PDW-700 Owners - Please Read
As a 700 owner I am a bit upset at Sony's decision to create a completely different line of camera with the introduction of the PDW-800. I just purchased my 700 in February and I was made to believe that the 700 would be "current" for the foreseeable future, especially with the promised upgrades in June. Now Sony has dumped the entire "700" series with the introduction of the 800. I am hoping that there are others out there who agree with me and want to do something about it. I propose that we contact Sony en mass, and ask that they offer current PDW-700 owners two options:
1. An ability to upgrade our cameras and have them re-designated PDW-800
2. Create a trade-in program so that recent 700 owners can upgrade to an 800 for a discounted rate when they become available.
As a freelance cameraman, I make my living by having the most popular cameras available to my network clients. More often than not I am contacted by Production Coordinators or Producers who have been tasked to find a crew with a specific camera in a specific area of the country. If Sony choose to call this new camera the "750" then it would have been a lot easier to sell my 700 as being in the "700 series" but Sony's decision to designate it as the "800" has ensured that I will lose rentals come June, hurting my bottom line.
Technology does change rapidly but this camera has only been available to the general public for 3 months. It is ridiculous for Sony to schedule a replacement so quickly - putting at risk the profitability of those customers that paid a premium for their latest and greatest offerings.
I believe that if enough of us organize and approach Sony as a group, we will be heard and our concerns will be addressed. If you are interested in joining this group and are willing to provide your PDW-700's serial number, please email me and I will compile a list of individuals so that we can continue this conversation via mass email.
Strength in numbers people.
Perhaps you could contact the company that shoots the Survivor television series. They own 16 of the PDW-F700 cameras and might be willing to jump on your bandwagon.
Are you 100% sure they're discontinuing the 700? In another thread, John [Sharaf] indicated Sony was going to continue the 700 series, and that they're are already about 4000 units out there.
Sony is not discontinuing the 700! The PDW800 is a much higher priced option ($11000 more list price) that is not for everybody. If you do not need standard def write to disk or 24p (in 1080) or variable speed recording you won't want to spend the difference.
The whole 24p thing is something of a trap anyway (I'm talking about 1080 24p because the camera already has 720 24p built in and there is no way to write NTSC 24p at all). If you need 24 over 60, that is to play out to broadcast or transmit over uplink or fiber you will need either the PDW-HD1500 (@ $21000 list) + $5000 option card or the PDW-HD1600 (@ $28000 list) or the PDW-HR1 ($21000 list), it cannot be done with the camera alone. Furthermore you'll need these same playback devices to play 24p into a 24p timeline. Of course the upgraded PDW-U1 should move the files to you NLE and is therefore the most economical method.
My advice is not to buy the $4500 24p option and just use the included 720 24p and transcode to 1080 24p on output. You should be able to pull the "A" frames from the timecode.
Despite the added features in the 800, it still is not really a digital cinema camera, mainly because of the long GOP 8-bit recording. That's not to say that adding a 10 bit file based recorder (like the AJA, Convergence or S.One) will not make it such.
Sony is playing a marketing game here, charging dearly for added features that in reality not everyone needs/wants. I believe that they will still sell many more 700's than 800's because of the cheaper price. If for example you want the slomo, just shoot it at 720 60p and transcode into your 1080 24 or 30p timeline. Is 48fps really a deal maker? For some it will be. As a multiple camera owner and provider, I'll most likely add one 800 to the three 700's I own now to accomodate the need for the added features on an occasional basis.
The real problem, which I brought to Sony's attention at NAB (for what it is worth) is that you cannot write 24p to NTSC on the disk. The only way is to have the 24p option in the 700, or the more expensive camera and the deck with the 24p option or 1600/HR1 deck and use the downconverted output. For those of us servicing SD network news/magazine shows that sometimes want 24p it will be impossible to deliver for playout in their current PDW1500/R1 decks.
Thank you for your post. I just wanted to add my two cents of knowledge because we went through the whole "should we buy a 700" debacle a couple of months ago:
1. You said, "If for example you want the slomo, just shoot it at 720 60p and transcode into your 1080 24 or 30p timeline."
-I want to dispell what seems to me like a myth that I've heard several times from different cameramen. In my experience, you can not do this. Shooting 60p HD and slowing it down to 24 or 30 will give you some sort of slo-mo, but it's not that velvety smooth stuff... it just doesn't look good. I could be wrong... so if you know a way to do it, I'd love to know.
We shot several tests with a PDW700 at 720 60p at our facility and tried transcoding it to 24 and 30. The motion looks nowhere near as good as real slow-mo (IE Varicam, EX-1/3 in-camera slow motion). It looks steppy, interlacey... whatever you want to call it. We tried several different sequence settings, digitizing settings, etc. and it simply will not look like "real" slo-mo.
2. "My advice is not to buy the $4500 24p option and just use the included 720 24p and transcode to 1080 24p on output. "
- I know for sure that Nat Geo and a few other networks do not accept 720p originated material... This seems to be a growing trend... so this isn't an option for us at least.
