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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old January 26th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #1
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Sony EX1 versus Canon XH A1...

Hi,

I had a VERY short experience with both (IBC) and we are looking to make camera purchases, and we would like some feedback on these choices. Best would be from people who have used both, but anyone can chime in.
I also live in Belgium, where there is almost zero chance at trying these camera's out (is there a chance someone could provide a new dvinfo sponsor from this area or around - France, Netherlands, Germany - because it's a bit frustrating at times).
Now overview:

WORKFLOW
Canon: tapes, which can be cumbersome because of all the capturing afterwards, and drop outs, but easy to archive on a long term.
Sony: compact flash cards, requires a complete different workflow, with
a laptop on the field, problems with archiving on a long term (HDD's in RAID setup?), but you don't have to capture anymore, no drop outs,...
conclusion: I'm very curious about going into this new tapeless workflow (will be using a Macbook Pro and Mac Pro) but not sure about the archiving on long term. Don't have the budget at this moment to buy a Blue Ray burner or something. So they both have their advantages/disavantages.

FORMAT
Canon: HDV, the Canon codec, I've heard, is really good, but it's still HDV.
Sony: XDcam, same sort of compression, but with higher datarates, and enough for full raster 1080p resolution (although I don't care so much about resolution, in the sense that I'm not a number cruncher).
conclusion: Sony wins, easily.

ERGONOMICS
Canon: I've had a XL1s, which I was very pleased with, from controls. The handformat A1 will be a bit different in controls, but I suppose the basics are the same?
Sony: the camera looks like an (ugly) brick, and I've used a Z1 in the past, but I didn't like the controls very much. I suppose the EX1 is pretty much the same in this class.
conclusion: I don't know, because I haven't handled both enough, but it seems the Canon would be the most intuitive, and has the best placed buttons and menu design.

COST/PRICE
Canon: very cheap in camera's AND media (minidv tapes).
Sony: twice the price of the Canon AND pretty expensive media.
conclusion: the Sony is much more costly, of course...

FEATURES
Canon: has smaller chips, but 25f. XLR. Very small LCD screen, which I'm a bit worried about... Has all the basics covered, it seems.
Sony: has bigger chips, which give it a HUGE advantage, big LCD screen, 25p, XLR, HDSDI (but I won't use that, I think),... am I right, that it also shoots NTSC AND PAL, like the Z1? Variable framerates...
conclusion: Sony has much more features.

PICTURE QUALITY
Canon: well, I've seen fine examples on the internet, and some very bad... Some look very video-like, others look much better. But haven't had enough testing.
Sony: the examples I've seen untill know were very good, and I've been pretty amazed at the sharpness of the footage, the deep colours and the low light performance, although I haven't seen soo much of the camera.
conclusion: I think a good cinematographer can get good footage out of both, and a bad one won't be able to get good footage with neither of them. I haven't done my own testing, but I should say I've been very amazed with some Sony EX samples.

I think I have the basics covered... Now, our preference goes to the Sony at this point, but we are doubting between buying 2 Canons or buying one Sony, and renting a second one if needed.

Love to have people's opinions, as stated, my preference goes to people who have used them both and can compare them much better then I do in a real world situation, but as I said: everyone who wants to chime in, please do.

Thanks in advance
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Old January 26th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #2
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As you know asking this in an EX1 forum.....

They both produce nice footage. The A1 has proven itself as quite the camera. With image comparison aside, you really need to decide if you want tape over a memory based solution.

Tape is great for long events and solves the archiving problem.
On the other hand, I can't say I miss the occasional tape drop-outs.
They always seem to happen at the worse time.

I can't say enough about the image quality from the EX1. It's really amazing.
One thing that might turn you away is the CMOS rolling shutter. The XH A1 will not suffer from this problem. Well, the RED ONE also implements CMOS and many pros are jumping on that.

From your list, I'd say you really have a good idea about these cameras and their capabilities.

If image quality with the ability for time based effects such as slo-mo are important to you, I'd go with the EX1. The EX1 is really good in low light (low noise).

