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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 February 15th, 2013, 06:50 AM   #1
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PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

G'day everyone.

I'm looking at updating yet downsizing my complete camera kit. Getting older...things have gotta be easier. I am going from a (bloody heavy but very good) shoulder mount Panasonic P2 camera kit and considering a Sony PMW200 in a full kit.

The kit will mainly be used for corporate work and ENG work (pickups, day shoots with Journo's, interviews/vox-pops etc).

Trying to get past the "size" perception that some in the TV industry may well have, but the format and workflow would work very well for me.

Is anyone using such a camera for news work and, if they are, is it 1) Suitable (ie not a pain in the butt not being shoulder-mount) for news work and 2) not poo-pooed by those in the TV News industry.

TV news is not the main income stream, but it is a large part. Wouldn't want to jeopadise that by being seen as not being "professional enough" because I no longer have "big" camera... if you know what I mean...

The smaller kit will be much easier on me and (from what I have seen) will provide very good pictures, but if the camera is not seen as pro enough, then perhaps there's no point me going for it.

That said...a very good complete kit with dual channel lapel and hand radio mics, tripod, extra batteries, etc. etc. etc for under $12k? Incredible value.

Cheers,

David
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Old February 15th, 2013, 10:30 AM   #2
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Can't comment on the Australian preferences, being in the US... but...

I do quite a bit of corporate work with the PMW200, and my clients have no problem whatsoever with the size factor.
The image is excellent, and the ability to record 422 minimizes the need for an external recorder when shooting green screen.
I use a shoulder mount similar to Shoulder Support Pad for Video Camcorder Camera DV / DC -- (The one I have is actually older and slightly beefier, but no longer manufactured; and this one works fine for friends who have it) -- to which I've added a Sachtler touch-and-go quick release (which of course costs 10x as much as the shoulder mount) to gain compatability with my tripod.
Having a camera that records additional audio on tracks 3&4 is a real bonus -- I normally keep the additional two tracks on camera mic while feeding the camera from a mixer for tracks 1&2. If you're in a new situation having those additional live tracks can really help when something unexpected happens nearby, or if you're not connected to the mixer, etc...
If you're used to P2, you know the pain of long data transfers. With SxS the transfers can be significantly faster, or with SxS adapters you can actually hand off SDHC cards to your client. (I prefer the real SxS cards - and using a USB3 portable hard drive connected to my expresscard-slot-equipped PC I can transfer a 32 Gig card in about 6 minutes. Combine that with a more efficient data compression algorithm and you are probably reducing your data transfer times by a factor of 4 or 5 compared to P2)
Plus when I do multicamera shoots with a bunch of EX3's I can not only jam timecode but also set it to record at 4:2:0 35mbits so the file format is the same as the EX's. Getting a close match on looks has been a little trickier, since not all of the cinegams and hypergams are the same as the EX's. Just did a 4 camera shoot with it and 3-EX's last week, and no complaints from post about our matching.
So -- my general assessment is that the camera definitely does the job!


Now the drawbacks --
If you do a lot of 'Red Carpet' arrivals and are used to using CCD cameras, you will discover the world of flash banding from the CMOS rolling shutter sensors. (This is when only part of a frame is illuminated by a strobe flash - and particularly is an issue at press events where numerous strobes are firing constantly but irregularly.) If this is a real issue then you need a camera with CCD's. When you have potentially hundreds of flashes going off in a 10 second clip, any of the current CMOS cameras will display the problem.
If your clients 'must' have the slightly shallower depth of field of a 2/3" sensor camera, then they may not want the 1/2" sensors of the PMW200. I haven't found that an issue with my corporate clients - but for times when I need a truly shallow depth of field I'll bring an F3 for the interviews and the PMW200 for the b-roll.
Unlike the EX cameras, because of the placement of the external power plug inside the battery holder area, you can't use 'cable-type' batteries from other manufacturers that also have p-tap out for powering a sungun. This is a bit of a PITA since I had gotten really used to powering an on-camera led light from the camera battery. Now I have to deal with the additional weight of having a battery attached to the LED light.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 02:42 AM   #3
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Thanks Dave,

I can't say I will do any red carpet stuff (I have not done one of those in my 23 years so far) but I may do the occasional wedding video which may suffer from flashes going off during parts of the wedding.

