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Sony HVR-Z7U HDV Professional Video Camcorder
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- Includes a 3.2-inch XtraFine LCD viewfinder
- HDV, DVCAM and DV recording on a miniDV cassette tape , Switchable HD/SD recording and playback
- Comes with a 1/3-inch-type 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system
- Sony's first professional handheld HDV camcorder with an interchangeable lens system
- Features a Carl Zeiss 12x optical zoom lens
- Sony's first professional handheld HDV camcorder with an interchangeable lens system
- Comes with a 1/3-inch-type 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system
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|Screen Size||3.2 in||4 in||3.5 in||3.5 in||3.5 in||2.7 in|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080i||1920 x 1080 pixels||1080P||—||1920 x 1080||1080i_hd|
Introducing the Sony HVR-Z7U Professional Camcorder, an industry-leading HDV handheld camcorder that features 1/3-inch bayonet joint interchangeable lenses, native progressive recording, and solid-state memory recording. A streamlined nonlinear editing workflow can be achieved using the supplied Memory Recording Unit, which provides HDV/DVCAM/DV file recording on a widely available CompactFlash solid-state memory card. This groundbreaking new camcorder features 1080/24p/30p HDV native progressive recording modes and also includes an HDMI or HD/SD-SDI output. This next-generation system features the HVR-M35U Video Cassette Recorder,which has HD/SD-SDI output.
From the Manufacturer
From the Manufacturer
Introducing the Sony HVR-Z7U Professional Camcorder, an industry-leading HDV handheld camcorder that features 1/3-inch bayonet joint interchangeable lenses, native progressive recording, and solid-state memory recording. A streamlined nonlinear editing workflow can be achieved using the supplied Memory Recording Unit, which provides HDV/DVCAM/DV file recording on a widely available CompactFlash solid-state memory card. This groundbreaking new camcorder features 1080/24p/30p HDV native progressive recording modes and also includes an HDMI or HD/SD-SDI output. This next-generation system features the HVR-M35U Video Cassette Recorder,which has HD/SD-SDI output. These new solutions enhance the operational versatility of the Sony's professional HDV lineup, and open up a world of possibilities for high-definition digital video production. Whether it’s for documentaries, mainstream news, low-budget movies, music videos, Internet, education, or a wide range of industrial applications, Sony’s new HDV camcorders are ideal.
Sony HVR-Z7U Highlights
An Ideal Handheld Camcorder Design Sony has responded to professional user feedback to create the ideal handheld camcorder with ergonomically designed body-weight balance and a well-planned layout of buttons and connectors to reduce camera operator fatigue.
New XtraFine LCD and EVF Offer High-resolution, High-contrast Images
- XtraFine LCD A 3.2-inch (viewable area, measured diagnally) type XtraFine LCD is located on the HVR-Z7U in the same position as on the HVR-Z1U. The high pixel number of approximately 921,000 dots is around four times greater than the LCD of the HVR-Z1U, and this higher resolution allows for easier focus adjustments.
- XtraFine EVF The 0.45 inch type XtraFine EVF (Electronic View Finder) has approximately 1,227,000 dots (852x3[RGB]x480). This device has three independent LEDs for R,G, and B colors. This technology allows users to check objects with remarkable color reproduction and resolution. The EVF has a selectable display mode between color or black and white.
- Common Features of the XtraFine LCD and EVF 100% full-scan display – helps you to check the entire recorded area. Plus, 6500k color temperature--standard for professional monitors.
Smooth Slow Rec The Smooth Slow Rec function of the HVR-Z7U camcorder enables slow-motion playback by capturing images four times faster than the normal field rate (240 fields/s). In this mode, quad-speed images are captured for three seconds, stored in the built-in buffer memory, and then recorded to tape (in either HDV, DVCAM, or DV format) as slow-motion pictures lasting 12 seconds. This allows recorded images to be checked immediately in the field. Although the resolution of the picture quality is decreased, this function is effective for some applications that don’t need full HD quality, such as Internet movies or the analysis of moving objects like a golf swing, for example.
Two Accessory Shoes The HVR-Z7U features two accessory shoes. There is a cold shoe on the front that can be removed to make room for a mattebox. While at the rear, there is a screw-hole type shoe located on the handle,which can be changed to a cold shoe, if required, using supplied parts.
Two Screw Holes for Secure Connection To provide a more secure connection between the camcorder and tripod plate or other accessories, two screw holes have been incorporated.
