HVR-A1U image quality versus GL2?

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    • #45212

      I’m a documentary filmmaker, and in August I’m taking a trip to Africa to film some promotional material for an organization that’s building schools in third-world countries. I currently own a Canon GL2 and it’s served me very well thus far. I was thinking, however, about upgrading to HD, and while researching camcorders, the Sony HVR-A1U caught my attention. Not only is it HD, but there’s the added appeal of its size, which would be less intimidating for young children and great for documentary filming. But I’m worried about the image quality that could be lost by moving from a 3CCD to a 1CMOS camcorder, despite the fact that it’s HD. Does anyone know if I will be improving my image quality (overall), or will it remain about the same? Or, would I be downgrading? The 8-minute promotional video that I’ll be shooting will be shown at a fundraising concert in November, and it will also be shown when the organization takes a cross-country promotional/awareness tour next year. So, it needs to be the best quality possible, but I’m on a tight budget right now and I’m not sure if I should “upgrade” to the A1U or stick with my GL2. Any thoughts?

    • #188079

      The reason why 3 CCDs is better than 1 CCD is because with 3, each CCD only has to capture one of the 3 primary colors; red, green and blue. With 1 CCD, that CCD is in charge of capture all the colors at once, and as a result it’s less than great color reproduction.

      CMOS sensors, on the other hand, are used in many digital SLR cameras and seem to do a pretty good job. And those DSLR cameras only have 1 CMOS. I think you would be in good shape going to a camera with 1 CMOS sensor. I would assume 3 CMOS sensors is better than 1 CMOS sensor of course.

      You may be able to find more information on the internet about this topic.

    • #188080

      I’ve done some research. Apparently single CMOS cameras measure up pretty well in comparison to 3CCD cameras. You should be in good shape if you have good lighting. You may have to do a little bit of color correction as well, but I find myself having to do some color correction with 3CCD cameras too sometimes.

    • #188081
    • #188082

      Thanks for all the help. I’m going to sleep on it for a few more days, but I’m pretty sure I’ll go with the A1U.

    • #188083


      I’ve got the A1U. For the money you cant beat it. HD quality like a Z1U in good light. I’m working on a documentary with mine.Sony has a 3cmos camera and I hear its not as good as the1cmosHVR-A1U. I dosome local commercial work with it and online businessvideos.I would suggest the wide angle lens, a cavision lense hood for it and the big battery to help even out the weight. Then get a spiderbrace.That little camera is like a champ. All the guys with the 3ccdStandard def Cameras see me with it and hate on me because its lighterputs out a slightly better picture and is much cheaper. They constantly use that 3ccd standard on me and I tell them mycamera doesnt work on chips it works ona sensor and its HD. I was at a conference and some guys were hating on the A1U because they said it was small and wasnt viewed as professional. They said it couldnt open doors like a bigger camera could even if the picture quality was higher with that A1U over say the vx21000. That could be an issue for some thats why I say go for the wide angle lens and the cavision hood with the spider brace. Anyone who sees it set up on the brace opens doors for me. Everyone always ask me the same thing when I film. How much did that cost because it looks expensive? I constantly work with people who arent in front of cameras a whole lot and I tell you thats when the size pays off. They get less nervous when you take that wide angle lense off and the camera gets smaller. The two issues I see are the bottom tape loading and they have a mount to fix that and low light levels. If the light is low youre going to have problems of course if you were shooting in low light with a 3ccd standard def camera in the same light you’d probably be looking for a way to lighten things up with it as well. I dont have one yet but, Id suggest a good Led on camera light . Hope your documentary goes well and my suggestion is to shoot in HDV with the HDV tapes, edit in HDV and if at all possible put out to a HD DVD. If you do that and keep the lighting well your going to amaze people with the picture quality.

    • #188084

      I own the hdr hc1 and rented the a1u a few times.

      It will beat the gl2, not only because it’s hidef, but also if you shoot it in standard def. in low light it won’t match sony’s (or a few other) hi def cams with 3 ccds.

    • #188085

      Tirisius, I’ve got the A1U. For the money you cant beat it. HD quality like a Z1U in good light. I’m working on a documentary with mine.Sony has a 3cmos camera and I hear its not as good as the1cmosHVR-A1U….

      I ended up purchasing the HVR-A1U, and so far I LOVE this thing. I’m going to be selling my GL2 on eBay very soon.

      You’re right, it’s not great in low light, and I’m going to have to purchase an LED light for it. I’m also really really annoyed that you can’t put a polarizing filter on it without taking off the lens hood. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I had time to set up every shot, but documentary filming is spontaneous, and I don’t have time to decide if I want to the lens hood or the filter when I walk outside, following a subject. I’m also annoyed that there’s no f-stop readout on the screen (and I’ve already put a small pencil mark below the LCD screen to indicate the transition between iris and exposure), but all these little complaints are outweighed by the little camera’s awesome performance.

      I purchased 2 big batteries along with it, which has been very handy, but they’re so big I can barely look through the viewfinder. Oh well, though … you can’t beat 4 hours of battery life. I also upgraded the mic to the Rode NTG1. In the 8 hours of shooting or so I’ve done so far, it’s performed admirably. I wanted to get something a bit higher end, but anything bigger than the NTG1 would dwarf the camera itself and make it too bulky.

      I’m not sure yet about the Spiderbrace, but I do need to get a wide-angle lens, and of course a lens hood to go along with it. Which did you purchase? There seem to be 3 or 4 options on B&H, and of course a plethora of options if you get a step-up. Let me know which parts you’ve put together for your setup and how they’ve performed so that I can take them into account when I make my purchase.

      Thanks for all your help thus far!

    • #188086

      Hi This is Norbert, I would also like to know what B&H option allows wide angle or telephoto lense to be fitted with Lense-Hood inplace on Sony HVR A1U can anyone please help??

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