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Old December 19th, 2009, 02:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
I'm sure all that's correct Alister, but the fact is that the 2700 wouldn't have been chosen for these megabucks series if it wasn't the producers could have got a better camera for half the cost! We're talking about producers like Mark Linfield who with Alan Roberts set up the Planet Earth camera kits - he knows his stuff and is using the 2700 for Frozen Planet and not the 350.
The PMW-350 wasn't even on the horizon when the kits were chosen for those programmes so that's hardly a fair comment. As you know Alan Roberts was highly impressed by the EX1 and EX3 when he evaluated them and the 350 is in a different ball park to the EX1 and 3. It's also common knowledge that the BBC NHU just about got their cameras for free from Panasonic, a point which I am quite sure had a strong influence on the choice of cameras. Panasonic are well know for their stunning deals on cameras for high profile productions.


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Oe thing the 2700 has over the 350 even in a paper exercise is that it's 10 bit vs 8 bit.
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But this is only going to make a difference if you also increase the bit rate appropriately, and not just by the additional 30% required to record the extra bits. This was borne out by the EBU's codec tests that showed that with all the commonly used shooting codecs 10 bit gave no discern-able advantage. Generally with all the current in camera codecs, XDCAM and AVC-I included, any stair stepping in post tends to stem from mosquito noise and macro blocking. Before you start worrying about increasing the bit depth you really need to significantly reduce the macro blocking and mosquito noise. That's why whenever possible I shoot at 100Mb/s with the NanoFlash as this has a dramatic effect on the gradability of my footage. Of course you could also put the Nano on the 2700.

I agree that CMOS v's CCD will be an issue. It's one that I have spent many hours deliberating over. I have a PDW-700, which produces really good pictures but for me with all the travel I do it's a bit of a pain having to take a large 4 channel charger and four 160Wh batteries plus a colour HD monitor. As I also usually take an EX as a B camera I have to deal with two different workflows. For those reason I have decided to get a PMW-350. I know from my EX3 experience that skew won't be an issue, we've used them to shoot airshows and motor racing with long lenses and even then skew just hasn't been an issue. It is there, for sure but in a fast pan the background blur masks the slight tilt. I know how to minimise partial frame exposure problems when shooting lightning to the point where out of 100 lightning bolts I probably only have issues with 10. If I have to shoot where flash guns are present then I will have to use clip browser to sort things out. For me thit is a small price to pay for improved portability and I believe better overall picture quality as I think the 350 at 50Mb/s via the Nano is actually marginally better than the 700 when at 50Mb/s.

I too would love to see a PMW-350 with 50Mb/s (or even 100Mb/s). This would be pretty close to my perfect camera. To be perfect it would also need to be CCD.. but with the same low power consumption, sensitivity and noise. But I just don't see 50Mb/s ever being added to the EX range. I think we are more likely to see a 50Mb/s NXCAM than a 50Mb/s EX.

When I picked up the pre-production 350 for review I didn't want to like it. I had recently forked out a large chunk of money on my PDW-700. I didn't want the 350 to be better and to be honest I didn't expect it to be better. Sure I expected it to be good and I expected it would be "almost" a PDW-700 recording at 35Mb/s. I spent the first day with the camera dialing it in and doing lots of tests, some side by side with my 700. At this point I became quite cross! How dare Sony put such an amazing front end on this camera. Then I used it to shoot an airshow under very difficult light conditions and you know what it really excelled. Just ask Steve Connor who also used it, he felt it produced the best pictures he had seen under the conditions. I really think, much like the EX1 did, that the PMW-350 will change peoples perceptions of cameras at the lower cost end of the market, especially when paired with a NanoFlash or Ki-Pro.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:01 PM   #17
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Even if the 350 had been around they still would not have chosen it. In fact the EX3 is a better camera for wildlife as it's smaller, lighter and has bigger magnification on the lenses - all big deals. There are several other projects being kitted up as I said, including the Discovery one, and the 350 would have been an option, but I doubt if it was ever even considered. I spoke to the producers recently suggesting they take a really good look at the Sony SRW9000, so it's not that I'm anti Sony. I just wouldn't have suggested the 350 to them because I know they would not have been the slightest interested in it despite all its on paper advantages.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:03 PM   #18
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As you know Alan Roberts was highly impressed by the EX1 and EX3 when he evaluated them
I bet if you ask though if he thinks they are even close to being as good as even the old tape Varicam he'd laugh at you. Could be wrong, ask him next time you speak to him.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #19
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I've got an EX1, latitude is about 7-stops, it's slower than my HDX900 was as well as my HPX2700. But, in controlled situations, it can produce images way above its pay grade--it's just the CODEC and potential CMOS artifact(and lousy ergonomics) that let it down.

