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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:23 AM   #1
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Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

I own two Sony NX5Us and I am worried about loosing AC power while recording and losing the files if the recovery function doesn’t work. We shoot a lot of legal depositions and that’s the arena where I’m the most worried. We also record to a DVD at the same time so that would also be lost if there was a power outage. I could go back to a tape recording as a back up but going back to tape is moving backwards for me. My sales rep suggested the Anton Bauer ELIPZ and said it would run the NX5 for 7-8 hours. I don’t have a good feeling about running my cameras off of a battery for my video depo shoots. I thought about using a small UPS but they are too heavy. The ideal situation would be to have a light weight UPS system so I could have AC power unless the power goes out. I was hoping some of you might have a few ideas. Thanks. Scott
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 10:51 AM   #2
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

So many people think that moving to tape is going backwards. A recording medium that keeps whatever has been recorded up to the point of failure and automatically gives a permanent archive copy on a reliable low-cost medium doesn't sound 'backwards' when compared with a system that stores video on a medium that can fail (not that rare) and all footage on it will probably disappear forever. It also needs archiving on a less expensive medium, (magnetic) as soon as possible after shooting.

If you are worried about losing material on which you livelihood may depend, I wouldn't worry about 'moving backwards' as if it is a bad fashion statement. That's why professional organisations won't move into the latest 'must have' video systems as a knee-jerk reaction. Tape is still very much alive used as an intermediate storage until they can get assets safely onto managed video storage systems with serious backup mechanisms, e.g. networked video servers with fault tolerant disk storage.

I doubt that those making or requiring depositions care how sexy the video man's recording system is, but they would be very unhappy if they had to re-shoot an important event because of a technical failure.

Steve
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 03:46 PM   #3
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

I've lost power while taping on my Sony NX5U but only lost a short clip. I think your biggest worry should be the sd card themselves. I've had cards fail and that is the worse case senerio in my book. I bought the NX5U because it ability to record sd card and external flash (Sony HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit).
I use battery power if i can't get dedicated power source. I've had people trip circuit and event pull the plug.
Nine times out of ten they will take a break before you have to change battery.

I like your idea about using a UPS.

This is a great forum to have many tough questions answered. Many people here are very passionate about what they do and what type of media they use. So don't take it personal Steve
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 04:31 PM   #4
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

Your UPS idea is by far the most sensible.

I don't know why you think an appropriate unit would be too heavy - my main PC system UPS can dish out 700 Watts for 15 minutes if required and is no larger than a shoe box.

Granted, I wouldn't want to carry it around in a pocket, but then your power requirements aren't going to be within a bulls roar of 700 Watts!

Work out exactly how many watts all you gear requires and go hunting for an appropriate system - one that plugs directly into a mains socket, filters and regulates that mains untill it fails for whatever reason, then switches over to battery backup, is all you need.

Do get one where the "mains fail" beep can be silenced permanently, else you'll get thrown out of court!

In the event that the chosen unit is heavier than you find comfortable, simply get a little hand truck to wheel it around on, heck you can use it for your other gear as well.

Do test the setup before you go "live", some systems have a definite "blip" between fail and backup and I don't have a clue how either the camera or DVD burner would handle that.

In fact, test the setup with your main PC system UPS before you go shopping, if the camera/ writer setup can't handle your existing system going into backup mode without having a hissy fit and losing data, it may not handle any.


CS
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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:46 AM   #5
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham Texidor Sr. View Post
I've lost power while taping on my Sony NX5U but only lost a short clip. I think your biggest worry should be the sd card themselves. I've had cards fail and that is the worse case senerio in my book. I bought the NX5U because it ability to record sd card and external flash (Sony HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit).
I use battery power if i can't get dedicated power source. I've had people trip circuit and event pull the plug.
Nine times out of ten they will take a break before you have to change battery.

I like your idea about using a UPS.

This is a great forum to have many tough questions answered. Many people here are very passionate about what they do and what type of media they use. So don't take it personal Steve
I don't take anything posted here as personal, nor do I have any technology axe to grind. I have both tape and solid state recording medium cameras so it was just advice.
I have never relied on video for a living, however, if I did, is wouldn't risk my work just to be using the latest technology, particularly in a simple talking head role like a legal deposition where the consequences of total loss would be professionally embarrassing to say the least. It's not as if any potential improvement in video quality resulting in changing from HDV to AVCHD is relevant for such an application. Its reliability that will keep the work coming.

As you say, the use of SD cards should be Scott's biggest worry and if he insists on sticking with them, then doubling-up, i.e. using and auxiliary recorder (and looking after batteries) would seem to me a better solution than cluttering the shoot up with boxes on the floor.


Steve
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Old August 24th, 2011, 11:15 AM   #6
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

Steve,

Oops, I meant to tell Scott not to take things personal.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 12:07 PM   #7
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

Thank you for the input. I'm going to go with a small UPS. I found one that only weighs 8 pounds that will give me the time I need if we loose power.

