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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 July 25th, 2012, 07:52 PM   #1
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SD vs SxS

Anyone have horror stories or praise for using SD cards and an adaptor rather than the Sony SxS express cards for recording ?
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Old July 25th, 2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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Re: SD vs SxS

I haven't used them yet but have heard nothing of any problems with them Mark. I will be going down that route soon, as I have the perennial problem of clients flying into town wanting to take the footage with them
and not being organized to do that. I intend to just buy cards for the job (effectively charging the cards as the old "tape stock") and using a nanoflash as the back up.

I will then just store their footage for a couple of weeks and if all is ok with their SDHC cards I can then delete my copy.
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Old July 25th, 2012, 09:37 PM   #3
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Re: SD vs SxS

Mark,
Search here for "SDHC SXS" and you'll find many many discussions on the topic. Bottom line is that there are some combinations of SDHC and adapters that people have used. Many recommend against it. You can perhaps solve the problem of giving footage to clients by copying each SXS to an SDHC adapter in the second slot. The MxM SSD recorder with a hard disk is another alternative to consolidate the day's cards using the slot to slot copy. Be warned that there's a limit imposed by the firmware on the max number of files. The limit is 604. Your SSD recorder will appear full even tho it isn't.
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Old July 25th, 2012, 10:17 PM   #4
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Re: SD vs SxS

Using both a Kingston 32GB and 2 SanDisk UHS-1 8GB cards on a Sony SDHC adapter, I have had no problems with the memory itself nor the adapter. I was actually able to overcrank 60/24fps for 2 minutes record time on the UHS-1 cards and not have it fail.

Don't forget XQD cards can also be used in the newer models like the F3, the PMW-100 and upcoming PMW-200. No evidence XQD works on the EX series unfortunately.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 03:27 AM   #5
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Re: SD vs SxS

As long as you follow certain basic rules, the SDHC/adaptor system works well. Basic rules are:

Only use adaptors and cards that are recommended - never use cheap unbranded cards.

Test all cards before serious use - there have been tales of dud SD cards, Ideally test via overcranking, you get a good idea of how long a good card will last before giving an error. (Any duds seem to be like that straight from factory - once a card has been checked, subsequent failure seems extremely rare.)

Normal running should then be reliable - overcranking won't be.

Don't be impatient - make sure you don't eject cards from camera or computer whilst still being written to.

As solid state recording becomes more common, by far the most common cause of lost data seems to be coming down to finger trouble - cards being formatted in error. (As just one example: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...al-format.html ) The big advantage of SDHC is not simply that it means saving money on memory costs, it enables a different workflow. It becomes feasible to have enough cards so that reformating doesn't have to happen straight away. It also makes it far more feasible to be able to shoot and give away the media to a producer without too much worry, and being able to clone cards in camera should also be seen as a big plus.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 05:47 AM   #6
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Re: SD vs SxS

The EX cameras "restore media" function does not work as effectively on SD cards as SxS cards as there are issues writing both the video stream and the restore stream to the card at the same time. In case of any file corruption, as a result restoring media is less successful with SD cards than SxS. In addition SxS is tolerant to power loss or disconnection mid recording.

I've never recommended the use of SD cards as your only recording medium when your shooting something that cannot be re-shot quickly and easily. There are plenty of horror stories related to the use of SD cards. Most were in the early days, but they do still crop up on a regular basis even with supposedly tried and tested card and adapter combos. I'm sure many can be put down to finger trouble or operator error and they are fewer these days than in the past. But whether operator error or a genuine technical failure, there are still more reports of issues with SD cards than SxS. On average I get a "help I've lost everything" email about once a month. Some of these have no obvious explanation. I get similar emails about SxS failures about once every year.
However Chris's workflow recording to both the SD cards and a NanoFlash is a good one and should be pretty bomb proof. Having said that I was on a shoot a couple of weeks where one crew used an F3 with SD cards plus an external recorder. At the end of the shoot the SD cards were deleted because the external recorder had appeared to have recorded everything OK. But once in the edit suite it was discovered that many key shot were missing off the external recorder. There is also the risk of recording the graphic overlays on the external recorder, so the moral here is don't delete anything until the edit is finished.

If you have to choose between SxS or SD cards on a paying shoot then I would want to inform the client and ensure the client understands the difference between SD cards and SxS. Then let the client decide whether they are comfortable with the use of SD cards. That way if things do go wrong at least the client was in an informed position before you started shooting and is in effect agreeing to share any additional risk. IF you were to suffer a failure with an SD card and your client was expecting you, as a professional, to use SxS cards then you'd better be able to afford to pay for the res-shoot or have very good indemnity insurance. In the clients mind you may not have taken all reasonable precautions to protect his footage. Perhaps this is a bit dramatic and I am being over the top, but this could happen. Very unlikely perhaps, the odds are that used correctly it won't happen, but it is the "What if" scenarios that can come back you bite very hard.

