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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 July 3rd, 2011, 01:44 PM   #1
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PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

Hi Guys,

Need advise on these three cameras. Before that, my largest points of buying one of these three cameras are the image quality.

So on the PDW, we have MPEG HD @ 35Mpbs and on the PMW we the same XDCAM HD @ 35Mpbs. One is 1/2" and the other is 2/3", I don't think this will much effect my decision in choosing because I always find I hardly change any lens on my EX3 and pretty much happy for the EX1R lens. Sensor F335 is not FullHD compare to 350, but as long as it record in FullHD that is fine. Will this be the key 350 image are better than F335? F335 is switchable to DVCAM as standard and 350 need and option key (more money). I think I would love professional disc more than SxS. I have problem archiving my footage as I don't trust HDD that much, I can allocate few bucks on my service just to get a new pdisc everytime there's a new shoot.

My budget is around PMW-350k, I think it pretty much matches F335 + kit lens or save few more buck for F335.

I'm more keen to PDW I guess, but I haven't got my hands on one and I have operated PMW-350 and absolutely loving the picture too.

Anybody can share their experience in these cameras?
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 03:17 PM   #2
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

There is a large difference in image quality between the PDW-F3** and PMW-350 cameras. The PMW is a much more recent camera. The PMW images are higher resolution and have a lot less noise than the PDW and IMHO the PMW-350 produces a very pleasing image, while the PDW produces a highly processed and "video" looking image. You do have to consider that the PMW is a CMOS camera so there are the usual slight skew issues and strobe/flash banding concerns.

On top of that there are significant differences in the workflow. With the PDW's you work much as you would with tape, only it's a disk and the transfer of footage is about 3x real time. The PMW workflow will require a backup regime, but transfers can be much faster.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 03:20 PM   #3
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

I would definitely choose the PMW350. It is a brilliant camera. Sensitivity is way better, as is general image quality. The stock lens is exceptional value and the standard B4 mount opens up a huge range of hire lenses if you need them. Power consumption is very low which is another big bonus. The colour VF is surprisingly good, just like the EX3, IMO better than the B&W finder on the PDW.

SXS is also faster, cheaper and uses less power. The only downside is that you must figure out a redundant backup workflow using optical media or multiple hard drives. Once you do this, I doubt you will look back!
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Old July 4th, 2011, 11:45 AM   #4
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

In fact you should compare the PDW335 to the PMW320 as both have 1/2 inch sensors. Of course, the PDW chips only deliver 1440x1080 (with CCD's), whereas the PMW has full 1920x1080 CMOS. I have owned a PDW-F350 and was very pleased with the image quality. I preferred the disk workflow to the SxS workflow which is more prone to error and back-up failure. Writing to blu-ray disk is also, in my experience at least, more reliable than writing to solid state media like SxS or SDHC cards.

An extra argument for PDW335 or 355 (or 330 and 350) is that you can find very affordable second hand camera's of this type with low laser hours. I sold mine a few weeks ago for 6000,- euros with only 50 hours on the laser and there are more opportunities like this on the internet. You can buy two of these for the price of a PMW350, or use the extra money for a PDW-U1 that will read and write XDCAM disks.

Last edited by Luc De Wandel; July 4th, 2011 at 12:34 PM.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 05:24 AM   #5
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

Everybody here is right.

I own PMW-EX1 + one of the first PDW-F330 and a PDW700 with super WA lens HD.

Thats my conclusion:

a) if you work for broadcast HD, the PDW700 is (at least in germany) a kind of "must have" - for handing out the footage to a writer/cutter.

b) if you produce on your own , choices are bigger...

c) actual Full HD sensors (PMW320/EX1&3: 1/2", PMW350: 2/3") are superior over the "old" PDW-F330 1/2 CCD 1440x1080 sensor. Its not only light sensitivity but also resolution (stretching the image on screen by factor 1,3333 costs horizontal resolution and creates additional noise).

d) I (my personal taste!) prefer the disk workflow for several reasons:
1. While shooting you are already doing your archive backup - not need for headaches after shooting..
2. Proxys on disk can easily (and fast) copied to any media for review or logging
3. Proxys can be used with Vegas or Edius (and different ways on other NLEs) for a quick and dirty roughedit + batch import - no need to handle uncounted HD-Files until a certain point.

e) yes, Disk workflow can be slow and if you dont want to use the camera for ingest, you need some more hardware (PDW-U1 for example)

f) If you buy a PDW-U1 you are 100% compatible with any broadcaster that uses XDCAM HD422 or XDCAM IMX - this unit can read and write all kinds of XDCAM standards (shoot in format XY, edit, export IMX50 or HD422 to disk, send disk to broadcast)

g) unfortunatly , the lowest common denominator straight between XDCAM EX (= PMW) and HD/HD422 (PDW) is HDV (1440x1080 25mbit). So if you are thinking of shooting PMW and copy files to disk , you need to shoot or downkonvert to HDV (uhhh...) or UPCONVERT to HD422... (can take time). The ProDisk does not understand Full HD with 35mbit (like PMWs do)

So here are my 2c:
If maximum pic quality is your goal, go for Full HD sensors (PMW350, PDW700 or the cheaper (= lower dynamic, depth of field..) 1/2" ones.

