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EX-1 shortcomings

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Steve Wargo
EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 1:27:18 pm

We've had our camera for a week now and I've got a few minor issues. Some of these may seem rather "so-what" but as bad as I've beat up on the Red camera, I thought it only fair.

In order of use:

1. The on-off switch is a joke. I can see this thing lasting a year at most. Then what?

2. The menu system is backwards. The things we need instant access to are at the bottom of the lists and the once-only stuff is at the top. For instance, Steady Shot is at the bottom while Gain Set-up is first. Gain should be about 4 down. Shot transition, which I will never use is near the top, as is shutter angle, which is something I will most likely set and forget. How often does one change the shutter angle? Some of the other, like MF Assist and Fader, should be in "Others".

3. More menues. Under Others, we have Time Zone, Clock and Language at the top and Video Format, Clip Name and Format at the bottom. Tally and IR Remote should be near the top and they're near the bottom.

4. More more menus: When you enter the Camera menu, for example, you should see the top 6 things you'll need access to and that's not the case. You have to scroll to get to anything.

5. The roller wheel for the menus should have stayed with the consumer line. The joystick works nicely, though.

6. I am completely taken back by the fact that the only thing we can get from the I Link port is HDV. I thought for sure that we would be able to run a downconverted 1394 cable to a tape deck for when we have to record plain old DV to something. But instead, we can only use the composite signal from the AV cable or the Component cable but what DV device has component in? Not many.

7. I thought there should have been a 3200 & 5600 preset for white balance but I simply made Picture Profiles 4 thru 6 to be daylight.

8. The lens seems pretty solid but let's see what becomes of the lens control port. Just for the heck of it, I tried to plug in my 8 pin Fuji lens controller and it was a touch too big.

9. Here's one for ya. The infrared remote only works from in front of the camera. That's right, no rear sensor. What moron thought that this is where it should be? Oh, I forgot, that's so the news reporter can shoot his own stand-ups. Sony caters to the Japanese news world and production is secondary. I could use a rear sensor for jibs, remotes, and numerous situations. You can go through the menues using the remote but you can't turn the menus on or off. You have to hit the menu button on the camera to do so. We shoot a lot of conferences and the cameras sit out ahead of us, sometimes unmanned on a wide shot. It would be nice to zoom or to roll some footage from the tech table without having to go to the camera and getting up and walking to the cameras each time is simply stupid.

10. We should have more access to the clips without turning the camera off and then rebooting in the Media mode. I think the HVX200 is a bit better on this count.

11. Inconsistancy. In the camera menus, there is Shockless White which is a method where you can have the white balance work over a small period of time so that when you manually white balance, it doesn't just slam into the correct white balance (heaven forbid!) and another menu where the Auto Trace White speed is set (same idea). On Shockless, a higher number means slower and in ATW, a higher number means faster. What idiots! There is simply no logic to this.

But why do I complain? I have memorized every switch on every camera we own from DVX100s the DSR500s to an F-900. When you're working in the intensity of production, you can't be looking for which switch is which or wondering which way to throw a switch or turn a knob. It has to be intuitive. The menues we often need, have to pop up when we turn the menus on, not scroll past Language or Clock Set to get to the Video Format.

Now, The Book.

As usual, the book leaves some things out. Such as, when you have the audio switches on the back of the camera in certain positions, the menues are blanked out. If you have an audio input switched to internal, you can't set the inpedence level for the external input. If you were shooting with the camera mic and knew that you would need to switch to an external mic, you can't change the setting till you switch the mic input to external. Probably not a big thing but why?

Overview:

Did you ever notice that the gain switches are upside down? Not just this camera but most cameras. They have the low setting at the top and high at the bottom. Up is down and down is up. ??????

The Iris, Zoom and Focus controls are all proper. The switches are also laid out in order: top is Iris, which is the first ring from the rear operator position. And then the macro and focus. The slide switch underneath for the servo is also correct. Slide it toward the operator for operator control. Obviously done by someone outside of Sony, thank God.

I found the SxS cards to be easy to work with and transfer was quick and easy. We've stayed away from P-2.

We don't have version 6 of Final Cut (not quite Pro) so we haven't been able to personally test that process but we rented the camera to someone who did and they were quite happy.

More later as I stumble across it.


All kidding aside, I would rather have three of these than a RED. Much more practical in all respects.


Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 has arrived and it's fascinating.


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 2:37:03 pm

It is good that some of the menu functions can be directly accessed from the LCD though. Steady Shot is one example. Slow Shutter and Shutter Speed are also on the LCD and a fairly quick Joystick toggle.

