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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 April 17th, 2009, 11:15 PM   #1
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FX1 to EX1?

Hi all

I am seriously looking at buying the PMW-EX1 as new opportunities I have coming my way are going to dictate that I can produce some fairly top notch looking vids.

I currently have an FX1E which Ive been really happy with, and has allowed me to produce some great looking stuff, and Im wondering how much improvement Im going to notice if I stepped up to an EX1? (considering that here in Australia I am going from a $4000 cam to a $11'000 cam!)

I am well aware that its the operator who has a fair bit to do with final production, depending on how they drive the camera etc so was wondering about quality of the 3 x 1/2" cmos chips, extra gamma adustments, progressive shooting capabilities etc.

Are the flash cards a hassle? Is the '10 times cheaper' recipe I noticed at the top of this forum a good alternative?

Would love to hear from some EX1 owners and there experiences with this cam.

Thanks

Jamie
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Old April 18th, 2009, 12:33 AM   #2
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I went from 16mm to the FX1 and then to to EX1. The FX1 is a good camera but somewhat limited in facilities (should have bought the Z1) but definitely has those video image characteristics. The EX1 images are much more like film and the camera provides the facilities needed for serious work with much superior audio recording (I'm very satisfied with it). Depending on your needs you might consider the EX3 for lens interchangeability. Some people chose the EX3 for the better viewfinder. The real advantages of the EX3, to name a few, are interchangeable lenses, genlock, knob for changing framing rates and improvements in layout (but you need to compare the specs for details).

The SxS cards are not an expensive hassle now that the MxR option is readily available for normal frame rates (up to 42 fps). Very convenient compared to tape and the SDHC cards are cheap enough to store a day's shooting. All the expensive accessories (matte box etc) you have for your FX1 will fit the EX1, but not screw-in filters.

If you can afford the EX1 I strongly recommend it. There are other cameras to consider, but in general you get what you pay for.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #3
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The only thing I missed about my FX1 is the weight and handling, other than that EX1 is my current best option. The main reason I switched from tape to card is that I do a lot of same day edit for wedding and the tapeless work flow save me at least 1.5 hours. Also I do not have to worry about clog/dirty tape head and the occassional drop frame (my worst nightmare) from my FX1
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Old April 18th, 2009, 06:09 AM   #4
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I would have thought that the standard definition DVD was the great leveller, but the difference between Z1 and EX1 footage is clear for all to see off DVD. You'll love it.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 07:43 AM   #5
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Thanks for your replies.

Im pretty sure im going to get the EX1 as Im certainly keen on acheiving something that has that elusive film like characteristic, and of course the larger chips, the audio inputs and the range of extra 'tweakabilities' all sound very exciting!

Pleased to hear that MXR option is viable as the prices I saw for the originals looked a little frightening!

Like many Im still rendering to SDV for most projects but am rendering/color correcting etc in HDV currently. I use a free but excellent program called CAPDVHS to capture at the moment but am assuming I the capture process will be different with the EX1.

Will files I transfer from EX1 be good to go in Vegas or will I need an intermediate?

Also does shooting in Progressive Scan (25FPS) impact on available pixel count in any way or are the cmos chips set up to shoot PS with full resolution?

Thanks again for your thoughts

Cheers

Jamie
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Old April 18th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #6
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Even with output to DVD you should always do post at highest quality (ie HDV for the FX1 and HD for the EX1) and then render out to DVD. If nothing else, doing this allows you to crop without losing final image quality.
Vegas Pro 8 handles EX1 clips with ease. There is a rewrapping process involved, which is done by the ClipBrowser supplied with the camera. I use NEO HD to read and convert the clips straight from the cards, but many consider this unnecessary. ShotPut Pro is a great program for downloading and backing up cards.
The camera sensors are native 1920 x 1080P, which is a reason it is much better than many competitors. It will shoot full res to 30 fps, and 1280 x 720P to 60 fps; many options available in camera. At 1920 x 1080P the data rate is 35 Mb/s (higher at higher frame rates) but there is also an HDV mode (1440 x 1080, 25Mb/s) that gives longer recording time.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 12:17 AM   #7
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Thanks heaps Serena! Im looking forward to getting my hands on one of these beauties!

Cheers

Jamie
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Old April 19th, 2009, 02:19 AM   #8
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I owned a Z1U for a couple years, and bought the EX1 when it first came out.

After using the EX1, tapeless workflow, cards, 1/2" sensor, etc. I sold my Z1U and bought a second EX1.

I've never looked back.

My first job with 2 EX1's was shooting about 26 2-camera interviews. That would have been 52 tapes to digitize. When I got back, all I had to do was copy over the files to my RAID system and start editing.

Just got back from Africa with both EX1s and a couple of Lacie Rugged 500GB HDs. Once again, I saved HOURS AND HOURS of feeding tape into my computer.

