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Sony PXW-Z280, Z190, X180 etc. (going back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.

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Old December 26th, 2014, 12:09 PM   #1
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Looking for "B" camera for Sony PMX-X180


I recently purchased the Sony PMX-X180 and will be doing many interviews during the next few months. I would like a less costly B camera for a different angle during the interviews. I'm still in film school and don't have the knowledge or experience YET to make an informed decision on what camera to buy.

Any suggestions to what camera would match the X180 footage will be appreciated or what I need to be looking for to make a good decision.



Last edited by John Kofonow; December 26th, 2014 at 12:53 PM. Reason: misspelled word
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Old January 1st, 2015, 09:09 AM   #2
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Re: Looking for "B" camera for Sony PMX-X180

You haven't had any responses yet, so I'll pose a few questions to possibly produce some answers...
I've been using a PXW-X180 for a few weeks now as an additional camera, and have been very pleased with the results - but I've been attempting to match it in the 'other direction' -- with primarily more expensive cameras.

When combining different cameras on a shoot it's important to understand your goals. In my case, the footage I shoot is transferred directly to client hard drives, and they typically want to be able to use it with minimal additional color correction (often in extremely short turnaround times.)

I've been using it in conjunction with (primarily) an EX1 and an F3. The trick for me has been hooking the cameras up to a good monitor (17" Sony OLED) and doing a lot of A-B-C comparisons in advance to get the images close, then shooting simultaneous test footage and checking in an NLE (wiping back and forth). Each camera tends to be a bit different; but they can be brought close. One of the big things to watch out for is the fact that the Gamma selections in the various cameras may not be exactly the same... So plan to spend some time adjusting in advance whatever mix of cameras you use -- and if the main goal is matching, be prepared to adjust the settings of every one of the cameras.

First question is whether you are going for the same kind of depth of field on the other camera? Should the second camera have the same 'look' as the first camera? We sometimes will shoot a second camera on interviews, mixing a large sensor on one camera with small sensors on the other -- providing a very different depth of field between the two. This might be done shooting a single subject with one angle almost straight-on, and the other with a more profile feel. If you are looking for an inexpensive large-sensor look camera, you might consider the FS100 (which has become significantly less expensive than it originally was) or even an A7s. (I haven't had great luck trying to match the A99 with the video cameras, however...)

Is the second camera being operated? or is it an unmanned lock-off? (If unmanned, you probably want to make sure there is enough depth of field that the subject doesn't go in and out of focus.)

Or do you need to use the two cameras for shooting an angle on the interviewer while simultaneously shooting the interview subject? In this case you definitely should have another operator! -- and should be thinking about having the second camera with a similar sensor size.

So... Try to better analyze your needs before figuring out your second camera.

I would try to stay within the Sony product lines for the second camera, since it's my feeling that you'll start off with more closely matching colors. On recent green screen shoots I've used the PXW-X180 simultaneously with the F3 (recording to a Nanoflash for 4:2:2) and my PMW200. It was easier to match the PXW-X180 with the F3 than the PMW200!

One word of caution -- do not try to match anything based on the way the camera viewfinders look!!! Each viewfinder is VERY different!!! Use a good monitor!!!
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Old January 3rd, 2015, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: Looking for "B" camera for Sony PMX-X180

I have the Sony PXW-X70 which is really great for its size, and will use it together with the PXW-X200 when it's released.
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Old January 7th, 2015, 01:13 PM   #4
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Re: Looking for "B" camera for Sony PMX-X180

I agree with above. As far as new cameras the PXW-X70 would be a sold choice for a lower cost camera that will deliver similar files to work with in post and similar "look" esthetically. Of course if you're looking into used cameras and you're using older MPEG2 422 (XDCam) codecs you could pick up a used PMW-160. Very similar ergonomics, same sensor size, etc.

Eric Petrie
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Old January 11th, 2015, 02:37 PM   #5
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Re: Looking for "B" camera for Sony PMX-X180


Thank you for your replies, especially to Dave with your lengthy and thoughtful guidance.

The primary use of the "B" camera would be to get a different perspective of an interviewee. The camera would be manned but there could be times I would have to set-up and shoot solo.

I am considering the Sony a7s as the B camera now but one I could also use in the future with a mixture of different lens as well. Another option would be the Sony X-70 to keep things in the Sony family. Yet I would like a camera with which I could interchange lens.

I was hoping to get the B camera for less than I paid for the X180 (I couldn't go any higher than that time otherwise I might have gotten the FS7).

I'll have to make my decision in a few weeks for a project I will be doing (otherwise I could wait until 2015 NAB.

Thanks again.

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