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Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX

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Nick Righton
Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 6, 2007 at 4:17:37 am

I currently use a Sony HDR-FX1 camera connected via firewire to a Miranda HDV Bridge connected via HD-SDI to a AJA Kona Lhe on a Mac Pro for live video capture of a Sermon (single camera mid shot talking head). The camera is 60 feet from the speaker and 150 feet from the control room. I use the HDSDI signal to transmit the video digitally over the extended length (firewire will only yield 50 feet without boosting which I can not accomplish due to a smaller conduit. Anyway, I have had the computer crash during capture and dropped frames on the HDV tape master. I am frustrated but at the same time don't expect the word from a lower budgeted production. Now that you have the back story I will get to the meat of the mater. Two questions...

1. Would I see a noticeable difference in picture quality between the FX1 and XDCAM EX?

2. Should I suggest spending the extra money for a larger camera (like the panny HPX3000 or Sony F335)

Thanks,

Nick RIghton


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 6:32:39 am

[Nick Righton] "1. Would I see a noticeable difference in picture quality between the FX1 and XDCAM EX?
"


Some people would. Main differences would be 1/2" chips, 10 bit 4:2:2 coming from the camera head out of the HD-SDI port. Much better low light performance if that's important to your shoot.

On SxS you can record 35mbps VBR compared to 25mbps CBR of FX1.

HPX or F series would help if you need shoulder mount or, in F series, recording to XDCAM disc instead of SxS card. In many respects the EX1 has more features than 335 although that has a changeable lens. Are those features important? The best I can say is, that depends on what you want/need.



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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 3:11:34 pm

Does the EX really have better low-light performance than the FX1? I haven't been able to get e definitive answer on that. I can't compare the specs, because they use a different method of measuring sensitivity. With 1/2" chips, you would think that it is more sensitive, but I understand that CMOS chips are less efficient than CCDs.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 3:22:26 pm

[Chris Babbitt] "Does the EX really have better low-light performance than the FX1? I haven't been able to get e definitive answer on that."

MAJOR low light performance advantage! Unfortunately specs are not a reliable measure because of how manufacturers report them.

One of the BIGGER selling points of the EX1 is its low light performance. It's the first "hand held" size HD camera that can rival the venerable Sony PD-170.


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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:01:11 pm

Well, if that's the case, it will seal the deal for me.


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Matt Jeppsen
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Dec 12, 2007 at 8:51:53 am

For the guys looking for FX1 vs EX1 comparisons, we were just sent a few framegrabs comparing the two at 1080/60i 1/60 and 9dB of gain (which are pretty optimal low-light settings without dropping to 1/30th). As expected (and reported) the EX1 spanks the HVR-FX1 soundly.

Matt Jeppsen


FreshDV.com


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Nick Righton
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:18:37 pm

Awesome. I did not even consider the low light performance improvement. I currently have the F set to 2.4 with no gain ( and that is with full stage lighting !). So increased light sensitivity would be awesome !


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 4:50:34 pm

[Nick Righton] "I currently have the F set to 2.4 with no gain"

Back in September a fellow in the UK (Alistair Chapman) did a test with a couple of EX's and an F350. He found that the EX was at least a stop faster in low light, and quite possibly two stops faster than the F350. That fact was a major deal maker for me, and in another week or so I'll be able to find out what kind of low light picture noise the EX has when Sony shows up at a local trade show. If it's no more than my DP170 I'll be ordering the EX poste haste.

http://www.sonybiz.net/biz/view/ShowContent.action?site=biz_en_EU&contentId...

- Don



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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 5:26:29 pm

Comparing the EX to the F350 may not be the answer. Unless I misunderstood, a Sony rep told me that the low-light performance of the 350 was worse than the FX1 due to the CMOS chips.


