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Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old January 21st, 2009, 11:49 AM   #1
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Hypothetical Question - Firmware upgrade EXx

I'm curious about the user base here on DVi and how you would respond to this scenario.

If Sony released a new firmware this summer that upgraded the EX1/EX3 to optionally record 100mbps 4:2:2 intra-frame, *BUT* it disabled the use of SDHC type solutions, would you do the upgrade?

Simple question, but a head-scratcher for many people I'd bet.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:06 PM   #2
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I would love the ability to record 4:2:2 at 100Mbps and would gladly sacrifice the use of SD cards to get it. I do prefer SxS over SDHC, so much faster. But then I've got 10 16Gb SxS cards and a load of 8Gb cards so I'm fortunate enough to have plenty of storage already.

My guess is that the next full size cameras from Sony will be SxS as I think that they have pretty much reached the limit of what can be reliably done with optical discs. I think the new full size JVC camera will be SxS as well. As the demand for SxS increases the price of the cards should steadily drop.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:20 PM   #3
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I would also love to upgrade to 4:2:2/100Mbps because I only use the SxS cards. To bad that this is only a Hypothetical Question. Think Sony could earn a lot of money for an update like this! But I think this will not happen very soon, because they have to protect their High-End market.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:31 PM   #4
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It is impossible since 4:2:2 encoding would require an extra hardware chip and is not enabled by software.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Soltz View Post
It is impossible since 4:2:2 encoding would require an extra hardware chip and is not enabled by software.
Uhh, that's why it's a hypothetical question...
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Old January 21st, 2009, 12:41 PM   #6
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Alister your comment is interesting, because this is exactly the path that Panasonic has chosen, and many users there are clamoring for recording in SD cards like EX1/EX3 users can. I'm truly wondering if it's a "Grass is greener" scenario.

My guess, is that the pro shooters here would gladly do the upgrade, while the home/hobbyist shooters would probably not. It breaks much the same on the P2 debate. You guys get to charge enough for your gigs to purchase SxS or can build that into the job spec. Most of us can't.

I also agree with you that the next group of fill size cameras will go SxS, but that is going to lead to some onerous problems, like backups and archiving, just as the P2 folks are dealing with. The SPD gives you the immediate backup/archive much as tape did. Not so with the SxS card.

In terms of price drops, the P2 folks have been hoping for that for years. Hasn't happened. I see nothing on the horizon that tells me that Sony won't follow suit and simply charge what the market will bear.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 01:00 PM   #7
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Given Ned's information either Sony would have to couple that with an expensive hardware upgrade or simply include it in the next EX series.

I firmly believe Sony will NOT disable the use of SDHC. They pulled out of third party card certification, that does not mean they will block the "market" especially since JVC is allowing the use of SDHC in the HM100 and I believe the HM700.

I certainly do think Sony may enable some additional features that will require SxS to utilize though.

I certainly DO think it is possible that new EX cameras going forward will have 50mbps 4:2:2 recording (I won't speculate on 100mbps) though.

I also DO believe Sony will be adding additional features to the current EX cameras through firmware upgrades though.

With Sony's alliance with JVC (you did see that didn't you?) and JVC now using the EX codec and making SDHC cameras that use the codec, Sony WILL NOT AT ALL block SDHC use on current cameras.

SxS will have advantages (overcranking and higher speed transfers) and other advantages may be enabled in firmware.

Also note that SxS is Sony AND Sandisk and while SxS has limited growth given it's reusable not archivable, Sandisk stands to gain significantly with SDHC as freelance shooters now have something that costs in the same range as an XDCAM Disc, that one can hand to a client after a shoot. SDCH will become like "tape stock" in which volume sales are possible you KNOW Sandisk (the "other" S in SxS) is going to like that.

Currently it's only Sandisk and Transcend (so it seems) that can work in EX cameras reliably (and Sandisk is already there with 32GB cards) and with JVC using the codec and SDHC, I wouldn't be surprised if Sandisk pushes the technology further.

