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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 September 30th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #1
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z7 help

looking to buy a Z7 anybody selling? what do people think of them?
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Old October 5th, 2010, 02:52 PM   #2
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Ollie,

That's a tough choice there's a lot of very nice cameras in that size and price range. I own a Z7 and I believe it's one of the best cameras in it's class. I use it mainly for underwater shooting, but have no problem using it along side any other higher end HD camera. The Z7 and the S270 are pretty much the same camera with the S270 in a shoulder mount version. I have shot extensively with both and If you know how to tweak the image and understand the limitations of the 1/3" sensors you can make both cameras look very high end.

Last year I was shooting with a PDW-350 XDCAM HD 3/CCD camera along with my Z7 and after doing a side by side shoot with them it was nearly impossible to tell them apart, and in many cases I feel the Z7 out performed the PDW- 350.

The new Sony CMOS sensors produce stunning image. The question now comes down to work-flow & cost. If you need to be some what backward compatible and already have an extensive collection of HDV and DV tapes the Z7 or S270 would be a great choice. But, if your looking for best image in a hand held, the biggest bang for the buck, is a PMW-EX-1R.

Here's a couple of other cameras you might want to consider looking into as well.

HVR-Z5U
HXR-NX5U

FWI, if you noticed, I have only been a member since Saturday, but have been a shooter for several years.
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Old October 17th, 2010, 11:18 PM   #3
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I bought my Z7 in 2008 & have been very happy with it. Though I doubt I'd purchase another one. I'd probably lean towards a Sony EX1R or EX3, Canon XF300 or Panasonic AF-100. My biggest reasoning is that I think tape is on the way out.

I purchased my Z7 b/c the company I was doing freelance work for gave me a Z1, and when someone else in the company needed that Z1 I didn't have any work. So I purchased a Z7 which did everything the Z1 could do, plus lots more. Company dissolved right before 2009 & I started looking for other work.

Since then I've shot more DV with my Z7 than HDV. (Funny how that goes, analog TV turns off coast to coast in the USA & I start shooting less HD.)

Since I'm still pumping tapes through my Z7 I'm not looking to sell it yet, so I won't say that tape is 100% dead. But tape is only for people who want tape. Nice thing with the Z7 is it does tape & CF, so I think you get the best mix of a little of both worlds.
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Old October 19th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #4
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I've had my Z7 since they came out and have been really pleased with it. At the time it was a hard choice between the Z7 and the EX1. I bought the Z7 because every so often I do a documentary shoot and tape is still more practical in that case. I just came back from Kenya and Tanzania for instance with fifty something tapes. Several of the locations had either no power or generator power and we did days that were long enough that copying footage from memory to hard drive simply wasn't an option.

Most of the time I just shoot to memory however, and an EX1 with it's slightly better picture would be better. The picture on either camera really is stunning. I do at times wish that I had bigger sensors for shallower depth of field.
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Old October 19th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #5
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Told you! It's a tough call... ....I actually told Sony, "I wish you would have put a 1/2" chip in the Z7" because it blows away the EX1 in ergonomics and it has interchangeable lenses. I'd love to do a side by side comparison of the two cameras.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 09:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dan Crowell View Post
Told you! It's a tough call... ....I actually told Sony, "I wish you would have put a 1/2" chip in the Z7" because it blows away the EX1 in ergonomics and it has interchangeable lenses. I'd love to do a side by side comparison of the two cameras.
I have been on several shoots with my Z7 and various EX-1's. I have been extremely pleased with the results and so have the others involved. One thing I have noticed is when trying to make a scene look "warm", it seems like the EX-1 tends to look a little too brown instead of warm. While the Z7 can easily achieve that beautiful warm look. A local production company that owns one of the EX-1's I have shot beside has had four different editors and ALL of their editors have commented at one time or another how good the footage from the Z7 looks. On one shoot we had an EX-1 and my Z7 hooked up to an A - B monitor and the producer/director commented to the EX-1 cameraman that he needed to fine tune his EX-1 because my feed looked a lot better. No matter how much he tried, he never achieved a look that the producer liked. He even tried switching the inputs. Eventually, he said he would just fix it post.
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Old November 4th, 2010, 06:37 PM   #7
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Greg,

With out a doubt the EX-1 should look better than the Z7 for a lot of reasons. The 1/2" sensors alone give it a distinct advantage. I'm assuming you're using one of the cinegamma functions and are tweaking the image as conditions dictate on your Z7. If your going to use any of the standard settings on any of these cameras including the higher end gear. There's simply not going to be a lot of difference other than resolution, and even that can be tweaked as well. In fact, buying my PMW-350 gave me even more respect for my Z7. Granted the 2/3" CMOS sensor blows away the image quality of the Z7 in 90% of shooting situations, but all things being equal, or unequal, on tight shots and in optimum lighting conditions it is very hard to tell the images apart provided you tweak the gamma settings and curves as well. I personaly love the S270 for documentary shooting for nothing other than keeping things in focus. I know I can make that camera look like a high end camera and get stunning results. Slap 1/2" imagers on this bad boy and I think you'd have one of the best field documentary cameras around. Okay, over the competition........
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Old November 5th, 2010, 09:41 AM   #8
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Hi Dan,

Actually, my camera was set on all of it's default settings. At that particular shoot, I had been hired to do the lighting and B camera. I grabbed the Z7 out of the Porta Brace, stuck it on the sticks and did a rough guesstimate of what my white balance should be by dialing the white balance with the menu wheel. BTW, I love that feature. Other than basic WB, I didn't adjust anything, I started setting up all of the lighting for the shoot and never did any tweaking or fine tuning to the Z7 at all. While I was doing the lighting set up, the Producer/Director and the A camerman/editor were having their conversation about comparitive image quality.

