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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old October 10th, 2008, 09:39 AM   #1
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EX-1 vs Panasonic 170

I am looking at the Sony EX-1 and the new Panasonic 170 cameras. I have read posts on this site over the last couple of months. I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of each in my purchasing decision. I do primarily sports video work, some corporate and documentary. All to this point is delivered in SD either DVD or h.264 for web use. I edit on a Mackbook Pro. I have tried the Ex-1, found it to be a bit heavy and uncomfortable to hold in handheld use. Very impressive image quality and ease of SXS going directly into the PCI slot on my MAcbook Pro. The SD conversion/render due to GOP files is lengthly making the workflow a negative. I have not tried the 170 yet, but from what I understand the SD conversion is faster since Panasonic doesn't use GOP. On the down side it uses more memory on the P2 card so that can become more costly for cards or a Firestore. The 170 is more comfortable to hold too. I welcome any comments. Thanks.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 10:23 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Chuck Farace View Post
I am looking at the Sony EX-1 and the new Panasonic 170 cameras

....I do primarily sports video work

...I have tried the Ex-1, found it to be a bit heavy and uncomfortable to hold in handheld use.

...The 170 is more comfortable to hold too.

I welcome any comments.
Get the 170 or the HMC150. Should solve your problems. Looks like you're leaning there anyway.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 10:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Chuck Farace View Post
I am looking at the Sony EX-1 and the new Panasonic 170 cameras.
From what you say, I'd be looking more towards the Panasonic 151 or the Sony Z7. They use SD or CF cards respectively, so saving the cost of expensive memory (though it's now possible to use SD cards in the EX with an adaptor).

The Z7 has the advantage of tape and/or solid state to give a backup/archive, has a true manual lens, and maybe most importantly to you will work in SD DVCAM mode, so no downconversion needed.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 10:57 AM   #4
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Chuck,
as you can imagine, it's tough getting a balanced comparison on these cameras in an EX forum.

I'd say it's really down to these trade-offs between these cameras.

1. EX offers full 1920x1080 raster. The HPX170 uses the same sensor as the HVX200A which is 960x540 and relies on pixel shift to allow 1080. Now, "this does not mean it's bad", it's just something to realize. Having said that the HPX offers the same new and improved noise level improvements as in the HVX200A.

2. The HPX170 uses CCD sensors, opposed to the CMOS based sensors in the EX. Now, both of these sensors have trade-offs. Some shy away from CMOS due to possible CMOS artifacts such as skew and wobble. But, CMOS also does not display smear issues with bright lights. CCD sensors have this issue and it's dead giveaway that it was recorded on video.

3. Memory cost and recording times.
The HPX170 P2 memory cards: 16GB P2 (approx. $850) =16 minutes of DVCPRO HD (highest quality).

The EX1/EX3 SxS memory cards: 16GB (approx. $850) = 52 minutes of HQ mode (highest quality)
Also, (new EX1 1.1 firmware) and current EX3 firmware:
Kensington 7-in-1 expresscard / 16GB SanDisk Ultra II 15MB/s SDHC card (approx.$110) = 52minutes of HQ mode (highest quality)

4. HPX170 4:2:2 vs EX1/EX3 4:2:0 chroma subsampling.
Well, obviously the HPX wins on the numbers alone. But, the images need to be compared one-for-one at full 1080. remember the EX is not using pixel shift. I've seen the older HVX200 1080 images blown up side by side and the HVX was blocky and had more noise and less detail. I have not done this comparison with the HPX170. We all know noise levels have improved.

5. Intraframe (HPX170) vx Interframe long GOP (EX1/EX3):
The HPX technically uses the better compression scheme. This is not to say the images will always look better. But, the image quality (if you like it or not), will look the same frame to frame on the HPX.
The XDCAM HQ mode has been noted by a lot of reviewers to be one of the best at the 35mbps data rate. With fast moving high detail, and under blown-up close scrutiny looking at each frame, you can see some compression artifacts. I do not see these at normal veiwing.

Having said that, I've seen compression artifacts looking at 1080 DVCPRO HD blown up at frame-by-frame viewing. Remember, these are not lossless formats, they use compression.