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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #20
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The full raster 2/3" CMOS chip set can only resolve what the lens allows. I would be concerned about the MTF on a $1600 ENG zoom lens.
Didn't plot the full curve but certainly easily resolved 1100 TVL across most of the frame. It is a servo driven lens that uses a LUT, like the EX lens. This makes it much cheaper to manufacture than a traditional lens. In addition, as CA is dealt with by the camera electronics the lens design is simpler and cheaper, less exotic glass can be used. Of course you don't have to use the kit lens and many will choose not. It is a standard B4 mount after all.

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I have had a 1080 DLP front projection system with a 100" wide screen since 2006. I can't tell the difference between satellite and off-air delivered HD that is 1080 and 720, I can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 out of my EX1.
Then I would suggest you might want to get a better projector, one that can actually resolve 1920x1080 because at that screen size the difference should be leaping out at you.


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I prefer shooting 720PN with its frame rate flexibility, work flow convenience and it doesn't require the uber-glass to get the most out of it, but still very good glass.
Seeing as you can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 that's understandable. Im sure there are many that would disagree. Including the EBU, BBC, Nat Geo, Discovery etc who all now want 1920x1080.


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yet holds 640Gb of memory vs. 64Gb.
And the advantage is??? I can swap out any full cards as I shoot so I don't need more than 2 slots. Besides which most production insurance companies will not insure productions where more than 1 hour of footage is stored in the camera. The failure of the cameras power supply could destroy all the cards in the camera instantly. Unlikely perhaps but it has to be considered.

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A 2700 recording in full sample 1080P, AVC-Intra 100 looks plenty sharp to me.
But you've already told us you cant tell the difference between 720 and 1080 and the 2700 is a 720 native camera.

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Bottom line for me is that the codec is superior,
Superior to what? And who says it is superior? I've seen the Panasonic demos where they have managed to make XDCAM fall apart by pointing the camera up at a tree and twirling the camera around. I've also seen the Sony demo where they do a slow pan across a street scene and the AVC-I falls apart. Both very carefully selected scenes where they know each others codec will fall apart. The independent EBU tests show that XDCAM HD422 @50Mb/s and AVC-I to have remarkably similar performance. Both have pro's and con's, both can be broken, both are capable of great results. AVC-I with it's 4:2:2 color space quite probably has a small edge over 4:2:0 35Mb/s XDCAM. But to use an old computing adage "Rubbish in Rubbish out". You could have the best codec in the world but it will never make a bad front end look good. Now before I get shot down in flames, I'm not saying the 2700 front end is bad or rubbish, it's just that the codec is just one part of the whole system.
Which would produce the better image? an $100 Aiptek recording to HDCAM SR or Arri D21 recording on HDV? I know which combo I would want.

The 2700 is a good and very capable camera, no doubt about that, but it has a 1280x720 front end and HD is moving more and more to 1920x1080. Will anyone accept 1280x720 in 3 or 4 years time. As has been said if you start with a good 1920x1080 front end with an HDSDi output you can add various external recording options if you find the internal recording doesn't do what you need. It may not be the perfect solution, but at least it can be done. If your stuck with a 1280x720 front end, no codec or add on recorder will ever magically turn that into a 1920x1080 camera.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #21
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I've got an EX1, latitude is about 7-stops
Well Alan Roberts, BBC R&D and many, many others would disagree with that. A well setup EX1 is quite capable of 10 stops.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 04:44 PM   #22
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Alister,

Yeah, 1080 vs. 720 should leap right out at me. Must be my lousy 1080P $7,000 projector and $2000 2:35 screen or my eyes. Same as at Varicamp, every display and every set of eyeballs was faulty!

I will read your review of the 350 in XDCAM User. So far, the only XDCAM products that have had any success in San Francisco are the EX1 and 3 models, no F330's, F350's, F335's, F355's, 700's, or 800's.

I am very happy I didn't invest in any of the disc based XDCAM HD cameras. The HDX900 is ubiquitous, very few F900R's, a few 3700's, a couple of 2700's.

10-bit is 4X better than 8-bit in gray scale--this is indisputable. 100Mbps with a new MPEG4 4:2:2 codec vs. old MPEG2 at 35Mbps VBR and 4:2:0 color space would seem to be advantageous as well, to say nothing I-Frame vs. Long GOP.

Many DP's regard Panasonic cameras as being their favorite in colorimetry, fleshtones and tonality.

Most DP's would agree that the best lenses pay dividends in image contrast, ability to resolve small detail and lack of CA, plus constant aperture, less breathing. I've never used a cheap zoom lens that didn't breathe, lose light level when zoomed in as well as get soft and lose contrast wide open.

I look forward to seeing a 350, but know that my clients would not perceive it to be on the same level as an HPX2700 P2 Varicam and would pay accordingly.

Looks like Abel-Cinetech already took delivery of a couple of 350's!

