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Test Drive: Sony HVR-HD1000U, Part 2

Jan 28, 2008 12:00 PM

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Sony HVR-HD1000U

Back again with the new $1,900 shoulder-mount Sony HVR-HD1000U. In the previous installment, I provided a brief overview of specs and features, and evaluated the camera’s Smooth Slow Rec feature. In a review you can read here, I provide more technical background and focus on usability. In this segment, I analyze image quality and low-light performance.

Quality Tests

In all tests presented in this segment, I compared the HD1000 with the Canon XH A1, which costs twice as much and has 3CCDs rather than one. It’s unfair, but the Canon is the only camcorder I have that matches the HD1000’s pixel count, which is relevant for the resolution comparisons I discuss below. It’s also the other camcorder that I used in my real-world shoot. As you’ll see, in the laboratory tests, I also include results from the Sony HDR-FX1, which also costs considerably more than the HD1000, and has 3 CCDs, but less total pixel resolution.

For the record, in all laboratory tests, I captured directly to disk using Adobe OnLocation, which not only saved the capture step, but provided two levels of zebra striping and a live waveform monitor to fine-tune my videos before capture. The real-world tests I shot to tape and then captured as normal. I shot and performed all quality and low-light tests in 1080i HDV mode.

I color corrected all videos—both real world and laboratory testing—in Adobe Premiere Pro, which has pluses and minuses from a comparison and evaluation standpoint. On the plus side, I color correct most videos that I shoot—especially in multiple-camera shoots, where the colors are never close enough without tweaking—so color correcting reflects real-world usage. The obvious negative is that if I criticize the color reproduced by a camcorder, is it the color correction or the camera that’s at fault?

On the other hand, if I don’t color correct, and I criticize the camera’s color handling, is it the camera or the operator that produced bad color? Given that I have more confidence in my ability to tweak the colors in post rather than perfecting it while on location, especially with a new camcorder, I decided to go ahead and color correct.

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