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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old November 28th, 2010, 10:29 AM   #46
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Hi Steve,

I appreciate Dan's input, and that it is also from a producers an editors who are clients.

Having owned the PMW-350 and then an F800 I have to say the F800 is a different picture all together. The CCD is better at latitude in certain conditions I shot. The 350 is also excellent, just different. There are F800 owners I know who don't like the 2/3" CMOS look at all, and there are CMOS owners that don't like the CCD look, such as Dan and his clients. Nice to have the choices. But for the dollars put out the 350 is an amazing camera, a big step up from the EX1/3. If all of your clients will pay the extra daily rate for the F800, PMW500 (I would not buy a 700 with out over-cranking) then go for it, but that is a lot extra per day cost. And it is the client we are trying to please..
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Old November 30th, 2010, 08:01 AM   #47
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Yes, for the price the PMW350 seems amazing, never doubted that. I just think it's an odd thing to say that it's CMOS chip blows the 500's CCDs away, I can't believe that's true seeing as it's the same as that in the immensely highly-regarded 700 and 800.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 08:29 AM   #48
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Steve I agree for the price it seems like a great camera. But it does not compare to the F800 chip set. The XDCAM CCD does out perform the XDCAM CMOS in everything but low light. That I tested and found out, but you pay a price for the CCD. I have not shot with the 500 and see only the S&S card difference, problem is you still pay a lot of money. Would have sold 10x if they added the 350 VF and had it out for the same as the 350 with out a lens.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 08:55 AM   #49
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Sound about right to me.
The other big difference to me at least is that the 500 will do BOTH 1080 and 720, so you sort of get the 2 Varicams in one package, allowing 720 1-60fps when you need slomo and full res 1080 1-30fps when you you don't. It's very appealing. A producer I work with a lot has told me that on the last series I did which we used HDW750, PDW700 and HPX2700 he thought the PDW700 were "by far the best" even the 720/50P conformed to 25P for slomo. I've pointed him in the direction of the 500.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #50
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It does sound like the 500 is a great camera with the CCD block.

Nice to hear the producer saw the difference in the nice XDCAM CCD block, it really has amazing latitude. Now if they would lower the 500 cost with 350 VF.

Are you looking at the 500? I know you sold your 2700. I would think a used 700 might be lower then the 500 if you prefer optical which a lot of people do.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 12:06 PM   #51
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No, definitely decided not to buy any more cameras for a while! But am pointing clients in the direction of the 500 as for wildlife it looks like a real contender - low power consumption means less/lighter batteries too, and has pre record, slomo, plus super 1080 chip too, ticks a lot of boxes, at least until we get proper 1080/60P.
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Old December 1st, 2010, 08:25 AM   #52
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Agree it looks like a nice choice, still wish they would offer it with the PMW-350's VF for under 20K.

How about the F3, that should be great for Wildlife shooting?
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Old December 1st, 2010, 08:58 AM   #53
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No, 'cos it's full frame so you lose all your lens power. Also only 35 mb/s codec - what's that all about?! Viewfinder looks EX1ish too, ie rubbish. Get the feeling folks might buy the F3 and then add loads of kit to it like they do with DSLRs - Nanoflash, monitor etc.?
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Old December 1st, 2010, 09:14 AM   #54
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Steve, Paul,

Okay, maybe "blows away" is bit over the top. For me, I simply like the image that Sony CMOS sensors produce. They're much quieter than CCDs and more light sensitive. I also believe they have a slighter improvement on color depth too. I also think the EX record format may have a bit of an edge over XDCAM or maybe it's the matrix being use on this series. Granted the F900 is older technology and if the guy shooting with the F900 was using standard gamma settings, you could make just about any HD camera look better. I haven't seen the footage side by side yet but will give you a report once I do..... I think the purpose of the 500 was to fills the gap created by the 350 which is 4:2:2 50mbps and file based memory recording and still be backward compatible with the 700 & F800 guys work-flow and image quality. Now that Sony has released the 500 I'm hoping they'll offer a 4:2:2 50mbps upgrade for the 350. Not going to hold my breath though!

My Scene file for the 350 & 320 for general use with detail setting a bit higher on the 320
Master Black - 3 to -15 depending on subject matter
Gamma on, Gamma table 2 or 4
Black Gamma - 30 (increase for more detail in blacks)
Detail - 8 to - 15
Low Key Saturation + 4
all other settings default

Interesting note. My 350 came preset to standard gamma where as the 320 was preset to gamma table 2. The demo model Sony lent me (preset to standard gamma) looked great in the view finder but was really flat once viewed on screen. I'd be interests to find out what the newer 350s are preset to. Setting the gamma to 2 or 4 and lowering the Master black to taste is a quick way to get the camera looking pretty good.
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Old December 1st, 2010, 10:18 AM   #55
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Steve,
I am sure owners will add loads of gear to the F3. Convergent Designs and AJA are both smiling. I do have interest in the F3 for my doc work. Nice to see great footage coming from the AF100 off native codec. This just out today.

