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Sony A1U - A Year & 1/2 and still no housing....


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#1 Detonate

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:04 PM

Well, it's been almost a year and 1/2 since I picked up my Sony A1U. I tried to wait out the initial urge to pick up the first housing on the market so I could pick the one that was right for me, but after hearing all of the quirks other users were experiencing, one never stood out of the crowd.

So after waiting and waiting, I decided maybe a new camcorder would hit that would make me jump, but the FX7 and HC7 don't seem to be any better than what I already have.

So now I have another trip coming up in April and I'm dying to shoot some video.

So as I see it, I can rent a L&M Package with lights and the whole nine yards for roughly $900 for a week. Assuming that this will be the one and only time this camcorder gets wet and Sony will finally bring me a HD camcorder the size of the HC3 with the features of the VX2100, and I'll purchase a housing for that.

Or I've seen a used S&S Housing for $1,250.

A used Seacam housing with HC1 included for $2k.

I could go with the new Amphibico Dive Buddy that has a monitor back....

Anyone know of any better options I'm missing? Should I just go ahead and house this camera cheapest way possible, house this camera with the intention of keeping it (i.e. a better housing), or just bite the bullet and rent and wait for the 'next big thing'.....

Any suggestions welcome, or if anyone has seen some used gear for sale they could point me to, that would be great.

#2 Thebes11

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:07 PM

You might want to check out ikelite. My current housing is three years old and I've had no problems. When I upgrade to the HC-7, I'm pretty sure I'm staying with Ike!

#3 Drew

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 07:14 PM

Jim
One of the best features of the HVR-A1 is the telemacro mode. Unfortunately, electronic housings with older lanc boards DO NOT work with that mode when lanc is plugged in. That is why it's been left out by S&S and others.
I think you'll find the FX7/V1 is actually better in terms of resolution and color and of course features. I hope to be testing one underwater soon.

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#4 sjspeck

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:24 PM

So after waiting and waiting, I decided maybe a new camcorder would hit that would make me jump, but the FX7 and HC7 don't seem to be any better than what I already have.

I'd have to disagree, the FX7 is a much better 3CMOS camera than the HC-series. Of course it should be for the price difference. Problem with it is that there's currently no housings available for it till late spring/summer.

So now I have another trip coming up in April and I'm dying to shoot some video.

Where? If it's tropical you don't need lights - I never have with my HC1.

So as I see it, I can rent a L&M Package with lights and the whole nine yards for roughly $900 for a week.

You can buy a TopDawg or O/I Dolphin for $900. But as has been mentioned, the control set is limited for both of them. O/I also sells an HC1 housing that allows MWB using a control rod.

Assuming that this will be the one and only time this camcorder gets wet and Sony will finally bring me a HD camcorder the size of the HC3 with the features of the VX2100, and I'll purchase a housing for that.

Wishful thinking for at least a year - I think Sony's introduced all their new models already. (FX7, HC5, HC7) And I'm not sure you'll ever see a camera in the HC-form factor that's more professional in nature. For both size reasons and also Sony seems to be dumbing down the HC-series to a more consumer rather than prosumer level - witness the "Easy" button on the HC3...

I could go with the new Amphibico Dive Buddy that has a monitor back....

But it's not a HD monitor if that matters...

Anyone know of any better options I'm missing? Should I just go ahead and house this camera cheapest way possible, house this camera with the intention of keeping it (i.e. a better housing), or just bite the bullet and rent and wait for the 'next big thing'.....

Since your A1U does have the "assign" button, you can use it to manual white balance if you buy the $200 add-on button from Amphibico for the EVO SE. One thing that's unclear on the Amphibico site is whether the EVO SE still has pushbuttons for Expanded Focus and TeleMacro like the original EVO Pro did.

Seems like a shame to not use your AI u/w...

Edited by sjspeck, 20 March 2007 - 08:33 PM.


#5 DeanB

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 11:36 PM

Personally if the trip ws a big one, or the chance of some great encounters I'd rent a housing and then wait for the results of the Drew tests on the Fx7/V1 housing(s)..If not Just wait...Unless your not 'loaded' then I'd buy either the Amphibico or the L&M...

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#6 Detonate

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 08:53 AM

Jim
One of the best features of the HVR-A1 is the telemacro mode. Unfortunately, electronic housings with older lanc boards DO NOT work with that mode when lanc is plugged in. That is why it's been left out by S&S and others.

