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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 26th, 2007, 03:44 AM   #1
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Filming Weddings with XDCAM EX

I have been shooting weddings for the past 9 years with a faithful DSR-300. I'm very interested in buying the XDCAM EX since it is smaller, lighter, gives me the HD option as well as shooting in 16:9.

However I'm terrified on the prospect of returning after a wedding only to be greeted by some possible card error in transferring of footage! How will I explain this to the couple? The DVCAM tapes were almost flawless - I say almost because this year I had some awful dropouts in some of the tapes.

I've read a lot on this new cam but no one seemed to suggest the ability to configure the 2 slots to work in a RAID 1 fashion, i.e, the footage is written simultenously to both cards. This way one is having an instant back up on the other card. The chance of having errors on both cards would be remote. What do you guys out there say?

I'm also exploring the possibility of attaching something like the Firestore as a fail safe mechanism to this possible card error. Which units currently available are capable of writing the XDCAM format?

Brian Cassar
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Old July 26th, 2007, 05:06 AM   #2
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I know what you mean Brian. I've always been wary of cards for recording based on my experience of Memory Sticks and other solid state storage methods.

The XDCAM format has been very, very robust until now. Hopefully the EX will carry this on by including very extensive error recovery systems.

The disc based cameras can recover if you accidentally somehow cut the power to the camera before the file system has finished writing. Hopefully this will be the case with the EX too.
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Old July 26th, 2007, 05:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Cassar View Post
I'm also exploring the possibility of attaching something like the Firestore as a fail safe mechanism to this possible card error. Which units currently available are capable of writing the XDCAM format?

Brian Cassar
I second this question. Will it be possible to use the DR60 drive with the EX? Some firmware update in the drive could make it possible...
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Old July 26th, 2007, 05:26 AM   #4
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Simon when you say "XDCAM format has been very, very robust..." do you mean an almost error free format? I have no experience with regards to XDCAM so any feedback would be most welcome.

Brian Cassar
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Old July 26th, 2007, 05:36 AM   #5
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do you mean an almost error free format?
For me it has been a totally error free format. The only cases I have heard of with errors have been recovered by the camera itself when it was next switched on, or the user mistakenly put a blank disc in thinking that it was one they had recorded footage on earlier.

In extreme cases Sony themselves will take your disc to get the footage off. But I haven't heard of anyone who has actually needed to take them up on that.
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Old July 27th, 2007, 10:36 PM   #6
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Read about P2

I was concerned about these same issues. Someone told me that this was disscussed at length in the p2 forums. Same card based capture etc

The more I think about it the more secure I feel that cards are just far superior to tape. I am going to celebrate the day that I no longer have to worry about tape dropouts. Just did an event Wed that had dropouts throught the entire ceremony.... I Joe take you .... drop out .... lawfully wedded wife .....

What am I going to tell this person? That beautiful HDV camera fouled up your wedding vid. I can't loose tape fast enough. I will go card to HDD and then perhaps a disk based back up. Maybe when apples love affair with the cell phone is over we will have a good HD delivery & data back up for FCP.

I shoot over a hundred weddings a year and will use this cam for as many as I can take. At this point I can only hope it doesn't weigh more than 5 lbs.

All the best.

Mike
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Old July 28th, 2007, 02:11 AM   #7
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Mike I wish that I'm able to share your total blind faith in these new cards but I tend to be a bit cautious. Filming weddings entail that one have a 100% reliable camera/format system that delivers each and every wedding filmed.

Simon Wyndham's comments are very assuring...yet although I shall be buying one of these (as long as the minimum illumination would be no more than 0.5lux - like my faithful DSR300) I'm still planning to attach a XDCAM HD capable hard disk recorder as a secondary back-up. No harm in being over cautious :-)

Brian
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Old July 28th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #8
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"(as long as the minimum illumination would be no more than 0.5lux - like my faithful DSR300) "

it wont.. at best with Imager size vs pixel count, youll end up with a close renditionof what you get from an SD 1/3rd camcorder
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Old July 28th, 2007, 11:37 PM   #9
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Brian,

As Peter stated, one of the first things that surprise people who switch from SD to HD (especially when both have the same size imager) is the lower sensitivity of the HD camera. It's basic physics. When you cram more pixels into the same size piece of real-estate, they pixels are smaller and they are less sensitive than their SD counterparts. Count on losing at least a stop.

-gb-
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Old January 31st, 2008, 08:34 AM   #10
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Less Expensive Cards

At the moment I shoot weddings with the PD170P. I don't as yet have any use for HD, I have one client this year that has asked for HD specifically, so I have to rent a couple of Z1's. The card workflow would be much better, however if you plan to back up to hdd (firestore) as well, it will only output in HDV 1440 x 1080 through the firewire port. The XD CAM EX uses a long gop compression scheme at 35mb/s so it is superior to HDV in many ways. You can typically only get best quality on SxS cards. I am waiting until they release a 64GB card, then I can use 2 in one camera and shoot for about 9 hours, so I shouldn't (fingers crossed) need to change anything but the battery. I have only ever shot one wedding that came close to that amount of footage, generally they are around 4 to 5 hours of actual footage shot on the day. I would need two of these cams, as I shoot all weddings with two cameras, two operators. The low light quality on these cameras is better than the PD170P as I had a chance to shoot with one in a dark auditorium at a Sony launch, I pushed it to +18db. It even has -3db in case there is a lot of bright light or reflection. With a bit of post processing, the small amount of grain can be cut right out. We were viewing the image on a HD monitor. I have heard that you can shoot in 720P and it will enable you to crank a little more luminance from the chips. I am waiting until the cards mature and there are larger sizes.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 09:16 AM   #11
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2 16GB cards and a laptop with Express slot and you can shoot forever (almost).

That's 100 minutes in XDCAM or 140 minutes in HDV. After first card fills it rolls over to the next. Back up first card to laptop and split/burn to DL-DVD. Pop that card back in to the camera.

Not only no tape dropouts but no stopping for tape changes since one card can keep recording while you dump the other.

Make sure you have enough batteries for camera and laptop though.

Time to edit the wedding? It's all on hard drive already (with the DL-DVDs as back up).
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