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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 02:16 AM   #16
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We know that Sony will be putting out a full frame sensor shallow depth of field camera within the next 3 to 6 months. This is the big one for many. No one is sure of cost. Sony says affordable but speculation is all over the place from even the most seasoned shooters wondering where this camera will land in the pricing end of things.

Frankly, I would hang tight and put your camera money aside and spend new money on your editing environment or good lighting gear or good microphones.

Below is a link to a page with a video interview with a Sony rep about the new 35mm, full frame sensor camera that is due out in a few months.

MacVideo - Camera Technology - Features - Sony 35mm sensor and 3D camera prototypes on show at IBC 2010
You know what Andrew? I'm so glad that I'd made the purchasing decision for the EX1R, but not committed to an order, because I think I will wait around and have a look at the 35mm prosumer version when it's released. Bob seems pretty pleased with the results he got from the consumer version.

Perhaps I'll have an unenviable choice to make between two excellent cameras?

David, I edit now in Vegas Pro and am happy with it, so no need to spend bucks there. I already have Photoshop as well. Edit PC's are laptops and have the obvious limitations, but I just don't have the room for desktop PC's when we travel. I've learnt to live with those limitations and use two laptops to render out final projects.

Thanks to all who chimed in about the tripod. It's not that I don't want to buy it, and I will, but logistically I'm going to have some real problems storing it when we're traveling.

Cheers

Russ.

Last edited by Russell Heaton; October 23rd, 2010 at 08:41 AM.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 10:24 AM   #17
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Yes Russell the EX1R is an excellent camera. Don't get me wrong. I run with an EX3 which is largely the same camera in terms of it's output quality. I simply think there are so many market pressures out there right now that with these "game changing" cameras about to be released it would be a good idea to wait, not just for these cameras but others that could be released as well. January is a big time for camera announcements. Both Panasonic and now Sony have jumped the queue in terms of their pre-announcements due to the mind share shift that the DSLR craze of this past year (or two) has created.

Your approach will hold you well in your ultimate decision.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 11:45 AM   #18
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Hi Russell,

Just to give you more to think about and another perspective. I shoot now primarily with an EX3 into a nanoFlash. I produce both independent dramatic movies as well as documentaries and event videos.

The thing you shold consider is what will be best for your projects. While there is a huge craze right now for shallow DOF and the DSLR is a very cost effective way to get it, there are some tradeoffs. The current codecs used do not hold up well to any heavy color correction or SFX. So, you better get what you want in camera or you could be screwed in post. I know several fellow filmmakers who learned this the hard way, translated means the expensive way. Explaining why you need extra budget to re-shoot a scene is never fun and sometimes impossible if you can't get your talent back.

Also, depending on your project, a shallow DOF camera could be impractical. I'm starting a documentary where we'll have a lot of fast run and gun, quick setup shots. Not possible with the current selection of 4/3 sensor cameras (at least that are affordable to independents). There's nothing more ugly that out of focus HD, at least in my opinion.

I don't think I'd shoot a documentary such as the one I'm working on now with shallow DOF as my primary type of shot. I love them in dramas, but they don't give me the feel I want for a documentary about the busy world around us.

And, shooting event videos would be almost impossible without a fairly deep DOF. I will probably use some shallow DOF shots for very dramatic effect in my docu and will most likely be using a DSLR or one of the newer more ergonomically set up cameras coming out (we'll be shooting over the next year). But they won't be the bulk of my shots.

Really let your project needs dictate the camera you end up with. I'm not trying to persuade you to buy an EX1r now. If you can wait and don't need a camera now then wait. But remember that there will always be "the new best thing" coming out soon. Heck, I know people who have been waiting to buy a camera for over a year based on Scarlet rumors. The digital camera industry is changing so rapidly that it will be impossible to keep up. It has almost become as bad as the computer industry. The good news is that really good used equipment is becoming more and more available. And, most of the accessories you purchase could last you several cameras if you purchase quality.

Just more things to think about. Just make sure that waiting to see what the next offerings are doesn't cause you to miss a shot because you don't have a camera.

A final thought for scenic shots, Ansel Adams perfected the use of f64 and huge DOF.

Good luck,
Garrett
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 01:10 PM   #19
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Shallow DoF is an effect. I was watching a documentary a few weeks back and they had a talking head in a wonderful location. The kind of location you'd want to see.

However the genius director or cameraman had shot it with such shallow DoF that all you saw was a blur behind the subject.

It rendered doing the interview in that location pointless.

I know I am shouting at the windmills with this and I suspect the battle is already lost, but content comes first. Remember when Quantel first came out? All the TV directors went mad with it. These days those effects are only used when appropriate because the novelty wore off. You don't want your reporter standing in front of the Houses of Parliament with the presenter in hard focus and the buildings themselves a total blur. But you might want a certain shot where you want the viewers attention firmly on the foreground.

