Z1 'Real World' test results

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Moving Vision, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Further to the various discussions about the Sony Z1 HDV camera and the
    many hypothetical opinions expressed. Well apart from the FX1 we've had
    in Antarctica since November, we've had a Z1 for a week now and shot
    about an hour of DVCAM and half an hour of HDV. Peering with intense
    squinty eyed concentration into our admittedly only SD 20 inch 16:9
    switchable 850 line Grade ll monitor, to try and pick out all the
    horrible artefacts and motion stagger prophesied by some (whom I still
    strongly suspect to be largely from the heavily invested in Digi Beta
    and HDCAM camp), I have not been able to discern one single glitch let
    alone the much dreaded 5% MPEG 2 compression thing that would have made
    Sony's millions of squillions investment the worst business risk since
    Ugg the stone axe dealer put everything he had into trying to monopolise
    on the discovery of fire.

    Using only the basic consumer level Panasonic DV tapes costing us a
    mighty £2 each we were in fact astonished at the Z1's capability. Not
    only does the HDV option work as glitch free and motion smoothly as any
    other DV format but the DVCAM mode looks at least equal to the material
    we're used to getting from the DSR 500/570, albeit that the lens is
    relatively narrow. The contrast latitude is one of the first things that
    impresses. One of the sequences we just shot included a crane mounted
    camera back lit against a bright sky. With a PD150/170 the sky detail
    would have gone to peak white and the crane mounted camera would have
    had the washed out look of such back lit exposure, but the Z1 produced a
    perfectly balanced image with lovely blue sky and cloud detail and
    finely reproduced detail of the camera. The 16:9 image is a joy to
    behold and even the much 'feared' MPEG 3 audio is clean. Colour
    registration looks as good as any video I've seen from Digi Beta.
    There's a little edge moiring where very fine lines are within that
    exact diagonal aspect but again certainly no worse than I get from a DSR

    As a hand held camera it is getting a bit bulky and clearly Sony have
    sought to reduce weight by reducing the robustness of the chassis and
    shell compared with the very robust PD170. personally I doubt this will
    be much of an issue since no camera can stand being dropped or ill used
    anyway. We'll be producing an environmental protection jacket shortly
    that will provide a degree of additional armour for demanding locations.
    The manual focus, though still 'fly by wire', has been significantly
    improved over the PD170, it really feels much more like a standard lens
    than any fly by wire I've encountered yet, making follow focus much
    easier. The main weakness I've determined with the Z1 so far is
    'ungained' low light performance. Much less able to see in low light
    than the quite exceptional PD170, however the gain works very
    effectively with out any noise worth talking of right up to at least 9dB
    with little trade off even up to 15dB.

    I've just been reading an article in the UK's Televisual about HD in
    general and the usual old 'vested interest' statements have been quoted
    about HDV in particular;

    A BBC person is alleged to have said that the Z1 makes a very good 16:9
    DV camera but the high compression is not useful at the moment. Does
    this statement actually mean anything useful? The fact is that the Beta
    SX format, another MPEG 2 format with a mere 10 to 1 compression is
    already old hat and much used for news and satellite uplift stories such
    as 'Big Cat Diary'. HDV is 20 to one compression but the technology has
    marched way ahead since Beta SX. The issue is about editing and just
    because the 'establishment' represented by Avid, Quantel and Final Cut
    Pro have been caught on the hop and have only been able to offer Micky
    Mouse HDV solutions so far means absolutely nothing at all. Canopus have
    clearly demonstrated the next wave of post production technology with
    timelines that can mix and match all known media, including SD, HD and
    HDV without losing original quality and outputting to anything, so all
    this stuff about being unable to broadcast HDV is as irrelevant to our
    business as whether or not there's life on Mars. Just as we used to mix
    Hi8, DV, SP and Digi onto a Digi broadcast master, we can mix HDV with
    anything else onto either a Digi Beta or HDCAM master.

    In another statement we are told that HDV is too delicate and locks up
    with too much movement, well I've been trying reproduce this affect
    without success so far? In the latest issue of Broadcast there's another
    one of those thrown together articles about 'new technology' (Underlined
    by the wrong pictures over the editorial) Which nevertheless is rather
    more flattering and optimistic about the Z1 and HDV, the only negative
    in their article is that HDV has slightly less pixels than HDCAM. Big

    So what is all this spurious concern about? Think business and vested
    interest and anyone can easily join those dots.

    The Z1 is selling like hot cakes with reportedly over 6,000 already
    sold. I'm now more certain than ever that the Z1 and HDV are going to
    prove that the world is round despite the flat earth position of the
    Moving Vision, Apr 11, 2005
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  2. Moving Vision

    Ty Ford Guest

    So I guess that means the audio being 384kbps stereo instead of linear pcm
    44.1, 16-bit doesn't bother you?


    Ty Ford

    -- Ty Ford's equipment reviews, audio samples, rates and other audiocentric
    stuff are at www.tyford.com
    Ty Ford, Apr 12, 2005
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  3. Moving Vision

    Steve King Guest

    Reminds me of the doomsday discussions of analogue LP vs. digital CD--- not
    that both sides weren't right;-)

    Steve King
    Steve King, Apr 12, 2005
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