REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
SonyHVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder
 
4.8

(based on 100 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (77)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (23)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Great picture quality (84)
  • Zoom range/performance (80)
  • Great sound (63)
  • Easy to use (55)
  • Good in low light (53)

Cons

  • Poor in low light (3)
  • Poor still image (3)

Best Uses

  • HD shooting (72)
  • Documentaries (64)
  • Weddings (50)
  • Movies/short films (48)
  • Travel (33)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro videographer (49), Semi-pro (35), Enthusiast (9)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (46)

Reviewed by 100 customers

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

I Need Letters After My Name.....

By Daffydoc

from San Antonio

About Me Semi-pro Videographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Good Image Stabilization
  • Good in Low Light
  • Great Picture Quality
  • Versatile

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Documentaries
    • HD Shooting
    • Movies/Short Films
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

    ...because I've earned a Masters Degree learning this camera. It's sad when a camera is smarter than you are and that is the case with the Z5U. I had a Sony consumer-level camera before and took the leap into the professional arena with the purchase of this camera. I shoot marketing videos and have an NLE system in my home. This camera is intimidating for one who has no formal film school training, learned FCP from a book and twelve-year-olds on YouTube, and is now scrambling to master the intricacies of this amazing camera. It will do not only everything that I need, but much more. I have earned street cred when I show up with my Z5U and clamp my headphones on. No one messes with me. To the crowd that gathers, I'm now a pro. I love this camera. And I'm learning the craft of movie making because, for the first time, I have the technology to create. If you're wavering, buy it. You won't be sorry.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (1 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Very good product, I am very happy

    By Shan

    from raleigh NC

    About Me Pro Videographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

          After I buy this camera I shoot two weddings and quality of video & audio are exllent ,I am very happy with it
          Only one thing about this camera is whithot mini DV you can't use flash card

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          Love It

          By Matt

          from Sterling, Il

          About Me Video Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Easy to Use
          • Good Image Stabilization
          • Great Picture Quality
          • Great Sound
          • Great Zoom

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • HD Shooting
            • Movies/Short Films
            • Weddings/Events

            Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

            I am just using the camera to help me, with side jobs that I am trying finish. I love that it was and easy to use.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            5.0

            I highly recommend this camera.

            By JC305

            from Miami

            About Me Pro Videographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Good in Low Light
            • Great Picture Quality
            • Great Sound
            • Zoom range/performance

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Documentaries
              • HD Shooting
              • Indoors/Low Light
              • Weddings/Events

              Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

              I shoot weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations and school plays.
              Excellent camera with great professional features.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Fantastic camera, very few limitations

              By Thom

              from Chicago, IL

              About Me Semi-pro Videographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Easy to Use
              • Good in Low Light
              • Great Picture Quality
              • Great Sound
              • Large Clear LCD

              Cons

              • No image stabilization

              Best Uses

              • Documentaries
              • HD Shooting
              • Indoors/Low Light
              • Movies/Short Films
              • Weddings/Events

              Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

              Been using this camera as part of the company I work with for a while now, and finally pulled the trigger on my own. Use it for mainly filming weddings so I encounter a lot of dark indoor situations. Works great in low-light conditions, with only a small amount of noise becoming noticeable at 12db gain. All of the buttons are well laid out and easy to use and program. Having seven programmable buttons is a huge plus!

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              • No

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              (19 of 19 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              A tried and tested workhorse

              By umop-apisdn

              from Cottage Grove, MN

              About Me Pro Videographer

              Pros

              • Easy to Use
              • Good in Low Light
              • Great Picture Quality
              • Great Zoom

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Documentaries
                • HD Shooting
                • Indoors/Low Light
                • Movies/Short Films
                • Travel
                • Weddings/Events

                Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                If you are reading this review, you are likely doing so because you are currently contemplating investing in a decent camera and are comparing this one to the multitude of others that are on the market. I'm sure there are those who would think someone has got to be out of their mind to get an HDV codec based camera in this day and age - with AVCHD touted to be the best thing since sliced bread.

