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Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old October 9th, 2008, 10:47 AM   #1
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Got my hands on F700 at Last

Just a note to say, I was at an exhibition in Edinburgh today and got my first chance to get my hands on the F700. I took along an F350, and the staff kindly set up both cameras and linked them into an HD monitor. The F700 was still on its factory settings.

My first thoughts with the limited time I had to spend on it were -

1: Not as large as I thought it might be, not too dissimilar to the F350 really - so that's something I like.
2: Viewfinder was no better than the F350 which is easy to focus with, so I was happy with that.
3: holding both cameras, one in each hand, I really did not notice any real difference in weight, so I like that.
4: Pointing both cameras at various subjects that included Greenscreen, harsh lighting, mixed lighting, very low lighting and so on, the first thing you notice is the low light capability. In general I was setting the F700 4+ stops down from the F350 with as many settings being as equal as I could get them. Very nice.
5: Noise was there, but was very very clean, really nice.
6: Depth of colour and ability to handle harsh high lighting was impressive.
7: I recorded all the scenes (2 discs) and have yet to look at the actual recorded footage but I don't expect any surprises.

The only real drawback I see from my perspective within a general commercial environment, is the need for extra battery power, and cost for disc/capture and storage. But for the larger projects then this camera definitely has our interest.

Anyone want to purchase a very nice F350? :-)

Regards, Stu.
www.studioscotland.com
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Old October 9th, 2008, 12:33 PM   #2
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Hi Stewart,
Always good to hear opinions. Must say I disagree with most of it though!!!

1) Seems to me quite a bit bigger than the 350
2) Which VF did you use? Certainly the EVF20 is a lot better than the (SD) one on the 350
3) The 700 is quite a bit heavier than the 350
4) Agree with this one, it is very sensitive - although apparently it's done with a bit of trickery, to quote another forum "The older HD cameras (HDW750, F900 etc) all have between 2 and 3 stops of overexposure range. The newer ones (HDWF900R, 790 etc) all have less than 1.5 stops overexposure range. This means that they've turned down the analogue head amp gains by 6-8dB, thuis moving 1 to 1.5 stops of headroom down into footroom, but lowering the noise floor"
5) I think the lack of noise is amazing
6) Highlight handling is about the same as the 350 I thought, maybe a bit better

Have you bought one yet? I just have, having liked the F350 workflow it seemed the next logical step. Just waiting for the v1.2 firmware with 720P.

Best wishes,
Steve
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Old October 9th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #3
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Hi Steve -

1: Strange, with both cameras side by side (our F350 had a mattebox / rails, which the F700 did not, and perhaps that's what gave a wrong impression) they looked similar - but at the end of the day it was a pleasant surprise for me.

2: I don't know what VF it was (sales chap didn't know either) but it was definitely no better than my F350, and I find the F350 one pretty good for what it is.

3: I eat lots of porridge... :-) and perhaps that's why I really could not tell the difference. Seriously though Steve. I really did not notice much between them, even with rails and box (which don't weigh that much) on the F350. Once again, for me it was a pleasant surprise, I expected it to be heavier.

4: I thought there would be some trickery going on, but it works well.

5: Yes, Very good

6: In regard to extreme highlights, skin burn out with direct spot lighting, stuff like that - yes I can get the F350 to deal with it, but not as easy and quickly as the F700. I can see being able to work in far more contrasty situations without the need to get so picky with lighting. Wide shots were much crisper.

They are on back order... I am not sure yet, very tempted. For some projects we have lined up next year I was looking at the Silicon Imaging and Red Cameras, but I do love the XDCAM HD workflow.

Congrats on your purchase, I am very keen to hear your experiences with this Steve, that was most helpful the test you did with the Endura IDX 10 - I have read some of your stuff on various lenses with this camera - have you any further info on what you have learned?

Regards: Stu
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:06 AM   #4
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I will present Sony Vegas Pro and general XDCAM HD workflows on a small Video Expo in Germany, 17th + 18th.

Ill have the opportunity to play with a 700 , so Ill compare it (weight-wise etc.) to my f330 , too...

ULI
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart Menelaws View Post
2: I don't know what VF it was (sales chap didn't know either) but it was definitely no better than my F350, and I find the F350 one pretty good for what it is.
I have to agree with Steve. The viewfinder I experienced with the 700 was MUCH better than the one on my F350. Perhaps you were seeing the low cost VF that is coming out.

-gb-
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:38 AM   #6
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Stewart, The SI-2k is a very interesting camera, I looked at it too, but it's bloody expensive for what it is. There is also this new Ikonoscop one that also looks really cool. But I tend to think that they are high-specced + relatively cheap for a reason (or reasons), and that there are good reasons why the majority use Sony/Panna regular form video cams.
Don't know if you've got RED contacts up there but Johnny at CameraSpeed has a RED for rental and might do you a demo.
I think I got a bit lucky with the PDW700 availability, placed my order and got it in 2 days. I can recommend Robert Jones at Visual Impact Northern branch, he's my local contact.
Re lenses, I'm using some HD and some SD and some stills lenses, and all look pretty good to me. I've got a Sony 750 long term for a job at mo and use the HD lens that's with that and it is better than the old SD J14 I've got but not a million miles better. My Canon 300, 500, 800 and 150-600 all look very good on it, though if I could justify buying a Canon 18x28 for myself I wouldn't hesitate, it's a cracking wildlife lens.
Steve
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Old October 10th, 2008, 03:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
There is also this new Ikonoscop one that also looks really cool. But I tend to think that they are high-specced + relatively cheap for a reason .......
For starters, the Ikonoscop is a 1920x1080 Bayer, the PDW700 uses 3 1920x1080 sensors, all of similar sizes.

