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Old January 10th, 2010, 03:38 AM   #196
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Originally Posted by Jeff Regan View Post
David,

We both know that low bit rate, 8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP formats are not where the industry is headed.

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I might disagree with that as well, no one expected DVCam to become a major format for broadcasters, but budget cuts meant large amounts of broadcast were shot on it here in the UK. I'm expecting XDCam EX to replace DVCam here.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 06:21 AM   #197
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They offer a lot of free software to support the cards and codecs, a ton of other hardware, such as P2 Store, P2 Gear, P2 Portable, P2 Mobile, PCD20 and PCD35 5-card P2 readers.
I don't think you'll like me sayng this, but I tend to see a lot of that as only necessary because of inherent problems with P2 workflow, certainly in the past. You only need to consider field offloading solutions when the memory is so expensive - isn't it a far more elegant approach to have a system with cost/minute low enough to own enough memory for a single day? And to be able to do high speed copies within the camera, to cheap solid state cards if desired ?

As far as the readers go, most SxS users are likely to simply plug the cards straight into the computer to offload. The need for separate P2 readers is fuelled by the obsolescence of Cardbus on newer computers.
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XDCAM EX has been limited in its technical specification purposely to protect the XDCAM HD, XDCAM 422, HDCAM and HDCAM SR cameras and peripherals. Theoretically, the PMW-350K is at the top of the XDCAM EX product line with no way to move up without abandoning the media, hardware and accessories for XDCAM EX.
There is no doubt about it, I wish the 350 came with the 50Mbs codec out of the box. But whilst (for whatever reason) that camera may be limited, let's be clear that the media isn't, and neither is the underlying system. There is no theoretical reason (AFAIK) why much higher bitrate products using SxS won't appear in due course, and my money is on exactly that happening.
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We both know that low bit rate, 8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP formats are not where the industry is headed, so an XDCAM EX user has to consider an outboard recorder or migrate to XDCAM 422 for a better format, which is completely different hardware, peripherals, media and work flow.
It depends on what part of the industry you're talking about. If it's digital cinema, absolutely right. But news, general documentary, and all sorts of run of the mill broadcast is a different matter entirely. (It's also more accurate to refer to XDCAM as "medium bitrate", I'd reserve the term "low bitrate" for such as HDV.)

And Steve Connor is absolutely right about DVCAM, at least in the UK. Similar arguments were being had a decade ago, purists saying any new broadcast camera had to be 4:2:2 etc. But whilst there was a big difference between Digibeta cameras and early DV cameras, then mating a decent front end with a DVCAM back was a different story. Hence the DSR500 was born, which together with newer models became the defacto next gen BetaSP in the UK for the last decade. Remember for 50Hz based formats, DVCAM is 4:2:0, not 4:1:1.

I anticipate a similar situation now. XDCAM EX becoming the new DVCAM, if not the next Digibeta. But unlike in the past, it's far easier to hook up external recorders like the nanoFlash now, analogous to being able to attach a DigiBeta deck to a DSR500!!

That aside, Panasonic may try and denigrate XDCAM as "low bit rate, 8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP", but in reality it's what large sections of the industry want. The compression is light enough that it can be easily natively edited, but high enough that file sizes and bitrates are small enough to be more easily handled, and can be more quickly transferred.

That's especially significant when you consider the increasing use of such as ftp to move news and other stories from point to point. It's realistic to consider doing it at 35Mbs - much less so at 100Mbs. All that acquisiton at AVC-Intra 100 may sometimes mean is HAVING to do a transcode to a lower bitrate for a satellite feed or ftp. Something not always necessary with XDCAM.

And "8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP"? A lot of users may take the view that since that is exactly what is going to be broadcast, then if little treatment is to be done to the pictures, then what's wrong with it? Why go to such as 10 bit, 4:2:2, if the main effect is to raise the bitrate, thereby make a transcode necessary for linking, and maybe lose the 10 bit, 4:2:2 in the process!?!
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Old January 10th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #198
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Regrettably no. Last I heard, that camera is due to have 1 megapixel chips, so although it may give a 1920x1080 raster output, the resolution is likely to be about 1440x810.

