EX1 first impressions; comparison with the V1E 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 January 28th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #1
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EX1 first impressions; comparison with the V1E

OK, so I finally got my EX1 today -- after 4 months since ordering (I still didn't get the whole of my order yet; don't want to bash my UK vendor just yet - but if they don't deliver within a week, I certainly will!).

So far soo good - no obvious vignetting or back focus problems, though take it with a grain of salt as I didn't run full test yet.

My other first impressions (please bear in mind I'm comparing the EX1 to my V1E, which I got so used to):

1. Ergonomics: awful.

- not possible to use it with one hand and VF at eye-level (very often used the V1E this way);too left-heavy! (BTW, the VF looks awful when compared to the LCD - why not XtraFine, Sony ?!!)
- sliding switches (like the camera /off /player) difficult to use, or not precise enough (like the menu sel/set roller)

2. Lens: marvellous (the only flaw is the slow and hunting autofocus; also - when in full manual zoom - my zoom ring is kinda loose; is this normal?)

3. Picture quality: while definitely less noisy than the V1E, to me it lacks the "wow" factor I was expecting (this may be due to the fact that the V1E simply produces great images, as well). Also, not all that much more sensitive than the V1E as I was hoping for!

4. Workflow: too early to say; offloading the SxS card using the ExpressCard slot on my Sony Vaio laptop is a breeze; using the camera's own USB port - much slower. Also, even on my Quad PC, exporting to mxf is a bit slower than I expected, but this is not a problem

5. Questions: with my V1E, I worked out some best PP's settings for every shooting situations; of course it'll take some time before I learn how to do the same with the EX1. One thing I'd like you guys to explain to me: what are the counterpart settings on the EX1 to the V1's BLACK COMPENSATION? I understand 3 parameters are involved - BLACK, BLACK GAMMA, and Low Key SAT; however what's is the most obvious method to stretch blacks, or to compress them (this is self-explanatory on the V1)... I'm also a bit lost with WB; on my V1E I used ATW most of the time and never worried; the ATW on the EX1 works strange, to say the least.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #2
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Well I'm glad to hear you finally got it anyway :)

It's funny, I used my camera yesterday to shoot some indoor archery footage and I too was quite disappointed when I got home and imported the footage. For some reason even though I shot at -3db gain and no picture profile I got a lot of grain in the footage and it looked a little washed out.

I've also had some stunning results too though, so I'm not sure what I did differently this time.

regards

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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:26 AM   #3
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The factory setting does not give you the wow factor.

Look into the Cine settings under picture profile. Check out the the profiles mentioned here.


I'm sure seeing the wow factor. ;)
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:50 AM   #4
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Well I for one am glad I didn't throw my V1's out with the baby.......ok, maybe that's not the correct way to say it.

Thanks for the information, I'll hold onto my children (V1us) another year.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:38 PM   #5
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Piotr glad you have your camera. I think you need to dial in some PP settings. No PP is not a very nice picture. From my experience with the V1 and A1 you will see the WOW factor once you dial the camera in.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:56 PM   #6
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Standard factory settings are washed out and non-wow. ALWAYS use PPs.
AWB - Don't use it. It's an ever changing average as used in the consumer models. AGAIN - don't use it just like you should never switch on auto focus or focus assist.

You black questions are EXCELLENT and I hope someone has the knowledge to answer you. I'm trying to discover this for myself.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 01:19 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for their input. Of course I'm using PP's; have two already:

- PP1 for contrasty or back-lit scenery (with Matrix at HighSat; Auto Knee OFF at 50, Knee SAT level at 75, Black Gamma at 25, and Low Key SAT at 25) - this stretches the blacks OK, so I guess I have answered my own question ;)

- PP2 for low contrast scenes, with CINE3 (Knee is not working with Gamma set to CINE curves), Black Gamma at -25.

As to the autofocus - well, we're after shaloow DOF, aren't we? You cannot keep it shallow and rely on autoficus at the same time (there's a saying in Polish "one can't eat a cake and have a cake"), so I guess it's a question of choosing. For run'n'gun, I guess autofocus might be fine provided the DOF is kept deeper (by closing the iris and using wider zooms). HOWEVER, and I mean it, even then it is hunting much more than with a similar DOF on the V1E.

The other thread on the firmware update wishlist is almost complete, so I'm not going to add much on this - I'd stress however that the menu lists should absolotelly be scrollable through the most bottom position to the upppermost directly, rather than requiring to scroll back through everything. And one more wish (unfortunately not a firmware, but a major hardware update): the menu joystick being a great idea, its placement is completely wrong; holding the camera with your right hand you can only operate it with the left one, which is even more difficult because the LCD is preventing access! The joystick should definiititely go to the grip handle, under your right hand's thumb or index finger.

EDIT: my PP1 stretches blacks, but introduces too much chroma noise; I have revised it to lower saturations. PP2 I also modified to increase dark colours saturation, in order to make for their compression. I guess I do have some good starting points now for low and high contracts situation.
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; January 28th, 2008 at 04:45 PM.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 03:12 AM   #8
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OK, so I basically answered my own original questions. Today have two more and would really appreciate some input from those having their EX1's longer:

1. Is peaking supposed to go off in expanded focus? Mine does!

2. I know using ATW is not very "pro", but haven't figure out how to use it otherwise yet (apart from the preset, or setting in to the white card). Anyway, when in ATW and I turn the camera towards some bright and white subject (like the PC screen in a dimly lit room), the ATW goes up and the screen adopts the white colour. However, the opposite is not true (inconsistently): when I turn the camera back from the source of light towards the darker (and more reddish) area, the ATW doesn't change the temperature and the picture is to reddish! Is it a malfuction of my unit, or do all work that way? My old good V1E didn't display the Kelvin's but observing the LCD I could see the ATV working each time...