Think this through. There's reasons why, unlike the Betamax days, Sony has made alliance with Sandisk and with JVC. The aren't going to hobble their own investment in these alliances.

_________

Let's put this another way if the above is too confusing.
Sony is in alliance with Sandisk who makes SDHC and other flash media.
Sony is in alliance with JVC who now uses EX codec and SDHC.

In the new Betamax VHS war, Sony is really in a codec battle with MPEG2 Long GOP (from 19mbps JVC uses, 25mbps HDV, 35mbps EX, 50mbps XDCAM), vs AVCHD and AVCIntra. The "war" is no longer about media (SxS, XDCAM Disc vs P2) it's about CODECS. Sony has the media partner in Sandisk and has another camera company JVC using Sony's Long GOP codec through EX. It'll be interesting to see where Canon falls in all this at NAB.

BTW I suspect all this may be why Sony chose an .MP4 instead of .MXF for the EX codec. Note JVC HM100 and HM700 BOTH record to .MOV and "a generic version" (I'm not sure what that is yet though). I really think they went with MP4 as the "universal" allowing users/NLEs to then convert to MXF or MOV or use the MP4 if they like.

In other words, Sony "ain't gonna hobble nothin'" that might cause you to buy a Panasonic AVC camera using SDHC because the media is less expensive than SxS. Sony's going to want Sandisk to make SDHC to specs that will handle EX codec.

My favorite "game" as a kid was "connect the dots."
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Old January 21st, 2009, 01:29 PM   #8
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Craig, that was an interesting post, but I am not after "what Sony might do" here. All I am asking, is in the hypothetical scenario I listed, what would YOU do?

Put another way, does it mean more to you to have inexpensive SDHC recording, or intraframe recording?
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Old January 21st, 2009, 01:35 PM   #9
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Okay, I'll be the new kid on the playground. The one that doesn't fully understand what the bigger, cooler kids are talking about. Can someone please explain what this shooting ability (4:2:2/100Mbps) would do for me?

Thanks for any info.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 01:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Hucal View Post
Okay, I'll be the new kid on the playground. The one that doesn't fully understand what the bigger, cooler kids are talking about. Can someone please explain what this shooting ability (4:2:2/100Mbps) would do for me?

Thanks for any info.
:)

Primarily 2 things:

1. It would alleviate some of the problems with the current codec breaking up on high motion subjects, or with more rapid camera movement. This is of significant concern to those taking footage to broadcast, or producing narrative work with steadicam, dolly, or jib/crane work. For locked off shots on a tripod, it's not too much of a concern.

2. For those wishing to do VFX of greenscreen work, the increased color fidelity allows much cleaner work. Edges are smoother, color is better.

The penalty of course, is larger file sizes, and it's more demanding on the editing machine.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 02:01 PM   #11
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I would upgrade when I have the client paying a budget with a targeted delivery that would need 100mbps 4:2:2 and not before. That's assuming the firmware offered not other benefits.

But I do think the hypothetical fails on two key points. As Ned points out 4:2:2 can't happen with current hardware. As I point out blocking the use of SDHC serves no productive business or marketing purpose.

Might I ask what the purpose of the question is since neither change is likely to occur and may not even be possible.

Given the above points, I don't even think Sony would find the results useful even anecdotally (and people at Sony do look in here from what I know).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Craig, that was an interesting post, but I am not after "what Sony might do" here. All I am asking, is in the hypothetical scenario I listed, what would YOU do?

Put another way, does it mean more to you to have inexpensive SDHC recording, or intraframe recording?
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Old January 21st, 2009, 02:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
I would upgrade when I have the client paying a budget with a targeted delivery that would need 100mbps 4:2:2 and not before. That's assuming the firmware offered not other benefits.

But I do think the hypothetical fails on two key points. As Ned points out 4:2:2 can't happen with current hardware. As I point out blocking the use of SDHC serves no productive business or marketing purpose.

