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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:05 AM   #1
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So why do you want a Sony XDCAM EX ?

Maybe it's time to reflect, sit back and ask yourself why do I really want this camera I will start with my own appraisal.
Pros...
1. Good quality pictures at a reasonable cost without having to sell the wife (again).
2. A 14x Fujinon lens that works like a proper manual lens and because of its design won't suffer back focus problems and get dust onto the sensor.
3. Uses a card system that has already been adopted by others, this makes it competitive and is likely to lead to better pricing.
4. Sony has given me a jolt by bringing out an HD ONLY camera, I like many others have been pondering about HD and this has given me the incentive to jump.
5. You have 2 choices to ARCHIVE with the Sony...hard drive or XDCAM optical disc...I think for corporate/educational work like mine the optical route is the safest.
6. Your material is compatible with all XDCAM HD footage which could bring many bonuses for 2nd camera work etc.
7. The camera looks good and will impress your client who will be fascinated by the lack of tape...as an aside many of my clients want to review footage on the day and using mini DV there is always the chance of damaging that section of tape if rewound too often...that will no longer be an issue.
8. If it's like my P2 camera I wont be spending time transferring my footage in real time...5 one hour mini DV tapes can really hold up the start of an edit.
9. I like the SONY picture it's been a while since I have had a Sony camera (Z1) but looking at a recent 3 camera edit the Sony camera did produce the better image.

Cons...
1. As for any cutting edge technology it would be useful to have belt and braces like an FS4 EX tapeless recorder.
2. Having dipped my toe into HD 8 weeks ago with green screen footage, yes it gave a good key but when I took the footage into Motion and added an HD jump back...Motion went like treacle...I have since been given some tips for future HD using Apple ProRES codec.
3. Price for 16GB sticks are about £450 which I hope will drop sooner rather than later.

Last edited by George Johnston; September 19th, 2007 at 04:02 AM. Reason: I always mix up the Z1 for the FX1 (Z1 has XLRs)
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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:09 AM   #2
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There are more pros than cons... That's why i want an EX ;)
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Old September 19th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #3
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Hi George, I'm quite excited like all of you i believe; This camera looks like a big jump further in performance and hassle free workflow and storage.
But on one side i'm scared. I've been a Z1 owner since the camera came out and to tell the whole truth i've been disappointed and frustrated from the performance and all the issues of it. When the Z1 was presented at the time i remember all the reviews and rumors, all refering at the Z1 like "the camera". Now, after years, (but i sold my Z1 only an year later i had it), i can tell that none of the reviews was close to the reality, nobody at the time was writing about the electronic look of the camera, the very bad encoding system with all the related artifacts issues and so on and on with a long list.
I end up buying a Jvc hd 101, wich i still have and so far perform really well and deliver a superb look despite to all the problems it has at his launch.
Now, i'm not here to compare the two, but i feel myself to not trust Sony anymore. (see issues with the v1 as well). Damn, looks like they use the market to test the equipment!!! Can't believe their engineers aren't able to discover that their product are not ready to go on the market.
So, here i am, looking at the new ex1, dreaming on the beautiness of the images produced that are promised in all the reviews (so far), and all the cons that everybody claims (so) far.
We still have to discover where the trick is. And i'm not talking about the clear and visible cons, but the hiddens, the one you discover on the field, the limits of the camera itself. (If you own a z1 and you record some figure like a person simply walking in the frame from a side to another and you rewatch the footage frame by frame you make the odd discover that the figure will be accompanied by a "ghost" effect, two or three colors blending from the figure and magically floating outside of it, and this can be difficult even for a pro like David Copperfield).
So, this time it's clear that Sony is running behind competitors, giving a proper lens to the ex1 (to beat jvc) and tapeless solution (Pana); coming out with a "jewel", the new chip, adding something that the others still missing. Wich will be the price? Who knows.......
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Old September 19th, 2007, 04:20 AM   #4
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Fabrizio I share your dilemma, I also bought the JVC HD101 to replace the Z1 and apart from Sony (PD170 onwards) JVC produce a very natural picture. All cameras have their "looks" and I have noticed that it changes ever so slightly per upgrade ie. PD150 (Red) to PD170 not as red. I take reviews with a pinch
of salt you only have to read reviews on digital SLRs to see how wrong a reviewer can get it. We are the testers it's all part of the game, though todays cameras are firmware upgradable and most problems can be ironed out this way. I had a dead pixel in my JVC101 that only manifested itself after an hour or so, I phoned JVC who told me how to fix this and it worked, this gave me great faith in the technology, in fact the JVC engineer told me that if you take the 100/200 series cameras through a metal detector in an airport it could cause a deal pixel so he advised me to take a note of the procedure for future use.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 06:02 AM   #5
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My favoured pro video store is flatly, if not even slightly aggressively disinterested in the EX1. They're happy to sell Z1s and the like, but they're not going to bother with the EX1. They're nuts, and needless to say have lost a customer.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a Z1 with shallow DoF, progressive scan, decent lens, good low light performance, good cine-gamma control (I hope), and a slightly improved workflow over the HVX P2.

