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Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old November 6th, 2006, 08:38 PM   #1
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XD Cam HD...Worth the price?

I like the XD Cam tapeless workflow but I can't wrap my head around the price.

For the price of one F350 I can get 2 Canon XL-H1s and an A1.

For all of you independant producers/editors/shooters does the workflow advantages make up for the large cash outlay?

If you had to do it over again would you still purchase an XD Cam system or go with something less expensive and tape based?
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Old November 6th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #2
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Picture-wise, the camera is stunning. You might not think that 35mps would make that big of a difference, but it does. It has to to with the variable rate, and how it is allocated to the picture.

24 p is lovely. Seldom need to use detail on this or 60i.

Depth, latitude of larger chip

Working with a real broadcast lens

Workflow-wise, I think we're just beginning to scratch the surface with the proxy system. I'm already able to deal with selects and sharpen my choices while hanging with the laptop in the living room. It makes a big differnce and saves tons of time in edit booth.

So you're going to save some of that difference in bucks in faster edits, and more sanity in your life. And there's a reason flks like Discovery have approved the camera and the codec.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Crockett
For all of you independant producers/editors/shooters does the workflow advantages make up for the large cash outlay?
In the end, expenditures like this have to be driven by your business, unless you can afford to invest and not have your success hang on that investment.

In my case, the budgets for work I was getting higher, high enough that I wasn't comfortable anymore shooting the JVC HD100 and hoping I wouldn't have some weird post problem crop up. On one job I discovered the dreaded TC break issue with FCP, and it threatened my ability to get the project done on time.

So I guess my answer is, buy the camera if you can bill back for it! If not, then don't.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:37 AM   #4
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Kevin, the two XDCAM HD cameras the F350 and F330 are both in a different league to the XLH1 in every respect, especially picture quality. I've done extensive tests between the JVC GY-HD111, XL H1, Z1 and HVX200, they are all kind of the same ball park really, JVC and Canon coming out slightly on top in the picture quality department. When comparing the F350 to the JVC it is miles ahead. It makes the JVC look like cheap PixelVision, JVC is all blocky, harsh, very pixilated with hard edge enhancement and a ton of green fringing (lens admittedly) thrown in. On a large HD monitor you can clearly see where the extra money has gone.

The 35Mbps variable makes a huge difference, just ask any professional colourise how much they can pull out of that compared to a Z1. I know a pro Soho colourist in London and he says he can pull a ton more out of XDCAM HD than he has ever been able to get out of a Z1 or high-end DVCAM such as DSR570; says F350 is miles better for his job.

Another reason XDCAM is superior in image quality is the 1/2 inch blocks and lenses and the superior circuitry and on-board processing units. All of which are miles better than anything in the XL H1.

Discovery HD has approved XDCAM HD as a 100% acquisition format, they simply turned down XL H1 as it is just nowhere near good enough; same goes for the remaining 3 prosumer cams costing around £4000.

At the moment XDCAM HD is the only TRUE tapeless workflow from acquisition to final master, the rest (P2, Firestore, whatever) are simply tapeless acquisition formats. What I mean by this is that the with the rest all you end up with is a bunch of meaninglessly named clips and large video files; which is tapeless in its most primitive form. With XDCAM HD you name the first clip, then it automatically sequencially names all clips thereafter, until you change clip name again. This way in post you have a bunch of named clips that make perfect sense, and proxy files too. Nothing out there comes close to this well thought out workflow.

For me, XDCAM HD is too cheap considering what you get. A DSR450 is the same price as an F330; I know what I'd go for.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 01:52 PM   #5
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When considering the cost you should also factor in the cost of things like blank disks, suitable tripod, batteries etc. These are all more expensive than the HDV counterparts.

Having said that... As others have said XDCAM is such a massive time saver. On a simple corporate SD shoot just yesterday I was able to delete all the bad takes as we went along. The end result was I only had to go through 15 mins of rushes to put together the final 10 min edit. Transfering the footage to the edit suite took less than 10 mins and the dit only took an hour. I know the same job shot on tape would have ended up with around an hour of rushes, the edit and transfer would have taken longer. So if time is an issue the XDCAM is a big saver.

