Would you go with the Pan HPX170 or Sony HVRZ7U for weddings at DVinfo.net

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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 3rd, 2009, 11:22 PM   #1
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Would you go with the Pan HPX170 or Sony HVRZ7U for weddings

The only thing I am worried about is how these two compare in low-light conditions. Please let me know what you all think when comparing these two in low light. Does anyone know of a place where I can see side by side comparisons. Has anyone shot with both of these? Is it really a huge difference? or is it minimal. Please let me know your experience and which you would recommend. I prefer hpx 170 because of the more filmlike look, but I'm just worried how it handles low light, so can someone help me out on this.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 11:38 PM   #2
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I haven't shot with the 170,

but I can tell you that I love the pictures my Z5 puts out. It handles low light pretty well, the colors are beautiful and most all of the controls are easy to get to and where they should be.

Don't know if that helps, but I'd be happy to answer any questions about the Z5.

Mark
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Old November 4th, 2009, 08:39 AM   #3
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Hi Peter,

I shoot with the Panasonic HMC150, which I believe has the same chips as the HPX170, so the low light performance should be similar, if not exactly the same. At the link below you can see low light and CCD vs CMOS (rolling shutter) comparisons between the HMC150 and Sony Z5, which should be very similar to the Sony Z7.
Tips & Tricks

My biggest concern in using the HPX170 for weddings is P2...both the cost and limited recording time. With the HMC150 you can record 1.5 hours on a 16 gb card and a good quality card costs about $45.

Low light performance is very similar between the HMC150 and Z5. I prefer the HMC150 over the Z5 for many reasons, but a few are...lighter weight, wider lens, no rolling shutter everytime a flash goes off, cheaper, no more tape capture issues, and I like AVCHDs look better than HDV. AVCHD is Mpeg 4 and HDV is Mpeg 2. This is largely subjective, but the HMC150 has more of a film look, and the Z5 looks more like video.

Bottom line...I greatly prefer the HMC150 over the Z5 or Z7 for weddings, which is about 95% of my business.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:39 AM   #4
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Thank you so much for that video. That is exactly what I have been looking for. I now feel much better about my purchase. I did the research before I purchased, but then kept reading and the more I read the more I started to worry again. You are right the P2 Cards are pricy compared to HMC150, but I will need the P2's anyways for other Cams, so its the way to go for me. The rolling shutter is a killer! Thanks you for your help !
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Old November 5th, 2009, 02:30 AM   #5
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I've resisted any move to CMOS or rolling shutters for our work, weddings. Until photographers stop using flash you'll have to explain away nasty onscreen effects of the rolling shutter. We use three z1s and wouldn't change for any other Sony product, in fact I'm thinking of adding a fourth.

As far as the cards are concerned, a Sony engineer pointed out to me the other day that CF cards lose all their content in the case of a power failure whilst they're powered up eg battery running out - Sony's S&S cards lose a couple of seconds. I'm not familiar with P2 cards but it's worth checking.

I drive my cameras like my cars - why change until there's an overwhelmingly better product or they're worn out.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 06:29 AM   #6
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HMC 150 all the way! I shoot with 2 of them, and they do a wonderful job. very lightweight stellar recording times, and so easy to use and get great results. make sure you get extra batteries and plenty of hard drives!
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Old November 5th, 2009, 01:32 PM   #7
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Phillip -
I'm a little suspicious of the "Sony engineer" quote on CF cards. I know I accidently turned one of my SR11 Sony HDD cameras "off" by removing the battery - the file was still fine, no loss whatsoever - the file must inherently be writen nearly continuously, so the data would be there, not lost, although you might have to "repair" the file, but I seem to recall the camera took a few seconds when a fresh battery was installed, and all was well.

Also, RS is one of those things that is made out to be a large hairy deal, but I see footage with partial flash exposures ALL the time on the news now, and really haven't heard or seen any complaints, except from videographers, who are probably the most critical "viewer".

I was a bit annoyed with partial flash exposures, but I did some testing, and found that you could actually get full frame flash as well as partial, depending on where in the cycle the sensor refresh was (and you could get no flash at all if the timing was right!). Then I went back and looked at what typically happened with an SD CCD camera when a flash went off, and it often wasn't too pretty either (macroblocking and pixellization), along with CCD smear... I know the HD cameras with CCD fare better, but I finally decided that RS wasn't a deal killer as many try to make it out to be.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 04:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
HMC 150 all the way!
The HMC 150 does shoot beautiful pictures, but I would need to transcode AVCHD to Canopus HQ before I can even begin editing, which for me negates the reason why I'm shooting tapeless... to be able to edit instantly off the card if I needed to. Therefore, I still prefer the Sony route.

Sony's new clipbrowser 2.6 for the EX has a flash "half frame" fixer, I'm sure something similar will be released very soon for all of Sony's CMOS cameras.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Phillip -
Then I went back and looked at what typically happened with an SD CCD camera when a flash went off, and it often wasn't too pretty either (macroblocking and pixellization), along with CCD smear... I know the HD cameras with CCD fare better, but I finally decided that RS wasn't a deal killer as many try to make it out to be.
Very true. As time goes on even videographers are starting to see the RS differently. And as you said, it's becoming more prevalant on TV.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 07:41 PM   #10
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Dave, the engineer was on the Sony stand at a national exhibition. I didn't invent him; I quoted him exactly. I'm sorry you find that hard to accept. Apart from anything else he was pointing up a potential drawback in his own company's product, the MRC1. Incidentally he also questioned why anyone would want to spend money on a hard disk recorder when solid state was available - since we all know for a fact that the HDD will eventually grind to a halt. He might have been too frank but he certainly made the statements.

