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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old April 15th, 2008, 08:42 AM   #1
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Ask Sony at NAB 2008

Hello,

If you're at the NAB show this year and you are reading/posting to this forum I would appreciate it if you could ask Sony a question on my behalf.

My company does promotional/marketing for the pyrotechnic industry. That being said these rolling shutter issues that plague the EX1 are the reason why I have not bought one already. Obviously there are a lot of flashes involved with a fireworks display and that rolling shutter "half lit frame" issue is not acceptable in my situation.

Now that the EX3 is coming out with its interchangeable lens Iím really excited because I can use a wide angle DigiPrime lens to get clean, full HD video. The lens adapters of the past had so much distortion toward the edges of the screen that it was just frustrating.

Anyway, I need to know if adjustments to the CMOS sensors of the EX3 have been made to alleviate the "half lit frame" problems caused by the rolling shutter.

Also, if anyone has any footage of fireworks shot with the EX1 I would appreciate if you could send me a few clips, they donít even have to be in full HD I just need to see how they handle the flashy light.

Thus far Iíve only seen this issue with electrical lighting and not an organically produced light. It's possible that the electrical flashes are much faster than the flash of a firework and thus the firework flashes may not be a problem.

I've looked for a rental version of the EX1 but none of the rental houses around here (Pittsburgh, PA) carry them. They say they have little rental value due to the high cost of the memory cards.

If you guys can dig up the answers to these questions I would really appreciate it. The EX3 seems like the perfect camera for my needs but it has to be able to handle flashy fireworks without any weird artifacts from the rolling shutter.

Thanks!
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:58 AM   #2
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George,

I sincerely doubt that there is any difference in the sensor between the two cameras. But I will ask.

Also, I doubt that pyrotechnics would ever be an issue with a rolling shutter camera. The pyro events take too long (usually more than a frame) and tend to "fade up" slightly unlike a photo strobe. Perhaps a very fast squib or flash powder - but I just don't see it happening.

If anyone attending NAB has their EX1 on the strip this week, there's some pyro in the (awful) pirate show in front of Treasure Island. I'll try to shoot some if I get the opportunity. Beware of permitting issues. They're oddly strict about such things.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #3
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There's a brochure available with the EX1 and EX3 that has the overall specs.
The camera head section has the same specs, S/N, rez, ect...
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Tasick View Post
Hello,
If you're at the NAB show this year and you are reading/posting to this forum I would appreciate it if you could ask Sony a question on my behalf.

Anyway, I need to know if adjustments to the CMOS sensors of the EX3 have been made to alleviate the "half lit frame" problems caused by the rolling shutter.

The "64 dollar" question that I've been patiently waiting for. So far all the hype on EX3 states is that is it has the same 1/2in CMOS sensors ... it outputs the same video formats as the EX1. However, what goes on between the sensors and the output is anybodies quess. Is it really the same inside camera body as the EX1? For $5k more has Sony made the necessary changes to address the well known faults of the EX1?

When asked this question, will Sony honestly answer and say one way or another? Herein lays the fall-out and frustration expressed in these forums. Bottom line the EX1 is a 1st generation attempt and after 28 years in this industry you can bet that for $5K increment for the EX3 ticket will have significantly different hardware and firmware between those CMOS sensors and the output terminals. Will somebody please ask the question?
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:03 AM   #5
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Im sure the EX3, as cool as it is- is a way of using the same sensor, lens etc as the Ex1 to its fullest potential from a manufacturer point of view.
They wouldn't invest in building new, faster sensors and call it an EX3. A faster sensor or global shutter would solve the flash/rolling shutter issue.

They'll save a 72 or higher field scan per second sensor camera for the next generation or as long as the market will stay satisfied with the current one which is 60 per second- so I hear.

Not that I know much...
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:41 AM   #6
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This is just for conversational purposes but I have heard that some companies tend to make a great product with better build and quality in its' first release whether it is a car, telivision, bicycle, tv series..etc to capture the attention of the market and build the reputation of that line of product and then they tend to use cheaper build or quality on the next items as they lost money from the first product being built.


I'm not sayign that that is the case with the EX-1 and EX-3 but it does get me wondering.

When I was at the CES in Vegas back in January, I was talking to one of the engineers on the "Philips" side and I was telling him how I just purchased my new Philips LCD HD television and how much I liked it. I also saw the new model that was the successor to mine. I liked it so much that I told him I might end up buying that as well. He told me that my television was built with a better processor, had more manual user adjustments, and some other features that the new one did not have. He said that he had the same televison as mine and he would keep it instead of updating.

I thought that was interesting. That is not the first instance I have heard of a product being better than it's successor. You see a lot of that happen in the production of cars. Take for example the 1999-2004 Jeep grand cherokees. The interiors were made of much better quality than the 2005-2008. As a matter of fact, the new ones are a joke compared to the old.

I can sit here and compare many products and show you how a successor has not always been better.

