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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 June 18th, 2006, 12:20 PM   #1
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F350 First serious shoot.

Well I have just returned from a weeks storm chasing shooting severe storms in the US with my F350. During the week the camera got put through hell as I shot in 70mph dust filled winds, hail storms and supercell thunderstorms. It performed faultlessly. The timelapse function is wonderful for cloud motion and the progressive mode captures lightning very well. The image quality is fantastic. HDV struggles shooting heavy rain or hail as compression artifacts start to show, 35mb XDCAM is much much cleaner.

My main gripes are the quality of the colour LCD, it would have been nice to have the same LCD as the Z1. The F350 LCD appears soft and colours washed out.

The audio level controls seem to be trickier to set than on a DSR570 or Digibeta and the auto audio levels appear to be very high, although I havn't noticed any distortion.

The 2 inch VF is nice and sharp but you do need to use quite a bit of peaking to be sure of critical focus and the high peaking makes critical exposure judgement difficult as the image looks less bright.

Things I really like include the direct clip access and the ability to quickly delete the last shot, useful for me when shooting lightning as I can avoid disk wastage by deleting blank clips. I like being able to mark shots so I can add a mark to indicate a particularly good clip.

The picture quality is excellent. I love gamma 4. The standard gamma curve is not nice.

Being able to work with the Mpeg4 proxies for web uploads saves time and diskspace.

All in all a great camera, power consumption is reasonable, my 120Wh batts lasting 4 hours ish.

All I need to do now is work out a decent edit workflow. I was hoping Avid xpress pro 5.5 would handle XDCAM HD but I see no mention of it in the tech specs. I'm going to take a look at Avid Liquid and Vegas, but what I really want is to be able to use the cineform codec as will often be mixing XDCAM and HDV and I love the cineform quality.

By the way and off topic.. we were shooting some material for BMW of a brand new mini cooper in and around the storms. We got into a ferocious hail storm that pounded us with tennis ball hail stones propelled by winds measured at 96mph. The car got ripped to pieces, all the panels facing the wind are extremely dented, a window was smashed and all the plastic trim shattered. Makes for exciting viewing!
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Old June 18th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #2
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Great post. Thanks for all the info. I've heard similar complaints about the LCD issue. I've ordered a 350 as well and can't wait to use it...
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Old June 18th, 2006, 02:07 PM   #3
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Shame you weren't back earlier, I've had a 900 for the last couple of days that would have made an interesting side by side test.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 07:11 PM   #4
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Alister,

Have you seen the paragraph in the manual relating to MPEG 4 licensing? It's on page 158 of my manual and says the MPEG 4 license is only for personal consumer use. I guess this means we can't sell any MPEG 4 proxy material off this camera.

My only other knock is that there is no way to put video into the camera. So, it can't record anything on the disc other than what comes off the camera head.

Where in the U.S. did you do your storm chasing?

-gb-
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Old June 19th, 2006, 03:37 AM   #5
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Please post some grabs Alister. I've seen your hailstorm sequence, glad the camera didn't get whacked.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 10:03 AM   #6
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Greg, isn't that typical of most professional cameras--that you can't feed video directly into the camera? Same thing on the DSR500, and before that on my Betacam cameras.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 10:17 AM   #7
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You can put video back on disk, trough file access mode.
Some edit programs can also use this method, to upload the finished project in the original format.
The benefit of FAM is that you can use the disk, to store all your files regarding a project, including your edit files.
When you plug the camera to your computer, using firewire, it acts as a hard drive!
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Old June 19th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Bang Jensen
You can put video back on disk, trough file access mode.
Some edit programs can also use this method, to upload the finished project in the original format.
The benefit of FAM is that you can use the disk, to store all your files regarding a project, including your edit files.
When you plug the camera to your computer, using firewire, it acts as a hard drive!
I am going to try that Brian as soon as Apple/Sony get their software released. At this time, I have nothing that understands XDCAMHD .MXF files. But I was already wondering if that could be done. The question is whether or not any software will be able to write a compatible .MXF file back to the disk that the camera won't balk at.

-gb-
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Old June 19th, 2006, 10:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor
Greg, isn't that typical of most professional cameras--that you can't feed video directly into the camera? Same thing on the DSR500, and before that on my Betacam cameras.
Bill you have hit on something here. This camera is the first camera I have owned or operated at this level so I was unaware of this typical limitation. Having come from the Canon XL line, I'll admit to being in a steep learning curve at the moment. (grin) But it's a fun learning curve!

Thanks for providing that professional tidbit.

-gb-
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Old June 19th, 2006, 11:03 AM   #10
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Greg,

Have you shot anything in the "OverCrank" mode yet? I am curious as to what degree does the loss of vertical rez in the "anything over 30p mode have to the quality of the picture? Is it noticable? I have pretty much narrowed by HD camera purchase to either the Sony PDW350 or the Grass Valley Infinity, now that the Infinity will do 24p & 30p, but still no "Over or Under crank" I shoot a lot of 30 second spots and I see a BIG advantage in using the OverCrank of the Sony for some very creative spots.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 11:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Aston
Greg,

Have you shot anything in the "OverCrank" mode yet? I am curious as to what degree does the loss of vertical rez in the "anything over 30p mode have to the quality of the picture? Is it noticable? I have pretty much narrowed by HD camera purchase to either the Sony PDW350 or the Grass Valley Infinity, now that the Infinity will do 24p & 30p, but still no "Over or Under crank" I shoot a lot of 30 second spots and I see a BIG advantage in using the OverCrank of the Sony for some very creative spots.
Haven't as yet Scott. I've been doing strictly 60i at 35mbs thus far. On the plus side, the camera does do a nice downconvert to SD DVCAM out the firewire port. I have done some FCP captures that way just to work out a compatible SD workflow for other projects coming along that are going to be delivered in SD.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am waiting for the .MXF file support because I don't have any HDSDI capture capability at the moment. The file access mode is one of the things that sold me on this camera for HD work. Just have to wait a couple more weeks for the software to catch up.

Most of what I am doing so far is learning the control locations by 'feel'. Coming from my Canon XL cameras, this is a major re-learning curve at the moment.

regards,

-gb-
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Old June 19th, 2006, 12:01 PM   #12
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I shot some 50fps footage and am very pleased with the results. Given much of what I was shooting was clouds and sky scenes, which don't contain all that much detail you could not see the resolution drop. I did a couple of test shots with passing cars and you can see a small drop in resolution but it is so slight that it dosn't bother me given how nice the overcrank looks.

Was on the phone to Avid and they confirmed that Xpress Pro 5.5 will support 35Mb MXF, even though there is no mention of that on the web site.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #13
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I shot an extreme sports event last weekend with the 350 and used the slow motion function extensively. AFAIAC if anyone could tell me that they could spot it was half resolution, I'd say they were lying! It simply isn't noticeable at all.

I also did some undercranking too, very subtley. Again, great results. Sometimes a little tricky to follow in the viewfinder though because although it plays back very smoothly, it is very jerky while looking through the VF unless you choose exactly half speed or double speed.
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Old June 22nd, 2006, 10:15 AM   #14
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UK Prices?

If you don't mind me asking where did you UK guys get your 350's from. What lenses did you get, and what did you pay?

TIA, Duncan.
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Old June 22nd, 2006, 11:12 AM   #15
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In my case they were on loan from Sony. However if you want to look at prices there's http://www.creativevideo.co.uk, Mitcorp, Visual Impact, Gearhouse. Loads of places.
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