Good to hear you got a deal on one.
IMHO, The Z1E and HDV in general didn't seem to be shown to its advantage on the Sony stand. The best quality HDV footage I saw was at In-Deep's booth... Let us know if you see the 'ringing' effect (dark and light edges around areas of high contrast) on both DV and HDV.
Sorry to tack the following onto your reply, but to save bandwidth...
FIG RIG - first impressions
My line of work involves filming at conferences, exhibitions and events. I really don't like toting a tripod about but it's necessary with the harder-to-hold smaller cameras such as the PD150 (my current weapon of choice). Furthermore, I do like the restless camera approach that tends to match the way we witness the world.
I already have a Handyman 100 which works with a PDX-10, but it's not used in anger much, as any gimbal device requires 5-20 mins setup, and needs trimming on tape change, screen flip or forced floor rest. Shots need to be planned and rehearsed to get right. So it's a chocolate teapot in my world.
Enter the Fig Rig. A bizzare steering wheel on which to clamp camcorder and assorted goodies, thus turning a little camcorder into a helium filled Panaflex camera.
Michael Figgis wanted to get a whole camera unit into the action to mix with the actors. He invisioned a digital video camera rig that would enable one person to hold a camera, a microphone, a VU meter, maybe a little basher light, whilst still being able to point, focus and zoom the camera - all in a variety of positions, and always on-the-hoof. Quite a tall order.
He and the designer - Ben Wilson from the RCA - got Manfrotto to license it and make a slightly cut-down version. This is the Fig Rig.
It's really important to get a couple of things clear right from the off: firstly, it is designed for little camcorders. The Z1E is pushing the envelope. Even the PD150 may be a little portly if you go too far with the add-ons.
Secondly, the Fig Rig is not a steadycam. It makes a small camcorder perhaps about as steady as a shoulder mounted camera. Now, that can be pretty steady, and it can also allow for fluid moves and dynamic camera angles (at speed!). Its key benefits include putting controls where your supporting hands would be, and ensuring your gun mic is pointed at your subject without being in shot. You can't do that with a cheapie stabilizer.
I borrowed a Fig Rig from the Manfrotto stand for 15 mins. The first five minutes were pretty uninspiring. Then I stopped trying to do long flowing walk shots with it, and just used it as a tripod substitute. Much better. Ground-ups, overheads, all fine. Stationary tracking shots from the hip came easily. Long shots in MCU were fine, though I'd hope to do slow dollies through longer shots over time. 10 minutes later, I handed it back and examined the footage. Plenty of room for improvement, but I saw the start of the kind of footage I wanted and I got it a lot easier than with the Handyman class of stabiliser.
The Fig Rig is not a magic bullet, but neither is any stabilizer. It needs practice and physical stamina. That's why people make careers out of it.
It succeeds by making a small camera easier to do limited dolly and stable hand-held shots, and to pull focus or zoom (if there's a LANC controller that can access the A-B shot transition of the Z1E, dispite the bulk it'd be a killer app).
It is pointless for something like the JVC - the 'two hands on lens' and shoulder mount takes care of that. It doesn't replace a tripod, either. A £3k+ stabiliser in the hands of a pro will knock the living manure out of your shots. But it makes Run-and-gun slightly less wobble-cam with practice.
And I like the idea of a rear-view mirror!
I've got my order in for one. BTW, For Sale: 1 HandyMan 100 Camera Stabiliser, rarely used.