Don't assume that the EX-3 will be much better in quality, optics, processor, whatever just because it is 5k more.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #7
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fireworks

Regarding fireworks:
I shot the "3 Queens" event in NYC. Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria cruise ships meeting in the harbor in January. Big fireworks display and no issue at all with rolling shutter. I don't have the clips online though and as I was still learning the camera, my settings were a bit of a mess (too much gain IMHO). The camera handled it well even with my messy settings.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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If you have that "3 Queens" footage and could put a clip or two online I would really appreciate it. My entire business is based around the pyrotechnic industry so it's kind of important to me.

I doubt that Sony re-engineered a new CMOS sensor but I wouldnít be all that surprised if it only took a little tweak to fix the problem. Either way I doubt Sony is really doing anything that sinister. Like I said in another post, regardless of any flaws, the desktop studio situation is WAY better than it was 15 years ago and Iím grateful for that.

If I have to continue to use my ole Z1U then so be it, it's doing just fine for me as it is. The only thing that really interests me with the EX3 is its ability to use prime lenses. With my Z1U I use a wide angle adapter and the distortion is just HORRIBLE! With a prime lens I could finally get those crispy clean wide angle shots that Iíve always wanted ... without quadrupling my camera budget!

Here is some footage I shot a few weeks ago, notice all the rapid flashes in the smoke. This is the type of footage I worry about with that rolling shutter issue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSGjimpqjBY

I actually called Sony earlier this morning to ask the question if the rolling shutter issue had been fixed and he honestly said he didnít know of any such issue. I can't imagine that someone at Sony does not know of this limitation but maybe they arenít paying attention to the buzz on the internet?

Anyway I emailed the rep a bunch of links and sample videos I found online that illustrate the flaw. Hopefully he'll get back to me with a satisfactory response.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 03:10 PM   #9
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I'll dig up my fireworks footage for you. It'll be a couple of days though. I didn't see flashes in my explosions like you have on the YouTube video.

As to Sony's awareness of rolling shutter, look at page 117 of the EX1 under Focal plane.

"Owing to the characteristics of the pickup elements (CMOS sensors) for reading video signals, subjects that quickly move across the screen may appear slightly skewed."

On that page there's a header "Phenomena specific to CMOS image sensors"

So this stuff is right there in the manual. Maybe they don't call it "rolling shutter" though.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 03:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Joseph View Post
This is just for conversational purposes but I have heard that some companies tend to make a great product with better build and quality in its' first release whether it is a car, telivision, bicycle, tv series..etc to capture the attention of the market and build the reputation of that line of product and then they tend to use cheaper build or quality on the next items as they lost money from the first product being built.

Don't assume that the EX-3 will be much better in quality, optics, processor, whatever just because it is 5k more.

I guess your right because Phil Bloom's video review says the EX3 still has the same ND mechanism "exactly the same .. I'm sure they haven't improved on that .. but it works fine, it does get stuck occasionally ... but you get used to it!". Then there is the power switch, "its the same design as before ... still quite fiddly to use ... accidently putting it into media or into camera when you want to turn it off ... but you get used to it." Twice "but you get used to it" with a clear intonation of frustration.

Makes me wonder if Sony expects us to also get used the rest of the EX1 issues as well, if in fact that 1st product build has those superior professional video camera build standards?
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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:14 PM   #11
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Cameras are the same

I spoke to a Sony rep. As we all assumed, the CMOS situation is identical on both cameras.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 08:51 PM   #12
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Well I guess all I can do is try to get my hands on one of these cameras and test it out under my own conditions.

I'm still crossing my fingers that either A) the organic nature of the fireworks flash is slower than an electrical flash and will not suffer the same result OR B) the "half frame" flash issue is due to a higher shutter speed (like 1/100 or 1/1000) and would not be picked up by 1/60 or lower. Kind of like how you can catch the bars on a CRT TV with higher shutter speeds.

In either case I won't know until I get my hands on one. Anyone live in Pittsburgh, PA that can let me barrow their EX1? Or you could just come out with me to a show? Unfortunately none of the rental places around here have EX1s in stock, they say that they have no rental value because the media is so expensive.

I asked Sony to send me a demo unit ... so we'll see how that goes.

Thanks for the help!
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #13
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George, Not sure this will help with your question but the following
footage has lots of flashing lights... I didnt see any issues, not sure
if you can compare with fireworks or not....

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=117100
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #14
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George

I am in Pittsburgh and offer a rental ex1. Are you related to a chuck T retired from wtae?

Chuck wall
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Old April 16th, 2008, 11:07 AM   #15
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Chuck,

I'd PM this to you but you're not accepting messages.

As far as I know, I'm not related to anyone who ever worked at WTAE.

I'd like to rent your camera for an evening this weekend if you're not charging too much.

Shoot me an email at george@tasickmedia.com and let me know how much you're asking.

Also let me know where you live, I'm up in Zelienople. If you don't live too far away and if I could pick the camera up tomorrow around noon that would be perfect for me. If we can't get together tomorrow there's a fireworks event going on all weekend so I could do it Friday or Saturday nights as well.

Thanks,

George
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