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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 December 25th, 2006, 07:22 AM   #1
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ENG camera suggestions wanted.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Right now I am doing Infomercials, Instore Commercials etc. Fortunately a lot of ENG work is comming my way in 2007. Here is the question : Which camera to choose ! Workflow, ease of use, liability etc. etc.. I have been looking at the F350 with some good glass and also at the Panasonic SPX800 or 900. Apart from the big price difference will I gain much extra from the Pana ?. Maby there is a completely differet cam I shouldt look at ?.
Final output is mostly DVCPRO50.
Please do not start a war Sony vs Pana. Just some hands on info from daily users.
Thanks in advance
Erik
PS: Pal land
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Old December 25th, 2006, 10:04 AM   #2
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Main thing would be to ask the people who would be asking you to do ENG work which format they prefer.

If your clients mostly want DVCpro50, then you may be better off going Panasonic. Which camera to get is a tough one. The new HDX-900 can't do DVCpro50 to my knowledge, only DVCproHD.

The new AJ-HPX2000 might do what you need it to. But then it also depends on whether your client wants tapeless.

You might be able to get a pretty good deal on an SDX-900. Just make sure you can pay it off quickly enough.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 05:19 AM   #3
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I have been using the SPX800 now for about a year, tapeless is fantastic as is the SPX800, but I am about to change to an F350. This is not a Panny bashing reply but my only frustration is the destructive workflow and often being in situations where I am unable to offload my P2 cards to the store and the panic of running out of memory on a particular shoot. Then you have to stop for a good half hour to clear the P2 cards.

I feel that with XDCAM system you have the best of both worlds, tape and file based. Being able to carry enough media with you is a great feeling. I now regret dismissing this format as "HDV" in the early days, I now see I was wrong and can't wait to take delivery of a new F350.

I will miss the DVCPRO50 workflow in FCP and will have to get to grips with the XDCAMHD timeline and all its little conforming problems etc. But that will far outweigh my ever gowing frustration with the P2 system on a shoot.

Roddy Jamieson
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Old December 26th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #4
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What conforming problems? I don't get any conforming problems with XDCAM HD and FCP.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 06:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman
What conforming problems? I don't get any conforming problems with XDCAM HD and FCP.
My comment is only based on various postings regarding what appears to be a lengthy render / conform time for outputing from time line. It's not based on any experience of my own, if it's not the case then great.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 06:23 AM   #6
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It depends what is being done. Vegas 7 will rerender the timeline at the very end. It has to in order to make one file to output to the camera.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 11:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roddy Jamieson
I feel that with XDCAM system you have the best of both worlds, tape and file based. Being able to carry enough media with you is a great feeling. I now regret dismissing this format as "HDV" in the early days, I now see I was wrong and can't wait to take delivery of a new F350.
Hi Roddy,

Glad you figured out the difference as it really isn't HDV. I know someone else who experienced your same frustrations and concerns with P2. He sold off his HVX cameras to buy an F350.

I'm not bashing Panasonic P2. I think it's a good idea but the media costs are prohibitive and lead to the concerns that you mentioned by having to clear out your cards to keep shooting. So there goes your camera master.

Sony is firmly committed to XDCAM and it's only going to get better. This is not a fad or stop-gap format for Sony. There is a long roadmap for XDCAM. And keep in mind, XDCAM is really a media type such as P2. It's not limited to the formats that are currently being written to it.

I think you'll be very happy with the results you get from the F350 coupled with good glass on the front.

-gb-
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Old December 26th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
I think you'll be very happy with the results you get from the F350 coupled with good glass on the front.
I will enthusiastically second that.

If you're looking for a camera in the ENG price/performance class and P2 workflow is not right for your specific needs, going the route of the F350 might be the right for you. I've shot several interviews and stand-ups recently with the Sony F350 XDCAM HD camera and I have to say I really like it, both in terms of image quality and balance in handling on the shoulder. With good glass and shooting in the highest-quality MPEG setting, it's an amazing performer in it's price/performance category. Since I'm also an editor, what I don't like is editing MPEG-2 media, however, this is easly resolved using the PDW-1500 XDCAM HD deck in post and capturing via SDI into a Kona card into the intra-frame compressor of your choice.