That said, I saw a broadcast television commercial recently that displayed the CMOS banding with flashes going off!! Then I also know there are plugins available too (NewBlueFX Flash Remover Pro comes to mind) that admirably reduces the impact of the flashes going off)

I am just amazed that I am going to be able to kit myself up with a very good system for under $12k! That's just amazing compared to what I have paid in the past. Also, I will enjoy the ability to take an SDHC card out of the camera, slip into the SD slot in the Mac Laptop instead of using the P2 card reader, ingest, edit and send the pics to the networks. One fast workflow!!

I think the only downside for me will be loss of stability in news shoots because it is not shoulder mount and perhaps I might get some weird looks shooting amongst other TV pros who are using the "big guns".
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Old February 16th, 2013, 06:36 AM   #4
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

David,

I recommend that you steer clear of SD cards. Not only is their reliability and safety a big concern, you can't even use them with the PMW-200's best quality video formats (UDF). I suggest that you take a look at XQD cards instead. They can be used to record every format the PMW-200 offers, they are built like a tank compared to SD cards, and they cost a fraction of the price of SxS cards. Don't make the mistake of trying to go too cheap on media.

Also, don't get your hopes up that shooting with a smaller, lighter camera is going to be better than a traditional shoulder-mount ENG camera. There are a lot of things to like about the smaller cameras, but you will miss the ergonomics of shooting handheld from the shoulder, having a really good viewfinder, and working with a true broadcast ENG lens.

Unless you really need the 50Mbps recording formats of the PMW-200, you should take a look at the EX3. The EX1R, EX3, and PMW-200 are essentially all the same camera under the hood picture quality is the same. The EX3 is a camera you may feel more comfortable with coming from an ENG/EFP background, especially if you swap the stock lens for a true Fujinon/Canon broadcast lens. That is a camera/lens combo you will feel right at home with.

Doug
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Old February 16th, 2013, 06:47 AM   #5
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Doug, thank you.

Indeed, my main concern is that I am going to miss the ergonomics of the shoulder-mount camera and the fact that it doesn't really "look" newsy - for whatever that's worth. Not sure if anyone really cares and should I really be concerned with that when News is no longer the major earner for me?

Interesting about the cards. Again, thank you. I will also have a look at the EX-3...a few stringers are using them here. But not sure if they would get hired to do jobs with journos with such a camera...

I don't have to worry about VF quality. The one I have with the HPX502 is woeful. I even upgraded to the better viewfinder to no avail as the pic quality is partly determined by the restricted res coming from the camera head circuitry. Regardless of the VF, the pics are still muddy as all get out.

Cheers,

David
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Old February 17th, 2013, 07:17 AM   #6
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Have you thought abut the PMW500.. not "small" but Ive found it much lighter than my HDX900.. and its smaller.. very easy on the batteries..and SXS.. and can be dialed into XDCAM EX.. so you will have 50 mbps when need and 35 when you dont or to match EX3 files.. presuming you have already a 2/3 inch lens from your large P2 camera.. the cost isnt massive.. and you get a real camera,real VF.. real controls .. in a pretty small,light package.. I think its the best deal in town.. for ENG/Corp/Doc work..
the new USB3 card reader also makes down loads faster.. and is BUS powered..
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Old February 17th, 2013, 07:36 AM   #7
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

I`d also say it`s at least worth looking at the PMW 350 as a lower cost option to the PMW 500, and if even that is more than you want to spend, what about the PMW 320? The latter isn`t vastly more expensive than a PMW 200 yet has all the big camera advantages such as ease of use with accessories. True, they are only the 35Mbs codec, but that is fully approved now for "Journalism" use for broadcast and widely used in the corporate sector.

