Sony PMW-EX1 vs Panasonic HVX200 shootout footage online at DVinfo.net

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Old January 4th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #1
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Sony PMW-EX1 vs Panasonic HVX200 shootout footage online

Hey Everyone,
Just wanted to give a heads up that we've posted a bunch of footage and stills from a shootout we did over the weekend between these two cameras. It's not all encompassing or completely scientific, we just put both cameras next to each other and pointed them at the same scene, with out of the box presets on both cameras. I think what we got is pretty interesting, so check it out!

Here's the link:

http://www.pairofhands.net/Ex1%20vs%...0Shootout.html
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Old January 4th, 2008, 05:15 PM   #2
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Great comparo, Matt,

This is stuff people have been waiting to see; and it's not always necessary to have studio-controlled "scientific" methods to show clear distinctions between cameras.

As anyone who's read my posts over the years knows, I've always been one of the most vocal and staunch believers/users in the HVX200 and I'll always be, but in all honesty it's hard not to be impressed with the Sony. It's certainly a step-up and away from the Z1.

It's pre-post advantages are clear: At least 1-1/2 and in certain situations as much as 2 stops more light sensitivity (which is what I found with the pre-production model) and more detail. The only other major difference between the two is the HVX has a warmer default white balance whereas the Sony is cooler, but that distinction has been the same throughout both product lines - Sony's have always had cooler default WB. That's neither here nor there because both cameras have the ability to customize the entire gamut of color/gamma/saturation output.

What's interesting is that while there is obviously more detail in the EX1 the noise characteristics aren't as drastically different as I've seen with other tests, and I'm not sure what to attribute that to.

So while this may not have been scientific or studio-controlled I'd consider this a solid comparo. Thanks for sharing, Matt and good job.
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Old January 4th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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I would like to see a shootout between the Sony EX1 and the HPX500....
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Old January 4th, 2008, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Devino View Post
Hey Everyone,
Just wanted to give a heads up that we've posted a bunch of footage and stills from a shootout we did over the weekend between these two cameras. It's not all encompassing or completely scientific, we just put both cameras next to each other and pointed them at the same scene, with out of the box presets on both cameras. I think what we got is pretty interesting, so check it out!
Hi Matt,
Great work, I believe that to get the best images that suit your needs, (for your market) you have to look in the price bracket that provides you with the best "bang for buck", I currently have a Sony DSR570 and a Panasonic SPX800. No doubt there are many shooters that will use these smaller cams as you have tested and will make their own purchasing decisions.
It comes down to , the look you/your clients want, the more you pay the more you get.
In my experience the Current Panasonic's have more realistic image quality than the Sony, i've owned many Sonys from U-mats to SVHS,Beta/SP then the smaller DV'c to DVCam , I recently moved to the Panasonic because of bang for Buck, and the image Quality my clients demand. not to mention the P2 format V tape/ Disc and even HDD on camera.
I only wish everyone would make SDI in/out as a standard fitting on everything video, there's too many connections and too many formats out there IMO.
Cheers
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Old January 5th, 2008, 03:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
At least 1-1/2 and in certain situations as much as 2 stops more light sensitivity (which is what I found with the pre-production model)
How are you measuring that? I just spent a day and a half with both cameras, and I put up my charts and used a waveform monitor and, when both cams are set to render the image comparably (meaning same basic gamma, same recording format, same shutter speed, same everything) the EX1 has a 1/2-stop sensitivity advantage. Not 1.5, certainly not two stops, but half of one stop. I was surprised as anyone, but now I understand why Adam Wilt said it was about ISO 320 -- because it is.

Now, if you want to add in gain to equate the noise levels (because the Sony is a lot cleaner) then yes, I could see your point; you could go to 6dB and have about the same noise level, and then you'd have a 1.5-stop advantage. But without gaining up, no way -- it's 1/2 stop faster.

Quote:
What's interesting is that while there is obviously more detail in the EX1 the noise characteristics aren't as drastically different as I've seen with other tests, and I'm not sure what to attribute that to.
There's a lot more detail in the EX1 picture, and less noise -- it has that "looking through a window" quality to it, at least on static shots. Moving shots, it loses a lot of fine detail (not due to the codec, not due to motion blur, but I think it's due to the active noise reduction). Noise is less, about 6dB to 9dB, I'm not quite sure which.

