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

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Old January 16th, 2008, 10:49 AM   #1
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My EX1 Review

I switched from the HVX200 to the EX1. Here are my thoughts so far...

1. The lens is great. It's nice having a proper focus, iris and zoom ring.

2. The EX1 LCD screen is amazing. I had to carry the Marshall with me while using the HVX200. Now I leave it at home. It truly frees the operator.

3. The extra resolution is very nice. Images pop on my 50 inch HD TV (even wide shots). The HVX200 look was good, but soft compared to the EX1. I always brought my detail level down on the HVX200 because I hated the artificial noise it caused in the image. That made the Panasonic image a little softer. I also turn the detail down on the EX1 (which softens the image as well), but there is plenty of sharpness left in the picture. That's just my preference. I am sure most of you are fine with the detail level at default on both cameras.

4. The compression/longer record time is a plus with the EX1. It really looks good at 35 Mbps (better than I thought possible). I have not been able to break the codec, but I also have a very conservative shooting style. I look forward to shooting some action shots in the future when it gets warmer here. I will report my findings, but XDCAM seems to hold just fine.

5. Editing XDCAM is pretty easy in Final Cut Pro. I've edited HDV in the past and it sucked big time. XDCAM works fine. Do I miss DVCPRO HD, not really, but I still use it all the time at work. I am not putting it down. I just want you to know that XDCAM works well, too.

6. The SDI out is huge on the EX1. At work I use the AVID Nitris. It was (as far as I know) impossible to import HVX footage into the system (no firewire on that high end system). Now I just hook the EX1 HD SDI out to the Avid and capture live. This is a big help. HD SDI will also be a big help if I want to bypass the SXS card and capture higher quality footage live to an external drive in the future. I don't need that now, but it is nice to have the option.

7. As far as the out of box look (scene files), the HVX has better cine gamma presets IMHO, but the EX can be modified to look just as good (lots of changeable settings). Here's a picture profile that I like:

(all other settings are standard or default)

It's a high color, more contrasty look. The gamma adds a lot of mojo to the image.

8. As far as resolution dropping on pans, I don't see it. I will continue to test for that. I've always found (on all 24p cameras) that you have to be conservative with your camera movement at default 24p shutter settings. That's just the nature of the beast.

9. If you read my HVX200 posts from early last year, I was always critical of how the HVX200 did in low light and macro blocking (I think thats what it's called when dark gradients get blocky). I don't see that with the EX1 (not yet anyway). I've shot a bunch of test footage using candles. It looks amazingly clean. I guess that's the result of the 1/2" chips. That's important to me.

10. I like the -3Db gain. All cameras should have this option. It helps open up the iris out doors and further limiting depth of field (something I am always trying to do).

11. I am not a fan of the problems that rolling shutters can cause, but it is not a problem for me with this camera. I don't shoot videos with lots of camera flashes. If I did, I could easily correct them in post.

12. I am also not a fan of some of the buttons and plastic covers on the camera. They seem a little cheap to me (The SDI cover and the DC IN for example).

13. I do like the joystick. I find it makes navigating through menus fast. Not everyone agrees with me on this, but I do have small fingers and you know what that means...huh?

14. The camera stinks for handheld. Like the HVX, it's not very balanced. The swivel zoom handle makes 2 hand waist level shooting easier. I guess that's a minor improvement.

15. As far as camera work flow, it works a lot like the HVX200. I did not read the Sony manual yet, but using my knowledge of the how the HVX200 works, switching to the Sony is not difficult. Both cameras really make going back to a tape based camera a sickening thought!

16. The Record Review button is super fast for checking your last recorded shot. I use it a lot. Switching the camera between CAMERA and MEDIA mode is a little slower on the Sony, but it's really no big deal (for me). How impatient can you be? We are just talking a matter of seconds.

17. As far as sound, I have only used the on camera microphone. It sounded fine. I will do more testing. Blooms stuff sounded good.

18. The slow shutter effect is neat. It looks great on time lapse.

19. The variable frame rates, like the HVX, are really cool.


They (The HVX 200 & EX1) are both great cameras, I just prefer the Sony right now. The good news is that competing companies keep raising the bar. We (the consumers) win. Affordable HD cameras are getting better and better in a short period of time (much faster than the evolution of SD cameras)!

Overall, It's an exciting time to be an indie filmmaker. Our equipment keeps getting better and better. It still requires great talent, hard work and a little luck, but it's nice to know our paint brushes can compete with the big boys.

Last edited by Jay Morris; January 16th, 2008 at 12:11 PM.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #2
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Thanks a lot, Jay, for your report.
Are there features you don't like/are disappointed with? Thanks in advance.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 12:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for the preset I will give it a try. Are all the other settings standard?

I think you mean -3 Gain. I don't think there is a -9 Gain.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 12:09 PM   #4
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Oops, I meant -3Db. I'll fix that in my original post.

The things I did not like are points 11, 12 & 14.

I've been using the camera for about a week. I may discover new Pros and Cons in the future.

Last edited by Jay Morris; January 16th, 2008 at 06:20 PM.
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