As far as SD cards go with these cameras, I`ve found them reliable as long as you obey some simple rules. SxS May be better in absolute terms, but with SD you can shoot and hand card straight to producers - end of story. Or copy SxS to SD in camera and handover SD card without worry.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 05:28 PM   #8
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

I wouldn't say that the picture quality of the EX cameras and the PMW-200 are the same. they might share the same sensors but the image processing on the PMW-200 is much better and as a result the 200 gives much better skin and mid tones with better clarity than the EX's.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 06:55 AM   #9
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

The PMW-200 is much better? I don't think so.

I've actually done side-by-side testing with my five year old EX1 vs. my brand new PMW-200 and I would say that the two cameras are indistinguishable from each other. A few months ago there was a similar thread and I challenged anyone to post some footage that proves one camera is better than the other. I have never seen anyone post that proof. As far as I know, I'm the only person who has actually taken the time to do a shoot out between the cameras. So if someone says that one camera is "much better" than the other, I'd like to know what evidence that is based on.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 08:07 AM   #10
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

I'll have to dig out the rushes from the side by side tests I did when I evaluated the camera for Sony before it was launched. The side by side frame grabs were published on the Sony EU web site. I'll have to find the links again, is was some time ago. Out of the factory the differences are small but once you correctly dial in the aperture settings the mid tone textures are much better. The EX1/EX1R noise reduction circuits are little aggressive in the mid range (easily measurable) which softens mid tone textures and fine details. This is improved on the PMW-200 and the mid tones contain more higher frequencies which equates to better subtle textures on faces and skin.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 08:54 AM   #11
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Even if what you say is correct (but I don't think so), those subtle differences hardly sound like something that could be described as being "much better". In order to meet the standard of "much better" I think you'd have to look at the same scene with both cameras, at 100% magnification, and see a clear difference. That ain't gonna happen. If you have to zoom into the frame with 400% magnification to see some tiny bit of difference in certain types of shots, under just the right conditions, then I'd say the cameras are the same.

BTW, I never waste time comparing cameras with factory defaults settings, and even when both are dialed in, there is no perceptible difference between the cameras. They are both equally good and I would never suggest that someone should choose one or the other based on picture quality alone. There are number of operational and ergonomic differences that make the PMW-200 a better camera, but leave picture quality out of the equation.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 07:12 PM   #12
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Hi Doug,
I would concur that the difference in the image produced by the PMW-200 sensors is not 'night and day' when compared with the EX1R or EX3. In fact, if the images were hugely different it would be hard to use the 200 in multicam shoots with the EX1 and EX3. In my experience the noise level of the 200 seems to be a bit better in low light situations - but you're right that the other advances of the 200 (4:2:2 recording, timecode jam-sync, HDMI out, etc) were the reasons why I bought one.
And yes, if the viewfinder and interchangeable lenses are an issue then the EX3 may be an option. (Though it's my personal guess that somewhere down the road Sony will come up with a similar camera that wiill add 4:2:2 and 4-channel audio recording and the other features of the 200 to the ergonomics of the EX3...)
But going back to the OP question -- I think the PMW-200 fine for ENG - as long as you're not spending all day at the beach under the bright sun squinting at the viewfinder, or all night assaulted by strobe flashes at red carpet arrivals.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 10:57 PM   #13
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

Thanks so much everyone for the responses.

I probably should indeed consider the PMW320. This would give me the benefit of fast SD card integration and I would retain the shoulder mount configuration without getting too expensive.

That said, it appears the PMW 200 would be fine for what I am doing..as long as I myself can get my head around the non-shoulder mount issue seeing as I have been used to that configuration for over 20 years.

Cheers.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 09:33 AM   #14
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

David: poke around and find an aftermarket shoulder mount system.

I've got one for the EX-3, and it allows easy use of a long-life brick battery, and improves the hand held ergonomics quite a bit.

My biggest concern for you, after years of shoulder mounts, is finding a way to deal with the flip out LCD viewfinder when outdoors. That's one of the first things you'll want to fix.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 11:37 AM   #15
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Re: PMW200 for Australian ENG work?

The Hoodman loupe (not sure what exact model you need for the PMW-200, but you can ask the Hoodman people; I know you'll need the one for a 4"-display) solves the problem of using the flip-out display outdoors. For me, it works so well I use it all the time.
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