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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 June 8th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #1
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money no object? What's the best EX1R-based kit?

Moving from HDV I'm a little daunted by the options for media recording and archiving. What's the most reliable for all-day recording at seminars/conferences?

I started at MEAD-S01, SDHC + the Sony PXU-MS240 240gb back device, but then thought HD and presumed the PHU-120K was the pick until I read about some issues with the PHu-60k and the usb2 implementation, than I heard about HawkWoods SSD drives, finally I'm back at the premium priced SxS or SxS-1 because reliability is a priority.

For back-up I was thinking a Other World Computing Mercury Elite-AL Pro QX2 4-bay Hardware RAID enclosure and esata card for macpro, with blu-ray as permanent or the PDW-U1 for proper long-shelf archiving.

I know choice and brand is important - we had issues with media in the the MRC1K CF recorders.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 07:41 AM   #2
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You may want to consider the NanoFlash. Very compact and reliable.

2 64GB CF cards will give you up to 6 hrs record time. And you can record to SxS at the same time for redundancy.

You could also consider the AJA Ki Pro records SDI out to Prores422.

There are a few other options as well, like a Matrox MX02.

Or Sony's SD card HDV recorders. Lower quality but less expensive.

I use the NanoFlash, the best solution in my mind.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 08:02 AM   #3
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I've got the nanoflash on my wishlist for chromakey. Solution must provide for all-day conference recording i.e. 6-7 hours on-call all day, little chance to empty cards as I also have to shoot event photos. At the moment we use HVR-Z5P to tape with the MRC1K 'relay' to cover tape change. These events don't need the HQ modes on SDI out.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 09:29 AM   #4
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Mark,

You are wise to recognize the value of staying with genuine SxS cards. I know there are other people here on this forum who will stongly disagree with me and testify they have never had a problem with SDHC cards. But I'm not willing to risk it. For every person you says they are safe, I can point to someone else who had problems. Even SDHC cards that seem to fine at first, can develop problems later. Is it worth it?? Not for me. I am not personally aware of anyone who has had a problem with SxS recording.

I have a Nanoflash and it is an excellent piece of equipment for the right situation. In your case, I think it is overkill and just one more unnecessary level of complexity.

If I was in your shoes, I'd buy a couple of genuine 32GB SxS cards and a PXU-MS240. This way, you avoid all the hassles and/or risks of other solutions. Maybe 16GB cards might even be enough
Sony | PXU-MS240 Mobile Storage Unit | PXU-MS240 | B&H Photo

With that combination you could shoot all day and never have to erase cards. When one card fills up, you could off-load it to the MS240 in just a few minutes (including running a data check), reformat the card, and start shooting on it again when card #2 fills up. Repeat as necessary.

I've been using the MS240 for a few months now and it is totally fool proof. Cheaper than buying tons of cards, cheaper than buying a Nanoflash, and safer than using non-SxS cards. Even Sony says their non-SxS card media should only be used as a "spare tire" in an emergency and not to be counted on for workhorse daily shooting.

Anyway, that's what I'd suggest even if money was an object.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 10:32 AM   #5
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I'll profess my bias towards SDHC cards but that's because money is an object for me as well as workflow.

That said, if money is no object I'd suggest getting 5 or 6 32GB SXS or SXS-1 cards.

The PXU-MS240 looks like an excellent piece of kit and at a reasonable price for what it does. My concern is the "human error" factor. Having to offload and format a card during a shoot is a human error risk. In some situations it's no problem and others it might be. There's always the "duh" moment when you forget a step, hit the wrong button, format the wrong card. Personally I think the safest thing is get a bunch of cards and certainly the PXU-MS240 would be great in a pinch and might be fine when you know you have time to breath during a given shoot (but even breathing can result in the occasional cough or sneeze).

BTW I have certainly seen people who have had issues with SXS failing. It's rare. Sony will attempt to rescue the media and will replace the card. It certainly has happened but certainly a lot less frequently than SDHC.

