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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 July 16th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #1
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Image Performance Advantages of F900 over XDCAM-EX - Any?

Our organization is investigating a phase-out plan for tape-based camera technology and moving to file-based. We currently have an F900 and an XDCAM-EX1. Both have served us very well, however, the considerable resource and staff time requirements needed for an HDCAM workflow are becoming very obvious in terms of cost versus XDCAM-EX. In everything from tape stock prices to physical tape archive storage space needs, it simply can't compete with file-based. After doing some math, we figure roughly 40 HDCAM tapes would hold as much video as a single LTO-4 data-tape.

From the producer/post-production point-of-view and NOT the camera operator's point of view, I would like to hear some comments from this community. Specifically we are after general image quality comparison comments and other "the F900 can do that, but not an EX" performance comments.

Thanks,

SG
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Old July 16th, 2009, 02:09 PM   #2
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There isn't much in it. The F900 produces a slightly cleaner image but the EX is higher resolution. Lens options are easier with the F900, the EX needs adapters for 2/3" and there is the x1.33 magnification factor to consider. F900 footage is accepted for HD broadcast by everyone, while EX is not yet accepted by everybody for mainstream HD broadcast. The F900 and HDCAM are older technologies.

You could look at getting a NanoFlash and using that with the F900, that combo would produce stunning images and give a file based workflow.

In terms of value for money the EX is hard to beat. It cuts well with even the best of the best HD cameras and without any direct shot by shot comparison it is IMHO just about impossible to spot EX footage. The only issue with the EX workflow is it's destructive nature, ie at some point you must delete you original material from the SxS cards and if care is not taken footage can be lost, while tape or disc based systems don't suffer from this.

Why not XDCAM HD422. It's file based but you can keep the media or reuse it. Your choice.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 03:32 PM   #3
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I'm inclined to agree with Alistair and his thoughts about XDCAM 422 50Mbs. Obviously there's a high degree of compatibility between that and XDCAM EX from a post point of view. The advantages of disc are obviously no active backup considerations, the disc is it's own backup. Disadvantages compared to solid state are size, power consumption, more expensive drives, and slower download times. But good to have a choice, they each suit different purposes.

Whatever your thinking, I'd tend to keep a pretty open mind until at least IBC if you've got the time.

A big brother to the EX cameras must be a question of when, not if, and I was expecting such at NAB. A shouldermount 1/2 or 2/3" recording to SxS. At the moment SxS means EX, end of story, things will get much more interesting when SxS and associated codecs are also supported by shouldermount cameras, ideally 2/3".
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Old July 16th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #4
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Who is your customer? Will they accept the EX footage. There are some who will not.

I too think you should consider the XDCAM disc format.

The 2/3" chip of the F900 & the XDCAM give several advantages photographically.

If you do go with EX, I'd strongly consider the EX-3. Mainly for the interchangable lenses, altho not knowing how you use the F900 that may not be an issue.

If there is a lot of on the shoulder work, the EX-3 is a pain, difficult to use.

The F900 is a more robust camera so if you are handing it off to various freelance shooters, it will survive the rigors of field work better. Also, the F900 is more universally understood by freelancers. Many shooters will need time to adapt to the different setup of the Ex cameras
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Old July 17th, 2009, 04:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
The F900 produces a slightly cleaner image but the EX is higher resolution.
I haven't A/B'd F900 and EX but I've noticed a significant difference between the 950 and EX. What is the stated horizontal res of the 900? EX is stated at 1000 and both are spec'd at 1920x1080 effective picture elements.
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Old July 18th, 2009, 12:41 AM   #6
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I haven't directly compared them but I assume the F900 is much faster in low light as befits a 2/3" imager.

No Far Red/ IR contamination problems.

No weird rolling shutter artifacts with flash .

The lens is much better, hence no CA problems at Telephoto , no problems stopping down the lens past 6.7 though maybe that's an operator issue.

Easier to use a good wide angle.

Zooms will be professional quality not jerky amateur hour.

Much as I love my Ex-1, I can shoot better with an F900 as it is easier to control for a cameraman.
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Old July 20th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #7
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Helpful replies everyone - thank you!
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Old July 21st, 2009, 11:09 AM   #8
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Let us know what you decide and how it works out. I really would look at the nanoFlash, fo not much money you can keep all the Pro's of the F900 and get a file based workflow.
HDCAM is 1440x1080 with very heavily subsampled chroma. The 4:1:1 chroma subsampling is arguably worse then the 4:2:0 XDCAM EX subsampling. If you use a NanoFlash you can record the full 4:2:2 signal available via the SDi output.

Having said all of that as the happy owner of a PDW-700 I still really enjoy using my EX's and love the quality of the picture they produce.
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