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EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting

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Ofer Levy
EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 7, 2008 at 9:25:21 am

Hi all,

I am currently using the HDV camera Sony HVR Z7. you can see a short clip of wild Flying foxes I got a few weeks ago in here: http://www.vimeo.com/1127928?pg=transcoded_email&sec=1127928

As I am hoping to make wildlife documentaries for broadcasting I was planning to buy the EX3. After viewing the footage I get from the Z7 on a 42' Sony HD monitor I think maybe it won't be necessary to replace this camera if used with the flash XDR. (will allow me to capture uncompressed signal to CF)

Does this makes sense?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Ofer Levy
Sydney, Australia http://www.oferlevyphotography.com


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Rafael Amador
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 7, 2008 at 1:46:19 pm

Hi Ofer,
very nice pictures.
Will be always a difference between what you will get from a 1440x810-1/3' and a 1920x1080-1/2" CMOS.

Mac OX 10.5.2-FC 6.02-QT 7.4.1
G5 2x2Gh 4GbRAM-BlackMagic Extreme
PMBP 17"Core2Duo 4GbRAM-AJA ioHD
JVC DTV-17"
SONY EX-1 . SONY PD170
..and always a big mess on top of the table.


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Ofer Levy
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 7, 2008 at 2:45:28 pm


Thank you for your comment Rafael! As far as I know (and I might be wrong) the Z7's sensors are also 1080x1920
I am sure there will be a difference but I would like to know in what way - when I view the footage I get on a 42' HD Sony monitor I can't see how detail can be better. if the Flash XDR will enable me to capture uncompressed signal then the quality will be even better.

More input would be greatly appreciated!



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Rafael Amador
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 8, 2008 at 10:26:59 am

Hi Ofer,
I've been having a look in Google because, having my self not a HVR Z7, I had no much information.
You are right that the camera records 1920x1080. But this full size is made by interpolation. The CMOS size is 1440x810. The processor blows the image up.
This do not happens with the EX-1. His CMOS is full 1920x1080. You will always get more quality in-camera or off-camera from the EX-1. The HVR with the Convergent would beat the EX without the Convergence. But the EX with the Convergent would be the winner.
But your problem isn't to know if the EX-1/3 gives more or less quality than the HVR. You are doubting if your camera will be good enough. I think yes. If you get that quality on tape, the quality you will get in the Flash recorder will be much, much better.
If I would have now the HVR, same than you, I would be thinking to buy the Convergent. rather than buy a new camera.
Cheers,
rafael

Mac OX 10.5.2-FC 6.02-QT 7.4.1
G5 2x2Gh 4GbRAM-BlackMagic Extreme
PMBP 17"Core2Duo 4GbRAM-AJA ioHD
JVC DTV-17"
SONY EX-1 . SONY PD170
..and always a big mess on top of the table.


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Ofer Levy
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 8, 2008 at 10:34:37 am

Thanks Rafael ! I really appreciate your input and advice!

I think I will keep the Z7 and use it with the flash XDR and get the EX3 and use it with the Flash XDR too....(-:

I do think that the reach I get with the small sized sensor Z7 is priceless for wildlife photography so I will need both cameras.

thanks again,

Ofer Levy
http://www.oferlevyphotography.com





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Michael Palmer
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 7, 2008 at 3:41:35 pm

I know how long Convergent Design has been developing the XDR to unleash the possibilities within not only smaller video cameras but many professional cameras as well. I will be testing it very very soon as the first units are on the production line.

With any thing knowing how to make the most from your equipment is the key, overcoming limitations using either inventive shooting techniques and or with the addition of innovative new support gear that takes you beyond the limitations of the camera..

Having the ability to decrease the compression together with higher color space levels will produce a better overall image quality with any camera.