Steve - It's not about having the latest and greatest, it's about providing the client a superior product and lessening the processing time at our office. You make it sound like we are buying our equipment just so we can have bragging rights or something. I can assure you that's not the case. If we shoot a 5 hour deposition on our DSR-250 it would take about 6 - 7 hours to digitize and process the video. If we shoot on the NX5 it takes us about two hours. Tape is dying a quick death and I needed to buy new cameras. My 250s are ten years old and it was time for them to go. We looked long and hard at which camera to buy and I'm very happy with the NX5. I was just simply looking for some input on the power issue.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:45 PM   #8
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

Scott,

You didn't mention before that you had been using DSRs so I assume from your first post that you regarded (all) tape as a 'moving backwards'. So for instance my comments related to using a Z5 vs a NX5. The lens is the same, its just the recording medium that changes. If you were using HDV, your takes would be split into 1 hour chunks, so dubbing could proceed at the start of the second hour and the final tape would be transferred just over 1 hour from the end of shooting.
Tape is just another medium to use and the view of many is that whilst there is a finite possibility of failure, most failures are not catastrophic unlike those encountered using solid state storage.
I'm sure that consumer memory recording systems will eventually raise their reliability levels to approach those of pro kit, e.g. SxS or P2 but at more affordable cost. Meantime, tape will continue to be used for mission critical professional work.

Steve
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Old August 29th, 2011, 12:49 AM   #9
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Re: Loosing Power While Recording Sony NX5U

For those who are not familiar with the NX5, the AC adapter has a battery-plate that clips into the battery socket on the back. You cannot have a battery inserted in the camera when running from mains power. If you could, there would be no worries with losing mains power.

I'm not sure how well a lightweight UPS unit is going to work for what Scott wants to do, particulary with recording simultaneously to a DVD recorder. I agree with Chris and think Scot might have to look at a more robust unit and look into the kind of rolling case he would need for transporting the rig.

I've been using an NX5 for depositions for about a year and half now. I've found power issues to be kind of complicated, but thinking through it basically led me to running on batteries. The following comments reflect my experience and the solutions I came up with.

1. BATTERIES: Note that I said "batteries" not "battery." There is no reason to just have one, even if it is big enough to run you all day long. (Heck, if somebody really wants an ultra-reliable battery, you could get a deep cycle marine battery with an inverter to feed 120 v to your camera. But, my gosh, talk about portability issues!) Seems to me that a couple of Sony NPF970 batteries will be a better, and less expensive, choice than a a single heavy duty (and expensive) Anton-Bauer. The pair of NPF970s will easily power the camera for a full day's worth of depos and will recharge overnight. You can run one in a charger (off mains power) while using the other, and that gets you around the 7 to 8 hour limitation of the AB.

These days, I am mostly running with a couple of NPF970 batteries. I bring the charger unit, but use it to charge the battery I'm not using. I have a small, light "Newpointe" UPS that I got at Costco a couple of years ago. That way, if the power goes out, I won't lose anything I am shooting and I always have a second battery at the ready. If the power goes down, the court reporter's transcription machine will stop and, very likely, so will the deposition. Sometimes, the video can be the recording and can carry on even if the power is off. (Depends on your qualifications, the rules in your jurisdiction, and the moods of the parties' lawyers.) On the other hand, some of our Court Reporters are now bringing their own UPS units. Those that do not have their own will often want to plug into mine.

Since depos have defined breaks, there is always time to swap batteries as Abraham pointed out. This is so even on those days where the lawyers decide to skip lunch. If nothing else, the Court Reporter will demand a break now and then. Plenty of time to swap batteries.

2. UPS ISSUES OF BEEPING

Chris suggested getting a UPS unit that allows you to switch off the beeping. These can be hard to find in small packages. Myself, I've never seen a lightweight, small UPS with a switchable alarm. (They may well be out there somewhere; I just could not find one when I went looking a couple of years ago.) Since Scott is working with discovery depositions rather than courtroom testimony, beeping won't get him "thrown out of court" as Chris feared. If there is a power outage, everybody -- the court reporter in particular -- will be affected. For that, a beeping shutdown is not a problem.

Where I have seen problems is not with power failures but with power dips and spikes. It has been a particular problem in the rural areas where I work. There are numbers of towns with antique power grids where the dips and spikes can be frequent. Every dip and spike causes a beep or two. THAT beeping can be annoying and embarassing. It can be particularly pronounced on very hot summer afternoons when a lot of A/C units are kicking on and off. It has been enough of a problem for me that it pushed me into running on batteries whenever I could. When I'm recording in a location where I know there will be a lot of power problems, I'll put the charger and small UPS in another room or out in the hallway. In areas this rural, you do not need to worry about somebody stealing it. It can be different in what passes for cities in this area, but the cities have much more reliable power, so beeping has not been an issue there.

