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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 July 2nd, 2011, 08:13 PM   #1
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Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

G'day,

I filmed a wedding yesterday and all seemed to be going well. All outward signs of normal functioning of the EX1R were there, but imagine the sick feeling I got after copying the files to my PC and the XDCAM Clip Browser announced "Some of the files are fragmented. Please copy the files back to the SxS card, return it to the camera and perform a salvage operation"

I did this without success, so I then copied the files back to a genuine SxS card and tried again. This time the camera did execute a recovery - phew!

My MxM card was fitted with one of the recommended brands of SD card, so now I'm going to have to go through a process of elimination to find out which item was the problem. Suffice to say that the adapter and SD card have been put aside (along with two others that I have) and the genuine SxS cards are back in use for the time being. I don't like that sick feeling....

Cheers

Russ
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Old July 2nd, 2011, 09:24 PM   #2
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Always test cards when you get them. Even if MxM tests, the manufacturers have been known to change components.

When you first get cards, record end to end straight through without stopping and check the file. Then do the same thing in overcrank and test that. Then do a series of short records and delete some clips along the way. If the results aren't 100% working then don't use that card.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 01:09 PM   #3
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

On one occasion I had a file come across corrupted. It was heart in mouth time. However a second copy was absolutely fine as was the five test copies I ran after that.

PC's can do odd things. I suspect in my case the USB bus had been disturbed during the initial copy.

Just a few tips:

Always test your cards before your first shoot with them.

Remember with popular brands there if you buy from an unscrupulous retailer you may be using a forgery. Buy from reputable firms and not Ebay etc. Modern forgeries can look identical and can even be rejects from the manufacturers own factory (pretty sure I posted a link a while back about reject cards being openly sold).

Always format in the camera not on the computer.

Don't delete clips if you can help it. This will fragment the data as the camera will be forced to use the gaps created by the deleted file.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 02:28 PM   #4
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

I'd also suggest going to the website for the manufacturer of the cards you've just bought and seek out the page where they show you how to ID a fake card. It's sad that we have to do this, but such is life. I'd also take slight issue with the comment about never simply deleting clips and always doing reformats in-camera. I absolutely do that with my digital stills camera, but I rarely ever reformat my SxS cards as I would lose my camera profiles AND the unique name I give each of my cards.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Good advice there from the other posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Heaton View Post
My MxM card was fitted with one of the recommended brands of SD card.
Russ
Glad to hear all worked out well in the end Ross.

Can I ask, what SDHC card were you using in the adapter at the time?
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Old July 4th, 2011, 12:17 AM   #6
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Hello Anthony.

Sorry for the delay in replying. The cards I purchased are ATP ProMax 32 GB, purchased from a reputable supplier. The card was formatted in the camera before shooting and has been used successfully previously. I am wondering whether heat may have been an issue. This was an outdoor wedding and the camera was in full Sun for quite a while. It was fairly warm to touch.

I really don't know what went wrong, but suffice to say, it doesn't appear that I have lost as much as a single frame. When I get time I will perform some rigorous tests and try and find out what the issue is/was.

Cheers

Russ
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Old July 4th, 2011, 07:39 AM   #7
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Heaton View Post

I really don't know what went wrong, but suffice to say, it doesn't appear that I have lost as much as a single frame. When I get time I will perform some rigorous tests and try and find out what the issue is/was.

Cheers

Russ
Glad to hear nothing was lost,
I thought I lost clips from a SxS card once but thankfully didn't, ...a sick feeling alright.

Another occasion, while recording and spanning to the other slot i got the media restore message,
I was using MxM/SanDisk Extreme UHS-1.
I hadn't the time to sort it there and then, I just replaced the adapter to another one and carried on.

At home I had another look at the adapter that threw up the restore media message,
It did the same again, in fact it did it 3/4 times. I pulled out the SanDisk card reinserted it and the message stopped, so i dont know what happened but appears to be working OK now.

When I buy the MxM combo I never pull out the SDHC card, once its in, it stays in btw.
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Old July 4th, 2011, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

G'day,

A bit of an update. Marek and Maggie, of MxM Express, obviously read this forum because they have dropped me an email to offer some suggestions for fixing my issue. Since then I have discovered that the spring retention device that locks the SD card into the adapter is not working correctly and that the SD card may not have been making good contact with the adapter.

I have been issued an RA and the adapter is going back today. I would like to thank MxM for the follow-up. It is a good example of customer service in action.

Cheers

Russ
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Old July 5th, 2011, 04:44 AM   #9
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Heaton View Post
I would like to thank MxM for the follow-up. It is a good example of customer service in action.
Cheers
Russ
Couldn't agree more Russ, Marek and Maggie couldn't do enough to help, in any way.
A really professional service from MxM from start to finish.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 06:01 AM   #10
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

After reading all this, I'm even all the more sorry that the SxS card system will never be able to work with adapters that can use the much more reliable compact flash cards, due tho the width of the cards. I have always hated SD-cards, with their flimsy construction and unreliable contacts. Mind you, companies like M&M and Hoodman have done a very good job making the existing adapters, but the basic concept of SD(HC) cards is just not up to professional use.