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Kyle_S
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:12:50 pm

You misunderstood or had a rep who was lost. The EX is the only one which has CMOS chips. The 350 has ccd's.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 7, 2007 at 9:57:29 pm

[Kyle_S] "The 350 has ccd's. "

You are correct, sir. And I'm going with the lost rep thing ;)

- Don



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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 2:12:36 am

FX1 and Z1 are 1/3" CCD
F335/F355 are 1/2" CCD
FX7 and V1 are 1/4" CMOS
EX1 is 1/2" CMOS


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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 4:32:37 am

Sorry about that! It was another XDCAM model that had CMOS chips. I thought it was the F350. No matter! I got to play with the EX today, and the low-light performance is amazing. Way better than the 1/3" cameras. So, we can definitely put that matter to rest.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 5:48:49 am

[Chris Babbitt] "the low-light performance is amazing."

Chris,

Did you see any low light picture noise in the blacks that you would deem unacceptable? The reason I ask is because several months ago I tried out a V1U with CMOS chips and observed unacceptable picture noise with NO gain at all. This was a deal breaker for me.

I would define acceptable picture noise as nothing appreciable until after +6 or 9 gain is dialed in. So much of our work is done in low light that this feature is quite important to our business.

- Don



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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 4:47:34 pm

I did not notice any noise. We were in a fairly dark conference room with the camera trained oln the audience through the entire presentation and projected on a very large screen. I saw no noise, even with AGC turned on. I know what you mean about the V1U. In fact, I believe that was the camera I was thinking of in my earlier post. This camera is nothing like that.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:12:17 pm

Awsome. Thanks for your feedback, Chris. You just sealed the deal for me.
- Don


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:12:17 pm

For some reason my response was posted twice, so I deleted the duplicate from this one.

- Don


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Chris Babbitt
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:40:02 pm

Heres something else that will blow your mind, Don. The cinematograper who gave the presentation showed a short documentary he had just completed where he intercut footage between his F900 and the EX. We couldn't tell the difference.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 8, 2007 at 10:54:24 pm

[Chris Babbitt] "We couldn't tell the difference. "

That sounds very impressive, Chris. When it's possible to intercut footage from a sub $10,000.00 camera with one that is way over ten times the price you know you're witnessing a revolution in the making.

- Don



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Edward G Downie
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 11, 2007 at 5:01:10 pm

There is only one reason why I would not buy the XDCAM EX is it does not have the ability to jamsync timecode with other cameras if I was to use it as a second stand alone camera I would like to know why that was not added.


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Pedro Ferreira
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 22, 2007 at 8:44:10 pm

Hi! I have a Z1U cam and am a happy man, but I'm hurting to know something...will my neighbour competitor leave me eating dust in normal Lighting conditions? I currently film and edit, after capturing Apple Intermediate Files, and converting them to uncompressed 10 Bit, and am Very Very strict on final output quality, wich means most projects involve major surgery to achieve the best look possible.

So, I need to record sometimes more than half an hour non-stop to edit next, and that cam's inability to record at least that kind of time makes me wonder If I am missing something or not...And CMOS are a MINUS for me...If they where as good as they say, F900 would have CMOS...or F23 too...you see...

When I need to shoot anything worth it I go HDCAM or HDCAM SR (rented )



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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 4:18:36 am

[Pedro Ferreira] "F900 would have CMOS...or F23 too...you see.."

I disagree. I've seen the picture from the EX firsthand and can say that CMOS technology is on par and in some respects better than its CCD bretheren, especially when it comes to contrast. The high end CCD cameras you mentioned continue to be CCD because they were designed from the ground up to use those chips. Changing those cameras over to CMOS and the supporting in-camera hardware/software would incur a huge expense for the manufacturer. Also, Sony has a new 1/2" CMOS chip, not a new 2/3" CMOS chip, which is what the cameras you mentioned require. Anything less would be unacceptable to the buyer. Besides, the EX uses the new EXMOR CMOS technology which wasn't around when cameras like the F900 were ready for production.

But of course, the question you initially asked was:

[Pedro Ferreira] "will my neighbour competitor leave me eating dust in normal Lighting conditions?"

