Quick-skim of the manual at DVinfo.net

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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 November 2nd, 2007, 03:55 AM   #1
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Quick-skim of the manual

Just a few things that caught my eye/interested me/worried me:

p10. Shutter Angle control that is 'familiar to cinematographers'. What exactly does shutter angle control do to an image? (excuse my ignorance).

p14. Factory adjusted lens control block, I guess that means the lens is motorized in auto-mode? (a topic I have raised before WRT to what happens when a follow-focus is attached).

p23. If I read it correctly, you cannot charge batteries in the camera using the BC-U1 charger as the AC adapter (I guess if you wanted to charge two batteries at once).

p23. Switch camera off before removing power/battery or risk damage to camera or SxS card (um, so if my battery dies mid-shot I risk data-loss / damage?)

p29. No mention of Sandisk, to be expected I suppose.

p32. 600 clip maximum per card? Did I read that right? I am sure someone is going to run into that limit using SP mode on 16 (and then 32 ) GB cards?

p35. Fat32 file system and it looks like things might get screwy if you copy files using Windows and Mac (via Explorer/Finder). Basically you can't treat the cards like a mass storage device?

So, the implication here is... If I want to use the camera before FCP is updated with native support, I must use the clip browser to read and export clips BUT that will only allow me 1080x1440 exports?

p39. Aspect ratio markers - 13:9, 14:9 and 15:9 - um, WTF are they? wouldn't a 2.35/9/40 marker have been useful?

p57. No time-lapse and Frame shots when using the Sp 1080p24 mode, um, dunno if that is a problem or not

p62. Freeze mix alignment for continuity - cool! Haven't seen that function reviewed before.

p109. Av and component connectors/cables look like the same on my HVR-A1U - *YaY*

p124. Minimum operating temperture is just 0 degrees Celsius, um, so no using this camera on a winter's day, no skiing or snowboarding vids either (even though there's a skier on some of Sony's promotional literature!!!!!)
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 04:58 AM   #2
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p124. Minimum operating temperture is just 0 degrees Celsius, um, so no using this camera on a winter's day, no skiing or snowboarding vids either (even though there's a skier on some of Sony's promotional literature!!!!!)
Well, I got worried by this - thinking the solid state memory might create this limitation, and quickly checked the specs for my V1E: exactly the same, starting from 0 deg C. And yet, many reports of great functioning at much lower temperatures! So I think that Sony is being a little too conservative here...
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:22 AM   #3
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Shutter angle: like it says "familiar to cinematographers". Film cameras have rotating mechanical shutters and the basic shutter opening is 180 degrees. Smaller angles give shorter exposures and often openings other than 180 degrees are used to prevent flicker caused by HMIs etc. This is a professional camera.

Follow focus: obviously you set the lens to manual focus (slide the focus ring to engage the mechanical coupling).

Battery charging not on camera: same as Z1

Switch off before changing battery: very sensible and usual. If he battery is dead I guess everything is off.

600 clips max: you'd have to be shooting 10 sec clips like we used to persuade home movie (film) people was the minimum desirable length.

Aspect markers: they're common film ratios, although the first 1.44:1 is a sort of wider standard ratio (1.33:1), the others are 1.55:1 and 1.66:1 (which was a commonly cropping of standard ratio for wider screen). Well I guess they're not particularly useful.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:36 AM   #4
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p23. Switch camera off before removing power/battery or risk damage to camera or SxS card (um, so if my battery dies mid-shot I risk data-loss / damage?)
I suspect that if the battery dies, it means that its voltage falls below a nominal level such that the camera shuts down. But the voltage is far from zero, and I'd expect to be fine for doing jobs such as finishing writing to card etc. Removing power/battery is very different - the voltage goes straight to zero.
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p39. Aspect ratio markers - 13:9, 14:9 and 15:9 - um, WTF are they? wouldn't a 2.35/9/40 marker have been useful?
I'm not so sure about 13 or 15:9, but in some parts of the world 14:9 aspects ratio markers are pretty well nigh essential. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14:9 .