Edit: In another thread it's been confirmed that peaking disappears with expended focus, so the Q1 above is obsolete. As far as Q2 is concerned, I know you can play with ATW responsiveness in the menu, but I have noticed what's more important is the amount of light. If it's too dark, the ATW will simply not work (when yo press the WB button, there is an error message, as well). With decent amount of light, changing it's temperature does make ATW work - but with a very long delay (even with the Shockless switched off, and the ATW speed set to 5). Why the delay of several seconds?
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; January 29th, 2008 at 04:42 AM.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 04:12 AM   #9
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A high contrast image will still sometimes show peaking when expanded, although edges with less contrast will not. The same is not true with a wider shot, for some reason it takes less contrast for the peaking to appear then.

I don't use AWB, but I agree that the way WB is set is one of the top issues that need to be addressed in firmware. It should be possible to select the WB setting on the LCD and dial it in to whatever is required without having to use a PP.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 04:50 AM   #10
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Paul,

It's strange, because while I agree with your comments about peaking being more or less apparent depending on circumstances, when I engage expanded focus there is *NO* peaking at all! BTW, I wish the peaking button was multifunctional in that it cycled trough: off/low/medium/high - another wish for the firmaware upgrade!

As to the WB thing: what I did is assign B to "Memory B", and the only free assignable button - to ATW. Now I have 5600K under A, 3200K under B, and can toggle between them and ATW with one button push. The Preset I will be dealing with in Picture Profiles, I guess. Does it sound like a good method (after only having the camera one day?)
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; January 29th, 2008 at 05:43 AM.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 05:13 AM   #11
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You're right Piotr, I havn't used the expanded focus button yet and thought you were talking about the fact that peaking is less apparent when zoomed in. I too don't see it at all when I press the button. I think just having a peaking status option the LCD would be fine then it could be cycled using the SEL/SET controller. By the way, mine actually just says S______T now as the text has worn off!

Sorry for any confusion.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 06:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
when I engage expanded focus there is *NO* peaking at all! BTW, I wish the peaking button was multifunctional in that it cycled trough: off/low/medium/high - another wish for the firmaware upgrade!
It's normal Piotr.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #13
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EX1 vs V1E comparison: day two

I am still experimenting to create a couple of PP's for typical extremes (lowlight, backlight etc) - but it's not as straightforward as it is with the V1E. The problem is that while the 4 Cine gamma curves can be found depicted in the pdf brochure, I cannot find a similar graphic representation of the 4 Standard ones - and the verbal description the manual offers is far from enough... Anyway, I do already have my own two, preliminary PPs: PP1 is with blacks compressed and plenty of headroom for the brights, while my PP2 - the other way around. There is a limitation that with Cine gammas, you cannot define your own knee point and agressiveness; it's only possible with Standard curves.

As to the hunting and slow autofocus: my first impression was very bad as I first tried my EX1 indoors in the evening hours; the autofocus took up to 5 secs to settle sometimes! But today we had a sunny day here, and my tests outside proved it's not that bad. Certainly not better than the V1E, though.

While the V1E I could keep steady at the eye level for quite a long time, it's simply impossible with the EX1. But (apart from some supporting devices) there is another way, and I find it actually working: instead of pressing the VF's eyecup against my eye, I'm pressing the EX1's back against my abdomen - possible thanks to the rotating handgrip - while supporting it/operating controls with my left hand. Of course, only the LCD can be used that way - but it's so much better than the VF that it's not a problem. Speaking of supporting devices: I have bought the Manfrotto monopod with panning bottom "head" and tilting upper head - works absolutely fantastic! For walking shots, I'm going to use the PAG Orbitor - tested it already and it's fine with the EX1, as well (thanks to its construction, it allows to only hold one handle without swaying to the left, so my left hand can be used for controls).

Finally, a word about low light: didn't run any scientific comparisons, but it's obviously much more sensitive than the V1E; in my room with just a single 40W desktop lamp plus a moderately bright PC panel, I can get usable picture at 0dB of gain! (The V1E, with a PP optimized after several weeks of using, needs 9-12 dB for a picture with comparable brightness, but either much more noise, or much less detail visible in shadows - depending on how much I crush the blacks). Of course I'm talking now about both cameras at 1080/25p, 1/25th shutter speed, iris fully opened and at the widest zoom end.

Well, that would be it for now. Still no trace of vignetting or backfocus, which is a relief. Overall, I'm glad but not enthusiastic; for me to get rid of my V1E without remorse, I'd be hoping for a more striking picture quality improvement with the EX1. The truth is that in the very same scenes or object I noticed the mosquito noise with the V1E, it's also present on the EX1 - only much, much less apparent. Well, it's still MPEG, isn't it... Anyway, I believe I can get still minimize if with some more elaborated/optimized settings though; also I realize my problem is that I know what to look for in the picture - I'm sure that a person not aware of my V1E measurebating history wouldn't even notice it!

Oh, and one more thing: just as I never found the (so fiercely discussed by some) CMOS-inherent "flaws" noticeable with the V1E, the EX1 doesn't have problem in this department either. No slanting, jellying pans (within resonable conditions); partial flash exposures are there of course - but they are partial on still frames only, and never worried me when actually watching motion video.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 06:35 PM   #14
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Hey Piotr,

congratulations to your newest toy! Cant wait to see more posts about your experience in the future.

Cheers


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