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Old July 18th, 2008, 02:32 AM   #1
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XDCAM HD vs P2 which format should I buy into?

I'm trying to decide which format I should buy into but I don't really know the benefits of one over the other. I know quite a lot of people who have worked with the Panasonic AG-HVX200A, and could probably get a lot of work if i bought one. But i've been eyeing the Sony EX3 thats coming out soon and am falling in love with its seamless workflow from Camera to my express slot on my Macbook Pro.

A fellow shooter I know says that it would be a mistake to buy the XDCAM EX3 because the SXS formate is unproven and that I could easily find anyone else with a P2 to do multi camera shoots. And that producers that hire know the P2 look and prefer it over the XDCAM look.

Is any of this true? What benefits do either have?
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Old July 18th, 2008, 03:04 AM   #2
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Given the choice between the EX3 and the 200A, I don't know too many who'd go for the Panasonic. Though it can record at 100mbps with it's DVCProHD, it cannot actually record 1920x1080p. Combine that with the P2 cards that no new laptops are coming with any more, the EX3s SDI output, the timecode sync on the EX3, the interchangable lenses on the EX3, the better glass on the EX3, and it's nearly no contest. There's a reason why it costs nearly 3 times what an HVX costs.

The Sony EX1 is much closer in price and features to the HVX, but in my view is a better camera for a number of reasons, many of which have been discussed time and again on this forum and others.

If you have to shoot certain, specific things, the rolling shutter on the EX1/EX3 could cause you a problem. So learn the limitations and see if they affect you.

The idea that you could find someone else with P2 cards to shoot with is laughable. Are you going to hand over your $800 cards to a stranger? And if you aren't going to share media, what difference does it make what you each shoot on?
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Old July 18th, 2008, 03:16 AM   #3
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And in addition to the above, the EX cameras have a true manual lens, the HVX 200 is servo. The EX cameras (esp the EX3) also have a vastly better viewfinder/LCD screen than the HVX200. These are specific camera differences though, nothing to do with recording format.
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Old July 18th, 2008, 04:55 PM   #4
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I see your points, and agree with you on all of them. I just cant quite shake the whole feeling that Sony might screw me in the near future and abandon the SXS format. It's had a nasty rep for abandoning a lot of formats in the past.

I wasnt planning on giving my cards to anyone. Rest assured. I just get a lot of calls for the 200A P2 work and feel that I might be missing out on work if I go with the EX3 because producers don't KNOW that its superior.

I mean, i'm stoked about the EX3. I'd heard that its the only small camera that Discover HD gives a 100% broadcast stamp of approval.

Then again, maybe I should wait for the Red Scarlet?
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Old July 18th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #5
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I just cant quite shake the whole feeling that Sony might screw me in the near future and abandon the SXS format. It's had a nasty rep for abandoning a lot of formats in the past.
I draw a big line between Sony consumer and Sony broadcast. The former has certainly had a list of formats with short lives, but on the broadcast front it's a different story. The fundamental Beta cassette has evolved since the first professional Betacams (Beta SP, Digibeta, SX, IMX, HDCAM etc), but AFAIK the later machines are very good for backwards compatibility.

As for SxS, it has a form factor that is a current technology and supported by modern laptops, being based on ExpressCard, which I'd say bodes well for it's future. My gut feeling is that it's use in the EX cameras is overkill - Compact Flash would probably have been more than good enough for them, especially if they'd specified only the faster grades. I suspect the EX cameras may well be a proving ground for SxS before they migrate the technology into higher end and 2/3" cameras. I really don't see SxS being abandoned, especially as it's a collaboration with Sandisk.
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Old July 19th, 2008, 06:32 AM   #6
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I've tested both formats and would say that SxS is more practical due to longer recording times per GB, faster transfer speed and modern laptop compatibility. But if you're getting calls for DVCProHD shoots that's a good reason to be prepared to suport that. One solution would be to lease the gear that makes you money now, and reevaluate that as circumstances and technology change.

As far as SxS being over-engineered is concerned, the same could be said for P2 but both formats are aimed at high-end uses and apparently require extra bandwidth for over/undercranking recording. The "Red" camera proves that fast CF cards could be used in this context, but neither Sony or Panasonic seems willing to go this route for high-bandwidth recording.

Last edited by Kevin Shaw; July 19th, 2008 at 06:34 AM. Reason: typo
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Old July 19th, 2008, 04:11 PM   #7
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The only reason to go with the Panasonic 200A is that it is cheaper than the Sony EX offering and it will provide "good enough" images for HD. I do wish the EX cameras went with a global shutter, but the EX cameras do have electronics to correct the adverse affects of the rolling shutter. It's really not that noticeable and handles motion fairly well.

