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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 November 14th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #1
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Sony SxS cards versus SDHC Class 6 cards

In another forum some people are saying that we should never use SDHC cards because less reliable than the expensive SxS cards and they keep using solely the expensive Sony SxS cards. When I told that that it is rather stupid, and waste of money, to by these expensive SxS cards when good SDHC cards such as Transcend can do the job (I had myself a problem with SxS cards and never had problem with the Transcend cards) I am qualified as having a stupid reasoning (claiming that buying a $800 SxS card instead of $45 SDHC is nothing compared with the cost of the Sony EX1 camera).
What is your opinion on this ?
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Old November 14th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #2
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My opinion is to use whatever works for you. Some people swear by SxS, others by SDHC. Some people like Transcend cards, whereas I've been burnt by them and prefer ATP Pro cards.

When the cheaper SxS comes out the popularity of SDHC may fade. But at the moment the SDHC card solutions are useful in a number of circumstances.

The key is to extensively test your cards before you go on a shoot. The SDHC cards need to be fast (i.e able to clear the red light to green in approx 5 seconds) and you need to have done 2 or 3 run throughs and tested the transfers. Then and only then would I consider using such a card for a shoot.

SxS is better quality memory, no question. But often the people who enjoy berating SDHC users seem to be people who've tied up thousands of pounds/dollars in SxS cards and are perhaps suffering some sour grapes.

Use whatever works for you.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for your comments.
In fact I made a 2 week trip to Arizona last April bringing with me 10 SDHC Transcend cards and had no problem with them. very practical to pring since the use less space in a small box than the SxS cards.
Funny enough, it was after having a problem with an SxS card in which the video files saved were corrupted - could not find them in the card - that i decided to go with SDHC cards and I am very happy with them.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 03:21 PM   #4
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I use both SxS and SHDC in Kensington Adapters all the time for commercial work. The only time I ever had an issue was an isolated case with one of my three 8GB SxS cards about a year ago (probably something I did rather than it's fault). Never had an issue with either medium type ever since.

My four 16GB SHDC cards (one Transcend, 3 Sandisk) permanently "live" in their own dedicated Kensington adapters as 4 self-contained "combos", i.e. I just use them in the same way I use the SxS cards/sticks in my EX3. Obviously, SxS get used for any overcranking 50-60 fps 720p type stuff (I never risk attempting that on the SHDC/Kensingtons for the well know reasons about typical maximum frame rates you can get). For the record it was close to 50 fps area when I last tested them 12 months ago (i.e. before the risk of a media error message would come up).

I thoroughly tested and filled each "combo" before it got put in the kit bag and used for any paying work - VERY IMPORTANT!!! (as already mentioned above)

One year on I'm very, very happy knowing the money I must have saved to have this extra 64GB! :-)

One other thing to consider. I always off-load footage at home/hotel after the panic of the shoot is over. I'm sure there are people out there in XDCAM EX land who have screwed up (e.g. accidentally erasing critical raw footage yet to be off loaded etc.) ESPECIALLY if they are trying to do all of that mid-shoot to re-use cards immediately, a big risk if limited SxS card recording space available. The risk of error doing that is far higher, in my opinion, than the SDHC/SxS debate and then there is all the unnecessary stress that comes with doing that! Much better to have lots of SDHC media available so you can do this in a very calm and methodical way, well removed from all distractions...(OK, I'll admit I've done it with a beer in hand more than once!).

