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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 January 24th, 2010, 05:08 AM   #1
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New to XDCAM- Question about SxS

So I just recently purchased the EX1R. Over the past couple of years, I had been shooting interviews and b-roll with the Z1U, the V1U, and for the past 17 months, the Z7U. I especially liked the Z7 because I could shoot to CF card in native 24p and also record simultaneously to tape as both an archive and a back up. This was handy, because there have been a handful of times when the card would have a bad clip on it and I would have to go back to the tape to recapture the bad clip. This brings me to my question.

How reliable are Sony's SxS cards for important shooting? I have the 16GB card that came with the camera as well as 2 Sony SxS-1 32GB cards that I purchased recently. These are all official Sony SxS cards. I also have one of the SD card adapters, but I know I'll not be using that (other than to possibly copy from SxS to SD in camera to have a dupe of REALLY important stuff). I typically shoot mostly interview footage with the occasional flurry of b-roll, so I don't really have the option to "do another take" if something goes wrong with the card. I'm not in a position where I have to offload cards on location, so I don't really have to worry about losing footage other than to media error. But I also might potentially shoot for an hour or so straight without pausing, so losing an hour of interview because of a glitch 40 minutes in would be a disaster. So the question, once again... If I have to shoot an interview with A-list Hollywood actors and directors, is SxS a reliable enough format for me to shoot without stress?

What say those of you who have been shooting to the media for a while now?
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Old January 24th, 2010, 05:33 AM   #2
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Never had a problem with SxS or SDHC in 2 years. Transferring your files can be the stressful part if it has to be done on location. Have enough cards to shoot a whole day and then do the card wrangling at leisure. Get your work flow sorted with a few dry runs so that it becomes second nature. I prepare BPAV folders and name them in advance of the shoot.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 06:04 AM   #3
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The format is rock solid. Regard it as tape, or better then Tape I think as you don't have issues with dropouts, faulty stock, faulty mechanics and the myriad of things that could go wrong with little strips of magnetic film passing over heads.

I've never had any sort of issue with an SxS card (or SD for that matter) while shooting. A couple of times I've dumped a card down to the computer and then put it back in the camera (I prefer to delete card content in camera) and got a media restore error but it restored fine and all the footage was there even though I didn't need it as it was already captured.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 07:38 AM   #4
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I have never had a problem with a SxS card in almost 2 years of shooting. So I would say they exceptionally robust.

What I do now is use a NanoFlash as well as the SxS in most of my shooting. Not only does the NanoFlash up the quality of the EX footage, but now you are redundant on 2 solid state media cards.

The NanoFlash is very light, and I make a bracket system for it that really improves the ergonomics of the EX1/EX1R for shouldering the cam.

EX1 Stronger Plates
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Old January 24th, 2010, 08:12 AM   #5
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Dear Cliff,

As Olaf, said, you can recreate a redundant copy, that is actually better than the original, by adding a nanoFlash.

Your camera records 4:2:0, at 35 Mbps.

The nanoFlash can record in this mode also.

But, the nanoFlash can record in 4:2:2 at 50 Mbps up to 280 Mbps.

4:2:2 gives you better color and it is much better for greenscreen work.

And the nanoFlash can record in native Quicktime for Final Cut Pro or native MXF.

The most important point of adding a nanoFlash is that the nanoFlash footage is then acceptable by many professional broadcast organizations, such as the BBC and many others.

Disclaimer: I work for Convergent Design.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:45 AM   #6
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In two years of using SxS in some very hostile environments from -36c in the arctic to Hurricanes and Deserts I have not had a single issue. I have even frozen SxS cards into blocks of ice and boiled them in water to prove their reliability.

SxS in Ice clip:
YouTube - SxS card frozen in ice. XDCAM EX1 memory card.

Challenge Alister:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AZ471iWzTM&fmt=18
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:46 AM   #7
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If you can afford the NanoFlash, it will bring you piece of mind. Though Alister's challenges are remarkable, they do not account for losing a card, or other malady. I have expressed my interest with Sony to see a firmware update that allows recording to both slots at once for redundancy, but until that happens, I would suggest the nanoflash. If you can afford it.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #8
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Just as a side note, I shot over 25 hours of video in Africa using my EX3 and four Transcend 16gb cards (downloaded each evening) not a single problem or lost clip. I think solid state memory is robust enough.

As a postscript I shot an interview last year using my Canon XH A1 loaded with Sony HD tape, the first five minutes were lost either due to dirty head or faulty tape. I never did bother to find out which caused the problem, only to say that I rarely use the XH A1 now.

As for tape being the ideal backup medium, forget it, it's a fallacy, try playing some off your old audio or VHS cassettes. A few 1tb hard drives will suffice for the time being.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Oliver View Post
Just as a side note, I shot over 25 hours of video...<snip>...
As for tape being the ideal backup medium, forget it, it's a fallacy, try playing some off your old audio or VHS cassettes. A few 1tb hard drives will suffice for the time being.
I'd disagree with this last part. For example, I've been transferring my oldest VHS tapes lately without any problems. They're 30 years old now (!) but I always recorded on SP using the best available tape of the era so that is certainly helping. Even some of the clips I recorded in SLP (ughhh) have been transferring okay. If I could afford an LTO tape drive, I'd be archiving my footage in that format. Those tapes would probably outlive me.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 04:12 PM   #10
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We will have to agree to disagree Dave, I also have VHS tapes going back 20 - 25 years and they have so much white noise on them which makes them unwatchable.

In a very crude way of explaining. Tape is just sticky tape which has been dunked in powdered rust. This will eventually fail. I also guess hard drives will fail at some stage or another. I used to use MO drives to back up all my data (not video), I was told this was the most secure way of storing data - little did we know that the medium itself would become extinct. My Optical disc writer gave up the ghost a couple of years ago, now I have a pile of MO discs that I can't access.

I wonder how much support there will be for tape drives in say 10 years time, when the industry goes over to some yet unknown storage device.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 04:32 PM   #11
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I have a lot of BEta SP tapes from the 90's and they are definitely deteriorating, color is really fading and the contrast is dropping, compared to digitized versions of the footage. It is easy to see this on scopes.

The DSR500 DVcam digital tapes still look good after about 10 years. So I think digital tape has longer lifespan than analog, or it will fail in a different way.

I also have 3/4" Umatic tape from the 80's and it really has faded. What is remakable though is that my Umatic deck still runs perfectly. I only use it maybe every two years now if someone bring me old stuff. All my good old footage has been digitized.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 04:40 PM   #12
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I think digital tapes, whether DV or DigiBeta have greater retentivity. It's why it took me more passes to degauss DiBeta compared to BetaSP.

What happens with digital tapes, and DV is most prone, is increased errors over time to the point where the decks error correction circuitry can't fix some of the errors. Certainly the quality of DV tape can have impact. It's one reason that DVCAM tape will hold up better than DV. It's track and speed decreases the proportional number of errors per second/inch (whatever measurement you chose).
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Old January 24th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #13
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Not one issue with my Sony SxS cards over almost 18 months use in my Ex3. I do not have any 3rd party cards and/or adaptors.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 07:31 PM   #14
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I've been shooting SxS since September of 2007.
Not a single problem, ever. 100% rock solid.

I can say the same thing about XDCAM optical as well. Been shooting with it since March of 2006 and never had a sngle problem.

Peace of mind during a shoot is priceless.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:34 PM   #15
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Over two years with my EX1 and the SxS media has never let me down - not once.

I cannot say the same for the SDHC alternative. In fact I consider SDHC to be such a gamble that I refuse to shoot with it. SxS only for me.
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