5. SDI HD.
Both of these cameras offer SDI out. This will allow the EX to output full raster 1920x1080 at 4:2:2. Over the next couple years there going to be a lot of portable SDI recording solutions.

I have not seen raw HPX170 footage, but I am hearig it is better than the previous HVX200 and compares (some say better) to the current HVX200A. What HPX170 footage I have seen on the net, looks good to me.

You really need to try both of these cameras yourself.

I know the EX1 is one heck of a camera. It produces jaw-dropping footage.

Last edited by Steven Thomas; October 11th, 2008 at 12:25 AM.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:02 AM   #5
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David,

I did look into the Z7U but found it to be a stop gap model. It can only do HDV and at the price point, I didn't think it was a good value looking down the road considering the other two models can do full 1080p. I expect the trend to change at some point to HD and BluRay from my customers. I'm not totally looking at a short term solution. I understand the investment required with this tapeless technology, just a matter of choosing which one and at a good value. I have an XL1 that I have used for the last 8 years, so I was looking to upgrade.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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Thanks Steve for the information. This is a tough call.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #7
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Chuck,
as you can imagine, it's tough getting a balanced comparison on these cameras in an EX forum.

5. SDI HD.
Both of these cameras offer SDI out. This will allow the EX to output full raster 1920x1080 at 4:2:2. Over the next couple years there going to be a lot of portable SDI recording solutions.

I know the EX1 is one heck of a camera. It produces jaw-dropping footage.
This was the tipping point for "ME".

I had a Firestore already. I was able to upgrade it to and HDV firestore for $ giving me the ability to record from the EX1, long-form. This allowed me to really save a LOT of money. My needs fall into 3 distinct uses:

1. Long Form conference recording. HDV is fine for this. We had been shooing SD and delivering on DVDs and web. HDV is overkill here but future proofs what we're doing.

2. High quality talking head. The two free SxS cards that you can get with the camera give me 50 minutes. to work with continuous, and I can dump and keep going. The new SDHC solution extends this further and keeps the costs very reasonable.

3. Indie film level narrative work. For this, I can rent/hire an SDI recording solution, and wait on the Convergent to mature a bit. Then I am at 1920x108p 4:2:2.

In looking at the HVX/HPX these solutions just don't exist at the same price point. The P2 cards are far more expensive in terms of recorded time vs. dollar cost. When going out the SDI port, the HPX is always going to be limited by it's sensors. The knock against the Sony is that it is 4:2:0 (though on the full raster which puts it AMAZINGLY close to the HPX in reality) and that it is only 35 Mb/s. The HD-SDI port ends all that. And allows you to take full advantage of the camera. To me, that is the limiting factor on the Panasonics. When you remove the recording barriers you're just left with the glass and the sensors. And I think the Sony wins there.

But if my work was primarily handheld with no stabilizer or brace, I'd take the Panasonic. Or if I had to shoot high motion with a moving camera and I could not use SDI, then I'd go with the Panasonic.

Just depends on what you need.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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If it were me and I was shooting primarily sports and outputting standard definition, I would go with lower end CCD based camera. I'm making the assumption you're actually making money doing this stuff. There is no need to go with a $5,000+ camera for shooting standard def sports in my opinion, unless it's something you want "today's" footage to be future-proofed to be replayed/broadcasted later in high definition. Otherwise you can spend a lot less on a fine camera (even hdv), make a lot of moolah with it, and in a year or two when you need/want high definition you'll have more options and they'll probably be much less and better resolution. Maybe the CMOS cameras will be great for fast-paced sports action too.

If you're wanting to go high-def right now even though you don't need it, it's a tough call. If you need the full 1920x1080 resolution of the EX1, which is suh-weet, it's the best value to get this resolution. But if you do a lot of full-zoomed fast action sports you might run into some skewing. The Panasonic CCD models would be a better choice for that specific market but you'll see a difference in the resolution. That's why I say if you just need standard def production now, go with a CCD HDV camera (any mfg) and soon enough I think your HD options will be much better for sports and full 1920x1080, 2K, 3K,4K, etc.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:07 PM   #9
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The EX1 also has a full manual lens, you can choose between a full manual modus and a servo-mode.