One-touch Clip-type Microphone Holder A one-touch clip-type microphone holder makes it easy to remove the microphone for quick storage.
New Lineup Expanding the HDV Format World Sony’s commitment to HDV has resulted in the remarkable evolution of cutting-edge technology equipment, such as the HVR-Z7U,which uses the popular HDV1080i recording specification. The HDV1080i specification uses one of the 'MPEG2 Long GOP' compression profiles. This highly efficient and robust "MPEG2 Long GOP" codec - which is also used in the Sony XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX series--enables users to record stunning-quality HD video. The HVR-Z7U provides over 60 minutes of recording time using the widely available miniDV videotape. Native editing in the HDV format is now supported by most popular NLE (Nonlinear editing) software. Additionally, the HDV signals can be recorded as a file on non-tape media. For example,when using the supplied CompactFlash (CF) Memory Recording Unit--images can be stored on a standard CF card for quick nonlinear editing. The optional HVR-DR60 Hard Disk Recording Unit can be used in the same manner, with images being recorded on to its large-capacity 60GB hard drive, which provides 4.5 hours of recording time.
Switchable Recording and Playback--HDV1080i/DVCAM/DV The HVR-Z7U can switch between HDV 1080i, DVCAM, and DV recording, providing full flexibility to record in either standard definition or high definition depending on your production needs.
Built-in Down-converter for SD Production The HVR-Z7U can convert material from 1080i down to 480i, and output the video signals through its i.LINK interface and other SD output connectors. This allows users to edit recorded material with a compatible nonlinear editing system using current DV editing software, as well as record SD signals to an external VTR.
Cutting-edge imaging System for New Camcorders
Enhanced Functionality via the Technology of Exmor The HVR-Z7U offers cutting-edge features, such as the technology of Exmor developed by Sony,which utilizes the full potential of the 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system. The technology of Exmor,which features the column-parallel A/D conversion technique and the dual noise cancelling method are also used in other camera products from Sony. Multiple A/D (analog to digital) converters on each pixel row convert analog signals to digital as soon as they are generated, unlike traditional technology that only has one A/D converter on each chip. The technology of Exmor can eliminate the influence of external noise that enters the signal chain during transfer to the A/D converter, resulting in high-quality digital signals with extremely low noise. This significantly enhances shooting in low-light environments. By adopting this groundbreaking technology, the new 1/3-inch 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system enables the HVR-Z7U to achieve a low light sensitivity of just 1.5 lux.
Interchangeable Lens System Offers Unlimited Possibilities
Carl Zeiss Lens for HD Video as Standard A high-quality,multi-purpose Carl Zeiss lens for HD video comes as standard with the HVR-Z7U. Stunning resolution and contrast is achieved thanks to the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* coating, which suppresses unwanted reflections. A specially designed wide-angle lens is also available as an option, to suit a diverse range of shooting requirements.
Easy-to-use Interchangeable Lens for Fixed-lens Camcorder Users These lenses give the Sony HVR-Z7U the same functionality as popular fixed-lens camcorders like the HVR-Z1U and HVR-V1U, thanks to built-in features such as auto-focus, optical stabilizer,and automatic back-focus adjustment. Current users of the above camcorders will easily become adept at using the HVR-Z7U and even if they have never used interchangeable lenses.
- Focus The newly designed focus ring offers two types of manual focus, plus an auto focus mode that can be easily switched by sliding the focus ring forward or backward. When the focus ring is in the front position, the lens works in the same way as the HVR-Z1U, HVR-V1U, and DSR-PD170. In this case, either manual or auto focus mode can be selected by the assignable button on the lens. On the other hand, when the focus ring is set to the rear position, the focus ring has a physical stop at infinity and works in the same way as a professional interchangeable lens, with fixed-focus-position and distance indicators.
- Zoom Fast, intuitive manual-zoom response is provided by an internal gearwheel mechanism that provides accurate zoom positioning. A high-quality servo-motor provides the smooth zooming performance that industry professionals have come to rely on.
- Iris The iris ring encircles the lens barrel. Manual iris adjustment is possible with an ENG-type ring system that allows fine exposure control for challenging lighting situations.
The flexible bayonet lens attachment system allows you to use a wide range of lenses. Standard 1/3-inch HD video lenses, from manufacturers such as Fujinon and Canon, can be attached directly to the HVR-Z7U. If you’d like to attach a 2/3-inch or 1/2-inch HD video lens on the HVR-Z7U, it is possible to do so by adding a standard lens adaptor from the lens manufacturer. The HVR-Z7U camcorders have 12-pin lens connectors allowing compatibility with professional ENG lenses. This feature is very useful not only for those who already have these professional HD video lenses, but also for those who prefer to use HD digital cinema lenses for their unique contrast, color, and atmosphere.
