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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 October 17th, 2007, 10:09 AM   #1
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4:3 workflow questions.

How difficult is it to use the EX1 for 4:3 projects?
Are there guides in the viewfinder for example that show the 4:3 area?
Also, when editing (currently FCP 5.1, soon FCP 6) ,are there any reframing issues I should be aware of?
At the moment my client base is only interested in SD DVD's,
but since I'm at the point of upgrading my equipment I want something that's futureproof (like my vx1000 which I still use for some projects).
How much better does downconverted SD from the EX1 look than
out-of-the-box 4:3 SD from a PD170/Z1?
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Old October 17th, 2007, 10:35 AM   #2
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The only advantage I can see is you could cut in HD and master DVD's in SD. I'm not sure about the graticule but by cutting in HD you could pan and scan images in a 4x3 SD timeline so it shouldn't be a huge issue.

Just to be clear there is no downconvert on the f/w output, only on the HD-SDI. There maybe on the component/composite output as well - I can't tell. So a downconverted workflow will only work for those with SDI capture capabilities.

Using a downconverted workflow to an NLE makes no sense with this camera. You lose all the xfeer speed advantage of the SxS Express cards, or you have to transcode which results in equally long delays. You would also have an issue clearing off your cards if you didn't have an HD transfer (I would anyway).
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Old October 17th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #3
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As mentioned SDI outputs SD. 4:2:2 no less at either 8 or 10 bit Uncompressed (not sure about that part). EX1 does have 4:3 marks in the display.

I'm thinking of using Telestream Pipeline taking SDI in to either DVCPro50 or IMX50 out (it can also do all I Frame MPEG).

With matching time code, you can cut SD without having to do a render to that, then do an "auto assemble" after inputing the HD off the cards if such a version is needed.
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Old October 17th, 2007, 05:26 PM   #4
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As mentioned SDI outputs SD. 4:2:2 no less at either 8 or 10 bit Uncompressed (not sure about that part).
Its 8 bit.

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Old October 17th, 2007, 06:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jan Boersma View Post
At the moment my client base is only interested in SD DVD's,.......
You could always author the DVDs 16:9 SD, and let the clients player sort out whether to centre cut or letterbox for 4:3 TVs, or give true 16:9 on a widescreen TV. The same as nearly all commercial films on DVD.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 01:22 PM   #6
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Jan, I wouldn't even bother with the EX. What's the use if you output mostly 4x3 SD? Futureproof? The Z1 will be good to go for the next three years at least. After that, sell it and move up.

It's not just the camera but the whole issue of archiving and editing as well. Editing HD is a pain in the b*tt ie so much more expensive and tedious than DV. Going the XDCAM-route is going to cost you a lot more than the cam, as you can read on this forum...

I would get the Z1 which is a great camera for SD- 4:3 OR 16:9. Or HDV. Coming from a VX1000, it should be a treat ;) Before the Z1 I owned a PD-150- and you'll love the Z1 because of its better ergonomics and ease of use. (worse in lowlight, yes, but the gain on the Z1 is very good and will get you through most situations)

At first I bought the Z1 for its HD(V) capabilities, but most of my projects either ask for SD or are much better off shooting/editing SD. The SD pictures look great, at least for my (client's) purposes.
For the documentary I'm working on I shoot HDV but otherwise I will only shoot SD for my clients. No client ever asked me about HD. I deliver on DVD or in some type of web-format. Who needs HD for that?

But if you want great new toy and have the cash- get the EX! I cannot really justify it for myself but am looking for a good excuse. Even then, I will keep my Z1 for most practical -SD- purposes.

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Old October 18th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jan Boersma View Post
How much better does downconverted SD from the EX1 look than
out-of-the-box 4:3 SD from a PD170/Z1?
Jan,

Z1U = 540 line rez. pixel shifted. EX1 = 1000 line rez. no pixel shift.

