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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 March 30th, 2006, 09:16 AM   #1
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F350 Arrived

Our PDW-F350 arrived yesterday, so Sony made good on their promise to ship the F350 before the end of March. I was worried CBS would be getting the entire production run for the next couple of months.

We snapped a pic of the F350 next to our XL H1 last night and posted it on our website (http://www.redhawk-development.com then go to "Features" then go to "PDW-F350L Test"). "Save Target As" rather than "Save Picture As" downloads higher res version of the picture. Or left click and then "Save Picture as" once it is done downloading. The only video on that site (on the "Baja Sur" page) is from the XL H1. We will post video and test results for the PDW-F350 over the next day or two.

We spent most of last night just setting up the PDW-F350 (we have the Fujinon 1/2" lens) and playing with the menus. I was very pleased that our resolution tests showed the F350 to be the same or slightly better than the XL H1 (that was at 60i, will test 24P and such today or tomorrow).

Image quality looks very good so far. Ergonomics of the camera are excellent. We will try to do some chroma key and wire removal work today, which will be a real test of the image quality. So far we are only using the HD SDI output, we have not recorded to the disc. Hopefully we will get to that in the next day or two.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #2
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Wow, congratulations Michael, as far as I know you're the first F350 owner in North America. Thanks for sharing this and I'm looking forward to anything else you care to share. Sent you an email. Much appreciated,
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Old March 30th, 2006, 12:29 PM   #3
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I see a Manual/Servo switch labeled Focus in that pic.

That's just for remote focus, right? That's not an autofocus thing like the cheaper Canon AF lens they're packaging with the 330, right?
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:20 PM   #4
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Really looking forward to hearing more about this camera from the user point of view.

Keep us posted.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:45 PM   #5
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The lens is manual focus only. Servo just means it has a servo actuator and can be controlled by a PC or by a zoom/focus controller from Fujinon or others.

Working on tests of latitude (dynamic range) right now. The F350 looks 1.5-2.5 stops better than the Canon XL H1, although we are still playing with DCC (auto-knee, which is sort of cheating, so we usually turn it off) white clip, gamma, etc. We are using the test Paul Wheeler suggests in his 24p book, as well as a more rigorous version of the test using a waveform monitor, plus some real outdoors shots with difficult lighting. A simple shot of dense and darkly shadowed trees with bright clouds and sky visible in the background looks very good. You can see deep into the shadows but also see very detailed cloud formations alternating with blue sky without the highlights being blown out. There is no way to do that shot with the Canon.

This afternoon we will be shooting some green screen shots. So far so good.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 07:10 PM   #6
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Mike..congrats on the new F350! It looks sweet! Do you plan on doing any over/under cranking test soon? I am curious as to the quality. There have been reports that anything over 30fps is half rez, so any test or feedback you could give on this would be huge for us that can't wait until NAB.

Also, I went to your website and see that you produce a sport fishing show. I have been shooting and editing outdoor fishing shows for the last 10 years as well. Love the shots you have on the site. Where does your show air..broadcast or cable? What's the name of the show? Can I get watch it here in Florida?
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Old March 30th, 2006, 07:56 PM   #7
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Hi Scott. We have not done over/undercranking yet. Sony did tell us that anything over 30fps is 1/2 vertical res. We should get to testing that in the next couple of days.

We did shoot some green screen test material. Sony had warned me that the HDSDI was not true 4:2:2 but rather was generated from the 4:2:0 captured by the imager. It definitely shows in trying to do any chroma keying, and the results are consistent with our earlier tests on the HDC-X300.

Whereas the XL H1 pulls a clean matte with almost no work, the XDCAM HD produces a very noisy matte and suffers from severe edge crawl. We are planning to post some very short clips comparing the XL H1 and the F350 using Avid SpectraMatte and the Boris keying effect. Those should be up by tomorrow night I hope. I would guess that with work one can still get to the right end point, but it will take more work than with a true 4:2:2 solution.

My overall impression right now is that the F350 is a very well-designed and rugged ENG camera with great ergonomics and a good image. It has excellent lattitude and very low vertical smear. If Sony had output true 4:2:2 on the HDSDI this camera would be almost perfect. The 4:2:0 nature of the camera limits it for FX work and also means there is less color resolution in general when using the HDSDI. If you are planning to use the camera untethered (no cable) and work exclusively from the material recorded on the disc, then this limitation is not really a factor since most of the competitors are 4:2:0.