Again my issue has been the "human error" element. That seems to be the largest number of issues I see in the forums and it's usually due to offloading during a shoot. That's why I find it safer to have 6 SDHC than 2 SXS. Humans are far more fallible than SXS cards and SDHC cards and I find reducing human intervention the highest priority. Basically SXS plus humans is a bigger risk than SDHC with minimized human intervention.

That said, if you can get a bunch of SXS cards that is certainly more trustworthy than SDHC.

The very act of leaving the camera for a moment to offload to any device, especially if the shoot is still in progress, opens the door to all sorts of mishaps. It certainly depends on the shoot circumstances though.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 11:31 AM   #6
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Mark,

If money is truly no object then yes get SxS Pro cards and a nanoFlash with several CF cards. In order to minimize risk you need to have redundancy. A pure and simple concept that is followed by any IT professional. On site also have a laptop and two HD's. As you fill each SxS and CF card, off load to two HD's via laptop. Have enough SxS and CF cards to completely capture the entire days events. That way you will never have to reuse cards until you can verify that the HD copies are good. In place of the nanoFlash you could use the AJA or other similar portable device. I just like the nanoFlash unit because it is small. Quality of CF cards is a must but I've been using the Transcend 64GB CF cards and they so far have not given me any problems.

Next level down would be to use SDHC cards with adapters in place of the SxS Pro cards. Since you will be recording to both in-camera media as well as the CF cards in the nanoFlash the risk of using SDHC cards is minimized. Still some risk but very manageable.

If you remove the redundant recording, on-site multiple backups, and/or start to off-load and reuse cards during the event your risk level start to increase and by removing multiple elements your risk starts to grow exponentially. That's not to say that you can't have a flawless session with just using the bare minimum of SDHC cards but again it comes down to the amount of risk you want to take on.

My current procedure it to use 16GB SDHC cards with MxR adapters (I have 12 cards so I can shoot a whole days worth without having to reuse a card) in addition I simultaneously record to a nanoFlash using the 64GB CF cards (again enough for an entire days worth of shooting). As the cards fill up I have the cards copied to two separate HD's. No reusing of the cards until all footage is verified to be successfully copied to both drives. So the week points in my chain are camera failure or camera operator error (but I always have at least one additional backup camera running).

It's really just a risk management program that I've had to learn to live with. Funny how I didn't seem to worry as much when I was recording to tape.

Garrett
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Old June 8th, 2010, 12:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Funny how I didn't seem to worry as much when I was recording to tape.
Maybe you didn't work with tape often enough. Between drop outs, tapes being "eaten," creases, issues with record heads, issues with playback heads, issues with head alignment, tape is a nightmare.
I've worked with everything from 2" through Digibeta. Don't even talk to me about BetaSX! I can give you 25 years of tape based nightmares that I don't have at all with file based recording.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #8
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Craig, I completely understand about the pitfalls of tape based acquisition. The solution to risk management simply seemed to be to set up multiple cameras and or feed a deck to also tape to. I guess I never really though about it until going to a file based work flow because I never approached it from an IT perspective.

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Old June 8th, 2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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The only problem with the nanoFlash is not being able to hot swap cards while recording. You must stop recording in order to remove or insert a CF card. I also want a nanoFlash but this is a deal breaker for me because I shoot events.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 01:46 PM   #10
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The bit I don't quite get is that I read several people saying that SDHC cards are unreliable, compared to SXS cards. I can accept that. Then in the same breath I am being told the Nano Flash is the way to go. Surely this also relies on memory cards albeit CF cards.

I too am glad to see the back of tape, having had three tapes snarl up in camera and several tapes which failed to record anything on the first two or three minutes (ironically these were Sony tapes). I have not had any problems with SDHC cards (yet) and have shot many hours of video with the EX3.

