Any Sony HDR-HC_ users here?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CMD is me, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. CMD is me macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Just ordered a HDR-HC9. I have a week to test it out before a week long trip. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #2
    This is slightly off-topic, but as I'm still weighing up between Canon and Sony I wonder what tipped the scales in Sony's favour for you? The handling and solid feel? The rubberised, extendable eyepiece? The minimal graphics (compared to Canon)? It's a nice-looking piece of kit, for sure.

    TBH, I prefer the HC9 to the HV30 ergonomically and looks-wise, but (just to prove I'm not completely superficial) I wish it had the HV30's pictures, progressive shooting, and alleged low-light performance.

    That there isn't a camera with the best of both world AND an actual focus ring on the lens breaks my poor heart and makes me want to go home from the store empty-handed just to teach 'em a lesson!

    Andrew.
     
  3. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    You got it -- the handling and solid feel. Mainly the zoom toggle is much smoother on the Sony. I'm pretty good at controlling a smooth zoom, but when others are using it I hate the jerky in and out. I actually wanted to like the Canon better since it's $120 cheaper and I love my Canon still camera, but Sony just seems to know what they're doing with camcorders. Canon has been playing catch up -- I will say the the HV30 is there with image quality, but still a generation behind on handling and feel. Maybe the HV40 will finally win me over.... not that I'm ready to drop another grand that is!
     
  4. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Also I should add, as far as 60i and low light, the HC9 is said to be on par with the HV30. Where the HV30 shines in low light is switching from auto 60i to 30p. I don't know a ton about 60i vs 30p, however 60i may offer smoother video for active subjects and panning. Seeing some examples, I prefer 60i for motion -- but that's just my preference.

    Again it was a real toss up and had to pull the trigger on one before an upcoming vacation. The deciding factor was that I just couldn't get a Sony smooth zoom on the Canon as easily.
     
  5. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #5
    Sounds good. If you'd like to drop back in with your impressions some time, I'd really appreciate it as I'm in the process of weighing-up pros and cons: like you I want to like the Canon but am put off by its build (and the head-spinning logos). I'd be keen to hear about how you find the control wheel on the Sony (especially for manual focus) and how quickly you get used to the menu.

    EDIT: Oh, yeah - and how you find the PQ. I suppose that's important, too :D .

    Cheers,
    Andrew.
     
  6. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    So the Sony is still on order HOWEVER. I read a review on Camcorder Info that is going to keep me from opening the box until answered. They had a HDV shoot-out with the 2 older models (HV20 v HC7) and they felt the Canon blew away the Sony.... hmmmm.... anyone here have hands on experience? I've always felt the Sony miniDV image quality was quite good. Anyone with a HC3-9 here?

    Courtaj, I'm starting to sound like you -- really on the fence with this one. I just didn't like the feel of the HV30 at the store, but PQ is why you buy one.
     
  7. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #7
    Starting to sound like me, eh? Exepect a request for royalties: I've trademarked my blend of petulance and indecisiveness, and it's mine, ALL MINE!

    But seriously: I've seen the CCI review of the HV20 / HC7, too, and given that the HV30 and HC9 are basically an HV20 and an HC7 with new paint jobs, I can't imagine the situation has changed since last year.

    However . . .

    I think CCI went a little easy on Canon in some respects. As you've pointed out in this thread (I think) it's only in the extra 30p / 25p (or whatever - I'm so sick of numbers) mode that the Canon beats Sony with less noise in low light. But then there's the alleged "video look" which CCI attribute to the Sony but not the Canon.

    Thing is, you'd lose count of the number of people with HV20s/HV30s if you go by the web fanclub, but there's nothing comparable for HC7s/HC9s.

    Having said that, I've always favoured the underdog.

    Having said that, I'm about this far away from saying "screw it" and getting a Panasonic HDC-SD100 whenever it arrives (not an HS100 - I have an inherent dislike for harddrives in cameras): http://www.camcorderinfo.com/conten...HDC-HS100-and-HDC-SD100-Camcorders-35263.htm#. Mmm, focus ring. Focus RING. On a camera that records to SD cards. It almost seems too good to be true. (And no doubt I'm about to be told that it is too good to be true by all the AVCHD mockers out there.)