                Some people only look at the specifications of a camera and measure that against cost in order to rationalize their purchase. When comparing the specs of the Z5 to some of its contemporaries, it may seem to come up short. However, don't be fooled. People can talk specs until they are blue in the face, but specs won't help if you can't frame a shot and get the footage into an NLE without having to jump through hoops or struggle with its operation. It also needs to work reliably each and every time - no ifs, ands, or buts. Time is money when you are using this type of equipment to make a living. As such, you should want nothing less than exceptional reliability combined with proven performance in the field. Given those requirements, the Z5 has what you want in spades as it has more than been put through its paces by many a trained eye all over the world over the past few years.

                Sometimes people tend to get hung up on specs and feel they need the latest and greatest because, well, it's "new" so it should be better. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic cameras on the market today - with great glass and hours of in-camera storage. But it does not detract from the fact that the Z5 is a tried and tested workhorse. On paper, a 2012 268 horsepower Toyota Camry looks like a clear winner when compared to a 247 horsepower 1990's era Porsche 911. Get them out on the track however and you'll find out that sometimes specs have very little to do with real-life performance.

                I only use tape as a backup, and will likely use the MRC1 from my Z7 to record footage onto CF cards on the Z5. However, I also like the option of being able to grab uncompressed data from the Z5's HDMI output and sending it to an HDR at 4:2:2 or HD-SDI adapter for live broadcast should the need ever arise.

                The Z5 is a great camera with an excellent and well deserved reputation. It will not leave you stranded in the field because you can't find some proprietary storage device. The 20x Minolta lens is actually quite decent and has come in handy more than once in the few short weeks I have been using it. Most importantly, in the right hands it will produced stunning results. If this camera had just been released today, it would still stand tall compared to its competitors.

                The only negatives that I could find about the camera is its smallish LCD screen and the focus/zoom rings have infinite rotation. In full daylight, the LCD is a bit hard to see - but in those cases, I just look at the viewfinder. That said, they are only two small items that in 99% of shoots you could likely live with.

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                • No

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                (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Very good camcorder choice

                By PTShooter

                from East TX

                About Me Semi-pro Videographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Easy to Use
                • Good Image Stabilization
                • Good in Low Light
                • Great Picture Quality
                • Great Sound
                • Great Zoom
                • Large Clear LCD
                • Zoom range/performance

                Cons

                • Awkward Menu Select Wheel

                Best Uses

                • Legal Videography

                Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                As a legal videographer this camera meets all the requirements along with an excellent quality video and audio system. Setup and operation was very straight forward. Along with the HVR-MRC1 Memory Recording Unit the simultaneous recording to minidv and cf media is a plus. It is everything I need and more. A minor negative is the menu thumb wheel being a little awkward to use. Over all a very good choice for my needs.

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                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Very Impressed

                By MacNeely

                from Canada

                About Me Pro Videographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Easy to Use
                • Good Image Stabilization
                • Good in Low Light
                • Great Picture Quality
                • Great Zoom
                • Large Clear LCD
                • Zoom range/performance

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Documentaries
                  • HD Shooting
                  • Home Movies
                  • Movies/Short Films
                  • Travel

                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                  It's the perfect prosumer camera for start-up level videographers. If you're someone whose been a long time home-movie maker waning on the cusp of bigger things then the Z5 is perfect for you. But, it's also great for professionals, in fact I use it extensively in shooting outdoors features, such as a fishing show I work on. The directional it comes with isn't perfect, but it still provides adequate quality audio when you're in situations where a proper boom might not be possible, such as in a boat two miles deep in a swamp. The only problem is that the wheel-system it uses to access the menu functions can sometimes be difficult to use, especially when it's cold, but that's a minor nit-pick and the only one I can think of. All in all the Z5 is everything that the budding videographer could hope for and maybe a little bit more.

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                  • No

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                  (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  GREAT camera!

                  By Sparky

                  from Worcester, Massachusetts

                  About Me Semi-pro Videographer

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Easy to Use
                  • Good Image Stabilization
                  • Good in Low Light
                  • Great Picture Quality
                  • Great Sound
                  • Great Zoom
                  • Large Clear LCD
                  • Zoom range/performance

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Documentaries
                    • HD Shooting
                    • Home Movies
                    • Indoors/Low Light
                    • Movies/Short Films
                    • Travel
                    • Weddings/Events

                    Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                    I'm a freelance photographer that covers breaking news, weddings, concerts, variety show etc. I love everything about this camera! I wish it had a 1/2 chip but the price, you get amazing pictures and audio!