But to your original point, they should have made this camera with 1/2" chips. Or one 35mm sized chip.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #9
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....apart provided you tweak the gamma settings and curves as well.
Hi Dan - can you expand on these tweaks a little? I've had a play with the basics but would be interested to hear your suggestions.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #10
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John,

Hook up your camera via an HDMI cable to the best monitor you have available. Set up something to shoot that has a nice array of color a textures (detail). Example.....I have a big picture window that lets in a lot of sun light and we have couple of vase with dried Eucalyptus and other various dried foliage. I like filtered sun light over artificial light. Set the camera up on a tripod. Focus the camera in your subject matter and set for proper exposure and focus. Now press the picture profile button. Scroll through each profile while viewing the monitor. Notice the change in the image as you do. I like cinegamma 2. But, I don't do weddings, so you may want to use one of the others or just stick with the standard settings. Play around with the setting to see what hey do. You can't break it or screw it up. At the bottom of each picture profile is a rest option. Pick a profile....it really doesn't matter with one. Select settings. Scroll through the setting just see what there is. As you do select anything, change the setting to how it effects the image. After you do that I'll give I'll give you a few more things to tryout......
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Old November 7th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #11
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Greg,

Did the camera "A" guy rent his camera? The rental places don't res-est the cameras. So, if the camer was setup for another shoot the camera "A" guys should have re-set or change to the setting manually. Side by side with standard setting the EX-1 should have easily won out.......???? But, like I've said before, "if you take all these cameras and set them up side by side shooting idea conditions with an SDI or HDMI output, it's very difficult to tell the images apart.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 08:01 PM   #12
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No. The "A" camera guy owned the EX-1. I had something similar happen once before. And the guy on the other shoot owned the EX-1 also. Different camcorder, different shooter.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 06:22 PM   #13
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Greg,

Interesting. I haven't had any real time with the EX-1 or the 3 for that matter, but I do know that they both have very similar gamma curves and Picture Profile menu options. The EX models having a few more. I'll have to try to get my hands on an EX-1 or 3 and do a few tests of my own.

As mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, I'm sold on the CMOS sensors. The major reason for that is that when I had a couple of XDCAM PDW-F350s (1/2) CCD 1440x1080 @ 35 mbps recording. I noticed how much cleaner the Z7 image was, especially in low light. I did a comparative shoot and though it was close. I'd say the Z7 image was better. And even though Sony offered me a really incredible deal on the F350. I turn them down. For the same money, I could have bought a S270 with the optional wide angle lens. I do have to admit that I didn't do any tweaking of the F350 image as I'm suggesting all of you do to get as much out of your cameras as possible. But, I can say that my test was in standard gamma mode on both cameras.

Getting back to the EX-1.....I'm perplex a bit. The fact that the EX-1 & 3 have 1/2" sensors and have a full raster 1920 x 1080 and records in 35 mbps, should produce a much better image. I've scene their images. They're very clean and sharp. Unless the other camera guys have tweaked their images out of the ball park, I can't see this occurring.

Were you out-putting from the HDMI or recording and playing back?

All these cameras out-put a 4:2:2 uncompressed signal via SDI or HDMI. . I know that the Z7 & S270 output a very good clean image.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 07:13 PM   #14
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Neither camera was using the HDMI or SDI out. We were both using component out. On this particular shoot the DP and his assistant were a lot more knowledgable. He said he really liked the look he was seeing out of my camera which was originally supposed to be the "B" camera. He and his assistant tried various adjustments to the picture profiles but he never achieved the look he wanted. That was the first time I noticed that his EX-1 had more of a brown tint instead of the warm tint. We were running out of time to try different settings so he made the decision to use my camera as the "A" camera instead. I asked him about how it looked later and he didn't comment a lot other than to say that the client loved it.
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Old November 9th, 2010, 07:18 PM   #15
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Greg,

It sounds like the EX-1 guys may have had their cameras set to output 480p rather than 1080i.? If you don't have a good monitor it would be very hard to tell the difference. This happened to a friend of mine not too long ago. Once he switched it over he was much less freaked out about the the comparative image he was seeing. Comparing PMW-320 to a PMW-350. I love the Z7, but I'm a realest too. Like I said before, yes, I can make the Z7 look as good as a higher end camera, but in optimum conditions only. But physics are physics and a 1/2" imager is simply going to out perform a 1/3" albeit not much more than a few percentage points. This is why I have a check list that I use before starting any shoot.
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