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Old December 19th, 2009, 05:07 PM   #23
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Including the EBU, BBC, Nat Geo, Discovery etc who all now want 1920x1080.

.
I just said quite a few times that the latest Discovery and BBC high end progs are on the 2700. These include the massively budgeted Frozen Planet, the new Discovery series, new BBC Africa mega series, as well as the recent Life series (which we did mostly on tape Varicam!)

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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:17 PM   #24
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10-bit is 4X better than 8-bit in gray scale--this is indisputable.
10 bit is undeniably a good thing if the compression quality is common between the two systems you're comparing. But like for like 10 bit will (as Alister has already said) need a 25% bitrate hike compared to a comparable 8 bit system.

Therefore, with a fixed bitrate, a 10 bit system will be more highly compressed than an 8 bit system, so may have more artifacting. It's quite conceivable that that will hinder any post process more than a bitdepth of 10 will help. The human eye can't notice any difference between 8 bit and 10 bit in a raw form - the advantage only comes in for 10 bit when you start to manipulate the image.

Panasonic are very keen to point out the good numbers (10 bit), but more reticent to point out the negative implications of it's implementation (higher frame compression).
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100Mbps with a new MPEG4 4:2:2 codec vs. old MPEG2 at 35Mbps VBR and 4:2:0 color space would seem to be advantageous as well, to say nothing I-Frame vs. Long GOP.
Well, MPEG4 should bring some benefits relative to MPEG2 (at the expense of complexity) as should long-GOP v I-frame, so it's swings and roundabouts. Panasonic have taken one set of trade offs, Sony have taken the other. The EBU have stated that they fully approve of both AVC-Intra 100 and XDCAM 422 for general acquisition, and that means either is good enough for me. I think Alisters quite right to say that one breaks down under one set of conditions, the other under a different set. Neither codec can sensibly be said to be better than the other.

Both are undeniably somewhat better than 35Mbs XDCAM, but.... as said before, you can't put different chips on the 2700, you can put an external recorder on the 350.

As far as camera usage goes, then any choice has to be made by taking all factors into account, looking at what's available, and seeing what ticks the most important boxes. There will inevitably be a degree of compromise, and what's appropiate for one production may not be appropriate for another. For wildlife, I'd expect off-speed capability to have quite a high significance, and at the moment that realistically means 720p working. It doesn't really surprise me that an exemption has been made in this case to rule the 2700 most suitable.

But if any camera ticked all the same boxes as the 2700 AND had 1920x1080 chips, it would likely be a different story. It will be very interesting to see what the takeup of the PMW350 by broadcasters is.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #25
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Yes David, but if the EX cameras were up to it surely they'd be used as they have off-speed capability too. So you'd then have the best of both worlds, at the flick of a switch you can shoot 1080 for 25P for scenics etc and anything else not needing slomo, then just use the 720 for overcranking. And the EX3 is smaller, lighter, much cheaper, lower power consumption, has longer lens reach - it's a no brainer, no-one would ever want a Varicam. But they do.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:40 PM   #26
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10 bit is undeniably a good thing if the compression quality is common between the two systems you're comparing. But like for like 10 bit will (as Alister has already said) need a 25% bitrate hike compared to a comparable 8 bit system.

Well, MPEG4 should bring some benefits relative to MPEG2 (at the expense of complexity) as should long-GOP v I-frame, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Both are undeniably somewhat better than 35Mbs XDCAM,
David,

You are very knowledgeable about codecs and compression, I've seen from previous posts. Please help me understand:

XDCAM 422 runs at 50Mpbs, 8-bit, 4:2:2, Long GOP, MPEG2 based. Add 25% bit rate to that for 10-bit, that's 62.5Mbps. AVC-Intra 100 has a much higher bit rate, a newer, more efficient codec, MPEG4, but is made less efficient by 10-bit and I-Frame. Isn't there still sufficiently high bit-rate to deal with the overhead of 10-bit and I-Frame? What I'm not understanding is your contending that AVC-Intra 100 frames are more compressed than XDCAM 422?

At least we agree that XDCAM EX is not the equal of either of the above.

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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #27
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The PMW-350 has full raster 1920x1080 sensors. It resolves at least 1100 tvl in both H and V with all detail enhancement off.
I intend to test this with Imatest MTF50 resolution testing software when my PMW350 arrives in January, but I remain very dubious of this claim of at least 1100 in both H and V, unless there is separate confirmation, since the U.S. Sony Pro website is only stating the resolution to be 1000 tv lines, same as EX1/3.

When I used Imatest previously to measure the EX1, it actually did resolve 1100 lines in the vertical direction, but not in the horizontal, and this was in the 24p progressive mode, not 60i interlace which had measurably reduced resolution in the vertical.

Fortunately Imatest is able to normalize the resolution measurements to a standard 2 pixel sharpening radius, thus taking the effect Detail-Off (or ON) out of the equation. Sharpening has no effect on the actual resolution, just the perceived resolution.