I think the White Balance is a bit quirky as you allude to. In Picture Profile you can only set WB on the Preset setting. Switch PP and your preset changes from 3200


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Mark Palmos
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 2:39:53 pm

nice rant steve!
im sure ron shook will be intested to read it too... and PLEASE send it to Sony, i reck SOME of the stuff could be addressed in a firmware upgrade (like the daft menu stuff)
my biggest gripe by far is how difficult it is to hand hold (made more severe by the fact that i left my tripod at work this holiday)
till later
mark.


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Ron Shook
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 6:21:02 pm

Mark,

[Mark Palmos] "nice rant steve!
im sure ron shook will be intested to read it too..."


I sure was and would sure welcome more from any and all, plus the abverse, i.e., what you are particularly digging.

I'll use this opportunity to also thank Joe Incardona for his test shots of both EX1 and HPX3000. You can't really tell a lot in comparison because of the less than desireable DVCProHD codec on the 3000. In comparison the EX1 on these shots, except for perhaps a little less competent highlight handling, looks better. I wouldn't expect it to when the AVC intra 100 codec is used in the Pany, but the differences are gonna be very subtle, I suspect.

I'm starting to think that anyone who purchases anything other than this camcorder in the $5-50k range is going to need to have a very good reason other than picture quality for doing so.

Ron Shook


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Steve Connor
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 6:42:21 pm

Bear in mind if it's anything like the XDCam series, and I'm sure it will be, there will be a lot of changes via firmware upgrades. Sony seem to be responding to user criticisms so feedback like this can actually make a difference.


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Danny Grizzle
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 6:54:24 pm

Does the EX1 manual detail a firmware upgrade procedure? How is it done? Or are EX1 firmware upgrades pure speculation?


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Mark Palmos
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 7:07:28 pm

there is no mention i have noticed, but i guess will happen and is similar to how anything gets updated... download a file, unzip and copy to an empty media stick, switch on the camera in playback mode and the camera will read the file and update automatically... even my cheap yamada dvd player does it kinda like this (no camera though ;-) )


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 7:12:44 pm

Juan Martinez said there would be a firmware update that would allow other cards certified by Sony to be used in the camera so I don't think firmware upgrades are speculation.


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David Jones
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 7:17:28 pm

Thanks for this thread! I, like so many, was ready to pull the trigger on getting an hvx200 until I saw the ex1. I had a couple of questions for the experts: One, is the picture quality really comparable to the Pany 2000/3000? What would the drawbacks be? And two, any suggestions on labeling the cards? Is that possible without damaging the cards or posing any problems with inserting them in the camera?



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Steve Wargo
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 11:30:38 pm

They come with a label sticker. I would number them rather than project label them.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 has arrived and it's fascinating.


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Joe Incardona
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 11:55:40 pm

Thanks, Ron, that was kind of you to acknowledge us for providing the comparison footage of the HPX-3000 and the EX-1. I really had wanted to shoot some test footage in the AVC Intra 100 codec, but the Panasonic rep wasn't able to help us download the AVC Intra plug-in for Final Cut the day they were here in Memphis with the camera, so I had no way of getting AVC Intra footage into our NLE.

Just a couple days ago, the engineer from Panasonic who was here sent me a link to download the AVC Intra codec for FCP. I just haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet. The Panasonic sales rep let me dump some AVC Intra test footage he had with him on to a hard drive in our office, so I may be able to post some AVC Intra test clips edited in FCP in the next week or so.



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Gary Alan
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Dec 27, 2007 at 8:17:17 pm

thanks steve. i didn't have the energy and the list could be bigger. once again, the suits make a product less than an engineer can deliver so it will allow their job security to fix it in the future.

Mac Pro 3Ghz Intel Dual Duo, 6GB RAM, 30" ACD
MacBook Pro 17"
Sony XDCAM EX with a Sachtler Tripod System


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john
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
by
on Dec 28, 2007 at 1:45:06 am

What about the HD-SDI? I was bummed out to find that no uncompressed HD signal out the HD-SDI port. The signal coming out is 60i after the mpeg. I had planed on using the Aja HDio to bring in 4.2.2 for keying, but no point in that as the card has true 24fps on it. I wonder if that can be fixed/changed with firmware?

I miss the old EX1 specs.

The bright side is after 30 days I have found 16gb media ($840) and batts ($240).

John


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 28, 2007 at 3:23:20 am

HD-SDI out of the EX1 is 10 bit (or 8 bit with 2 "dummy" bits) UNCOMPRESSED 4:2:2. That has nothing to do with MPEG2. 24fps would be embedded with pull down in a 29.97fps stream.
AFAIK 24fps is NOT part of the SDI spec.


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john conner
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 28, 2007 at 4:50:02 am

You are correct Craig in that the signal is a 10 bit 4.2.2 UNCOMPRESSED SMPTE292M/259M HD video coming out the HD-SDI BNC. Unfortunately it is not from the head like the Canon or a F900R. It is a decompressed version of the 4.2.0 MPEG stream that is being recorded to the SxS. So there is no advantage to using something like the Aja ioHD to bring in a better signal.

