Sony HVR-Z1U HDV Camcorder

What Users Say about the Sony HVR-Z1U HDV Camcorder

sony z1

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The Official Sony Z1U Site

Released Feb, 2005 Sony HVR-Z1U is the professional version of the Sony FX1 and offers many features not found on the FX1. For instance: The Z1 has an hour meter so customers know exactly hour many hours of operation the camera has endured. The Z1 formats are switchable. It can record and play in DVCAM, MiniDV, and the HDV format. The camera has both NTSC and PAL and 50i/60i systems. The Z1 has XLR inputs so no adapter is needed for using professional mics. While the viewfinder can switch between color and black and white, it is somewhat small.

24p is really only an issue for those transferring video to film. In both cameras the true 24frame progressive mode is missing. Sony does what they call Cineframe 24, but this is a bit of a trick. This simulates the motion of true 24p so the result will look fine in video, but will not work when transferring to film. According to Adam Wilt’s article on Cineframe “For film-outs, (it is better to shoot) at 60i and use a program like DVFilm’s Maker or your film-out facility’s own in-house process to convert 60i to 24p.”

Focus Carefully for HDV

Focus is more critical when shooting HDV because the increased detail now reveals what in SD would have been acceptable errors in focusing. In other words you see the focus errors more easily.

Read a good comparison of the two cameras, FX1 and Z1, by Chris Hurd. Douglas Spotted Eagle has quite a few HDV resources.

    Main Features

  • Switchable NTSC/PAL color system, 1080/60i, 1080/50i
  • Image Device 1/3-Inch 3-CCD Super HAD, 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Lens 4.5mm to 54mm 12x Optical Zoom f/1.6-2.8
  • 72mm Filter Diameter
  • Minimum Illumination 3 Lux
  • Built-in Filters ND1: 1/4 (1.5 stops) and ND2: 1/32 (5 stops)
  • LCD Monitor 3.5 inch
  • Viewfinder Selectable B/W or Color, 16:9 (252K pixel)
  • Shutter Speed Range 1/4 to 1/10,000 seconds
  • Tape Format HDV – DVCAM – DV
  • Weight: 4 lbs 4 oz
  • List Price: $4900


Schneider Optics (formerly Century Optics) offers a wide range of wide-angle lens adapters

Croisel makes follow focus and matt box

Software to record HDV directly to hard disk.

This is a free application. Even though it’s called a “D-VHS capture utility” HDV users claim it does the job.

Emmy Award- wining journalist and documentary producer Jon Alpert shot an HBO docu-comedy based on reality. “House Arrest,” which premiered on the cable network on Nov. 24, 2005 with the Sony F1. This does not mean the Z1 is the ultimate camera. Jon’s reputation in the business is not dependent on the camera he uses.

Quick Record Function Problem on The Z1

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to make everyone aware of a problem that I have had with my SONY Z1. Since owning this camera over 1 1/2 years now we have filmed constantly with the QUICK RECORD function set to ON. This has caused many problems for us and we were unaware that this was the cause of our timecode breaks on our tapes.

Every tape when captured would show timecode breaks or drop frames. Now it was not that much of a problem to begin with as I just cut the ends of the footage on the time line and kept going.

The problem arose when I tested my back up procedure. I backed up my project and not my captured media as I thought I could batch capture it when asked and it would reload the footage required. However, it would not do it. My editing program stopped as soon as it came across the so called ‘dropped frame’ or ‘timecode break’. I have therefore since been backing up all my captured media.

Now… it does say if you read the sony z1 manual that this function may cause the changes between scenes to not be smooth… WHAT THEY MEAN IS IT WILL CAUSE PAUSES/DROP FRAMES/TIMECODE BREAKS…. DO NOT USE THIS FUNCTION.

It has taken a lot of consultation between myself, other information that I have found on the net and working with the repair guy to realise that the QUICK RECORD function has been the cause of all my problems.

I was told that maybe my tapes were no good… even though I was using Sony DVM60 pro tapes.

I was told that it was my editing program not handling how my camera was capturing.

I was told that my tapes may be tight to fast forward them and rewind them b4 use. – didn’t help

I was told the record over the whole tape with the lens cap on – didn’t help.

I was told that the quick record function should not be the cause of what was happening but it was save yourself all the hassle and turn the function OFF.

The function is not on the SONY FX1 only the SONY Z1 and apparently on some of their new SONY CAMS.

RustyB has also just experienced this problem and learned how to fix it from what I have shared. I hope that this post will save anyone who has this function on a lot of trouble and time. It really doesn’t make so much difference with it turned off anyhow with regards to starting to record quickly. The only thing we have noticed is that if you are recording and stop and then want to start very quickly again that that is where you wait for it to start.

Good Luck everyone.


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10 thoughts on “Sony HVR-Z1U HDV Camcorder

  1. Brian Coe


    Si le menu de votre Z1 est en anglais:

    selectionner “Others” le dernier choix.

    Puis descend au dernier choix de nouveau marqué

    “50i/60i SEL”

    Pour PAl il faut selectionner 50i (DEUX FOIS”)

    Pour revenir en NTSC , il faut choisir 60i (DEUX FOIS)

    Si votre menu est en français, c’est toujours le dernier choix du premier menu puis le dernier choix du deuxième menu..

    Il faut choisir 50i ou 60i DEUX FOIS à chaque changement.


  2. pascal

    hi i have a sony z1 but i dont have a manuel book can somme one send me the manuel book merci

    i work in adobe premiere pro cs4 when i capture in hdv mode thes say to me capture of line what is the problem ? maybe the fire wire carte is yes say to me

    what is the beter fire wire carde merci

  3. John

    This is a great comparison of the Sony HDR-FX1 and the Sony HVR-Z1U. Personally I like the Sony HVR-V1U. It is selling used for about $2,645 and is in the middle of those 2 cameras on price.

    The Sony HVR-V1U, like the Sony HVR-Z1U, has XLR inputs and can shoot in 24p. It is a little more expensive than the HDR-FX1:

    But the HVR-V1U is a less than the HVR-Z1U:

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents.

  4. mike

    I’ve had the same problem both in Vegas and FCP.

    How do u turn off the quick record function to “OFF” or is it one of the actually record button… I’m guessing the record button on the top … I searched for info, but didn’t find any

    Thks 4 the Tip … Dropped Frames are such a bummer

  5. bertie

    I like my sony z1u, but was a little annoyed at the limited information available – i now have most of what i need – thanks to you and other sites. There is only one thing that upsets me now and that is the limited zoom – ive purchased a much smaller amateur sony with 25 zoom – church weddings are real fun combining the two – the only one who notices the difference in quality is me – but i can now do just faces at some 25 metres.


  6. Curt

    To prevent loss of timecode, I always “format” my tapes prior to recording. With the camera in VCR more, simply record the entire tape with no inputs to the camera. You’ll end up with a tape with timecode end-to-end, no gaps, no breaks. Stop, start, remove the tape, whatever, with impunity. The bad news is that it adds 50% to the hours on the heads – each tape goes through the machine 3 times: format, record, capture.

    I love my Z1, but the notes on “focus carefully” are spot on, and sometimes the camera doesn’t autofocus on the proper subject, especially when backlit.

  7. Asiimwe bantyuraki

    Hi every one out there, i have a Sony Z1U but have got one problem.
    it starts recording well but the last 10 minutes recorded on a tape dont come out well, the video keeps skiping, stops abit and also sound does the same. what could the problem be?

  8. Jacob

    I’m looking for an used Sony Hvr z1u 3ccd.
    Je cherche une caméra Sony pro hvr z1u 3ccd occasion à acheter. Je suis à Paris.

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