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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 January 11th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #1
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Sony EX1 vs. Z7U

I am leaning towards the Z7U camera vs the EX because of the hybrid capability and other features. I know the EX is great, it just seems that it has some issues and bugs that need to be worked out. With the recently announced 32 and 48 gig cards, the Z7U camera will sell like hotcakes. The EX would not be very cost effective for me unless the flash cards really drop in price. Hopefully, third party manufactures will offer reasonably lower cost cards at some point. I don't know what the differences would be as far as low light compared to the EX, but it will be interesting to see.
My 2 cents worth.

Joel Brooks
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Old January 12th, 2008, 07:08 AM   #2
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Guess you haven't been around here much lately. All been discussed.
In my opinion. These cameras are designed for two different markets. If you're considering between the two you really need to figure out your target market.

1/2" XDCAM is in a different league than 1/3" HDV.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=108993
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Old January 12th, 2008, 09:15 AM   #3
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Joel, agree with Craig here.

The two cameras are pretty different. I studied both cameras and weighed the advantages for my requirements - mainly based around wedding work.

I do mainly weddings so on the plus side with the EX1:

-Better low light (which I believe is more due to 1/2 inch chips vs. exmor tech) - it's better than my hdv low light king - the z1
-Technically unlimited shoot time - just keep swapping and dumping disks - also express card is an industry standard interface to which to which you can slot in any media card in the future - just need Sony to provide us the firmware for it. Sony already have an memory stick duo express card adapter for $75.
-1920x1080 1/2 chips vs. 1440x1080 1/3 chips
-XDCAM vs HDV
+ many more features - most of which I won't use regularly.


Versus the compact flash snap on unit for the Z7 - the hotswappable continuous shoot capability of the EX1 is a definate plus for me. I never have to worry about the tape finishing during an important speech or other event.

The compact flash unit is an add-on which you can attach to any camera with a firewire port, but at the end of the day the the Z7 is mainly a 1/3 HDV camera.

I know many people think the SXS cost is a factor. Buy a card or two now, and use your laptop to dump. In a few months we're almost sure to see a price drop and release of firmware for generic cards. When 16 GB cards are 299.99 (hopefully sooner than later) - the EX1 is the clear winner

That said - i'm not rooting for the ex1 because i have it - it is truly a great cam. If the Z7 proves to be an applicable tool for some of my work - i'll buy it sure. I've already sold one of my z1's - as soon as express card rates drop - out goes the other :)

Thanks
Paul
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Old January 12th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #4
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I am also leaning towards the Z7U over the EX1. From what I'm reading, the low light capability of both cameras is the same due to a new type of on chip noise reduction.

I agree that the EX1 is in a different league than the Z7U, but I have been extemely happy with the look of HDV (aside from low light issues which the Z7U should fix).

Here are some of the reasons I am considering the Z7U so seriously:

1/ Archiving footage: with the EX, I would have to copy the footage to hard drive, a Blu-ray disc, or stacks of regular DVD+-Rs. With the HVR-Z7 I can just put the tapes on a shelf and not worry about backups beyond that. I expect that the way I would work is to shoot to both Compact Flash and HDV tape simultaneously. I would transfer footage from the Flash and put the tapes away just in case of future problems. No copying media to redundant hard drives, no waiting for 40 minutes or so for a BD-R to burn, no capturing unless there were problems, etc.

2/ Price of Compact Flash media:

http://flashmemory-store.stores.yaho...h-cf-card.html

vs

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...B_SxS_PRO.html

3/ Interchangeable lenses: I use a wide angle most of the time and I'm tired of extra heavy glass hanging off the front of my camera.

4/ On multi-day travelling shoots I don't have to bring a laptop and an external hard drive. I just did a trip this past summer to the Amazon. I can't even imagine how something like that would be possible with an EX-1. Maybe in a year or so when the price of SxS cards comes down, but not any time this year.

5/ Standard batteries and chargers I already use.

6/ Lanc controller. I use this all the time.

7/ Audio limiter. I am a one man show. I really need this.

8/ PD-170 low light performance: From what I'm ready this is the same in both cameras and probably the main reason I'm even bothering to upgrade.