Ahhhhh, so that's what the deal is. I wish S&S would update their website.... Grrrrrrrr....

I think you'll find the FX7/V1 is actually better in terms of resolution and color and of course features. I hope to be testing one underwater soon.

Oh, no doubt. I guess my biggest complaint is that it's bigger, and the low light is still not as good as I'd like it to be.

I'd have to disagree, the FX7 is a much better 3CMOS camera than the HC-series. Of course it should be for the price difference. Problem with it is that there's currently no housings available for it till late spring/summer.

Well, it's better, but I wouldn't go as far as to say 'much better'. I guess if you need all the manual controls it's a lot better, but I mostly don't bugger with the manual controls on video other than white balance and maybe the gain...

Where? If it's tropical you don't need lights - I never have with my HC1.

Yeah, mostly tropical. Do you just use auto white balance and things come out looking good? I know with my VX2100 I could shoot with no lights and get fantastic results, but it was my understanding that manual WB did not work at depth with the HC1/A1U at all....

You can buy a TopDawg or O/I Dolphin for $900. But as has been mentioned, the control set is limited for both of them. O/I also sells an HC1 housing that allows MWB using a control rod.

I wasn't even aware they had a top dawg for the HC1/A1U. I guess I don't need a lot of controls, since I'm probably going to trade this camera at some point.

Wishful thinking for at least a year - I think Sony's introduced all their new models already. (FX7, HC5, HC7) And I'm not sure you'll ever see a camera in the HC-form factor that's more professional in nature. For both size reasons and also Sony seems to be dumbing down the HC-series to a more consumer rather than prosumer level - witness the "Easy" button on the HC3...

Wishful thinking for sure. :) All I want is an HDV camcorder no larger than the HC1, with Manual White Balance that works, and 3LUX. 3 CCD or CCMOS would be nice, but whatever....


I'm thinking at this point I may just need a cheapo housing just to get me through the next year or so before the new camera bug over takes me.

Or maybe I need to just get back into Still Photography and house my D70 or D2x.... ^_^

#7 Ryan

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 09:10 AM

Telemacro does work with the Light & Motion housing that uses LANC, for clarification.

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#8 Texas diver

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 09:54 AM

I have the EVO Pro that I use with my A1U and I love it. I've used it in in Bonaire, Honduras, and Cozumel, which are all very "blue" water dives (the kind I like). The manual white balance has worked fine when using the color filter down to almost 100 ft, and the color has been good. I usually use the auto setting for everything except the white balance, so I'm sure I could do better if I used it enough to master the manual controls. We are off to Bonaire again at the end of May, and to the Bahamas over Christmas, so I'll be using the A1U to shoot video. The folks I've given DVDs to, always are amazed at the color and clarity of the video images, so don't give up on your A1U yet, depending on where you plan to dive it may serve you well. I feel most of the limitations in video quality are due to my limited abilities more than the cameras short comings. Your milage may vary.....

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#9 Drew

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 11:35 AM

Where? If it's tropical you don't need lights - I never have with my HC1.

He will if he goes on a night dive. ^_^

Well, it's better, but I wouldn't go as far as to say 'much better'. I guess if you need all the manual controls it's a lot better, but I mostly don't bugger with the manual controls on video other than white balance and maybe the gain...

Then you're going to miss out on the best parts of a professional camera. Knee control, black control and other controls that can make a pic look great instead of good.

but it was my understanding that manual WB did not work at depth with the HC1/A1U at all....

Err depends on what depth you're talking about. the VX2100 stops MWB at 15m/50ft without filter.

Telemacro does work with the Light & Motion housing that uses LANC, for clarification.

That's bery nice! :)

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#10 Steve Douglas

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 01:59 PM

Then again, you can check my for sale post in classifieds where I have my new Gates housing for the A1-U for sale..... B)

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#11 sjspeck

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 11:56 PM

Yeah, mostly tropical. Do you just use auto white balance and things come out looking good? I know with my VX2100 I could shoot with no lights and get fantastic results, but it was my understanding that manual WB did not work at depth with the HC1/A1U at all....

I have the HC1 with an EVO so no option to MWB. So for the last year I've been just letting the camera auto white balance. I've been generally happy with the results, especially in shallower water.

But I'm trying something new next month. I bought an Expodisc that just fits inside the lip of the port on my housing. I'm going to try power cycling the camera with it in place as I've read that the camera does a white balance on power-up.