    I still think the Sony is sexy, though. But once I've had her, I'm worried I'll be looking over my shoulder to see what's hap'nin with little miss HV30. Grass is always greener etc . . .
     
  8. ibglowin macrumors regular

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    #8
    Had the HC9 since March

    No problems. PQ is amazing. Works perfectly with regular DV tapes. No dropouts. Build quality is great. I have shot about 2 hours now and am very happy. I did buy the larger extra battery from Amazon. BTW I picked this bad boy up from Amazon for only $824 on a one day price drop.

    My only complaint so far is that it has no analog pass through. Only has digital inputs (go figure). I wish I had held on to my previous Sony DV camcorder as it was perfect for dumping old VHS tapes to the computer for editing and DVD burn.

    This is my 3rd Sony Camcorder in 7 years so I must like them. :)
     
  9. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    No A/V pass-though.... that is a bummer. Though I think I finally transferred all my 8mm videos to DVD. I currently have the Sony HC90 and had another Sony miniDV before that, and a hi8 Sony before that. They make good camcorders which is why I hesitate to switch brands.

    Have you tried editing in iMovie and if so, how'd that work out for you?
     
  10. ibglowin macrumors regular

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    #10
    I imported around 10 min of footage into iMovie HD. The camera was recognized and imported fine although if I remember correctly I got a blue screen on the laptop during the import but once I disconnected it was all there and I could edit it just fine. Others have reported this as well so it must be a bug/glitch perhaps in iMovie HD. I have a MBP 2.16 C2D so it should have had the horsepower to handle this. I want to try Toast 9 and make a BD disc for the PS3 with a regular DL DVD next.

     
  11. ibglowin macrumors regular

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    #11
    I guess it has A/V passthrough, only digital via the firewire connection so I suppose you could pass something from a DVD recorder with firewire through it as long as it didn't have any copy protection flag.

     
  12. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    new question of the hour...

    Motor noise on the HV30. Go over to Amazon and you'll see several complaints about motor noise and the mic picking up motor zoom, tape motor noise, etc. Searching on hv20.com that is also coming up. Yet I can't find any complaints on the Sony. I remember how noisy my old RCA 8mm was and how silent my Sonys have been. Any issue with this?

    Here's a quote from hv20.com: "I got my HV20 a few days ago. I am now deciding whether the motor noise I hear is normal or whether I should try to exchange the camera. I've read every single thread on this site about the noise, and I am still confused. In a poll about motor noise, 15% of people said they hear no motor noise, and 50% said the noise is very slight and almost unnoticeable. How can this be? In my footage, when shooting in a quiet room, the noise is very pronounced. I can hear the motor whine if I hold the camera an arm-length away. I could probably still hear the whine if I put the camera 10 feet away (in a quiet room)."
     
  13. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #13
    I should just butt out because I've no in-depth experience with the cameras concerned, but it wouldn't be the first time a Canon has had motor-noise issues.

    However, one of the reasons one gets a 'corder with a mic input is because onboard mics suck anyway, motor-noise or no motor-noise. So there's yer workaround.

    Though I agree it would be nice to know for those impromptu moments when mounting a mic just isn't practical: is the Sony quieter?

    Andrew.

    PS: My guess is that the Sony is quieter because the more solid housing transmits less vibration.
     
  14. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #14
    By the way, could be worth trawling about here: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/forumdisplay.php?f=132

    This thread in particular puts the brakes on all that "awesome low-light performance" shenannigans: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=122187

    I suppose it goes back to the adage, "You want nice pictures you need nice light." Actually, I just made that up. Here's another one: "You want nice pictures in low light you need an expensive camera with a massive lens and enormous sensors." Neither of which the HV30 or the HC9 have . . .

    Still, there's the problem about how much light actually = "low light" . . . Groan.

    BTW, should you want to contribute to the dvinfo forums you'll have to register and participate under your real name.