Dan,
Not trying to question your opinion. CMOS just keep getting better and better and I have no doubt you are getting great results. I am still looking at the 350 for my eng camera. But for me I would have to use my Nano, or the Ki Pro Mini which I would like to test. I like the Ki Pro Mini taking advantage of the 350 SDI out, 10 bit 422, using ProRes HQ (220Mb/s). This is an excellent feature when shooting for HD broadcast, which is what I would be doing with the camera.

350 at native 50Mb/s 422 would be a nice upgrade, but like you say don't hold your breath with the 500 just out.

Very nice of you to post your PP. I plan on testing a 350 again and will use your settings as one on the list of PP's.
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Old December 1st, 2010, 11:55 AM   #56
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Dan finally checked out your site. Nice work!
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 12:27 PM   #57
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PMW350 Likes and Dislikes

This is a great thread, and have enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. (Sorry for the long post; I tend to get a bit long-winded.)

I finally made the leap from an old BetaSP rig (Sony BVP-550) with Canon lens to the new-fangled world of high-def and SxS cards. That last camera was 35 thousand, and I wasn't about to spend that kind of money again, especially in this economy. When shopping around, I was seriously considering the Panasonic HPX 500 but it did not shoot 1080p, only 1080i. It was already a 5 year old camera, and just didn't feel comfortable with investing in "old" technology right out of the box. However, I did like the option of buying a camera and lens separately, something that was not a good economic option with the PMW350 and it's stock lens.

But for the money, the 350 was a good fit, especially considering that I generally only shoot corporate stuff anyway. Yes, I was ringing my hands about the 35Mbs rate and the CCD vs CMOS thing, but heck, my clients wouldn't be able to notice the difference anyway....and I'm not entirely sure I would either. I guess I can always add a Nano if it makes that much of a difference to a client.

At the time, Panasonic had a generous trade-in option on my Beta rig, and, another highly-respected shooter here in town was seriously suggesting I get into a VariCam, but doing so was going to be another 12 grand for a lens even after the trade-in. I simply felt that was too much camera for my type of clientele, and I'd rather use that 10 grand on something else......such as a new Power Mac (which I also got).

For the most part, I've been very happy with the image quality of the 350....sure beats what I've been looking at for the past decade. I've already done 2 paid shows with the camera and 2 freebies just for practice. I am also intrigued by some of the custom settings that are out there...I haven't tried any of them out just yet. Despite what we all do as videographers to make our signal quality the best it can be, we have no control over that kind of monitor it will be seen on, and how well that monitor is set up (of course, that's no reason not to strive for the best). But at the same time, CRT monitor adjustments are becoming a thing of the past as most HD players and screens are automatically adjusted for optimum picture quality. (another issue is that of clients inability to sent out BD vs DVD to prospects).

The only REAL problem I experienced with my 350 w/ stock Fuji lens was the lack of space between the lens and the big-honking color viewfinder. I always had plenty of room with my old Canon and it's B&W VF, and operating the lens rings and zoom rocker was a snap. But with this 350, it was almost a deal breaker. I still find the switch for auto/manual iris on the lens to be too far forward to reach with my right hand while on shoulder.

But on sticks, the only way to operate the zoom control is with your left hand through the space between lens and VF, and you need to do so without accidentally bumping the iris or focus rings. Maybe you guys don't have a problem with this, or maybe I'm just a big guy with big hands, but this was serious. After studying the demo camera for awhile, I determined I could make a bracket that raised the VF up by one inch.....so with that in mind, I bought the camera. And the one-inch bracket has made all the difference in the world. I can now operate my lens at speed without taking my eye away from the eye-piece.

I've made a couple of newbie mistake while shooting, mostly too much display info in the VF, covering a poorly dressed cable or something sticking in the frame that I didn't see. I absolutely DO NOT miss changing tapes every 28 minutes, and having three 32-gig SXS cards gives me plenty of record time, even during the heaviest of shooting schedules. And with the low cost of external drives, archiving clients clips is really not an issue (I just bought a 2Tb HD at Fry's electronics for $69...man that's cheap!). And the camera is so much lighter than what I've been used to!

There is one issue that I haven't found an answer for however. When shooting in very close quarters...such as on a drilling rig...I often resorted to slapping on a wide-angle adaptor to be able to get everything in the frame that I needed to. With the Canon lens, adjusting the back focus to compensate for the extra glass was quick. However now, with the stock Fuji lens, setting back focus is electronic, time-consuming, and requires a chart. Short of renting an expensive wide-angle lens ($250/day) have any of you had any success with a wide-angle adaptor?

So overall, I am absolutely elated with my PMW-350. After having used the big broadcast rigs all of my 30 years of shooting, I could not bring myself to getting the smaller-style cameras with 1/3 imagers....though the quality of those cameras is remarkable as well. In fact, I'd like to get one for a back-up. Are there better cameras out there? Absolutely!! But for the foreseeable future, this rig will suit my purposes just fine.

