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Sony XDCAM HD CineAlta
Sony PDW700, F335, F355, F30, F70, and other XDCAM and CineAlta hardware.


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Old April 27th, 2011, 07:40 AM   #1
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Sony PDW-U1

Does anyone know if there is a cheaper alternative to the Sony XDCAM disc reader (PDW-U1)? We've found a possible bargain F330 camera at around four grand, but adding the disc reader rather knocks that for six! Second hand examples seem non-existent...

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Old April 27th, 2011, 08:30 AM   #2
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

is there something preventing you from using the F330 as the feeder?
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Old April 27th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #3
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

You can use the 330 as a feeder and dump material back to it but obviously only up to the 35-mbit codec limit and only using the 23GB discs. The PDW-U1 will of course do the same albeit via USB as opposed to firewire FAM mode and can handle I/O of all XDCam flavours up to and including 422 50-mbit using both the 23GB and dual layer 50GB discs.

One very important thing to take note of is that a lot of people have had various problems exporting MXF files back to disc. To avoid these problems you must make sure the camera, or deck, the FAM driver on the PC and the firmware, if using a PDW-U1, are all up to date and compatible as incompatible versions can cause export issues. Drivers for all the OS's and firmware for all XDCam hardware can be downloaded from:

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Old April 28th, 2011, 01:57 AM   #4
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Thats exactly how I started XDCAM disk business - with PDW330 only.

Dont be afraid: The Disc Unit in the cam is robust enough to serve as a camcorder AND ingest drive...

Beneath the 35mbit limitation the pdw330 cannot offer disk space for free data backup (jpgs, MOVs , whatever) - this is possible with either U1 or PDW700/800 cameras/decks.

If you stay within the 35mbit/s codec, the camera itself performs well as an ingest / mastering drive.

However, the U1 is worth the money - it reads ALL formats (IMX, DVCAM, HD422, XDCAM HD) and writes all formats - so you can change formats in your NLE and master a piece to a different codec. Also the backup possibilities are great (dump any data to a dedicated "userdata" folder on the disc and use Professional disks as backup system)

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Old April 28th, 2011, 03:23 AM   #5
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Cheers Anton and Christopher; we could of course use the camera itself to export the video files to the computer but that would mean that the camera would be out of action shooting wise whilst the exporting was taking place. We just wouldn't have the time to do this. Our location editor will be cutting the rushes as we go along and would need the video off the discs at regular intervals.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 07:15 AM   #6
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Simon,

If you can get by for a couple of months by using the camera to ingest, you might be able to get a good deal on a used PDW-U1. When the newly announed PDW-U2 starts shipping in July, I'm sure there will be a bunch of U1 drives going up for sale as people upgrade. I'll probably be one of those people.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 09:40 AM   #7
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Cheers for the info Doug. Unfortunately our film starts on the 4th of June this year, just a little early for your otherwise sound suggestion. I don't suppose there is another way around this problem? We really are working on a tight budget of incredible proportions!
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Old April 28th, 2011, 11:23 AM   #8
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

In't old 16mm days we had daily rushes and they were done overnight, so if you shoot on monday with the camera, download on monday night, the editor works on those rushes on tues and you work with camera and so on.

I still follow this schedule for drama shooting even though I have P2 now but I suppose I also have a G4 powerbook as a back-up and with four 32gb cards there is enough media to shoot for a lot of drama material and then just leave it backing up whilst I am in the pub at the end of the day!

F330 is an old camera now and will this format be around much longer now that SXS is the main sony format? Also make sure it includes the lens as most people keep their lenses.

You may also be better buying an external flash recorder such as the nanoflash or atmos ninja as it will give you more options and better codecs to record with via the camera's SDI output.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 12:03 PM   #9
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

I was going to mention an external recorder, too, but I changed my mind. My recommendation is to take the money you might spend on an external recorder and get a U1. The optical workflow is so SUPERIOR to any card-based workflow that it'd be crazy to give that up. As for the so-called advantage of being able to shoot at higher bit rates with an external recorder, that wouldn't make any difference unless you are going to be doing some real heavy grading in post. At my F3/FS100 workshop at NAB I was showing slit-screen footage between what those cameras can record on their memory cards vs. 100Mbps on a NanoFlash, and nobody could tell the difference. You'd have the same results with the F330. No real advantage, just bigger files to deal with.

My advice is to either use the camera as a reader or invest in a U1. You can always sell it later and get most of your money back. That way you can keep the optical workflow.

I'm actually selling my F350 because I haven't used it in over two years now, and I think you have found an excellent price on the one you are looking at. Vortex Media Used Gear for Sale
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Old June 14th, 2011, 10:48 AM   #10
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
In't old 16mm days we had daily rushes and they were done overnight, so if you shoot on monday with the camera, download on monday night, the editor works on those rushes on tues and you work with camera and so on.

I still follow this schedule for drama shooting even though I have P2 now but I suppose I also have a G4 powerbook as a back-up and with four 32gb cards there is enough media to shoot for a lot of drama material and then just leave it backing up whilst I am in the pub at the end of the day!

F330 is an old camera now and will this format be around much longer now that SXS is the main sony format? Also make sure it includes the lens as most people keep their lenses.

You may also be better buying an external flash recorder such as the nanoflash or atmos ninja as it will give you more options and better codecs to record with via the camera's SDI output.
The f330 does not have sdi out so you can not use external recorders, however i can not see why you would want to, xdcam optical disks will be around for a long long time and are far more reliable than flash memory. a cheaper option would be to rent a u1 reader for use on the road but bear in mind that the u1 reads a approximately five times normal speed in sd not sure about hd not timed it but it is quicker than real time.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 01:36 AM   #11
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Don't forget: XDCAM brings Proxy Functionality.

Using the right tools it means you dont have to wait for HiRes transfer but presort clips via proxy (Vegas, Edius, Media Composer) and start importing *necessary* HiRes clips after (or in background).

For a monthly TV show I already have ~ 70 disks here, roughly 5 per show - but I dont keep hundreds of GB on my harddrive , only those proxies.

It may be one of the reasons I love editing with Vegas - Vegas is strong in working with XDCAM in general.

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Old June 15th, 2011, 02:05 AM   #12
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

The F330/F350 are getting on a bit now and the image quality is not as good as an EX or most other newer cameras. They were great in their day and still produce a reasonable image but newer cameras are less noisy, have higher dynamic range and better sensitivity. The F350 that I owned also had a very heavily processed look.
Sure optical disc is fantastic for archive and long term storage, nothing else comes close, but compared to SxS and just about every other solid state format ingest is slow and clunky. The U2 and the quad head decks will make a big improvement to this, but Simon does not have the time or budget for these. In Europe the new solid state PMW-500 has been a big hit and one of the reasons given by many end users is not needing any special hardware to ingest footage, just a laptop with an express card slot. Yes there is more back-end work required to archive footage, but it's not exactly difficult.
While both my XDCAM HD camcorders (F350 and PDW-700) were totally reliable I think that eliminating all those mechanical spinning parts, motors, gears, lasers and complex loading systems form field equipment is a big step forwards that brings benefits not only in reliability but also cost of ownership and power consumption.

If I was Simon I would get an EX1 or used EX3 and not bother with the F330.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 03:20 AM   #13
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

Just to update Simon ended up with the PMW320 so he went down the SXS route which I think is a good move.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 06:08 AM   #14
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

For those who might be looking for this handy back-up read/write machine, I'm selling my PDW-U1. Just take a look in the 'classified' section. Bunch of XDCAM disks too.
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Old September 25th, 2011, 03:44 PM   #15
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Re: Sony PDW-U1

U1 is sold.
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