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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 17th, 2012, 08:07 PM   #1
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Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

In the past 18 months I think it's fair to say that we have seen tremendous leaps forward in image post processing circuits. Look at Sony's entire line of consumer (Handycam) video camera's, Alpha SLT's and NXCAM models. I recently purchased a Sony NEX VG20 and did a side by side test with my beloved EX1r. I found the VG20 to have incredibly clean gain. Running at +12db was like noting at all for that camera. Even +18db was astonishing clean. Taking the camera up to +27 is ridicules,...but never truly produced "ridicules" amounts of gain. (not as you would expect for noise/gain standards 3 years ago)

This led me to think; "What if my EX1r had THIS kind of post processing with just it's current sensor configuration" What an even more killer camera the EX1r would be!

I spent a few minutes talking with Andy Munitz at the Sony booth at NAB last year. He was explaining how Sony has made great strides recently in "correlated double sampling" noise reduction. (It's cool, Google it) Very simply put, they sample a pixel in it's "off" state, capture a noise print and then apply the inverse of that print during the pixels "on" state. Amazing stuff!

I'm sure Sony must be thinking about upgrading the EX1r/EX3 some day. Oddly enough, I'm seeing that B&H seems to be having problems getting new EX1r's in stock.

Has Sony deliberately slowed down production?
Are they preparing for a new model and NAB 2012 release?

The timing sees to be right for an "EX5" and "EX7" roll out. Imagine a EX1r front end with an FS100 type post processing circuit!!

I don't know,....just spit balling here. What do you y'all think?

Cliff
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 02:10 AM   #2
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

A new professional codec must be introduced before new cameras would be introduced. NXCAM is based off of AVCHD, and that is not in my opinion (nor the BBC's opinion) an adequate codec.

It's a matter of time before Sony will possibly make their own variant of Panasonic's AVC-Intra, possibly with 1080p60 support.

Sony also is supporting the new XQD card format, so a new EX series camera could use XQD cards.

I'm thinking ENG will move into the 1080p60 realm, so the EX series could follow into that.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 08:01 AM   #3
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff Totten View Post
In the past 18 months I think it's fair to say that we have seen tremendous leaps forward in image post processing circuits. Look at Sony's entire line of consumer (Handycam) video camera's, Alpha SLT's and NXCAM models. I recently purchased a Sony NEX VG20 and did a side by side test with my beloved EX1r. I found the VG20 to have incredibly clean gain. Running at +12db was like noting at all for that camera. Even +18db was astonishing clean. Taking the camera up to +27 is ridicules,...but never truly produced "ridicules" amounts of gain. (not as you would expect for noise/gain standards 3 years ago)

Most of the gain of the VG20/FS100/F3 comes from the massive pixel size. Low noise is easy
when you are collecting photons with a swimming pool as oppose to a bucket.

The downside is that big pixels mean big image planes which means expensive glass. The EX1/EX3
are much smaller pixel sizes. I doubt that applying the same post processing to an EX1 sized
CMOS sensor will gain a lot.

The consumer sony cameras (1/3") recently benefitted from the backside illuminated
CMOS (EXAMOR-R) technology. That probably got them 6db. If Sony could make a
1/2" backside illuminated CMOS and pair that with some improved electronics then
we might have something noticably better than an EX1. Maybe 8 dB better noise.

I think they have mentioned that it is hard to scale up the EXAMOR-R but they have been
pretty vague and I am not an expert.

I agree that a better codec would help. The SXS MPEG-2 is not bad though compared
to HDV.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 04:01 PM   #4
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

A new codec is necessary for 1080p60 to become a broadcast medium. 28mbps set by AVCHD 2.0 just isn't enough.

BSI + Global Shutter CMOS would be the killer features the next EX series should have, combined with 1080p60 recording.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 04:41 PM   #5
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Zhang View Post
.
It's a matter of time before Sony will possibly make their own variant of Panasonic's AVC-Intra, possibly with 1080p60 support.t.
Don't hold your breath for that.
Sony already has two superior codecs: XDCAM HD and the new tapeless SR codec. In fact, I'd even put XDCAM EX against AVC-intra. The last thing we need is another codec.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 06:19 PM   #6
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Will the EX1/EX3 get replaced by something better? The answer is obviously yes - nothing lasts forever! So the real part of the question must be will it be this year.....

I can't pretend to know the answer to that... but let's ask, if a replacement did come along, in what way is it likely to be better? In many respects let's not forget the EX cameras are still probably leaders in their class.

In terms of chip size, Sony are well ahead with 1/2" - anything bigger and it becomes for a different market, needing bigger and more expensive lenses. In this respect they lead Canon (XF300) and Panasonic (HVX 250).

Resolution? Frame rate? Possibly yes, eventually almost certainly, and the question may be which will come first - 4k or 50/60p? But they'll need a big leap in codec to stay at a sensible price and somehow I just don't see it happening this year. We'll see.