My advice is use a combination of both types and you've then got maximum flexibility at minimium stress/cost. The only down side is that they off-load slower than the SxS...but you can't have it all ways!
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Old November 14th, 2009, 04:30 PM   #5
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One other thing to consider. I always off-load footage at home/hotel after the panic of the shoot is over. I'm sure there are people out there in XDCAM EX land who have screwed up (e.g. accidentally erasing critical raw footage yet to be off loaded etc.) ESPECIALLY if they are trying to do all of that mid-shoot to re-use cards immediately, a big risk if limited SxS card recording space available. The risk of error doing that is far higher, in my opinion, than the SDHC/SxS debate and then there is all the unnecessary stress that comes with doing that! Much better to have lots of SDHC media available so you can do this in a very calm and methodical way, well removed from all distractions...(OK, I'll admit I've done it with a beer in hand more than once!)
This is the exact reason why I decided to go SDHC. I had been burned a couple of times being on set and having to dump a card mid shoot only to later find out the data wrangler only got half the footage somehow or another, most likely due to some kind of distraction as Andy mentioned... The first time, I chalked it up to bad luck. The second time, I decided something needed to be done. So instead of running two 8gb SxS cards, I sold one of them and bought 2 16gb SDHC w/MxR (I was still in Film School at the time and definitely didn't have the money for SxS). I kept one SxS for high framrate stuff. I have never looked back. Not once have I had any kind of card failure and having 40gb of cards has always been ample for me to not need to dump the cards on set. Now, I offload them when I get home in a much more relaxed atmosphere and definitely with a nice cold beer! Cheers!
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Old November 14th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #6
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I have been using a Sandisc brand Ultra II 16 gig SDHC card as my primary recording medium for over a year. Not a single error or fault. I have the 8 gig SXS as a back up for extra space but rarely need it.

I transfer the data by removing Ultra II and inserting it into my PC.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #7
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Well, I was going to post how pleased I was with my decision to pay more and get the supposedly better Hoodman 16GB SDHC cards (and adapters) to augment my SXS cards, but I just had one fail on me. At first the EX3 wouldn't recognize the card and a prompt asked me to change it. So I put it in the other slot. Still didn't work. Shut everything down, removed and re-inserted the card. Didn't work. Put a different card in the adapter. Still didn't work. Put an SXS card in the slot. Works fine. Put another Hoodman adapter and card in the slot. Worked fine. Put the other one back in, got the "replace" message again. Then, to ad insult to injury, when I removed the card from the adapter (yes, it clicked and popped out slightly, like it's supposed to), the little plastic end of the card came off. I'm not happy about this, Hoodman. I paid extra for your "higher quality control standards." I'm calling you Monday.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #8
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I agree that the risk of mistake while offloading during a shoot far outweighs the "advantage" of SxS reliability. Remember it's the ENTIRE WORKFLOW that must be reliable and that includes human error.

Sure if someone can buy a stack of SxS cards or at least multiple 32GB SxS then that's certainly solid. The reality is given we're shooting with EX1 or EX3 and not F900 means we're dealing with smaller budgets and smaller crews.

Right now one can buy a 32GB SDHC card for 100-150$ (US) compared to about $845 for the same size SxS card. It'll be interesting to see what price point the new less expensive SxS cards are. If they follow the A series vs E series P2 pricing, the less expensive cards are only around 30% less. That would bring $845 down to just under $600 which isn't even remotely close to $150.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 07:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Charles Newcomb View Post
Well, I was going to post how pleased I was with my decision to pay more and get the supposedly better Hoodman 16GB SDHC cards (and adapters) to augment my SXS cards, but I just had one fail on me. At first the EX3 wouldn't recognize the card and a prompt asked me to change it. So I put it in the other slot. Still didn't work. Shut everything down, removed and re-inserted the card. Didn't work. Put a different card in the adapter. Still didn't work. Put an SXS card in the slot. Works fine. Put another Hoodman adapter and card in the slot. Worked fine. Put the other one back in, got the "replace" message again. Then, to ad insult to injury, when I removed the card from the adapter (yes, it clicked and popped out slightly, like it's supposed to), the little plastic end of the card came off. I'm not happy about this, Hoodman. I paid extra for your "higher quality control standards." I'm calling you Monday.
Small world....one of my Hoodman's would not format...and I did what you did...and after wasting 1 hour messing with it, I called Hoodman and talked to Bob and he said to mail it in and he would replace it free of charge. So I mailed it off and should get the new one on Monday or Tuesday. He was really surprised the card had failed and wanted the card back to take "a look" at it. I got two cards 3 weeks ago and tested them out, with no problems.
The other card I used on a shoot this past Tuesday and I had no problems with it.... I will keep you posted.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #10
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Mystery failure