New Manual Camera settings
- Three ND filters (1/4, 1/16, 1/64) The HVR-Z7U has three built-in ND (Neutral Density) filters,which help users to reduce light intensity under bright shooting conditions.
- Negative Gain settings of -6 and -3 dB have also been added to help reduce sensitivity under bright lighting conditions. When the iris needs to be opened to create a short depth of field, a suitable brightness can be achieved with this function.
- The Smooth Gain function is a smooth transition gain system that avoids sudden brightness changes caused by manual gain-level adjustment. With this function, the brightness changes gradually when the gain-level position is switched and avoids any sudden, unwanted iris adjustment.
- The Smooth WB Feature is a smooth transition white balance system that avoids unnatural sudden color temperature changes between preset white balance settings. For example, this function is useful when you move from an artificial, low-light environment inside a building, to bright natural sunlight outside.
- Advanced Histogram The Histogram Indicator for brightness can be displayed on the LCD monitor and viewfinder, allowing operators to easily evaluate the brightness of captured images. A target window appears in the center of the screen and the brightness level is indicated by a vertical red line in the histogram. The zebra indicator level appears as a yellow vertical line in the histogram as reference for proper exposure.
Six types of AE available
- AE Window Six types of AE (Auto Exposure) can be selected to automatically adjust the exposure to the most suitable level.
- Camera Leveling The HVR-Z7U has a built-in 3D gravity (3G) sensor, which detects the horizontal level of the camcorder and displays it via an indicator in the LCD/EVF. This digital leveler function makes it possible to obtain a horizontal level reading even when shooting without a tripod.
- Focus Marking When the focus position needs to be manually moved to pre-decided positions, you can put up to two markers (A and B) on a focus position indicator in the LCD/EVF as reference points. When the focus position becomes aligned with one of these markers, it will begin to flash. This allows you to keep your eye on the subject of your shot, without having to check the focus indicator on the lens.
Color Depth Generally, the brightness of a video image increases as the color level becomes more vivid. In these new camcorders, the brightness and color level are processed independently so that more flexible tone--for instance, a dark image with a vivid color--is realized by 3D-LUT color processing.
Note: 3D-LUT = three-dimensional look-up table.
Color Correction The Color Correction function of the HVR-Z1U has been improved in the HVR-Z7U camcorder. Color Correction provides two functions for creative shooting. The Color Extraction function can retain up to two desired colors of monitored pictures in the screen, while making all other colors black and white. The advanced function allows users to select the color simply by pressing a button to memorize the center color of the captured image.
WB Shift The WB (White Balance) Shift function allows users to create an impressive color or to adjust the color temperature of the camcorder. There are two WB Shift options to choose from:
1: LB-CC type: adjusting the LB axis (color temperature) and CC filter effect
2: Level type: adjusting the red and blue levels
Skintone Detail This function allows users to change the sharpness of an object with a specific color, and is particularly good for making skin tones look more natural. The target color can be specified by controlling the Phase/Range/Saturation/Y Level/Y Range parameters or by pressing a button to specify the color of an object with a color picker. If the sharpness of the background object is decreased, the blur looks more natural.
New Supplied Monaural Microphone ECM-XM1T he supplied ECM-XM1 microphone's S/N ratio is 78 dB, a sensitivity increase of 14 dB over its predecessor, the ECM-NV1.
Selectable Progressive Modes
The HVR-Z7U has two types of progressive shooting modes:
1: 24p/30p HDV Native Progressive Recording Modes The HVR-Z7U camcorder features 24p/30p HDV native progressive recording modes. The 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor system and EIP create true 1080p images,which can then be recorded as progressive signals by the HVR-Z7U camcorder in HDV format.
Memory Recording Unit
- HDV in IT Workflow by CompactFlash Memory Recording Unit The Memory Recording Unit is supplied with each camcorder to support HDV tape recording. It captures the HDV1080i, DVCAM, or DV stream output from the camcorder and records it as movie file while you are simultaneously recording to tape. You can use a standard CompactFlash (CF) card,which offers secure recording, high-speed access, large data capacity, removable media convenience, and high durability against external vibration. The CF card is used for HDV camcorders because the media is easily obtainable for file recording in the same way as miniDV tape is easily obtainable for HDV recording. This general versatility is very important for those who frequently need to obtain media quickly, such as someone shooting a documentary or news reports while moving from city to city.