Yeah, if your client is NatGeo you probably will have to bite the bullet and buy the 24p option, but you'll make your money back on a regular account. Although my understanding is that they (and other picky 1080 networks) still accept Varicam for origination? My own tests comparing the 700 to Varicam at 24p show the 700 to be sharper both from the camera and also in the recording, requiring turning down the detail, but otherwise was able to matrix a very good match.
As regards the 720 60p for slomo, I don't understand why there would be any difference between the 700 and a Varicam, except of course that there is only the one off-speed rate of 60 on the 700 vs variable frame rate on the Varicam. What method did you use to convert to 24/30?
Thanks for getting back to me.
As far as Nat Geo goes I don't believe they accept the old tape-based 720p Varicam anymore. They're totally 1080. Shooting for Nat Geo, cameramen are in a somewhat tough position if they want a variable frame rate camera. They can't use the Panasonic 2700 because it doesn't meet their strict standards for megapixel resolution of the camera's sensors. Only the 3700 does, and that doesn't do variable frame rates.
For Discovery, as of today they do not accept XDCAMHD for "Gold" standard productions and only as "Silver"... despite what Sony reps at NAB might be saying. I believe this has to do with the compression... something about LongGOP that I'm not going to pretend to understand...
On the slo-mo front, the difference as I understand it with the tape based Varicam is that the camera always records to the tape at 59.94, but uses "frame flagging" when you're shooting off-speed (IE 32 fps, 45fps, 60fps etc.). You then use the Frame Rate Converter software to extract the flagged frames and get the nice, smooth slo-mo from your files.
The 700 does not use this frame-flagging method and there isn't a proprietary software from Sony to extract that smooth slow-mo. There might be some other software out there that can do this, but we haven't found it. As far as our exact methodology goes (what frame rate we ingested at and the sequences we dropped it into) I can't remember. But I promise, we sat there for hours and tried every different combination of settings we could and just couldn't get a nice slo-mo image.
I do remember however that what worked the best was using a 29.97/59.94 1080i image from the 700 and slowing that down by 50% or more in our timeline. That looked the smoothest, but still it wasn't on par quality-wise with what you can get from a real variable frame rate camera.
I think you've hit it on the head; that there is no dedicated software to extrapolate the 60p into 24/30p. That does not mean it cannot be done. I believe AE does this, and in lieu of "a" frames, can use the time code "00" fields to identify each unique frame.
John, what is AE?
I'm sorry, After Effects. I've heard of people doing slomo conversions with this software.
Discovery's decision to put XDCam HD into their "Silver" standard is based on the 1/2" imager models such as the PDW-350. I would expect that once the PDW-700 is vetted by Discovery's techs it will be placed in their "Gold" Tier. . . . unless you know something I don't ;-)
I would hope that the imager size of 1/2" isn't the reason, I hope they are rating it based on the resolution of the sensor, the recorded bit rate and color space. I wouldn't see why a Sony EX series camera HD-SDI (10 bit) signal recorded with a Convergent Design HD-SDI Compact Flash recorder at even 50Mbps bit rate with 4:2:2 color space would not hit the Gold status.
[Ryan Doyle] "Shooting for Nat Geo, cameramen are in a somewhat tough position if they want a variable frame rate camera. They can't use the Panasonic 2700 because it doesn't meet their strict standards for megapixel resolution of the camera's sensors. Only the 3700 does, and that doesn't do variable frame rates."
Actually there will be a program released shortly on Nat Geo that was shot on the HPX2000(the brother to the 2700), HPX170 and the HVX200. I think that content is still the king at Nat Geo. This program is on the Grizzlies. And the HPX3700 does do VFR below 30P.
Jan Crittenden Livingston
Product Manager, HPX500, HVX200, DVX100
Panasonic Broadcast & TV Systems
Too ' Io I bought one from January 2009 XDCAM 700 rai because the sky and the UnIted States are using to productions
I am interested to understand what you mean to update the 700 to June...
I fully agree wIth your proposal, Because too ' Io I have this problem in a few months...:
- Create a program for trade-in so that 700 owners can upgrade to a 800 for a discounted rate, When they become available.
I send you my contact information and tell me how can I help:
Contact @ ladamasognatrice.It
Onk, What's Going On???!
I'm wait for good news...
What I can do with my 700 XDCAM???
Unfortunately Sony is not planning on doing any kind of trade-in offer. A few retailers have tried to get Sony on board but the initial discussions resulted in tentative "deals" that were so disadvantageous to the customer that no rational PDW-700 owner would be interested. I even had one retailer offer me a $15,000 trade-in credit for my 700 - $16,000 if it had the 24p card. That's a 45% depreciation in 5 months. Pretty ridiculous eh? Basically, Sony will never give us an offer that would be better than what we could get just by selling our cameras and then buying an 800 on our own.
All I can say to all you 700 owners out there is to keep in mind how Sony has treated us when it comes to your next camera purchase. With P2 card prices coming down the new Varicams are looking pretty attractive. There are plenty of other equally good options out there so considering how competitive the market is, Sony's treatment of their current customers is pretty short-sighted.
