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Sony Z1U Has Officially Been Replaced with the HVRZ7U HDV CamcorderWhile everyone was salivating over and pre-ordering the XDCAM EX1, Sony has been quietly putting together the final pieces of it’s alleged “Z1U replacement” camera. And they have now announced not one, but two new models…a boxy handheld unit dubbed the HVR-Z7U, and a shoulder-mount configuration designated HVR-S270U. Pricing for the new models is quoted by Sony as $6,850 and $10,500, respectively.

Both record 1080 HDV @ 24p and 30p via Sony’s 1/3-inch 3 ClearVid CMOS Exmor imager, and are rated at 1.5 lux. Other options include 1080i, DVCAM, and DV. Both downconvert HD to SD via Firewire (ok, i.LINK) and “other SD output connectors.” Additional output options include HD-SDI/SD-SDI (with embedded audio and TC) on the S270U and HDMI output on the Z7U.

What’s more, there is apparently a CompactFlash card module available for these cameras that will allow solid-state recording on industry-standard CF cards. You have the option of recording HDV, DVCAM, or DV to CF, and can do this at the same time you are recording to tape. The only requirements here are a 2GB minimum capacity and 133x minimum speed card. An 8 CF card would net you 36 minutes of HDV/DVCAM/DV, and 16GB CF doubles that to 72 min. I find it odd that Sony is backing a non-proprietary format, perhaps we have Red to thank for that.

Sony Announces New Shouldermount HDV Camera for Professional UsersWhat I find most interesting is that both support interchangeable lenses via a standard 1/3″ bayonet mount, both can also utilize α (alpha) lenses designed for Sony’s DSLR consumer still cameras via an adapter. Sony 1/3″ bayonet lens options include the stock 12x Carl Zeiss HD lens and a “specially designed” 8x wide-angle lens.

And finally, a new deck has been announced to go along with these camcorders. It’s called the HVR-M35U, supports HD/SD-SDI output with embedded audio and timecode data, is 60i/50i switchable, and fully supports HDV1080i (60i/50i/24p/30p/25p) and DVCAM/DV (60i/50i). MSRP is $5,540.

You can read the full Sony Press Release here. Thanks to both Ajit and Digital Camcorder News for the heads up (DCN has a pretty thorough writeup on both new models).

UPDATE: Anthony over at the IEBA Blog has posted his usual insightful commentary on the new models. He makes some great points about how the usefulness of shoulder-mount camcorders is often overlooked. He’s also scratched up an image of the flash recorder. I appreciated this comment about all the output options on the HVR-S270U:

“It looks like you could use the flash media recorder, the HVR-DR60 external Firewire-based hard drive recorder, AND also record to tape- all the while sending out an uncompressed (not HDV) 1080 HD signal from the HD-SDI spigot. I don’t know of another camcorder, or single manufacturer that offers the ability to record to three separate formats at the same time- let alone do it so easily!”

25 Responses to “Sony Announces HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270U Pro Cameras”  

  1. 1 Ajit

    What amazes me is that Sony has more pro/prosumer HD camera models under 8000$ than the rest of the competition. There is not much marketing or hype preceeding the announcements of these products. They seem to be in their own race in terms of providing choice for an Indie filmmaker.

    This sucks. Where is Panasonic with all of this? Are they waiting for NAB or another big conference to announce some camera that will take another a year to come out. Geez. Stop believing in the hype (the hype of hype), stop being cute with announcements. Besides the HVX, what else does Panasonic have to offer to filmmakers? AVCHD?!! More P2??!!!!!

    About the HVR-S270, I love the interchangeble lenses and compact flash module. Though I have shot plenty with HDV, I am not a fan. Comparing this with the XDCAM EX1 which has 1/2 chips and Express card slots, it is pretty good race between the two. I am still leaning towards the EX1. 1/2 chip is a big deal for me. The XDCAM variation used in EX1 is worrisome in terms of NLE support and future proofing. (There is not a month that goes by when I sneer at DVCAM, why? why? why?)

    I am buying a camera in April and as of right now I can’t see anything but Sony’s in the picture. However, the ideal camera is still no where to be found. Is it really that hard to create a 2/3 chip camera with interchangeble lenses that can record to a widely used flash media for under 10k? I would love to see anycamera manufacturer step up and fill that void but I am guessing Sony will be too fast.

  2. 2 Ajit

    Edit: I am looking at the HVR-Z7U (vs EX1) and not the HVR-S270U as stated.

  3. 3 Matthew Jeppsen

    Great comments, Anthony. I am curious however, what is it about HDV that you are not a fan of? It’s funny, I hear comments like that a lot, but nobody really quantifies their complaint with the codec. What’s yours?

