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Sony HDR-HC1/HVR-A1 and housings

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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.

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

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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. :-)

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

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?

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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.

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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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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.

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photos! we need photos! :)

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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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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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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

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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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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

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:lol: Hi Guys

 

I've read all the posts over the last year and think I've got things just about sussed. I have the A1 and I'm on the verge of going for the Gates housing because 1) I have one for my PD170, it's rugged and Gates have fantastic customer support. 2) The Gates (along with others) access the assignable button allowing MWB.

 

What I'm still not sure about, is it's performance compared to the Z1. I know the A1 suffers in low light but are we talking low ambient light in clear waters? My passion is deep wreck video, will I notice the low light performance when using my 23w Kowalski HID's?

 

Will the results be up to broadcast standards?

 

I've run a couple of tapes through the A1 on the surface and the colour looks a little flat compared to my PD170, anyone else notice this?

 

Any help with the above will be greatly appreciated.

 

Cheers

 

Kevin

www.shipwreckfilms.co.uk

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Kevin, first of, welcome to wetpixel.

 

The A1 likes a lot of light. It dials in gain sooner than older DV cameras. It does not do well in lower light conditions. It really boils down to visibility around the wreck and how powerful your lights are. I don't think anyone here can tell you definitively how the A1 will do because they haven't tested it in the conditions you want to use it in. I've tested quite extensively for macro and limited wideangle stuff. With lights, the macro was top notch. Wideangle depended on the viz and available sunlight. it worked fine when I had 300W halogens on a subject 2 feet away in dim water.

As for broadcast standards, which tier are you referring to? DV is stll accepted as a broadcast standard. HDV is a bit of a quandry, whereby they want to uprez to HDCAM or more before beaming it at 1080i again.

Hopefully this helps.

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Hi Kevin,

 

Having had a quick browse over your website I'd stick with the PD170 for now and wait to see what comes up on the next line of HDV cams.

 

As you seem to do a lot of 50+metre dives you would need a monster light bank to get anything decent with hdv cams at the moment. Unless the viz is outstanding with sunlight piercing all the way in.

 

Keep your money in the bank for now. More cams are on their way.

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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Nice review Steve!

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Cheers Scubadru and Dean.

 

It looks like I'll have to wait to see if the low light performance of the next generation of HD cams has improved.

 

These days the TV companies insist on HD but they don't realise that I can get them better footage with a PD170!

 

I was recently fiming on an 80m wreck off Falmouth, England. I managed to capture some decent images, but some of the best shots were using ambient light, with my dive partner (Teresa) highlighting objects with her wide angle HID.

 

On the same dive was a diver with an A1E. When back on shore and checking out the footage the A1E was virtually a black screen except for close up shots. At first I thought this was user error/camera setup, but now realise it was due to lack of low light performance of the HVR A1E. This is a shame as the A1 is a great little camera.

 

Does the Z1 perform better under low light conditions? Not that I can afford the 7000 UK pounds for a Z1 and Gates. :guiness:

 

Cheers

 

Kevin

www.shipwreckfilms.co.uk

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Hi Kevin,

 

At 80metres :lol: I can imaging the A1 was crapping itself :blink:

 

The Z1 has a lux rating of 3 (USA rating) where the A1 is 7lux.. I think your PD170 is 1lux ??? So the Z1 is better.

 

With your niche deep dives you will need to hold out for a while. I think I made the right decision with the a1 for what I needed it for. As I can upgrade in the future when the better cams come out.

 

Hopefully...

 

Dive safe

 

Dean(80 f :ninja::guiness: king metres)B

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YEEHAA :guiness:

 

That was my 500th post..

 

I'm now a fully fledged Tiger shark :blink::lol::ninja:

 

Oh well, back to business.

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB :(

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Cheers Scubadru and Dean.

 

It looks like I'll have to wait to see if the low light performance of the next generation of HD cams has improved.

 

These days the TV companies insist on HD but they don't realise that I can get them better footage with a PD170!

 

I was recently fiming on an 80m wreck off Falmouth, England. I managed to capture some decent images, but some of the best shots were using ambient light, with my dive partner (Teresa) highlighting objects with her wide angle HID.

 

On the same dive was a diver with an A1E. When back on shore and checking out the footage the A1E was virtually a black screen except for close up shots. At first I thought this was user error/camera setup, but now realise it was due to lack of low light performance of the HVR A1E. This is a shame as the A1 is a great little camera.

 

Does the Z1 perform better under low light conditions? Not that I can afford the 7000 UK pounds for a Z1 and Gates. :D

 

Cheers

 

Kevin

www.shipwreckfilms.co.uk

 

This is a very interesting, and relevant, comment for me. The dives I do and the footage I like to collect is of wrecks in poor visibility conditions. Some are below 200 fsw so your post is right about where I would be interested. I've been contemplating the HC3, which is supposed be slightly better than the A1/HC1 in low light conditions, but it seems that all roads (in these discussions of low-light performance) leads to the FX1/Z1 for HDV. I'd love it if Sony came out with an alternative, but since they seem keen on going with CMOS, the FX1 seems like the best (but expensive) choice out there.

 

I'd be curious to know about HC3 and how well IT compares against the PD170 - anyone up to the challenge? :D

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PnL

You should check out the Canon XHA1 or G1 for lowlight.

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