I hate to gloat, but this is what I predicted last April (see other post in this thread) as well as delivery delayed past June. I received my 800 in August, and the v1.5 software upgrade at the end of July (not June either).
While I did hear of some secret offers of taking 2% per month depreciation on 700's against purchase of new 800's I don't think any of these deals were actually consummated, probably because of lease complications.
What Sony did do however, which is better than nothing, and something I was able to take advantage of, was to offer a $2000 "loyalty rebate" for purchase of a 700 and an 800 within a certain timeframe.
All that being said, the 700 with the SD and 24p software is still a great camera and very functional at a better price than the 800. To me the main difference comes down to the duel filter wheel and some folks I've spoken with are willing to pay the $4-5k extra for just that feature, and actually more if they don't need or want the SD capability (which they pay for anyway in the 800).
The best thing about these cameras is the media itself; at $20 for 45 minutes of archival quality it is impossible to beat. I think it will be a long time before P2 cards come that cheaply, and in my mind (granted I'm a prehistoric dinosaur) that's what it will take for the P2 workflow to work. There is not enough time in the day, or money in the budget to afford to download (twice for archival protection) the cards for reuse.
Obviously the economy is having a greater effect than ever on format choices and workflow demands and has created a very difficult era for freelancers trying to please many diverse clients. That's why I see the 700/800 cameras as truly an advantage because of their unique be-all and do-all nature, inexpensive archival media and inexpensive reader writer (PDW-U1). I think if we were in a "normal" economy, there would be a stampede to the HD XDCAM. As it is they have already sold close to 5000 units worldwide.
Congrats on the 800. I agree with you about the XDCam HD format. I think it's superior to P2 too but at the end of the day what we think as freelancers means very little. Just last week I had to rent a HDX900 for an HGTV show because the client wasn't even aware of XDCam. In fact all they required was HD 24p. They said they'd take HDCam or DVCPro HD. I offered up XDCam at 24p but they passed saying they weren't set-up for it. At the end of the day XDCam is still the new kid on the block. My goal is to wait and when and if it takes off, I'll try and find a used or demo 800. A lot of post houses have spent beaucoup bucks on HDCam and DVCPro HD decks. They're not likely to dump those formats anytime soon . .. especially considering that the Networks and Cable still require their deliverables sent in those formats. . . .
Exactly what I did, got rid of the 700 and bought a Varicam. The best deal I was offered on my 5 month old PDW700 vs a new 800 was about £12000 against £25000 cost of an 800! This means I'd be losing over £1000 a month!
Bye bye Sony.
. . . . and I hope somebody at Sony hears about customers like you Steve. As physical media formats go away and file based video becomes the norm, the brand and model of your camera will become less and less important. NLEs will be able to handle everything and card readers will become very, very cheap.
At some point adequate "resolution" will be a matter of course. 35mm became the norm for film. I have no doubt that in the near future, the same will happen for video. A common ground on imager resolution will be figured out. My guess is for the majority of TV production 1080p will become the standard . . . I mean why the heck do you need 4k resolution for a 1080i deliverable? It would be like shooting Imax for a sitcom. Talk about overkill. . . . and there's no chance in hell that the FCC is going to mandate another TV standard any time soon. . . Like it or not, 1080i or 1080p is going to be the standard for decades.
Ryan, The 700 does slomo just fine from 720/60P material. Transcode it to ProRes HQ then put it through Cinema Tools to conform it to 24/25P. There is no reason why it should be jittery, as you have 60 full frames, you're not making anything up or interpolating missing frames.
As for Nat Geo not accepting Varicam, I'm sure it'd be on a case by case basis, and it's not a case of "cameramen wanting to shoot Varicam" as the subject requiring it. For natural history 60fps is an absolute bare minimum for a quality look to flying birds etc.
The only other options as it stands are the F23/SRW1 rig (huge and expensive) or now the new SRW9000 (not yet available, not so huge, but probably almost as expensive). The SRW9000 will do 1080/60P 4:4:4 to HDCam SR, that'll do the trick nicely if you're a millionaire, otherwise it's still Varicam for now (eg the new "Planet Earth" series from BBC called "Frozen Planet" is largley Varicam 2700). They also bought a Phantom HD, another expensive and less than straightforward option for 1080/1000P!
While Band Pro is efforting such a tradein/upgrade program as you suggest, I doubt very seriously that they or you will be successful or that you would find the terms that result workable.
At best, they will want to depreciate your camera at the usual 3%/month and then apply that to the full list of the new camera, and despite Sony's promise of June delivery, just remember last year at this time when they said the same thing about the 700 and the cameras never appeared in number until February and March this year. Although 24p is only of interest in the US and Australia and the big 700 backlog was because of European delivery of cameras that already came with 25p/50i.
There still is a program in place that would buy back PDW510's after 18 months (if you bought in a two month window last spring) against a new 700 at this 3% per month depreciation, so that figure is well established. Do the math, you loose again. You never win with Sony as regards pricing, features or service. The are only superficially interested in what the customers want when they're planning cameras (unless you are a large network and plan to buy 100+ cameras) and once you've bought you're stuck.