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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 06:54 PM   #1
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Need advice for new EX1 + Accessories

Hello everyone. I am somewhat new to video production but this is what I have been wanting to do as a career for a long time. I'm a still photog so I'm not completely clueless.

So, I could really use some advice on getting a video camera plus all the needed extras. What I will need to do starting in about two weeks is record public events for a rather large town to use for a new gov't access channel. This will include interviews, so a wireless mic is preferred in addition to a shotgun mic for everything else. I will be the sole provider of video for this gov't access channel. I know an EX1 is certainly not required for this type of work, but my business partner wants to venture into tv commercials for local/state broadcast (he already does everything else but outsources video). With that in mind, an EX1 is looking like the best deal.

I went on B&H and quickly priced an EX1, sticks(503HDV,351MVB2K Aluminum Video Tripod Kit $650), 1-U30 & 1-U60 batteries, and at least 2 e-Films e-LCR cards + 2-32GB cards. I then looked at on-camera lighting, microphones and various other accessories, and I came to a total of ~$10,000.

What wireless mic system?
Shotgun Mic?
On-camera lighting for interviews?
Sticks/Head-any good?(for $650, it better be)

SHOULDER MOUNT? Is Redrock good? I like how Redrock is somewhat modular so I could add parts later on.

Other accessories??? Hood for LCD? Bag or hard case for EX1?

THANK YOU to everyone who responds.
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 07:29 PM   #2
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Welcome to DVinfo Steve!

I don't shoot interviews so I'll leave those questions to others, but here are a few ideas:

For bags/cases, see this and also do a search for more threads: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-xdca...d-bag-ex1.html

I am using the Sony LCD hood. It folds shut and can stay on the screen if you close it in the upside down position. Only problem is it was actually made for the V1, and although the screen size is identical the case must have been a little different. It has spring loaded clips which hold it in place but it can be knocked off. A rubber band or some tape could fix this I guess. Sony | SHL-35WBP LCD Hood - for 3.5" LCD Panel | SHL35WBP

The Manfrotto 503 is ok, but unfortunately $650 for a tripod doesn't really equate with "it's gotta be good". :-) Visit our tripod forum here. http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/tripod-sticks-heads/

There are a number of threads about EX1 tripods, but be prepared to pay $1,000 and up. FWIW, I am using a Miller DS-10 as I'm comfortable with Miller after a number of years using a DS-5 with smaller cameras. Miller | DS-10 Aluminum Tripod System | 828 | B&H Photo Video
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 08:31 PM   #3
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Boyd, could you give me a brief explanation why that Miller tripod is better than the Manfrotto and/or why the Manfrotto would not suffice.

I saw that LCD cover but it said its made for the V1 like you stated.

I forgot to ask about 'Mattes" - the hood thingy that goes above the lens to keep sunlight out better. I am wondering if a better hood or cover, whatever you call it, would help with outdoor events. Actually, now that I think about it, getting some sort of setup is needed for doing commercials outdoors under available light. So, any thoughts?


Normally, I go overboard on researching equipment but I have a couple of other projects I must finish before I dive into video, and the equipment can be purchased as soon as this coming Wednesday; therefore, I am relying on those with knowledge to help me.

Thanks!

EDIT: I had hoped Calumet Photo would carry the EX1 since B&H doesn't regularly stock it; so, does anyone know of another site or store that stocks it?
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 09:51 PM   #4
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 10:52 PM   #5
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for what your trying to do, stick with the manfrotto and setup. I too am new here, in fact, it's my first post. Well, actually not completely true. I've lingered in here ever since i picked up my ex1 and never signed up until recently. I have the 501HDV head and it does a great job. I made the mistake of getting sticks that don't have a bowl though so i have to level my tripod with the legs and that can be an utter pain. I've shot on the tripod your looking at and the spreader in the middle is a pain. but it's pretty decent for a cheap manfrotto tripod. I don't find enough difference between the 501HDV and 503HDV heads to justify paying the extra cost. Instead If I were in your position I would buy:

This tripod setup:
Manfrotto by Bogen Imaging | BO525MVB501H Video Tripod System

And i would add this plate so you can make sure you have enough travel as you add components so that your balanced front to back:
Manfrotto by Bogen Imaging | 501PLONG Quick Release | 501PLONG

Also, don't focus too much on getting everything right now. Learn the camera first. Matte Box to support filters isn't terribly crucial at this point. Instead take the time to learn all about the picture profiles and how you want to paint the picture. Sometimes it seems people jump to far in buying all these accessories in order to this or that look without realizing what the camera is really capable of. I found jumping from photography to using a professional HD camera to be quite different and WAY more complex. Luckily, attending Full Sail University and having this camera I was able to take what I learned and associate it to my camera.

I think you might be going way overkill with your sxs cards. For simple interviews, commercials, etc. I'll be willing to wager that your not going to hardly ever use the second card and offloading 32gigs at a time just doesn't seem effecient. Granted if you have a machine with expresscard slot the transfer time is super quick. Aprox 2 min per 25 min. of footage. That is why I have two 8GB sxs cards. If Anything I would have 1x16GB and the standard 1x8. The 16 would take like 5 min to dump while recording on the 8 which gives me about a half hour. If you don't have an expresscard slot then you will be transferring your footage quite a bit slower through USB2 so plan on those transfer times to go up. Without dumping any footage you could fit an hour and a half. but that's the beauty of having two ports. You can dump one on your computer while recording to another.

I don't have wireless mic setup but really want one. I got a cheap shotgun mic but it actually sounds amazing but is sensitive to vibrations or handling noise more than others. I would suggest you get the RODE NTG-2 and if you buy it before Aug. 31, then you get another one for 1 dollar.

The only reason I went cheap is I do more music videos right now and the sound gets replaced, and for school projects I can check out all sorts of great audio gear, so it's not a priority. Wireless LAV is starting to become more of a priority though as I am doing band interviews and it would be a lot easier wireless.

School uses Sennheiser, and their wireless mics they let us use seem to do awesome. Although my cheapo shotgun mic is better then whatever sennheiser shotgun mic they had us use in our documentary class. Don't know which model it was but I was blown away at how bad it was from a company who is known for their sound equipment. I couldn't believe they would even release something that bad. Which instills my allegiance to RODE for shotguns. I will be getting an NTG-2 soon as that is the shotgun mic I have always wanted. I wish I had your budget.

I also went cheap and got the SWIT 8U62 instead of getting the U60. It has tradeoffs to it. For one, you have to plug it in the back and then take the cord out and plug it in the back too. However this gives you a D-Tap to add something such as an LED light from. From what I hear it gets a little more time than the U60. I rolled out around 5 hours on it. Of course you don't get the minutes until your battery is dead but there is an LED indicator on the back and it shows you the volts of the battery in your screen. I think around 12-13 your dead so just make sure you tell yourself that 13.5v is a good place to swap batteries and switch to the u30 which will get a good charge. The two batteries added together for me add up to about 7 hours. The SWIT is also slightly bigger and heavier which i like because it seems to help with the front heaviness of the EX1. My EX1 is pretty balanced now. One cool thing though is if i needed I could tuck the cord back into the battery which completes the circuit when charging on the sony charger......I haven't tested this but from what i understand you can just have the battery sitting there not plugged into anything or attached to the camera and plug the light into the D-Tap and use it for 12v accessories such such as lighting. PLUS for around $220 i had it shipped to me overnight. I purchased it around $179 dollars A little extra record time, 12v accesorries D-Tap, Better Balanced Camera. It was all a win for me. The one thing I think I'll miss the most is since I'm using the plug in the back as well as the battery I can't plug in the charger and do a hot swap of batteries anymore. It looks like there is a little delay before turning off so, I'll try and test and see if I'm wrong...it would be cool if i was.

