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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old January 24th, 2008, 10:37 AM   #1
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Hi,

I am currently in the position of buying a HD camera but would appreciate a few tips to help me make the right decision. I have already explored the forum but am still in need of some advice.

I will be using the camera for Promos/Showreeels/Possibly commercials, as well as Film and Docu work. FCP for post.

The three cameras i've been looking at are in order of preference:

1. Sony EX1 (4k)
2. Panasonic HVX200 (3.5k) (I see there is a free 16gb card with new cameras, is this is in the US only?)
3. Canon XHA1 (2k),

Budget: Started at 3k-only feasible if i settle for the Canon A1. Could be stretched to 5/6k, but financially speaking this could cause some stress unlesss i am confident of recupperating the costs through paid jobs within the next 2 months..

Existing equipment:
Powerbook G4 17". 1.67GHzCPU speed 1.5Gb Ram
Very basic video tripod.
FCP 5
Panasonic portable 3ccd mini Dv camcorder (Unlikely to even be a B cam)

Necessary Extras: FC Studio 2, Tripod, NEW LAPTOP?

Desirable Extras: Letus Extreme and 35mm Lenses, Magic Bullet.

Concerns with the EX1 (HVX200 is practically out of the window as the cost incl comparative memory is about the same. I'm pretty sure the EX1 will serve me better on the whole)

1. Workflow: Is this not realistic on my existing set up. Or is it possible by down converting images and then re-editing in full res from an EDL of only the exact footage that is required?

2. Uploading footage onto Powerbook. I imagine this is possible using Firewire? As my PCI port is the older HVX compatible model.

3. Archiving? Anywhere I can read up on workflow methods/techniques? Is it possible to delete unwanted tail ends on clips in FCP and therefore delete material i decide i will never be using.

4. colour space. daft question i'm sure but what is this exactly and how does it compare on all 3 cameras.

5. Will the XHA1 present less problems with my existing set up? Could it be better to settle for the XHA1 now and then move to more Pro cam when the time is right. Will therefore also have a quality B Cam. But then I could be spending that money on other needed gear?


Many thanks in advance for any advice offered.

Best,

Harj
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Old January 24th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harjinder Grewal View Post
1. Workflow: Is this not realistic on my existing set up. Or is it possible by down converting images and then re-editing in full res from an EDL of only the exact footage that is required?
I haven't got a G4 to try it on but certainly on my G5 I haven't noticed any difference at the editing stage between using HDV and the XDCAM EX footage. The most processor intensive part seems to be the import stage when the XDCAM utility imports from the cameras cards.

Quote:
2. Uploading footage onto Powerbook. I imagine this is possible using Firewire? As my PCI port is the older HVX compatible model.
The EX1 uses a USB connector to offload XDCAM footage so that shouldn't matter, although it's not as fast as plugging the cards into a laptop directly.

Quote:
3. Archiving? Anywhere I can read up on workflow methods/techniques? Is it possible to delete unwanted tail ends on clips in FCP and therefore delete material i decide i will never be using.
There's a few large threads here about that, but yes you can use media manager in FCP to export and remove unwanted source clips and define the handles to keep on used clips.

Quote:
4. colour space. daft question i'm sure but what is this exactly and how does it compare on all 3 cameras.
Someone will throw some numbers at you I'm sure, but personally I've never noticed a difference when looking at footage. I think it's more important if your doing compositing etc.


Quote:
5. Will the XHA1 present less problems with my existing set up? Could it be better to settle for the XHA1 now and then move to more Pro cam when the time is right. Will therefore also have a quality B Cam. But then I could be spending that money on other needed gear?
I'd say the A1 is easier to deal with workflow and archiving wise as HDV tape is easy to use and self archiving, but the reality is that I'm selling my A1 setup in favour of an EX1 and it's tapeless workflow, so for me the EX1 wins hands down if you can afford it.

If you decide to go for an A1 root though, let me know as I have a complete setup for sale including accessories :)

regards

Paul.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #3
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Hi Harjinder,

you've actually posted this in a wrong subforum, but I'm sure on of the moderators will move this thread to another place...

1. this sound very clunky, and I think you'll loose a lot of time. First read my comments below about what I think, to my opinion, you should do best, and then read my answer here: go for a better computer, so you can just edit real time HD.
It will save you time, you'll be happier, work more efficient and you'll be more productive.

2.Yes, you can load footage into your computer via firewire. With the Canon, don't know for sure with the Sony or the HVX.
I think you can with the HVX, but I doubt it with the Sony, you need a certain express card 34 reader for the sxs media cards.

3. Archiving is a bit of a problem with solid state recording... you have to be very careful. Some people back up to different drives in RAID configuration, others go back to tape, others write do dvd discs,... You have to figure out, IF you go for solid state recording, what works best for you.

