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Sony HDR-HC1/HVR-A1 and housings


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#121 videodan

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 02:12 PM

Bubblevision - Thanks for the detailed reply. You have legitimate gripes, and my hat's off to you for enduring more than anyone should have to. Very glad to hear it's working well now. It seems that I have been pretty fortunate with my two Bluefins.

Steve - Who could ever accuse you of enthusiastically endorsing Gates, or even Apple? :) BTW, I'm getting ready to capture those clips you requested, you should have them next week.

Note to all - I have had L&M monitor problems in the past, but it was all due to poor electrical contact on the wet connectors, which I fixed with cleaning and silicone grease. Been fortunate with no flooding or corroded/broken circuit boards or other components. I will admit that I maintain the housing myself, as L&M can take forever to get it done.
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#122 Steve Douglas

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:50 PM

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you sending me those clips. Several people have emailed me to volunteer their footage. When I have what I need and can really produce the film I just know you'll think it went to a good concept. If I could afford to give you all free spots on our Bali trip, I would. But since I'm now broke you'll just have to take my sincere appreciation. Much thanks.

By the way, I just came home with my new Gates Housing for the A1U in hand. Now to get it in the water. :)

Steve

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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#123 erik

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:35 AM

The question is very simple:
A1 could compete with Fx1 for underwater shoots or not?
If you compare PDX10 and PD170 shoots you will find big differences, Pd170 make more beautifull videos than the little one.
And finally: more weight and big dimensions (FX1) for really better video or with an A1 we can arrive to have similar results?
I think that we must consider this before to buy a new Sony Hd :-)
For the moment i just saw clips maked with FX1 (Wagsy) and are great...with A1? A lot of people starting to use it but no demo :-)
Thank you all

ERIK

#124 Venson

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 11:24 AM

Erick,

Visually, you can't easily tell the difference. [IF YOU HAVE PLENTY OF LIGHT] The single CMOS chip in the A1 is very good compared to the 3 CCD chips in the FX1/Z1U.

However, if you put images from both cameras on a scope you will see slight chroma differences, but color balancing will put the images almost exact. In fact you could have a multi-camera shoot and mix shots from both cameras and not be able to tell.

The biggest differences are the controls available on the A1 (ie. exposure -gain, iris, etc.). The A1 just allows for overall luminance. If you can't get good images without these controls than the A1 is not for you.

At the end of the day, you are going to color balance all shots anyways, so regardless, you are going to get good shots and the REAL limiting factor is the HDV standard anyways:

Remember that HDV uses 4:2:0 chroma sampling vs. 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 for 'real' HD. So already HDV has lost some color (Cr space). Also HDV uses Mpeg2 compression for video and Mpeg1 for audio and uses interframe recording, so some image loss occurs.

For me the size factor of the A1 would offer more opportunities for use and the cost vs. image quality just doesn't give a good ROI, especially with all the other limiting factors. Just my 2 cents.

Venson

#125 Drew

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 05:09 PM

Venson
The differences are more pronounced once light levels drop. The A1 does get grainy quickly compared to the Z1. Otherwise your assessment is right on the money in the comparison.

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#126 Venson

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 06:41 PM

Absolutely correct. So another assessment would be how much 'dark' diving you do. i.e. caves, wrecks, deep, etc. Or do you always dive with lights, more macro than wide, etc.

Also one other consideration between the FX1 and A1 is that the A1 is the professional version of the HC1 and the FX1 is the consumer version of the Z1U. There are some control differences (more auto in the consumer versions, etc.), but for me the issue is that the consumer versions don't have balanced XLR audio, which is a big issue since I do a lot of land shooting.

For my use, I wouldn't even consider unbalanced audio, and to add that option to the FX1/HC1 (or get an external DAT) it would be the same cost to get the Z1U/A1 - respectively.

#127 Drew

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:01 PM

Well it's still Mpeg 1 audio so it's almost moot with HDV.

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#128 Venson

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:16 PM

True! 48kHz/16-bit and compressed to 384kbps using MPEG1 Audio Layer II encoding.

Quite lossy, but add all the hiss from non balanced audio, inability to set CH1 + CH2 seperately, no AGC, no selectable input level as well as no Trim level and you might as well turn off the audio on the FX1/HC1. :-)

#129 Nick Hope

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:18 PM

Well it's still Mpeg 1 audio so it's almost moot with HDV.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

So is the sound quality actually worse than SD-DV? Are you saying that balanced/higher quality audio inputs are less important with the HDV cameras than with DV?