And the variable frame rate and progressive scan features are a big plus for me, since I absolutely can't stand interlaced imaging and thus have been unable to appreciate most Sony cameras delivered to date. The 30P XDCAM HD footage shot with the F350 intercuts nicely with other progressive footage from the Panasonic HVX200 and JVC H100.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #9
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There is a final render prior to exporting the timeline, but it dosn't take too long. For many the final output will have to be on HDCAM for delivery so a final render step would be needed anyway.

As has been said think of XDCAM as a type of file based system that just happens to currently use disks. The current edit application import tools will import the footage from any storage medium, XDCAM disks, hard drives, DVD's or flash cards. I use large USB drives to store my stock footage for easy rapid access. All my footage is now saved as XDCAM MXF's.

P2 is an excellent idea and I am sure that the future is going to be solid state, but until the cost of memory cards come down to a similar cost per minute as tape or disks then it's not going to be as popular.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 12:03 PM   #10
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The PDW 1500 is a mpeg IMX/DVCAM deck. You may have mistaken it for the PDW F70 which is the XDCAM HD recorder deck. You should be able to transfer the files directly from the camera with no need for a deck, but if you do not have access to the camera you can transfer files to a hard drive and then access the files from your NLE.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roddy Jamieson
My comment is only based on various postings regarding what appears to be a lengthy render / conform time for outputing from time line. It's not based on any experience of my own, if it's not the case then great.
I can confirm this is a problem from my own experience, at least with Final Cut Pro. I often conform projects that are a mix of three formats: DV (60i), HDV (30p), XDCAM HD (30p), and the render time is significant compared to conforming all DV or DVCPRO HD material.

On the other hand, as I mention in a previous post, one way to eliminate the render problem is to capture the footage straight to a intra-frame codec, or using an editing system (e.g. Avid) that's smart enough to convert everything to a very high quality intermediate codec so there is no render penalty using mixed and/or inter-frame formats in the project.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 12:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Willis
The PDW 1500 is a mpeg IMX/DVCAM deck. You may have mistaken it for the PDW F70 which is the XDCAM HD recorder deck. You should be able to transfer the files directly from the camera with no need for a deck, but if you do not have access to the camera you can transfer files to a hard drive and then access the files from your NLE.
Thanks for the correction, yes, we use the PDWF70 XDCAM HD Deck in our edit facility for its versatility, we can capture with a choice of HD-SDI, HD analog component, or DV25, depending on the need. Yes, you can capture from the camera, but sometimes it's more convenient to have a separate deck for the editing facility.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 10:23 PM   #13
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Erik - if I may get back to your question about which camera to opt for...

Denmark and New Zealand may be a world apart, but your situation sounds familiar to me. I was a new stringer in NZ for a couple of years, using a CP16 single/double system rig....on call 24/7....which I needed to be to help the bank make some money:-)

And along came those new-fangled video cameras!!! And the TV channels said they wanted all their stringers to dump their CP16s and go video...

And the bank said to me would you like lots and lots of money to start from scratch again?

And I said screw it and went back to being a reporter/director at twice the net income I had made as a stringer. Very peaceful really:-)....

Which I suppose has little to do with your question, except that a couple of years ago the NZ stringers turned the tables on the TV channels when Sony brought out their disc capture system. ALL the heavy-weight (established) stringers bought them (dammit, was that the XDCAM SD or SDCAM XD????) anyway, it was obvious to everyone over there that the workflow with the disc capture method was going to be a lot better for everybody, and the channels went along and got with the program.

But in your case...I would suggest talking in depth with your potential clients before you decide which camera to buy. I am only recently back in the camera-work side of things, and have no experience in how newsrooms expect their footage to be delivered and dealt with these days - but others in this forum can certainly give you some excellent pointers.

The important thing is, if you are going to focus on ENG work....(and I can only talk about the F350 here)....does this camera, its disc system, and the related ability to do in-camera cuts-only edits, plus what you can do with the software...do all these add up to something that your clients cannot resist?