I have also found XDCAM to be a more robust and reliable recording medium. Drop-outs which on several occasions have ruined HDV shots just don't happen, so on critical shoots where you only get one chance to get the shot can you afford to shoot on HDV?

Nate is quite right though, it's good to have the latest toys, but if your running a business they will have to make money for you. I now shoot almost everything in HD. I sell more stock footage because of this, so I am making more money. For me the extra outlay over HDV was worth every last penny.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 02:30 PM   #6
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Yes, I'd forgot about drop-outs. I have just got to the end of a 3 month shoot using two JVC GY-HD111 HDV camcorders and I had a few clips ruined because of drop-outs taking out quarter of a second to half a second of footage; had to go back and re-shoot, 300 mile round trip.

I use a Vinten Vision 8 with F350 and find it is a marriage made in heaven; balances to perfection.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 02:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Crockett
I like the XD Cam tapeless workflow but I can't wrap my head around the price.

For the price of one F350 I can get 2 Canon XL-H1s and an A1.
Still no contest F350 every time. Even a 330 with the stock lens blows away the Canon.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Crockett
For the price of one F350 I can get 2 Canon XL-H1s and an A1.
That is like saying for the price of a Mercedes Benz you can get two Ford Focus's and a Ford Fiesta.

XDCAM HD is in a different league to XL H1; a professional league.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #9
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I'm now in the XL H1 vs. XDCAM HD debate as well. I do corporate work and am close to sealing a contract for my first HD production. I've pretty much narrowed it down to these two cameras. For the XDCAM HD users out there, what's the "cheapest" entry into this arena? I assume the 330 plus a decent lens. What lens would you recommend (given the issues with soft corners I've been reading about). I'd love the 350, but the extra 5-7k would buy a good lens. Also, will I need the deck initially, or can I use the camera until I can afford the deck?

Also, how does SD look for this camera? Right now I'm using a 1/2" DV camera (Panasonic) with good results. Will the Sony do better due to newer technology?

I'm going to DV Expo next week... I hope Sony has the 330/350 there! I'd also love to see the Grass Valley camera too!

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Old November 7th, 2006, 05:47 PM   #10
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Remember, XDCAM HD is Proper HD, it is not HDV, which is 25Mbps constant. So you can quote to your clients that you are using Proper HD and not the consumer HDV; that carries weight.

F330 with Canon 19x SD lens is a great combination. Prestons in the UK are selling this combo for under £10,000 inc VAT.

F330 in SD mode is identical to what you would get out of a high-end DVCAM model like the DSR450, only the audio on the F330 is better as it is 16-bit, unlike DSR450 which is just 12-bit.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 05:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Cooper
Remember, XDCAM HD is Proper HD, it is not HDV, which is 25Mbps constant. So you can quote to your clients that you are using Proper HD and not the consumer HDV; that carries weight.

F330 with Canon 19x SD lens is a great combination. Prestons in the UK are selling this combo for under £10,000 inc VAT.

F330 in SD mode is identical to what you would get out of a high-end DVCAM model like the DSR450, only the audio on the F330 is better as it is 16-bit, unlike DSR450 which is just 12-bit.

Is that the YH19X6.7IRS14 1/2 inch lens?
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Old November 7th, 2006, 07:48 PM   #12
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Quick input after a quick read of this thread...

It's not my place to convince anyone that an XDCAM HD (330 or 350) is the way to go.

BUT

We bought the 350 after extensive and in depth research into FUTURE potentials - such as distributing to Networks, or on HD discs (whether Blue Ray or whatever)....or outputting via SD to current DVD/TV requirements.

The phrase "future proofing" got our attention. What we shoot today can go out in any format required today - but can still be put out in true HD in the future (stock shots for instance are in demand right now in HD...and there'll be an increasing demand in future).

The F350 had the edge because of interval recording/slow mo - and a few other bells and whistles such as 4-channel-sound, an excellent viewfinder, the ability to do thumbnails and in-camera EDLs and so on.