I believe you will find the XDR to be one of the best products in your kit.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 8, 2008 at 8:32:58 pm

Ofer,

[Ofer Levy] "As I am hoping to make wildlife documentaries for broadcasting I was planning to buy the EX3. After viewing the footage I get from the Z7 on a 42' Sony HD monitor I think maybe it won't be necessary to replace this camera if used with the flash XDR. (will allow me to capture uncompressed signal to CF)"

First, Flash XDR will presumably have a capability late in the year to raid the 4 Flash cards to record uncompressed from the HDSDI spigot. This will be optional, an extra expense and not a good idea for nature photography because of very short run times on expensive media. The value of Flash XDR for you would be the ability to record with less compression than HDV or XDCam HD at a signal quality that any broadcaster would be happy to use, while still having decent length run times.

A caution: The Sony HVR Z7 does not have the HDSDI output necessary for input to Flash XDR. The EX3 does. I doubt that it would be very practical and would certainly be more expense and fiddliness, to transcode from the HVR Z7's HDMI output to HDSDI in the field. The EX3, IMO, seems like it would be a far better choice because most broadcasters will accept XDCamHD without needing a Flash XDR.

I'm fascinated by Flash XDR, but if you don't need it, why bother in hassle and expense?

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Ofer Levy
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 8, 2008 at 11:57:26 pm

Thanks for the great input Ron !

I seriously consider getting the flash XDR because of at least three reasons:

1. If by using it with the Z7 (there is a HDMI-HDSDI converter from Convergent-Design)I will be able to keep using this camera and enjoy the HUGE benefit of the x7 crop factor when using still lenses - that would be wonderful for wildlife.
2. If the less compressed footage will be good enough for broadcasting then it won't be necessary for me to get the EX3 so that will save me a lot of money.
3. I hope to get footage with longer shelf live if i get it with less compression.

Does this make sense?

thanks for your great advice !!

Cheers,

Ofer



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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 1:33:26 am

Ofer,

I'll just offer a few more practical consideration that tend to go in both directions vis-a-vis your decisions.

[Ofer Levy] "1. If by using it with the Z7 (there is a HDMI-HDSDI converter from Convergent-Design)I will be able to keep using this camera..."

The thing that frightens me most about this way of working with the Z7 is that you put 4 more connections and 2 more devices into the chain that can go wrong in the rough and tumble of nature and wild-life recording, and if they don't go wrong, they are liable to slow you up enough to miss some shot opportunities.

[Ofer Levy] "...and enjoy the HUGE benefit of the x7 crop factor when using still lenses - that would be wonderful for wildlife."

Well the EX3 will still give you a what?, app. x5 crop factor, meaning you may have to drag along a somewhat heavier, weightwise, complement of prime still lenses. That is a consideration, but not such a huge one. The EX3 itself will weigh about the same as the Z7 + converter + Flash XDR.

[Ofer Levy] "2. If the less compressed footage will be good enough for broadcasting then it won't be necessary for me to get the EX3 so that will save me a lot of money."

XDCAMHD is less compressed than the suspect HDV and broadcasters respect its quality and see it as an acceptable standard. Yes the 50 or 100 mbps long gop codecs of the Flash XDR are better but how much better for nature video is a bit questionable. Lower compression or uncompressed has most of its added value in compositing enterprises which is not a great need for nature video. The wow value in nature video is in what we see in the natural world, not in how we manipulate what we see. The manipulation most frequently used shooting wildlife is slow-mo and this can be done shooting 720p in the EX3 in a 24p or 30p project with variable frame rates. This is much better than slow-mo using software manipulation and the Z7 doesn't have this capability.

[Ofer Levy] "3. I hope to get footage with longer shelf live if i get it with less compression."