Sharper? Yep. Faster? Yes, some. Rolling shutter issues, yep. Skew? Yep. Wobble? Yep. Partial exposure? Yep.

But there are some things you don't see in a still-frame comparison -- like the fact that if you want to play a clip back on the HVX, you have about a 1.5 or 2-second wait. On the EX1, it's 14 seconds. 14 SECONDS. And to get back to camera mode, it's 2 seconds on the HVX, and 11 seconds on the EX1. That's a huge hit to take in the middle of your workflow; if you decide to check on a clip, you're at least 25 seconds away from being able to make another shot. I don't know how ENG guys are gonna like that.

Other things -- stupid things -- like the Mic sticking out about two inches past the front of the lens. How are you going to mount a mattebox? I tried to put my Vocas on, it wouldn't even get near the lens. And if you do put a mattebox on, how would you get at the filters? No way could you use top-loading filters, you'd have to buy a side-loading mattebox. And handheld ergonomics? It's *impossible* to hand-hold that EX1 with one hand, you *must* use two. I can't see how anyone could use the EX1 with one hand for more than a few seconds. Just not possible.

There are lots of pluses and minuses to each product, a prospective buyer is just going to have to determine which "pluses" matter most to them, and which "minuses" they aren't concerned about.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 03:03 AM   #6
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I would like to see a shootout between the Sony EX1 and the HPX500....
Why? You're talking about a $6500 handheld fixed-lens camcorder versus a $20,000 (with lens) 2/3" interchangeable-lens broadcast camera with four XLRs, TC IN/OUT, and all that goes with it. I can't fathom what customer would possibly be wanting to choose between those two products.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 05:56 AM   #7
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How are you measuring that?........when both cams are set to render the image comparably (meaning same basic gamma, same recording format, same shutter speed, same everything) the EX1 has a 1/2-stop sensitivity advantage.

Now, if you want to add in gain to equate the noise levels (because the Sony is a lot cleaner) then yes, I could see your point; you could go to 6dB and have about the same noise level, and then you'd have a 1.5-stop advantage. But without gaining up, no way -- it's 1/2 stop faster.
But if you're comparing two camera sensitivities, then surely "same everything" SHOULD include noise levels? For exactly the reasons pro camera sensitivities are quoted something like "2000lux, f8, S/N 52dB". The first two figures there imply the ASA rating by themselves, but that's easily changed by varying the gain, the S/N figure then itself changing.

For a given level of noise that a user finds just acceptable, it sounds like the EX will indeed be 1.5-2 stops faster than an HVX for anybody working in low light situations. In this respect, the comparison 12dB gain up images in the original link are worth comparing.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 07:53 AM   #8
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We all know HVX202 is noisy at low light. Compared with Sony EX1 - the image is cleaner on the Sony. However, if I put the HVX202 video through the Neat Video filter to get rid of the noise, is the final product still comparable with Sony EX1 at the same camera setting?
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Old January 5th, 2008, 08:52 AM   #9
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I really hate any web-based comparo thread; the moment anyone has an opinion one way or the other it introduces controversial and less-than-productive commentary. And my initial response about this thread seemed to have opened up pandoras box of email commentary, both pro and con.

So let me simplify and clarify a few things about my original commentary:

From the perspective of a cameraman, I like the Sony. It has nice controls, nice displays and does it's job of *acquisition* as well as any of the sub-10k handheld-HD cams. And it does have that Sony "looks a bit like video" sharpness to it, which by itself isn't always a bad thing - especially for sports.

But the caveat with the EX1 - indeed any HDV/XDCAM camera is that it's still 4:2:0 color and long-GOP format, which both have serious implications in post. And if that weren't the case, then Apple wouldn't have spent millions on it's proprietary Intermediate Codec (AIC), AJA/Apple wouldn't have created ProRes 422 and the AJA IO, Cineform, Convergent Design and a host of others wouldn't have created ways of converting long-GOP and into an "I-frame" codec. Why Sony want's to stick with long-GOP for the XDCAM line and not give it HDCAM is beyond me - and I really couldn't care less.

So while I like the Sony for what it is, I would still not recommend it over the 200 or any other Panny camera for the simple fact that all Panny cameras (pro market) are using the best possible codec that's currently available. And who knows, maybe the next iteration of the HVX200 will even allow AVC-Intra, which will take things so far beyond what XDCAM is capable of it will be a no-contest scenario.