The XH A1 has the same CCDs as the XH H1 and produces decent images. The H1 has proven itself, that's for sure. If you're looking to save some money, you might want to go this route.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 04:24 AM   #3
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Yesterday I filmed at the same time with the XHA1 and the EX1 in the same scene. My material is here to download:

http://www.archive.org/details/ex1_xha1
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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:31 AM   #4
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Hi,

Wolfgang, thanks for the link, but I can only see some couple movies on that link, and not really a comparison, unless I'm looking wrong. And they are very compressed and difficult to judge by (sorry!).
Can you comment on the workflow and handling of both? What did you prefer, how much difference did you feel, saw, etc?

Steven, I don't know if the CMOS would disturb me so much. I'm not a videophile who is really taking the video apart, although if it would be really bad, I would of course notice it. But I'm more concerned about other things...

Thanks for the responses so far, keep them coming!

p.s. Steven: yes, I had to choose where to place the thread, and as I thought the EX is the most prefferred camera, but also the most new one, so I hope, by posting here, there is more chance that I get the opinion of people who have used both and more experience with the EX, which is (in comparison with HDV) the 'newer' workflow.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:49 AM   #6
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Hi there wolfgang, I'm very interested to see that you have got an EX1. I used your -3db profile all the time I was using my XH-A1 and found it to be the best in terms of representing colours correctly.

Do you plan on doing anything similar with the EX1 profiles?

best regards

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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:03 AM   #7
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Thanks Wolfgang, I'll check them out this afternoon!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:20 AM   #8
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<Do you plan on doing anything similar with the EX1 profiles?>

It's no my EX1 camera, it's a demo model from Sony Germany. If a buy the EX1 in the next month, then i create new EX1 profiles..... that's a hard work for a really good profiles!


<Thanks Wolfgang, I'll check them out this afternoon!>

In this sample, the Gain of the XHA1 and EX1 is -3dB. The XHA1 work with my -3dB Preset, the EX1 work without a special profiles.

In the next hours follow my XHA1+EX1 LowLight samples.....
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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #9
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I've tried to play them, and the Canon files play good, but my computer can't barely play the Sony files! (update of computers will come together with the camera's).

So I can't make a judgement (but I'll try different ways to view the footage in a correct manner) but at first glance, they don't look very different, or am I seeing wrong?

p.s.: only downloaded 2,4,6,8 from each one, because I have a download limit - in Belgium we can only download maximum 12 gigabyte per month :-(
I am very curious at the low light samples though, as I hope the 1/2 chips from the Sony will give the picture a significant boost in clarity.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:48 AM   #10
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<can't barely play the Sony files!>

download the last VLC 0.8.6 mediaplayer !!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 08:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfgang Winne View Post
<can't barely play the Sony files!>

download the last VLC 0.8.6 mediaplayer !!
yep, but it's the slowness of my computer, not the fault of the VLC player. I can like only see the first frame, then it just hangs.
Those new Mac's sure will be welcome when they arrive!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 09:18 AM   #12
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Mathieu, I have both XH A1 and EX1 now. You can see my low light comparison of EX1, A1, and HV20. It's Korean site, but simply click on the 'Video Play' button and double click on the video: http://www.camuser.co.kr/html/video_...e=&user_flag=G
You will see similar images three times : First: EX1, Second: A1, Third: HV20.

My opinion is simple : Both camcorders are really nice, but pay more for better image quality.

Last edited by Mooho Bae; January 27th, 2008 at 10:00 AM.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 09:49 AM   #13
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Thanks Mooho.

in some pictures the A1 and EX1 didn't had a huge difference, but in some pictures (low light and the one with the white door) the difference in light and detail was sure apparent.

How did you like the tapeless workflow in comparison with the A1?
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:01 AM   #14
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Wolfgang, thanks for the comparison shots.
It's obvious one could easily cut these cameras together. It's amazing how close the overall image looks, at least, under those conditions.
In fact, you did a great job with the white balance and overall color match.

I imagine the EX1 should fair better in lower light.
Having said that, anyone on the fence with which camera to buy, the A1 is obviously a good deal!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #15
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Mathieu, I really like the 'tapeless' workflow except for the back-up. The tape was back-up itself, but EX1, I need double back-up to the HDD.
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