I suggest that this isn't a big factor. XDCAMHD is digital HD and recognized as such by broadcasters who can be suspicious of HDV. Qualitywise it stands up well to anything that you could possibly lug into the outback on your own, and is better by a bigger margin than it has any right to be than HDV. I doubt you have the budget or the back for IMax. (g)

What you most need to determine are the relative capabilities of the Z7 and EX3 in areas that could be crucial to your endeavors, such as low light capability and the the abilities of the camcorder's images and frame rates to be painted for the needs of the moment. I can't answer those questions, but you need to find out. Obviously 1/2" imagers from the same imager family give you a low light edge over 1/3" imagers, not real large, but perhaps significant in some situations. An F-stop more can make a difference between dramatic and muddy. Are the abilities to determine shutter speeds any different between the 2 camcorders? Lotsa things to look into.

This is not, in any way, shape or form, a dis of Flash XDR. I'll probably have one myself, but I doubt so, if I did nature work. Too much complication for not enough benefit. You'll have your hands full dealing with prime still lenses. (g)

Good Luck,

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 1:56:35 am

Ofer,

One other consideration, whether you use a Flash XDR with either camera. The combo LCD/viewfinder on the EX3 is an absolute marvel. I saw it at HD Expo a few days ago, far, far superior to either on the Z7. It can be used for critical HD focus without any electronic tweaking aids, so that you always see the image you are getting without the focusing aids getting in the way. Top shooters in the industry are aggitating for this combo to be engineered to the new 700 XDCAM HD 2/3" camcorder because the only viewfinder that compares and perhaps exceeds it's quality for the 700 costs $10k, i.e., nearly the cost of the entire EX3. This is pretty huge, IMO.

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Ofer Levy
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 4:26:32 am

Thanks Ron, This is exactly the input I was hoping to get and I really apreciate your serious and objective attitude!

I will probably buy the EX3 but hope to be able to use the z7 in situations where the extra reach will be needed. (the difference between x5 and x7 crop factor is HUGE !!)

Do you thnk it would possible to use footage from both cameras?
I assume the much better quality footage obtained by the Z7+flash XDR will make the intercutting possible without risking being rejected by broadcasters because of the "inferiour" HDR footage.

Does this sound reasonable?

Thanks!
ofer



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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 6:30:56 am

Ofer,

[Ofer Levy] "I will probably buy the EX3 but hope to be able to use the z7 in situations where the extra reach will be needed. (the difference between x5 and x7 crop factor is HUGE !!)"

Ha, I wish I could be so cavalier about purchasing camcorders on speculation. You are aware, I hope, that you'll need to use a pretty substantial, expensive tripod and head to shoot such long lenses in the wild. Even a little wind will jar things without enough support.

[Ofer Levy] "Do you thnk it would possible to use footage from both cameras?
I assume the much better quality footage obtained by the Z7+flash XDR will make the intercutting possible without risking being rejected by broadcasters because of the "inferiour" HDR footage."


I would not expect intercutting to be a problem. The camcorders should match or be made to match quite well coming from the same company, using essentially the same technology. The only difference would be in some situations where the EX3 would have perhaps a bit more sensitivity and/or latitude. With the Flash XDR you can record to 35 or 50 mbps XDCAMHD or better and whatever camcorder you are using you are essentially shooting XDCAMHD or better.

That said, knowing your camera, and how to get the most out of it, is more important than the differences. And as Michael says, interesting, unique material trumps technical quality in most every instance, even with broadcasters. So when your new camcorder goes south out in the wild, get that UFO on your cell phone and see what kind of legs it has. (g)

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Michael Palmer
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 2:11:13 am

Ron,
I would bet this gentleman doesn't yet have a contract to supply anyone anything, I appreciate his due diligence to find an affordable solution to break the ice.
You wrote...
"The thing that frightens me most about this way of working with the Z7 is that you put 4 more connections and 2 more devices into the chain"

FYI.....The Nano XDR (slated for November) will have HDMI capabilities and there are positive locking HDMI cables on the market now that should correct your concerns.

Content is king, and it doesn't matter if he uses DV or HD Cam as long as he has compelling images. He will find his way and I would bet he will continue to graduate up in HD format levels along the way.

