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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old December 6th, 2007, 02:33 PM   #1
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EX1 vs Z1U

Could anyone please comment on the picture quality difference between the EX1 and the Z1U in the 25mbs mode assuming that there was sufficient light for no gain for both at 5.6?
Also what about in lower light where the Z1U would be at +6db gain v:s the EX1? I do realize that the EX1 will allow for shallower depth of filed shooting.
Tapeless aquisition aside, I am trying to get a handle on the upgrade expense to an EX1 from my Z1U.
Thanks, Craig Hollenback
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Old December 7th, 2007, 07:39 AM   #2
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I'm noticing an obvious improvement over the Z1 in all categories.

I can't find anything that the EX1 does worse or even on par with the Z1.

Better in low light... cleaner and more sensitive. LCD easier to judge color and shadow detail.... I have yet to go over +6db... even in a dim room at night... it's just so clean in the shadows even without cine modes.... through in the cine3 and wow... it's like being there!

More resolution even in 25mbs HDV mode.... and appears to have a little bit cleaner image regarding artifacts and compression. But to tell you the truth... I doubt I'd ever bother shooting in this mode. I'm really liking the 1080 30p mode.

I think the lens makes a big difference..... and it's obviously wider in coverage which I like a lot!

also.... I have to admit that the workflow is really wonderful. I feel much leaner with deleting on camera. and with 2TB firewire 800 externals at $600 each these days it's much easier to log and search footage than tape.

What else would I like? Well for starts would be a SDI cineform battery powered hardisk recorder in a backpack!

but the camera seems very nice so far.

only grips..... battery seems to drain while on the camera over a few days even when camera is off..... did not notice this with the z1

my knuckle will hit a blister button under the handle ever once in a while while shooting.... putting status display mode on.

also... the focus ring that you slide back and forth to go from auto to manual feels a bit rough and clunky.... but I shoot full manual 95% of the time anyway.

Last edited by Christopher Witz; December 7th, 2007 at 07:50 AM. Reason: added comment
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Old December 7th, 2007, 07:56 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Christopher Witzke View Post
Better in low light... cleaner and more sensitive. LCD easier to judge color and shadow detail.... I have yet to go over +6db... even in a dim room at night... it's just so clean in the shadows even without cine modes.... through in the cine3 and wow... it's like being there!
Yes, I also found out that cine3 offers lower noise. It looks real natural.
In addition, I also slightly dialed down the black gamma.
With cine3, you loose a bit of overall level, but the image is real clean and natural!
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Craig Hollenback View Post
Could anyone please comment on the picture quality difference between the EX1 and the Z1U in the 25mbs mode assuming that there was sufficient light for no gain for both at 5.6?
I shot a bunch of EX1 footage in the SP (25 Mbps) mode this past weekend and found it to have better shadow detail and depth of field control than my FX1, which is similar to a Z1U. But the EX1 has noise characteristics which become unpleasant with increased gain much more so than the CCD-based Sony HDV cameras, so with the EX1 you need to limit the gain in low light where you might not do so on the Z1U. Which is fine because the EX1 at 0-6 db looks better in low light than the Z1U at any setting, so you just have to be careful not to let the EX1 gain get away from you.

I will say that after testing the EX1 my brother and I both thought the FX1 held up okay considering the price difference, and I talked to another videographer yesterday who's going to stick with his Z1Us for a while longer. If you're buying a camera anyway and can afford the price difference between the EX1 and a Z1U I'd say go for it, but I wouldn't rush to ditch your Z1U if you don't know for sure you need what the EX1 has to offer.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #5
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Christopher - you say the EX1's lens is 'wider in coverage, which I like a lot'. I guess you mean it has a 14x zoom as against the Z1's 12x, because as far as I was aware the wide-angle coverage was the same for both cams (32,5 mm equiv). Forgive if I'm missreading you.

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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
I shot a bunch of EX1 footage in the SP (25 Mbps) mode this past weekend and found it to have better shadow detail and depth of field control than my FX1, which is similar to a Z1U. But the EX1 has noise characteristics which become unpleasant with increased gain much more so than the CCD-based Sony HDV cameras, so with the EX1 you need to limit the gain in low light where you might not do so on the Z1U. Which is fine because the EX1 at 0-6 db looks better in low light than the Z1U at any setting, so you just have to be careful not to let the EX1 gain get away from you.
How do you find the highlight handling compared to the Z1 (which does a fairly nice job of rolling off), and the latitude in general.

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Old December 7th, 2007, 11:40 AM   #7
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How do you find the highlight handling compared to the Z1 (which does a fairly nice job of rolling off), and the latitude in general.
In general I'd say the latitude on the EX1 is quite good: I took a shot of my cat looking out the window which would have washed out on the FX1 but looked fine with the newer camera. This is hard to quantify, but for me the EX1 images looked more natural under a wider range of lighting conditions.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 12:27 AM   #8
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Conflicted

Now I'm really conflicted here. Please elaborate on the wide angle you spoke of. A wider lens would be really great but if they are the same then....

Low light... Kevin I have read a few of your posts and you mention the low light/gain issue but I find that I really avoid going over 9db on my Z1.

My main money maker is weddings and the most stressful part is shooting in low light. Can we agree that there is a MARKED improvement just in this area? Even putting in small "cheats" that may help perceived image improvements?

How about rendering in slow mo? Do you get better slow mo out of the EX?

Thanks to all

Mike
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Old December 9th, 2007, 09:10 AM   #9
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Mike, no matter what you hear, you will NEVER know for sure until you try it yourself.

I can say this 1/2" sensor camera shows a marked improvement in sensitivity over the 1/3" sensor cams.

If you can not get your hands on an EX1, maybe someone who owns the Z1 would be willing to do an experiment.

Take both cameras into a room with low lighting and set both cameras to the same FOV, wide open aperture, and lowest gain.

Now, capture quick videos, say three seconds each.
Now increment each camera by one gain setting and record again.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #10
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"Christopher - you say the EX1's lens is 'wider in coverage, which I like a lot'. I guess you mean it has a 14x zoom as against the Z1's 12x, because as far as I was aware the wide-angle coverage was the same for both cams (32,5 mm equiv). Forgive if I'm missreading you."

Well.... I did not realize the wide end of the zoom was the same.... it sure feels wider to me.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 03:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mike Williams View Post
My main money maker is weddings and the most stressful part is shooting in low light. Can we agree that there is a MARKED improvement just in this area?
Yes, there is definitely a significant improvement in low light but you need to limit the gain to avoid getting image noise which is worse than on the Z1U. So the EX1 at 0-6 db will look better than the Z1U at 12 db in the same lighting, and just make sure you don't let the gain on the EX1 get away from you. The only reason I've expressed any reservation about the EX1 in low light is because you can't use more gain to shoot in really dark settings; just take what you get at ~6 db and do what you can with that in post.

In side-by-side tests I found the EX1 to have a slightly wider wide angle than the FX1, which should be the same as the Z1U.

Slow motion should also be better if you use the special recording modes on the EX1, but I didn't test that.
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