Young filmmaker.. seeking advice on the Sony A1U or Z1U??


New member
Hey guys.. I’m a freshman at college and have being doing some filmwork for the past couple of years with a shitty 10 year old Sony camera.. I have worked hard and saved up some money so I can afford a good camera now.

But I was ordering the Sony HVR-Z1U the other day and the guy was laughing saying that I should be ordering the Sony HVR-A1U instead as it is better for independent filmmaking or filming in general. Is this true?? I am just confused now from what the guy said, as far as he said the only difference is that the A1U is lighter… but I want to get something that is good for what I’m trying to do , so please someone help me, a beginner out!

I am planning on shooting short films in college, independent films within 5-6 months, and then a feature if I ever get a chance in a couple of years and enable them for competitions eventually. I want a camera that will satisfy this desire.. will the Sony’s HVR-A1U do the job? I’m confused about this whole aspect ratio and PAL/NTSC Thing, does the A1U have all those options the Z1U does as well that I need for filming indie films? Please someone post and tell me any differences, what I should beware of, and if the HVR-A1U will do the job well or anything else I should know!


Looking at them quickly, it looks like the main difference is the A1U has one CMOS sensor, whereas the Z1U is still a 3 CCD setup. Not sure which is better. If you can, see if you can find any videos or stills comparing the two online somewhere. The one CMOS setup would at least extend the battery life, since you're only powering one, rather than three image processing chips.
You shouldn't cross-post the same question to multiple forums...

Here's what I wrote in the Newbies forum.

These are both 60i/1080 HDV cameras.

The A1U is the little CMOS brother of the Z1U apparently, if I understand it correctly. The A1U is also a single-chip and the Z1U is a 3-CCD camcorder. The general rule is that you get better color resolution with a 3-chip compared to a single chip.

The Z1U can downconvert from HD to either PAL (560/50i) or NTSC (480/60i), whereas the A1U is either 1080/60i HD or 480/60i NTSC. I don't know if a separate PAL version has the same number.

Neither of these cameras do a true 24P capture, and their 24F Cine-Frame simulation of 24P isn't really useful for most people, leaving 25F/50i as your best alternative if you ever need to convert to 24 frames (like for a film-out.)

There is a new Sony HDV camera called the HVR-V1U that captures true 24P, sort of a 24P version of the Z1U. It would be the closest to meeting your list of requirements:

You're going to need to start learning how to work with 24P HD in post and how to convert it back to whatever delivery formats you require.

No, it's not absolutely necessary that you shoot in 24P if you don't mind the look of 60i.