I think that's a good compromise for 1/3" chips, and underlines that mostly you get what you pay for.
I don't think we should confuse photos sensor sites with resolution. The arrangement and DSP's have more influence in present day cameras. At 1440 x810 it is still higher than 720P!!! However I do generally agree with your comments. The significance in my mind is that the output from this comparatively low cost camera may well be indistinguishable from medium priced broadcast camera after the transmission compression is applied. The end viewer may have a hard time noticing the difference!!!! Side by side direct feed to a large high quality monitor there will of course be a difference as well as potential editing processing differences though they may be small.

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Old January 10th, 2010, 09:12 AM   #199
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Sony have already shown prototype SxS recorders for the XDCAM HD cameras and will be releasing the slot in SxS bay for the PDW-HR1 XDCAM HD field editor this quarter. The SxS recorder prototypes all had HDSDi in so can be used as standalone recorders or clipped to the back of a PDW-700/F800 to give the best of both worlds. My assumption is that these will record at 50Mb/s 4:2:2. SxS is rated at upto 800Mb/s, so there is a ton of headroom to play with.

As well as the above, don't forget there is also the PXU-MS240 Mobile storage unit and Esata SxS adapter, the PMW-30 SxS VTR and the SBAC-US10 SxS to USB adapter. There are also various free software applications for managing XDCAM EX and XDCAM HD footage.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 04:17 PM   #200
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
I don't think you'll like me sayng this, but I tend to see a lot of that as only necessary because of inherent problems with P2 workflow, certainly in the past. You only need to consider field offloading solutions when the memory is so expensive - isn't it a far more elegant approach to have a system with cost/minute low enough to own enough memory for a single day?

edit

As far as the readers go, most SxS users are likely to simply plug the cards straight into the computer to offload. The need for separate P2 readers is fuelled by the obsolescence of Cardbus on newer computers.

edit

It depends on what part of the industry you're talking about. If it's digital cinema, absolutely right. But news, general documentary, and all sorts of run of the mill broadcast is a different matter entirely. (It's also more accurate to refer to XDCAM as "medium bitrate", I'd reserve the term "low bitrate" for such as HDV.)

And Steve Connor is absolutely right about DVCAM, at least in the UK. Similar arguments were being had a decade ago, purists saying any new broadcast camera had to be 4:2:2 etc. But whilst there was a big difference between Digibeta cameras and early DV cameras, then mating a decent front end with a DVCAM back was a different story. Hence the DSR500 was born, which together with newer models became the defacto next gen BetaSP in the UK for the last decade. Remember for 50Hz based formats, DVCAM is 4:2:0, not 4:1:1.

I anticipate a similar situation now. XDCAM EX becoming the new DVCAM, if not the next Digibeta.

That aside, Panasonic may try and denigrate XDCAM as "low bit rate, 8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP", but in reality it's what large sections of the industry want. The compression is light enough that it can be easily natively edited, but high enough that file sizes and bitrates are small enough to be more easily handled, and can be more quickly transferred.

That's especially significant when you consider the increasing use of such as ftp to move news and other stories from point to point. It's realistic to consider doing it at 35Mbs - much less so at 100Mbs. All that acquisiton at AVC-Intra 100 may sometimes mean is HAVING to do a transcode to a lower bitrate for a satellite feed or ftp. Something not always necessary with XDCAM.

And "8-bit, 4:2:0, Long GOP"? A lot of users may take the view that since that is exactly what is going to be broadcast, then if little treatment is to be done to the pictures, then what's wrong with it? Why go to such as 10 bit, 4:2:2, if the main effect is to raise the bitrate, thereby make a transcode necessary for linking, and maybe lose the 10 bit, 4:2:2 in the process!?!
David,

Your remark about P2 peripherals being needed because of P2 workflow problems is unfair.
I don't know what "problems inherent to the P2 work flow" you're speaking of. P2 is by far the most successful, globally recognized solid state memory media and work flow for professionals in news, sports, high end production-including commercials, indie and commercial features and episodics. It represents cameras from palmcorders to high-end cameras and very sophisticated separate decks like the HPM200 P2 Mobile. P2 has legions of worldwide users, starting back in 2004. The format's mass adoption by broadcasters and independents speaks for itself.

Regarding media costs, and I've shown that 32Gb P2 cards are the same or less money than 32Gb SxS cards previously, when buying a $20K or more camera, I don't feel that spending $3K for 5)32Gb cards is not affordable. These 5)32Gb cards give me 400 minutes of record time at 720/24PN or over 200 minutes at 1080/24PN. This is enough capacity for most one day projects. Double those times with AVC-Intra 50, which is much closer to XDCAM EX, except 10-bit. All these cards are in the camera, no having to pull them out and change them and carry them around separately. This is how I define "elegant".