I agree with David that if using SD cards over SxS means that nothing has to be erased until the production is finished, it does reduce the risk of accidental loss of data. I guess this has to be balanced against the slightly lower reliability of SD cards compared to SxS. It's in situations like this where it is best to keep the client in the loop so they know and understand the decisions you make.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 05:43 PM   #7
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Re: SD vs SxS

IF you can afford SxS card then go with it.
Very important when you use SD card - follow the rules as David's post.
I have been using SDHC card (ATP Pro & Sandisk Extreme) for last 3 years with many projects and never have any problem.

I did have one problem when the first time I used SD (Sandisk Ultra II class 4) - but the error was OE. I did not wait for the green LED before turn off.

If you decided to go with SD card - buy a good one and from a reputable vendor - cheap & reliable won't come together :-)
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Old July 26th, 2012, 06:33 PM   #8
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Re: SD vs SxS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
I agree with David that if using SD cards over SxS means that nothing has to be erased until the production is finished, it does reduce the risk of accidental loss of data. I guess this has to be balanced against the slightly lower reliability of SD cards compared to SxS.
The only thing I'd add is that from all I've heard the risk of data loss from SDHC failure is small compared to the risk of deletion through finger trouble. It's a classic case of quantifying risk accurately - and that's not something humans are very good at.

The point is that SDHC cards may be advocated not to just save money and buy cheaper memory - but rather to allow for a different workflow than if SxS or P2 cards have to be used. A workflow where no card needs to be formatted until the production is completed. And OVERALL I believe that to have far less risk.

And the point about not powering off or ejecting media if it may be being written too can't be stressed too highly. I'm coming increasingly to tfhe conclusion that this is behind the great majority of horror stories - don't be in too much of a hurry.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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Re: SD vs SxS

As I have said many times before, my normal workflow is to pop every SxS card into my PXU-MS240 and clone it immediately after being ejected from the camera. It's the fastest, easiest, safest way to make an instant backup. I've never had any problems with an SxS card, but anything can get lost, stolen, destroyed, or accidentally formatted. The MS240 is great insurance. A Nexto would also be a good alternative.

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Old July 27th, 2012, 03:49 AM   #10
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Re: SD vs SxS

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Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
It's the fastest, easiest, safest way to make an instant backup.
One of the stories I heard consisted of using such a device to copy the contents of a card, then putting card back into camera and formatting. All went well (technically) no question of the device not doing a good job. Unfortunately, it was the half full (and unbacked up) card in the other slot that got formatted - the gremlins had got into the operators finger!

It's very easy to say "that would never happen to me". That was pretty well what the unfortunate person above had always said in the past. Point is that very high technical reliability is little use if workflow risk factors are greater.

And the trouble is that humans tend to see technology as inherently risky, themselves much less so........ Wrong!
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Old July 27th, 2012, 04:44 AM   #11
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Re: SD vs SxS

Just as a tip rather than the ongoing SD v SxS debate.

I use SD for almost everything I shoot, each card is tested before using it. I let the camera run until the card is full , erase it and then repeat the test etc. Not had any failures since owning the EX3 in 2009 or was it 2008?

The TIP:

As for overcranking, I have not found any SD card that is reliable for overcranking use. However, I put a 8gb card in the camera to capture any sequence and then transfer the file in camera to a SD card if I need to shoot more material. Ideally a second 16gb SxS card would be a good choice, but as Sony are still charging monopoly money for this, it is not an option that I will consider.
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Old July 27th, 2012, 05:48 AM   #12
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Re: SD vs SxS

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
Unfortunately, it was the half full (and unbacked up) card in the other slot that got formatted - the gremlins had got into the operators finger!
I almost never have more than one card in the camera.
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Old July 27th, 2012, 06:31 AM   #13
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Re: SD vs SxS

The real solution is to have enough SxS cards to complete the project without erasing cards.

While I agree that the MS240 is a convenient and fast way to back up media, it doesn't get around the need to have enough media for the shoot unless you start erasing cards and re-using them. In which case using the MS240 significantly increases your risk of failure as you are now entrusting all you media from the shoot to a single spinning disc. Much better to use the NextoDI 2500 and make a clone copy (which the 2500 can do without the need for a computer) or even better the 2525 to make two simultaneous copies to two separate drives.
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Old July 27th, 2012, 06:35 AM   #14
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Re: SD vs SxS

Are you using the 2525 for all your shoots?
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Old July 27th, 2012, 06:53 AM   #15
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Re: SD vs SxS

No, not every shoot. I have a 2500, but I only use it on shoots where I need to backup on location. It becomes a godsend up in the arctic as I can make double backups without needing a laptop. Last year I had about 400GB of data from the video cameras and time-lapse DSLR's by the end of my Northern Lights shoot. It also works well when I need to hand off a hard drive to the client at the end of the shoot. I backup to the 2500 throughout the day and then plug in the client's USB drive at the end of the day and make a clone copy. The 2525 would be faster as it uses eSata but 2.5" eSata drives are not all that common and most clients provide USB drives. The SxS cards don't get erased until a verified clone has been made, whats nice is that before you erase an SxS card you can pop it in the 2500 and it will confirm (or not) that the entire contents of the card have been backed up.

I have 10 x 16GB SxS and 4 x 32GB SxS so I rarely need to backup mid shoot. What's more of a headache is dealing with DPX files from the F3/Gemini.
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