#130 Venson

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 07:39 PM

scubadru is right. The audio is actually worse than SD-DV which is PCM audio - based on the spec alone. In actual use and when you'll be 'sweetening' audio in post, the balanced/higher quality audio inputs will provide a 'source' audio that you can better work with.

It all depends on what your use is and what limitations you're willing to live with.

For land stuff I'll often use CH1 for mic and CH2 for ambient. I'll set the line levels independantly to get the best field recordings. Then in post I'll sweeten both, fine tune the levels to 0db broadcast reference levels, and then convert to Dolby Digital.

I won't have this level of field control with the FX1/HC1 even though both still won't be as good as SD-DV. I guess I choose the lesser of two evils.

For critical audio always slate and record seperately.

#131 Steve Douglas

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 08:45 AM

Recently got my Gates housing for the A1U and the one button white balance control works better than any housing I've had before. A real snap...couldn't recommend the Gates housing more. This is my 5th Gates housing if my memory serves me.-Steve

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#132 divenut

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 10:09 AM

I have had a Ocean Images housing for about 4 years now.
Just got a New Sony HC1.

Here is my setup :
Sony HC1 . put a NP-QM71D battery on it. It will last 3 to 4 dives ( enough for a whole day of diving )
Add a neutral density filter to the sony camcorder ( I use a tSunpack NC3 lens )
Put a Sony wide angle lens in fornt of that ( i use the older lens 0.6x )
Go to a photo store and buy a 52mm rubber sunhood . SNap the metal threaded inner ring out of the sunhood so you onyl have the rubber piece left.
Snap the rubber piece over the outer rim of the wide angle lens. The sunhood is mounted in reverse. ( if you open it ip would open towards the camcorder instead as to the front ) Leave the sunhood rolled up.

Take the tray in the housing and turn it around so all the holes are facing the back instead of the front..
You can now find a hols that will hold the entire camcorder rig perfectly in place.
The battery will be 2 to 3 millimeter from the back plate, the rubber sunhood ring will touch the front port.
The rubber sunhood performs 2 functions
1) it acts as a shock absorber and prevents the wide angle lens from bumping into the glass
2) it removes unwanted reflections from the lens to the glass port by effectively shielding light from entering under an angle.

I got a 3 1/2 inch LCd monitor module at Digikey ( just the guts ) for about 120 $
using some pvc i made an assembly that holds the LCD panel ( 3 mm thick ) just above the battery ( not between the battery and the back plate , but above the battery ). The circuitboard lies above the camcorder. I mounted the whole thing using standard metal standoffs on the camera tray.

I use the microphone input of the camcorder to switch on and off. the microhone input has a power output of 5 volt to power an external microphone. when the camera is off ( even when sent off throught LANc interface ) there is no power there.
i control a simple mosfet transistor to cut the supply to my lcd panel.
In the cavity where you put the leadshot bag i put 10 NimH AA cells in holders.
it fits nicely in there and weighs about the same

I have reinfoced the housing a bit. I find that the handles 'creack' a bit when handing up the camcorder to the guy on the boat
Using a standard kitchen cutting board as base material i made a tray with dovetail that slides into the base of the housing. 2 standoffs screw into thehandles attaching them to this tray. The tray is made a bit larger so it sticks out in frnt. 2 pieces of round delrin material go up and above the camcorder. to mount the light arms

I bough a Niterider HID videolight. This is attached on top of the housing.
I use the Loc-Line arms. Go to a machine supply shop ( the kind of shop that sells tools for metalworking and machinists : mills and lathes ) . They carry Loc-Line . It is notrmally used as coolant supply hose.
6 $ gets you a complete arm. I got 4 pieces ( 24$ worth. ) and my light arms can now extend almost 4 feet from the camera.

Great to light the inside of a hole where a moray eel is hiding. I can extend the lights to be as close to the subject as i want while still keeping the camera at a distance.

The whole rig is tuned so it FLOATS. ( most rigs sink ... bit of expensive )
A nylon climbing rope (got it from REI store) is attached to the tray in such a way that one end has a boltsnap to attach it to my BC , and the other end has a stainless steel thimble ( from Boaters world ).

a piece of waterhose ( got it from a douche waterpick ) is slid over the nylon rope and secured into place with two knots.