    -Matt Jeppsen

  4. 4 Marc

    I found it odd that Sony keeps its camera so close to being the best for IndieFilm makers. With the EX1 out, its a serious competitor to the Panasonic AG-HVX200 with overcrank and undercrank. With its SxS express card 34 , its a serious contender to P2. I waited 2 years for the right moment to buy my laptop, the Apple Macbook Pro 2.6ghz,4 ram, 200gig. But as everyone know, the fact that Apple changed there PCMCIA card for the express34 cards it lost its convenieance to use P2 as a non tape media. Now I’ll be waiting a little more before buying a HD camera and see what Panasonic, Canon and Sony come up with at this year NAB.

    With the release of its HDV HVR-Z7U, Sony is in my opinion hitting a sweet spot for Indiefilm maker market. I’ll be patient and waiting to see if Sony is going to mix the HVR-Z7U to the XDCAM EX1. And have basicaly a EX1 with interchangeable lenses and a mpeg format that spits out 4:2:2 to those nice SxS.

    That is the camera every indie filmmakers are actually waiting for. No need to buy extra 35mm adapters only converters for the 1/3 bayonet ( converters for 1/2, 2/3, PL and SLR).


  5. 5 Lonnie

    Is the HDMI out of the z7u an uncompressed signal (before the HDV encode) for use as a poor man’s HD-SDI uncompressed capture (as well as monitoring)?

    And I assume it would be a true 1080, but would it be 4:2:0, 4:2:2?


  6. 6 Matthew Jeppsen

    One would assume that HDMI would be pre-HDV encode, like the V1U. But I’m not sure that’s been checked or confirmed by anyone from Sony. We shall see. I had the same question about the colorspace, and Kendal seems to think we are going to get 4:2:0 out the HDMI port. Again, we don’t know yet. If you find out before you see it here, please drop a comment!

    -Matt Jeppsen

  7. 7 Kendal Miller

    No No,
    Kendal says the ColorSpace out HDMI if it is an uncompressed port would be uncompressed 4:2:2 minimal. All thing assuming of course its pre-DSP. Samething for HD-SDI and other ports. Even the Z1u has component out uncompressed. Its hard to imagine this wouldn’t be implemented in some form or fashion.

  8. 8 Kendal Miller

    Agreed its so frustrating to see camera manufacturers build and separate technology rather than combining it into one really well built and thought out camera.

  9. 9 Charles Dasher

    Does anyone know if the Z7 will have over and under cranking capability? Thanks for any info

  10. 10 Matthew Jeppsen

    It has no over or under crank that I am aware of. Being that they probably want people to get the XDCAM EX for that functionality, I’m not surprised.

    -Matt Jeppsen

  11. 11 jose

    Does anyone know if this new Z7 model manages 4:2:2 compr. rate? Did anyone find a comparisson between z7 and EX1 ?

  12. 12 Kendal Miller

    Z7 is an HDV camera so it would be 4:2:0 unless Sony releases some new unmentioned variation of the HDV format which is highly unlikely. Samething with the Ex-1 even though is XDcam technically its just higher bitrate HDV still based on long form GOP compress so it will also be 4:2:0 as well.

  13. 13 Jason Fifield

    Any word on audio specs for either of these babies? Will it ever be possible to shoot HDV to mini-DV tapes while recording decent quality (not mp3) audio to the same tape?

  14. 14 Matthew Jeppsen

    My understanding is that you have the option of four channels of audio for tape recording, and can mix and match them as you wish in the menus. However, I believe it is still compressed HDV audio (which frankly isn’t that bad of a compression ratio).




    DON’T THEY SEE THE REVENUE POTENTIAL??? DON’T THEY GET IT??? If they think it will hurt their Broadcast Division, They couldn’t be more incorrect.


  16. 16 Vito

    Hey, what is not clear about SONY and others, spliting formats and feachers?
    There is only one reason for that. They just whant final user to buy each feacher separately- each one in additional unit, and if somebody needs more than one of those, they gotta spend more money to
    SONY (4 example)
    So, there is no any reason to wait for the purfect unit. Everybody have to make their choice


  17. 17 sPp

    This is the world of Electronics…you’ll never get what you want (undercranking, 4:2:2, better audio capture, 24p, interchangable lens) without paying an arm and a leg. I say forget all these wonderful features, and focus on making what you wanna make with what you got and hope when you start making some money, then you can go get what you have always desired. Electronics companies are bastards…they love fu*king with us! They know what they’re doing and they do it on purpose…
    “it’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s reality!” A.S.

