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Old May 25th, 2011, 06:06 AM   #1
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Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

I’ve been filming weddings now for a year, using a Z1 and a T2i. I’ve never been massively happy with the Z1, as its really pretty rubbish in low light. So I’ve finally decided to invest in an upgrade. My plan is to sell the Z1, which will leave me with a top budget of about 4000 for a new (probably second hand..) camera.

Just wondering if anybody has any advice as to which camera I should go for? At the moment I’m tempted by a second hand Sony EX1…

(I edit in FCP, and currently convert all clips from the t2i to prores and capture from the Z1 as prores... I guess whatever camera I get I'll have to change my workflow quite a bit...)

Thanks!
James

Last edited by James Bishop; May 25th, 2011 at 07:45 AM.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 08:03 AM   #2
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

I think your gut decision is the right one, an EX1 would be a great camera to have.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 09:02 AM   #3
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
I think your gut decision is the right one, an EX1 would be a great camera to have.
I second that, you won't regret.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 10:17 AM   #4
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

I absolutely agree. I don't have one, but it would be my choice. The Z5 is somewhat better in low light than your present camera, and would be closer to your budget.

Get the EX1.
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Last edited by Jeff Harper; May 26th, 2011 at 06:32 AM.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 12:44 PM   #5
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Personally speaking I would either recommend the EX1 as you suggested or the NX5U with the FMU, if you want totally tapeless. Totally tapeless is not a bad idea since you're already converting to ProRes.

On a side note, I would recommend the NX5U over the Z5U, since the Z5U shoots HDV and not HD. If you want the archival of tape for every shoot and tapeless, then the Z5U is a good choice as you have tape and CF card via the MRC1K.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Michael, I'd think twice.

At the end of last year we moved from three Z1s with MRC1s which never let us down to EX1Rs.

Our Z1s were in superb condition with extraordinarily low hours yet we got less than 2000 for each combination (Z1+MRC1). On top of that we had to sell our four Manfrotto supply arms/remote controls and buy much mess sophisticated remotes for the EX1Rs - at the time nobody made a proper supply arm for the EX1R. We also had to sell our 12 FP970 batteries and chargers and buy the more sophisticated batteries and chargers for the EX1Rs. We also lost money on our M15 HDV studio recorder. All this adds to the loss before re-investment.

Although we had good, over-riding, reasons for changing - the Z1+MRC1 combination isn't ideal - and although the EX1Rs are beautiful cameras, the low light operation is not significantly better. I also urge you to resist any sense of being out of date - note that Don Bloom, a senior figure on this forum and I believe, a much respected wedding video producer, uses a PD170.

The rolling shutter frankly is a damned nuisance. A photographer's flash typically gives us two ruined frames which, unlike flashes on the Z1, don't convert nicely when transferred back to DVD.

We edit in Avid Liquid which means messy importation and creation of .mxf wrappers.

The larger chips give us an improved DoF control without any DSLR silliness (my view) and the EX1Rs are as robust as the Z1, but overall, if I had to do it again, I'd think twice and then again.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 11:45 PM   #7
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Hi Philip

Wow!! I really thought that you were over the moon with the EX-1's I wonder why the rolling shutter is such a pain...Panasonic seems to have cured the issue totally...My HMC82's behave much the same as CCD chip cameras and I have yet to edit out any flash issues and also on pans there doesn't seem to be any vertical image breakup at all. I might get a frame slightly over-exposed during the cake cutting when 20 guests behind me are all using their point and shoot cameras but never any rolling shutter and never, ever any of the older Sony and Canon "jello" effects.

I do agree that it's not worth going back to tape if you have progressed to card...it took me a while to be convinced and some very nervous first few weddings back in 2009 ..(I was really expecting the card to say "corrupt data" or "card failure" at any minute after the ceremony but it never happened)

If you are going AVCHD and your computer struggles you can always transcode back to HDV and still have awesome results!!

All in all, camera choice I think is a very personal one rather than advice from others but bad experiences certainly count for a lot when you make your decision

Chris
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Old May 26th, 2011, 12:05 AM   #8
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Chris, I am happy with my decision, now it's made and as I hope I've conveyed, there are some important benefits with the EX1Rs. But I was writing to James at the point he's at now, before he's committed his funds. If I could go back to that point then I'd think again.

As far as the rolling shutter is concerned it's either a passing thing which Panasonic has managed to solve or it's accepted. Did people ever complain to the cinema manager when the wheels on Joyne Wayne's coach revolved first one way and then the other?

I noticed on Top Gear last night that the helicopter blades in one very slo-moed sequence were distinctly curved (I mean distorted curved) but there wasn't a rush of people to the phone.

I agree with you about recording to cards. We invested in a 63gb SxS card for each camera with others for emergencies and frankly recording the whole day on one card is a real luxury.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 01:07 AM   #9
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Hi Philip

On here we do tend to get very technical and critical and the bottom line is that the bride seldoms even notices...it's all about content and if you got brilliant content and a good storyline the bride really couldn't care less if you shot it on your iPhone!! Miss just one event and she will be on the phone to you!!

People other than us critics don't look at technical issues...ever since I had a brisk discussion here on using a handheld camera, every BBC series I watch I can now see the frame height moving around...I didn't see that before BUT bring it to my attention and I look for it!!! Nope not one person (apart from you) would ever bother with the helicopter blade distortion...it's just not part of the story so it's ignored and really we should ignore it too (unless, of course, the blades were damaged and that contributed to the chopper plowing into the ground shortly afterwards)

Brides are NOT going to say "Our cake cutting clip has rolling shutter issues" You got the cake and the event and that's all she cares about!!

