both up to 18 db gain since I haven't made any effort to test both it at those levels.
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