Regarding card readers, I plug P2 cards into my Apple G4 all the time for DVCPRO HD. Unfortunately, the new MacBook Pro 13" and 15" laptops not only abandoned PCMCIA Card slots, but also Express Card slots. How does one transfer their SxS cards with those computers without tying up the camera? I like the flexibility and convenience of a small five card P2 reader which works with any computer out there via USB or Firewire.

Regarding the options that Panasonic offers in codecs that are found in the HPX300, 2000, 2700, 3000, 3700, there is something for everybody; DVCPRO HD for simple post not requiring high powered computer processing, it runs at only 40Mbps in 720/24PN while still maintaining 4:2:2 and I-Frame structure; for the news world, there is AVC-Intra 50 which is 10-bit 4:2:0 I-Frame at 50Mbps max; AVC-Intra 100 for production requiring grading and color correction because shooting with a format that is more like a delivery format (25-35Mbps, 4:2:0, Long GOP) isn't suited to high-end productions.

No question that DVCAM in 4:2:0 PAL spec is more palatable than 4:1:1 NTSC spec. This is why DVCAM never caught on for broadcast except in small markets and DVCPRO 50 was so popular. DVCAM 4:1:1 would never be confused with 10-bit, 4:2:2 Digi-Beta. I owned a DSR-500 and still own a DSR-450WS for lower-end corporate work--rarely for broadcast.

I can assure you that there is plenty of P2 based material being moved around via sat trucks and microwave trucks because it is much more commonly used in the U.S. for news than XDCAM EX. AVC-Intra 50 has made it even better for news applications.

As far as avoiding 10-bit, I-Frame, 4:2:2 or high bit rate acquisition formats for higher-end productions just because the delivery is very low bit rate, 4:2:0, Long GOP, then why does Sony even offer HDCAM SR or XDCAM 422? Why shoot in 35mm or with an F35? Most production people I know want to start out with the best quality, expecting eventual quality losses downstream.

I think we have a fundamental disconnect between what the DP or producer/director who wants a camera such as a Varicam is looking for vs. somebody who is looking for "general" acquisition and finds XDCAM EX to be good enough. Two different strata of production. Both valid, just different. Same as F900R or PDW800 vs. XDCAM EX.

Alister,

Good to see that Sony is fleshing out the XDCAM EX SxS peripherals to better support the format. It has been pretty thin so far.

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Old January 11th, 2010, 06:21 PM   #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
Your remark about P2 peripherals being needed because of P2 workflow problems is unfair.
I don't know what "problems inherent to the P2 work flow" you're speaking of.
I'm referring to the reasons why such as the P2 store was ever considered necessary - it was seen as not feasible at the time of it's introduction to have enough memory to go for at least a day without downloading and then erasing cards for reuse. Use tape, disc, or cheaper memory and the neccessity for such devices as you mention goes away. Sony didn't introduce an "XDCAM store" for field use in 2004 - they didn't need to. The media was cheap enough to mean such an extra device wasn't necessary. So I don't think it's at all unfair to comment about some P2 peripherals only being needed because of P2 workflow.

Of all the stories I've heard, few concern P2 (or SxS) hardware failure - but I have heard many stories (some first hand) of accidental deletion. There's far more chance of that if you have to download and format in the field in less than ideal conditions.
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Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
P2 is by far the most successful, globally recognized solid state memory media and work flow for professionals in news, sports, high end production-including commercials, indie and commercial features and episodics.
I seem to recall having seen that comment in Panasonic literature, and it seems to be a classic case of selective use of statistics. Until the PMW350 launches soon, there has been little (if any) competition to P2 as regards the use of solid state for 2/3" pro cameras - it's nearly all been tape or disc. So it's pretty easy to be "by far the most successful" when you're the only runner on the field!

It's just as accurate to say that XDCAM disc is by far the most successful, globally recognized optical disc media and work flow. Meaningless, but accurate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
Regarding media costs, and I've shown that 32Gb P2 cards are the same or less money than 32Gb SxS cards previously......
Only on a per GB basis - and Alister and myself have also pointed out previously that on a *PER MINUTE* basis SxS is far cheaper due to the bitrate differences. I consider that a far more relevant statistic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
I can assure you that there is plenty of P2 based material being moved around via sat trucks and microwave trucks because it is much more commonly used in the U.S. for news than XDCAM EX.
But is it being moved around natively, or transcoded to a lower bitrate for linkage? That was the question I posed. I suspect the latter.

