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Old November 3rd, 2009, 12:48 PM   #1
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Trade-In for F800 or Nano?

I am putting this question in this thread because I am particularly looking for advice from PDW700/F800 - Nanoflash users.

I am in talks regarding shooting a feature for theatrical release, and while the prevailing thoughts were to use a RED package, I am keen to shoot quite a bit of it with XDCAMHD 422 and possibly an F23, and here lies some questions.

1: As a PDW-700 owner I am thinking about trading it in for the F800 but I am wondering whether the CD Nanoflash would be a better option. I still have a number of 700 projects unfinished and need/wish to retain XDCAM HD 422 as a workhorse in our studio.

2: Under and over cranking is one possible feature needed (it may not), I don’t foresee using any adapter so the image flip is possibly not an issue.

3: The extra 50mbs of the Nano, does it really make much of a difference for mid/CU shots where I may be using filters to soften the image a little anyway? Course; perhaps on the big screen it may very well make a difference?

4: Colour grading will play a big part, but I see that everything will be edited into an uncompressed timeline.

5: I want spontaneity, and do not want extraneous cables or clumsy methods of working, which in the past I have never liked working with hard drives attached.

6: The focus peaking feature in the F800 may prove very helpful in tracking some movement as opposed to measuring everything off for the focus puller?

Any thoughts, advice much appreciated…


Best: Stu
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 05:53 PM   #2
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Stu,

With respect to item #3, have you not tried using the 3 level skin detail on the 700 for selectively softening the talent?

You'll benefit most from a higher data rate of the Nanoflash on higher motion shots. That's where an encoder can get overwhelmed at low bit rates (it has to throw away something to stay within the maximum data rate). Hence, motion artifacts can creep in.

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Old November 4th, 2009, 04:13 AM   #3
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Greg – thank you for your reply,

#3: I have played with various on-board menu settings in some HD cameras and personally do not feel comfortable with that approach. However, I have not tried this function in the 700 so I could not make any comment, but it is something I will test. As a studio photographer used to working with razor sharp 5”x4” sheet film and magnifying loupes, I have spent many years working with filters, softening images without reducing detail. Of course this approach requires careful control of light but it is my way to control my environment to suit.

100mbs: While this is not an action movie, the extra data helping with quick movement is certainly a consideration – I will bear that one in mind.

Any further thoughts would be most welcome.

Best: Stu
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Old November 4th, 2009, 07:23 AM   #4
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So Stewart, you're joining the ranks of those who bought a 700 only to have the 800 materialise shortly after and make you regret your purchase - you're not alone!
Obviously the main choice is whether you want discs or cards - it's a very different matter, I found out when I traded my 700 for a Varicam 2700 - make room for lots of hard drives!
Hard to say whether the 700s 720/60 mode is better than the 800s half vertical res 1080 slow motion as I don't know anyone that's tried it - and you'd have to look at it after the transmission chain too to see if there are any issues with the half res 800 footage. But pixel-wise they add up to about the same.
As for the data rate, you have to assume that 50 mb/s is OK as it's been fully approved by just about everyone, and notably the EBU. I wouldn't have thought that it'd be a massive issue, but the extra data rate can't hurt.
In terms of cables etc., from what I can tell the Nano is very compact and can mount on the back of an IDX battery, just connected to the SDI with a short cable - it can then be left permamently attached.
Tricky one really.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:07 AM   #5
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I regularly use my NanoFlash on the back of my PDW-700 recording at 100 Mb/s. The 100 Mb/s footage has less mosquito noise which means you can grade it harder before it starts to de-grade. It's not a massive difference, but it's certainly there. Once connected up to the camera the nano is pretty much fit and forget, I always record to disc as well so even if something were to go wrong with the Nano I still have the clips on a disc.

When I have used F800's the focus assist has proved useful and is very nice, but it isn't a deal breaker not having it on my 700. The 1080P half res overcrank from the F800 on a big monitor looks sharper to me than comparable 720P overcrank from an EX1 or EX3. You can of course shoot at 1080i on a 700 and then split out the fields to get a half res 50% slow down, but that is fiddly.

If it wasn't for the optical disc workflow, of which I am a big fan, I would be trading in my 700 for one of the new PMW-350's. I would bolt a NanoFlash on to the back of that and shoot at 100 Mb/s. The 350 would also give me the ability to overcrank, has a colour viewfinder and very clean, virtually noise free images. I still have not ruled out getting a 350, it's a great camera.

A PDW-700 recording to a nanoflash at 100 Mb/s or higher will give you better images than a PDW-F800 at standard frame rates. There will be an option to do overcrank with the nanoflash in a firmware release some time in the near future.