Anyway, because of the improvements to the chipset, I would consider the Panasonic 200A, only because it fits into my budget and it produces a good enough image to get work. As far as P2 goes, whoever told you that it is better is pulling your chain. SxS, I believe, will be around for a long time. I think Panasonic is stuck with P2 because of all the money they invested in it. I think when they get their money's worth from P2, it will be gone, and Panasonic will have a newer and faster flash system for their mid and high end professional cameras. The suggestion of renting from an earlier reply sounds sensible because there are clients that prefer Panasonic P2 cameras over Sony's EX cameras, but I've found that more and more of the diehard Panasonic people are changing their minds about Sony's EX as they hear more and more good things about the cameras.

Also, Panasonic is high on AVC Intra. I believe after AVC Intra becomes popular, DVCPro will be either totally out or used in their lower end professional cameras. Of course, that won't happen for a while.

Now as far as the EX3 is concerned, you might want to consider the Panasonic HPX - 500 since it is closer in price. It has bigger (2/3 inch) chips; uncompressed audio, and it's a shoulder mount design if you like that style. In the case of the EX3 vs HPX - 500, I would give the edge to the Panasonic camera.

Last edited by John Bosco Jr.; July 19th, 2008 at 04:13 PM. Reason: left out a word
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Old July 19th, 2008, 05:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jon Furtado View Post
And that producers that hire know the P2 look and prefer it over the XDCAM look.

Is any of this true? What benefits do either have?
P2 is not a look; it is a recording format. Now if producers say they prefer the DVCProHD look over XDCam then that's possible.

Benefits of DVCProHD - Uncompressed Audio, Hardly any artifacts shooting fast motion, Easier and faster to edit with natively; intra-frame instead of inter-frame codec; records higher 4:2:2 color space than most XDCam codecs.

Benefits of XDCamEX - nearly three times more recording minutes than DVCProHD; full 1920 x 1080 HD recording; faster, more modern SxS flash card to record on.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 09:10 AM   #9
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Benefits of DVCProHD - Uncompressed Audio,
XDCAM is uncompressed audio as well, so no difference there.

-gb-
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Old July 20th, 2008, 12:04 PM   #10
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Why worry. Just make money with the camera now. If you have work offered to you then what does it matter? If you feel you wont then you wont. Simple.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #11
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I second the comment on how the SxS record times dwarf P2 record times. This is essential when working on longer form projects (documentary, event videography).
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:30 PM   #12
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Hey guys,
I am shooting mostly documentary work and the tapeless workflow (at least with cards) simply isn't economically practical b/c i need to be able to shoot 5+ hours at a time. Tape is cheap obviously and I just wanted to know if you think that SxS or P2 will ever be able to compete in the realm of long-form videography?
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:43 PM   #13
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Hey guys,
I am shooting mostly documentary work and the tapeless workflow (at least with cards) simply isn't economically practical b/c i need to be able to shoot 5+ hours at a time. Tape is cheap obviously and I just wanted to know if you think that SxS or P2 will ever be able to compete in the realm of long-form videography?
I don't get it.

You have a tape deck that lets you record 5+ hours?

If the P2/SxS workflow is too expensive, why not get a Firestore? That's pretty economical.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Steve Lewis View Post
Hey guys,
I am shooting mostly documentary work and the tapeless workflow (at least with cards) simply isn't economically practical b/c i need to be able to shoot 5+ hours at a time. Tape is cheap obviously and I just wanted to know if you think that SxS or P2 will ever be able to compete in the realm of long-form videography?
Recording capacities will definitely go up, and card prices will come down eventually, but the P2 and SxS formats will not change. Perhaps using a firestore drive or the new Sony Hard drive may work well for what you are doing.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 03:38 AM   #15
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I don't get it.

You have a tape deck that lets you record 5+ hours?.
I suspect he means 5+ hours before getting the chance to offload, not as a continuous take.
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f the P2/SxS workflow is too expensive, why not get a Firestore? That's pretty economical.
They come with issues of their own (though the latest model is improved) such as long boot up time and high level of fan noise when they heat up. I also found mine to be less than 100% reliable, though when used *AS WELL* as tape it didn't matter too much, and still greatly speeded up the workflow. But I wouldn't recommend one as the sole recording medium.

Eventually all cameras will be solid state, end of story, but that's probably a fair while off yet for many people. Whether they will be P2, SxS or something completely different is another matter.
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