If you don't use MTF50 software but instead are just looking at ISO12233 charts, it is not possible to pull a number like "1100 lines" that two people can agree on, people will always read them differently. The MTF50 software has the ability to delineate the point between black and white where contrast = 50%, and that's the point where the MTF number comes from. In just eyeballing charts, it's hard to be certain within a 100-150 lines at best. I could almost guarantee that if Barry Green were doing the test, the result will not be 1100 lines, again different people will see it differently.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 12:11 AM   #28
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I'm having a similar purchase question on another camera. What I have come to terms with so far is, there seems to be no one particular camera, mid to high end that will cover all types of jobs for all media type companies. I'll give myself some advice and that is look at where my intended work is going and then look at what cameras will fit into this arena. I might shoot EX1 and the employer is happy with this as their work flow suits, but another employer wants tape, another employer wants XDCAM Disc, P2 card. Where does it stop.

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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #29
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Bring back the days of dockable camera heads! You choose the camera head you like then add the appropriate recorder for your customers.

At least with HDSDi equipped camcorders you already have several recording options like the NanoFlash, Ki-Pro or the Panasonic HPG20.

Producers or production companies that are not prepared to consider alternate codecs or workflows need to be re-educated. File based workflows mean that there is no reason to be tied to any one codec or recording technology. All the mainstream NLE's will happily mix different codecs within the timeline. Whether you choose AVC-I or XDCAM neither are good codec choices for grading or post production, for that you are better off with DNxHD, ProRes or Cineform so it really makes little difference to the workflow which acquisition codec is used. Hopefully, the production companies will come to appreciate that with the demise of tape (and the need for expensive tape decks) they no longer have to lock in to just one acquisition format which will make life easier for everyone. The same thing happened to photography. Advertising agencies used to specify specific types of film stock as that's what they were used to dealing with for scanning or enlargement. These days all that matters is that they can open the file.

Steve, as for BBC NHU progs, as you know, they have to send crews out into the field for long periods, tying up camera kits for a long time, given a choice between free cameras that do the job and cameras you have to buy or rent which would you choose? Your talking about shows already in production, the PMW-350 isn't shipping yet and possibly won't be available in quantity for a few months yet. If you take the time to read the BBC's, Discovery or Nat Geos producer guidelines you will know that they want 1920x1080. Yes they will still (for the time being) accept 720 but it's not what they want. You do seem to forget about other big budget BBC progs such as Lost Land of the Volcano which made extensive use of several EX's or Nat Geo's Endurance - Ice Patrol, again EX and XDCAM HD. And what about all the hundreds of lower budget HD shows shot using EX's? The majority of TV is not big budget wildlife shows. Very often the "bread and butter" shows are the ones shot on small budgets like Sky HD's "Road Wars", over 60 hours of prime time HD shows shot with EX1's. What about C4's use of EX3's in the drama series "Skins" or the use of XDCAM HD in "Hollyoaks". A large amount of Animal Planets output is shot using EX's.
I was on standby to shoot a programme about hurricanes for BBC Bristol this year. They wanted me to shoot using one of their old varicams. I told them this was a terrible idea as like almost any tape based camera it would almost certainly fail at some point due to condensation and moisture issues with the tape deck. I recommended that a solid state camera should be used, but no, we were going to use the varicam. Why? because they weren't prepared to pay for a different camera when they have a bunch of varicams sitting on the shelf. This isn't a case of using the appropriate tool or best tool for the job but simply a case of saving money by using what's already available. In the end we reached a compromise and it was agreed that we would also take a couple of EX's, but there were no significant Hurricanes and the shoot didn't happen.

Tom: as I said the tests we did were not in depth. As you know 1100 lpmm is about the limit for a 1920x1080 camera anyway, any more and you will run into aliasing issues, so even if it's "only" 1000 lines like the EX1/3 this is very good performance. The camera has full raster sensors so resolution will be limited by the optical LPF or lens rather than the sensors. The big deal is the noise and latitude performance where the 350 really is remarkable. It will be interesting to see your test results when you get your camera.

It is very wrong to compare the PMW-350 to the older PDW-F350. The older F350 was ground breaking when launched but was quickly overtaken by big advancements in HD sensors. Just because the F350 wasn't a massive hit doesn't mean the PMW-350 won't be successful.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:11 AM   #30
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The Discovery mega series has not started shooting yet, they've just finished ordering their gear and the 350 was already available before they made their decision. Same goes for the BBC Africa series, gearing up with 2700s but not starting shooting until next year and delivering in about 2013 I think. Both these series are being produced by former heads of the NHU (Keith Scholey and Neil Nightingale respectively), and it always amuses me when people seem to think that they're making the wrong choices and that they know better!
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