That alone was worth the switch for me. Not to mention the progressive frame shooting ability and all the rest of the great stuff you can do with an EX1.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 11:50 PM   #9
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I've had my EX1 for about 6 months. There are still times when I review footage and mutter, "Wow - this camera is awesome!" (My wife is getting used to hearing this phrase.)

I love the undercranking & overcranking features. Tapeless workflow is nice -- not just for importing to PC, but also for in camera review of shots.

There's nothing wrong with HDV, but you will quickly get accustomed to the superior resolution of 1080P. I always shoot 35 MB/s (unless overcranking). The image is broadcast quality...crisp artifact free footage, just like what you see on the best HD television shows. The camera has excellent latitude, and lowlight performance is phenomenal.

I have 2 8GB SxS cards, and these cover my needs most of the time. I have a couple of 16GB SDHC cards paired with MxR adapters for backup purposes. I love that we have the option of using SDHC with the EX1 (HUGE plus over competing cameras).

My complaints involve ergonomics (it's a bit bulky compared to most HDV cams). Some of the switches & buttons could be improved. Autofocus can be sluggish, and the remote doesn't work well.

The EX1 is a camera that demands your attention, but the resulting overall performance is fantastic.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 05:42 AM   #10
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I love the idea of copying files to my PC (Im presuming like from one hard drive to another)instead of going through the capturing process which will also save me a considerable amount of time.

I plan on keeping the FX1 as a second camera and as Ive mentioned have been really happy with it. I was just putting together a presentation DVD for a new client (a first for me - ive been lucky in getting a fair bit of work on 'people talking to people') and impressed myself with the quality of some of that footage shot on a FX1! (and a Panny GS400 which was my previous camera).

With that in mind, Im sure the EX1 will blow me away!

I will be placing the order for the cam in the next couple of days...Im like a kid waiting for christmas to come!!! (Only Ive gotta pay for the present!)

Cheers

Jamie
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #11
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Benefits of the tapeless workflow start with acquisition. Precise in camera review of shots is a pushbutton affair. If you don't like the shot, you can quickly delete and move on. By the time you actually import your footage, you are left with the good stuff! This makes editing easier, too.

I think you are wise to keep your FX1. There will be times when it will come in handy. I have a few small HDV cams (Canon HV20 and a Sony HC3) and they still get regular use, especially when I don't want to haul out the EX1 in a public place, or strap it into a car mount! My EX1 lives a pampered existence.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 03:29 PM   #12
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You will love the picture quality of the EX1. Compared to Z1/FX1 (I no longer have the FX1), motion scenes are no longer blocky. A quick test to break up an FX1 is to have your hand in front of the camera. Even at full speed, it's easy to see the blocks trailing the motion of your hand. That test does not break the EX1 at all. I used to play my Z1 or FX1 sports action footage on my 52" LCD TV and cringe at the weird trailing artifacts. The EX1 has none of that. To me, this is a very obvious difference.

The only thing I miss with the Z1 is the superior auto-focusing with the push auto button. I keep the camera in Manual Focus mode but use the Push Auto button in certain situations. While many may cut on autofocus, it works better than focus ring hunting under particular constrained conditions. Push Auto is sluggish and possibly less accurate on the EX1.

As for your concerns with the SxS cards, they are easier to use than tape. There is supposed to be a time savings, but that doesn't appear to be the case. If you add up the time needed to copy both the BPAV folder as well as using ClipBrowser to convert to MXF, the time difference is low. Many use the tape transfer as their opportunity to review the footage, but you can also do that by clicking on the MP4 files and viewing them with VLC media player as each MP4 file is transferred.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 08:29 PM   #13
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The time to download from the cards is very much faster than "real time", which is the equivalent of capturing. ShotPut copies to up to 3 HDD and checks the data, transfer speed depending on the level of error checking selected. Vegas Pro 9 will ingest the data without conversion by ClipBrowser, but the speed of conversion to MXF by the ClipBrowser depends on the version employed.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 08:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.S. Michael View Post
I have a couple of 16GB SDHC cards paired with MxR adapters for backup purposes.

Hi C.S.

Where do you get those MxR adapters? How much are they?

Up until today I was strongly leaning towards the Z5 or Z7, but I have decided it's not worth it, and I'll never be happy with compressed audio. HDV is only "good enough" IMO, so EX1 here I come. (after I save another couple grand!)

Thanks

Chadfish
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Old April 21st, 2009, 09:33 PM   #15
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Chad, you can find more info about MxR here (Frequently Asked Questions). They cost $45.

I also strongly considered a Z5 or Z7, but ultimately decided the EX1 was the better choice for my needs. It costs a little more, but you get a LOT of camera. Yes, the uncompressed audio is a nice upside.
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