Having said that, I would have preferred a 18 Mbps 'economy' setting for doing conferences, and I'm unsure about a 4:3 mode for conference work (that clients want to fit the same screen as traditional PowerPoint), and still a little concerned about the lack of SD.

But having spent the summer with an HVX200 - exclusively using P2, I am so convinced that I'd have got one (possibly with a Brevis) had it not been for the EX1.


BTW - as a slight aside on this tape/card thing... Pro photographer friends of mine have gone entirely digital, with the 'switch' being the capacity - 4 and 8 gig cards being enough for most shoots, assuming a nightly download.

A 4 Gig card and an HVX is a bit painful. A 128 Gig card at the same price would be different. I don't see cards coming down to the price of XDCAM discs, but given a few years, I'd put money on capacity rising so fast that the price per Gb would exceed XDCAMs. At which point, I can budget for keeping used cards as backup.

And I'll admit to accidentally putting a Compact Flash card through a standard laundry wash - the data remained intact, the card completely undamaged after gentle drying, and is still in use on my old PCs.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 07:51 AM   #6
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Does anyone know whether there are higher capacity SxS cards in the works, and what size they will be?
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Old September 19th, 2007, 08:06 AM   #7
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As I have read 32GB to date
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Old September 19th, 2007, 09:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss View Post
Having said that, I would have preferred a 18 Mbps 'economy' setting for doing conferences, and I'm unsure about a 4:3 mode for conference work (that clients want to fit the same screen as traditional PowerPoint), and still a little concerned about the lack of SD.
My understanding is that the EX will have three quality settings including an 'economy' mode like you described, so that's one less thing to worry about. As far as HD-only recording is concerned, that's not a big deal unless someone expects you to hand them a miniDV tape at the end of a shoot, in which case the EX1 wouldn't be a suitable camera. For anything else, it's easy enough with today's editing software to downrez and crop from HD to 4:3 SD, and I've done this before for at least one project shot in HDV.

If/when I can afford it I'd want an EX1 for three main reasons compared to my HDV cameras (assuming these hold true): better low-light sensitivity, better resolution and better DOF control. What's not to like about a camera with true 1080p resolution from the sensor to the recording format, plus a decent-size (for the price) 1/2" sensor? If the EX1 lives up to its specs it should clearly be a breakthrough product...now they just need to get the cost of the SxS cards down.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 09:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
My understanding is that the EX will have three quality settings including an 'economy' mode like you described,
Looking at the European product brochure, it only mentions 25mbps CBR and 35mbps VBR modes. No "economy" mode. If you see that listed somewhere please do provide the link.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
unless someone expects you to hand them a miniDV tape at the end of a shoot, in which case the EX1 wouldn't be a suitable camera.
I'm still very much confused on this one. At DVExpo East in July, the Sony rep EXPLICITLY said the camera would be able to use the low cost cards (about $200 at the time) at the cost of very slow transfer times. More recently people are claiming Sony is now saying otherwise.

IF it can handle the slower cheaper cards, that's what you can hand to the client although you HAVE TO add the cost to the shoot. The client though, won't need any video gear at all (unlike DV or HDV tape) since the card would be viewable with any laptop with Express port.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #10
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Why I want the EX1?

I can't stand HDV (25mpbs CBR) as a codec and as a workflow. As the poster above mentions about their experiences with the Z1, I've seen and heard enough about codec issues to wait for a successor.

While HDV can look good in many "ideal" circumstances, those circumstances often do not exist wiht hand held run and gun. I recently shot a marketing piece for a client (PD170) which involved whipping the camera around alot (fast pans) from products to logos to customers along with many fast zooms. In addition there was some inside shooting in very poor lighting. I CRINGE at the thought of what that would be like with HDV.

XDCAM (35mbps VBR) has a proven itself in the news gathering environment so can probably hold up to similar run & gun corporate shoots (as well as weddings) given both the codec and the better low light ability of this camera.