Whilst HD broadcasts in the UK are quite recent, the BBC started SD widescreen broadcasting over 10 years ago when digital transmission first started up. The obvious problem was then how to reconcile simulcast 16:9 transmission in digital with 4:3 transmission in analogue. The answer was "shoot and protect 14:9", and is described in detail in the BBC book: http://www.informotion.co.uk/deliver...creen_book.pdf .

In brief, virtually all material is now shot 16:9, broadcast as such on the digital networks, whilst the centre 14:9 is broadcast letterbox fashion on the analogue transmitters. For shooting, the instruction within the UK is generally for cameramen to use 14:9 markers, and for all essential action to be kept within them. Equally, nothing unusable (boom etc) should be seen in the 1:9 bars either side.

It's a compromise, obviously, but one which has worked very, very well for the last decade.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 09:50 AM   #5
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It's only common sense to turn the power off on anything before removing its power source. In this case, removing battery power while it's on could cause momentary power glitches as it's being removed.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 09:57 AM   #6
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Jp62. Freeze mix alignment for continuity - cool! Haven't seen that function reviewed before.
It's a nice feature. The full size cameras have it. I used it recently while shooting an interview. The talent jumped out of their chair to get a drink between takes. I was able to use freeze mix to reposition the talent in the chair right back where they were for continuity.

It also helps if you bump the camera between takes that are supposed to have identical framing. You can get the camera right back where it was and maintain shot continuity.

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Old November 2nd, 2007, 10:30 AM   #7
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It's a nice feature. The full size cameras have it. I used it recently while shooting an interview. The talent jumped out of their chair to get a drink between takes. I was able to use freeze mix to reposition the talent in the chair right back where they were for continuity.

It also helps if you bump the camera between takes that are supposed to have identical framing. You can get the camera right back where it was and maintain shot continuity.

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That's too cool....Excellent!
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 12:59 PM   #8
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Hi folks, thanks for the feedback....

Piotr said: "So I think that Sony is being a little too conservative here..."

Good to know. I'm hoping to use the camera in the Himalayas as soon as it arrives and it's going to be cooolldddd - brrr...

Serena said: "you'd have to be shooting 10 sec clips like we used to persuade home movie (film) people was the minimum desirable length."

I always find it interesting when technology manufacturers set apparently needless boundaries, based on assumptions about what someone will need today. I am sure there will be some folks in the medical/scientifc community + those experimenting with time-lapse that will run into this limit really quickly.

and "Aspect markers: they're common film ratios"

For a professional camera it would have been nice to have a 2.39:1 marker.

David says: "I suspect that if the battery dies, it means that its voltage falls below a nominal level such that the camera shuts down. But the voltage is far from zero, and I'd expect to be fine for doing jobs such as finishing writing to card etc. Removing power/battery is very different - the voltage goes straight to zero."

Yea, I was really just curious about what would happen if you were using the camera outside of its stated operating parameters (in my case it will be extreme cold) and the battery charge became depleted in a precipitous fashion.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 03:50 PM   #9
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Paul, I would hope that the camera would behave like my Mac laptop when I drive it to the ground (power-wise). It gives me some redundant warnings and eventually goes to sleep keeping plenty of power to maintain data for many hours or even days. I would bet that the Sony engineers did something similar and after some warnings basically have the camera take matters to its own "hands" and stop recording, save, shut down.

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone from Sony to communicate with us here? (like the guys from Red are on the Reduser site)
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 05:10 PM   #10
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Wouldn't it be nice to have someone from Sony to communicate with us here?
Manufacturers have varying policies regarding official participation on internet message boards. JVC and Panasonic maintain a presence here, while Canon and Sony rule against it. Different corporate philosophies at work...
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:13 PM   #11
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I always find it interesting when technology manufacturers set apparently needless boundaries, based on assumptions about what someone will need today. I am sure there will be some folks in the medical/scientifc community + those experimenting with time-lapse that will run into this limit really quickly.
Just in case you missed it, the camera does timelapse and stop frame. I understand that the timelapse capture is written as one file, upto the file size limit. Not too certain about how the stop frame capability works.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 06:54 AM   #12
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720 @ 24p ?

