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Old January 15th, 2009, 04:15 AM   #1
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The future of Solid State cards?

When Panasonic first brought out the extortionately priced P2 cards, i had to blink and re-read the press release. Did it really say 8 minutes of HD footage was going to cost 500 (or whatever it was)?

I was looking for a camera at the time and Canon's XHA1 came along for half the price. I was, and am, happy i went with the Canon in spite of the limitations of HDV.

Times have moved on, and there are various solid state options available, but they're all still relatively pricey and have not tempted me to sell my canon.

The arrival of the new JVC cam that shoots straight to quicktime on cheap storage cards is what many people like me have been waiting for. At least in terms of the storage cards.

My question is this: How on earth will the more expensive cards hope to compete with this storage system, and will JVC's way of doing things be followed by Canon and others?

I don't need a new camera at the moment, and am very happy with my XHA1, but i'm assuming that when i do, i will not have to dig deep for my storage cards.

Meanwhile, those who've invested huge amounts in such things as P2 (or indeed SxS) cards, are going to find their cards belong in a museum.

Perhaps i'm wrong about this, and i'd love to hear other opinions on the subject, but it does seem that the days when storage cost almost as much as the cameras, are thankfully over.

And now is an excellent time for people such as myself to consider dumping tapes for good.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 04:44 AM   #2
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The high-priced memory card formats may continue to have a market with those who want maximum performance and reliability regardless of cost, which still has some value for some purposes. Cameras using inexpensive memory cards are currently limited in terms of recording bandwidth and specialty recording modes like over/under cranking, even though good standard cards should be able to support some such features.

Canon is now the last of the four major manufacturers to offer an affordable, professional solid-state video camera, but their 5D Mark II shows they are probably capable of producing one. We're still not quite to the point where solid-state video acquisition is compelling in every way over recording to tape, but we're getting close.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #3
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Thanks Kevin. You've answered the other question i forgot to ask re bandwidth etc. But surely the JVC is capturing the footage in the same way as the sxs cards with the EX1?

So does that mean the JVC does not do under/over cranking? I thought it did.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 05:20 AM   #4
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Meanwhile, those who've invested huge amounts in such things as P2 (or indeed SxS) cards, are going to find their cards belong in a museum.
As Kevin says, with current cameras there are still advantages to using P2 or SxS cards for higher performance, and these current cameras still need them for such as overcranking.

But there is a big difference between SxS and P2 cameras, at least for prosumer use. Buy a P2 camera like the 171 and you HAVE to use a P2 card. Buy a Sony EX and you can EITHER use SxS for performance, OR use SDHC for economy. (As long as you don't want to overcrank.) Also worth noting that it's not the SDHC card that's the limiting factor, but rather the USB connection through the adaptor.

It's also worth noting that although few camcorders suport Compact Flash, it has more than enough performance for high end work, whilst only being a fraction of the price of P2/SxS - as Red and the XDR prove. Only a year ago manufacturers were claiming that you HAD to use their (high cost) products to record high quality video - events have shown that is simply no longer true.

Of the two, I see SxS with far more of a future than P2 as it is natively supported by modern laptops,whilst Cardbus (on which P2 is based) is obsolescent. It's also likely that we will see suitable memory appearing based on ExpressCard, lower than SxS spec, but with the performance and price of such as current Compact Flash. I don't believe a comparable product is viable with a P2 form, due to the high fixed cost per unit.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 05:49 AM   #5
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Interesting. Thanks for that David.

Re P2, i quite agree. I think it was out of date within months of arrival.

As much as i like Panasonic cameras i wouldn't go down the P2 road myself. Particularly since the EX1 - in spite of some well known flaws - is such a fantastic value piece of kit.

"manufacturers were claiming that you HAD to use their (high cost) products to record high quality video - events have shown that is simply no longer true."

Indeed, the same thing happened with tape. I stopped buying HDV tapes, and before that DVCAM tapes, a long time ago, and have never regretted it.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 06:42 AM   #6
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If JVC is offering all the same recording options as the Sony EX1 without using specialized memory, then they've either done something different or disproved Sony's claim that SxS is required for over/under cranking.