A big reason for higher bitrates is the argument that whilst you can't see much (if any) difference at first generation, they'll stand up to repeated transcoding better. But the question I'm posing is what if not having to transcode means you don't need the higher bitrate in the first place? Nett result means a saving in transcoding time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
As far as avoiding 10-bit, I-Frame, 4:2:2 or high bit rate acquisition formats for higher-end productions just because the delivery is very low bit rate, 4:2:0, Long GOP, then why does Sony even offer HDCAM SR or XDCAM 422? Why shoot in 35mm or with an F35?
Different horses for different courses. Is the material likely to need a lot of extensive post work? If yes, a more robust codec becomes increasingly worthwhile. If no, why spend a lot more, give yourself bigger filesizes, necessitate transcodes for linkage etc for no discernible difference in transmitted quality?

And (as has been said so many times) if anyone is really bothered by the codec, just use an external recorder - the front end is good enough. For such as a news or sport operation, use the camera as is and take full advantage of the lower bitrates.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 01:55 AM   #202
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I don't get it!

Jeff, you keep trying to convince us that AVC-I is so much better than XDCAM EX because of it's higher bit rate and 10 bit recording, then you start talking about how you like using 720P/24N which is only 40 Mb/s yet still recording 10 bit 4:2:2 in an I frame only codec. Do you really believe that an I frame only codec using essentially the same coding methods as Mpeg2 but without the benefits of a long GoP. Recording the extra 30% of data needed for 10 bit and the extra data needed for 4:2:2 is so much better than a highly efficient, mature well developed Mpeg2 running at 35Mb/s when recording 720P24?

As for 50 Mb/s AVC-I, well I'm sorry but that's not even close to XDCAM EX.

AVC-I is an acquisition codec it's no more suitable for mastering than XDCAM. My experience is that for programme delivery HDCAM SR is the norm with HDCAM as second choice. A mastering codec IMHO is one that does not degrade over many generations which cannot be said of AVC-I or XDCAM.

The 17" Macbook Pro still has an express card slot. I have a $200 Netbook with an express card slot and the majority of mid range laptops have express card slots.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 03:20 AM   #203
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One quick question for your guys who are nearly on the sony payroll! ( sorry couldn't resist and no offence intended)

If SXS cards have plenty of capacity and the codec required for broadcast needs to be at least 50mbs could sony update the software in the 350 to do this as part of a future firmware update?

I would buy a 350 tommorow if it ticked that box but as it doesnt I have to go for a 2700 or maybe a 3700 if my bank account can stand it.

I think that some of your guys are right and in time the 350 and the 301 will be accepted as HD Dvcam replacements, this may be to cost factors more than any other in the UK as news and smaller doco producers upgrade their kit. The scary think up here in the north east is that the government have put ITV regional news out to tender and the news print guys with their HDV cameras look likely to take over.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 04:33 AM   #204
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I have been told by people from within Sony that the EX1/EX3 cameras use a different encoder chip to the PDW cameras, so a firmware update to 50 Mb/s is not possible. Clearly the PMW-350 shares some of it's electronics with the EX1/EX3 but I have no idea what encoder chip is in there. The argument given for not having 50 Mb/s in the EX1/EX3 was that it would take too much power and generate too much heat.

Now we all know that the NanoFlash uses a Sony encoder and that draws around 6 watts, so I'm not convinced by the power consumption argument. The Nano does run quite warm, but I think that's down to the voltage regulators dropping the voltage from the common 12v feed down to whatever the internal voltages are, so again I'm not convinced.