I'd be pretty certain the PDW700 will give the better results.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 05:18 AM   #8
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Steve - Lenses

Greg - Perhaps it was a cheaper VF type - either that or my eyes are getting stuffed?

Steve - thanks for all the info, yes the workflow and support of standard system equipment from Sony/Pana is hard to walk away from.

In regard to HD / SD lenses - I am not very "video zoom lens" savvy so please bear with me. For a feature project we will be starting next year, I want the best zoom lens I can get on the front of the camera that can give me sharp detail in the wide shots. But of course, I don't want to spend money unnecessarily.
In my limited understanding I hear you need to spend 15 - 18 k to get the best out of the camera and in particular when viewing on a large screen. With your tests have you found this to be true? I presume for closer shots shooting certain subject matter where edge definition is not an issue, then an SD lens would be very usable - yes / no? and when talking SD lenses what sort of price barrier are we talking here?

Like yourself we have a number of high quality 35mm prime and zoom lenses, but from Nikon, and I would be interested to see what we would get out of that.

I wish had more chance to play with all this, but we are pretty starved for dealers who actually stock equipment up here, so your input is very much appreciated.


Regards, Stu.
www.studioscotland.com
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Old October 10th, 2008, 05:24 AM   #9
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Unless the Nikons are converted they won't mount on B4 cams (or are you thinking Mini35/Letus etc.), mine have Universal mounts and just mount directly.
Check my recent HD/SD lens post, can you guess which is which?
Even when you're looking at HD lenses it's difficult these days - do you need to spend 18-20k, or are the 4-6k ones good enough? If they're not then how the hell can they call them HD?
Steve
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Old October 11th, 2008, 03:12 AM   #10
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The Sony roadshow kicks off next week in Stockholm and there are events all over Europe in the coming weeks. There will be a PDW 700, 650 (HDCAM), EX1, EX3, the entire pro HDV range, F23 and tons of monitors. So if anyone wants to check out the latest Sony products side by side then that might be another opportunity.

I think the PDW-700 is considerably better than the F350 in just about every aspect. But then it should be as it is 3 times the price. I've been working my F350 very hard over the last few weeks on various corporate shoots and you know it still produces a really good image and the disc workflow is hard to beat. For me the F350 represents excellent value for money with a great workflow, but for ultimate picture quality my vote goes to the 700. having said that the picture difference between the EX3/EX1 and 700 is very, very small.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 04:34 AM   #11
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Steve / Alister - What kind of projects have you both been using the F700 for, and as F300 series users can you give the time to give your opinions working with both those cameras - the pros and cons. While your answers may come as no surprise, while I, and many others have no access to the F700 and various lens options (quality time) your experiences are much appreciated.

Alister - As you say, as a workhorse, the F300 series cameras and workflow are hard to beat for a busy company / individual.

Steve - you mentioned looking at the Silicon Imaging camera, did you choose the F700 as the alternative choice or are you still looking?

Regards, Stu
www.studioscotland.com
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Old October 11th, 2008, 05:03 AM   #12
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Don't often use my personal camera for many jobs these days as kit tends to be provided, and it's generally Varicam or Sony 750/790. I like to have a camera to pick up wildlife shots in my downtime and they then sell as archive to BBC or whoever, and I know that the 700 is acceptable to all broadcasters while the 350 is borderline.
I wanted a camera that would do 1080 as it seems that 720 is going to disappear sometime, but also wanted 50/60P, and a non-tape system, and the 700 was just about the only camera that ticked all these boxes.
I thought the SI-2K looked really nice, and the ability to use different lenses was good, plus it'll go upto 82fps I think at 1080 res. BUT when you look closer, with the Bayer sensor thing etc., you get the feeling that it'd probably struggle to be as good as a 720 Varicam let alone a 1080 camera - maybe I'm wrong. Also it's such an unknown quanitity, especially regarding who you're delivering to, they won't have a clue what you're on about. Plus it was expensive, something the RED has on it's side is it's fairly cheap at least.
Steve
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Old October 11th, 2008, 06:13 AM   #13
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Thanks for that Steve - your answers were very helpful. I suppose I am looking to hear from a busy corporate / commercial owner / user, who is involved with a wide range of shooting needs that includes international travel. Although your experiences with the equipment in question is most valuable.

While we have certain areas of our work - Doc/Feature, where we will use what ever we need to use - when purchasing kit for the company we need to obviously make as an informed decision as one can. Of course the format/equipment lines have been blurring for some time, and while some choices are obvious others need a bit more thought.

Given the economic climate, I think we will just sit for a while and watch with interest.

Regards, Stu
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Old October 11th, 2008, 07:39 AM   #14
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I own a F350, EX3 and EX1. I have used 700's on several occasions, filming airshows and doing demo's at trade shows.

As I said the F350 is a good all rounder, kind of like a Ford Mondeo. Capable, practical, acceptable performance, jack of all trades. The 700 on the other hand is a bit more sporty. It's better in low light and has a more natural looking picture. So if you need a camera for day to day shooting where picture quality is not ultra critical then seriously consider the F3** series as the cost savings over a 700 are not insignificant. However if you are looking for the best HD picture quality and you must have 2/3" lenses then the 700 should be at the top of your list.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
However if you are looking for the best HD picture quality and you must have 2/3" lenses then the 700 should be at the top of your list.
Agreeing with everything Alister says, but I'd add that the benefits of the 700 are more than simply to do with picture quality. Built in support for the new dual channel digital radio mic system, and the ability to optionally use SxS media with an adaptor for just two examples. It's a better camera than the 1/2" XDCAMs in more than just picture quality, but it should be, it's more expensive.
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