What's frustrating in all this is that good stock flash cards have offered plenty of bandwidth for years, and yet we're still being limited to highly compressed recording with most solid-state cameras. With adequate buffering any decent SDHC card should be able to sustain a 50 Mbps I-frame HD codec like AVC-intra, but so far no affordable video cameras take advantage of that fact. It's almost as if there's a conspiracy not to undercut high-end cameras (and expensive memory cards) by offering an affordable I-frame HD camera.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 07:26 AM   #7
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"It's almost as if there's a conspiracy not to undercut high-end cameras"

That would be logical for Sony and Panasonic at least. But i would think Canon and JVC would rather like to produce a camera that undercuts the other two since they don't make high end cameras.
Although in Canon's case it might undermine their lucrative high end lens sales.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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I've seen no evidence that the JVC offers overcranking. The EX1 can overcrank on SDHC, but not to 60fps. It does about 40fps before giving up the ghost, depending on card speed. I think the potential to do 50+ fps is there, but not with current card speeds.

Truth in fact, I don't think the market has been ready for i-frame full raster HD. Look at the trouble most people had when HDV was released. Home computers struggled to keep up. Right now, people are STRUGGLING with AVCHD at 1080. Meanwhile, the boys who are shooting 2k and 4k are doing quite nicely with their $10k-$20k editing machines.

It's a hard thing to say to a prosumer or consumer that you're going to sell them a camera that shoots full raster 1080p on solid state, but they'll need 8 disk raid, a $1k graphics card, and 8GB of RAM, to edit and post it. In the pro ranks, that's expected.

We have to look at the entire workflow, not just the camera. Panasonic's P2 cameras should have taught us that lesson already. Even still, consumer based editors are trying to edit full res HD at online data rates instead of embracing the offline/online workflow of their Hollywood brethren, and these forums are filled daily with their struggles. It's as if they look (or refuse to look) at how Hollywood edits these things, and say, "I have a fast machine, I can do better." In fact, no you can't.

I don't think it's a conspiracy as much as it is basic marketing. Market segmentation. You don't sell a $20k workflow to a $5k camera buyer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
If JVC is offering all the same recording options as the Sony EX1 without using specialized memory, then they've either done something different or disproved Sony's claim that SxS is required for over/under cranking.

What's frustrating in all this is that good stock flash cards have offered plenty of bandwidth for years, and yet we're still being limited to highly compressed recording with most solid-state cameras. With adequate buffering any decent SDHC card should be able to sustain a 50 Mbps I-frame HD codec like AVC-intra, but so far no affordable video cameras take advantage of that fact. It's almost as if there's a conspiracy not to undercut high-end cameras (and expensive memory cards) by offering an affordable I-frame HD camera.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 07:59 AM   #9
 
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2k/4k workflows can still be done on more conventional machines via proxy files. However, IMHO, there's not much point in a 2k/4k rez, unless you're going back out to film. There's no pragmatic distribution vehicle for 2k/4k records. The internet is, at best, a 720 medium. Bluray is not ready for prime time and DVD is a 480 medium. Broadcast television is a 1080 medium. So, outside of claiming to be on the cutting edge, how does a 2k/4k stream benefit an indie producer?

In fact, recent surveys have shown that most viewed content is trending towards pocket sized displays, not even worthy of 240 rez. Sad.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 09:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Truth in fact, I don't think the market has been ready for i-frame full raster HD. Look at the trouble most people had when HDV was released. Home computers struggled to keep up. Right now, people are STRUGGLING with AVCHD at 1080.
My point is that it's because inexpensive HD recording formats use interframe compression that they're so hard to edit. This is easily demonstrated by comparing AVCHD and HDV to DVCProHD in terms of the amount of computer power needed to edit raw footage effectively, and by converting interframe source clips to intraframe codecs to improve editing efficiency. I-frame footage isn't harder to edit, it's easier - that's why an inexpensive I-frame HD camera (using inexpensive memory) would be useful to many of us. And it's not memory cards which need to evolve further to make this possible; it's the cameras.

Quote:
I don't think it's a conspiracy as much as it is basic marketing. Market segmentation. You don't sell a $20k workflow to a $5k camera buyer.
But Panasonic did sell a $20K workflow to $5K camera buyers and made a lot of money as a result; money they don't appear willing to give up by offering a similar workflow using less expensive memory cards with their latest I-frame recording format. And since the other manufacturers don't appear to have any similar alternatives they're not under any pressure to do so, even though it would be a great product for a lot of users. Ah well, maybe in a few more years after everyone's recouped their HD R&D costs...
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Old January 15th, 2009, 09:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
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If JVC is offering all the same recording options as the Sony EX1 without using specialized memory...
The JVC HMC100 is *not* offering all the same recording options as the Sony EX1.

