Dan Brockett's HVX200 / Z1 Comparo at DVinfo.net
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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old February 11th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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A few things I like about...

Hi all:

This seemed like a good thread to chime in on since I have been shooting with the Z1 since the day it came out, have completed about 20 various television shows, promos and documentaries with it.

We recently received three HVX-200s and I have been shooting everyday with them for the past two weeks using the 8GB cards and the P2 stores.

Things I like about the Z1 better than the HVX-200...
1. The downconversion features for both monitoring and dubbing seem to be more complete and easy to use than the HVX-200
2. The Z1 lcd screen is leagues better than the Panasonic. I don't mind the 4x3 with the 16x9 insert on the Panny, but the clarity, noise and viewing angle on the Panny's lcd are very disappointing. I just returned from an early morning shoot with the HVX-200 at a botanical garden and was trying to track humming birds, kids running around, etc. and it is very difficult to tell if you are in focus, even with the focus assistant. I did a shoot last week where we ran two HVX-200s, each with a DVX-100A beside it as a backup/spare in case we had a P2 or P2 store problem. The supposedly same screen on the DVX-100As looked GREAT, deep rich colors and blacks, very clear and low noise. The same screen on the HVX looks MUCH softer, less defined, definitely noisier and much more difficult to focus with without using the focus assistant. I am not sure what happened in the conversion, if Panny switched lcd suppliers or what but the Z1's lcd is by far the best on any prosumer or professional camera.
3. The menu navigation interface (buttons and knobs) on the Sony are, at least at this point, easier for me to navigate. Taking the DVX-100A's joystick off and placing it on the camera's top deck makes it weird and non-intuitive. I actually liked the DVX-100A joystick better.
4. Archiving. Nothing easier than sticking an HDV tape into long term storage and knowing it's there and you can just put it in and begin working with it. The current P2 workflow with the HVX means loading all P2 cards into the P2 store, dumping the P2 store to a FW drive and also burning all P2 card files to dual layer DVDs. Man, it's a LOT of extra work and will continue to be until 4x DVD+R DL media is available. Even transferring the P2 media to the FW drive takes quite a while. P2 is effortless but archiving it sure isn't.

Things I like about the HVX-200 more than the Z1...
1. The image. I am sorry but HDV and the Z1, while not terrible, do not make for a good image overall. I shot out in Monument Valley, Utah last month with the Z1. The rock formations and nature settings in the valley itself look very good on HDV, especially with some color correction but interviews, no matter how carefully I light them, do not end up looking very good to me. With the Panasonic, I find exteriors look amazing and spectacular and my interviews and interiors also look spectacular. The HVX may be noisier than the Z1, but it's images are MUCH more pleasing to the eye. Better chipset, true progressive scan, better latitude, contrast resolution, etc. when combined with the superior DVCPro HD codec mean MUCH better footage that blows everyone I have shown it to away.
2. The audio. Oh my gosh, the HVX-200 has the best audio I have ever heard on ANY camcorder, even CineAltas and Varicams. The uncompressed 16 bit digital and the mic preamps and audio circuitry are exemplary, every manufacturer should take the hint and make their camcorders have audio this good. Even the ALC circuit is very good. The Z1 has decent audio but nowhere near the quality of the HVX-200. Same with the DVX-100A, while it has great audio, the HVX is superior.
3. P2!! While I really dig the P2 workflow, it is a whole different mindset. It is better than tape but in some ways, it requires greater faith. Faith that the P2 store really ingested your data. Faith that you won't drop the P2 store and dump the drive with all of your footage on it. Faith that the hard drive you dumped all of the footage to won't die before you burn your DVD+R DL backup. Yep, P2 requires a lot of diligence and faith. Tape is just there and almost always works. I have had perhaps two tapes eaten in 10 years, it's exceedigly rare to lose a tape to a machine.
4. The codec. The DVCProHD codec is much superior to HDV and editing DVCProHD is a breeze so far.

This is my experience to date, will report back more as it happens.

All the best,

Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2006, 11:00 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Excellent comparo Dan. I wish you would get your hands on a HD100 so you could compare progressive/progressive. I would be very curious to hear your thoughts if you do.
Damnit Jim, I'm a film maker not a sysytems tech.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 07:17 PM   #3
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Great report. Admitedly, I really don't like Sony.. as a company.. but I've been pretty blow away by some of the results and their cost is certainly appealing and tape is somewhat reasuring giving P2 lenght and such. The LCD on the Panny does seem to be getting universally bad reviews and this is why I'm going with the Dell 2405 in the studio and the Marshall 7" camera monitor in the field... unless I'm running and gunning then It'll be the LCD or viewfinder. How does the viewfinder look? I prefer to use one when I'm exterior.

As far as extreme sports on the HVX, I don't have my unit here.. Boo hoo. I have shot some on the Varicam and the majority of my shooting has been on the Canon XL1 and GL1/ PD150 and a whole bunch of small cams with fisheye lenses. I'm hoping to get the HVX in March for some surfiing footage. Kind of nervous about putting it in a housing though... but I guess that is what insurance is for.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 08:12 AM   #4
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Split out from another thread... great post!

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Old February 13th, 2006, 09:57 AM   #5
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The Z1 has decent audio but nowhere near the quality of the HVX-200.
I'd be interested to know what tests that's based on, because the Z1 has produced the best audio recording of any video camera I've worked with (including various DVCAMs and Digibetas). Maybe we've just had inept sound recordists in the past, but the Z1 audio sure sounds well above 'decent' to me.
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