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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 May 21st, 2008, 08:25 AM   #1
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EX1 records to tape!

Just to let you know I've successfully hooked up my EX1 to my Sony HVR-M15 deck (like a DSR-11 but with HDV) via firewire using the 1080i SD setting.

If I take the cards out of the EX1, the Start/Stop buttons on the camera control the tape. If I don't touch these controls, the deck can be independently controlled. If I keep cards in the camera, I record simultaneously to card and deck.

I'm watching the HDV-DV downconvert from the deck on my JVC TM-H150C monitor - there's approximately 1 second delay. The audio from XLRs or onboard mics are coming through clean and clear.

No technical assessment of the quality, but it looks good (with lots of near horizontal lines, a balance of tones and some fine detail in the view of my office). Tonality and sharpness better than Z1 IMHO. Totally acceptable for my requirements (filming high end conference presentations).
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Old May 21st, 2008, 08:53 AM   #2
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Sounds like a step in the wrong direction!? Obviously if it works for what you want then great, but I don't think you'll have too many people copying you!
Good shooting.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 08:59 AM   #3
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I got that deck ...

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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
Sounds like a step in the wrong direction!? Obviously if it works for what you want then great, but I don't think you'll have too many people copying you!
Good shooting.
Steve
I use it for SD DVCam work recording direct on conferences. Let's face it, it's not an resolution upgrade direction in what the EX1 can do but it does nicely for SD work.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:17 AM   #4
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I don't think you'll have too many people copying you!
As shooting conferences is a big revenue generation thing for me, I have absolutely no problem with that. No sir.

On these jobs I need to film up to 8 hours of 'stuff' per day for up to four days at a stretch. Tape's good at this. This works just fine for me, and for others who do a similar job.

I'll continue to shoot SxS for the candid work and for general shooting - including stuff for SD delivery.

Shooting 8 hours per day to SxS will be great in the future (I'm also considering a straight to hard disk path too), but for now the tape thing works.

With this workaround I can think about pensioning off my 2 Z1s and get a second EX1 or even roll the boat out for an EX3. Have had some simply *stunning* shots out of the EX1 in difficult lighting. Man, I was dialling in ND1 on INTERIOR shots. Going back to the Z1 was such a downer (f2.8 at +3dB under stage lighting). All I had to do was work out how to capture 8 hours a day in an economical, practical way.

BTW, yes, considering Z7 shooting to CF, it may still be a runner. 4x 32 GB cards per camera, 2-3 cameras. Quite a bit of work to do after the day is done to unload each card. Not quite like locking the tapes up in a safe.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:18 AM   #5
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I shot a performance of over 4 hours on the weekend exactly this way. EX1>firewire cable>M15 with full sized cassette in it. Press record on the M15 and I get a record light in the EX1, neato.
I connected a smallish LCD to the A/V output of the deck for confidence monitoring. I did a quick and dirty bit of woodwork so the deck and LCD mount onto a light stand. Only thing was to not look at the confidence monitor while changing the shot. The 1 second delay is very distracting.

I wish I could afford enough SxS cards not to have to do this for sure but until then it works, the pictures look pretty good too considering the conditions. Offloading cards wouldn't have been an option either. No room and not enough hands.

In reality it wasn't that much extra work in post. Put tape in VCR, hit capture and go do something else. If anything it's less labour intensive than using cards.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:41 AM   #6
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the pictures look pretty good too considering the conditions.
And this is the interesting question. To my unscientific eye, darn it, I think it looks nicer than the Z1 recording to the same codec. Things I'd be looking for would be strobing in areas of fine detail, aliasing on slanted horizontals... The EX1's lens can be a little too good for quick and dirty downconvert. However, the deck and Z1's downconvert, whilst not perfect, does a fair job considering it all happens in real time.

But the EX1 lens, the ability to conjour up light and the general look of the EX1 is too much to give up. The Z7 on the other hand...

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Put tape in VCR, hit capture and go do something else.
Does anyone here charge for ingest? (...)
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:42 AM   #7
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The problem with tape is that you have to change it. With SxS cards and offload you can record "forever" without having to stop a speaker or miss a minute of the event. Of course one could use large size tapes which could get you a few hours.

At the point you're hooking up a deck and a cable that might be pulled, I'm not sure how much better than that is over using a laptop.

My fantasy though would be a device the size of an iPhone with Express Card slot and 160GB of storage. It can fit in a pocket, hold 10 hours, has a screen to view and confirm xfer and screen clips.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 10:10 AM   #8
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With SxS cards and offload you can record "forever" without having to stop a speaker or miss a minute of the event. Of course one could use large size tapes which could get you a few hours.
Hmm? What? Oh. Sorry. Just enjoying your fantasy.

No - I mean yes. Yes. This was what I bought into - the SxS fantasy of swapping cards all day, then uploading them at night. It isn't working out like that. Big tapes are nice. You shoot them, change them at the same intervals as the discomfort level of the human bladder, and that evening, you put them in a fireproof safe and return to bar. SxS cards of less than 32 GB require rather more hand-holding, especially when takes span a couple of cards.

I can plug my MBP into the EX1 and record to LaCie rugged drives direct. But that's a lot of money per camera, and it doesn't scale well. I can rent M15s or their equivalents. 8 hours of SxS is over £3,000. You can buy two M15s and a week's worth of stock for that.

Those of you with the Accountancy gene (or, like me, married to one) would say that I really should buy a Z7 and shoot to CF, but suddenly you double up your baggage, and I used to pay £200 (yes, $400) per journey in excess baggage due to clients using budget airlines.