You've got twice the resolution from the get go. I'm sure you will see a noticeable difference, especially downconverted.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 04:35 PM   #8
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Thanks a lot for all your answers.
Good to know that the EX-1 has 4:3 marks in the display.
One reason I'm thinking of getting the EX-1 is because it is tapeless.
With my own camera and lately all other camera's I've been using
I have TAPE problems (Glitches,sound dropout, footage not recognized, etc. etc.). And sticking the card directly from the camera into my MACBookPro seems like heaven to me.
Basically this camera ticks all the right boxes for me (would have preferred
JVC-HD 110 shoulder-model though...).
Now I know that most situations don't ask for HD yet, but I wan't to be prepared for the top end so to speak, and apparantly the EX-1 holds up realy good to grading as well (according to a BBC-techy who said the signal is more robust than that from the HVX-200).
One of my main worries is backups (don't wan't to buy Sony's disc system), probably will have to buy tons of Lacie firewire-drives.
Jeroen Wolf: Your advice about the Z1 seems spot on,
but I thought eding with HD(EX-1) is easier than HDV(Z1)?
(I'm using FCP5.1 now, FCP6 soon).
Lastly: love to have over/undercranking,manual lens/iris .
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Old October 19th, 2007, 02:57 PM   #9
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Jan, I wouldn't even bother with the EX. What's the use if you output mostly 4x3 SD? Futureproof? The Z1 will be good to go for the next three years at least. After that, sell it and move up.
I agree with this notion- if your work is mostly SD and you just want to "futureproof" your footage, then the EX1 is not the camera for you. SD delivery requires a lot of extra work from this camera. That goes double if you are delivering SD 4:3.

I'll deal with the EX, but that's because I am driving my business towards HD only acquisition, with SD DVD being my only SD delivery format at the moment- and I typically deliver that as 16:9 letterbox. In other words, the more HD you do, the more sense the EX1 makes.

For me the EX in 4:3 works only because of the 4:3 guides (its wrong to call them graticules, graticules are etched onto glass in the eyepiece.) I plan to scale the image down so the vertical fits in 480 lines, and just crop the sides. (I doubt that's a unique plan at all.) I doubt I'll use any pan & scan, because 4:3 clients are usually my lowest paying ones, and they won't want any extra time & expense.

I am not a big fan of the Z1- that said, if you already have a Z1 then keep it.

If you are buying a transitional camera, I would suggest the Panasonic HVX200. The HVX200 is, in my opinion, the best camera for SD work anywhere close to this price range- and I would suggest shooting DVCPRO 50 and skipping conversion. I can't spare enough words for DVCPRO 50 4:2:2. You can also keep your DV 4:1:1 workflow if you need it.

Upconversion from a 4:2:2 SD source to HD resolutions looks better than DV- so you have a future-proofing path even if you stay in SD workflows. I've seen HVX200 footage shot in DV50 output to HDCAM SR, and it looked great. I doubt a non-professional would notice the footage in quick takes. DV sticks out quite a bit more and lots of non-pros will notice it. (In my experience at any rate.)

You also get a decent 720p image from the camera. The resolution is a bit on the low end, for HD, but the images look great and intercut well with Viper, Varicam, HDCAM, RED etc., at up to 1080p resolutions. I am not thrilled with the HVX as an HD camera, but its hard to complain at its price point. Well... it was until the EX1 was announced.

I despise the HVX's 1080 mode- stick with 720p and upconvert for any 1080 deliveries if time permits.

About the "BBC Techy" comment about color and how it holds up in grading. The HVX200 has component analog as its best output option., The EX1 has HD SDI at full res. Both are outputting 8 bit 4:2:2- but the EX1 has more resolution, and its digital. So for a tethered workflow the EX1 is much better than the HVX200.

In an untethered workflow for color sensitive applications, the HVX200 is the winner. The difference between the HVX200 on DVCPRO P2 vs EX1 onto SxS XDCAM depends on how far you have to push. If I shoot my shot close to the intended final look then the EX1 will "win" because of the resolution. If you shoot with say a blue cast with high contrast and crushed blacks, and then in post the director or producer comes in and says, "Change that to a rich red, oh and let's get some detail and tonality into the dark areas." Its a different story- 4:2:0 will break.

XDCAM 4:2:2 will be a different beastie, but that isn't here yet. If anyone at Sony is listening, I would love to see XDCAM 4:2:2@50Mbps on the EX1. I bet you can do that via a firmware upgrade.

