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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old November 9th, 2011, 07:35 PM   #1
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On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

Recently I took delivery of a Sound Devices Pix 240 External Recorder for the F3 camera. I was down to a choice between the Pix 240 or the Gemini. My budget made the decision for me.

Instead of buying all the bits and pieces from Sound Devices, I sourced the Sony batteries, a pair of double insulated BNC cables and the Samsung SSD drive through B&H Video; hundreds and hundreds of dollars saved. That left only the Pix 240 and the caddy. Then a simple male to female USB printer cable is all that you need for file transfer.

So for half the cost of a Gemini, the Pix 240 is a great performer with the F3. Since it creates native Apple ProRes files, they even played smoothly on my 2010 White MacBook (4GB of RAM) and that was on the highest bit rate. The build of this device is excellent; such quality. The fan is just like said, very quiet!

I'm quite proficient with most forms of technology. Some things throw me, but this device was so easy to use straight out of the box. The Pix 240 might be classed as a professional device, but you don't need to be a professional to use it.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 08:32 PM   #2
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

For curiosity, do you have S Log and have you tested it with the Pix240 in an actual NLE (not just playing the Quicktimes)?

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Old November 9th, 2011, 09:08 PM   #3
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

I've tested that setup with Media Composer v5 and it works like a champ.

You have to do 2 passes of CC though to get the footage completely graded. The first pass brings the gamma curve and chroma back to moderate ranges then you apply a final grade when you are done editing.

MC6 is supposed to correctly support the LOG modes of these new cameras. The initial release won't but they promise its coming.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 09:09 PM   #4
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

I have S-Log CBK-RGB01 installed but haven't tried it out on the Pix 240. So far I've compared recordings from the SxS card at 35mbps and then with the Pix 240 at bit rates three to four times higher. The now redundant Quick Time Player 7 is useful for zooming in on still frames, so I compared the picture quality of both, and immediately could see the difference.

Abel Cine's recorder comparison chart is a great guide when considering an external recorder. Honestly, after the Pix 240 I reckon the only other choice would be the Gemini or the Cinedeck, before you start spending serious money, like the Sony SRW-R1 or Arri. Pix 240 is supposedly regarded as a competent device for recording with S-Log, but I've been able to get good results with S-Log by just recording to SxS cards. Therefore it should be even better using the Pix 240.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:12 AM   #5
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

I ask simply because there have been reports of issues with S-Log footage recorded to the Pix240. I have a Pix240 but not S-log so haven't had the opportunity to test. I'll possibly have an S-log enabled F3 to test today and I should have S-log for my camera next week.

If you have the chance, record S-log from your F3 to a 10-bit DNxHD codec and see how MC 5.5 handles it.

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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:34 AM   #6
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

Which issues are you concerned with Ned?

I've had some issues with DNxHD and have traced it back to QuickTime/MC5 via AMA. I've seen some pixelization when shooting LOG in areas of low contrast solid colors in MC that is not in the video straight from the PIX.

I've not had time to set up a test to recreate the problem but will do that as soon as possible. I have ideas as to why it happened but don't want to say till I've had a chance to properly challenge my hypothesis. I will post what I find.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 06:44 AM   #7
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

Thanks, Chris

Without S Log, I have not been able to test for myself.

Several posts on this and "the other forum" seem to indicate pixelation and banding from S Log footage when brought into an NLE but no problems when playing from QT Player.

I don't want to pass along internet panic over something I haven't seen. Hence, until I get S Log and test it myself, I'm interested in other users' experience.

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Old November 12th, 2011, 06:21 PM   #8
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

Further to my initial post, the quality of the images from the Pix 240 are incredible. That, along with S-Log would have to be the optimum accessories for the F3, I reckon. Perhaps you might invest in an external Sony dedicated recorder if you were using an F35 or F65, for example. But to spend $8000-$10,000 on a Gemini or Cinedeck recorder to capture images from a $16,000 camera just doesn't seem to justify.

The images below are difficult to tell apart, but both were recorded at near the same time on SxS card and Pix 240. They are both ungraded S-Log. You can however tell the difference when viewing through a large television.

By the way, if anyone knows the instructions for accessing the service menu on the F3, I would really appreciate it.
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On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3-pix240.tiff   On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3-sxs-card.tiff  

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Old November 12th, 2011, 09:00 PM   #9
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

I've not got S Log and was able to do some testing. No issues at all with ProRes material. Macroblocking with DNxHD. SD has acknowledged the issue and is making it top priority. I am certain we will see a fix soon. Very impressed with the build quality of the Pix and the accessibility of its extensive menu items.

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Old November 13th, 2011, 02:50 PM   #10
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter G. Johnson View Post
Further to my initial post, the quality of the images from the Pix 240 are incredible. That, along with S-Log would have to be the optimum accessories for the F3, I reckon. Perhaps you might invest in an external Sony dedicated recorder if you were using an F35 or F65, for example. But to spend $8000-$10,000 on a Gemini or Cinedeck recorder to capture images from a $16,000 camera just doesn't seem to justify.

The images below are difficult to tell apart, but both were recorded at near the same time on SxS card and Pix 240. They are both ungraded S-Log. You can however tell the difference when viewing through a large television.

By the way, if anyone knows the instructions for accessing the service menu on the F3, I would really appreciate it.

You will see more of a diffrence in high details areas when the subject or camera moves. This is what I noticed on my Samurai.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 03:13 PM   #11
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Re: On A Budget? Pix 240 for Sony F3

True, and the same with the Pix 240, particularly when the camera moves. There's little blur. You can actually follow the detail as you're panning. I also like the fact that there's far less of the jagged lines you get with interlaced video.

My only criticism of the Pix 240 is that I would've liked it to be able to record 1080 60p, but as I said, how could you justify buying an external recorder that's over half the price of the camera. Going down that path you might as well take a leap near to the top shelf and buy a Sony F35, Red Epic or Arri Alexa.
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