9/ More consistency between my A and B cameras. I end up using two cameras quite often, one on a tripod and one hand-held. I now that my current HVR-A1 will make a nice B camera to the HVR-Z7U.
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Old January 12th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #5
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I don't think you'll find anything wider than the "wide option.. 8X with 24mm wide" zoom for the z7.... the sony "ax" lens' will be 7X there focal length.... great for wild life, nude beaches and sports, but far from being wide.

the thing that's sweet about the z7 is the CF card option..... that's it's strong point. The ability to swing thru a costco and buy a handful of 8GBers and head to a gig is pretty cool. It's week point ( compared the the ex ) is the smaller chip and the HDV codec ( motion issues ) also... bare in mind that the CF cards will offload slower than the SXS cards... at least when using an expresscard slot.

regarding archive..... lots of opinions on this one. But.... I think a shelf littered with dv tapes is a frightening sight! and not really very archival. I would think that mirrored hardrives is the safest bet. I have a friend that just had a fire at his business, and got me to thinking about digging a hole in the backyard to stash some 1TB mybook drives.
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Old January 12th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #6
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I'm in agreement with pretty much all of Laurence's points on this one.

- the instant & cheap & robust archiving onto tape is a big plus. FOr longer trips into remote places (the Amazon qualifies) then you just don't want excessive, heavy, impact-damage prone equipment like laptops & external hard-drives. Also thats more things to run out of power just when you don't need them to.
So using tape as a backup /archive means you win on data-transfer to PC speed for editing (i don't care CF is not as fast as SxS - it'll still be a helluva faster than realtime tape transfer..).
That link Laurence provided shows a 32Gb 150x CF card for US$199. The 16Gb SxS card is currently $875! So to match the 32Gb, you'd have to spend (*currently*) US%1,750 as opposed to just 200bucks for the CF card. A significant factor IMO.

- the prospect of a true dedicated WA lens is a nice one. (available June in think). This should have fewer of the compromises inherent in WA attachments. It should exhibit less CA, less barrel distortion, less internal reflection and flare issues you get with WA lenses, fewer 'soft' edge-to-edge issues, and it goes really pretty wide : 24mm on a videocam is great.
And its designed specifically for that Z7 cam. Often WA attachments have to serve a range of different cams with that thread size.
(ps. anyone care to hazard a guess as to what this 24-192mm lens will likely cost??)

- Saving on battery and chargers : yes this is a v useful thing for people who already own a cam that uses the same batts etc. Multiple batts adds hundreds of dollars to capital-expenditure.

- Standard LANC jack is nice - again a saving if you already have one.

- Weight/handling : while both Z7 and EX1 are neither lightweight, the Z7 is quite a bit lighter i believe - about 200grams heavier than the Z1. THe EX1 is a bit more hefty and many people have said not easy to handhold due to extra weight and also the C-of-G being too far away (laterally) from the handgrip thus leading to strong tendency to induce dynamic roll on that axis.
Yes, this isnt relevant if using tripod etc, but for quick shots or shots where you don't have time or space for tripod or other support - i can imagine the Z7 is not going to irritate/tire as quickly as a EX1 might.

- Whilst reports are from people that have had a brief play around with Z7 indicate that is the best HDV lowlight performance yet of almost any HDV cam, i don't believe it will be in the EX1s or PD170 class on this. With much smaller sensor-area i'd think it'd have to be inferior. But yes, indications are it should be quite a bit nicer than Z1, XH-A1 etc - so its all good.

- Yep cutting & editing with other HDV cams should be better than using an EX1 XDCAM as 'A' cam and a HDV cam as B-cam. Not that i've done it personally, but i'd have thought that having A and B cam with different codecs will cause problems in the edit.

My final comment - on :
"I think a shelf littered with dv tapes is a frightening sight! and not really very archival. "
- Chris I kinda disagree here on this. I don't find a shelf full of DV tapes a frightening sight at all! A shelf full of dusty and shock-probs-prone (and future compatability / functioning issues??) external HDDs may however worry me a bit.
I think tape is about the most robust, reliable, low-cost, lightweight, safe archival method. For sure, keep stuff off-site or in duplicate site to avoid fire or theft issues - thats basic important data management stuff.

Last edited by Stu Holmes; January 13th, 2008 at 11:30 AM. Reason: typo correction
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Old January 12th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #7
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I'm much to shy to use a wide angle at a nude beach ;-)
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Old January 12th, 2008, 03:56 PM   #8
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For many people the Z7 better suits their business model. That's why Sony development both the EX1 and Z7.

I do think people are lulled into a false sense of security with HDV tape. I have over 25 years experience and the problem one has with many video tape formats is the tape may well outlast the players. Granted my background is higher end but you'll be hard pressed to find 2" Quad machines, 1" machines, D2 machines and even 3/4" machines. VHS is even becoming less common in most households.

CDs that have data files burned on them nearly 15 years ago can be read on any modern computer. Computer Blu-ray drives will read DVD and CD data.