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Just what I wanted

                    By Joel

                    from Denver, CO

                    About Me Pro Videographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Easy to Use
                    • Great Zoom

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                        Just started a one-man video production company and this camera does everything I could ask of it. Beautiful picture, easy to use. Love it

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        4.0

                        Easy to use camera great for the Pric

                        By Marco

                        from Phoenix Az

                        About Me Semi-pro Videographer

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Easy to Use
                        • Good Image Stabilization
                        • Great Picture Quality
                        • Great Sound

                        Cons

                        • Poor Still Image

                        Best Uses

                        • Documentaries
                        • HD Shooting
                        • Weddings/Events

                        Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                        Love so Easy to handle
                        the Quality, bright picture
                        clear sound

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        GREAT CAMERA!

                        By Outdoors Our Way

                        from Cabot, Arkansas

                        About Me Pro Videographer

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Easy to Use
                        • Good Image Stabilization
                        • Good in Low Light
                        • Great Picture Quality
                        • Great Sound
                        • Great Zoom
                        • Large Clear LCD
                        • Zoom range/performance

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Outdoor Production

                          Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                          I'm a profesional outdoor videographer and this camera can not be beat! It's portable, user friendly, great in low light and quick to set up! I'd definately recommend this camera and buy it again!

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

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                          4.0

                          one thing missing!

                          By arturo

                          from maui, hawaii

                          About Me Semi-pro Videographer

                          Pros

                          • Easy to Use
                          • Great Picture Quality
                          • Great Sound
                          • Great Zoom
                          • Large Clear LCD

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                              Got the camera out of the box and started shooting. The camera is great, no complaints. Cannot go into detail since I just shot 3 tapes.
                              Only dissappointment is when I went to download the footage from camera to computer, there is no cable included.
                              I searched everywhere for the cable, called sony, and they said it does not come with one.
                              I cannot understand why sony would not include an essential cable, worth about $15, with a $4000 camera.

                              • Was this a gift?:
                              • No

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                              5.0

                              Love the changes

                              By Traveling video guy

                              from Detroit, MI

                              About Me Pro Videographer

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Easy to Use
                              • Good Image Stabilization
                              • Great Picture Quality

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • HD Shooting
                                • Movies/Short Films
                                • Travel

                                Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                I love all the changes that were made to the latest in Sony's HD offering. The Compact flash drive is a great addition.

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                                • No

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                                (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                4.0

                                Fine camera, and Z1U users take note...

                                By GBurtNYC

                                from NYC

                                About Me Pro Videographer

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • Easy to Use
                                • Good in Low Light
                                • Great Picture Quality
                                • Great Sound
                                • Zoom range/performance

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Documentaries
                                  • HD Shooting
                                  • Home Movies
                                  • Indoors/Low Light
                                  • Movies/Short Films
                                  • Travel
                                  • Weddings/Events

                                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                  I bought this camera in early Feburary 2012, and it's the new "Z1U". There are some subtle improvements. The new LED screen has a richer resolution. One of the things that threw me a bit was the menu scroll sheel (now located on the side of the camera rather than in the back).

                                  The scroll wheel is harder to operate than the previous one and you'll want to have your eyeglasses on to operate it. It used to be metal colored, now it's black and harder to see.

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                                  • No

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                                  (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  4.0

                                  Great overall entry level Hi Def Camera

                                  By Berkhills

                                  from Western Massachusetts

                                  About Me Pro Videographer

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • BW or color view finder
                                  • Good in Low Light
                                  • Great Picture Quality
                                  • LCD is very clear
                                  • Viewfinder is clear
                                  • Zoom range/performance

                                  Cons

                                  • Small function buttons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • DanceTheater
                                  • HD Shooting
                                  • Historical Sketches
                                  • Weddings/Events