We need to play more with resolution in 24P. We are getting very good resolution out of 60i (700-750 lines) but that seems to drop to 600-650 in 24P. This may well be an issue with our settings or test environment. We will learn more about how to use the camera properly over the next few days/weeks.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 07:24 AM   #8
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PDW-F350 and Avid

While not really expecting it to work, we tried using the firewire on the F350 in FAM (Sony's file access mode) to import a clip (MXF) into Avid. We got a message that the file was not a supported XDCAM format. Given that we now have the camera (and lots of Avid stuff) we will see if we can work with Avid to give us early access to their XDCAM HD support, which has been reported to be available in Q3. We don't need proxy support, just the ability to import clips would be great.

Ingest via HDSDI into Avid Adrenaline works fine. We have used that for both live recording and playback of clips from the XDCAM disc.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 08:28 AM   #9
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the great info. Yes I agree that if sony would have made the camera with 4:2:2 it would be ideal. You said that you have the fujinon lens right? What is the model number and the cost of that lens?
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Old March 31st, 2006, 09:12 AM   #10
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The Fujinon lens is the HSs18x5.5BRD, see http://www.fujinonbroadcast.com/cgi-...ucts.cgi?p=336

I think the list price is roughly twice the Canon lens referenced by Nate which is included in the PDW-F330K package from Sony (Sony lists the lens as a $7k option for the F350). I had that lens with an HDC-X300K. This Fujinon is certainly worth twice as much. I expect Canon and others will introduce more 1/2" high quality HD glass at NAB. As has been posted many times elsewhere on DVInfo, buy the best lens you can get.

I don't think I answered your question earlier about our projects. All I can say at this point is that we are a new organization, we have two projects funded, and we will be happy to let you know when they are publicly aired/distributed.

The reason we focus on lattitude as one of the key requirements for a camera is visible in some of the material you probably saw on our site. We shoot outdoors (SportFishing and such) where we have no control over the lighting. When the fishing cockpit is white fiberglass in direct Baja sunlight and the water is deep dark blue and the boat is backing down on a marlin and twisting and turning (and moving the shadows and sun in random directions), and the crew is pulling in the teasers and lures and throwing out baited lines, and you get two or more fish on, and you are in rough seas...things can get chaotic, as you well know. It is easy to burn out highlights or underexpose key material, but that's why we need such nice toys!

Now if I could just get a hand-held, gyro-stablized system for holding the camera steady (inspite of the seas) referenced either to the horizon or the deck (or any point in the frame!) that is small enough to maneuver around an active boat and rugged enough to handle sea water and general abuse ... in the meantime I will just learn to be a better operator and hope for calm seas.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 11:44 AM   #11
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Re: stabilizer:

http://www.ken-lab.com/stabilizers.html
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Old March 31st, 2006, 11:48 AM   #12
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24P resolution

I mentioned yesterday that we were getting good results with 60i resolution tests but having some difficulty with 24P. Sony has given me some ideas on how to improve performance. We will let you know how it goes.

I should mention that support and technical assistance from Sony and our Sony dealer (Snader) has been outstanding. For me I am choosing a company as much as a camera, and Sony seems to be an excellent company. That is probably an important part of the evaluation that I should have mentioned earlier.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 11:55 AM   #13
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Thanks Bill, I was hoping someone on DVInfo would have a suggestion. I will give it a try.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 12:42 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the updates!

Mike, thinks for keeping us posted on this camera, I think everyone is really wanting this to be the one. I'm also interested in the latitude of the camera, especially as I haven't been too impressed with the Z1 performance in this area. Have you tried any indoor shots where you've got your subject and a window in the frame? That's usually a pretty good test.

Looking forward to hearing more.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 12:56 PM   #15
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We will try the daylight window & interior shot and post the results. You are right, that is a good test.

I accidentally discovered that 24P with the shutter off gives full resolution (700-750 lines) but it drops to 600 lines at 1/48th. That most likely means I don't have things set up quite right yet, but when I finally do the camera will do full rez at 24P fine. I think it has something to do with 2:3 pulldown. We will sort it out over the next day or so.
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