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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 November 2nd, 2010, 01:45 PM   #16
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Been playing with my MxM recorder which arrived yesterday and am very pleased with it so far. The SSD option works very well and seems far more robust than a platter based device.

Seems well built and I can't seem to make it fall over when recording. Overcranking isn't a problem and battery drain didn't seem heavy (on first impression it seems to knock about 10% off the battery life). The unit is powered directly via the USB cable from the camera so there's only a single cable and no complicated power arrangements to worry about.

Because it is solid state you can mount it anywhere you like. The MxM mount works well when the camera is on sticks (it's quite a novel design that is different from the normal hot shoe), but I have had to remove the mount for normal work because it interfered with the way I hold the camera. But I do have small hands, and the mount is easily fixed again with cable ties (remember you'd really only use this device when on a tripod for long form recording, it's certainly not for run and gun). I am looking to see if there are any other methods of mounting that suit my shooting style as an SSD has no restrictions with its orientation.

I've spoken for my dislike of placing a traditional platter based HD on top of a camera and have been met with mild bemusement by many. Originally coming from an IT background, I'm all too familiar with hard disks and their inner workings. When I worked in IT support I lost count of how many HD's we replaced in laptops because they were killed for various reasons, and nearly all of them through user abuse rather than what I would consider natural failure.

For my money SSD is the only way forward. Platter based hard disks like to be totally flat or at 90 degrees. So running a disk on top of a camera where it won't be totally flat is just asking for trouble.

I'm yet to see the speed of the transfer via the ESATA connector but a PCI card for the Mac has been ordered. In theory it should be blindingly fast,

I'll do a proper write up in due course (I need to test it further) but have already dissected an 80gb HD to try and demonstrate my point about fragility.

Certainly first impressions are very good.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 01:45 PM   #17
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How do you power the USB drives?
The split cable (click on the link in my post to see it) has a mini-USB male and DC power jack on one end (that goes to the hard drive enclosure) and a split full size dual USB male on the other (one goes to the camera and the other to something to give it 5 volts of power). That something can be a slot on a laptop or one slot on a USB hub. If you are using a USB hub for power or a battery adapter like Alex Dolgin sells or a 5v AC power supply, I would recommend that you buy a separate mini-USB male to Full USB male cable to go from the AKE expresscard adapter on the camera to the mini-USB port on the Kingwin enclosure. Then use the split cable for power only. Or, if you take the split cable to a store like Radio Shack you can get a 5 volt AC adapter with the same size center positive plug as the Kingwin split cable has and use that, but Radio Shack will charge you around $20 for each adapter. Then you don't need the split cable at all.

Of course, I am using two setups so I use the split cables plugged into two slots of a four-port USB hub that I had (It has it's own power supply) for power to both units and two separate mini-USB to Full USB cables to go from the two express cards to the two enclosures for data transfer. You can use USB extension cables for any of this to suit your needs. The split cables will work for everything, but it makes me a little nervous in terms of the 5 volts so that is why I used the two extra cables.

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Old November 2nd, 2010, 02:01 PM   #18
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The SSD option works very well and seems far more robust than a platter based device.
.." more robust" ??

How? You mean less easily damaged as you explained. Because in terms of recording, they both work the same, but at a really disproportionate cost especially since you can only get 84GB worth out of either.

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Old November 2nd, 2010, 02:48 PM   #19
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.." more robust" ??

How? You mean less easily damaged as you explained. Because in terms of recording, they both work the same, but at a really disproportionate cost especially since you can only get 84GB worth out of either.

John
In terms of recording they work the same. Except one of them has a load of moving parts inside with tolerances so fine that the head that reads the data is less than the width of a human hair from the surface of the recording surface. The head is kept there by a tiny cushion of air generated by the platters spinning. Should something go wrong the head has to return to the park position in a fraction of a second. These mechanisms are seriously quick.

These are devices that were intrinsically designed to be kept stationary but have been engineered so they can tolerate being moved around. However as discussed, even with all that engineering they still don't care for it.

Standard hard disks are a marvel of engineering. Go and open one up as I did yesterday and have a look (although do this with a dead drive as a speck of dust is enough to foul the heads). But even if your camera is on sticks and not moving, it's still not where I'd want a drive with moving parts.

