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COW Reviews: HDV Format Sony HVR-Z1U
on Apr 30, 2005 at 3:03:40 am

Sony HVR-Z1U: First Impressions

CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey just made the leap to HDV by acquiring one of SONY’s new HDV Cameras the HVR-Z1U. He was torn between the FX1 and the Z1 wondering if the added features would be worth the money. In this article, Jim gives us his first impressions of the Sony HVR-Z1U.

Product Review, HDV Format


Click on the link above to read Jim's first impressions of the Sony HVR-Z1U.

Kathlyn Lindeboom
Creativecow.net


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Michael Slowe
Re: COW Reviews: HDV Format Sony HDR-Z1U
on Apr 30, 2005 at 10:42:40 am

Jim, I have had this camera for a month now having changed from my old faithful DSR 300 DVCAM.
The Z1 feels like a toy after that but I must agree the pictures are good. Main fault is th NOISE HUM from any mic bolted on, no matter how good. I have to use the NR facility all the time. It's only a buzz with the built in mic but who wants to use that. The camera has to be handled very gently if you are not to get bad rumble and the shooting position is awful unless you are using a tripod. The screen is too close for shoulder use and the viewfinder, rather than mounted to the side as on the DSR 300 is at the rear so you can't shoulder mount and use the finder. Also focussing, even with the good screen, is much more difficult in bright sun than the DSR 300. Finally the main worry is the editing. Media 100 are struggling to overcome the MPEG compression and the fact that you don't import complete frames! It's a funny old format! DV will be fine but we are meant to be taking a step forward with HDV.

Michael Slowe


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Jim Harvey
Re: COW Reviews: HDV Format Sony HDR-Z1U
on Apr 30, 2005 at 6:11:49 pm

Hi Michael:

I haven't had any hum problems that I can discern. Certainly not as bad as you describe. Is this noise coming from the onboard mics or an XLR mic? After coming from aDSR300, I would think you were a little batty if you didn't think this was "toylike"! Yes, you surely have to make some adjustments. I understand the screen positioning that you're talking about. I think a lot of it is that we're so used to a larger camera that this will take some time to "blend in" with the shooting paradigm. One solution is to get the shoulder brace. It will put the camera out a little farther than normal and you can use the screen to set up and monitor your shot. for the bright sunlight issue, there are hoods that will shield the screen and allow you a better view. I don't know of any LCD screens that are totally without problems in birght sunlight. The nice thing is that you can always look through the viewfinder if you need to.

Remember too that this isn't anything at all like your shoulder mount camera. The viewfinder is going to throw you until you get used to the new shooting position. Don't worry though, you WILL get used to it. As for handling the camera without a tripod, I hate to sound like a broken record, but it's just a matter of time and training a different set of muscles to keep things steady. If it truly becomes inpossible for you to hand hold it, then there are a number of solutions that you can employ to get the camera stable. On the subject of stability, the stabilizer that is built into the camer is probably one of the best that I've ever seen on a small frame camera.

Editing will be a non issue in the coming months. There are already methods that allow you to work with the footage and more are on the way. I'm waiting to get the new VEGAS 6.0 to see how they have implemented the workflow. I'll report on that as soon as I have something intelligent to say .

Don't despair! You'll be very happy with the camera once YOU get friendly with it.


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Tom Valens
Re: Z1U Review
on Apr 30, 2005 at 6:54:05 pm

Thank you for the review, Jim. A big question I have is how the quality compares to other cameras that I know (much more helpful to me than technical data). For example, shooting in various conditions, what would the Z1U footage look like compared to the same images shot with a PD170, and especially a higher end DVCAM camera like the DSR 570? How about the ZIU footage shot HDV but then downconverted to DV, put side by side in the same timeline with DSR500 footage - how might they compare? Would we be getting closer to DSR500 quality, equal to, superior to? I am thinking of shooting a long documentary next year and love the portability of my PD 150, but love the better quality of my DSR 500 footage - might the Z1U be a solution here? Thanks for any thoughts.

Tom Valens
Tamalpais Productions


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Jim Harvey
Re: Z1U Review
on Apr 30, 2005 at 9:20:42 pm

Tom:

I am going to try to get some comparison shots up in the next week. I went out last night with the Z1U and shot some available light footage and was very impressed with the results. I have a PD-170 that I will use for comparisons and also try to work in some 1/2" and 2/3" footage as well. I think that once the camera and acquisition is understood, the Z1U will interface quite nicely with almost anything that you may be shooting with. From what I have seen using the camera, there is an amazing range of adjustability to the image. Again, it won't match the lowlight performance of a PD-170 or a DSR500, but I think with some creativity and adjustment tweaking, you will be able to mix footage seamlessly.


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Michael Slowe
Re: Z1U Review
on May 1, 2005 at 12:18:48 pm

Jim, to answer your question on the audio 'hum' I got it from any mic I fixed on the camera and obviously connected to one of the XLR inputs. To a lesser extent I got a different noise (mechanical I think) when I switched to the built in mic which has to use both channels which means that you can't use that for ambiant sound with primary audio from another mic into an XLR, which is another nuisance.
Tom, in answer to your query I am convinced from many tests that if you shoot on HDV and downconvert to DV you get a better picture than shooting in DVCAM mode. Whetther either picture is as good as from my old DSR 300 is open to debate, I am thinking that it is, but with different characteristics. It is sharper but with less exposure latitude and does not handle contrast quite so well.
Jim, when you talk about editing solutions coming along are you including Media 100 in this? I particularly want to stick with them and am prepared to upgrade to the HD version 10 when and if it can properly support HDV edting.

Michael Slowe


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Jim Harvey
Re: Z1U Review
on May 7, 2005 at 12:50:59 am

Jim, when you talk about editing solutions coming along are you including Media 100 in this? I particularly want to stick with them and am prepared to upgrade to the HD version 10 when and if it can properly support HDV edting.

While I don't have any "insider" information about the Media100 system, I will go out on a very sturdy limb and predict that they are already working on an HDV solution. Remember, this is brand new stuff, so there is going to be a lag in getting all the tools in order. When DV first came out there was no way to natively edit it either. It took a couple of years to work out the bugs. I will also predict that it won't take nearly as long to get HDV more friendly for us to work with.


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