In all likelihood, 15 years from now you'll be able to play your currently burned data discs. I'm not sure how easy you'll be able to find an HDV player in 15 years. HDV also has compatibility issues between players of different brands (Sony vs JVC for example).

In short, even with Z7, if you want long term availability of your video data you may want to burn the CF card data to a DVD or Blu-ray disc.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 09:00 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=Craig Seeman;807351]F
In all likelihood, 15 years from now you'll be able to play your currently burned data discs.

The jury is definitely out on that one. DVD media/data discs are not to be considered archival. Some discs are found to be unplayable after only a few years of storage. Media quality seems to be uneven.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #10
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maybe the way to go is to move data to new drives every few years or so?

1 TB drives are under $400 now, and I'm sure that 10TB drives will be under $400 in 3 years....

NAND ram is rumored as being the next great storage medium.... also, when Wimax gets out to the general public we will be able to archive through data storage services. I already treat google mail as a email archive, I'd be more than happy to archive offsite with a healthy insurance policy.

back to the fx7...... I do think that if 1080P footage is not needed than it is a great cam for what it's meant for.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #11
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Buy good media. There are manufacturers that really QC the process and you do pay for it. There are only a couple of brands I'd trust but they've NEVER failed me, EVER, which is more than I can say for ANY hard drive manufacturer. AND the optical disc readers are COMMON and PLENTIFUL. Tapes can last a long time too but they don't mean doodley if you can't find a player or use a player that damages the tape.

Again ANY 15 year old data CD (recorded on QUALITY media) can be read in any modern computer.

[QUOTE=Chris Li;807594]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
F
In all likelihood, 15 years from now you'll be able to play your currently burned data discs.

The jury is definitely out on that one. DVD media/data discs are not to be considered archival. Some discs are found to be unplayable after only a few years of storage. Media quality seems to be uneven.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 10:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
- the prospect of a true dedicated WA lens is a nice one. (available June in think). This should have fewer of the compromises inherent in WA attachments. It should exhibit less CA, less barrel distortion, less internal reflection and flare issues you get with WA lenses, fewer 'soft' edge-to-edge issues, and it goes really pretty wide : 24mm on a videocam is great.
And its designed specifically for that Z7 cam. Often WA attachments have to serve a range of different cams with that thread size.
(ps. anyone care to hazard a guess as to what this 824-192mm lens will likely cost??)
This is one of the major reasons I'm considering the Z7. I use a wide angle lens all the time and I hate that the ones I'm currently using are add-ons.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
- Weight/handling : while both Z7 and EX1 are neither lightweight, the Z7 is quite a bit lighter i believe - about 200grams heavier than the Z1. THe EX1 is a bit more hefty and many people have said not easy to handhold due to extra weight and also the C-of-G being too far away (laterally) from the handgrip thus leading to strong tendency to induce dynamic roll on that axis.
Yes, this isnt relevant if using tripod etc, but for quick shots or shots where you don't have time or space for tripod or other support - i can imagine the Z7 is not going to irritate/tire as quickly as a EX1 might.
This will be even more the case when you compare an EX1 with an added on wide angle lens vs a Z7 with a wide angle which replaces the original lens. Not only will lit be lighter, but it will be less front heavy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
- Whilst reports are from people that have had a brief play around with Z7 indicate that is the best HDV lowlight performance yet of almost any HDV cam, i don't believe it will be in the EX1s or PD170 class on this. With much smaller sensor-area i'd think it'd have to be inferior. But yes, indications are it should be quite a bit nicer than Z1, XH-A1 etc - so its all good.
Lets face it. The Z7 will have about half the real resolution of the EX1. At it's heart it is a 960x540 resolution camera which employs interpolation tricks to get the resolution up to 1440x1080. While that is bad resolution-wise, it should certainly help the low light situation. 1/3" chips at 960x540 resolution should actually give better low light than 1/2" chips at 1920x1080 resolution.

