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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 28th, 2007, 04:28 AM   #1
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Recommend PMW-EX1 or wait for HVR-Z7?

Hi Everyone,

Just wondering what people's thoughts were between the two Sony cameras... XDCAM EX1 and the HVR-Z7. I will be purchasing 2 new video cameras early next year so just wanted to make sure I was choosing the right gear suitable for my purposes before I took a lease for $25-30k!!!!

I film weddings normally (employ a 2nd camera operator so I would be looking at getting 2 of either camera). I will also be doing my first doco late next year that I'm planning on selling to a local TV station here in Australia. The doco will be mainly filmed in a couple of African countries (villages as well as in main cities so I will have access to my MacBookPro 2.4ghz 17" hi-res and external harddrives to capture etc. I will also be shooting footage here in Australia. I use Final Cut Studio 2 for all editing.

I like the idea of the solid state recording, especially when dealing with weddings where I would usually end up with over 10 hours of footage between both video cameras from a days shooting. As its not my full time job any time saved in post production is awesome. It means I can start editing the day after, rather than spending it capturing each tape...but I know this has already been discussed elsewhere! It would be great for offering Same Day Edits. However not having a tape as a 'backup' is a slight concern, I would probably look at having enough cards to last a good portion of the day, and backup onto seperate hdds or a raid mirror external hdd combo...if the 32gb has come out by then that would be sweet.

What I'm not sure of, should I go for the XDCAM HD format or the HDV format, and then between the two cameras.

I currently use PDX10s for weddings so low light is a major issue that I want to overcome. All of my weddings are shot in 16:9. I would like to goto Blue-Ray or HD-DVD in about a years time as some of my clients are asking about it now. If clients currently want HD I tend to hire 2 Sony Z1s.

I can't see myself needing to buy additional lenses in the near future so that feature doesn't really apply to me for the HVR-Z7.

I guess I was thinking of making a purchase of 2 cameras, around February in 2008. I don't know if the HVR-Z7 will be released by then, but if it is I will have a decision on my hands, otherwise I will probably go for the EX1.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks heaps in advance,
Matt
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Old November 28th, 2007, 04:35 AM   #2
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Ditto. Same situation for me. Important for me too: Is the EX1 bulkier than the HVR Z7 will be?
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:22 AM   #3
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In my opinion, maybe you are better waiting for the Z7 and S270. The Z7 and S270 will be able to record to both tape and flash card. This means you get your tapeless aquisition and taped archive at the same time. With the 1/3rd inch sensors, it really won't be that bad for low light. The lens is also interchangeable, so you will have flexibility there.

Although you mentioned the Z7, I think you would be better off with the S270 as the full size camera will have HD and SD - SDI with embedded audio and timecode. It also can record to 4 audio channels and uses the larger tapes, which can hold up to 4 and a half hours of HDV recorded material on one tape. The Z7 does not have those features, but it does have HDMI. The EX 1 has timecode and HD-SDI. The Z7 and S270 can also record in SD (DVCam and DV). The EX 1 is High Def only, XDCam.

The bottom line is you get a little better camera with the EX 1, but you get more flexibility with the Z7 and S270. I don't think you can go wrong with either camera.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #4
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Thanks for your reply John.

I hadn't actually thought about the S270. I guess I wasn't thinking of going a shoulder mount camera as I think it would be too intimidating when your filming guests etc at a wedding. certainly for TV it would be perfect.

I guess, is there an advantage over formats? ie: XDCAM HD or HDV?

I realise with the EX1 I would have to downconvert all the time to SD until I was offering HD, however I know I would be recording in the highest quality 35mbs if I was using it.

Has anyone considered using the Sony Harddrive with the EX1 as well as the SxS cards? Or would that be pointless.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:42 AM   #5
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Has anyone considered using the Sony Harddrive with the EX1 as well as the SxS cards? Or would that be pointless.
I for one am going to use my DR60 drive with the EX1 - for as long as the SxS cards are that expensive as they are now. But I already have the DR60; don't think I'd actually *buy* one along with the EX1!
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Old November 28th, 2007, 06:26 AM   #6
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I for one am going to use my DR60 drive with the EX1 - for as long as the SxS cards are that expensive as they are now. But I already have the DR60; don't think I'd actually *buy* one along with the EX1!
Which forces you to record with lower quality as far as I've understood
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Old November 28th, 2007, 06:30 AM   #7
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Yeah, well I would consider using the DR60 due to the price of the SxS cards, however they should drop enough not to worry about the DR60 hopefully. It would be good as a backup non the less. Ideally I'd like to have enough cards for a day's shoot and simply make a copy of the cards every couple of hours when i had the chance but leave the footage on them until I got home to back it up to another external hdd or something. Seems a bit of mucking around but better than losing the footage. Especially for something like a wedding...