  18. 18 Toronto Weddings

    I got this camera last 2 weekes im first one i have this camera in canada wen i swa online i did love the look it relly look very close to dsr250 the one i use befor so on the pic looks smiller but relly is biger and is amazing camera ( camera do evrything any cameraman need )

  19. 19 Cody Stanton

    the EX1 still remains the top choice compared to everything out there in that price range. You were on point explaining that however it is still an HDV camera with a higher bit-rate.
    A salesman at B&H said the same exact thing and went onto say that ‘at the end of the day,when all is said and done, the EX1 is in the same HDV boat as the Canon XL-HI’
    However,the fact that they went with a CMOS sensor instead of 3CCD is the fly in the ointment. While both have their share of issues, I truly think that 3CCD would have been a better choice.
    So here’s my next question. Do you think that Canon will answer the bell with a model of their own that can compete directly with the EX1 the way the EX1 has been pitted directly against the Panasonic HVX200?
    I’m a big Canon fan and I think their camera lenses offer better optics.
    One of the most amazing things with their lenses is the ‘Instant Autofocus’ feature that is now becoming standard fare on their camcorders. No longer does their cameras have to ‘hunt and search’ for focus which other cameras are handicapped doing (in the autofocus mode)
    Perhaps we can expect to see an EX2 in the forseeable future?
    I wasnt that thrllled with some of the EX1’s shortcomings although it still managed to come out the gate a winner in many respects. Nonetheless there was much to be desired

  20. 20 Matthew Jeppsen


    I don’t see Canon trying to compete directly with the EX1 with a similar model…they tend to march to the beat of their own drummer as it were. Nor do I see Sony dropping an EX2 any time soon…expect this model to remain on the market for years without an update. Finally, I am curious to see if Panasonic updates the HVX200 at NAB…I’ve heard rumors and rumblings. If ANY manufacturer announces a new camera, my money is on Panasonic.

    -Matt Jeppsen

  21. 21 Cody Stanton

    As usual Matt, you are a step ahead of everyone else with the right answer. Of course Sony won’t release an update anytime soon. Why would they? And Canon does march to the beat of their own drummer. Besides anything offered by Canon that is a step above the XLHI would certainly cost more than $10,000
    So that leaves us with Panasonic updating the HVX200 and coming out with a beast that takes on the EX1
    In an earlier conversation and another thread, weeks ago, you did mention what a dream camera would be to you, if only manufacturers would come up with such a camera, effectively putting together the best features of all cameras. Maybe someday they will get it, although by not ‘getting it’ simply benefits them as we are forced to part with more money by purchasing multiple models that serve multiple purposes.
    Here’s a burning question Matt.
    How do filmakers achieve that Holy Grail of 1080p on a Blu Ray disc?
    Isnt it true that even if I shoot in 1080p with the EX1 and somehow archive it on a Blu Ray disc ( one such method is to import it from the Macbook after editing to another camera that is Blu Ray capable like the new Hitachi consumer model) it still ends up being 1080i?
    I was told that the only way to archive it in 1080p on Blu Ray disc is to shoot in film first.
    Any help is appreciated.
    Thanks, Cody

  22. 22 Kendal Miller

    While there is no BluRay DVDSP support in Mac, hopefully this will be forthcoming pretty quickly, Toast will allow you to make BluRay disc for data archive on Mac. So if you are simply after an archive solution try BluRay burned to disc via Toast. However, another very solid archive solution is an external HDD bay enclosure that uses smaller capacity HDDs around 200 GB as backup cartridges. Label them and then use a software like Disc Traker to index all the data and create a database that can be searched. This is the current work flow I am looking at implementing for Red One, EX1, and P2 Footage.

  23. 23 Colin Rootz

    This sounds like a really great camera, and so does the PMW EX1. The things I don’t understand about either camera is, in the case of the Z7U, why have Sony decided not to push the capture resolution to a full 1920×1080 (progressive) with 4:2:2 colourspace like it’s HDV cousin, the HVR V1U or even it’s smaller cousin, the HDR SR12 (not 4:2:2). Pair that res with the removeable lens and solid state recording (on CF cards!!) and you’ve got a low-cost hands-down winner – and yet, one that won’t compete with high-end XDCAM HD cameras.

    RE: the EX1 – why not add the flexibility of a removeable lens? Pair THAT with the XDCAM solid-state recording and CineAlta variable frame rates and you have ANOTHER low cost winner in a whole other market!

    Being a prosumer looking to acquire a versatile HDV camera, while avoiding the high cost of XDCAM media, I’m split between the Z7U with solid-state CF card recording & interchageable lenses and the A1U with full 1920x1080p. What’s the dealbreaker here?

  24. 24 Colin Rootz

    Sorry – the choice is between the Z7u and th V1U – NOT the A1U

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