Consider how enthusiastic your various clients are about the XDCAM work flow versus the Panny system. It's quite possible that those who see its advantages would be more than happy to feed you a lot of work. But would that be enough for you? (I was doing up to five assignments a day in NZ...but that was then....and it wasn't Denmark).

The thing is, would you get preferred treatment from those who are going the XDCAM work flow route?

Would you have less competition from other stringers if you go that way...compared to the competition from those who opt for the Panny?

Can you deliver faster using the disc capture than using a card?

Are you safer on location (as in not missing that important shot) with a disc than a card?

Does the buffer/record feature give you an advantage?

Is the fact that you can delete clips a good point in ENG? (I would say definitely, especially if you're on location with a reporter doing a piece to cam and he screws up....).

Talking about reporters...if you're working with a good one who also has some understanding of the disc system, he should be able to do a top and tail (front and back pieces to cam) AFTER you've shot all your footage...then an in-cam edit...and over the Internet to the newsroom....in the ideal world.

My friends in NZ love their Sonys - and they really like the Sony wireless lav mics for one-man band work. (Personally, I think Sony should have sold the camera without its stereo mic, which picks up camera noise....so I replaced it with an AT short shotgun...which would be ideal for ENG in my opinion. You should be able to do instant pieces to cam with it if you're a decent reporter...and I think it picks up really excellent location sound.

You should even be able to interview or get vox pops on the spot by yourself if all you're looking for is short sound clips from joe public..

Lastly (since I could obviously go on for quite a while).....if you do eventually opt for the F350 (but you should also be talking to your news friends about the F330, because it is a lot cheaper...though they/you may find you absolutely 'need' the HD-SDI feature of the 350)..well, anyway, make absolutely certain you get a really sturdy tripod and head for either of them.
Otherwise their weight will transmit through the head when you move the tripod arm and your shots will all shudder as you start to pan and you'll be crying in your Schnapps:-)

Best wishes.


Michael Knight.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 05:45 AM   #14
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I have been using the 330 since spring (last year).
My work is primary corporate work, but a lot of my shootings is much like ENG work.
The workflow is easy and fast, the camera performs as expected.

If you are thinking about XDCAM HD, and you have the budget, buy it!!

There are some factors you have to think about.

The 350 don’t have component HD out, that means that you cant just plug into an ordinary HDTV, without some kind of conversion SDI to component.

The 330 have a smaller viewfinder, it is harder to focus, and it don’t have the slow mo. framerates.

Both cameras are les light sensitive than a 450/570 SD only. About 2/3 fstop.
If you use gain on a XDCAM HD camera you will ruin the picture quality even +3db induce a significant amount of noise and blur to the picture..
On some 2/3 inch SD cameras you can gain up to about +9db, and still have a decent picture!

On some occasions I have used the component out, for demonstration of the quality to a potential costumer.
The focus with the smaller viewfinder can be done, but the bigger the better!
As a remark the two viewfinders is the same resolution. 600 TV lines.

On some of the promotion pictures from TV2 news, you are able to see the cameraman carrying his camera.
To my eyes the camera is a 350.

If I am right, TV2 news uses the 350 for ENG work, so if it is god enough for the them!!!!!!!

As a last remark I bought the package containing the auto focus lens.
The lens performs well and gives a god overall picture, but but but…. Sony or maybe Canon have shot themselves in the foot by not making the focus speed proportional to the turn of the focus ring.
The faster you turn the ring the faster the focus motor runs… A gimmick that makes a god lens much harder to use. I cant see who in the world, would benefit from such a feature.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 02:01 PM   #15
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Thanks a lot

Thank you all for the info and input.... During the holidays I have been studying brochures, PRICES, delivery formats etc etc etc etc. AND then........ Today I talked to a guy who knows the ins and outs of the Danish media world and the 3 "official" news cannels here..The two biggest stations here have bought more than 50 pcs. each of...............
Panasonic AJ-SPX900E P2.........with all the trimmings.
The third new station have a one year lease of Sony XDCAM350, after that they also go for Panasonic P2.......So my options narrowed down to 1.. Now back to the calculator, incomming and outgoing, and is it worth it ??
Thanks again and a happy and prosperous New Year to all.

Best regards Erik

PS: Brian I will contact you soon or we meet at CAV
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