Quote:
...or disproved Sony's claim that SxS is required for over/under cranking.
The JVC HMC100 does *not* provide over- or under-cranking. Therefore they have
actually reinforced Sony's claim that SxS is required for over/under cranking.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 10:06 AM   #12
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My point is that it's because inexpensive HD recording formats use interframe compression that they're so hard to edit. This is easily demonstrated by comparing AVCHD and HDV to DVCProHD in terms of the amount of computer power needed to edit raw footage effectively, and by converting interframe source clips to intraframe codecs to improve editing efficiency. I-frame footage isn't harder to edit, it's easier - that's why an inexpensive I-frame HD camera (using inexpensive memory) would be useful to many of us. And it's not memory cards which need to evolve further to make this possible; it's the cameras.
But let's be honest. DVCProHD isn't even the same frame size as HDV, much less full raster. Yes, I-Frame is easier to edit, but I-Frame, depending on it's native format will take up GOBS or room, so we're back to the issue of recording media size. Panasonic's P2 solution takes up 1GB per minute at 1280x1080. So lets be generous and say that full raster would take twice that (I know it's less). So we've JUST gotten to 32GB SDHC cards. So now we are putting 16-20 minutes of video on a $120 SDHC card. And dumping 128GB per hour onto the editing machine. Those coming from the world of HDV and 13GB per hour are going to be in for one HECK of a shock, and their HD systems better be up to scratch.

Quote:
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But Panasonic did sell a $20K workflow to $5K camera buyers and made a lot of money as a result; money they don't appear willing to give up by offering a similar workflow using less expensive memory cards with their latest I-frame recording format. And since the other manufacturers don't appear to have any similar alternatives they're not under any pressure to do so, even though it would be a great product for a lot of users. Ah well, maybe in a few more years after everyone's recouped their HD R&D costs...
P2 is not a $20k workflow. Most users simply moved down to 720p, and bought two 8GB cards. I would suspect that most prosumers don't have anything larger than 16GB cards still, so add a copy of Raylight to that, and the cost to shoot P2 (assuming a decent editing computer) is in the $4k-$7k price range. The workflow price matches the camera price.

XDCamEX workflow is a LOT cheaper than P2 especially when you toss SDHC into the mix, but even on SxS cards, it's cheaper by a wide margin. I think we'll get to full raster intraframe on commodity media, but we're probably 3 years away. With TB sized disks become affordable, quadcore processors entering the mainstream, and 100+ core video cards breaking the $250 barrier, it won't be too long before the home hobbyist can actually handle it. But JoePC user is going to have to become conversant with RAID first.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 12:14 PM   #13
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I've seen no evidence that the JVC offers overcranking. The EX1 can overcrank on SDHC, but not to 60fps. It does about 40fps before giving up the ghost, depending on card speed. I think the potential to do 50+ fps is there, but not with current card speeds.
I thought that the conclusion that had been come to was that the speed bottleneck was the adaptor requiring the use of USB protocol rather than PCIExpress? That the Transcend and Sandisk SDHC cards were more than fast enough themselves to support full 60fps overcranking with the EX, but not via any USB adaptor?

If there was an ExpressCard-SDHC adaptor that used PCIExpress, not USB, the expectation is that such a combo should be capable of operating in full overcrank mode.

By the same token, a camera that accepted SDHC cards natively should be able to able to overcrank to them at a much higher rate than the EX manages via the current adaptors.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 12:38 PM   #14
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I thought that the conclusion that had been come to was that the speed bottleneck was the adaptor requiring the use of USB protocol rather than PCIExpress? That the Transcend and Sandisk SDHC cards were more than fast enough themselves to support full 60fps overcranking with the EX, but not via any USB adaptor?

If there was an ExpressCard-SDHC adaptor that used PCIExpress, not USB, the expectation is that such a combo should be capable of operating in full overcrank mode.

By the same token, a camera that accepted SDHC cards natively should be able to able to overcrank to them at a much higher rate than the EX manages via the current adaptors.
Ah yes, quite true. Forgot that as we were watching various SDHC cards have varying success rates. So the JVC might just overcrank fully.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #15
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The future may be SDXC

The new SDXC cards start out at 64GB and 100 MBS and go up to 2 TB & 300 MBS.

That's probably where the future of the card are going, at least technology wise.

I bet the puny 32GB SDHC cards will be $20 USD in a year or so.

The new cards use exFAT instead of FAT32.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT
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