The short answer is yes. The XMOR 1/2" CMOS imagers are (at least) 2 stops faster than the 1/3" CCD HDV imagers.

- Don



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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 7:07:42 am

[Pedro Ferreira] "will my neighbour competitor leave me eating dust in normal Lighting conditions?"

What are "normal" lighting conditions? There are SO MANY times when I shoot corporate or marketing videos where conditions prevent me from using a light kit in very low light situations. The EX1 will be the first small "hand held" size camera that can produce good video in low light. I sometimes have to shoot in dimly lit bars or restaurants. I've also shot corporate videos in testing labs where no light is permitted. Now if you're shooting in daylight or with a light kit all the time it's not as critical.

[Pedro Ferreira] "Files, and converting them to uncompressed 10 Bit, and am Very Very strict on final output quality, wich means most projects involve major surgery to achieve the best look possible. "

You'd likely get better quality shooting with an EX1 in 35mbps (instead of HDV 25mbps) and going to ProRes although 10 bit uncompressed is certainly ok. Of course in a studio situation the EX1 will give you 10 bit uncompressed straight out of SDI.

[Pedro Ferreira] "So, I need to record sometimes more than half an hour non-stop to edit next, and that cam's inability to record at least that kind of time makes me wonder If I am missing something or not"

Huh??? Two 8GB cards gives you 50 minutes and 2 16GB cards will give you 100 minutes at 35mbps or 140 minutes at 25mbps. In addition, if you bring a laptop you can record NON STOP since one card can record while the other offloads into the laptop. 50 minutes of video would take around 5 minutes to load into that laptop.

[Pedro Ferreira] "And CMOS are a MINUS for me...If they where as good as they say, F900 would have CMOS...or F23 too...you see... "

CMOS technology is being improved on. It's gone from 1 chip consumer cameras to small chip cameras like the Sony V1 and will eventually have the performance for 2/3" cameras. The Grass Valley Infinity is also using CMOS. Sony certainly will be developing higher end CMOS cameras too.

[Pedro Ferreira] "When I need to shoot anything worth it I go HDCAM or HDCAM SR (rented ) "

And certainly the F23 is a better camera than the EX1 if you have the budget. If you've limited yourself and your client base.

The Z1 can't shoot progressive, over crank, under crank 720p60 and with 1/3" chips it won't match the depth of field of the 12" chips on the EX1.


I'd STRONGLY recommend you read both the EX1 product literature and the many "first looks" that have been posted around the web.


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Pedro Ferreira
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 11:01:34 am

Okay.. I'm a bit uninformed about it... Thanks for your help. I will do a better research and try to find other kind of specs about the EX1. My main goal is to achieve top pictures for each client demand, based on price/performance ratio, and as you're telling me the EX1 will give me an edge on the lower market pricing jobs, such as smaller simpler corporate videos, or so. I do some more complicated jobs, but for those, I most always end up hiring personnel and gear.

Cheers to you all, and all the best!


Pedro


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Pedro Ferreira
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 11:47:43 am



I've seen it now. 8 bit (huh?) recording as usual, will not do the miracles you made me believe it would do comparing to my actual cam, and with proper lighting conditions the BIG results are almost not perceptible.

EX1 is more flexible but will not make a huge difference in my pipe.

The major difference for me would be color latitude...and of course contrast too, but none of them would be a blast...

I will buy a BREVIS35 and play with it a bit for now with my prime lenses ;-)

Cheers!


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Pedro Ferreira
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 11:52:59 am



Just for you to know, the Grass Valley approach uses 2/3 inch sensors and 22 bit internal processing and 10 bit 4:2:2 recording... certainly not comparable to SONY's EX approach...


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 2:23:22 pm

and you said something about NOT using CMOS in 2/3" chips because they were not good enough.

