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Matt Dunn

FX1/Z1 Users: Which Camera and Why?

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New to videography here and am looking to purchase my first camera sometime later this year. In the meantime, I'm trying to read all that I can about HDV technology, standards, etc. I really like some of the footage I have seen from the FX1 and the Z1 and am trying to understand the real difference that (approximately) $1500 gets you.

 

From the research I have done, it seems that the two significant differences that appear to be touted are (1) the ability to record in PAL (50i, among others, correct?) and the presence of XLR audio inputs. I live in Boston, MA and don't ever see myself doing this other than as a "serious hobbyist" (meaning that PAL doesn't really seem to be an issue), and it seems like the lack of XLR inputs can either be overcome, or aren't that significant if all you are going to do is lay down a voice or music track...assuming there is going to be no significant topside voice work, am I ok without the XLRs?

 

Again, these seemed to be some of the major differentiators in the reviews that I have read...I ask you folks because none of those reviews were done with an eye toward underwater use so it would be helpful if you could help me see things from that perspective.

 

On another note, how "future-proof" is an investment in one of those cameras today? I understand technolofy lifecycles are short and there is always something better around the corner, but I would like to think that I am not buying a camera at the tail end of its viability.

 

As always, thanks guys. These forums are super useful and always friendly. Its a fun place to hang out and read... :rolleyes:

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HI Matt

Welcome to the site.

 

If you are recording sound then the Z1 is the way to go.

It has more gain boost but you will never use it underwater.

It has full scan option so you see the whole 100% image on the screen instead of the normal overscan image.

Image qualty is the same.

You can only record NTSC or PAL you cannot convert one from the other using it.

Uptop LCD is perfect for use underwater in the L&M or Amphibico.

 

The FX1 and Z1 will be around for awhile just like the old VX1000's were.

Picking up a second one years later second hand should be easy.

 

HDV will be around for awhile now, more camera's will come out but the quality will not be a huge jump like HDV has been from DV.

 

Get the FX1 and use the saved money on lights or something.

There are some second hand setups out there that you could pick up as well if you are interested.

 

For the MAC there is Final Cut Pro.

For the PC I would suggest EDIUS, its very slick and encodes out to whatever very easy and runs rings around Premiere Pro. :rolleyes:

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Hello Matt,

 

a big question is what are you going to do with the camera? Just hobby or are you considering making money with your rig?

 

A Z1/FX1 obviously has it's price, but the housing will cost even more - and with those cameras you'll want a good housing that gives you access to all the manual controls they have to offer. Another thing is that the housings are big and heavy and can be quite a pain to lug around on land.

 

I recently had the opportunity to shoot with a Z1 in Amphibico housing. While the rig is amazing, it sure is heavy enough to make my arms tremble slightly. But when I checked what lens was installed, my knees began to tremble - the 120' port has a nice blue coating and the slightest scratch sets you back mor than 2k.

 

Personally, I have opted for the HVR-A1 and am completely satisfied. You'll need a good eye to see the difference between the Z1 and the A1. The A1 has many advanced features, inluding MWB and XLR input for topside shooting.

 

As Wags said, consider the FX1 and save some money for the housing/lights - or save even more and get the A1

 

Sven

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Thanks for the welcome. I've checked out your site a number of times and really like your work. Great stuff that you should be proud of.

 

If you are recording sound then the Z1 is the way to go.

 

I just want to clarify one point briefly. The audio really shouldn't be a concern if I am putting it into the film as part of post-production. In other words, if I want to provide a voice-over narrative (as in a documentary), that is really a function of the microphone and my computer's capabilities and not the camera's...correct?

 

For instance, I recall recently watching a video from your site in which Kelly narrated a dive around an aquarium/observatory at what looked like the end of a pier (fantastic, by the way :rolleyes: ). I assume that was simply a matter of feeding an audio track into the computer and getting the timing correct. From that perspective, whether you have the XLR inputs on the Z1 is a non-issue, right?

 

Again, thanks for all your help!

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Thanks Mat

 

The quality between the 3CCD and single CMOS is noticable if you are going for best quality. For example shooting at night with both using HID lights, the smaller cameras cannot handle the blackness (background) of the water as well. (That is anything that is not light lit by the lights) The black background image can be grainy, the 3CCD will not be...well thats what we have found when we have the image up onto the computer comparing them both.

 

For general day use in lots of sunlight for fun the smaller cameras are fine and at night with lights on up close on something they are wonderfull.

 

Even shooting uptop in sunlight with both one can see the difference once you have sucked it into the computer as HDV and view it at full res. It might be due in part that the larger cameras have a much wider footprint. (FOV) Watch it on a nomal TV (720/576) and it will be harder to pick the difference. The bigger the hole to let the light in the larger the sensor the better the image in general.

 

Its the same for digital still cameras. A 7 meg compact will not give as good an wide landscape image as from a digital 7 meg SLR as it has a larger sensor and better lens....well thats what we feel..... ;)

 

You can suck the sound straight into the computer using your sound card but we have found recording it into the A1 first using a lap mike "SONY ECM-44B" then firewire the audio in from the camera works better. Another way is to get like a Sennheiser 300 mono mike and record into the FX1. Then firewire that audio into the computer. It will be mono but you just make it stereo in your NLE... Works great for naration.

 

One bad thing about the larger cameras is the housings are much much larger for traveling ;) . We are taking over the little A1- EVO to Heron Island (Qld) soon and will have one of those external 16.9 monitors to try out as well with it. I'm sure we will get some great footage and we will make a review on it all and post up.

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Hi Matt,

Just to add another option have you thought about the Canon XH A1? Gates should have a housing by August, picture quality would be comparable to the Z1 / FX1 (could be better... maybe), has xlr inputs, slightly smaller than the z1 and cheaper than a z1....

Just a thought

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Hi Matt,

 

I bought the Z1 instead of the FX1 for two reasons. Firstly I wanted the balanced audio inputs for topside audio. Secondly I want to be capable of shooting for producers shooting NTSC/60i as well as PAL/50i, should they come along (they haven't yet).

 

Another thing I prefer on the Z1 is the numerical readout of the zoom (0-99). My L&M 80 degree port loses focus past 70 on the zoom scale, and this is easier to see at a glance on the numerical readout than on the little slider that the FX1 displays.

 

If you've got a good ASIO sound card with balanced inputs then this is a good way to record voiceover. I use the Echo Gina 3G and the recorded audio is better than into camera. But I do have to sit in the other room with the mic and script because of the computer noise. HDV cameras use more audio compression than the older DV cameras. Good shotgun mics at 45 degrees to the mouth, or large diaphragm condenser mics are best for voiceovers if you're fussy about sound quality.

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