As for lens choices...keep watching this forum....the guys who share their lens testing knowledge are worth their weight in gold...your gold:-)

We can ingest directly from the camera to the Mac (where we opted for Final Cut Studio) and on a High Def screen, which I watched for the first time this week, our pixels and pictures are just wunnerful.

There's a weight and balance issue to consider - but if a Vinten tripod is a marriage made in heaven, then I wish I'd known that a few months ago:-)

The disc recording medium is a HUGE money-saver. They're only $US30 each - last 50 years - can be recorded over 1000 times - take up no room at all in stgorage...and with the new PDZ-whatever transfer software, and the things that are built in to FCP, you never lose track of the original shot!!!

In our situation, which was a case of starting from scratch, which meant we had no prior investment in other formats, it made absolute sense to go with the XDCAM HD with its 1/2inch lenses (better pixel capture/more of them) BUT it also meant, because the camera is really a computer that we did not have to buy all the expensive decks that Sony also suggests are required.

We go straight from the camera to FCP....

FYI - having an AJA board helps a lot in editing.....

But back to the "choice."

In the US at least, HD is the next level....and all the channels want it...and anyone who can offer anything of reasonable quality is likely to find that the XDCAM HD was definitely a good investment.

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Old November 7th, 2006, 09:05 PM   #13
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I've always been suspicious and critical of Sony's marketing claims, but after shooting XDCAM HD on two projects (one exteriors and time-lapse, the other hand-held shooting of an event) I'm convinced, XDCAM HD might really be "the next Betacam SP" in terms of a high-quality format that is robust, cost-effective, and potentially unversal for professional imagemaking.

The new XDCAM HD camera is amost everything I've ever wanted from a professional camcorder: true progressive imaging, variable frame rates, time-lapse, image control, etc. Still, I'd like to see a 2/3" camera shooting this format, but that's just a matter of time, as well as a smaller camera too. HDV is simply too brittle of a format and the data rate is a tad shy. The HQ mode of XDCAM HD is enough for the most critical viewer.

I'm truly impressed with the F350, it's the first Sony professional camcorder I really like. Since the introduction of the Panasonic Varicam it's held the position as my favorite camcorder in the 2/3" category, the F350, even though it's only a 1/2" camcorder, is really charming me... it's a truly impressive camera. HDV is a good format, and a great value for the money, but if you need something more... there are now two good formats to choose from, DVCPRO HD from Panasonic (with P2 or HD recording) and now XDCAM HD from Sony (with optical disk recording).
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Old November 11th, 2006, 04:49 AM   #14
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I had a Canon H1, great camera loved it, until I got my f350. The Sony is in a differnent league, far better for many, many reasons.

Consider that XDCAM HD has only been available to buy for around 6 months in the UK, then talk to dealers about how many they have sold. It's gone from a format that most had not heard of to a best selling product line in a very short period. I also belive that this could be the new Betacam, pehaps replacing all the DSR500's and 570's that are ou there doing SD work now. Even if you only shoot SD the workflow advantages are considerable.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 05:01 AM   #15
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XDCAM HD has really taken off in the USA, but is a bit slow catching on in the UK. I put this down to the fact that people just don't understand it and Sony are having a hard job educating people. Though in the past 2 months here interest and sales have really started to skyrocket.

There is a lot more to XDCAM HD other than picture quality alone; which is simply in a different league to the Canon XLH1. It is the only format on the fact of the planet that is a total 100% tapeless workflow from acquisition to final master. The competition are simply tapeless recording formats, that's where it stops.

XDCAM HD uses a really intelligent and well thought-out tapeless workflow with automated clip-naming, clip lists, meta-data lists made from proxy files. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The competition (P2 and devices like Firestore) are extremely primitive and dated in comparison.

You really have to use XDCAM to totally understand and fully appreciate it. But once you have you will never go back.

I agree with Alister, I think XDCAM HD is the new Betacam. I see it replacing not only the DSR450 over time, but also Digibeta too. And this is in its current 1/2 inch form.
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