[Pedro Ferreira] "Just for you to know, the Grass Valley approach uses 2/3 inch sensors and 22 bit internal processing and 10 bit 4:2:2 recording... certainly not comparable to SONY's EX approach... "



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Pedro Ferreira
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 5:39:02 pm



I've mentioned it because someone mentioned Grass Valley as a reference to what SONY is doing, and it simply does not compare one thing to the other... There are very BIG digital cinema cameras out there... you are of course comparing a 1/2 CMOS to a FULL SUPER 35mm CMOS or very near like RED ONE or the 2K approach from Silicon Imaging, and SONY is WAY behind that in CMOS technology... for now.

CMOS is in fact much better in terms of linear contrast response, and as so you should get way better Black response with it...BUT... companies like CANON, among others simply kill this kind of dynamic with BAD internal processing. SONY is on its way but is far from being the best, so I remain with my 2 cents, CMOS is still very beta in low end cameras.

The EX1 is a Great camera, regarding final considerations.


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Ron Shook
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 23, 2007 at 11:33:05 pm

Craig,

[Craig Seeman] "if you bring a laptop you can record NON STOP since one card can record while the other offloads into the laptop. 50 minutes of video would take around 5 minutes to load into that laptop."

Just had a thought and perhaps you or someone else can speak to it. I'm sure I read somewhere that the cards can only be formated in the camera. What about wiping the cards of data prior to reuse, after you have copied them off with the lappy? Can that be done in the lappy or is it limited to the camera? You see the problem, vis-a-vis continuous recording, if it can only be done in the camera.

Ron Shook


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 24, 2007 at 1:04:44 am

Although I don't have direct experience shooting with one card and formating the other, my understanding is that may not be a problem. I believe it may also be possible to delete the clips from the card from the laptop so that one wouldn't have to reformat the card each time.

Interesting question though regards the workflow but the presentations I've seen all pointed out theoretically continuous record with 2 cards and a laptop.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 24, 2007 at 6:24:06 am

For what it's worth, the manual states that you can format a card in-camera while the camera continues to record to the other card. The manual also states that an SxS Pro card formatted by a device other than the camera will have to be re-formatted by the camera before it can be used again.

Perhaps the Sony transfer software will have the ability to reformat a card before being inserted into the camera for another go.



- Don


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clyde v
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 24, 2007 at 11:50:08 pm

I have B&H website open in another tab in my web browser right now. It says that the Sony PMW-EX1 has a 24p mode. Is it really progressive or interpolated. Is it better than the Canon XL H1 in this aspect (I understand that the XL H1 does not shoot real progressive)?

Since bigger sensors mean shallower depth of field, then Sony's EX1 DOF should be noticeably shallower than the XLh1's. Am I right in assuming that?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 25, 2007 at 12:36:08 am

24p to card is 24p (no pull down) in 35mbps. There are cases where the OUTPUT (not to card) is PsF (1080p30 and p25 component out for example).

I've scene DoF test posted to another forum that I found "shocking" IMHO. I guess I'd become used to 1/3" chips. 1/2" chips really makes a difference. The fact that the camera has a DoF display in the LCD helps too.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 25, 2007 at 2:05:13 am

[Craig Seeman] "I've scene DoF test posted to another forum that I found "shocking" IMHO."

Which forum was it, Craig? I wouldn't mind having a look.

- Don



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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 25, 2007 at 9:41:36 pm

I feel uncomfortable pointing to another forum. Since the person with the demo DoF shots had posted them to their site I'll ask them if they wouldn't mind my posting the link here at the COW.


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 25, 2007 at 10:23:45 pm

Okay, fair enough Craig. No problem.

- Don


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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 11:42:04 am

[Ron Shook] "Can that be done in the lappy or is it limited to the camera?"

According to Juan Martinez (Sony rep) the SxS Pro memory cards are formatted in FAT32 binary. He's quoted as saying that you can use either your computer or camera to reformat a card as long as it's formatted in FAT32.

He also said the reason for the FAT32 format was to mantain cross-platform compatability.

Hope this info is helpful to anyone that was curious.

