Review: Sony HVR-Z7 & HVR-S270 1/3" 3-CMOS HDV camcorders

Sony gets serious about HDV with two fine cameras based on the same core components.
Adam Wilt
By Adam Wilt 05.22.08

The shoulder-mount S270 (left) and the handheld Z7 (right) share the same innards.

The HVR-Z7 and HVR-S270 camcorders take Sony's commitment to the HDV format to the next level. Both are based on the same core technology: three 1/3" ClearVid CMOS sensors viewing the world behind interchangeable lenses. The cameras share the same EVF and LCD panels, the same microphones, the same rich feature sets (including CF card recording, and both interlaced and true progressive HDV modes), and the same fundamental performance, but they're packaged very differently. The Z7 is a svelte Handycam, while the S270 is a no-excuses shoulder-mount camcorder, bristling with dedicated buttons and switches, full-sized BNC connectors, large-cassette capability, and four channels of audio recording—a first for HDV.

The US$6,850 (list) HVR-Z7 weighs about 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) in shooting configuration, a bit heavier than an HVR-V1 or HVR-Z1 but lighter than an HVX200 or PMW-EX1. It's a compact and well-balanced package.

The $10,500 (list) HVR-S270 weighs in at around 15 pounds (6.8 kg)—no Handycam this, but a solid, hefty unit that feels instantly familiar to shooters used to DSR-300/400/500-series units or other, similar shoulder-mount camcorders.

HVR-S720 (above left) and HVR-Z7 (lower right)

Because the core camera is the same for both models, I'm reviewing them together. Let's start with a summary listing of similarities and differences, then look at the two cameras in more detail.


  • 3x 1/3" ClearVid EXMOR CMOS sensors, with Enhanced Image Processing

  • Sensors use 1440x810 diagonally-arrayed photosites

  • ISO 400 @ 0dB gain: comparable to EX1 in 1080p modes, slightly faster than HVX200, faster still than the HVR-Z1, much faster than the HVR-V1

  • Interchangeable lenses; accepts any 1/3" lens. Adapters available for B4-mount lenses as well as Sony Alpha DSLR lenses.
  • 12x stock Zeiss lens, 4.4mm-52.8mm, with mechanical zoom and dual-mode auto/manual focus (like the EX1's lens) and free-spinning servo iris ring

  • HDV, DV, and DVCAM recording on tape and/or CF cards (using included HVR-MRC1 recorder)

  • Standard 1080i HDV recording as well as new, true 30p and 24p recording modes (US models)

  • Same menu options; same range of special functions

  • Same EVF panel (though differently housed), same flip-out LCD

  • Six-pin i.Link (FireWire, IEEE1394) connector



  • $6,850 list, under $5,700 street price

  • Handycam form factor; 5.5 lbs

  • Stock lens has rear-mounted handgrip, for centered, balanced handholding

  • Two channels of audio with two XLR inputs

  • HDMI output

  • Proprietary multipin connectors for component, composite, Y/C, and audio outputs; cables provided (except for Y/C).

  • MiniDV cassette for 1 hour of DV / HDV recording (40 minutes of DVCAM)

  • Many operations accessible only through menus

  • 7.2 volt InfoLithium battery system compatible with other recent Handycam batteries.

  • AC adapter/charger, NP-F570 battery included


  • $10,500 list, under $9,000 street price

  • Shoulder-mount form factor; 15 lbs

  • Stock lens has centered handgrip, for shoulder-mounted operations

  • Four channels of audio (unique to this camera and the M35 HDV VTR) with four XLR inputs

  • HD-SDI output

  • All A/V connectors use standard BNC or RCA connectors; no special cables needed

  • Timecode output

  • MiniDV or standard DV cassette compatibility, for up to 4.5 hours of DV/HDV recording

  • More functions directly accessible through switches and buttons, without diving into menus

  • 12V power; 4-pin DC-IN connector and V-mount connector for batteries and power supplies compatible with other professional cameras

  • AC adapter/charger, battery, and tripod quick-release plate NOT supplied!

The big one is the HVR-S720; the HVR-Z7 is half the bulk

Next: Common Elements

Prev Next »