If I'm not mistaken the Panny has a servo, but I'm not sure, I could be wrong.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Chuck Farace View Post
I did look into the Z7U but found it to be a stop gap model. It can only do HDV and at the price point, I didn't think it was a good value looking down the road considering the other two models can do full 1080p.
No, the Ex can indeed produce and record full 1080p, but the 170 can't. It records a 1080 signal, but the front end is not capable of doing it justice.

The 170 has 960x540 sensors (roughly 0.5megapixel), and uses the much talked of pixel shift to take advantage of the green pixels being offset from red, blue. The advantage for luminance is then about 1.5x in total, so it's roughly equivalent to a 0.75megapixel sensor for luminance. Note that for this camera it's split between the horizontal and vertical, so the advantage on each axis is about sq rt 1.5, or just over 1.2x.

Hence you can expect about 1200x650 of real resolution from the 170, even if a 1080 signal is recorded. Nothing wrong with that - pretty well all other 1/3" cameras are about 1megapixel - but it isn't full 1080p in the way the EX is. That's the advantage of 1/2" chips.
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Originally Posted by Steven Thomas
I3. Memory cost and recording times.
The HPX170 P2 memory cards: 16GB P2 (approx. $850) = 32minutes of DVCPRO HD (highest quality).

The EX1/EX3 SxS memory cards: 16GB (approx. $850) = 52minutes of HQ mode (highest quality)

4. HPX170 4:2:2 vs EX1/EX3 4:2:0 chroma subsampling.
Well, obviously the HPX wins on the numbers alone.
Shouldn't that be 16 minutes for a 16GB P2 card, Steve?

And I don't think the numbers game is that simple. The EX codec records a full 1080 raster (1920x1080), whereas DVCProHD subsamples to 1280x1080. Effectively, the EX swaps a few chrominance pixels for more luminance ones, which may well let it win the numbers game.

But overall, I think Mathieus comment about manual versus servo lens probably has most significance. That's the real beauty of the EX or Z7.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 12:30 AM   #11
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Shouldn't that be 16 minutes for a 16GB P2 card, Steve?
Yes, I corrected this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
I don't think the numbers game is that simple. The EX codec records a full 1080 raster (1920x1080), whereas DVCProHD subsamples to 1280x1080. Effectively, the EX swaps a few chrominance pixels for more luminance ones, which may well let it win the numbers game.
Yes, I agree -this is why I wrote:
"But, the images need to be compared one-for-one at full 1080. remember the EX is not using pixel shift."
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Old November 14th, 2008, 02:45 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chuck Farace View Post
I am looking at the Sony EX-1 and the new Panasonic 170 cameras. I have read posts on this site over the last couple of months. I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of each in my purchasing decision. I do primarily sports video work, some corporate and documentary. All to this point is delivered in SD either DVD or h.264 for web use. I edit on a Mackbook Pro. I have tried the Ex-1, found it to be a bit heavy and uncomfortable to hold in handheld use. Very impressive image quality and ease of SXS going directly into the PCI slot on my MAcbook Pro. The SD conversion/render due to GOP files is lengthly making the workflow a negative. I have not tried the 170 yet, but from what I understand the SD conversion is faster since Panasonic doesn't use GOP. On the down side it uses more memory on the P2 card so that can become more costly for cards or a Firestore. The 170 is more comfortable to hold too. I welcome any comments. Thanks.
So what did you get?
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Old November 14th, 2008, 03:56 PM   #13
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The ex1 produces awesome pictures regarding resolution and dynamic range. Even if it's not so important for your final output, it makes you feel strong to shoot with cinematographic quality. ;) Perhaps a not insignificant motivation-factor.
The ratio of time per memory is much higher than that of the Panasonic. That's not only convenient because of the pricey memory-cards, but also when archiving your footage. It's really soothing not to waste your harddisk-space with an inefficient I-frames-only-codec and interpolated pixels.
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