You guys can enjoy debating the technical weaknesses between the two cameras - knock yourselves out - but the simple fact is, that just like every other piece of equipment on the planet, each device has it's pro's and it's cons. Pick the device that fits your budget, your needs and gets the support backing from it's manufacturer. For me and my money, that's been a solely Panasonic thing for almost 6 years, and for good reason.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Barry Green View Post
Why? You're talking about a $6500 handheld fixed-lens camcorder versus a $20,000 (with lens) 2/3" interchangeable-lens broadcast camera with four XLRs, TC IN/OUT, and all that goes with it. I can't fathom what customer would possibly be wanting to choose between those two products.
Well start to "fathom" it. I am a customer who is deciding between the two. An HPX500 with lens can cost around $14k - $15k. $20k maybe at retail or if you're getting a crap deal.

The issues is here that it's really the next step up from an EX1 price wise. Have you seen a camera out there that can be acquired for $10k - $12k that is HD and is a step up? I Haven't. So logically, if I want to get something more than the EX1 has to offer, what else would I be looking at?
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Old January 5th, 2008, 12:08 PM   #11
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For what use though? That's what I don't get -- I mean, are you saying that the form factor and interchangeable lenses and all that stuff don't matter to you? If so, ... well, okay, but I would suspect that you'd be in the minority of customers looking for that type of product. I don't often encounter people who would consider two such radically different products, at such extremely different price points. It's like comparing a pickup truck to a motorcycle, they do very different jobs (even though yes, technically both are personal transportation vehicles). The differences are so extreme as to usually make one or the other the obvious choice for the job you need done.

You're talking about a $6500 rolling-shutter 1/2" CMOS handheld two-channel long-GOP 4:2:0 fixed-lens HD-only camcorder, vs. a $20,000 2/3" CCD interchangeable-lens 4-XLR shoulder-mount intraframe HD/SD camcorder. It's like they have pretty much nothing in common, other than that they're both camcorders and they're both HD.

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An HPX500 with lens can cost around $14k - $15k. $20k maybe at reatil or if you're getting a crap deal.
That's about $5,000 less than I've seen it listed anywhere else. I was quoting B&H package pricing when I said $20k -- and that was the cheapest of their packages (which I guess they don't offer anymore...) What kind of lens are you talking about? Where can you get a complete kit for $14k?
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Old January 5th, 2008, 12:11 PM   #12
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But if you're comparing two camera sensitivities, then surely "same everything" SHOULD include noise levels?
But without quoting the s/n ratio it makes comparing that quite difficult. And noise affects each differently. So should you include noise levels? Probably, which is why I did. But if you just quote 'em as noise-compensated, then someone else is going to come along and say that they tested it and got entirely different results. There's no real way to satisfy everyone here.

If you took 'em both outside and pointed 'em at the same scene, at 0dB, the EX1 is going to stop down 1/2 stop more than the HVX. That's the obvious, easy-to-see distinction. If you're comfortable leaving your EX1 permanently in 6dB of gain, you could see a stop of increased response. I didn't test to see if using gain impacted the dynamic range at all. If there's no drawback (other than a little bit of noise) then maybe that's what you'd want to do. But for those who don't want to do that, I quoted 0dB comparisons.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #13
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As somebody who just invested $25k last year in an F350, it appears to me the resolution and sensitivity of the EX1 is just as good, possibly better. I know I prefer the way the CMOS sensors on the EX1 go into clip MUCH better. Bums me out a little, but the EX1 *is* almost 2 years newer. Things move fast round these parts.

CMOS sensors are a new ball game; for a given size they sure seem superior to CCDs.

Anyway, speaking on picture quality alone (and not usability issues between full size and the EX1), I'm not wondering how the EX1 can compete with the HPX.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #14
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For what use though? That's what I don't get -- I mean, are you saying that the form factor and interchangeable lenses and all that stuff don't matter to you? If so, ... well, okay, but I would suspect that you'd be in the minority of customers looking for that type of product. I don't often encounter people who would consider two such radically different products, at such extremely different price points. It's like comparing a pickup truck to a motorcycle, they do very different jobs (even though yes, technically both are personal transportation vehicles). The differences are so extreme as to usually make one or the other the obvious choice for the job you need done.
We do event production, advertising and some corporate training videos and documentary style films. The form factor does matter to us as we have always had shoulder mounted cameras, but the price and features of the EX1 are very enticing. Thyat's why we are even considering the EX1. Interchangeable lenses are not a huge concern. If we went with the HPX500's, we would probably get the lower end lenses anyways and rarely change them. Obviously, the EX1 has a fixed lens, but it seems to be comperable to some of the lower end interchangeable lenses anyways. But at least it's a "real" lens with similar controls to that of ENG lenses.