Noted 24P @ 1080 but what about 720?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 09:04 AM   #13
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Page 36. I guess you haven't got that far yet. P35,36 lists the shooting formats.

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Noted 24P @ 1080 but what about 720?
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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:41 AM   #14
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p10. Shutter Angle control that is 'familiar to cinematographers'. What exactly does shutter angle control do to an image? (excuse my ignorance).
Shutter angle is just different terminology for shutter speed.

Instead of a fraction of a second it gives you a shutter opening relative to the frame rate.

So, a 180 degree shutter at 24 fps is equivalent to a 1/48 shutter. A 180 degree shutter at 30 fps is 1/60 shutter. A 360 degree shutter is completely open. A 0 degree shutter is completely closed.

Most cine work is done at 175 degree shutter.

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p32. 600 clip maximum per card? Did I read that right? I am sure someone is going to run into that limit using SP mode on 16 (and then 32 ) GB cards?
I really hope not. On a 16GB card that would represent 600 seven second takes in SP mode. If nothing else think of the editor!

Still, its solid state. If you really do use 600 takes on a single SxS, then it'll report full. Empty the card and go back to work.

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p35. Fat32 file system and it looks like things might get screwy if you copy files using Windows and Mac (via Explorer/Finder). Basically you can't treat the cards like a mass storage device?
Well, you can treat it like a mass storage device, but then you have to manage all the data properly. Its really easier to let the transfer software handle it.

P2 is the same way.

With P2 I just copy all the contents of the card to a directory, and then logging and transfer sees that exactly as if it was a P2 card and yanks it in for me. We also archived to DVD-4 from the 4GB cards we were using and FCP sees those DVD's as P2 cards too.

It has to be tested- but I expect that the Sony software and eventually FCP will work the same way with SxS that P2 works.

Quote:
So, the implication here is... If I want to use the camera before FCP is updated with native support, I must use the clip browser to read and export clips
Yes

Quote:
BUT that will only allow me 1080x1440 exports?
No, there will be a new version of the Sony software that ships with the camera.

Quote:
p57. No time-lapse and Frame shots when using the Sp 1080p24 mode, um, dunno if that is a problem or not
Not if using the HQ 1080p modes are acceptable to you. You can always down convert the HQ footage to SP if you must.

Quote:
p62. Freeze mix alignment for continuity - cool! Haven't seen that function reviewed before.
Its pretty awesome. Silicon Images has it on their cameras and its way more useful than you'd think for continuity and the like.

Quote:
p124. Minimum operating temperture is just 0 degrees Celsius, um, so no using this camera on a winter's day, no skiing or snowboarding vids either (even though there's a skier on some of Sony's promotional literature!!!!!)
Well, cold creates all sorts of problems. I expect the camera will in fact work at below freezing temperatures, but it won't be up to full spec. Battery life will be shorter, and there may be other issues. Lens condensation could be a real problem if you aren't cautious- but that is true of every camera.

Panasonic advertises their P2 systems with footage from the Iditarod. The systems are very similar- so I expect you'll get similar practical performance.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 08:49 AM   #15
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Just in case you missed it, the camera does timelapse and stop frame. I understand that the timelapse capture is written as one file, upto the file size limit. Not too certain about how the stop frame capability works.
I think the stop frame gets written to 1 file also. The difference from the full size disc camera being that you can now pause recording between frames without generating a new file. With the full size camera, I have done some stop frame stuff to show it can be done, but you can't pause the camera so you have to use the single frame setting of interval record, and then plan the interval to be adequate time for you to reposition the set. There is also a 2 second minimum clip length, so if you only record 15 frames, it will get padded out to 48 or 60 frames as the case may be with images from the live camera head. Not a problem to remove the excess with the clip import or, razor blade it off in the NLE.

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