    Andrew.
     
  15. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Thanks for the link! I've been checking out that site all morning and it confirms my concerns... actually with both cameras. I read this post from a professional videographer -- may be the ol nail in the coffin for me:

    I've owned both cams - I didn't like the onboard mics on the HV20 for the reasons mentioned - I did a 4 cam shoot with the HV20, 2 HC7's and an FX7 - the audio track of the HV20 was tossed on the first review. This was strictly on the basis that it just sounded thin to my ear compared to the other tracks from the other cameras - it might have passed muster standing alone, but with other usable tracks I'll toss the least effective one(s) ASAP to simplify later editing.

    From a purely practical standpoint, I think you'll find almost everyone (professionally) using an HV20 is adding an external mic - there is a reason for this.

    I've got the gun/zoom Sony for the HC7, but it's not a huge step up from the onboard mics. I'd be comfortable shooting with the onboard mics of the 7 - the HV20, I'd be developing a nervous tick if I had the headphones on.... I've heard the motor whine noticeably on most HV20 samples I've listened to.

    Canon busted the HDV market wide open with the HV20, its got great video quality... but after posting, I ended up back with the Sony being my preferred cam of choice.


    So HV30 or HC9? My score card as of now is Canon = great video + poor/unacceptable audio + poor build. The Sony = good video + good audio + great build. I'm not ready to add an external mic so I'm favoring the Sony still (or again).
     
  16. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #16
    For what it's worth, and without the luxury of trying both out side by side and separately over a few weeks, I still like the Sony, too.

    I'm playing around with an AVCHD camera at the moment, seeing what I can make of that format. At the moment, it's a mild pain converting it to AIC (much slower than real time), but PQ-wise it's passable, for the money: she's a cheap little tart (a Panasonic HDC-SD5 which Amazon are selling for about £300 less than the HC9 right now) with just enough in terms of manual control to keep things interesting (if you don't mind fiddling about with a stubby little joystick) but no mic input and - as I've noted elsewhere - even though it records to SDHC cards i.e. it's "solid state," it has a little fan to help keep its processor cool, and even that gets picked up by the onboard mic (even though the fan is underneath the barrel and the mic on top of the barrel)!

    By the way, they say the Sony harddrive-based AVCHDs are as good if not better in PQ than the HC9. If you ask me, it's a rubbish time for buying a new camera right now. Too many variables, too many unknowns. Five years ago people were arguing that HDV would never last, but who's arguing that it's here to stay now?
     
  17. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    I ran over to a local camera shop today and they let me test out a HV30 and Sony SR10. The SR10 is a AVCHD camera and a smaller sensor than the SR11/12 (which is said to have nearly identical video as the HC9). So its not a totally fair test, but will have to do -- if I like the SR10 the I should love the HC9! I'll post an update after I've had chance to try them out. Initially the HV30 feels more like my hi8 from '96 than a high end HD camcorder, but PQ is what its all about. On the plus side, I didn't find any issues with the mic. It doesn't seem to pick up any motor noise... but one access door does keep pooping open on this $900 camera.
     
  18. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Update

    After reading up on the HC9 and SR10, it seems they are too different to assume one will act like the other (mainly the SR has a new 1/5 sensor and the HC9 a 1/2.7 with different optics and resolution -- hardly the same camera). SO back to the camera shop to test out another.

    I tested the HC9 against the HV30 and my old SD HC90/96 (which is praised as a great SD camera). I shot 2 cameras at the same time. I shot everything at 60i with AWB on. Payed them back in a true A/B test on a Denon 5.1 system hooked up to a 1080i/720p projector with a 96" screen. Here's what I found....
     