- HDV/DVCAM/DV File Recording on Easily Obtained CompactFlash Card The recording time on a 16-GB CF card in HDV, DVCAM and DV format is approximately 72 minutes.
- Integration Without Cabling The Memory Recording Unit can be integrated to the HVR-Z7U without the need for cabling, simply by attaching it onto the special shoe connector. This smart combination never interferes with shooting operations. The Memory Recording Unit automatically synchronizes with the recording action of the camcorder-- i.e., when the camcorder starts or stops recording, so does the unit.
Independent Use With the Supplied Cradle The Memory Recording Unit can be used as an external recording unit, just like the HVR-DR60, by attaching the supplied cradle that has an i.LINK connector, battery attachment, and DC power input. When the Memory Recording Unit is connected to a compatible PC via the i.LINK connector, it is recognized as an external drive and can be used to access files. When connected to a compatible video device (such as a VTR or NLE system) via the i.LINK connector, it can be used to input/output a HDV/DVCAM/DV stream.
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HOWEVER - I GREATLY REGRET BUYING THIS FROM ELECTRONICS BASKET. The camera was delivered in May, 2013, and everything was just fine. Then, in October, the camera stopped working. When I sent to Sony in New Jersey for repairs, I was told that the camera was NOT under US warranty, as it was an Asian model. (TRANSLATION: THIS CAMERA MAY NOT BE SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES.)
From that time forward, the people at Electronics Basket made every possible attempt to avoid their responsibility. They told me they could have it repaired for me, at MY cost - and it would take 8-10 weeks.
I exchanged emails with Electronics Basket several times, and each time, they refused to do what was right. (I would write a book on their "excuses" on why they would not give me a refund.) Finally, when I sent the camera back to them without the original box (from 5 months ago) they said "Amazon's rules require a 50% charge for re-stocking." This IS A LIE.
Luckily, the Amazon A-to-Z Buyer Protection people interceded, and I got a prompt full refund. THANKS TO AMAZON - THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE WORLD. If you are looking for this camera, it's highly recommended. JUST DON'T BUY IT FROM ELECTRONICS BASKET.
For the last 3 years I have been using the first Sony HDV camera, the Z1U, with great results. We took it in over 21 countries for the filming of a documentary and it preformed just great. However my Z1U, as much as I loved it, was growing old, so I went for the next generation, the Z7U, that I just got a couple days ago.
The first thing to notice as I unpacked it is that is noticeably heavier. I knew that from the spec sheet, but I thought I wouldn't notice the 0.6 pound difference. Anyway, the newness of the camera and the fact that is a lot shorter than its predecessor got me excited enough to get over it.
I also noticed and liked the new frontal design where the far reaching built in microphone of the Z1U is missing. This allows for bringing the camera much closer to the airplane or car window for instance, something I will value as a documentarian.
The removable lens hood is easily removable by the push of a button, opposed to the screw system of the Z1U, a nice little touch, to be valued when you're strapped for time.
The main advantage that I went for on this camera is the removable lens. So first thing I did I removed the Vario Sonnar 12x lens that comes with it. The process was easy and intuitive. Upon my first field test, I got to like this lens a lot better than the built in Z1U. It seems that the new model achieves a much better shallow dept of field, the nirvana of any professional. I also really liked the "Digital Extender" function, built in this lens, that brings the subject 1.5x closer when you're zoomed in to the max. First I thought in might be a cheapo "blow up the pixels" trick, but while watching the footage on a 50inch HD monitor, I could not tell any quality drop while using the "Extender".
The focus ring is large and handy and must be pushed forward for "Auto focus". This is handy as you shoot, but it is guaranteed to move the shot if you're on a tripod shooting. I remember that the centrally located AF button of the Z1U could be moved without any jerk while shooting. The other disappointment is that there is no Autofocus push button, unless you go trough a convoluted programming procedure from the book.
The zoom is handy and smooth, and what I liked the most is that the servo zoom is a lot smoother than the older one. More than that, the servo zoom on the handle bar can be programmed to various speeds and once it reaches the upper or lower limit it will ease to a stop. Totally cool and professional.
The iris is located as third ring on the lens. I liked that too, and there is an Auto Iris button, but I like doing my own exposure.
There are 3 ND filters as opposed to two and they work like a charm. I was able to shoot a sunset reflection on the water without closing the iris at all or being overexposed...