Yes SSD's are expensive, but prices are falling and you get a unit that is totally solid state. It's ironic that we only just got away from having mechanical parts in the recording part of our cameras and suddenly people are taking a step back again. I thought we had embraced solid state?

I am coming at this from a different angle from most people I suspect. People have got used to these portable HD units you can take anywhere and modern units are infinitely more robust than they used to be. But the killer is that the SSD has no moving parts, they haven't had to engineer around a problem of some rather delicate mechanisms as its a totally different technology.

Do platter based devices still have a place in the workflow? Well if you have to hand over the footage at the end of the day then yes. There is an increased risk of problems but they are now dirt cheap.

But if you are looking for a unit that you are going to be keeping for a few years, a SSD unit is the wise investment.

And this is before I've tested the speed of which an SSD can offload its footage. I'm hoping (and expecting) it to be very quick. If you've had a play with an SSD in a computer, you'll know just how quick!
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 04:37 PM   #20
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.." more robust" ??

How? You mean less easily damaged as you explained. Because in terms of recording, they both work the same, but at a really disproportionate cost especially since you can only get 84GB worth out of either.

John
They work the same? Camera powered over one cable MxM Recorder vs Kingwin split cables, straight connectors and 5v battery or laptop?

Read the DealExtreme reviews. I wouldn't touch the cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff with a ten foot pole.

From a review on the Deal Extreme site:
-The build quality is really poor. I know it's cheap and you don't have to expect a lot of it. But everything can be dismantled just by touching it. The rear (plastic) keeps coming of so I had to use tape to fix it. And the circuitbord keeps falling out when you want to put the cables in the connectors.
-And second, my eSata connection doesn't work...
Other Thoughts: It is a fine enclosure if you tape and glue it all together. The eSata doesn't work for me but the usb-connector works just fine.
Bottomline: Buy another one!
The build quality is just too poor.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 07:03 PM   #21
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They work the same? Camera powered over one cable MxM Recorder vs Kingwin split cables, straight connectors and 5v battery or laptop?

Read the DealExtreme reviews. I wouldn't touch the cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff with a ten foot pole.
As a DX customer I can echo the fact I wouldn't want any card they sell in my workflow. DX are great for lots of things but alot of their kit is of questionable quality for a professional environment.

Although if anyone does end up putting a DX order in, get some of the rare earth magnets. They are enormous fun! So strong you can put them either side of your hand and they stick. Keep them well away from your kit though.... or anything metal.... and your magnetic media.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 11:36 PM   #22
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Hi Rohan,

"These are 200gb, 7200rpm units that had been recording 2K footage so I was confident about the data rate but didn't know about power consumption."

What brand is the HDD you removed from your SI-2K system?
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 01:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
They work the same? Camera powered over one cable MxM Recorder vs Kingwin split cables, straight connectors and 5v battery or laptop?

Read the DealExtreme reviews. I wouldn't touch the cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff with a ten foot pole.

From a review on the Deal Extreme site:
-The build quality is really poor. I know it's cheap and you don't have to expect a lot of it. But everything can be dismantled just by touching it. The rear (plastic) keeps coming of so I had to use tape to fix it. And the circuitbord keeps falling out when you want to put the cables in the connectors.
-And second, my eSata connection doesn't work...
Other Thoughts: It is a fine enclosure if you tape and glue it all together. The eSata doesn't work for me but the usb-connector works just fine.
Bottomline: Buy another one!
The build quality is just too poor.
I have two of them. They don't seem poorly made to me although I am not rough with my equipment. At those prices one can pick up several for spares. They certainly work well enough. The eSATA does in fact work so I am not sure what that User who stated that was doing with his interface.

Moreover you said that you "wouldn't touch the cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff with a ten foot pole"

Can you post a link here to similar equipment here that is in fact not made in China?

Thanks,

John
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 01:56 PM   #24
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Can you post a link here to similar equipment here that is in fact not made in China?


John
This is a total red herring. Many factories build stuff to spec for a number of clients. So one day they might be building cheap rubbish to be sold on websites for next to nothing, the next day they might be building similar cards for Sony at a much higher spec to be sold at 10 times the price.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 02:31 PM   #25
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This is a total red herring. Many factories build stuff to spec for a number of clients.
---------------------------------------------------
So why agree with the comment cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff instead of cheap Kingwin stuff?