(The other part of this equation is a new MacPro with 8 Tb of hard drives; one Huge Systems RAID with 1 Tb, plus and additional 4 Tb external, running FCP Studio 2)

Regards,
Patrick McLoad

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Old December 2nd, 2010, 12:58 PM   #58
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Patrick great post. Thanks for sharing your decision and shooting experience with the 350. Sounds like you made the right choice.

I also had problem with the left hand fitting over the lens under the VF. But sounds like a simple 1" riser is the right solution.

I am still deciding if it is 350 or 500. For me with all of the fast action the CCD really does a better job for me, ah but the cost. UURRR crash. Oh that was me falling off my chair.
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 02:22 PM   #59
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I do not recall the PMW-500 even being an option for me a few months ago, but given its price without a lens, VF, and microphone, that's a serious amount of money. I would have to pass.
Talk about planned obsolescence!! There's always a new camera every 6 months.

But at that budget altitude, I would surely be looking at Panasonic as well.....even used gear. There's always someone who got in over their head and who now needs to dump it all. And how comfortable are you that for that amount of money, it doesn't do 3-D?

Seems like the 500 would at least have an additional SxS port given the higher need for storage at 50mbs.

One can't help but feel that these prices are artificially high. They are after all, mass-produced electronics. But what should strike the fear in these camera manufacturers is the number of $1,000 digital SLR's that shoot 1080p with the advantage of interchangeable lenses!

And as the article points out, it seems more economical to add an external NanoFlash to achieve the bit rate. Interesting that BBC just bought 200 PMW-350's. I'd rather spend the money on a cool dual-channel Sony wireless microphone receiver to fit in the compartment on the camera. I currently use a Shure, single-channel system, mounted behind the battery. Takes awhile to get it all set up and mounted....I would like something faster.

But I guess it all depends on your clientele and the crowd you run with. What will p---- you off is to find the 500 reduced by 5000 dollars a year or two from now! Hard to beat the 350 when it includes a decent lens. When we watch some of the footage shot on crap cameras on History, Discovery, and Nat. Geo, one has to ask himself exactly where are these "minimum standards" that broadcasters say they just have to have.

There was a time not too long ago when the format you shot separated the pros from the wannabes. Big differences between VHS, 3/4", 1", BetaSP, and digi-Beta. But now, thanks to the digital age, images from an SLR can be made to look every bit as good as a $50K broadcast camera. The difference now is lighting techniques and composition. Sort of like when Final Cut came around and kicked Avid's butt.

For me, making the transition to high-def took awhile, but it was inevitable. I think you ought to use the heck out of the 350 and let it make a pile of cash for you. There will always be something new just over the horizon. Remember, the main goal of the camera manufacturer is to separate you from your money...and the changes between the "new" cameras (350 and 500) are incremental and small. Another question is will you be able to raise your rates appreciably to pay for new gear without alienating yourself from your clients?

Patrick

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Old December 2nd, 2010, 03:09 PM   #60
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Hi Patrick,

Having owned the PMW-350 and the F800 there is a pretty big difference in picture quality with latitude and motion. And I shoot fast motion a lot with some customers who see the difference. Agree some can’t and that is fine but the ones who can pay the difference.

I have no argument that the PMW-500 is over priced and Sony is making a bundle off of their broadcast cameras.

As for a Panasonic I am looking at a used 3000, which is native 1080p chip. I would not buy a 720-chip camera and my clients won't accept it for the gigs I would use it on. 3-D is not in my near future and I don't think it is they way to go. But that is a whole different discussion we should not get into here, due to forum rules and I am also not interested in the discussion.

I did see Nigel's review and will check it out again, thanks. I also tried one at its release in NYC in September. Did not have but a few minutes with it but the demo footage shown at that release was fantastic. You could see the CCD shine in the sunset shots.

I have no problem with only two S&S card slots, since it holds twice the footage as with the P2 at the same quality. Also I would dual record to either my Nano or a Ki Pro Mini.

Also own a Canon 5D MKII but to say it shoots the same video quality, as a $50K broadcast camera is just not right. It is an amazing still camera, I mean amazing still camera, but its video is marginal. Again not to get into it here it has been beat to death. And people will think what they want. My clients will only accept it for time-lapse and stills.

No disagreement here on the standards dropping with networks. And they puff out their chest if you ask what is needed for video requirements. Then I am told by a Discovery show, can I use a Sony Z1 not a F800 to match the rest. At least it still comes to content, we hope.

I am talking by email with two clients on contracts and one is happy with the 350/Nano/Ki Pro Mini, and the other says CCD and 500/Ki Pro Mini. So I need to keep playing my cards until I sign both hopefully in the same week and then spend and make Sony happy.

Appreciate your input and point of view. Always nice to here from other shooters in the industry who have been doing this for a long time.
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