  19. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    First the HC90 (SD) vs HC9 (HD)

    Low light: It was surprising was how much the gap closed when all 3 were indoor with low light. I shot in several rooms with various subjects. At night with only a 60w bulb on you couldn't look at the HDV and say "wow" that's for sure. The video was grainy enough that the HC90 didn't look so bad. The HDV was better in low light, but no wow factor. I'd grade them:
    HC90 = C+ (which was more like an A compared to my last miniDV) HC9 = B

    Good light: to no surprise the SD footage looks pretty bad outside with good light. No doubt which was HD and SD! End of test there.
    HC90 = C HC9 = A
     
  20. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Next the HC9 vs HV30

    Low light: again I was surprised. The HV30 is praised for low light (mainly in 30p of course, but I prefer 60i). The HV30 DID hold sharper detail and less noise, but watching A/B, the Sony actually often looked BETTER than the Canon. Really. The Canon was more saturated and had more contrast, but lost shadow detail. The Sony's AWB also looked better. Skin tones on the Canon started going green and sickly. I can see how the Canon would kill the Sony in a resolution/sharpness test, but anecdotal speaking I thought the Sony was hair better.
    HC9 = B HV30 = B-

    Good light: ditto the above. The Canon had an edge on the sony with sharpness. The colors looked like that of a Canon still camera -- very impressive. However, at times the Canon looked over saturated. I'd say skin tones looked healthy on the Canon, but foliage looked better on the Sony. I'd give a slight advantage to the Canon... but again, I say its preference.
    HC9 = A HV30 = A+
     
  21. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    And one more test is the HC9 vs HV30 mic

    I threw this in because there is a lot of talk about the HV30's mic. While I didn't hear any motor or tape noise, the sound is tinny compared to Sony. Sony is focused on audio engineering after all. As everything else, I felt the sound wasn't THAT BAD on the HV30, but when A/B'd with the Sony, yeah, the Sony is a lot better.
    HC9 = A+ HV30 = B-
     
  22. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Ok, one more and I'll stop -- 30p vs 60i

    I know this is a debate in itself. I shot 10 minutes with 30p and 60i. The subject was a bunch of kids playing in a pond and canoeing. The 30p was noticeably "stepped" on my system and the 60i was smooth. Panning made it even more noticeable. I didn't see any difference between 30p and 60i with still subjects while not moving the camera. Since I pan and shoot moving subjects, I chose to focus on 60i.

    Oh, and one more (but I won't make it into another post) -- build:
    HC9 = A HV30 = D+ ...the Canon just feels cheap (like their A series stills), the zoom is jittery and hard to control, the strap is in the wrong place, etc. BUT it IS cheaper by at least $150. If price is a factor its more of a Hyundai (with a BMW engine!) to the Lexus.

    Conclusion? IMO in 60i the HC9 holds its own to the famed HV30. Most of the fuss about the HV30 is 30p. Either camera will look great. You can't shoot the HC9 in 30p after all. In the end, I prefer the HC9.
     
  23. ibglowin macrumors regular

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    #23
    Good head to head comparison!

    Many thanks for this. Good info for sure and makes me even more glad I chose to go with the HC9 as well! :D
     
  24. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #24
    And the winner is . . . !

    A good read with some interesting results.

    Attempting to summarise and arrive at an aggregate grade for the two cams, according to the scores you've allocated for low light, good light, and onboard mic:

    HC9: A B A+
    HV30: A+ B- B-

    So not including build, and converting these into numerical scores where A+ =10, A=9, A- =8, B+ =7, B =6, B- =5, C+ =4, C= 3, C- =2, D+ =1, we get:

    HC9: 9 + 6 + 10 = 25/30 = A-
    HV30: 10 + 5 + 5 = 20/30 = B+

    Looks like favouring the HC9 is justified going by your own findings. This is before incorporating your grading for build (which clearly would result unfavourably for the Canon).

    You'll have lots of fans around these parts now! :D

    Andrew.
     
  25. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I as much as anyone get stuck on online reviews, so I hope this helps others out.

    CCI pretty much say the HC9 can't hold a candle to the HV30. The only way to find out for myself was to buy both (I did ask the camera shop if I could do this). I have a pretty discerning eye (and ear). With real world shooting, I just didn't come to the same exaggerated conclusion (and disagree with some points they made).

    In fact, I just bought a AVCHD SR12 (which CCI really likes). So far the PQ looking VERY much just like the HC9. Testing to come :)
     

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