4. The HVX has 4:2:2, I think both the Canon and the Sony standard record in 4:2:0. But on the Sony you have HD SDI, from which you can record 4:2:2 but at more then a gig per second!! Very expensive option, I think not good for you. Although the codec from the HVX is better then the HDV codec from the Canon, real life experiences mostly tell us that the footage from the Canon is sharper, and considering it's much lower cost, I think the best option for you.

5. If I read your post, I think it's best to go for the Canon XH A1 and put more budget towards a better computer.
I'm doubting between the Canon and the Sony too, and budget is an issue too, and in the end, the Canon is a lot cheaper. If we earn a lot of money, we can upgrade to the Sony, but now, the Canon will have to do (well, still in discussion, but it will probably be the Canon).
I'm sure they are both great cams, and of course the Sony is more capable, but at more then double the price and bigger media cost, it better be ;-).

The Canon is a very powerful camera for very little money (comparing to the other options) with very low media costs (mini dv tape).

Put your money in newer software and better laptop, because if you are a good cameraman, you'll do fine with the Canon, but even if you are the greatest editor, you will still have to wait for hours (just speaking) if you're laptop is slow and stuff. You can always rent a cam for certain projects, if you need a better camera, but if you edit your own projects, you spend a LOT of time after your computer, more then after the lens of your camera.

Last week I played with a Macbook Pro 2.4 ghz in the Apple Store, and I was utterly amazed with it's speed. I had all the programs of Final Cut Studio 2 opened, and I opened a FCP project with like 30 HD-clips, and it all played back very fast and without effort. I put some video filters on the video, still kept playing back without problems.
Nothing is so irritating as editing on an old machine (I know, doing so at this moment).

So my advice: put your money in the better computer, go for the Canon.
You seem to have a pretty limited budget, and the money you save in the camera can go to more important things, like a decent tripod and stuff. Rent a better camera if needed (you let the client of course pay for extra expenses) and if you earn your money back, in a while you can upgrade to a better camera.

Best regards,
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Old January 24th, 2008, 02:25 PM   #4
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Thanks for your comments Paul. Especially for the tip on Media manager..

I'm pretty sure i will end up with an EX1, I just hope that i can edit the footage on my powerbook.. so if anyone has any experience with this set up . please do let me know your experiences.

By the way, the case for you A1 you've got up for sale looks fantastic..

cheers,

Harj.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #5
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I've got an XHA1 and a powerbook g4 - the G4 just doesn't cut it for editing HDV, you can't get smooth playback. I'd expect the XDCAM to be as bad or worse.

As Paul said you can use the usb port to offload to the G4 but it's slow, then you'll need to convert to DVCProHD which just barely plays smoothly - the conversion process will slow things down much more than the USB.

So my advice would be that you need a new laptop before you get either the XHA1 or EX. The A1 footage can be cut in FCP 5.1.4 so that may eliminate one more thing you'll need to upgrade if you go with the EX. The XHA1 + Macbook combo is also probably less than the EX alone, so that may be your best option.

I'm currently editing my A1 footage without problems on a dual-2ghz G5, and it seems to play back the XDCAM samples I've downloaded without problems - so another solution may be to get a used G5 and not try to edit on a laptop.

I'd say the best combination is the one you can get soonest - 'settling' for the XHA1 isn't really settling at all, and if you can get that and start shooting right away you'll be better off in 6 months than if you waited until then to get the EX.

Personally I've found the XHA1 to be a great camera, and I've been very happy with both the functionality and images it produces - but I'd like to get away from tape completely so the XHA1 will likely be up for sale. I'm just waiting for apple to release an update to the macbooks (in the next few weeks from what I've heard) and then I'll pick up the EX and a macbook for offloading footage, but I expect I'll keep the G5 for everyday editing...
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Old January 24th, 2008, 04:23 PM   #6
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Mathieu, Evan,

The A1 and new computer option does sound like the more economically practical way forward considering my budget. But i've also been hearing that now is not the best time to pick up a new Macbook Pro due to overdue updates that should be coming out soon.. Perhaps in the shape of a blu ray drive?? (http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=262). Any thoughts?

As i am constantly moving between Spain/UK i would def have to stick with a portable device for post work.

I can't help thinking that in many respects the A1 maybe limited in what it can offer. It will certinly be suitable for around 60% of my work, but then there is the other side in the shape of low budget cinema which screams vaiable frame rates, better lens controls(from what i've read) etc. But yes, i can always upgrade, i guess..

Thanks for both your comments, there's much to think about.. and I seem to be constantly finding reasons to build a kit that includes the EX.. and blow the budget.. big time if it means buying a new laptop..

By the way, I realised just after making the first post that i was in the wrong thread.. and so started this one.. apologies.. I've left a link there to this one.

cheers all,

H
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Old January 24th, 2008, 04:53 PM   #7
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Hi Harjinder,

I'm in the same position as you actually! I have to buy a new Macbook Pro and I need to have it for at least a presentation and edit at the end of february. But I need it a bit before, because it will be my first mac and I should learn Keynote a bit (FCP won't be a problem, I already know the basics, and it's pretty much the same as Premiere Pro, better though).
So I need/want a new Macbook Pro very badly, but I dont' know what to do right now... If they aren't updated next week, I don't know if I'll wait another week...