- Don



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Ron Shook
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 5:43:18 pm

Don & Craig,

Thanks for indicating that this may not be a problem. We still have to see how it works out in the actual wash.

[Don Greening] "He's quoted as saying that you can use either your computer or camera to reformat a card as long as it's formatted in FAT32."

That would certainly be good if it works out to be the case.

When's the EX scheduled for release in North America? Is there some sort of tentative date? I was sort of under the impression that it would be here by now.

Ron Shook



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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 6:21:08 pm

It seems a handful of people started getting them in Europe around the 16th or 19th. I've heard of only one person in the USA who got his on the 21st in Utah. Another person from LA has confirmed they'll have it tomorrow.

Talk about dribbling in.

I'm hopping I'll get mine this week.


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Ron Shook
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 6:44:37 pm

Craig,

[Craig Seeman] "Talk about dribbling in."

In quantity a month before Sony annouces the shoulder mount version, made in China, with an MP6 wrapped AVC codec, available just before NAB for $2995. (g)

Lordy, I hope this camcorder operates as advertized and betaed.

Ron Shook


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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 7:45:08 pm

Those few who've gotten it seem to be VERY HAPPY. One person reported and vignetting issue and sent the camera back but the others have been A'OK with the features and quality.


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ken hon
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 27, 2007 at 1:32:31 am

Aloha Craig,

Have you heard about anyone getting 16 GB cards yet or when they might arrive relative to the camcorder? We have one on order at B&H and they say they keep getting told late (or latest now) November, but no real word on the 16 GB cards. Just curious if you have heard anything about them.

Aloha,

Ken





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Don Greening
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 7:54:20 pm

[Ron Shook] "That would certainly be good if it works out to be the case.
"


It's always been understood that once an SxS card is inserted into a laptop's Express 34 slot it will show up on the desktop as a device like anything else: hard drive, etc. So, at least for the Mac people, once the media's been transfered using the Sony software you can start up Disk Utility, select the card from the various choices and format in FAT32. Should only take a few seconds.

I've no idea what the PC people will do (I'm not a user) but everything is FAT32 for them anyway. I think. Also, since FAT32 has a 4GB file size limit I suspect the camera will start a new clip when that limit is reached.

- Don



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Craig Seeman
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Nov 26, 2007 at 8:53:59 pm

Most PC are using NTFS these days (I believe). Yes the card splits the clips after 4GB but through "magic" you can keep them joined. It's actually why Sony says use the ClipBrowser to xfer rather than Finder.

Alas ClipBrowser only works on Intel Mac but XDCAM xfer 2.1 works just fine on G5.


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James Carroccio
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Jan 1, 2008 at 7:45:19 pm

just wanted to say u seem well informed on the xdxam ex.

im going to be graduating film school this year and was wondering if this would be a good investment to enter the work place?.

i use to have an hdr-fx1 and have expierence shooting hd.

thx



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David Lavery
Re: Upgrade HDR-FX1 for XDCAM EX
on Jan 25, 2008 at 4:08:19 pm

We have a very simular setup with the HDR-FX1 (as well as a Z1u, V1u,A1u... all fun rigs) with the AJAlhe. We recently purchased two XDCAM EX cameras and love them.
The image qaulity... no comparison. The EX is amazing. The footage we get is comparable to some much higher end shoots we've done with Vericam. This ain't no HDV.

The workflow was tricky at first but we love it now. We opted to use the card slot in a laptop and log to a firewire drive (much faster then using the USB on the camera, and we don't have the card reader.. our bad).
But it works great for us. I recommend getting an AIT tape drive or in our case an optical disk solution to back up the media disks content (if you have a need to protect your original raw) We also back up the quicktime footage with the project separately, giving us the added safety net.

But to answer your question... 1000 times yes! This is a serious camera with real pro features that will give you far more flexibility. If you shoot hand held at all get a shoulder brace. This camera CAN NOT be shot hand held. It's more than just heavy and uncomfortable, It's like being water boarded...



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