Frustrated with EX-1
Sony's XDcam EX-1 makes beautiful pictures, but it's a horrible camera. Every time I use it, I find myself swearing at it. On stix, it's fine. It's all about how it handles off the tripod that chaps me.
It's lopsided heavy, wanting to pull to the left, which makes hand-holding with one hand difficult. My left hand is supposed to be free to manage focus and iris, but I find myself struggling just to keep the camera level.
I am forever bumping the Expanded Focus button by accident.
The rear viewfinder is not clear enough, even when adjusted to my eyes. And the larger viewfinder isn't much good out of doors when competing with sunlight.
I'll admit that in my 28 years of video production, this is the first "small" camera I've used. My experience with "broadcast" cameras have always been the larger ones; I'm currently using a Sony DSR 570, for example. With the EX-1, I miss having my shoulder as an anchor point. Maybe I'm just an ol' guy using a young man's camera, but in short, the EX 1 is a big disappointment.
I can see why you are frustrated so if you haven't purchased this EX1 I would say you might try the EX3 if after market shoulder rigs aren't an option. The EX3 has addressed this issue however I'm still waiting to take delivery of my EX3 so I can't compare them. One thing I have become a custom to is using a monopod that allows me to move quickly to many camera positions, this doesn't allow me to use the view finder, only the flip out monitor, but this view finder IMO is not worth using anyway. This EX1 camera wasn't designed to replace shoulder mounted units, I believe it is a replacement / upgrade to those who have been using the PD-150, V1 and Z1 DV/HDV units that packs a much bigger punch, and IMO is a test unit that should lead Sony to making larger units just as Panasonic did with the HVX to HPX units. One look at this camera and it is obviously not something I would hand hold without some support device, so it won't get any harsh words from me.
I used a slew of Sony broadcast cameras since the advent of betacam -- I still have sweet spot for my trusty 600 --but I love shooting with this EX-1 ( and look forward to the EX-3).
I'm older and now I like to think while I'm shooting, so tripods are good. When I have to work handheld I put a shoulder mount on the back, hang a couple wireless mics off it, crank the handle to a workable angle and go.
This camera can do more and do it better than anything else out there. If they asked me about it in the design stage I'd have mentioned things like I gotta hold it steady, I'd like to see some VU meters, etc. But hell, for six grand I'll live with a little inconvenience till they get it right.
My dream version of the camera, lets call it the EX-99, would be like the RED -- modular --. I'd hang the viewfinder wherever I wanted, have a place to mount a really tiny huge capacity harddrive. I'd put two big oldfashioned VU meters on the back for my soundman to fixate on, and a cupholder on the far side, in easy reach of the rotatable handle. And I'd keep the price at $6400.
In the meantime I'll keep looking for the perfect shoulder mount.
Quite whining! This is an excellent camera for the money and with a little time you can get used to the crappy viewfinder. Use the focus assist and you'll be more comfortable finding focus in the viewfinder.
I've shot thousands of hours of video beginning with a TK 76 to the Varicams I now own, but this little camera takes great pictures, is light and if you use a short mono pod rested in your belt when shooting portable you too will come to like it.
I've shot 6, one hour programs with it all over Asia and the Caribbean in a variety of climates from heavy snow & rain to 90's & 95 percent humidity and it has performed admirably.
For the monopod setup I installed an aluminum plate to the tripod mount with my Sachtler plate attached there, then forward I have a quick release plate attached so I can quickly attach my monopod. It works great. you should give it a try.
Producer/DP, HD series, "Discoveries...America", "Discoveries...Ireland", "Discoveries...Spain",
I'm not in 100% disagreement. As camera ergonomics go the EX1 is not the best I've ever seen in the prosumer department. Handholding it is a lot more awkward than it has any reason to be and it's mainly do to the design of the rotating handgrip IMHO. It seems to work best when the camera is held high overhead or low, just above the ground. But at the more common standing eye level it is not the most balanced.
That said, it's a minor quibble compared to what you gain- HD 24p with a lot of nice menu features and excellent image and low light quality- all at an amazing price. And as others have stated, the EX3 is probably a better match for your experiences with shoulder cameras.
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Having now had quite some experience of shooting with the EX1 I have to say I'm a bit frustrated. Mainly with the point raised earlier, namely focussing in bright sunlight. The screen, even hooded, is impossible to see and the finder is really only good for framing. I am hoping that Sony do some sort of conversion incorporating the wonderful finder that goes over the screen on the EX3. This is really easy to focus with because your eye fits right on to an eye cup and a magnifying glass works wonders on the screen. The problem is the unit is heavier and the EX3 has a suitable bracket to support it which the EX1 doesn't have. You might say buy the EX3 but it's heavier and more expensive, I'd rather adapt the EX1 if we can.