There are 3 gain levels and they are programmable as a new feature. I dindt change the DB levels but I used them all and could not see any image graining even on the "H" setting. I wish that was the case with the Z1U. So, yes, the low light performance of the new Z7U is net better, a Godsend for a documentarian that can't always control the lighting.
The white balance seems to be the same, not much to do there, same with the menus, and status check. The picture profile has a number of sophistication's such as "black gain" and color depth that were a bit above my comprehension without further reading.
The display and the outputs
The first major disappointment was the smaller LCD screen. More than that the colors on it were pale and while is it worked well in the sun, it was still simply too small. I got in trouble a lot in the past by not seeing where the focus was, so I was hoping on a larger display. Sony says that is superior since it has more pixels, but I'd preferred it bigger.
The VCR functions are the same, and the HDV tape is in the back facing the cameraman, not upwards. This is great if you're changing tapes in the rain or a sandstorm like it happened once while I was in Egypt.
The most valuable new output is the HDMI of course. I connected it directly to my plasma TV and it looks just great. I also liked the full size firewire connector.
The new Sony Compact Flash recorder unit is small and it fits in the back, over the battery compartment so you'll need to remove it first if you want to change the battery. That is OK I guess. The unit is small and luckily it takes the wide available CF card. Thank you Sony for not requiring us to buy your overpriced Sony Stick and other non-compatible "Sony Only" kind of cards. And thank you for having a dual kind of output storage. I am a "tape" faithful for storage and backup purposes, but it is nice to have the CF option. I have not tried it yet.
The biggest disappointment happened when I tried to playback on the new camera tapes recorded by the old Z1U. As soon as I put them in, the Z7U ejected them out. They were recorded in the "1080I 60FPS" a format fully compatible with the Z7U. This is highly troublesome since I have hundreds of tapes filmed on 5 continents that I might have to re-digitize one day should my hard disks crash. What am I to do, buy an $3000 VTR?
The included microphone is nice and sensitive, but I rarely record more than the ambient sound on the built in mic. There are 2 XLR inputs, nothing new there. I like that the mic is easily detachable and can save space while packing the camera. Also with an XLR extension cord it can be used for interviews on a table mount if you're lacking a lapel microphone... This couldn't be done with the old model.
The camera also has the capability to take still pics even while shooting. It has an SD Ram slot and a button can be assigned for picture taking. I never cared much for this feature since you can extract just as good pictures from the HD Video files.
The new HVR-Z7U is a pretty good piece of equipment for the $6000 USD price tag. Despite a couple of shortcomings I don't regret getting it. I really hope Sony will come up with longer lens soon that would make the main new feature "interchangeable lens" so much more valuable. So far Sony offers just some one wide lens for this unit. That's disappointing, great cinema and nature shots require long lens and none are available specifically for this camera. Sony offers some options that require adapters and reduced functionality for use of their still camera lenses with the Z7U, but I am skeptical about using such non specific products.
Mitch Anderson is the producer of the film "The World Without US" . This feature-length documentary debates the implications and consequences of US military involvement in the world today.
The World Without US - With Niall Ferguson
I have two Z7Us and 2 MRU units, I have the same issues with both units.
Cons: MRU (Memory Recording Units)continually drop frames. I have to constantly re-synch videos. (I am using the recommended Compact Flash Card)
Out of the box settings are horrible. 1. Must change the internal settings on db (gain) or footage will be unusable due to noise. 2. Color is drab & lifeless until settings are changed.
Manual does not provide needed information to master this camera, or change the needed settings out of the box. I purchased a DVD to help setup this camera. Would highly recommend purchasing a DVD if you choose to purchase this item. Try the one by Vortex Media which is an excellent product.
LCD screen VERY inaccurate on exposure. If you purchase this product, plan to purchase a monitor and use the Zebra setting to gauge exposure. Otherwise you footage will be far overexposed. I lost my complete first shoot due to the inaccuracy of the LCD screen.
Computer will not recognize the cameras if the MRU units are attached. Therefore, when archiving footage while live streaming, you must record to tape. Two afternoons and two technicians later and after reading the manual cover to cover, I found this out on my own.
I would NOT purchase this unit again. Continually dropping frames is a deal breaker. Sorry Sony. My Panasonic camcorders with P2 cards are much better units, much more accurate LCD screen, and have had zero problems with dropped frames. I've had far more problems in the first month of shooting with these units than I did in 8 years of shooting with my Canon GL2s.