Anyhow, my mind is set (at this moment) at the Macbook Pro 15" 2.4 ghz option, if I'm right, this will be replaced in the next upgrade by a 2.6 ghz Penrynn.

You can get pretty good slow motion with FCP2 and Optical Flow (although not as good as real variable framerates), and I really feel your pain:
I want the Sony badly too! But the truth is: I think we don't have the budget for it at this time, and in the right hands, I'm sure a Canon will do great too.
And I have to be honest: I prefer to be shooting with a slightly worse cam, and having a nice week in the editing room, then having a better cam for one afternoon shooting, and hating my time in the editing room, expanding it to weeks ;-). Of course, both influence each other.

Best regards,
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Old January 24th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mathieu Ghekiere View Post
But on the Sony you have HD SDI, from which you can record 4:2:2 but at more then a gig per second!! Very expensive option,
?
Maybe shooting uncompressed, but why not capture from SDI to Cineform or ProRes? Excellent quality at a reasonable data rate.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #9
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If you are getting a Canon XH-A1, might I suggest a Matthews MN25 tripod at about 130 ex VAT? Not the best, obviously, but pretty good for the money.

There's a few threads on dvinfo about it, for example
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...light=matthews
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Old January 24th, 2008, 05:41 PM   #10
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Obviously you've got to work within your budget constraints... but as a former XL1 user who migrated to a slightly higher-end JVC camera and then to the EX1, I can't emphasize enough what a difference a true manual focus ring makes.

Maybe Canon has improved since the XL1, but the auto-focus issues, even when in "Manual" mode, ruined more shots than I care to remember. With the JVC I became re-acclimated to true manual controls, and it was great. There were very rare occasions when I missed having an auto-focus option, but the absolute positioning of the focus ring made up for it. Now, I have both!

A few other things to consider:

1/2" CMOS vs. 1/3" CCD: Yes, the CMOS has noticeable skew during whip pans and the like due to the scanning shutter. It's a shame. Still, the DOF you get with 1/2" chips vs. 1/3" chips (IMHO) more than makes up for it.

HDV vs. MPEG-2 Long GOP 35 Mbps codec: HDV has always felt a little... well... wrong to me. I had enough problems with drop-outs, poorly aligned or dirty heads, and whatever else MiniDV threw at me. To try to take a larger image and put it on that same microscopic tape is frightening. So far the EX1 codec has been rock solid.

SDI out: Should your future lean in that direction, you have a built-in upgrade path to uncompressed or ProRes 422 video.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 08:57 PM   #11
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I agree with some earlier advice given here that you really need a new Macbook Pro to handle HD. I'd recommend getting new Macbook pro and upgrading FCPro to 6.0.2 to handle Ex1 HQ 1080 mode footage, although having said that FCP 5.1 on a powerbook probably does handle Ex1 SP 1080 mode footage.

For the time being(to get work immediately and with your budget constrants) A used A1 could be a good option... .....nah, go with the EX1 its awesome!
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Old January 25th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #12
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Before i get round to a Macbook Pro, my girlfriend has an imac i can use..

Spec:
Imac 5.1
1 x Intelcore 2 Duo Processor 2GHz
L2 Cache 4MB (Processor)
Memory: 1 Gb
Bus speed: 667 MHz

Fire wire:400 only
No PCI slots

Perhaps I can upgrade the memory to 2bg.

Would this be able to edit HD comfortably?

thanks,

Harjinder
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Old January 25th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Alexander Kubalsky View Post
I'd recommend getting new Macbook pro and upgrading FCPro to 6.0.2 to handle Ex1 HQ 1080 mode footage, although having said that FCP 5.1 on a powerbook probably does handle Ex1 SP 1080 mode footage.
I could be wrong (someone please correct me if I am), but I was told in an earlier post that Final cut 6 is a requirement for the EX footage.

Thanks
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Old January 25th, 2008, 01:17 PM   #14
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That's correct. 6.0.2 was the first version to support EX1 footage.
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Old January 25th, 2008, 02:00 PM   #15
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But i've also been hearing that now is not the best time to pick up a new Macbook Pro due to overdue updates that should be coming out soon.. Perhaps in the shape of a blu ray drive?? (http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=262). Any thoughts?
The public rumors I've heard say a few weeks, my sources say early March - either way I'd say if you can hold out a month there's likely to be an upgrade.

I'm expecting a speed bump, multitouch trackpad, and swap from the old keyboard style to the new one like the air. I'm hoping for LED backlighting on the 17" model as well, and possibly a slightly thinner form factor overall, but I don't know how likely either of those are.

I'd say blu ray is highly unlikely. My way-out guess is that if anything changes with the optical drive it might be to eliminate it across the board (like the macbook air) so that all models can be made thinner and lighter, and then let users choose between the current external superdrive or an external blu-ray. I don't think this is likely though, just a thought.
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