I'm a strong advocate of if it ain't broke... so why introduce an effect (RS) which you have to explain away to clients who aren't usually very savvy technically where there is little other benefit other than slightly better low light performance and (I understand) a cheaper production cost for Sony? I don't find "it's just like the news on TV" a very persuasive reason for accepting it on your wedding video.

Secondly, if RS is not such a deal-breaker why has NewBlueFx bothered to create a bit of software that "cures" the problem of warped verticals and Sony, you say, has a workaround for partial flash frames? I prefer to buy and recommend kit which doesn't create a problem I need to spend time and therefore money correcting.

Finally, you're right about the pixelation of flash especially in SD but I find that that effect is only visible on the computer screen. When the file is exported from Avid, coded in TMPGEnc4 and authored and compiled in DVD Studio Pro, somewhere along the line the pixelation completely disappears.
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Old November 6th, 2009, 02:35 AM   #11
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Hi Phillip -
Not doubting that it was said, just find it rather interesting - I'll have to try deliberate battery removal out of curiousity and see the results on HDD and MS Duo - I'm not expecting any loss, just the need for the camera to properly "close" the file once it's re-booted, but I could be wrong. Definitely got my curiosity up, but I'm fairly sure that when you're dealing with ANY streaming file, the data should be on the storage device up to the point the power is disconnected, albeit the file might be corrupted. When Vegas crashes mid render, I can usually return to the fail point on the rendered file it was writing... the data is "there", to a point.

For RS, there are two distinct problems you're talking about - skew, which primarily affects fast moving objects/pans - if the bride is moving fast enough to encounter that problem, I'll be surprised. I've shot airshows with a CMOS camera, haven't yet seen any skew issues that bothered me... if one wants to whip their camera around, it's not the camera that has the issue...

Not saying that in SOME circumstances it might not present a problem, just that while I've been able to replicate it, it's only through bad technique, and the footage wouldn't be usable anyway! "Bad" footage more often equals "bad operator" than "bad camera", barring a technical malfunction...

The partial flash issue is another thing, and as noted, Panasonic and apparently Sony are both releasing a way to fix it in post (wouldn't be the first thing that needed to be "fixed" in post... CC for instance) New Blue has a plug in that helps it sometimes... it wasn't designed to do the partial frames specifically, but it can help, and it really doesn't present THAT big a programming challenge, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in firmware somewhere down the line (I think the Panasonic solution actually has an in camera option?).

FWIW, I find that the partial flashes seem to mostly disappear in my post process/render, and the few that don't, don't stand out enough to be a problem.

My mention of news footage wasn't meant as a "defense", I see so much BAD stuff on broadcast that it's embarrasing... yet it's out there!

The main advantage of some of the newer CMOS cameras is better low light, and if you're happy with the Z1's (great camera, no doubt, even though it's "older"), there really isn't a reason to change... They work for you, and bring home the bacon, hard to argue with that!
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Old November 6th, 2009, 03:11 AM   #12
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Dave, I too would be interested in your experiment - not least because I'm on the point of buying three MRC-1s for our Z1s. Actually the threat of data loss isn't a major concern for us because luckily we're pretty disciplined and have never had a battery run out during a shot.

However, I wonder if our experience with another data recording media device would help. We used to sound record brass bands etc using two mains-powered Tascam 788's time-code linked together to give us a 12 channel recorder. Once, whilst recording on location in France the power was cut off by the "helpful" rep from the tourist office at the end of the first half and before we could close down the 788s. The result was that although the entire first half of the concert had been nominally "recorded" on the hard disk, it hadn't been saved (part of the close down routine) and we lost the lot. If the comparison is exact, it seems to me that with CF cards one might reasonably expect to lose at least the current 4Gb file. (PS fortunately for us it was the band's first concert since arriving and they played so badly the MD was actuaslly relieved no record existed!)

As I say I'd be very interested in your tests as I'm sure others would as we contemplate the move to solid state media.
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Old November 6th, 2009, 08:29 PM   #13
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Sorry Philip but I'm with Dave. I've been using the MRC-1 for several months now and have never had an issue with the CF cards. I am yet to have a dropout. I've run out the battery several times as well.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, the RS effect has been good to me so far. I haven't had a shot where I've thought, "Boy, I wish that wasn't on there". It's better to have a full frame blowout than a partial? After all the talk about RS, it's been a non-issue for me.
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Old November 7th, 2009, 12:38 AM   #14
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Don't apologise Rob; as you'll have read, your experience encourages me to make the plunge into MRC-1s myself.

One question if I may, the link to the Z1 from the MRC-1 is via the firewire socket on the Z1 which was obviously not designed to be a mission critical link on a mobile unit. Do you take any special precautions against it slipping out during the shoot? I am visualising wadges of gaffer tape around the cable and the camera but hoping someone has a better idea than me.
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Old November 7th, 2009, 08:31 AM   #15
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while I find that transcoding definitely sucks, i usually dont start an edit right away anyhow,
so I can transcode all my clips on sunday and still get work done, even though I am not
physically sitting there :-). Even though I am using FCP, I have thought about switching
to CS4 so I can edit natively.
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