Hey there Bill,
I agree. Us oldtimers are used to having our gear properly balanced on our shoulder, a viewfinder right where it should be, meters for the sound tech and the ability to use our left hand for adjusting sound level on ch1, focusing, making hand motions to the talent and scratching our butts.
Times have changed and we must now adapt new shoulder mounts, battery and receiver holders and lots of other stuff. But look at the images we're getting for almost no money. We bought the first Canon internal focus lens in "94 and it was listed at $10k. Carrying two hours of tapes and batteries required an assistant. With Sony's clip on EX hard drive, you get 4.5 hours of footage. We're just pissed because we had to haul 35 lbs of hardware and the new shooters of today whine about cameras weighing 6 or 7 lbs.
Remember, we are men! We paid our dues. We're badass. When I went to visit a new chiropractor recently, he stood in front of me and said "Your body is a mess. You're right shoulder hangs a good inch and a half below your left. You're spine is "S" shaped from side to side. You're a physical wreck." But, I'm a baddass camera man from back in the day. Don't forget that we also had to learn DOS to operate computers. None of that silly Windows crap for us.
Maybe there's something to being a modern day wimp.
This post is an official "Flak Generator".
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
2-Sony EX-1 HD .
I have to agree that the EX1 is a bit of a pain to handhold. I too, am old-school, TK-76 with no shoulder pad did do a number on me over the years.
I missed the shoulder mount-style camera when I demo'd the EX1.
That demo determined my choice of the EX3 over the EX1.
Shoulder pad on the EX3 is not so great-but the new viewfinder on the side where you can now tuck it in to your shoulder, is a HUGE PLUS. I can only hope the plastic shoulder extender lasts. That said, the camera seems SO much better to handhold.
I have not put a larger lens on this thing yet so I am not sure how it will work handheld with more weight up front. As I hold it now, I am supporting some of the weight with my left hand when I am not focusing or riding iris. Still I am very happy I waited-my camera arrived last week and I can't wait to make some cash with it.
[Paul Zwicker] "TK-76 with no shoulder pad did do a number on me over the years. "
Bunch of young whippersnappers! I blessed RCA when the TK-76 came out and we could throw the Norelco PCP-90s overboard as boat anchors. Hell we could barely carry 100 feet of TV81 camera cable, affectionately know as horse-@$#!
But we digress. I agree the ergonomics of the EX1 are horrible. Like other posters I too find a shoulder mount is a great addition. I've owned four different kinds and my favorite is still the simplest, least adaptable one I picked up for something like $40 at a photo shop. I usually don't have my shoulder in the cut out, but just rest the back most tip of the brace on my shoulder. It makes a world of difference with any of these little cameras.
Now back to the digression and a telling story about RCA. Many years ago I was shooting behind home plate on the road with the Blue Jays. We hired local utility people and my cable puller was a retired engineer from RCA who had worked on the TK-76 project. I was shooting with a Fernseh hand held, a piece of gear designed for the Spanish Inquisition I think, so the subject of ergonomics came up and I asked him how much input RCA got from operators when they designed their gear. Input? he replies, they never talk with anybody who actually uses the equipment.
That figured. And when their very last broadcast camera, the TK-77(? I've repressed the name maybe) came out his words came back to me as I looked for the first time at that huge beast (made lovely pictures mind you). On the back were four 1" square buttons. One was the Return Video switch for the viewfinder, and right next to that button, which we used all the time, was a button that rolled the filter wheel to the "Capped" position. We were astounded, and I must admit that once, during an Islanders hockey game, I hit the wrong button and capped the camera.... on the air!
And now back to your originally scheduled thread.
Of course some of us are getting older but I can handle the ergonomics (just) but it's the focussing that is the real worry for me. My eyes are pretty good but in the bright light the screen is impossible. The EX3 system adapted in some way must be the answer where we can view the magnified screen through a properly shielded eye piece. Can we all lobby for this?
"The EX3 system adapted in some way must be the answer where we can view the magnified screen through a properly shielded eye piece."
I am confused as to what you want. The EX3 has just that-a focusable (is that a word?) covered viewfinder with an eyecup that flips up and out of the way to view the open LCD.
I have added the old wrist-sweat band for the eyepiece since it is a little firmer than a standard full-sized one.
I like the design and am quite happy with the diopter in the viewfinder.
The LCD is very bright and you can play with the peaking (I use it cranked full to find focus quickly) and play with contrast to use in full sun quite well.
