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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 December 28th, 2012, 01:38 PM   #1
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Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Sorry for the FAO thread but I know Alister has been Finland to film many times. I am after some advice and tips of the Do and Donts when out there.

So condensation is my biggest fear with a brand new Sony PMW-200 but I read when finished filming store the camera inside a Pelican case and seal it shut and if possible leave outside which will prevent the camera going from Cold to Warm and back again.

I want to try and film the Northern Lights - Can you recommend any settings for this?

I have a Portabrace Polar cover on the way which will keep the camera warm when actually filming. I have the heat packs for the inside of the cover. Also read not to switch the camera on and off in between shots?

Batteries will be kept close to me to prevent them from draining quickly.

Anything else I should be aware of?

Cheers,

David
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Old December 29th, 2012, 09:21 AM   #2
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

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Originally Posted by David Dwyer View Post
Anything else I should be aware of?
Lonely reindeer? True story...I had a producer who was...umm..."propositioned" by a young reindeer at a Santa's Village reindeer enclosure in Alaska.

Other than that, looks like you're covering most of the bases, but Alister no doubt has more tips than any of the rest of us.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 09:55 AM   #3
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

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Lonely reindeer? True story...I had a producer who was...umm..."propositioned" by a young reindeer at a Santa's Village reindeer enclosure in Alaska.

Other than that, looks like you're covering most of the bases, but Alister no doubt has more tips than any of the rest of us.
haha noted though I should be fine with that because I'm filming loud Rally cars so I would think the Reindeer will not be seen close to thr action.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #4
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Condensation is the big deal breaker. When you take the very cold camera inside into a house/hotel/car you will get condensation. If the camera is very cold this can then freeze. If there is condensation on the outside of the camera, there will also be condensation inside and this can kill your camera. To prevent or at least reduce the condensation you can place the camera in a large ziplock bag BEFORE taking it inside. Then allow the camera to warm up to the ambient temperature before removing it from the bag. Peli cases are another option, but the large volume of the pelicase means there will be more moisture in the case to condense and the insulating properties of the case mean that it could take many hours to warm up. You can leave the camera outside provided it does not get below -25c. Below -25c you risk the LCD panel freezing and cracking.
Yes, leave the camera on between shots. The camera generates some heat internally and this will prevent many issues.
Other considerations are tripods. If outside in very low temps for more than 30mins or so the grease in the tripod will become very thick and may even freeze, so your fluid damping will become either very stiff or freeze up all together. Vinten and some of the other tripod companies can winterise the tripod and replace the normal grease with arctic grease.

Conventional rain covers become brittle below about -15c and can even shatter below -20c. The polar bear should be fine and will help keep the camera warm. Plastics get brittle at low temperatures so be very gentle with anything plastic, especially things made from very hard, cheap plastic. The plastic Sony use appears to be pretty tough even at low temps.

I find that the best way to operate the camera is by wearing a pair of large top quality mittens (gloves are next to useless below -10c), consider getting a pair of Army surplus arctic mittens, they are very cheap on ebay. If you can get Swedish or Finnish military ones these are amongst the best. I wear a pair of thin thinsulate gloves that will fit inside the mittens, i can then slip my hands in and out of the mittens to operate the camera. I keep a chemical hand warmer inside the mittens to warm my fingers back up after using the camera. The hardest thing to keep warm is your feet. You'll be standing in snow and conventional hiking boots etc will not keep your feet warm. If your feet get cold then you are at risk of frostbite or frost nip. Invest in or hire some decent snow boots like Sorel's or Baffin's. I have an arctic clothing guide here; Arctic Clothing Guide |

To shoot the Aurora you'll need to use either time-lapse combined with the Ex-slow shutter or S&Q motion at 1fps with the shutter set at 1 second. When I first used the EX1 to shoot the Aurora I was very pleased with the results. However things have moved on and cameras like the F3 or FS700 which are much more sensitive do a better job.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #5
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

I have filmed in Finland a few times during winter (-30*!). Most cabins / houses have a sort of entrance room where everyone leaves their shoes - its usually not as heated as the rest of the house so its a good place to transition the camera.

Also have a look at those small cool-bags (like what you keep a 6 pack of beer in) and using it the same way as the zip-lock bag mentioned above.
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Old December 30th, 2012, 03:55 AM   #6
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

To prevent condensation you just need to keep the moisture away. An insulated bag will certainly help keep the moisture off but will also slow down how quickly the camera warms up. The use of the un heated reception/entrance room to store cameras is a good idea and is what we do too.

I've now started using small battery powered heaters of the type designed to work with radio controlled aircraft when I shoot the Aurora to prevent the lens from icing up. The heater can also be placed in the ziplock bag to warm the camera up quickly when you go inside.

HobbyKing Universal Heater System

A couple of places have opened up on my Feb 2013 Aurora expeditions due to a cancellation if anyone is interested. I'll be shooting with an F5 as well as some NEX5n's and an a99. We'll have a small motion control rig for time lapse.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 09:53 AM   #7
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Ordered my Polar Bear cover on Friday from Portabrace direct and it arrived today! Impressed with the shipping! Cover seems very warm and toasty and its easy to get in/out as well. Rain cover on the other hand is a bit pain, though I'm sure that is just user error.

I will look for some zippy tie bags and I'll do that.

The only other thing I need is the SXS reader, doubt Sony will have the USB3 version out before I go so I need to find something else as I don't want to spend the money on the older USB2 one.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 01:00 PM   #8
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Re SxS reader.. then your only option seems to be the sonnet reader..
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Old December 31st, 2012, 01:09 PM   #9
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

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Re SxS reader.. then your only option seems to be the sonnet reader..
Thanks Robin though they are a little expensive for me. The Sony USB3 one should retail 300-400 and they are 700. I'm looking at picking up the MXM Express USB2 one for a couple of weeks.
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Old January 1st, 2013, 03:17 AM   #10
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Are you sure about those prices.. Ive ordered the Sony USB 3 from B&H $350 about 215.. and i bought the sonnet from B&H.. I think it was less than the Sony USB 3 reader..??
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Old January 1st, 2013, 09:22 AM   #11
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

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Are you sure about those prices.. Ive ordered the Sony USB 3 from B&H $350 about 215.. and i bought the sonnet from B&H.. I think it was less than the Sony USB 3 reader..??
Have you got a link?

I can only connect via USB or eSATA.
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Old January 1st, 2013, 11:37 AM   #12
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Sony SBAC-US20 USB 3.0 SxS Memory Card Reader / Writer SBAC-US20
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Old January 1st, 2013, 03:57 PM   #13
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

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Sorry meant for the Sonnet reader as the Sony one isn't available yet.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 07:25 AM   #14
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

Interesting the echo express pro is available $170 .. but the echo express says discontinued..

Sonnet express| B&H Photo Video

But anyway the pro will work.. only thing is a while back mac OS 10.8.2 update broke the driver for SXS card use.. dont know if that ever got resolved.. just to put another spanker in your plans..
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 10:02 AM   #15
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Re: Filming in Finland Advice (FAO: Alister?)

That'll be over TB which I don't have as I'm a Windows user and not Mac. Waiting for the TB ports to come to Windows later this year. I can only use USB 2/3 and eSATA
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