I just hope some solid state memory producing company will produce a card that uses the SxS contacts and card size, but works like an SDHC card, via USB. That would be much more reliable. If it is still affordable, of course... But I'm afraid the quantities would not be high enough to warrant a good profit... Hello Transcend?
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Old July 5th, 2011, 11:04 AM   #11
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

Hello Luc,
I think we're running up against an issue here where the low cost alternatives are really based on repurposing consumer products to the professional/prosumer environment, and thus the current adapters have been created because of products (sdhc cards) that already exist in large and relatively inexpensive quantities.
The other, perhaps more hidden, side to your hope/suggestion is the fact that fewer and fewer manufacturers seem to be including the 'industry standard' expresscard34 slot in their laptop computers, particularly in the smaller computers. Were there hundreds of models of computers out there that took the expresscard, as well as more other devices that used them, and possibly other uses for the memory as well, then manufacturers might be more inclined to make new products in that form factor. But as we know, the main demand for the SxS cards has been professional, and even within the professional market the number of people using SDHC card adapters has had the effect of eroding a decent portion of the market demand for the faster 'real' SxS cards, thus helping keep the demand for real SxS cards lower, and thus also keeping the production quantities lower and the prices higher.
In fact, there seems to be a new card on the market - the Wise SxS/usb card. I don't actually know anyone who has bought or used one, so I can't really comment on it. But my guess is that it may have a high reliability factor, yet few people will be willing to pay the intermediate price for the Wise -- those that are willing to pay more for true professional reliability will buy the Sony SxSpro and SxSg1a cards, and those who are happy with a prosumer level of reliability will opt for the SDHC adapters. Of course I may be wrong (and the ability to output straight out of the Wise cards without an SxS adapter seems to be a nice feature.)
I seem to have been doing more multi-camera shoots lately, and I am constantly amazed by how many people have EX cameras, but also by how few real SxS cards they have. In fact, on just about every multicam shoot I'm asked to 'bring along some extra cards' - because a lot of the camera owners haven't bought much memory - or because the producer wants real SxS memory, while the camerperson has only 'adapter' memory.
Obviously, no answers here, only a restatement of the problems...

I did also notice this on the internet - though have no idea if it would work in a camera...???
http://delkin.com/i-5937186-32gb-solid-state-drive.html
(I have some Delkin CF cards that I've been using in my NanoFlash, but know nothing about these)
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Old July 5th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #12
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

I'm afraid the logic in your explanation is 100% correct, Dave. I've recently bought an SDHC card of 16 Gb, class 10 (!) for less than 200,- euro. That's about the same price as a 23 Gb XDCAM-disk, so it's perfectly possible to keep the card as a permanent backup. Of course these prices are so low thanks to the thousands of other consumer apparatuses that use them, and these quantities will never be equalled by any SxS based product. So as I already stated, my hope will probably be in vain.

That doesn't keep me from wondering though why Sony hasn't capitalised on it's experience with Compact Flash card readers/writers like the CF Memory Recording Unit on their Z7 to use these more reliable cards in their EX-product line. I know that reader/writer only works via FireWire but surely there must have been a way to use FireWire instead of USB in the EX-line, given the data stream? In the manual of the PMW500 that I have for the moment (only borrowed, sadly enough!) the Compact Flash reader of the Z7 is even listed as one of the possible accessories!

Anyway, I would feel a lot more comfortable with CF cards, which I have been using thousands of times as a pro stills photographer, since my first Nikon D1 in 2000, in very demanding circumstances (concert photography) without a single problem. If I read about the horrors of SDHC, I can't help shivering.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 01:17 PM   #13
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

I personally really like the SxS cards because of their (much) faster data transfer speeds. Using the NEXTO drive I can offload an SxS card in about 40% of the time of a similar-size CF card. (And offload speed becomes more important when shooting a lot of data with multiple cameras, particularly in continuous roll on a live event.)
In terms of firewire, as far as I know the firewire port is only operational on EX cameras when shooting in HDV mode - which for the EX1/3 means SP 25Mbit 1440x1080. (or possible outputting Dv as with the PMW-355). I haven't really done much using the firewire port on the EX's, but I think it is disabled when in 1920x1080.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #14
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

I also think the FirWire connection is limited to HDV.

Don't misunderstand me: I find the SxS cards perfect and even more reliable than CF, but for me, as an amateur in video, they're too expensive. I'm just deploring that, in the search for more affordable solutions, the SDHC-card + adapter is the only contender for the moment. Not because of the adapter, but because of the amateurish construction and general design of the SD(HC) card. Not one of my pro still camera's works with SD cards, except as a backup in the Canon 1D-series. They all use CF as single or primary recording medium, and there's a good reason for that. SD(HC) was not designed to survive in a harsh professional environment. They're physically vulnerable and having those exposed contact strips is just asking for (electromagnetic) trouble.

I just took a look at the Belkin SSD card on the link you gave and that looks promising. Wonder if anyone here has ever tried it in a EX-cam?
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Old July 5th, 2011, 08:04 PM   #15
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Re: Narrowly averted disaster using MxM card

G'day,

the details of the Delkin card are a bit sparse (even on the manufacturer's own site.) The best they can say is that they have a transfer rate of "more than 20 MB/s". I would like some more detail of the write speed before I'd lash out and spend around $120.00 AUD just to see if it would work in my camera.

Referring back to my original problem, I have changed my workflow since this incident. previously I was doing a "cut and paste" of the BPAV folder from the adapter to my PC. This meant that if the data was corrupted during the process, I had no fall-back position. In future I will copy and paste, leaving a copy on the adapter until I am sure that the transfer process was successful.

A small change, but something I overlooked previously due to a creeping complacency about the reliability of my equipment.

Cheers

Russ
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