Codec? The obvious (easy) thing to do would be to have an EX with the 50Mbs XDCAM422 codec, which is the one area where the XF300 has the edge. But I suspect that may be too incremental an improvement, not worth a new model. More likely that any succesor will have a codec which is better still (and better than AVC-Intra 100 as well). I'd hope that will come with 4k and/or 50/60p, have 10 bit support, and maybe JPEG2000 may be a possibility?

To Zack, then I'd also agree that AVC-HD and NXCAM are likely to remain at the lower end of the prosumer market. Once you start to get to the EX level, then there's less desire for such high levels of compression. The only real reason for AVC-HD type of compression is to minimise the amount of memory you need. Buy that sort of camera and memory costs are less of an issue, and that gets more and more true with every passing year.

It's a pure guess, but I doubt a replacement will be seen this year. But I could be wrong.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 07:28 PM   #7
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

I think that all Sony sensors from the 1/4 inch TD10 (consumer 3d cam) to the NXCAM NX70 which is a single 1/3rd? (or close) have benefited in the last year by some amazing Sony sensor readout and post processing techniques.

It seems to me that Sony achieved a significant technology leap forward not long after the NXCAM, NX5 was designed. (about 18 months ago?)

I don't see Sony dropping the XDCAM EX 4:2:0 codec. It does a great job and I think they like the price point where it sits. (although Canon blew that price point out of the water last year)

Sony appears to be VERY careful to protect it's 4:2:2 ENG market. They don't want cameras like EX1/EX3 or even F3 to interfere with sales in that market.

I see a new EX series with essentially the same body, same codec, same lens but with possibly "newly designed" 1/2 inch sensors and new post processing engine. I can see this future camera running at +9 or even +12 db without any serious noise issues at all. (dare I say even 15db?...the little NX70 is still very clean at +15db!!)

It truly is amazing to see what Sony is doing with even VERY small sensors that have this new post processing technology today. Imaging what they can do today with 3 1/2inch sensors today!!

That fact that B&H has been back-ordered on the EX1/EX3 for much of the past 3 months is only adding fuel to my speculation.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 01:13 AM   #8
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

It's been 4 years since the EX1 with the EX1R as the mid-life kicker. Sony needs something, though judging from Nikon's unremarkable improvements of the D4 over the D3 and D3s, all of which use a Sony sensor, I'd be surprised if Sony has much. The jump from Z1 to EX1 was huge, but a lot of that was the increased MPEG2 nitrate.

I'd be willing to upgrade for 2/3 .. 1 stop reduction in noise or 1080p60 or 720p120 at 0dB Gain . Of course, that should be paired with higher bitrates to an internal SSD. If sensor improvements aren't possible, even focus or metering aids (2D tone map) would improve video overall enough to upgrade.

Last edited by Gints Klimanis; January 23rd, 2012 at 11:36 AM.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 06:36 AM   #9
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Given the economic and post Tsunami environment, I wonder if it makes sense to build and market an upgrade kit for the existing products. Many of the mentioned features require electronic upgrades beyond firmware. Yet so much of the camera is untouched. So maybe an internal upgrade for $1000-$3000 or so gets you enhanced IQ, codec and things like cache on the EX3, false colors etc but the existing EX1, EX1R, EX3 chassis, lens, storage, power, audio and controls that you already have. My two cents.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 12:06 PM   #10
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Sony could probably double or triple the MPEG2 bitrate with a firmware upgrade. From my experience with the Nanoflash, this would reduce compression artifacts immensely while, much to our surprise, reveal just how noisy the Sony EX1 really is.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 08:31 AM   #11
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

What is PMW-EX3/4?

PMW-EX3/4 - XDCAM EX kamera m/utskiftbar optikk, Sony
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Old January 28th, 2012, 08:47 AM   #12
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

I can't read the site but in the past, I've seen that added to the EX1r model name. If memory serves, it denotes a particular firmware update or packaging (e.g. including an SxS card or not).
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Old January 28th, 2012, 09:13 AM   #13
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Interesting thread. Reminds me of the EX3/2 discussion on here in 2010 (when that minor upgrade got announced, promoted and then pulled by Sony - details below).

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...w-ex3-2-a.html

I think Sony is overdue a big refresh on the EX1R and EX3. As to if we'll see it this year, we will just have to wait and see.
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Old January 28th, 2012, 03:27 PM   #14
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

Sadly, much of the lower noise of the NEX video is also due to the lower recording bitrates. We see this on the EX1. 35 MBps LongGOP does not show as much noise (and detail) as 280 MBps MPEG2 Intraframe on a Nanoflash when the same frames are compared.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 04:17 PM   #15
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Re: Possible EX1r/EX3 replacement this year?

I was just delivered my second EX3 on Friday...on the box it says EX3/5. I was told production was slowed with the Tsunami, which is why these cameras are hard to come by. Still a huge seller, no changes coming yet. I added a Nanoflash for 422/100Mbs and now my $8K camera looks like a $25K camera.
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