The EX1 is a great all round camera. Its a workhorse. Certainly when Sony bring out their DSLR beater I'll be taking a look but it'll be a secondary camera for certain uses. Another tool I can bring out to play. Just like my little Canon consumer camera that I had fixed to a mount in a sports car the other day where an EX1 simply wouldn't fit.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 02:59 PM   #20
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I know I am shouting at the windmills with this and I suspect the battle is already lost, but content comes first.
Hey Marcus, You are definitely not shouting in vein. I'm still looking for the script and director who will let me shoot in the very old style, where cameras were so big that you couldn't do a bunch of dolly and crane shots.

I'm considered a minimalist among my other camera compadres but I still long for the movie I can shoot with locked down cameras. Really plan out the shot and think through every detail of what's in the frame,

As you said, shallow DOF has its place and definitely has become one of the most abused and misused techniques in recent indie films.

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Old October 23rd, 2010, 04:30 PM   #21
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Very good comments.
The shallow DOF, DSLR look is quite the fad right now, but from my limited experience with the Sony VG10, I'm thinking of it as a bit of a specialized sort of thing- narrative film, "arty" stuff, maybe not so much the grunt & groan doco & event shooting
The VG10 has been fun to work with, and I'm still learning about the strong and weak points of big chip shooting (you definitely have to watch the focus like a hawk). The look can be quite attractive, but I'm not sure I would want to be restricted to that- particularly for documentary type shooting.
I would never hesitate to use the EX for a doc, or run 'n gun shooting. Plus, with the fast EX lens, 1/2" chips, zoom, etc. you can set up a shot to manuver the DOF to a significant degree.
I might add that there is more to the look than just DOF. There are differences in the character of the large chip image (at least with the VG10) that go beyond DOF which may or may not be what you want for a particular project.
If I could only have one camera, I think I would probably stick with the EX.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 09:51 PM   #22
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Thank you all. Geez, I'm more confused than ever now, but the good thing is that all of this peer knowledge will help to ensure that when I do open the wallet, the money will be spent in the best possible way.

Garrett, you make a very good point about whether the work I do would be best done with an EX1R or a shallow DOF camera and having reviewed some of my material, shallow DOF would have been nice in a few scenes but not such a big deal if I didn't use it. Let's face it, I don't have it now!

Bob, from your experimentation, if I were to shoot a doco largely with the EX1R and mix in a few scenes of shallow DOF stuff shot with the consumer VG10 camera, would the quality difference be so pronounced that the average Joe Public would notice? This assumes that the end product is most likely going to DVD and maybe Blue-Ray for a couple of users. I cannot in my wildest dreams ever imagine selling anything to a broadcaster.

The reason I ask is that this could be a way of having both, albeit as a compromise. I simply can't afford Prosumer cameras for both, given that my productions are essentially for friends and family.

Cheers

Russ
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 10:24 PM   #23
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Bob, from your experimentation, if I were to shoot a doco largely with the EX1R and mix in a few scenes of shallow DOF...

The reason I ask is that this could be a way of having both, albeit as a compromise. I simply can't afford Prosumer cameras for both, given that my productions are essentially for friends and family.
As an alternative you could get a camera like the EX1r and say a Canon Rebel T2i that could double as a good still cam and be used for specialty shallow DOF shots. This is something I'm considering bu since I'm a Nikon still shooter I'm hoping Nikon comes out with something in the D700 next generation range that will give a good clean HDMI signal. That would allow me to use it for special shots and capture to my nonFlash for better post capabilities.

Just to add to your variations.