Now if they would only add about 20lbs (kidding!)....
I'm thinking Michael meant that EX1 owners would like a similar option?
There are some interesting ideas in this article, which is written for underwater photography but deals with using magnifiers for lcd screens:
And Hoodman makes a 3" magnifier. Their H3-C Magnifier Kit has a hood and magnifier combination. Probably too small for the EX1's 3.5" lcd, but worth a look and perhaps lobbying them to make a larger one would be effective.
Paul, why are you confused? I said exactly what I (and others) want. We want the same contraption over the screen that the EX3 has. Have you seen it, it's so much better than trying to look at the screen of the EX1 in daylight and trying to focus. Even max peaking is not sufficient and can even be confusing if you are in a hurry.
My apologies, I misread your post.
I did not read all the responses here above. But I just want to share my thoughts on the issue since I just got my EX1 and I´m started to play around with it.
First of all, cameras aren't getting bigger in the future - that's an obvious fact. But this also means that you (operator) needs to adjust your self according to the sizes and adjustments. The solution for me was MultiRigPro: http://www.dvtec.tv
With MultiRigPro you´re not only getting good stable grip with your camera, you also have a huge "on production" stability when you move from the rig to your tripod since you can place everything onto the rig (batts, spot lights etc.etc.)
Regarding the buttons, I must agree without having to much experience on the camera yet. They are quite easy to press in many areas on the camera which can lead to operator mistakes in many cases. Then again I think this is something we need to adjust our self to.
But if you look overall on the camera and price, I think EX1 is far from being "bad" choice out there. Its just hard to move from the older bigger cams into such small things.
This shoulder rig as well as others look pretty cool, but I still see a problem with how to control the camera when using these shoulder mount rigs. Particularly with this Multirig Pro, how do you control the focus, zoom, rec button, etc. when using the shoulder mount system? It seems the best kind of shoulder mount add-on would be something that just extends the length of the camera giving it a balanced secure feel on the shoulder, but still allow your hands to be on the camera controls and lens so everything can be operated as you would with a larger camera. It's issues such as this that make me lean towards the EX3 more. Sure it doesn't really sit on the shoulder.. just kind of props against the shoulder, but I can still keep my hands on the camera this way.
It's a tough debate. Small cameras are easier to tote around, get into smaller spaces, and are cheaper. But it's hard to mount accessories to them and gives up weight (thus losing inertia for smooth shots) and shoulder mountability.
Here is a sample video from DVTEC :
I honestly dont like to hold the 2 handles when I shoot, since its impossible to control any functions on the camera at the same time, as you correctly pointed out.
I instead have the pin going down into my belt, and control the camera with my other hands. We could say its a fluid belt-tripod. This just requires some training to hold the camera horizontal steady with you hands, but its actually quite easy when you train little with it.
But again, I understand what you mean Herring, and this is tricky with so small cameras.
As a DOP, one day I'm shooting with the Sony F900R and the next... the EX1.
But, after a summer of shooting with the EX1... I've learned to love this camera.
I solved the zoom problem with a Manfrotto 521EX remote control.
I'm working on a number of hoods for the monitor... some with magnifiers.
I was using a DV Multirig Pro... to hold the camera.
But I'm working on another solution and would like some help.
- I would like to make a rig with 2 comfortable short handles... so my left hand can rack focus and my right will operate the 521EX remote control.
- A base plate... the camera on top and tripod base plate on the bottom.
- Shoulder pad
- All mounted on 2 rods.
I've looked at Redrock, Cavision and Zaccuto.
(The rods need to be compatible with other 15mm rods so I can add a Letus system.)
Any other suggestions or photos of other rigs?
The Ex1 and EX3 are both not very ergonomic. I have shot with both. I tried every imaginable attachment made from varizoom media rig to other products to help stabilize them and no good options. the ex3 is not balanced despite cliams of semi shoulder mounting. Lens is heavy.
I tried a grip from manfrotto. It seemed to really be the solution as it wasn't expensive and it allowed me to handhold without wrist fatigue. Guess what? The screw mount for the tripod adapter cracked and now I am ordering a new one through sony $40. It seems the tripod plate screw is too flimsy for these adapters. So beware! you could end up having the plate rip out and the camera fall to the ground.
Solution. Sony makes a durable plate since you have to have some kind of adapter to handhold.
I haven't used it but I am considering it. It allows one to add counterbalance weights.
They show the EX1 version as easily used with a tripod but apparently not the EX3 version though.
I've solved the probem with both the EX1 and EX3 with a rig from Redrock.