If "no worry about archive" is your goal and you can live with less pic quality, a PDW330/350 may be a good and cheap way to start with (U1 recommended)

There may be a hybrid way too (PMW320/350) by hooking up a nanoflash to the camera. This piece can record HD422 with 50mbit/s via HD-SDI (if have a HD-SDI converter on my 330). These files can be copied to HD422 disks with no need of conversion (copy, paste).

One last word: Its worth to heavily tweak the PDW330 (less detail, finer detail, lower black etc.) and have a good glass in front... It compensates a bit for the 1440 loss...

Best regards

Uli
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Old July 5th, 2011, 12:56 PM   #6
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

Thank you all for the input. I guess, I'll go for the PMW-350 then. I've never experience any PDW camcorders before, but I must admit, I'm really like the professional disc compare to the SxS, but SxS have to do just fine. My budget couldn't stretch up to the PDW-700 or the PMW-500, but how I love to own one - then again, for that price range, I think two 350s could benefits me more.

Sony here told me due to the Japan tsunami, the 350 is not available temporarily with the kit lens - I think B&H confirm that from they stock status. Pity, I was thinking of saving some money instead of spending 6k on the lowest canon HDgc range lens.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 01:05 PM   #7
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

Well, for the price of 1 PMW500, you won't get 2 PMW350's but you DO get two PMW320's. But they are also hard to get for the moment. A friend of mine has ordered one beginning of May and he was told last week that it will still take another month or two to get the camera. By that time it will be four (4!) months since the order was placed at Sony's! Anyway it's worth the wait, because all these cams produce a fantastic image, that can be tweaked exactly to fullfil the cameraman's wishes. Best of luck with your decision.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 02:22 AM   #8
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luc De Wandel View Post
I preferred the disk workflow to the SxS workflow which is more prone to error and back-up failure. Writing to blu-ray disk is also, in my experience at least, more reliable than writing to solid state media like SxS or SDHC cards.
I don't think that is really correct. Both a well thought out SxS workflow and an optical disc workflow should be equally reliable. Theoretically the optical disc workflow should be less reliable due to all the mechanical parts, spinning discs etc involved.

It's not normally the media or hardware with the SxS workflow that fails, but the user or operator that fails :-)

Yes, it is reasonable to state that the optical disc workflow is simpler, there is no need to do anything beyond ingest your footage. The same could be said for tape. But in 4 years of working with SxS I have yet to loose any material, simply because I use a well defined workflow and robust backup system. Backups occur in the background, so take non of my time. The portability and speed of SxS should not be ignored, I can import my full resolution SxS footage faster than I can import the proxies off an optical disc with a U1. I don't need any extra hardware when I'm in the field beyond a Macbook with express card slot to ingest and edit and I don't tie up the camera.

I have a multi-camera shoot this weekend where we will generate around 50 hours of material. With optical disc that would be a couple of working days to ingest (17 hours). With SxS, even at 50Mb/s it's only around half a day (7 hours).

There are faster XDCAM HD drives than the U1 and this will speed up the workflow. The U2 is out soon and this will help. But these extra decks cost money and that has to be factored in to your budget.

So the two workflows are very different. One is simple and easy, but slower and may require more expensive hardware, the other has more steps but is extremely fast and often needs no additional expensive hardware. I certainly don't miss optical disc now I'm completely solid state.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 08:15 AM   #9
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Re: PDW-F335/355 or PMW-350

I am with you Alister having owned Optical Disk and S&S I prefer the very reliable S&S workflow. Optical Disk has its place but not for me being mostly a one man show.

To always be reliable I only use Sony S&S cards and have never dropped a frame in 21 TB of shooting between my EX1’s, PMW-350, and PMW-500.

Your backup system needs to be foolproof and easy to find clips in the future. Also always back up all the files on the cards. And I can’t stress enough to use Sony S&S cards this is not where you cut cost.

Sorry to miss you at NAB Alister I just did not have time. Flat out all of this year which is great. Hope to make it next year.
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