Also, there are so many cool things to learn about the camera that is in the manual. READ THROUGH THE MANUAL FRONT TO BACK. It wasn't till months later that I found out that the "transitions" buttons were not those cheezy wipes and fades preprogrammed.....but yet one of the most cool features, IMO, on the camera. It allows you to setup the camera one way and set it to a button "a" then you can setup the camera another way under "B" and then you can choose easy-in and out if you choose and then set how long to go from one setting to the other. Quite ingenious for accomplishing technical shots such as rack focuses, push-pulls, etc. I've even used it as a run through where i needed to follow focus someone running away from me and stopping on a mark then running back. All i had to do was push two buttons and the picture looked great. Also, you could spend years learning or mastering the Picture Profiles.

Anyways, I hope this helps. WOW....what a long first post.....sorry for the book.

And if you end up ordering a Rode Mic for that deal....as a college student, i'll pay you double what that second one cost's so I can get a Rode mic too. That's TWO big ol dollar bills with your name on it. LOL.

Last edited by Nathan Hudson; August 23rd, 2009 at 01:12 AM.
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 11:01 PM   #6
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What are you apologizing for, Nathan? That was an awesome first post! Thanks a ton!
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 11:16 PM   #7
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Here is a pic of the battery and how it connects.
SWIT and WALKART are the same company from what i gather from looking online. It confused me at first when i opened it up.

https://dl-web.getdropbox.com/get/Ph...jpg?w=1f5085ad
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 11:19 PM   #8
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lol. thanks chris.

Oh yeah, and Steve, I need your address so I can send you a bill for my consulting services, so I can afford to upgrade some of my gear. LOL!!!!! Not really, but I am jealous. I wish I could just shop it all in one go and pretty much pick and choose my components. Unfortunately, I stopped working to be a fulltime student and get a Bachelor's in the field I love. So, I have pieced little by little together. I do take donations though........HA HA!

Last edited by Nathan Hudson; August 22nd, 2009 at 11:57 PM.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 01:12 AM   #9
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Actually, Nathan, I am jealous that you live in FL.(I have family in Winter Park and I vividly remember paying over $4 in tolls within a few miles near the W P exit) I lived in St Pete, Brandon and Bradenton a little while back and loved it.

For the SD/SxS: I will be filming events for the public/gov't access channel which will be 2hrs+ (the interviews will be during those events). I also plan on filming political events which would require a decent amount of memory.

Don't be too jealous about my budget - technically, I won't own this gear because my friend/business partner is buying it for one of his businesses. It is something I have been trying to get him to do for a while now. Especially since he spent $25k on a 30s commercial for a political candidate and the commercial was horrid(the video quality was great but the substance was lacking). I kept telling him that he can spend half that and make money for himself by buying the gear.

Thanks for the tips about the battery and certainly about the Rode mic deal.

I, too, love video/cinematography. My business partner told me about the gov't access channel and adding video production services just this last Thursday which has really impeded my current projects because all I can think about is that I'm finally getting into video.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 01:52 AM   #10
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Steve, I shoot a lot of govt. video. Here are a few things you should know.


1. The EX1 is a MARVELOUS camera for doing this kind of work. I can't name a camera I'd rather have to do it. Nothing at any price.

2. Get the better tripod. Seriously. Miller, Libec, Cartoni, whatever. Get a good tripod. It's worth it's weight in GOLD every time you have to move the camera with it recording. I've underbought TWICE (both Manfrottos) and I curse every time I have to use them outdoors or indoors while moving the camera.

3. The Sennheiser G2/G3 wireless mics are perfect for what you have to do, BUT trade the microphone that ships with them for a Countryman or a Sanken. You'll thank yourself later.

4. Shotgun mics won't be nearly as helpful as you might think. I use mine when I have to, but certainly not by preference. It is useful to use on a mic stand for interviews when I don't want to lav the talent.

5. Forget on-camera light. Get a decent light. Lowel Rifa with the FLO-3 head should be near the top of your list. Or a kino-Flo Diva.

6. Shoulder mount. There are some good one's out there, but evaluate your use first. You will find that long-form, and interview are best done on tripod.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 02:23 AM   #11
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Hi Steve,

Perrone has pretty well summed up my thoughts.. get the best tripod you can afford... I have a Manfrotto and it is soooooooo heavy to lug around. I switched to a Libec, which is far better, and much lighter.

