86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding, with some minor caveats,
This review is from: Sony HVR-V1U 3-CMOS 1080i Professional HDV Camcorder with 20x Optical Zoom (Electronics)I have had the chance to use this camera a few times, plus compare it to some other HD cameras out there in it's price range, and came away impressed by a few aspects, and more knowing about a few others to consider.
All in all this is a great little HD camera that takes great pictures right out of the box. It handles really nice, has a true microphone that comes with it, and the lens is great on it with it's 20x ratio. It's slow-motion, though at quality a little less than SD, looks fantastic and is great fun to play with. The camera's low light capability is not as good as the Canon XH-A1 in the same price range, or the Panasonic HVX200 (another $2k+), or as good as the older Sony Z1 (which doesn't shoot 24fps). Looking back, the Sony PD170, which was the low-light standard is about 2 stops better in very low light. But the V1u's low light performance is almost one of taste. The camera tends to give a little more fine grain in such low light, kind of like film in some ways. My guess is that this "effect" is pleasing to some people, who don't view it's low-light grainy issues as a problem. Test for yourself before buying. The display and viewfinder are very nice too. Very sharp, with great readout info, including histograms, making sure every shot is properly exposed. The camera also has a really nice automatic gain control. Much better than the Canons in it's price group. Nice focusing features too.
The camera is also part of a larger packaged idea - it doesn't come with, but works perfectly with a portable hard drive (HVR-DR60) that allows you go HDMI out, for much less compressed picture (though most people will think going to tape looks fine) and those files can be dragged and dropped right onto your computer - no more capturing! The LED light is really cool too. Again, these are extra cost.
Gorgeous picture quality in most all lighting conditions. Doesn't require a lot of tweaking, it looks good almost all the time right out of the box. But if you want to tweak, you can. If you want to really tweak, consider the Canon line-up.
True 24fps, and true progressive chips, for filmmaking. Great film like gamma curves.
Feels great in your hand. Very well balanced.
True 20x zoom lens. The 30x digital zoom looks terrific!
Nice zoom and focus ring. I was expecting lower quality.
CMOS chips have very nice lack of smearing you see on most cameras that have CCD chips (those sharp vertical lines you see when taking footage of sunsets, for example) and the chips have a certain film like look to some more than other video cameras with 24fps features (including me).
Comes with a true microphone - while not a $500 Sennheiser, it's better than most any other on-board camera, which is a nice extra.
Slow motion, if lower quality, looks really cool (up to 240 fps!). Very usable for video going to regular DVD (not HD) or to the web.
Cool HDMI out, with other accessories (not included) such as shooting to hard drive, or a neat LED light.
Questionable low-light capability. If you're shooting a lot of night time shots, dark indoors (horror movies, dimly lit interviews) you really need to test and compare this to other cameras before buying. If you're shooting regular footage, especially a lot of outdoor, daylight, or professionally lit work, it shouldn't be an issue at all.
Cost is about $500 more than Canon's comparable XH-A1 (which doesn't come with the microphone).
Files that go to the HVR-DR60 HD are .m2t format, which must be converted if you're using a Mac (though still usable and convertible on the Mac).
As good as the lens is, I believe the Canon is better, and has better image stabilizing capability.
In summary, this is a great little camera for most uses, with a somewhat unique picture to it. Just about anyone going into a store to shop for one can easily compare this to similar cameras and see the features and issues I speak of. They should answer your questions right away whether this camera is for you or not.
Finally, a price comparison:
For $500 less, you can buy a Canon A1, which works better in low light, has more picture control, plus a better image stabilizer. But it's a little bigger, can't go HDMI out, has no slow motion, and doesn't come with a pro microphone.
For $2k more you can buy Panasonic's HVX200, which has superior compression, and solid state capability, and slow motion in high definition (not down res'd, like the Sony).
For $3k more, you can buy Sony's new XDCAM PMW-1, which is an extremely impressive camera with a superior picture to any of these cameras.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 29, 2007 8:10:34 AM PST
Chris Hillman says:
Thanks for the great review. Very in-depth and informative.
One question (for anyone who might know): It is mentioned in this review about the *.mt2 format. Do I understand correctly that this refers to the HDMI-to-hard drive workflow mentioned in the third paragraph? There's nothing unusal about the actual HDV-on-tape format, is there?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2008 11:35:53 PM PST
*.mt2 is a typo.
all the HDV camera recorded using the same *.m2t format.
this is the codec built-in all the HDV camera.
if you use DTE, the camera can spit out either SD or HD.
if SD, it's the standard DV stream.
if hi-def, then, it's m2t transport stream.
Posted on Feb 16, 2011 7:44:55 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 16, 2011 10:41:47 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 8:38:44 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 16, 2011 12:49:11 PM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 8:49:40 AM PST
P Kotheimer says:
how can I get it to do this? I have pored over the manual with no luck. Thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 10:28:24 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 16, 2011 12:49:19 PM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 10:41:27 AM PST
P Kotheimer says:
Wow thanks. I was there but couldn't find that. Much appreciated. Will remove my commnent.
Posted on Jun 27, 2011 1:37:15 PM PDT
shelli wright says:
Hey Snowleopard. Great in-depth review!
It's several years since you wrote this and I'm hoping you might be willing to give your opinion on a used camera in this category.
Looking for the best quality handheld near-professional camera for around $2K used. Any opinions?
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2011 4:01:58 PM PDT
At this point in time if you're willing to buy used you have a lot of options. The Canon A1, Sony V1u, and Panasonic HVX200 all can be found for less than $2k used. The HVX200 will look best, but require P2 cards, which are spendy. But solid state is much nicer to use than tape.
A Panasonic HMC-150 would be a better choice I think, because it's solid state, and will take a better image than the Sony V1u and maybe even the Canon A1 as well (but not the HVX200). But the HMC-150 sells used for about $2500. Same with the Sony Z5U, which essentially replaced the Z1U, and has a better picture.
The smaller, HMC-40 has a very crisp image, but doesn't work as well in low light as those, maybe weaker than the V1u, but can be found for about $1500.
About the same size is the JVC GY-HM100. I've never been a huge JVC fan, but people seem pretty happy with this camera. It goes for about $2k used.
One advantage of the V1u and Z5U is that they can go HDMI out, and there are now devices that work like hard drives that allow very high quality picture outputs through the camera to them, superior than going to tape, or SD card.
The bottom line may be that the V1U will not perform in as good of low light as any of the newer cameras, the image quality really isn't any better or worse for the most part, and going to solid state (SD, CF or P2 cards) is not only easier to use than tape, but the wave of the future. But that doesn't mean it's not a good camera if you like the picture it takes, are happy with it's features, and don't plan on shooting a lot of night scenes, dark night clubs, etc. and are willing to use tape.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2011 4:24:28 PM PDT
shelli wright says:
So very nice of you to take time to respond in such depth. It helped a lot. Of course, I still can't decide. haha. but now I'll be able to narrow it down : )