There are so many choices and options at the moment, all of which will give excellent pictures. As much as anything the decision may well come down to your preferred workflow, optical disc or memory card?
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Old November 4th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, appreciate your points –

Steve:

I definitely do not regret the 700 purchase, we needed the camera and it paid for itself within a month, it’s used on a variety of projects. Our recent Middle East footage is fabulous; the panoramas over Jerusalem are some of the best images I have seen of this iconic view from a 2/3” video camera. From a commercial point of view I was sold on XDCAM HD optical disc 2 years ago, quite simply it’s excellent.

It will be interesting to see what over/under cranking features will become available with the Nano – hopefully it won’t be long.

Alistair:

Regarding focus: As I mentioned I am looking to work very quickly on this film project, almost documentary style but I find focusing tricky at times with the 700. For a number of projects we use a focus puller and that is fine for certain types of work but I am trying to free myself up and save on production time, the improved focus feature on the F800 interested me – but you feel perhaps it may not be that great a deal?

To trade the PDW-700 in for an F800 is an additional £13,500k + vat and £17,350k + vat with a trade up to include the colour viewfinder. The Nano Flash certainly appears to be worth looking at.

As I said in my first post, I am involved in a number of film projects for theatrical release and the camera system of choice was the RED. However, very long story short, I am keen to use the XDCAMHD 422 cameras and workflow. While I have used the 700 for a whole range of subject matter and I am pleased with the image quality I don’t think it will cope with the wider shots for the big screen and I am looking to bring something in better suited – I do not have budgets yet but the RED may be the main camera, and or an F23.

Alistair: Have you seen your Nano/700 footage on a large screen (sure I read somewhere you did?) up against larger camera formats – RED/F23/35mm Film

I see there is a link in another thread to someone shooting a feature on the F800 but there is nothing to read, which is a pity.

If anyone has any further thoughts I would very much like to hear them…

Regards: Stu
www.studioscotland.com
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Old November 4th, 2009, 04:55 PM   #7
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I have no experience with Nanoflash, but have just upgraded my 700 to an F800.
Of the 2 F800 features you mention Stu, I'd consider them both useful additions.
Focus assist in my mind appears not to be the be all and end all. Following my limited tests so far I'd put it more in the 'useful additional tool category'. It seems to be limited to reading sharpest point in the center 1/8 or so of the frame. So subjects framed off to the side would not be read during a shot. I can't imagine it being much use in maintaining absolute sharps in a tracking shot - but it would often tell you you've lost it before you realise same with a lower res viewfinder.
Regarding overcranking, the F800 appears to deliver a significantly better pictures than retimed and upconverted 720p footage from the 700. BUT I have noticed that it suffered in a shot with fine diagonal detail. (ie moving oars in a wide shot of a rower on a lake). The long skinny oars exhibited quite a significant sawtooth artifact - which I guess comes as a result of the 540 pixel horizontal resolution.
Peter
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Old November 4th, 2009, 05:39 PM   #8
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Peter, have you actually done a comparison of PDW700 720P vs PDW800 1/2 res overcranked?
I'd be very interested in any real observations anyone has.
Steve
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Old November 4th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #9
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Stu, here are my answers to your questions:

1: As a PDW-700 owner I am thinking about trading it in for the F800 but I am wondering whether the CD Nanoflash would be a better option. I still have a number of 700 projects unfinished and need/wish to retain XDCAM HD 422 as a workhorse in our studio.

I don't think the Nanoflash can possibly be a deal breaker to please your clients. As good as it is and easy to use, I still forsee a few issues with it such as file management especially on the client end. 50mbps MPEG-2 4:2:2 looks very good in most situations and personally, I am now much more interested in larger, better sensors and shallow depth of field than higher bitrates. As a first step, I just hope someone comes out with a compact B4/35mm lens adaptor combo that does not require the bulky optical image inverter typically use on those systems.

2: Under and over cranking is one possible feature needed (it may not), I don’t foresee using any adapter so the image flip is possibly not an issue.

Over/Under crank is really nice for wildelife, sports and anything that moves but I found myself not using this feature that much. As an alternative, the fluid motion algorythms on AVIDs can do a pretty darn good job even on footage shot at 1X speed.

3: The extra 50mbs of the Nano, does it really make much of a difference for mid/CU shots where I may be using filters to soften the image a little anyway? Course; perhaps on the big screen it may very well make a difference?

I think for theatrical stuff and mid/CU, there is very little if any to gain to go above 50mbps

4: Colour grading will play a big part, but I see that everything will be edited into an uncompressed timeline.