Right now the only "reasonable" (IMHO) HD formats for the lower end of the market are P2/DVCProHD or XDCAM and, for me, XDCAM wins. It provides for more video per gigabyte (35mbps vs 100mbps) and a reasonable and proven means of archival (XDCAM discs). The SxS cards hold more promise for greater price drops than P2 also.

Simply, I want to offer good HD for my clients and XDCAM wins over P2 and HDV for me.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 10:35 AM   #11
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Although I own a Panasonic HVX200 P2 camera it looks dumpy and domestic, Panasonic might bring out a better design but I think old Sony have kicked them in the "pixels" with the EX and I think it will be hard to beat. Coming from a P2 owner I think the SxS card will win...but only if we get 64GB and above...I remember Panasonic telling us they would have 128GB P2 cards, thats never going to happen now in fact I would not be surprised if Pana are developing their own SxS camera..remember their promice with the M2 format !
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Old September 19th, 2007, 10:58 AM   #12
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In the "next round" Panasonic will probably try to come out with a $3000 version of the HVX200 (HVX100?). In addition they will tout SD compatibility (missing from Sony EX1).

My guess is Panasonic's strategy will be to accommodate the transition from SD/DV, include DVCPro50 (SD) and allow one to shoot in DVCPro100 (HD) too.

Sony's strategy will be to push the market to HD. Sell more Sony HDTVs, sell Blu-ray players. I also think this is part of their strategy to beat HDDVD. Note how close Blu-ray is to XDCAM HD. They may well be redoing Betamax(failed)/BetaCam (big success) with hindsight that they think can make that work this time with Blu-ray/XDCAM HD. Panasonic may includ a "pro" version of AVCHD (no GOP) to accomodate as much or more data on their P2 cards as a way to counter XDCAM at 35mbps compared to DVCProHD at 100mbps.

In the round that follows, Sony will come out with their $3000 "EX Junior" (kinda in a bad name position calling the current model "1") but I have no idea whether it'll accommodate an SD format or acquisition other than solid state. The crystal ball clouds.

In any case, I do expect that Panasonic's next move will be a lower cost P2 camera which will counter both the EX1 and the Z1/V1.

BTW, I predicted Sony would come out with a lower cost XDCAM when Panny came out with the P2. It was inevitable. The hard part is predicting how fast and with what feature sets the cameras will advance with.

Within 2 years all Prosummer cameras will be non tape (Canon and JVC point to this too based on their presentation at DVExpo East in July).
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Old September 19th, 2007, 11:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
In any case, I do expect that Panasonic's next move will be a lower cost P2 camera which will counter both the EX1 and the Z1/V1.
P2 is doomed and DVCProHD may not be far behind it, so Panasonic's future moves will likely be based on AVC encoding. We've already seen this with their little 3-chip AVCHD camera, and the ideal successor to the HVX200 would be something using AVC-intra at up to 50 Mbps on standard (high-end) flash memory cards. But Sony has set the bar high by using 1920x1080 sensors and a matching recording format with an equivalent delivery option on Blu-ray discs. Panasonic has to go to AVC to survive, and if they're smart they'll dump P2 in the process and show us what's possible using *affordable* solid-state memory.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 11:20 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
My understanding is that the EX will have three quality settings including an 'economy' mode...
Quite correct, Kevin, in that there are indeed three different recording options including an "economy" mode. They are:

HQ mode (35Mbps VBR) at 1920 x 1080 in 60i, 30p, 24p

HQ mode (35Mbps VBR) at 1280 x 720 in 60p, 30p, 24p

SP mode (25Mbps CBR) at 1440 x 1080 in 60i, 24PsF

Source: Sony's U.S. press conference which I attended yesterday in New York. I've included a snapshot of the specific PowerPoint slide as proof.
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So why do you want a Sony XDCAM EX ?-ex1recoptions.jpg  
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Old September 19th, 2007, 11:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
I'm still very much confused on this one. At DVExpo East in July, the Sony rep EXPLICITLY said the camera would be able to use the low cost cards (about $200 at the time) at the cost of very slow transfer times. More recently people are claiming Sony is now saying otherwise.

IF it can handle the slower cheaper cards...
No need to feel confused; while the person you spoke with back in July may have answered to the best of his or her abilities, their statement was clearly based on information which either changed or wasn't very accurate to begin with. Sony has since stated clearly that *fast* SxS cards will be an absolute necessity for the EX1.
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