As long as your camera captures the image in focus and reasonably visible it doesn't really matter if it's an EX1R or not....!!

Chris
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Old May 26th, 2011, 01:21 AM   #10
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

I think you're absolutely right Chris. Don's mention the other day that he still uses a PD170 was a salutary reminder of how to make a business make money - and I mean our business, not Sony's or Panasonic's!
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:14 AM   #11
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Philip, your comments regarding your change of camera are very interesting. You may recall that I went through a similar questioning of my decision last year when I changed my equipment, I think it was a matter of getting use to the difference from 'norm' that I had been accustomed to, as I have now come to terms with most of my initial reservations and disappointments though I know there are some definite technical issues re CCD v CMOS.

What has surprised me though are you comments on the low-light performance of the EX1r. As you know that was one of my main contenders when I made the change and the big pulling factor was that it was reportedly excellent in low-light. However for various reasons I went for the JVC HM700 in the end and from the outset was depressingly disappointed in the very poor low-light capabilities, so much so that I have for sometime been contemplating a change to an EX1. I know that many things in image assessment are subjective and I'm sure there will be posts that counter your comments but as you know I prefer for people to report as they find rather than be evangelical about a product.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:51 AM   #12
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

George, firstly, thanks for not putting me amongst the "evangelicals!"

Second, in fairness, we've only done a couple of shoots with the EX1R - the next is on Saturday - and only one so far was in poor light but that was severely poor light. It was altogether a shoot to remember without much pleasure - except for the excellent fellow suppliers.

Not that the venue wasn't glamorous or organised (RIBA, Portland Place, London) nor that the staff there weren't helpful (some of the best I've ever met - ask for Natasha), nor that the photographer was difficult (he was one of the easiest we've worked with), but a wedding planner who the client foisted upon all of us at the last minute who thought she was better than any of us and was going to prove it.

On the recce we'd arranged a lighting plan with the venue, full up for the speeches, low level with great colour for the ambiance. On the recce we'd arranged with the PA sound engineer (I told you it was a good venue) for a moderate level for the PA to mitigate against the echo from a very tall ceiling 5m plus.

But on the day the Wedding Planner-pest took over, plunged the room into total darkness - candles only for the meal - started the speeches in candlelight so we have a sort of reveal - ghostly voices from the shadows suddenly doused in light - whacked the PA sound up so the people in the Chinese Embassy across the road could hear, then plunged us back into darkness for the dancing. Bearing in mind the candles were on the tables around the room this meant there was B all light on the floor at all. Because the room was so big our usual fall-back - the little 3w lights on camera (great if you can get in close in the darkness) were barely effective.

The best we could contrive was to position ourselves with the dancers between us and the rock and roll revival band who'd got a few multi-coloured LED lights the WP-pest couldn't touch.

Perhaps as a test, the low light situation was harsh but it was real life. Probably the best I can say about the EX1R performance v the Z1s is that we haven't had to use any noise-filtering software which we probably would have done with the Z1s but maybe the CMOS chips have something to do with that - I'm not technie enough to know.

If it helps George I'll let you see a copy once the clients have approved it.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 08:49 AM   #13
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

re, You have to get 3. I was using a z1 when I first started my business and this industry last year. Then i got a z5. Then this year I have made the jump to a 5d mark and 550d and i sometimes use the z5. The video quality of the 5d completely obliterates the z5 in every aspect. Because i shoot solo i need it to record a wide of everything just encase but my last few films i have included non of the footage recorded from the z5. Its a bit more work and stress but its totally manageable. If you want your work to jump up dramatically its all about DLSR, no question. If you want to improve as a film maker, improvise your business and up your game its the only way forward. Look at my first video with the z5 10 months ago and compare last week with the 5d . And as for the cmos ccd argument, get over it, work around it. its no problem at all :)

Luke

First film with z5


Second film last week with DLSR 5d

There is simply no match. DLSR is the way forward if you are looking to up your game.

My 2 cents

Luke
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Old May 26th, 2011, 09:31 AM   #14
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Re: Selling my Z1... What to buy now?

Whenever you upgrade, you will solve some of your existing problems. But, expect to generate some new problems too.

If you have a working "system" in place-- cameras, computers, software and supporting gear, be very careful about making changes. An efficient workflow is important to profitability. Minimizing expenditures also helps to maintain profitability. Watch your cash flow. Each time business picks up, prepare for the next dip.

One investment that does pay off is improving your skills with what you have. Marketing and customer service/support pays off too. New gear may or may not.

Still using Canon XH-A1, but have added external storage device. Still haven't reached the limits of the XH-A1. Honestly, in my case, it's more often the camera operator that needs to improve, not a new camera. The XH-A1 isn't known for being great in low light either. But I've been learning creative ways to deal with the problem. Sometimes just talking with the client about the importance of good light to being able to deliver a good video goes a long way. It's much better to change the lighting than to change the camera. Sometimes it's just not possible. But a lot of times, we don't even try to get the lighting situation changed. We're afraid to even ask about it.

Even those using bazillion dollar cameras--network studios etc.--still concentrate on lighting. The ideal solution for low light is to add proper light. I personally bought lights and stands. I sometimes ask the client, "can we move over here where the light is so gorgeous."

Still using Avid Liquid, but am learning Avid Media Composer. Interestingly, I'm still learning new tricks in Liquid after all these years. Some of the tricks in MC also work in Liquid. Workflow tips that apply to MC also apply to Liquid ( and probably any other NLE).

Video used to be an expensive hobby for me. Now it's a business, and my source of income. My perspective has changed entirely. I used to be gear crazy.
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