Garrett
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 11:32 PM   #24
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Bob, from your experimentation, if I were to shoot a doco largely with the EX1R and mix in a few scenes of shallow DOF stuff shot with the consumer VG10 camera, would the quality difference be so pronounced that the average Joe Public would notice?
I'm sure you could mix the footage successfully, and I do think it would probably be a very good idea to experiment with a less expensive DSLR to explore the big chip issue. There is a lot of commotion about shooting with big chips, but outside of the "film maker" crowd, I do not believe it is anywhere close to being a mainstream approach. In a way, there is a little more smoke then fire on this topic for the sort of applications we are discussing in this thread.
As I had mentioned before, the EX is perfectly capable of significantly shallow DOF. If there is little motion in the frame, you can open the iris fully, jack the shutter speed up to whatever is necessary (or use an external ND filter along with the internal one), zoom the lens a bit, and those 1/2" chips will provide quite shallow DOF. You can set the programmed "Shot Transition" feature and the EX will give you one of those cinematic rack focus shots that's about as good as anything you've seen from Hollywood.
I've noticed that the VG10, even at mid range f-stops, still has fairly shallow DOF that is hard to escape from. Which means that you've constantly got to keep the subject in sharp focus, or you've got an unusable shot. Unless you are shooting with a high quality monitor, it's hard to tell for sure from the LCD (even tho it is hi def) that you are on the money. Where the bad news is usually discovered is in post, which is a little too late :(
Pro versions of the big chip cams should have peaking, etc. which will help, but it's still something you have to constantly stay on top of. Maybe not a problem on a movie set, but not always easy for run 'n gun.
You are accustomed, more or less, to the sort of shooting and results that you would get from the EX because of your prior experience. The big chip cameras are a different sort of paradigm. I would advise against purchasing an expensive pro version without carefully exploring the landscape with something fairly affordable like the Canon Rebel, or maybe the new Sony NEX 5 (It's the still camera version of the VG10- maybe $700-$800- but shoots very similar video to the VG10).
Honestly, I think part of Sony's strategy, jumping into this market first with the VG10 instead of a pro model, was because they could provide shooters a big chip experience in a video cam form factor for only $2K- and $800 of that is the lens- so it's a $1,200 body. People can get their feet wet on the cheap; if they love it, maybe they will have the confidence to move up to the pro model and stick with the Sony brand. People who are +/- about it will still end up with a very nice big chip cam to supplement their mainstay equipment, and haven't broke the bank over it.
At the end of the day, the Sony EX series has been absolutely one of their most successfull pro cameras.
It carries the Sony Cine Alta badge.
They are still selling lots of them.
There is a reason for all of that.
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Last edited by Robert Young; October 24th, 2010 at 03:25 AM.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 07:37 AM   #25
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I disagree with advice to wait for the big chip cameras to arrive and settle. Here's a good article on it by Alister Chapman: XDCAM-USER.com Micro 4/3, Super 35, DSLR and the impact on traditional Pro Camcorders.

For the OP's "tripod-less" travel videos for friends and family, I think the EX1R is a spectacular if not totally overkill, upgrade from the HC3, no video DSLR with all their shortcomings needed. As someone who's come up the same route of outgrowing lesser cams vs downsizing from Pro-cams, I think in many ways, the video DSLR cameras are a step backward for someone that's worked on the craft and simply outgrown a consumer handycam. I think the EX1R is a gargantuan step forward and will be a great teacher of the other important aspects of the craft such as storytelling, lighting, audio, composition, grading etc.

Last edited by Les Wilson; October 24th, 2010 at 12:22 PM.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #26
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I think the EX1R is a gargantuan step forward and will be a great teacher of the other important aspects of the craft such as storytelling, lighting, audio, composition, grading etc.
Amen to that.
Alister Chapman's article was spot on as well.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 07:36 PM   #27
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I just ordered an EX1r from B&H. I was tempted by the Canon XF305, it seems a toss up, but figuring I already have the Sony .8x wide angle adapter and a Century .55x fisheye for my EX1, plus lots of extra batteries and cards, it was a no brainer. It's an awesome camera. I'm hoping to be in a position to buy an Epic when it's released, or soon thereafter.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 09:41 AM   #28
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Look at the review of the Canon 5D MKII from Philip Bloom, and can asure you, that your next movie/commercial/documentary will be shot with a DSLR.
For weddings/shows/sport events/ENG-work however, the professional video-cam is still king.
Four big advantages of the DSLR over the videocam for the jobs i mentioned are: DoF, Low light, size/weight and price
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Old October 27th, 2010, 10:45 AM   #29
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I wouldn't be so sure about that if I were you. The only real advantages of a DSLR are the shallow
depth of field, and the low light shooting you get from the big chips. And against that, you have the
moire and aliasing (you DO know, those stills cameras actually skip lines when producing video
right), plus the form factor is all wrong to shoot video with. And that is why Panasonic is producing the
AF 100, coming out Dec. 27th, Sony is putting out their big 35mm camera in early 2011 and has already
released the consumer NEX VG10.....and I bet others will be jumping in soon as well. These cameras will
have the advantages (depth of field and low light shooting) of a DSLR, as they have big chips, but they are
actually OPTIMIZED FOR VIDEO, NOT STILLS!!! So, my prediction is.......big chip VIDEO cameras
will be the new 'fad'.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 11:49 AM   #30
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My PMW 350 is very comparable, if not slightly better than a 5D Mk2 in low light. The other night I shot something under moonlight alone! Sure it was grainy but it would be feasible for a documentary in desperate times.

Picture quality wise, I think DSLRs are not as good as a decent HD camcorder either. The resolution is lower, the compression is severe, the rolling shutter turns movement to jelly and they alias like hell. For extreme shallow DoF they are great but that effect is now so accessible, cheap and overused that I am becoming very bored of it.

DSLRs are however very useful for covert filming when you don't want to stand out. They are a great tool for specific purposes but don't replace a proper video camera. Having one a B cam/production stills camera represents great value, especially with the price of the 550D.
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