Let's not get sidetracked so let's try another approach Marcus and Les. I don't remove the hard drives from the enclosures at all. There is no need to. They haven't come out once. All I can say is that the entire setup is reliable, not that flimsy, and a bargain approach that simply works. If someone else want's to buy something they think is better that's fine. I just thought I would share what I did for any fellow forum member who might want to try it that is on a budget as I am.

John
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 03:33 PM   #26
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This is a total red herring. Many factories build stuff to spec for a number of clients.
---------------------------------------------------
So why agree with the comment cheap Chinese Kingwin stuff instead of cheap Kingwin stuff?
I didn't explicitly agree regarding that manufacturer. What I said, having purchased alot of stuff from DX, is that I wouldn't let the kit they sell into my acquisition workflow. Now I think of it, a few years back I was using an IDE to USB converter from them that inexplicably started smoking when I hooked it up one day. The HD and computer were fine but the convertor board was fried (there is nothing quite like the magic smoke that escapes from failing electrical components).

Not removing the hard disks from the enclosures doesn't make a blind bit of difference. When the drive isn't in use the heads are parked up and its actually quite hard to do damage (although the drives are still comparatively fragile compared to something like an SD card). The real risk comes when the drive is in use.

A platter based device powered from a separate power source using the cheapest components possible makes me wince.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 03:43 PM   #27
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Hi Ross,

The hard drives that I had been using with my SI-2K (I have now switched to SSDs) were Seagate Momentus 7200.2. They weren't all that cheap when I bought them two years ago but I guess the price will have dropped quite a bit lately.

Since installing them in the MxM recorder I have filled them up three times during tests with no sign of issues, even when the drive is nearly full. Although these were mostly static tests, they might not perform so well if they were being bumped around - but if you are running & gunning, why do you need over 11 hours of record time? I'll stick to my MxM's with 32gb cards in them for that.

If I didn't already own these drives I would have gone with the solid state ones - one less thing to worry about
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 03:50 PM   #28
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A platter based device powered from a separate power source using the cheapest components possible makes me wince.
====================================

Of course these enclosures will take an SSD as well as a hard drive if you want to spend the extra money.

Now in terms of the power supplies I agree 100% that is why I test every one of them I get with a VOM regardless of whether they were purchased separately or came with something like a laptop or any other device - even a cell phone charger. In my experience they are quite often off by a LOT. If they are I replace them or use a regulated power supply. For example, here are the measured values to rated values of a universal power supply I bought from Parts Express here in the US.:

Rated................Actual

1.5v...................4.5v
3v......................6.5v
4.5v...................8.7v
6v......................11.2v
7.5v...................13.6v
9v......................16.2v
12v.....................22.8v

These two Kingwin external hard drive enclosures (that don't come with a power supply) are powered by a USB hub with four ports that each measure 4.956 volts per port. That's very accurate. In contrast my dell laptop measures 5.447 volts from two USB ports and 5.345 volts from the other two. Less accurate than my USB hub, but still safe.

John
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Old November 4th, 2010, 06:36 AM   #29
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A platter based device powered from a separate power source using the cheapest components possible makes me wince.
====================================

Of course these enclosures will take an SSD as well as a hard drive if you want to spend the extra money.
But the power is available over the USB connection, so it seems like madness to plug into an external source. An extra cable, not to mention you are tied to a wall wart.

My ESATA card arrived this morning. Went into the Mac Pro without fuss and was delighted to find I could add and remove drives without rebooting (unlike the card I had demonstrated to me on a PC the other week).

Transfer speeds initially seem around the same as an SxS card. The limiting factor seems to be the speed of the media you are copying to.

But just shuttling around footage directly on the SSD, blimey it feels snappy! If you are one of the people who are looking to edit directly from disk at conferences (using the Sony mp4 plugin) then this might be what you are looking for. By the time you have several streams going in the timeline you will really start to notice the difference.

Can't wait for the day these things are cheap enough to slap into the edit suite.
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Old November 4th, 2010, 08:48 AM   #30
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But the power is available over the USB connection, so it seems like madness to plug into an external source. An extra cable, not to mention you are tied to a wall wart.

You might be right about that Marcus, however I can't remember ever shooting for 5 plus hours without AC power off a cord reel. For portable shooting I use the cards and batteries.

John
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