When it is time to leave the water , and i am at the surface, i unclip the boltsnap from the bc and onto the thimble.
the piece of plastic hose now becomes a handle to be used by the guy on the boat to easily lift the whole rig out of the water.

If i need my both hands underwater i can let go of the housing. It casually floats upwards ( its very slightly positive in fresh water , and thus a bit more positive in saltwater. ) and out of my way.
When i'm done i pull the rope and there is my rig.

I just got back from a diving excursion in florida. There were guys (and gals)on the boat that had Gates , Amphibico and other rigs. They were all asking where i got mine because they wanted one just like it.

I have a large LCD that allows me to film heads up , a very flexible light mount that has a runtime of well over 2 hours and here is the killer :

The housing is 800$ , the lcd panel cost me 150 $ ( plastic ond some small parts included ) and a couple of hours tinkering in my garage ) and a nifty way of attaching the rig to my bc and getting it safely in and out of the water. ( i can even do 'hotdrops' by simply rolling backward with the whole rig without risk of losing it.
The whole setup is half to a third of the price then the others and yields High definition video.

I use velcro cable organisers to secure the arms and lights onto the system when doing a hotdrop so they don't flail around. At the end of the dive the same velcro straps lock the arms in place to hand it off.

#133 larsdennert

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 08:30 AM

Very creative. I always enjoy people who substitute thought for money.

#134 echeng

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 12:26 PM

photos! we need photos! :)
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#135 Steve Douglas

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:00 AM

And that's why I have stayed with Gates for the A1U. It is truely a one touch wb operation. Much easier than it was for me with the 2000 housing. Love it, plus I know the housing will outlive me.
Steve B) <;^-->

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#136 Shasta_man

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 01:22 PM

So tell us how you WB, divenut

Or are you always using lights?

#137 Texas diver

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:45 AM

Hello All-
I just returned from a week in Bonaire which was my first dive trip with my A1U, Amphibico housing, and external monitor. OK, the monitor is not 16:9, but it sure beats looking thru that little hole. Everything worked great, had to use the red filter below about 40 ft, or it would not white balance. I removed all the external weights and the unit was slightly negative buoyant, which was pretty easy to handle.

I did do one night dive which added an older Amphibico light setup (lineloc arms), this made the setup extra negative and hard to handle. I could shoot along the bottom OK, but shooting up the pier pillars was a chore. I’ll need to figure out a way to get closer to neutral before my next dive trip.

I think the footage looks great (all the bad stuff is from my lack of experience.. I'm a true rookie, so I don't think I'll be posting any clips), the only place I really had a problem was shooting at about 90 feet into the cargo hold of the Hilma Hooker. The visibility in Bonaire is awesome, so I'm sure I could have shot footage to 120 feet without lights.

On a side note the local videographer at Toucan diving uses a HC1 in an Amphibico housing (no external monitor) to shoot her daily dive videos, and she indicated that not having the ability to manually white balance was not a problem. Myself, I found it useful to have the manual white balance, and used it often against the white sand.
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#138 bonefish

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 03:18 PM

Hi,

I'm new to this forum and somewhat new to underwater cinematography, but I'm pretty experienced above water. I'm going to be purchasing an A1U setup and a housing, to be used specifically in shallow water (less than 20' at the deepest, and primarily in no more than 4')... I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts about how this might effect my decision on which housing to get.

Many thanks,

c

#139 wagsy

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 04:21 PM

Gates, Light & Motion and Amphibico are all great housings for your A1 but you may want to look at Ikelite as a slightly cheaper option.

You can also get a flip mirror for the side of the Iketlite housing and you will need a wide angle for it as well.

Have a look a Seacam's housings as well.

There are also other cheaper brands out there but you get what you pay for.

If money is no option then I would go Gates, Light & Motion or Amphibico which all have wide angle options.
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#140 Vormark

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 09:33 AM

I decided to hop over onto this thread to try and get as many responses as I could!
I am vitally interested in people who are using the A1 regardless of what housing! What are the settings that you seem to have the best success with in most UW conditions. I contacted Erik at expoimaging/expodisc offering to be his guinea pig in New Guinea with a wet version of his expodisc for one-touch white balance. I hope he takes the bait? I gave him dimensions for the Ikelite rubber boot for the cc filter. I told him if he could just seal the perimeter of his 67mm disc I could easily place it in the boot in front of the CC filter. I hope he decides to try it?
At any rate I am interested in the rest of the settings people have found the best success with on the A1. Thanks Vormark