Someone remarked that editing HD is a pain. I have to disagree. Unless your computer is very antiquated (i.e. 3 years old) you should be fine. I have a two year plus G5 2.7 DP, and it edits HD beautifully. Color, in Final Cut Studio 2, won't work in HD- but that's because I have the default video card which was a bit dated even when new. Pop in a more current video card, like on the G5 2.5 DP I use, and it runs fine. You may also need a bit more disk space. It isn't the big deal some people suggest.

Archiving, well that's easy. Use 8GB cards and archive each card to DVD DL. Done and done. You'll get about 20minuts on a P2 at 720p or about 26minutes on SxS in HQ mode (1080p or 720p)
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Old October 19th, 2007, 10:03 PM   #10
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The EX-1 delivers 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2 Standard Def out of the SDI port in real time (yes I know the color space is coming from 4:2:0 off the cards). Certainly real time SD out of the SDI port is no worse than real time off of tape.

Now if you're completely firewire based that doesn't help you but for a workstation capable of handling SDI there's no reason why the EX1 wouldn't be a capable Standard Def device . . . with the advantage that if you needed to make an HD version you can "auto assemble" your HD from matching time code from the files that come off the cards.

In other words input and edit in Standard Def in real time. Auto assemble to HD for those clients that need it.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 11:16 PM   #11
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The EX-1 delivers 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2 Standard Def out of the SDI port in real time (yes I know the color space is coming from 4:2:0 off the cards). Certainly real time SD out of the SDI port is no worse than real time off of tape.
But that is part of the point- real time SDI sucks by comparison to faster than real time with SxS or P2. It sounds like Jan's primary usage will be SD 4:3, so it makes little sense to get an HD only camera- no matter how cool it is.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:34 AM   #12
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I guess it depends on how fast one thinks the move to HD will be (as far as his clients go).

All my clients are still SD too. I really like DVCPro50 4:2:2 also. I really am not thrilled by the HVX200 as an HD camera though. When I'm spending that much money (if you're a small business) I try to think not only of today's needs but where I'll be in a year from now.

Of course something better may very well come along in a year from now and that may well be Panasonic's response to the EX1 and then one's year old HVX200 will feel even older.

There's no right answer since it depends on your model but I do think people should be aware that the EX1 can output SD as fast as a tape based camera and I really like 3 1/2" CMOS chips with picture quality that may be a close match to the Sony PDW-350. I also think the lens controls will allow me to shoot more creatively (and I think my clients may see that too). Just my preference.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 03:19 AM   #13
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I guess it depends on how fast one thinks the move to HD will be (as far as his clients go).
Well I agree that timing is critical.

At this stage though, if it is going to take 2 years for half of your clients to move to HD then I think it would be unwise to choose a camera that doesn't natively shoot SD.

I have a a strong preference for the workflow of solid state media. I also like good lens controls, so once again I recommend the HVX200 to people in your position. (Just plan on taping focus- and use the measurements in feet or meters, not the MF number)

My position is different. I have clients that will not accept anything less than HD. I have some clients that specify delivery on HDCAM SR! (I have no clue if I can deal with that financially, using either rental or purchase, so I may lose those clients.) A lot of my existing SD only customers want 16:9 for their DVD's. SD only customers represent 25% of my clients, but only 10% of my revenues.

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When I'm spending that much money (if you're a small business) I try to think not only of today's needs but where I'll be in a year from now.

Of course something better may very well come along in a year from now and that may well be Panasonic's response to the EX1 and then one's year old HVX200 will feel even older.
There is always something coming down the development pipeline.

This red hot second I still have an XL-1A in production, and clients still compliment me on its footage.

I can tell you that Panasonic has nothing close to production to replace the HVX200 and "answer" the EX1. If they did they would have announced it to stem sales of the EX1- especially sales that might otherwise have gone to them.

When you get into this class of camera- HVX200 or EX1 it won't matter. Clients will be happy with the images if you handle the camera with any competence. Only the most technical clients will balk at HVX200 footage right now.

Given the work Jan has, or you Craig, and if I were buying in the next few months I'd get the HVX200 and shoot it until the majority of your clients have moved to HD. Then sell the 200 and get a new camera.