The Flash XDR will be an amazing tool for those looking for affordable solutions.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 4:16:04 am

Michael,

[Michael Palmer] "You wrote...
"The thing that frightens me most about this way of working with the Z7 is that you put 4 more connections and 2 more devices into the chain"

FYI.....The Nano XDR (slated for November) will have HDMI capabilities and there are positive locking HDMI cables on the market now that should correct your concerns."


There's nothing better than HDSDI BNC locking single wire cables for this sort of thing, and you can make your own backups with 90 degree connectors that hardly protrude at all for $10 or 15 each. If you're running around with the camcorder in a backpack, I'd feel much more comfortable with this solution, not that the HDMI solution wouldn't work if you were more careful. So what's the projected cost of Nano XDR? I assume it also has HDSDI input?

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Michael Palmer
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 5:28:12 am

"There's nothing better than HDSDI BNC locking single wire cables"
I totally agree. If his Z7 has HDMI I think I would wait for that to come out (if the 2 card slots are enough) and find those positive locking HDMI cables I saw somewhere at NAB.

I don't know the price point yet of the Nano XDR but I assume it will be close to the same 5K USA mark as the Flash XDR unit. These XDR records will also provide benefits for immediate editing from the cards and can be used together with an HDV deck for archiving any HD signal as HDV in real time without conforming.

If I had to make a choice from the subject line question EX3 vs Z7 I would definitely choose one of the XDR units because the sensor size isn't the only limiting factor in image quality. I believe the Z7 mated with the XDR could produce superior images (using 50 Mbps 4:2:2 compression) over the stock EX3 and the 35 Mbps XD Cam level. Obviously the EX3 and the XDR would be even better, and I'm looking forward to testing it with other HD units as well.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Ron Shook
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 9, 2008 at 8:11:50 am

Michael,

[Michael Palmer] "I believe the Z7 mated with the XDR could produce superior images (using 50 Mbps 4:2:2 compression) over the stock EX3 and the 35 Mbps XD Cam level."

Probably so, most likely so, at least in more controlled situations.

[Michael Palmer] "Obviously the EX3 and the XDR would be even better, and I'm looking forward to testing it with other HD units as well."

I'll look forward to the results of those tests.

[Michael Palmer] "If I had to make a choice from the subject line question EX3 vs Z7 I would definitely choose one of the XDR units because the sensor size isn't the only limiting factor in image quality."

Right you are. All HD video production camcorders, at any price point, involve limiting compromises in lots of areas. IMO, one of the most substantial limits in recent years has been in compression codecs, the quality of which has been limited by the recording media and the ability of commodity computers to deal with codec complexity. I don't know for certain, but I suspect that the Sony chip that Flash XDR uses is the same chip used in the newest generation of XDCAMHD camcorders, the 355 and 700. But the limiting factor there is the XDCAM optical drive which can't run fast enough to reliably record more than the 50 mbps variant of the MPEG2 codecs. Flash XDR can record to solid state media at speeds that are capable of using the full range of the encoding chip's capabilities, and consequently the more important limiting factor becomes the quality of the Camera head. Camcorders with HDSDI output from $7k EX1's and EX3's to XDCAMHDs to P2Cams to HDCAMS and Varicams can benefit from Flash XDR recording. I sure hope it works well and reliably.

Regards,

Ron Shook
Shoulder-High Eye Productions
CreativeCOW Forum Host for Discreet edit*


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Ofer Levy
Re: EX3 Vs Sony HVR Z7 for broadcasting
on Jun 10, 2008 at 2:49:11 am

Thank you Michael, Ron and Rafael for your serious and professional input! Being very new to all this I have no other alternative but to relay on the advice of pros.

From all the input I got so far looks like using the z7 with the Flash XDR is the way to go. If, for some reason this won't work then I will have to buy the EX3.
I was planning to buy the EX3 anyhow but budget doesn't allow me to do all at once.

Thanks again!

Ofer Levy
Sydney, Australia http://www.oferlevyphotography.com



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