I work for Nat Geo headquarters in DC and they have no trouble color grading XDCAM 50 4:2:2.

5: I want spontaneity, and do not want extraneous cables or clumsy methods of working, which in the past I have never liked working with hard drives attached.

Same here. Even a wireless receiver attached outside the camera can drive me crazy. I love well integrated and streamlined systems and that is why I equipped my F800 with Sony's dual channel digital audio wireless system.

6: The focus peaking feature in the F800 may prove very helpful in tracking some movement as opposed to measuring everything off for the focus puller?

I have been a bit desapointed with this feature, it works well in interlace modes, not too well in progressive modes. Also, the F800/700 viewfinder is so good (HDVF-20A) that I just trust it 100% for both, focusing and exposure.

Best,

Thierry.
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Last edited by Thierry Humeau; November 5th, 2009 at 07:52 AM.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 11:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
Peter, have you actually done a comparison of PDW700 720P vs PDW800 1/2 res overcranked?
I'd be very interested in any real observations anyone has.
Steve
The observations in my previous post are made following tests directly comparing XDCam422 720/50p re-timed and up converted to 1080, against results from the F800 overcrank function.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 03:57 AM   #11
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Thanks Peter, and have you seen it once it's gone through processing and compression for transmission - I wondered if the half res would start to break down then? No reason to think it would, just wouldn't want to look at it in post and think it's OK only to see it disintegrate on trnasmission.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 10:34 AM   #12
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Peter / Thierry

Thanks for all your comments, they have been helpful.

I am meeting with the director shortly and will propose a screening test with the 700, dummy up a number of scenes in the film and see what we see. Of course lens choice is another factor and I would be looking to hire in some nice glass.

I am now fairly comfortable that I see no need to purchase the F800 – particularly if it ends up as a b-roll camera. For our workhorse duties, doco/corporate work, the 700 is quite capable.

If anyone has done a theatrical with a 700/800 please do chip in.

Regards: Stu
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Old November 5th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Stewart Menelaws View Post
Peter / Thierry
If anyone has done a theatrical with a 700/800 please do chip in.
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Hi Stu

I've done 35mm filmouts with the 700 and the camera and codec were fine. I think a filmout is less demanding than a good 1080 HD monitor.

I can't see that the 800 would bring any more in terms of picture quality.

What let down my footage was the quality of the glass. I had to use an HJ11 due to the shooting style and it wasn't great. I was wide open for a lot of it though, so I was pushing my luck a bit. Digi Primes or similar would be far better.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mike Marriage View Post
Hi Stu

I've done 35mm filmouts with the 700 and the camera and codec were fine. I think a filmout is less demanding than a good 1080 HD monitor.

I can't see that the 800 would bring any more in terms of picture quality.

What let down my footage was the quality of the glass. I had to use an HJ11 due to the shooting style and it wasn't great. I was wide open for a lot of it though, so I was pushing my luck a bit. Digi Primes or similar would be far better.
I agree with everything that Mike says, especially the fact that filmout or projection is less demanding than a big monitor. I've seen my 700 material projected at several trade events, often in between clips or shorts shot on Red, F35 or Arri D21. To be honest there is little difference between any of them. Being frank, when projected the EX1 holds up very well too.

One point to note is that the F23 uses the same sensors as the PDW-700 so shooting on an F23 isn't going to give you a massive difference in picture quality. Indeed a 700 with a NanoFlash is going to give you something very close to an F23 recording to SR.

There is a big difference in noise levels between 100Mb/s and 50Mb/s footage. The NanoFlash footage is much cleaner. I don't like external boxes either, but the difference in picture quality makes using the NanoFlash worth while. I don't use it just for effect, I use it because it makes a visible difference to my finished programmes.

The NanoFlash workflow with FCP is very straight forward, easier than XDCAM HD as you can record the files as .mov's.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #15
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Mike – Thanks for chipping in, I am keen to hear a bit more detail…

1: Can I ask, what exactly was the project(s) you went to film out with, and was this for cinema release? If so what size of screens did you view this/these project(s)?

2: Is there a reason you think that a film out is perhaps visually more pleasing than HD projection? Or would that be a matter of the stylisation of the project itself, which may suit a sharper look on a digital projector?

If you don’t mind, I have other questions, but they will depend on the reply to the above.

Alister – Was just about to post this, and then you added your post…

1: That is very interesting about your thoughts on the F23 / 700+ Nano – I agree that the 700 while a very clean image maker can be unhappily noisy under certain circumstances. I must read your page on Digi Primes again.

2: With the 700 – with or without the Nano combination, have you gone film out for anything?


Best: Stu
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