So I'm afraid, correct me if I'm wrong, that the video coming out the SDI is one generation old already.

Like I said this was a bummer for me, I hope I am wrong, but the video we are getting from the HDio off the SDI BNC looks worse then the 35mbit from the SxS. BTW the 35mbit is pretty damn good, I'm not complaining about that.

John


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 28, 2007 at 5:23:26 am

John I don't know where you're getting your info but it is wrong. The HD-SDI output is coming from the head unless your are playing it off the cards. Off the head out of HD-SDI is untouched by MPEG2 and Sony stated as much when asked.


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John Smith
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 28, 2007 at 7:28:38 am

Interesting thread.

Okay so when you say "off the head" are you recording on the fly to a SDI capable recorder or something? Or playing it back off EX-1 via an SDI out, in post? Either way does this give you 4:2:2?

Cheers
John


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 28, 2007 at 4:42:19 pm

If you take a Feed WHILE SHOOTING from the SDI port it will be 4:2:2 UNTOUCHED by MPEG2 compression.

Once it's one the card, that is 4:2:0 and, at best, is being "up converted" to 4:2:2.

You want to record from SDI while shooting. No different than the few HDV cameras such as JVC and Canon that have SDI ports also.

[John Smith] "Okay so when you say "off the head" are you recording on the fly to a SDI capable recorder or something? Or playing it back off EX-1 via an SDI out, in post? Either way does this give you 4:2:2? "



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john conner
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 29, 2007 at 10:16:04 am

Craig where are you getting your info? I can't find anything that says it is from the head or block. If it is from the head before MPEG that is a HUGE benefit and should be used in sales material, it is not mentioned anywhere. In Oct at HD Expo the Sony guy with the EX1 told me that it was indeed off the head and truly 10bit 4.2.2 uncompressed. I believe he was wrong.

I am now certain the camera is only outputting the decompressed MPEG2 stream though the SDI port, here's why.

I have digitized a live feed directly from the SDI from our 2 cameras both using a Aja ioHD to ProRes and also directly into our Kona 3 to uncompressed and it all looks pretty bad, the SxS is much better. The SDI should look alot better then the 35mbit off the SxS. It does not. No sighted person would have any trouble picking the image with the higher fidelity. Like others I wanted to be able to record from the SDI when doing green screen. The keys I am pulling using keylight in AE are very good from the HQ 35mbit SxS but really really bad from the SDI.

Also when at Band Pro I asked a direct question to Michael Bravin "Does the EX1 SDI output a clean 10bit 4.2.2 signal from the block before compression processing like the F900R?"





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Mark Palmos
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 29, 2007 at 10:32:51 am

you must have a bad cable john!

jokes aside

i dont know a lot about camera electronics, but it seems odd the SDI output should be ANY different from the 35HQ footage... considering it would be bumping to uncompressed from compressed, there is no further compression to do.

the SDI output is of no use to me, but it would seem very odd for sony to not connect the SDI to the signal before it gets compressed to MPEG.

im pretty curious now, anybody else done any testing, have good explanations?

later
mark.


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john conner
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 29, 2007 at 10:56:45 am

Your right Mark there is no further compression to do, it's the decompression back to a uncompressed SDI signal that is the problem. I think the signal coming out the SDI is video that has been compressed to 35mbit Long GOP MPEG2 and then decompressed with pull down added and sent out the SDI. So it is one generation old at that point. I think the SDI is really only for monitoring.

John


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randy Strome
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 29, 2007 at 2:30:32 pm

You may all have seen this, but Juan from Sony sounded in on this here:

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/142/856265


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Ron Shook
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 31, 2007 at 12:16:55 am

Randy, Mark, John, Craig,

[randy Strome] "You may all have seen this, but Juan from Sony sounded in on this here:"

I've been watching this debate with great interest. Juan from Sony seems pretty much unequivocal here:

[Juan Martinez] "Yes, it is possible to capture recorded data via the HDSDI. IN case of 24P recordings please note that the Ex1 always adds 3-2 pulldown when outputting 24p footage via the HDSDI. This is to allow monitoring with a wide array of displays. The NLE can remove 3-2 and extract the 24P cadence as the A frames always fall on the 0 and 5 frame. You can also capture EE (live video) via HDSDI. Please note that the EE signal is full HD resolution 1920x1080 or 1280x720 4:2:2, 10-bit."