I've never trusted my SDHC cards and here's why. I just finished 5 days of shooting on location using 4 8-gig SxS cards and 1 16-gig SxS card borrowed from a friend. I filled up all the 8-gig cards every day and needed the 16-gig card once on the final day (yesterday). I offloaded all the files every night before the next days' shoot.

Today, I took out my two 16-gig Transcend (red stripe) cards mounted in MxR adapters to shoot some test shots. One of them mounted fine but the other one is not being recognized by the camera and is giving an "Unknown Media....Please Change" warning. I tried switching slots in the camera (no change), formatting the card in my Mac as FAT32 (no change) and tried moving the failing Transcend card to the other MxR adapter (no change). This was never a problem before as I tested both of these cards and adapters extensively when I first got them. They were never intended to be my primary recording media and I'm SO happy I didn't have to rely on this card during the week-long shoot.

Any ideas about why this card would stop working despite never having any problems before? I never EVER want to have to depend on these cheap cards and this is the reason why. I wish I was made of money and could afford to buy a pile of SxS cards, but that's not happening right now.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #11
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I've been shooting happily for a year on my SDHC cards (Sandisk Class 4) and never missed a beat. I keep my SxS 8GB card on hand for overcrank or emergencies, but I've probably not used it more than a couple times.

Clearly, not everyone has had this experience, especially the non Sandisk users it seems. That's really a shame.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 07:42 PM   #12
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I have never had a problem with either the Transcend or the Sandisk cards. Not even once. But I have only used my six Kensington adapters with them. Maybe the problem is the MxR adapters and the Trascend cards.

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Old November 14th, 2009, 08:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Griffin View Post
Small world....one of my Hoodman's would not format...and I did what you did...and after wasting 1 hour messing with it, I called Hoodman and talked to a "Bob" and he said to mail it in and he would replace it free of charge. So I mailed it off and should get the new one on Monday or Tuesday. He was really surprised the card had failed and wanted the card back to take "a look" at it. I got two cards 3 weeks ago and tested them out, with no problems.
The other card I used on a shoot this past Tuesday and I had no problems with it.... I will keep you posted.
Oh, I'm sure Hoodman will do the right thing by me. And the fact is I've never had this problem before. But I think it's safe to say I'll have trouble trusting them from now on.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #14
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I used to use SDHC and "save" the SxS for overcranking opportunities but I now use the SxS cards I have first, like Andy Wilkinson, and then move to SDHC. Shooters probably know when they go out if they are going to be doing slomo stuff and can adjust their card usage accordingly.

SxS cards are friendlier in shooting and in post, if only by a small margin but the benefits reduce risk in a industry where the opportunities for screwups are significant.

SxS cards are getting cheaper. Last time I checked, about a month ago, 32GB cards were selling in the 800 to 900 dollar range at B&H. That's 2 hours on one card. What prevents me from getting them is a card is a bit more than a Dedolight or some other tool that will have a signifcant improvement in the quality of work I do, so I am going to have to be flush when I go and drop the money for more SxS cards but I intend to do so.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 11:52 PM   #15
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I disagree that SxS is friendlier in post. When I shoot SxS I *MUST* have my laptop to dump the expresscards. When I shoot on SDHC, I can just put them in my adapter plugged into my laptop, or any other machine with a USB connector and go from there.

I can grab extra SDHC cards anywhere if we have capacity issues on a remote shoot. 16GB units are hovering around $38, and 32GB for about 88. For less than $200 I have 4 hours of uninterrupted HD shooting. Nothing else even comes close.
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