I can carry on a full EX1, rushes and MBP edit kit, and consign the tripod and deck to checked baggage.

Oh, so I should sell my EX1 and go Z7? Oh look, I found a pulse. Sorry. :)
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Old May 21st, 2008, 10:47 AM   #9
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I can rent 16GB cards at $40-$60 a day. Not that I'd rent 10 of these for a shoot but with two 16 GB cards and a laptop you only need to offload once in a two hour interval to keep going. With four cards you can actually save the offloading for the fourth hour. In other words, with the fast offload speed, you don't have to do it every time a card fills depending on the number of cards you have.

In short, I don't like tape changes for long continuos shooting. Even worse is the long capture times from tape and the risk of a tape dropout. Over the years I've had enough tape dropouts, head clogs, bad tapes, to swear off tape. Yes all of those are RARE but like crossing the street and getting hit by a car, you only need to be hit once to be dead (have a head clog destroy a job for example).
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:05 AM   #10
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I can rent 16GB cards at $40-$60 a day.
Please overlay a Monty Python filter over the following comment.

You lucky, lucky bugger.

Python aside, this doesn't exist in the UK yet (please, somebody, prove me wrong). Maybe a lucrative gap in the market, maybe an excuse to mortgage any random octogenarians in my family tree to clean up in the SxS rental business around London.

But renting stuff can be a bit of a bugger: unless it's really local, D&C can be more than the rental. Okay, so one can go and literally pick up and return the stuff in person, but it's hard to make this work on Corporate schedules. Then there's the 'book in advance' issue. Cancellations, shifts, twiddles, last minute changes, stupid flight times. Client won't pay for 'waiting' time. Who pays me to drive 50 miles round trip, taking 2 hours, to pick up four cards for the next day or two?

So we're into Owner Operator territory here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
In short, I don't like tape changes for long continuos shooting. Even worse is the long capture times from tape and the risk of a tape dropout. Over the years I've had enough tape dropouts, head clogs, bad tapes, to swear off tape. Yes all of those are RARE but like crossing the street and getting hit by a car, you only need to be hit once to be dead (have a head clog destroy a job for example).
Amen, bro. I got into SxS for this. I had my PDX-10 chew a Very Important Tape on ingest. I did things to that camera and that tape that I have blanked from my memory, but only lost about 30 seconds. I swore I'd get away from tape ASAP after that. But tape is a crutch, a safe option, a port in a storm, nobody got fired for shooting to tape. Hear you on drop-outs. Never had them until I owned a Canon.

But 4 hours per load, 15 per tape, easy to rent a deck, it will last me until SanDisk and Sony see sense.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:30 AM   #11
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If it's rental vs non rental, the time it takes to pick up and return can be a big pain for sure. If you're renting the deck though you're dealing with a rental.

You might think about how many cards you can rent for the price of the deck rental. Renting the cards MIGHT be more expensive. I wouldn't know since I haven't rented such a deck.

DVInfo sponsor AbelCine rents 16GB SxS for $60 a day. For weekend work that can be a bargain since you pick up Friday return Monday. At issue is whether cards are available when you need one though.

In general though, I agree rental can be a real pain and that's why it makes more sense to me to buy gear in general. It makes far more sense to buy and then sell used unless one is getting paid enough to lose the hours in pickup return you mention.

I've found someone local who bought a bunch of 16GB cards for a doc and now rents them out so you might hunt for someone like that.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:47 AM   #12
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In Europe, lets say I'm UK based, so therefore - like the US - I'm going to fly to a job most times. Yes, may get a UK based job, and they're gorgeous - I have one regular one that's 5 miles away and that's luxury.

I could rent stuff and send it (like all the rest of the gear) by truck. In Europe, the trucking part isn't part of the rental. So if I do a job in Spain, I lose 3 days either side. If I rent gear, I pay for that. If I own gear, I take it on the chin, but if I own small light gear, I fly with it, hence no DSR-570s and big decks.

But sometimes the rental house/trucking company are in partnership, which is why deck rental is easier and more efficient than card rental.

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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
I've found someone local who bought a bunch of 16GB cards for a doc and now rents them out so you might hunt for someone like that.
Card rental is an interesting one. Would be delighted to hear that there's a market for it in the South East of the UK. If people are asking for it and there's no suppliers for it, this is an opportunity (a bit like the P2 market). I can invest in SxS so long as there's a market for it. :)
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Old May 21st, 2008, 04:44 PM   #13
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Just to clear up any misconceptions.

The M15 was recording 1080i50 from the EX1 in SP.
The footage was ingested as HDV, no downconvert in the VCR.
I had 4.5hours record time on a $50 tape. Not too many shows run over 4 hours without a break when a tape can be changed. As the tape isn't in the camera it can easily be changed over without touching the camera. And you can cover the tape change by recording to your SxS cards.
On the other hand I haven't a clue how one would change over a SxS card in the middle of a shot without bumping the camera around and blowing the shot. I was at the long end of the lens a lot of the time, even pressing the focus assist button without moving the camera wasn't all that easy.
Granted my biggest worry was the firewire cable however if you use one of the expensive Sony ones and secure both ends you're pretty safe and I had a confidence monitor. Would be easier with the M25 deck's built in LCD.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 05:25 PM   #14
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Wouldn't this also work with the Sony HVR-DR60 Hard disk recording unit? You could also be totally mobile with this as well since the DR60 is small enough to put onto a coldshoe and be on battery power.

I would also think that the old Sony M10u would also be able to do this (and also be on battery power) only on the mini cassette tape of course.

Am I missing something here?
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