Note that he makes a distinction here between monitoring recording via HDSDI and capturing the EE signal via HDSDI. Could it be that the camcorder handles things differently through the HDSDI spigot depending on whether the EX1 is in record mode to SxS, or is just spitting out HDSDI EE when not in record mode? If so, could it be that John has run all his direct capture to NLE tests while simultaneously recording to SxS with the probably less than optimum upconverted of the EX1 MPEG2 to HDSDI? There is some logic to Sony setting things up this way in that monitoring on location with small monitors needn't be the best nor should we expect the camcorder cross converting to HDSDI from MPEG2 with 3-2 pull down to be top notch on such a small, relatively inexpensive device.

Should I get the EX1, I might very well want it this way some of the time, however, I can easily imagine other instances where I would want to be recording to SxS for backup while simultaneously capturing via HDSDI to an NLE or some other HDSDI device calling for the full HDSDI Magilla off the camera head. Could there be a menu setting for this in the EX1, and if not, could we get one in a firmware update?

Unlike Mark, who doesn't anticipate using HDSDI output, I definitely do, because I am looking forward to the Convergent Design Flash XDR:

http://www.convergent-design.com/

This device would allow for better than XDCamHD, HDCam, Varicam, probably better than AVC Intra recording of the EX1 off the camera head and while doing so, I'd want SxS for backup.

To work with Flash XDR, the HDSDI spigot would need to interleave audio and timecode, so that leads to my question of immediate importance. Does the EX1 HDSDI spigot interleave audio and timecode with the video in all instances? If not, then Flash XDR would be almost useless with the EX1, and I keep looking.

I hope I'm not totally all wet with this post.

Ron Shook


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Rafael Amador
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 31, 2007 at 3:43:55 am

Hi Ron,
I have read in some SONY docs that says the HDI-SDI of the EX1 output embed TC and audio.
Sorry, but now, with so many things that I've downloaded about the EX1, I can not find the doc.
However in this .pdf Convergent states that the EX1 is compatible with theyr system:

http://www.convergent-design.com/downloads/Flash%20XDR%20Spec%20and%20FAQ.p...

Rafael

PPC G5 2x2Gh 4GbRAM/BlackMagic SD/PMBP 17"Core2Duo 4GbRAM
JVC DTV-17"/FCS2/AE CS3/COMBUSTION/SHAKE


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Rafael Amador
Re: EX-1 shortcomings HD-SDI???
on Dec 29, 2007 at 3:15:08 pm

hi John,
Even in the chipper 1 CCD digital cameras, you have a full 444 YCbCr signal available.
The RGB signal that you get from the sensors is converted to a Y'CbCr (4:4:4. Bit-depth depending of the processor) before any color down-sampling or compression. That would be the place to extract a 422 signal to output through the HDI-SDI.
If the EX-1 do not output a full 10b Unc 422 through HDI-SDI, is because the people of SONY just don't want.
Rafael

PPC G5 2x2Gh 4GbRAM/BlackMagic SD/PMBP 17"Core2Duo 4GbRAM
JVC DTV-17"/FCS2/AE CS3/COMBUSTION/SHAKE


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James Carroccio
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Jan 1, 2008 at 8:01:18 pm

thx for the review man, i found it to be very informative.

im thinking about buying this camera.

do u think it would be a good investment for a graduating film student who will be doing videography as well as independent art house pieces?

i just sold my hdr-fx1 and would like to shoot on a real hd format

thx

p.s is the hand holding this camera s bad as everyone says? do i really need a shoulder brace?



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Craig Seeman
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Jan 1, 2008 at 8:47:08 pm

James, it really depends on your target goals.

You'd need to buy a workflow, not just a camera.

If you become a freelance shooter what would your clients expect for delivery, optical disc with files, blu-ray, XDCAM disc, video tape, Standard definition, etc.?

If you're starting your own business, what kind of clients with what kind of budgets are you pursuing?

It's a SPECTACULAR camera but you need to know you can make enough money to justify the expense and make a living.

If your school didn't teach you about the business aspects of video/film you may find your business education more expensive than the tuition you paid for school.


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James Carroccio
Re: EX-1 shortcomings
on Jan 3, 2008 at 7:44:44 pm

thx for the advice Craig.



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Mark Palmos
handholding the ex1
on Jan 1, 2008 at 10:57:39 pm

[James Carroccio] "
p.s is the hand holding this camera s bad as everyone says? do i really need a shoulder brace?"


Depends on if you are using the viewfinder or the LCD monitor. If the LCD and you are holding the camera by the handle on top of the camera, its pretty easy to hand hold, but then your hand is not on the variable speed zoom, just one (variable by setting and switch) speed zoom.

If you are using the viewfinder it is simply by far the worst hand held camera i have every tried. Balance, weight - yes a brace is a necessity for more than 5 minutes of shooting.

mark.


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Steven Thomas
Re: handholding the ex1
on Jan 22, 2008 at 12:28:42 pm

This is an old thread, but it been confirmed by Sony and also Cineform that the EX1 captured "live" IS using all 10 bits, not 8.





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