We need a camera that is going to be versitile - able to handle the wide range of projects that we are doing. We're not made of money as most people and companies are not, so we were looking at the EX1 as a very viable solution to save money and allow us to get more cameras up front.

As different as you make the two cameras sound, Bill, in all reality, they have a lot in common. Other than interchangeable lenses, form factor, chip size, etc, all of that can be adapted into a good workflow either way that you go. Yes, they both shoot video and both do HD, which is what we need. We do not have incredibly demanding customers that require certain cameras, otherwise we would be looking on a much higher scale.

But with all of that said, what do YOU think the next step up from an EX1 would be? In my opinion, you'd be looking at a full size XDCAM or going to the HPX500. It's that simple. We had JVC for awhile, which was fine, but shooting 25mbs to tape is obviously not where the future is headed and presents a lot of scalabiity problems.

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Originally Posted by Barry Green View Post
You're talking about a $6500 rolling-shutter 1/2" CMOS handheld two-channel long-GOP 4:2:0 fixed-lens HD-only camcorder, vs. a $20,000 2/3" CCD interchangeable-lens 4-XLR shoulder-mount intraframe HD/SD camcorder. It's like they have pretty much nothing in common, other than that they're both camcorders and they're both HD.
I fully understand that there are going to be differences in the camera. What we are concerned with is image quality at 1080p. Period. We can adapt to the workflow as you have to with most new camera purchases these days. But we need to shoot, edit and deliver in 1080p for 90% of our projects with our advertising systems. So what I am trying to find out is what the image quality is comparitively between the 2 cameras. They both use very different methods of achieving the same thing, and I don't think it's an absurd question.


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That's about $5,000 less than I've seen it listed anywhere else. I was quoting B&H package pricing when I said $20k -- and that was the cheapest of their packages (which I guess they don't offer anymore...) What kind of lens are you talking about? Where can you get a complete kit for $14k?
Look, Sony markets and labels this camera as a "Cinealta" camera. If they are claiming that it's going to be up in a higher class of cameras as far as imaging goes, what's so bad about comparing them to a higher class of cameras? I see everyone always comparing the EX1 to the HVX200, or the Canon XL-H1, which I will agreee are in the same price classification, but I want to know about image quality, plain and simple.

As far as getting the HPX500 for $14kish, If you do your homework, the deals are out there. I'm talking Body and lens only. Obviously a battery is going to add to the cost, as will it with the Sony. P2 Cards are priced about the same as SxS cards, so there won't be much difference there.

The point to all of this is, if I want to take the next step up, it looks like the HPX500 is the way to go. But I want to be convinced of why I should go either route. Will the image quality of the EX1 be just about as good as the HPX500? I don't know. That's why I am asking.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 05:22 PM   #15
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But without quoting the s/n ratio it makes comparing that quite difficult. And noise affects each differently.

If you took 'em both outside and pointed 'em at the same scene, at 0dB, the EX1 is going to stop down 1/2 stop more than the HVX. That's the obvious, easy-to-see distinction.
Yes, but the point I was trying to make is that one shouldn't then draw the conclusion that this means the EX is therefore 1/2 stop more sensitive than the HVX. An inherent sensitivity improvement can translate into a higher ASA rating for a given gain setting, and/or a lower base noise figure. What you describe only shows up the former.

I also agree that measuring noise figures numerically is difficult without sophisticated equipment (and yes, "noise affects each differently") but it's easy enough to take each camera into a darkish room, add gain until an equivalent amount of degradation is present in each case, then see how the relative apertures compare, or how well exposed if both are wide open - and this seems to have more real world relevance in terms of relative sensitivities than ASA ratings at 0dB. Not very scientific, maybe, but should give a reasonable idea how they would compare on a shoot in low light levels.

In practical terms, what Robert originally described (1.5-2 stops difference) seems typical of what most people have found.
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