                                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                  Used in mostly stage productions where lighting can be problematic. Low light ability is good. When compared to the Sony PD170/150 it is not as sensitive, but it satisfies our "stage" needs. In fact the PD170s were a little too sensitive. Great "wide angle" coverage with on board lens. Function buttons are very small and hard to find "on the fly" i.e., "push auto focus button" when in manual focus, white balance button; and the "assign" function buttons. We cut small soft self-adhesive velcro spots to place on these function buttons in order to find them easier.
                                  On board battery cannot be installed when using the AC adapter. This makes the switch over to battery from AC awkward compared to the PD 170/150, VX2100 and even the DSR250s. Only three gain positions can be programmed (your selection) as opposed to dialing a full range on the fly. However, the transition to various gain positions is visually smooth. Manual iris control is on a ring and is easy to find. The Camera menu is similar to that of the PD170.Image quality is good. Four star rating is because of small function buttons that are hard to locate when shooting on the fly, otherwise I would give a 5 star rating.

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                                  • No

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                                  5.0

                                  Exactly what I needed.

                                  By Ronaldo

                                  from Los Angeles, CA

                                  About Me Semi-pro Videographer

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • Easy to Use
                                  • Good Image Stabilization
                                  • Good in Low Light
                                  • Great Picture Quality
                                  • Great Sound
                                  • Great Zoom
                                  • Zoom range/performance

                                  Cons

                                  • Small clear LCD

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Documentaries
                                  • HD Shooting
                                  • Movies/Short Films
                                  • Travel
                                  • Weddings/Events

                                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                  It has all what I was looking for and even more. Perfect for event videography.

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                                  • No

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                                  (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  "it is all in one"

                                  By The Lion King

                                  from Miami, FL

                                  About Me Video Enthusiast

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • Easy to Use
                                  • Good Image Stabilization
                                  • Great Picture Quality
                                  • Great Sound
                                  • Great Zoom
                                  • Zoom range/performance

                                  Cons

                                  • Poor In Low Light

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Documentaries
                                  • Home Movies
                                  • Movies/Short Films
                                  • Weddings/Events

                                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                  THIS CAMERA TELL YOU HOW TO USE IT BY ITSELF.

                                  • Was this a gift?:
                                  • No

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                                  (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  4.0

                                  Good camera, lots of features

                                  By NJohnston Media

                                  from NYC

                                  About Me Pro Videographer

                                  Verified Reviewer

                                  Pros

                                  • Easy to Use
                                  • Good Image Stabilization
                                  • Good in Low Light
                                  • HDMI Output
                                  • Large Clear LCD

                                  Cons

                                  • 120 fps is standard def
                                  • Poor Still Image

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Documentaries
                                  • Weddings/Events

                                  Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                  I use this camera primarily for industrials, promotional and music videos. It's well built, has all the controls in traditional Sony configuration. But most importantly, this camera comes with an HDMI output pre-HDV compression. This means that if you attach an Atomos HDMI recorder to it you can record 4:2:2 HD. That's right, REAL high definition footage, not watered down, barely-HD HDV.

                                  That's why I bought it 2 years ago. I knew HDV was a transitional format, but I needed a good camera for an upcoming job and didn't want to pay for an EX1. With the HDMI out, this camera has an extended it's usable life.

                                  The only thing I don't like about the Z5U is the small sensor size and the relatively low quality of the 120fps. Of course the fact that it can ACTUALLY shoot 120 fps or 240 fields is fantastic, so maybe I'm just being picky. But I use the feature, and every time I use it and try and match it to the HDV/HD stuff I've shot, it always comes out looking bad. But still pretty cool.

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                                  • No

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                                  (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  My Second Z5u Purchase

                                  By JD

                                  from Dacula, GA

                                  About Me Pro Videographer

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • Easy to Use
                                  • Good Image Stabilization
                                  • Good in Low Light
                                  • Great Picture Quality
                                  • Great Sound
                                  • Large Clear LCD

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                    • Documentaries
                                    • HD Shooting
                                    • Movies/Short Films
                                    • Weddings/Events

                                    Comments about Sony HVR-Z5U Professional HDV Camcorder:

                                    Since this is my second Z5u purchase, I would imagine it speaks for itself. A great camera for the price point. Beautiful full HD pictures, clear and crisp. Good low light capability and offers operational options from full auto to full manual. Three rings for focus, iris and zoom; 2 xlr with fantom power option. Peaking option really helps with the focus while using the LCD. Has the features I look for and at a price point I could afford.

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                                    • No

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