When the EX1 first came out I was drawn to it, but put off by the overpriced cost of SXS cards. When it was discovered that the EX cameras would also record to SDHC cards then I made my purchase of an EX3 and haven't looked back since. Imagine how many more cameras Sony could be selling if only they sold the SXS cards at a sensible price. I did question this very point at a Sony Pro meeting, and the reply was that they could recover data from a SXS card if a fault occurs. Well for the price they are asking I wouldn't expect any fault, and quite frankly you should be able to recover data on a SDHC card too.

Just my two-pence worth
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Last edited by Vincent Oliver; June 9th, 2010 at 01:15 AM.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 02:41 PM   #11
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Steve, CD is suppose to be working on coming out with a firmware update that would make the NF hot swappable. Not sure where it is in their list of requested upgrades but we'll see.

Vincent, from my understanding, CF's are more stable in general than SDHC. I'm not an electrical engineer but my friend is (he's actually a hardware engineer designing this stuff) and he confirmed that CF cards are indeed more stable. He tried to explain it to me but I tuned out after he started talking about the interface and controller protocols and all that stuff. They also can provide faster transfer rates.

I don't think it is really an issue for this discussion thought. The bigger issue is that the SxS slots in the EX1/3 are originally set up be PCIe standards instead of the USB 2.0 standards that the SDHC adapters use. That is why the Sony SxS reader won't read the adapter cards. The SxS slots in the camera were not originally set up for USB and that is, I believe, why prior to the latest firmware updates, many people were having problems with their SDHC+adapter setups.

That said, I did update my firmware and am happily using SDHC cards, overcranked and all, and I have not had any problems yet (knock on wood).

The NF was originally made to take CF cards. So the whole interface is designed to utilize those standards. However, as with any transfer of information, there is always the possibility of errors. That is why I believe strongly in duel systems. If you notice I do not rely on only the NF. In fact I can't see myself ever just using that. The way I look at it, if I'm going to be recording to the NF I might as well stick a couple of cards in the SxS slot as well and have some insurance.

The NF does three things for me. It gives improved quality, adds parallel acquisition so is a backup system, and it actually improves my work flow efficiency by recording directly to MXF or QT wrapped files.

Garrett
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Old June 8th, 2010, 02:46 PM   #12
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I am old enough to also recount too many tales of tape failures so I have gladly embraced digital recording. I also do a lot of all day recording. When I first bought my EX3, the 32 gigabyte cards weren't available and so I bought a PHU-60K which I use with great frequency. So far, (knock wood) it has performed well with only a failure of the tiny cable connector at the drive. Sony replaced the drive in that case and there wasn't any loss of video. I will be buying two 32 gigabyte SXS Pro cards though as I like the more robust recording format vs hard drives and for hand-held, having the PHU-60K sticking out on the cold shoe makes me nervous.

I also vote for less expensive SXS cards.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #13
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I have recorded over 1,500 hrs on 6 SxS cards w/o a single problem.

I have used the PHU-60 about 200 hrs w/o a single problem.

I have used M&R SD setup for about 50 hrs (I don't trust it as much) w/o a single problem, "spare tire" is how I use them.

I have used Delkin 64GB CFcards and Sandisk CFcards in my NanoFlash for about 300 hrs w/o a single problem.

In the tape days I had a major problem about every 500 hrs either bad tape stock or clogged heads or transport/loading mechanism with lost footage. I used to spend 10G/yr on deck and cam repairs.

Now shooting primarily with XDcam my only expenses are cleaning and lots of HD's/BluRay Discs. I still use BetaSP, DVcam and DVCpro tape for delivery sometimes, but those are studio decks more rugged than cams.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:59 PM   #14
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There's a lot of good advice in this thread, and plenty of different approaches to data wrangling and risk managment. With that said, I personally have no concerns that I will screw something up when offloading to the MS240, or that one of my SxS cards will fail on me. I am 100% comfortable with my workflow and don't feel there is any advantage to backup recording to a Nano or jumping through other hoops. KISS.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 08:21 PM   #15
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Hello

Hello Doug,
I understand completely the way your work-flow is and I trust you wouldn't make a mistake. Comon, how many years are behind you doing that kind of work!?!
On other note, do you really would take the NF as a backup unit?
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