And frankly, I kind of like the blue tint on some shots. It's what you'd expect to see. When it's cloudier on the surface though I get an image that looks like someone turned the gain down, it's noticeably bland.

Edited by sjspeck, 22 March 2007 - 12:01 AM.


#12 DrMark

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 10:45 AM

The manual white balance has worked fine when using the color filter down to almost 100 ft, and the color has been good.
Vic


You are the first person I've hear who got manual white balance to work with the A1 at depth. Has anyone else been able to do this? I can't get it to work past about 40' (clear water in Bali and the Red Sea).

--Mark

#13 DeanB

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 10:54 AM

I've had mine down to 196ft but i didn't even try to W/B...too many other things on my mind, like hanging on to the bloody thing. ^_^

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#14 Drew

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 11:29 AM

Let's get one thing clear first. Depth isn't the true indicator but available light intensity is. In super visibility 50+m(170+ft) on a sunny day in mid day, MWB is much easier than turbid waters with viz around 10m(33ft) in the late afternoon or early morning. So with variable light intensity, MWB can stop working at 7m(25ft) to almost 30m(100ft), although you also have to first access how much color range is left for the WB to shift. Also factor in subjective ideas of what is great color and "low" noise, you'll find that mileage may not only vary, but is downright all over the place.
The HVR-A1 isn't a bad camera, but the low light sensitivity does restrict the range of usability, whereas a camera with better light sensitivity gives you a wider scope of use.

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#15 jonny shaw

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 02:38 PM

Totally agree with Drew, depth isn't the issue, turbidity is. I use my HC1 in Sydney and NSW diving and we average around 10-15m visibility, white balancing can be hard but you can also use filters and also colour correction post for good results. If a rental housing is going to cost you $900 why not look at a cheap housing like the Ikelite then you will actually have something for the cash and lets face it the re-sale value of a camera won't be great. The housing is limited for ports etc, the main advantage I would say is the size. All the 3 chips at the moment are big which is fine in water but a pain for flying so the A1 is a good traveler...

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#16 Texas diver

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 03:35 PM

You are the first person I've hear who got manual white balance to work with the A1 at depth. Has anyone else been able to do this? I can't get it to work past about 40' (clear water in Bali and the Red Sea).

--Mark


I guess I've just been lucky then. I white balance frequently as I increase in depth and notice the color starting to change. I use the white sand, or the white lens slate for white balance, have not tried using the sun. I do use the flip down color filter, otherwise it won't lock on the white balance below about 30 ft. I'm diving for pleasure, not for work, so the visability is usually clear with good sun, which helps alot (my dive buddy, ie. the wife, won't dive if it is not nice out). I'm just shooting vacation videos, nothing fancy, which probably explains why this camera combo meets my expectations. I put together a video of our Xmas week trip to Roatan, and all the other divers raved about it, and how it was so much better than the ones they had bought in the past (but then I did give it to them for free....). I guess if you don't drive the faster car you really don't know how limited the one you drive is.

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#17 Detonate

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 04:11 PM

Thanks for all the info...

I've been turned on to a housing I never knew existed, and it's quickly shot to the top of my list!

Seatool HC1PRO/A1PRO Housing

#18 SomeAssembly

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 05:22 PM

You are the first person I've hear who got manual white balance to work with the A1 at depth. Has anyone else been able to do this? I can't get it to work past about 40' (clear water in Bali and the Red Sea).

--Mark


DrMark,

I've had no problem with MWB down to 80 feet with the filter. This was in reasonably clear water. I haven't tried any deeper.

Admittedly, at that depth and with the filter, there was some noise from the gain.

#19 sjspeck

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 07:52 PM

Thanks for all the info...

I've been turned on to a housing I never knew existed, and it's quickly shot to the top of my list!

Seatool HC1PRO/A1PRO Housing

Jim,
You know about their USA site?: http://www.seatoolusa.com/index.php

Ryan at Reef Photo/Video sells em...

I looked at it but the buttons are a little too close together for me - but I have big fingers. There's a good close-up shot on the SR1 housing page.

There was some testing done a few months back on their HC3 housing on Digital Diver: http://www.digitaldi...;threadid=19562

Edited by sjspeck, 22 March 2007 - 07:58 PM.


#20 DeanB

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 08:18 AM

O.k so my mega depth comment was of no use..

My A1 has never failed to W/B in up to 1metre of water with way less than 1 metre of viz...Overcast and sunny. Rainy and snowy...

Had no probs.

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