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Sony HVR-Z5U High Definition Handheld Professional Camcorder

by Sony
3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
| 7 answered questions

Available from these sellers.
  • 1 x Sony NP-F960 Battery Pack - Lens Hood with Cover - In Original Box
  • Sony's Exclusive High-performance "G Lens": Discover the exceptional optical performance of Sony's "G Lens". This sophisticated lens incorporates Sony's unique optical technology and unparalleled quality control
  • The 29.5mm wide-angle "G Lens":(equivalent to 35mm film) on the HVR-Z5U offers a field of view that's ideal for many shooting situations, ranging from broad landscape shots to conditions where sufficient distance from the subject is difficult to obtain
  • Two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements:reduce chromatic aberrations caused by differences in light refraction to minimize color fringing
  • Advanced optical lens technology:makes the most of Sony's 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system to realize sharp images with higher resolution and less noise compared to the HVR-Z1U even when shooting in very low light
1 new from $4,427.02 18 used from $959.00 1 refurbished from $2,400.00

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Technical Details


Product Description

Sony HVRZ5U Digital Camcorder - 3.2" LCD - CMOS HVRZ5U Camcorders

Product Details

  • Item Weight: 12.4 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 12.4 pounds
  • ASIN: B001P9HT3Q
  • Item model number: HVR-Z5U
  • Batteries 2 Lithium ion batteries required.
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,374 in Camera & Photo (See Top 100 in Camera & Photo)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: June 17, 2003

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
The z5u is a serious piece of equipment. I've had it for a couple of weeks now, and only until today I feel I know it well enough to write a decent review.
First off, the camera looks really sleek, feels solid and very well built. Its look isn't as metallic as the Z1, but the feel is very similar.
Of course, you can use it from day one with everything on auto, but if that's all you're ever gonna do, you're better off with something much less expensive, like those tiny HD cameras that are popping up everywhere.
Speaking of day 1, your first accesory is necessarily some kind of carrying bag or hard case. Sony has a backpack that's amazing, but costs more than 500 bucks. I got the Kata bag, which is perfect. I also got the large battery, and the cables that are not supplied with the camera (Firewire, HDMI, XLR extension). Also, I got SONY HD Master minidv tapes, as well as a 6pack of regular sony minidv tapes. After some preliminary tests, I must say the image on the HD Master tapes is noticeably better...
The main menu is easy to navigate, though it has enough levels you will get lost until you explore each a couple of times. One thing is, there are a lot of things on that menu, and the button and selecting wheel are really small... or perhaps my hands are too big? My main uses for this menu have been to select progressive or interlaced modes, and 60, 30 or 24 frames per second. Also, I've used it to assign all the assignable buttons under the handle, fine tune white balance temperature, set the handle zoom speed to its lowest setting (that way the handle zoom is my slow, controlled zoom, and the rear zoom is the fast one, very practical), and altering the gain setup (I left everything on 0, less grainy that way).
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I've owned the Z5U for about 4 years now. It's a great piece of equipment. Out of the box you can get GREAT video with it. The detail is fantastic! You will be amazed with your shots. It is a pro-level camcorder, so if you're coming from a consumer-based camcorder, like a HV20/30/40 VX2000 or something similar, you will notice right away how much more substantial and robust this thing is. It's larger (not too much larger than a PD150), heavier and has more buttons and dials. The menu choices are much greater and can be daunting, I would seriously recommend Doug Jensen's "Mastering the Sony HVR-Z7U" training DVD [by Vortex Media] as these two camcorders are nearly identical. That DVD will cut your learning curve by 80%. It did for me, which made the investment in the DVD worthwhile. I go back and watch it every once in a while as a refresher.

Back to the camcorder, the first thing I noticed, coming from a VX2000 and HV30 is that it has as good or better low light performace than the venerable Sony VX/PDxxx cameras. That's saying a lot. It's also better in low light than the HV30/40 series in that it can withstand more gain w/o becoming grainy. Good ergonomics put the buttons right where you need them and preset buttons allow you to set your own favorite presets. The other thing I noticed right away is how it feels like a quality piece of equipment. The quality of materials and plastics to me feel great and contribute to a solid feel. Sony wisely provides what I think is the BEST hand strap in the industry. Really nicely padded. Putting my hand in that strap is like sitting in the compfy seat of a Cadillac.
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Comment 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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When considering a camcorder, you need to consider how nice a unit you need. This is a professional unit with 3 1/3" cmos sensors. Camcorders with bigger chips(like 1/2") are even better in low light and have a narrower depth of field but are bigger, more expensive, heavier and typically use better quality video formats with higher bit rates.
Single chip consumer camcorders in low light loose resolution and have more noise than the 3 chip versions and don't have the features of pro models.
This unit is a good compromise using the proven HDV video codec which while not as efficient as avchd, is easier to edit and looks amazingly good given it's fixed 25mbps bit rate. Every codec has some artifacts and if you freeze frame, you can see some compression artifacts, especially if the there is fast action. The real question is what you can see in full motion video. You just don't see most of the artifacts in HDV and, if you watch Netflix, consider that their HD bit rate is 3mbps!
The 1/3" chips have some narrow depth of field at longer focal lengths and keep the unit relatively small but it's nothing like a dslr. Plus you get a 20x zoom that would be hard to incorporate in a bigger chip camera or dslr. I consider this unit the minimum size to go in a pro camera as 1/4" chips will have noticeably poorer low light capability and would have more depth of field. You'll notice that footage shot with consumer cameras has everything in focus(or out of focus), all the time which you don't always want.
A note about tapes, you can buy the basic Sony tapes for about $2 in bulk or spend about $40 for 5 tapes of their "master" tapes. There is no difference in picture quality between the $2 amd $8 tapes. This is a digital signal with zeros and ones, the picture is either there or not.
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