Might I ask what the purpose of the question is since neither change is likely to occur and may not even be possible.

Given the above points, I don't even think Sony would find the results useful even anecdotally (and people at Sony do look in here from what I know).
The point to the post was to try to gauge a bit of what kind of userbase we are seeing here in the EX forum. Many of the users here seem to fall to the pro side of the house and less amateur. Probably makes sense since the cameras tend to fall outside the price range of new(er) shooters, and seem to be finding a home as B-Cams to bigger hardware, or A-Cams on smaller crews, or when more mobility is needed.

Panasonic recently did a fluff piece talking about the benefits of AVC-Intra on their big cams (compared to HDCAM) and AVCHD compared to HDV. I was a bit curious if users here would make the leap to an AVC-Intra like codec given the chance, but knowing that the SDHC would have to be left behind.

I am much like you. I would make the leap if I had a paying client who needed it, but the SDHC solution for me is hugely enabling. And my current clients are thrilled with both the costs and the footage.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 03:46 PM   #13
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Peronne I think you have answered your own question very well. I would not want to loose SDHC recording as it fits the bill for most things a client wants. Personally for 100mbits recording I would buy a Convergent Design Nanoflash and have the best of all worlds.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 03:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
:)

Primarily 2 things:

1. It would alleviate some of the problems with the current codec breaking up on high motion subjects, or with more rapid camera movement. This is of significant concern to those taking footage to broadcast, or producing narrative work with steadicam, dolly, or jib/crane work. For locked off shots on a tripod, it's not too much of a concern.

2. For those wishing to do VFX of greenscreen work, the increased color fidelity allows much cleaner work. Edges are smoother, color is better.

The penalty of course, is larger file sizes, and it's more demanding on the editing machine.
Thanks for that Perrone. Appreciated.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 04:27 PM   #15
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Perrone, thanks for that explanation. It actually put your hypothetical and my comments together for an interesting insight to "the market."

A key point to keep in mind is the XDCAM is already a pro format. Moving a variant of it into the sub $10,000 market was consider a surprise by some and certainly a bold step in the market.

XDCAM is quite common in ENG use and I don't doubt in corporate market as well. F3xx series cameras certainly exemplify that. Now the PDW-700 with 50mbps 4:2:2 (still long GOP, not Intra) targets the higher end market. Apparently Sony's promise of 24p in that camera is not coming from the News (ENG) market. In fact, in the last year or so with EX1, EX3, PDW-700 one might say Sony's development is "jet engines with afterburners ablaze"

I believe Discovery has given XDCAM "Silver" status so that would mean it's already reasonably far up the chain for use in the "broadcast doc" arena.

To put Perrone's thoughts in context we have to consider that Sony has to be thinking about what replaces HDCAM. Certainly a 100mbps 4:2:2 Intra codec might be in that ballpark.

With the new Panasonic Varicam supporting AVCIntra100 and 50 on P2, I can't help but think Sony is going to fire a salvo in that direction too. Some kind of new Sony F950 variant maybe? More changes to the PDW-700?

It's with some irony that it was JVC's HM100 announced that started to connect all the dots for me in the codec war. Perrone's hypothetical question regarding 100mbps 4:2:2 Intra looks at the other end of the spectrum.

There are other puzzle pieces I'm still trying to figure out.
SDHC becomes the low/mid level media possibly replacing XDCAM disc and certainly used in AVC cameras. Sony's high end card is SxS and Panasonic P2. Convergent Design does show how more standard flash cards can be used though so who knows if that'll tie in.

Does Sony compete with AVCHD on the consumer end? Does Sony (and JVC) use both their 25mbps and maybe JVC's 19mbps for that? But HDV could be fading given that JVC now has a $4000 list (so obviously less expensive street) camera that uses 35mbps EX codec. We may start to see Sony replacing the V and Z series cameras with 35mbps EX cameras given JVCs move.
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