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Category: Camcorders

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (18 votes)

Released: 2005-10-01

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Sony Professional HVR-A1U CMOS High Definition Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom by Sony

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  • High-definition video camera records in 1080i, 720p, and 720i specification with analog down-converting
  • 16:9 widescreen recording; 4:3 conversion capable
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10x optical zoom lens; digital Super SteadyShot System dampens hand jitter and vibration
  • CMOS camera system; records to conventional DV tape stock
  • Powered by NP-FM50 InfoLithium rechargeable battery pack
  • CMOS camera system , records to conventional DV tape stock
  • 16:9 widescreen recording , 4:3 conversion capable
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T 10x optical zoom lens; digital Super SteadyShot System dampens hand jitter and vibration


The Sony HVR-A1U camcorder captures 1080i HDV images using a newly developed 1/3-inch type, 2.97-megapixel (total) CMOS sensor with new Enhanced Imaging Processor(tm) technology that optimizes the performance of the CMOS sensor. The result is HD quality imaging that has been used to produce television and professional film content. Available at an extremely affordable price, the HVR-A1U will be another powerful option for HD field acquisition by all video professionals.

Editorial Review

The HVR-A1U is a compact and lightweight handy-type camcorder, ideal for shooting environments that require mobility. Its size, combined with its long battery life (up to 80 minutes of high-definition recording with the included battery), make it easy to get the shots you need, when you need them.

HVR-A1U camera
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HDV 1080i
The HDV 1080i specification features 1080 effective interlaced scanning lines and 1,440 horizontal pixels. Interlaced pictures, which have been common to TV broadcasts from the beginning, alternately display odd and even numbered lines between each screen refresh. The HVR-A1U can also record at the HDV 720p specification, which features 720 effective progressive scanning lines and 1,280 horizontal pixels. Progressive scanning fills both odd and even numbered lines with each refresh, providing a flicker-free picture.

Not yet ready for HD? The HVR-A1U can convert material from 1080i down to 480i and output this digital video signal through its i.LINK interface or as analog signals through component, composite, or S-video connectors. When down-converting these signals, the aspect ratio displayed can be converted from 16:9 to 4:3, and display modes can be selected from squeeze, letterbox or edge crop.

1/3-inch Type, 2.97-megapixel CMOS sensor
The HVR-A1U incorporates one 1/3-inch type primary color CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) 2.97-megapixel sensor with a formatted for a 4:3 aspect ratio. The advantage of a CMOS sensor over CCD is it's ability to process a large volume of picture data at a very small size, which makes it possible for a camera this size to capture HD video. The trade off for this kind of chip over CCD, however, is a small loss in picture uniformity and dynamic range.

HVRA1U camera audio levels
Keep an eye on audio levels on the LCD monitor

The HVR-A1U adopts the MPEG-2 compression format, which uses 8-bit digital component recording with a sampling rate of 4:2:0. The camera uses MPEG-1 Audio Layer II audio compression format, allowing for two-channel recording with a sampling frequency of 48 kHz/16-bit. It features a built-in stereo microphone, as well as two XLR audio input connectors for use with professional-grade microphones or external audio sources. Each input level for CH1 and CH2 can be independently adjusted using two audio level dials on the camera body and viewed with an audio level meter on the LCD monitor.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10x optical zoom lens
The HVR-A1U is equipped with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* high definition lens with a 10x zoom function. It has the same optical coating as is used on all of the Carl Zeiss prime lenses, which produces sharp, high-contrast images with virtually no chromatic aberration.

In order to facilitate zoom control and recording operation during low-angle shooting, an additional zoom lever has been added to the camera body. There's also a zoom/focus ring located on the lens body that allows for fine adjustments in zoom position. Furthermore, the supplied wireless Remote Commander unit can be used for external control.

Large, 16:9 widescreen color viewfinder and LCD monitor
View your subject through the built-in viewfinder, the swing-out LCD display, or both. The HVR-A1U features a 0.44-inch type color LCD viewfinder and a 2.7-inch color LCD monitor, both in a 16:9 aspect ratio. You'll save battery time by using just one, but you may want to use one for adjusting focus and the other for monitoring audio levels. When eschewing auto focus for the fine-tuning manual focus, you can double the magnification at the center of the screen, making it easier to confirm focus settings during manual focusing. Also, the camera's “peaking” function can provide sharp outlines on the monitor to help with manual focus.

Electronic Super SteadyShot system
Sony's electronic Super SteadyShot System helps remove the slight hand jitter and vibration that is often the bane of video production–especially during telephoto shots. It does this by trimming off edges of the frame on the fly to counteract movement.

HVRA1U Tele Macro
Tele Macro picks up details on subjects from a distance

Tele Macro
It may seem like a contradiction in terms, but the Tele Macro function allows you to capture a macro image from a distance, which is useful for shooting small moving objects. Additionally, this function puts your subject in proper focus while leaving the background out of focus.

The Hollywood look
The HVR-A1U has features that can make your videos look more like they were shot on film. Cinematone Gamma allows operators to quickly setup and load a gamma curve with similar contrast characteristics to a film gamma curve. The Cineframe feature allows movement to be reproduced at 24 frames per second–the speed of film–as opposed to video's 30 frames per second standard.

No new tape stock
The HVR-A1U is compatible with conventional DV tape stock, but Sony recommends the use of DigitalMaster PHDVM-63DM tape, with its dual layer of magnetic material, which delivers higher RF output, lower noise, 95% fewer errors and 60% fewer dropouts compared to regular DV tape.

More camera features

·Assign button — get quick access to a variety of settings   ·Time Code Preset — fill in any timecode starting value
·Shot Transition — creates smooth automatic transitions between scenes   ·Color Bar — Two types
·Status Check — displays camera setting menus for audio, output signal, assign button and exposure lever functions and hours meter on the LCD monitor   ·Zebra — displays a striped pattern in the LCD monitor and viewfinder across highlight areas, helping manual exposure settings
·Quick REC — shortens the record interval from stop mode.   ·Personal Menu — allows operators to customize the setting menu
·Battery Info — displays the attached battery's current charge level and its current remaining recording time on the LCD monitor   ·Histogram Indicator — allows you to easily evaluate the brightness of your scene
·Super Night Shot — allows operators to capture images in black and white using a built-in infrared light   ·Skin Tone Detail — reduces detailed signal for skin color, smoothening the reproduction of human skin
·Black Stretch — allows more contrast to be seen in dark parts of the picture without affecting mid-tones   ·Backlight Compensation — produces natural tones for both light and dark areas of backlit subject

What's in the box
HVR-A1U camera, AC-L15 AC adaptor, power code, NP-FM50 InfoLithium rechargeable battery pack, lens hood with lens cover, RMT-831 wireless Remote Commander unit, A/V connecting cable with S video, component video cable, USB cable, Memory Stick Duo (16 MB), Memory Stick Duo adaptor, ECM-NV1 monaural electret condenser microphone, XLR audio adaptor, shoulder strap, and operating instructions.

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