The pain is having two cameras, would be constantly downloading onto computer and with large weddings its another thing that can get disturbed by guests and another thing to cart around.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 07:40 AM   #8
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Which forces you to record with lower quality as far as I've understood
You've understood correctly :). But 4.5 hours of recording SP is better than filling up your cards with HQ and loosing that precious moments!
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Old November 28th, 2007, 07:42 AM   #9
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Which forces you to record with lower quality as far as I've understood
Not really, the Z7 / S270 record HDV to tape, the DR60 records HDV to disk. So apart from the difference in what the camera can fit into the HDV stream you're recording at the same quality really.

Also though keep in mind that a DR60 only holds 3.5 hours of footage, so if you're recording more than that at an event you'll need more than one of them and they're not cheap.

The CF card recording option on the Z7 has me wondering how much use it is. There seems to be only one card slot so that kind of means no continuous recording to the CF card for any extended period of time. And I can only speak for myself but the idea of downloading footage at any kind of event is worrying enough, doing it a wedding would be really scary.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 07:53 AM   #10
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The CF card recording option on the Z7 has me wondering how much use it is. There seems to be only one card slot so that kind of means no continuous recording to the CF card for any extended period of time. And I can only speak for myself but the idea of downloading footage at any kind of event is worrying enough, doing it a wedding would be really scary.
Bob, there is also the limitations of download speed from CF compared to the SxS cards to consider. At an event it could get messy either way. I also agree, the one slot could cause concern. I have been at many weddings where the speeches can go on for over an hour and having to swap a tape at a critical point is 'dangerous'. That is why i always use two cameras and we make sure we change the tapes at different times. however it does mess the audio up sometimes if I'm relying on the shotgun or wireless on the camera and have to switch to the other camera's audio.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #11
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If you have the Cash...I would always go for the best value you can afford. I have owned the DVX100A, and I currently own the XHA1 (which I think holds up very well and is currently the best bang for the buck) but if I had to buy a camera today for weddings......no question it would be between the XHA1 and the XDCAM EX1.

I think because of the low light performance and high resolution the XDCAM EX1 is the best choice. I would not really consider the other lower end sony offerings at this time. You can always down convert the HD into SD and just make sure you back up your footage into Hard Drives and another media type. (Blu Ray)

Something else to consider....the viewfinder on the EX1 is the best available. This is going to be a great help for focus, and it works in most conditions. (outdoor, indoor)

If you wait...there is always something better around the corner. Maybe the new offerings from Panasonic, Canon or JVC will be as good or better than Sony but if you need it today then I would get the XDCAM. IMHO only 2 cameras that I would get right now. XHA1 (for best bang for the buck...low end) and XDCAM EX1 (best bang for the buck Higher end).

One final thing to consider is Express Card Flash Memory. I understand this is the wave of the future, but for some reason I am still not sold that this is the best time to invest in that technology. I love having tape as a back up system to the hard drives. I also think the price you pay for the memory cards is very steep.

Good luck on whatever you choose and let us know how it worked out for you.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:13 AM   #12
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For a weddings I don't think XDCAM brings a lot more to the table over HDV. If you were doing sports the choice would swing the other way - XDCAM. HDV just doesn't have the bandwidth for lots of motion.

I've shot weddings and used HDV to do it. My clients have been more than satisfied with the quality of the SD-DVD and the HD-WMV files.

Also HDV is editable across a wider range of NLE platforms. Direct support for the EX1 is certainly coming but not everywhere now. I suspect this will quickly change as more EX1s make it out into the wild.

I personally think the EX1 will have enough going for it that you would do well to have one (or two) regardless of your output setting (HDV or XDCAM). Especially the promise of good low light performance. You can also choose to shoot in many frame rates and modes. Anything else I say will only be repeats of what many others have said.

What I can say for sure - I'm getting one.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #13
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there is also the limitations of download speed from CF compared to the SxS cards to consider.
Today's best CF cards have read/write speeds of up to 40 MB/sec, which is approaching the write speed limits of portable hard drive options. So if you're talking about transferring data to a laptop out in the field, CF should work almost as well as SxS for less than half the price per GB.

The EX1 could be good for weddings due to the large sensor and low-light capabilities, but the Z7 also sounds promising with the CF recording option.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #14
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SxS has transfer speed of 800Mbps (100MB/s).
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Old November 28th, 2007, 09:12 AM   #15
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Choosing between these cameras really comes down to what you really need. They're very different beasts.

If you want interchangeable lenses and affordable shoulder cam than the HDVs make sense. Also the ability to record Standard Def.

I want the higher resolution, Depth of Field, Low light performance the 1/2" chips offer.

I also much prefer 35mbps VBR of XDCAM over 25mbps CBR of HDV. The difference is NOT just sport. "Fast motion" that can break the HDV codec includes swaying leaves, rippling water, fast camera pans/zooms, etc.

I also like the ability to shoot 720p60.

I think that basically lays out the differences and it depends on your priorities. Since I do corporate work and local cable spots I think the EX1 makes a big difference.

One important thing Sony is doing with both types of cameras is offering a solid state solution. One of the gotchas with Long GOP is the 15 frame tape dropout. No matter how occasional it can be catastrophic if it's on your "buy" take. Solid state makes Long GOP much more palatable.
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