Now let's use this logic to compare an EX-1 to a Z1: An Ex1 with 1920x1080 pixels on a 1/2" chip should actually have less low light capabity than a Z1 with it's 960x540 pixels on a 1/3" chip, and yet we all know that this isn't the case. The EX-1 blows a Z1 away low light wise. This has me believing that the EX1's great improvement low light wise has more to do with the new on chip noise reduction system than it does with the size of it's chips. It also has me believing that it is quite possible that the Z7 and 270 will be the new kings of low light.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
- Yep cutting & editing with other HDV cams should be better than using an EX1 XDCAM as 'A' cam and a HDV cam as B-cam. Not that i've done it personally, but i'd have thought that having A and B cam with different codecs will cause problems in the edit.
I use Vegas 8 to edit with. It has absolutely no problem cutting different types and resolutions of footage together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
My final comment - on :
"I think a shelf littered with dv tapes is a frightening sight! and not really very archival. "
- Chris I kinda disagree here on this. I don't find a shelf full of DV tapes a frightening sight at all! A shelf full of dusty and shock-probs-prone (and future compatability / functioning issues??) external HDDs may however worry me a bit.
I think tape is about the most robust, reliable, low-cost, lightweight, safe archival method. For sure, keep stuff off-site or in duplicate site to avoid fire or theft issues - thats basic important data management stuff.
I did a trip to Ecuador this past summer. Part of the trip was in the Amazon and part of it was in the Galapagos. I came back with 16 tapes. Some of the places I went, literally the only way you could get there was on horseback. On one particular excursion, I rode out to some lava fields on one of the Galapagos Islands on horseback with my HVR-A1 with a Spiderbrace and an SLR still camera. I weigh a little over 200 pounds and when you add the camera gear ... let's just say I felt really bad for the horse.

When I was in the Amazon, the power went out every single day. Doing this kind of work with an EX1 is simply not practical. Two years from now, when you can buy third party SxS cards for a reasonable price, I expect that doing a trip like this with a stack of 32gig SxS cards will be a very practical way to work, but for me at least, it just isn't there yet. It is close and I can see and almost touch it, but I just can't do it quite yet.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston View Post
This is one of the major reasons I'm considering the Z7. I use a wide angle lens all the time and I hate that the ones I'm currently using are add-ons.

This will be even more the case when you compare an EX1 with an added on wide angle lens vs a Z7 with a wide angle which replaces the original lens. Not only will lit be lighter, but it will be less front heavy.
Good point & one that hadnt previously occurred to me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston View Post
When I was in the Amazon, the power went out every single day. Doing this kind of work with an EX1 is simply not practical. Two years from now, when you can buy third party SxS cards for a reasonable price, I expect that doing a trip like this with a stack of 32gig SxS cards will be a very practical way to work, but for me at least, it just isn't there yet. It is close and I can see and almost touch it, but I just can't do it quite yet.
Yes I have travelled places too where the electricity supply is really intermittent. Having to power up a laptop and/or an external hard-drive is just another issue. Sometimes on a long days shoot, when you get back to your accommodation early evening, its all you can do just to recharge all your camcorder's batteries that you've flattened during the day before you fall asleep for the night! I've even sometimes had to set my alarm-clock for 3am just so i can wakeup, switch batteries over in the charger, and go back to sleep, just so i can have all the batteries charged for the next day!
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Old January 13th, 2008, 01:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston View Post
This has me believing that the EX1's great improvement low light wise has more to do with the new on chip noise reduction system than it does with the size of it's chips. It also has me believing that it is quite possible that the Z7 and 270 will be the new kings of low light.
The low light capabilities of the Z7 and 270 will be determined by various factors. What we know right now is that the new Sonys are using the same "Clear-Vid" CMOS sensors originally developed for the V1U, but increased to 1/3" in size. The V1U is not particularly good in low light and has a certain amount of picture noise even at the zero picture gain setting. My observations regarding the V1U were the result of a test I did more than a year ago and that test stopped me from buying one.

We also know that the Z7 and 270 share the same image processing software with the EX1 but not the same image sensors, which on the EX1 are the EXMOR CMOS sensors.

The low light sensitivity the EX1 is slightly better than the PD170. I carried out this test myself because I own both cameras and the frame grabs don't lie. How the Z7 and 270 stack up against the EX1 as far as low light shooting goes has, of course, yet to be determined but I would be surprised if 1/3" HD chips are able to beat 1/2" HD chips in this regard. But who knows, because before the EX1 came out I thought that there was no way in h*** that an SD camera with large pixels could possibly beat an HD chip with tons of tiny imaging pixels. (Wrong *ding* but thanks for playing anyway. We have some wonderful parting gifts for you).

What if it turns out that the EX1 still remains the new low light king of handhelds after the Z7 and 270 cameras are released? And has an overall better picture to boot? You definitely will have to jump through more hoops to get EX1 footage off the camera and in to a deliverable format (and don't get me started on archiving) but the question that has to be addressed is this: what's more important to you - the quality of your final product or the convenience of an easier acquisition and delivery workflow?

Cameras are just getting way too specialized.

- Don
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Old January 13th, 2008, 02:28 PM   #15
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I still have my VX2000 just for low light so I know exactly what you are talking about.
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