Senny mics are fantastic, and I use mine all the time.. The shotgun an AT897 usually just sits on the camera for ambient audio, or if I have a boom op I use an Rode NTG2, not a bad mic for the money.

I went down the shoulder mount route with some success, but ultimately the rig is still really front heavy and unbalanced. It in no way gives you the balance of a shouldermount camera, and adds a lot of weight to the rig. You do get steadier shots than handheld without it but fatigue sets in fast. I was out on a stills assignment recently and several of the local TV agency guys AP, Reuters & AFP (all using small HDV cameras by the way) were toting monopods. I'd not really considered this option even though I have a couple for shooting sports photography etc...So I gave it a go on a recent video shoot and it really is a good option if you can't lug a tripod around. Steadier than handheld, but virtually as manouverable...and far far easier on the arms. The set up is much lighter than my shoulder adapter too.

Finally re: matte boxes I have the TLS Kestrel a fairly well priced model but robust enough and pretty good build quality. I got a set of Schnieder filters et voila...sorted!!

Best Regards
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 02:25 AM   #12
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Perrone,

I was thinking of the shotgun mic for the events and people talking from a distance. To be honest, I don't have a clue so that is why I need help.

The previously mentioned Miller DS-10 is looking like a good choice.

Shoulder mount: I don't know if this or a Glide cam would be better. There are two main reasons why I was wanting a shoulder mount: 1) I have a bad back and 2) I don't have steady hands. My bad back is the most important; so, whatever I get must work.
I have seen some of the Redrock videos and really like how I can take a shoulder mount and convert it to a follow focus.

Gareth, a monopod is such a great idea. So, which one?

For lighting: I won't be able to setup a light stand for most interviews.

Thanks!
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 02:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post

Gareth, a monopod is such a great idea. So, which one?

The most underused, underappreciated, and inexpensive tool available.

You can use them for a lot of other stuff too aside from camera support.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 02:51 AM   #14
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Hi Steve
I've just been using one of my old Manfrotto's...

but the 685B seems to get good reviews... really just needs to be light, quick to extend and lock off and sturdy...
Oh and a quick release plate is essential... I just pinched the one off my Manfrotto tripod...

re: tripod : Google Philip Bloom's site he has a video review of a Miller tripod....

Cheers
Gareth

PS: A shoulder mount probably won't help your bad back much!!!
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 07:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
Boyd, could you give me a brief explanation why that Miller tripod is better than the Manfrotto and/or why the Manfrotto would not suffice.
Others have covered this pretty well, but here's my two bits... I used a Manfrotto 501 head and 3221WN tripod for several years with a Sony VX-2000. It was a good entry level unit at a good price. I didn't have many problems with it until I started shooting performance video at a distance of over 100 feet from the stage. First time I tried that, I ordered the Miller DS-5 the next morning. It was just impossible to get smooth movement at that distance with the Manfrotto while zoomed way in.

The 503hdv may be a little better head, although it looks similar. You don't mention what legs you were considering; there are lots of options: manfrotto 503hdv

I still have my 3221 and use it with my DSLR and a still camera head. One thing about those legs... the locks are real killers. Can't tell you how many times I've hurt a finger when they snap open, or pinched the web of my hand when closing them! Regardless of what you get, you really need a bowl so you can quickly level the head. It's a real pain to mess around adjusting each leg otherwise.

Also consider the weight of the camera and all your other gear and be sure you are matching it to the tripod and head. The EX1 is pretty heavy for a handycam - about 6lbs. When you start adding things like microphones, receivers, big batteries, lights, adaptor lenses, it can get a lot heavier.

This is also why you should forget a glidecam (if you're talking about a handheld stabilizer like this: Glidecam 4000 Pro). Unless you a real bodybuilder you will not be able to get shots of more than a minute or two before you arm gives out. I used one of these with the little Sony PDX-10 which probably weighs half what the EX1 weighs. About 3 minutes was my limit. Find some object like a stone that weighs 6 pounds and hold it out from your body with your arm cocked at an angle to get an idea of what this is like. The stabilizers that have arms and a vest are much better, but now you're talking real $$$.
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