The EX1 will look old by then. Heck RED might look dated by then too. (OK I doubt that last bit.)

In the meantime you will have been making money with whatever camera you select.

One last thing, I thought the SD SDI output of the EX1 would always output letterboxed footage. I can't find a reference for that- so it may be an assumption on my part. Does anyone know for sure?
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 08:02 AM   #14
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It all depends on what's important in your SD work and business growth.

ex1 vs hvx200 as SD cameras

ex1
better low light performance
better lens control (IMHO)
1/2" chips and larger sensor size
slightly longer record times compared to DVCPro50 (although 4:2:0)
SDI 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2 out pre MPEG compression for use as Standard Def studio camera.

hvx
DVCPro50 (4:2:2)
records DV 4:1:1 to tape

On the move to HD (which will happen next year for some of my clients not 2 years)
ex1 XDCAM nearly 3x the record time per comperable P2 card (albeit 4:2:0).
HD-SDI 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2 out for studio cam work
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 08:49 AM   #15
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I agree with this notion- if your work is mostly SD and you just want to "futureproof" your footage, then the EX1 is not the camera for you. SD delivery requires a lot of extra work from this camera. That goes double if you are delivering SD 4:3.

I am not a big fan of the Z1- that said, if you already have a Z1 then keep it.

If you are buying a transitional camera, I would suggest the Panasonic HVX200. The HVX200 is, in my opinion, the best camera for SD work anywhere close to this price range

Someone remarked that editing HD is a pain. I have to disagree. Unless your computer is very antiquated (i.e. 3 years old) you should be fine. I have a two year plus G5 2.7 DP, and it edits HD beautifully. Pop in a more current video card, like on the G5 2.5 DP I use, and it runs fine. You may also need a bit more disk space. It isn't the big deal some people suggest.

Archiving, well that's easy. Use 8GB cards and archive each card to DVD DL. Done and done. You'll get about 20minuts on a P2 at 720p or about 26minutes on SxS in HQ mode (1080p or 720p)
Let's start out by saying I am not a cameraman- I do a lot of camerawork and editing. As a cameraman, I'd be anal about the quality of the footage but since I have a different angle on these matters -as a oneman band videoproduction company- I am interested in real life experience and practical, workable solutions.

I AM a big fan of the Z1, and I know quite a few people who are. So if you say you're not a big fan, Alexander, explain yourself! And when you do, keep in mind Jan's clients, because that's relevant here. The EX and the HVX will also be blown away by higher grade camera's, that's not the issue. The issue is what you want done for the most reasonable price- in this case mostly SD.

As far as the comparison to the HVX 200 is concerned- I wanted that camera but it is quite a bit more expensive than the Z1, considering the price of the P2 cards.
The Z1 is now 4100 at B&H, the Panasonic 5200 without P2 cards. So that's at least a 2000 dollar difference. (and how do you get the HD picture into your computer? More investments?) Not really the same price category. Ergo, my choice for the Sony.

(A sidenote: I owned a DVX100, which ergonomically resembled the HVX quite a bit, and the construction ie physical handling is very poor compared to the Z1.) I know you can shoot SD on mini-DV but for HD you need to get the P2 cards. Why get the camera just for SD?

Archiving easy? Just because you say it doesn't make it true. I don't trust DVD's for archiving. Not yet at least. I've had too many DVD's gone bad on me.

As far as editing HD being 'easier' with HD, Jan: both HDV and XDCAM HD is long GOP compression and editing HDV is a pain in the butt with my G5 Quad and 3,5 GB memory.
For that reason I like to shoot DV or DVCAM with my Z1. Picture looks great in my and my clients eyes. I archive on mini-DV. Dirtcheap and reliable.

People attacked the Z1 for supposed artifacts when panning or tilting- never had an issue with that. If you scrutinize frames from video, perhaps you may see something. But I like to judge the video when it's moving, not by its production of stills. (for all practical purposes)

Don't get me wrong, I like people who knitpick every frame- they push manufacturers to deliver the best. But that's a different issue. When deciding what camera to buy, there's a tradeoff between cost and quality. I think the Z1 delivers very well in that respect.
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