I would like to think that the 350 has the same encoder as the NanoFlash or PDW cameras and that it could be unlocked to allow 50 Mb/s. Certainly looking at all the ventilation slots etc, cooling shouldn't be an issue and an extra few watts on an 18 watt camera with V-Lock certainly isn't a big deal. But I just can't see Sony doing it, if they did I doubt it would be a cost free option. I also think they would have told us so by now as it would clearly help them sell more cameras. What I think is more likely is another camera based on the PDW-700/F800 with CCD's and SxS slots, possibly recording at higher bit rates than 50 Mb/s. This is speculation, I have no idea of Sony's plans. The bottom line is that while at the moment 35 Mb/s is not approved by the BBC (Discovery, Nat Geo and others will accept it) the XDCAM EX codec is remarkably good, just look in the Convergent Design forum at all the posts where people do struggle to see any difference between 35 Mb/s and 100 Mb/s. There is a difference, the 50 and 100Mb/s is better and is more suited to multi-generation work, but it's not a night and day difference. I'm quite convinced that a PMW-350 at 35 Mb/s is more than adequate for low to mid range HD broadcast. The clean images will help make up for the lower bitrate.

With all cameras you have to consider the whole system from lens through to codec. A clean noise free image at a lower bit rate can outperform a noisy camera with a higher bit rate, not just at the first generation but all the way through the production chain. Noise is as important as compression ratio.
My point is that I am sure that the PMW-350 will eventually become a mainstream camera for news and low to mid range HD, just like the DSR500 did. The BBC were very against the use of DVCAM, but even though it was effectively "banned" more and more productions got made with various types of DVCAM's and now they probably outnumber all the other cameras in the BBC's inventory. This is the market that Sony are after with the PMW-350, it has been tailored to that market and I believe that it will do very well in it. It may take a while, but it will only need on news agency or national broadcaster to pick it up to start the ball rolling. And as has been said, you can stick a NanoFlash on it in the mean time. The NanoFlash is an excellent investment. It has many uses beyond it's on camera recording capabilities. It is a solid state VTR, an excellent SDI to HDMI (and back) converter. It can be used as a portable player to show material at events or for point of sale applications, you can get an ASI option for point to point links satellite links.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 06:22 AM   #205
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I remember reading sometime ago that the Nanoflash uses the same encoders as the PDW-700, and requires two chips to perform 4:2:2. Perhaps the EX uses the same, but likely only has one, and so limited to 4:2:0.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 07:04 PM   #206
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One quick question for your guys who are nearly on the sony payroll! ( sorry couldn't resist and no offence intended)
I doubt they would have me! If on anybodys payroll, you have to speak positive - no exceptions - and I've made no secret of the fact that whilst good, the 350 would be even better with the 50Mbs codec. On that subject........
Quote:
If SXS cards have plenty of capacity and the codec required for broadcast needs to be at least 50mbs could sony update the software in the 350 to do this as part of a future firmware update?
Good question - I know Alister disagrees, but my bet is more likely on a second model to follow at some time. A "PMW370"? A bit more expensive, but 50Mbs and maybe a few more goodies such as proxies. The next question then becomes "when?", but if you are able to wait until NAB it may be worthwhile. Who knows but Panasonic may have something else by then as well.
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I would buy a 350 tommorow if it ticked that box but as it doesnt I have to go for a 2700 or maybe a 3700 if my bank account can stand it.
If it's just the 50Mbs box to be ticked, what's your objection to the nanoFlash as a way of getting that? Yes, I'm the first to agree it's not as elegant as internally to SxS, but there doesn't seem to be any perfect solution at a mid price. The 2700 only offers 1 megapixel chips, and the 3700 doesn't offer a 720p mode or useful overcranking.

Incidentally, what are you hearing about a current cost for the 2700? This whole thread started with the thought that the price rebate on the 2700 was due to end on the 31st December - has that come to pass?
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Old January 13th, 2010, 07:58 PM   #207
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2700 deal is over for now. We still have a couple on back order I believe. The 3700 is back at a discounted rate with a trade-in.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 02:54 AM   #208
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I appreciate the nanoflash option but I want an integrated camera system and that is why I chose the 301's initially with the option to add a 2700 or 3700 or maybe the next camera the 601??? (cmos 2/3" and AVC intra 100???)

The 350 is also around 16k here in the Uk and with 3k for the nanoflash I got my two 301's for less than that and they do 75% of my work. I currently hire in 2700's for broadcast work but I think will hang fire on a purchase and see what panasonic brings out this year.

It is also about a system and the codecs for me and once again that is shy I chose P2 as all of my cameras use the same cards and shoot at the same codec.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #209
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16K?? I've been offered a 350K with the lens for less than 14k from a couple of dealers. Body only its less than 12k.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 11:58 AM   #210
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350 is 15,802.58 from Prestons 301 is 7,988.83 inc VAT
No doubt deals are around but its still around double the price of a 301.
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