3. HOW LONG CAN YOU RUN ON BIG SONY BATTERIES?: I recently recorded a day-long CLE program where there was no convenient place to run a cord with mains power. I ran the first NPF970 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, with a couple of short breaks. There was a fair amount of panning and zooming and I was feeding phantom power to a shotgun mike. At 2:45 pm, I still had not seen a low-battery indicator. However, there are numbers of reports of an NX5 not giving low battery warnings until about 5 minutes before the battery shuts down. I took the opportunity of a break in the program to swap in the second battery at 2:45. For depos, I generally run the morning on one battery and swap in the second after the lunch break. I have the original battery charging so it is available if the lawyers run on into the evening.

4. MEMORY DEVICES: If I were constantly busy with depositions, I probably would look at getting a second FMU128 unit and would haul along a laptop or netbook with an external e-Sata or USB drive. Large file transfers from the FMU are about three times faster than from the SD cards. With day-long depos, its enough for me to want to relegate the SD cards to back-up duty. They're for the case when something goes wrong with the hard drive after I've offloaded files from the FMU. As I work in a rural area, deposition work can be intermittent and usually only a day or two at a time. Offloading the FMU in the evening is no problem. One does need to be careful about labeling and segregating the SD cards and making sure they go to the proper folder. If I were running day-in and day-out, and had weight and space restrictions I might also look at a second FMU just for peace of mind.

The SD cards also provide peace of mind for me. I have never had problem with the FMU except for problems of my own making. For example, deleting a file that I thought I had offloaded but had not. That is where the dual recording was finally important.

5. WHAT YOU LOSE IF THE POWER STOPS: If the NX5 shuts down unexpectedly, the most you can lose is the last 11 minutes. Remember, the file format is 32 bit which means a 2 gb file size which, in AVCHD, translates to 11 minute segments. You might not even lose that. When I first started using the camera last year, I had a couple of unexpected shutdowns and discovered how robust that file system can be. One was a battery failure (or, rather, a failure to watch the battery indicator when taping a dance rehearsal). The other was somebody using a remote controller (I had forgotten to shut it off in the NX5 menu). As it turned out, I did not lose anything in either instance. This is luck, of course.

Can you get unexpected shut-downs when running with batteries? Of course. Your UPS unit can die, too. No system is proof against power failure. I run on batteries, but I still bring along the AC adapter in case I run into a problem with a battery.

6. POSSIBLE ISSUES WITH A DVD RECORDER: I can see the attraction of parallel recording to a DVD. Running it from a good UPS unit seems like a no-brainer. I personally found DVD recording more of hassle than it was worth to me. The problem I had was the frequency of starting and stopping because the local lawyers like to go on and off the record. But that does not beset everybody in this business, The biggest potential difficulty that I see is with selecting a small UPS unit, which might not keep a DVD recorder going in the midst of writing to disk. That brings me to the next topic.

7. WILL LIGHTWEIGHT UPS UNITS RUN YOUR DVD RECORDER AND PROTECT YOU BETTER THAN CAMERA BATTERIES?: Maybe, but maybe not. Many small UPS units are just a surge protector and a battery. When the power goes off, there may be a momentary pause while the unit switches over to battery. On my Newpointe unit, for example, the gap is enough for cameras to shut down and come back up. Not good for reassurance against losing footage. Likely to be just as much of a a problem for the DVD recorder.

I used to haul a rather hefty TrippLite unit --- it was heavy in part because it had line conditioning built into it and the switchover to battery was immediate or so close to immediate that nothing every stopped when power went out. But that capability came at the price of a unit having 4 times the weight and twice the size of the Newpointe. Shoebox size, as Chris put it. Only it was a shoebox with a couple of lead bricks inside.

8. WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE WEIGHT AND CUMBERSOMENESS OF A PROPER UPS:

Several years ago, when I was recording depositions from a tape camera through Adobe On-Location, I hauled that hefty Tripp Lite UPS unit around to handle the camera, hard drive and laptop. I put the UPS in my rolling kit which is a modified Stanley "Fat Max" tool box,. It has 7-inch wheels so works like the dolly that Chris mentioned. I would put the big UPS unit (the one with the buttons that allowed me to switch off the alarms) in the bottom section and cover it with foam. The camera and its foam enclosure would go on top in its own foam holder. Other parts of the kit (mics, adapters, laptop, hard drive, etc.) went into the other compartments. Obviously, this would be unworkable if I ever needed to fly on commercial airlines, But, I do not. With the Fat Max having 7-inch wheels, it rolls pretty much anywhere, even up and down stairways.

So, would I rather leave that weight and cumbersomeness behind? You betcha. That's how I came to preferences I've described above and it is part of why I moved to the NX5 when they came out. But, if I were still going to be recording to a regular hard drive (as opposed to the flash memory units), or if I were trying to double record to a DVD recorder, I would look carefully at the UPS units and probably wind up going back to the Fat Max case.
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