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XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?

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James Hilton
XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 11:38:25 am

A quick question, what do people think the future holds for XDCAM, worth going for now, or holding out for 12 months? Anyone have strong feelings either way?

How long will it be before we see >50Mbit capture on SxS cards, as lots of broadcasters have set that as a minimun, rightly or wrongly.

I have recently some impressive results with an EX3 and a NanoFlash, in fact impressive is probably an understatement, I just feel it is pity the built in recording can't do the output from the sensors justice.

Going on Sony's generation models, should we expect new and exciting things in 2010, or not? Will the RED Scarlet get Sony worried, as I can't help but think that if the RED Scarlet is priced as advertised when people can get their hands on it, and the image quality is good, it will make the EX1 & EX3 look a bit overpriced to be honest.

I'm a P2 man, but always like to be aware of the competition, and know where value for money lies, so please, educate me as they say!


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Jay Gladwell
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 2:22:42 pm

You can spend the rest of your life waiting for the next, best camera.

Just buy the camera and get on with it!



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Craig Seeman
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 2:45:42 pm

Yes, this the wrong question to ask.

The right question is a business question. What is your ROI (Return On Investment) model? Will you make or lose money waiting?

Sony seems to make major changes every two years and super major changes every four years or so. That cycle may even shorten.

Cameras are becoming more diversified in features. You need to get the right tool for the job. Scarlet has been vaporware for years. It'll happen eventually but it may not be what you need. I'm sure it'll have very shallow depth of field, great codec. Who knows what the workflow might be. It's like comparing RED to EX. Different tools. I do corporate and ENG work and RED would be a boat anchor for that. If I did fully crewed feature films and reasonably budgeted music videos that would be a different story.

Another question is, does a current camera get the job done? That's a decision I had to make. I wanted to go solid state ASAP but when the Panasonic HVX-200 came out it was extremely disappointed with it. Short record times. Small chips. Not great in low light. Impractical for my needs.
EX meant long record times, fast transfers, 1/2" chips, good in low light. It was worth my wait.

So the two questions are:
ROI?
Currently fit your needs?

Used cameras can be sold. They can live on as 2nd or B cameras if they still fit many needs. If you're a business that's how you think. If you're a hobbyist, your camera is going to be surpassed in a year or two no matter when you buy.

The camera I want in the price range I want still hasn't been made. I'd be begging for loose change on a street corner if I waited.

Wish list:
1080p60 (I like high temporal resolution)
Uncompressed to flash card with 2 hours record time to IN CAMERA Device (Nano moves in that direction but I really like things built in).
Full range capability on inexpensive flash card I can give to client like tape.
Overcrank to "Phantom" like frame rates at 1080 (hundreds of frames per second at least)
Long pre-record cache (EX1r does that but I needed the EX1 two years ago)
Large censor for extremely shallow depth of field (2/3" is still small by that standard). The Cannon DSLR is still NOT a video camera. RED is not a proper workflow for what I do.
CMOS chip without rolling shutter under any circumstance.
Ability to go from tripod to hand held or shoulder mount without any reconfiguration time.

Sure I can go into more detail and make the above list longer. I wouldn't be surprised if in 2 to 4 years all of the above may be met in a single camera under $10,000 . . . but there's no point in waiting since I have a business to run and if the business model is good the work I do now with my current gear will mean I'll have the money to buy that camera when the time comes.



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Noah Kadner
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 3:25:45 pm

Sony's big advantage is they have a long history and a recognizable brand name. Such that bosses are harder to convince to go with another brand, especially if the technology is comparable. But you are correct in pointing out the RED Scarlet cameras- when those come out it will be major competition for Sony, Panasonic et al in the Prosumer ~$10,000 and under camera market. I'd be surprised if both companies weren't hard at work on their next generation codecs and cameras to compete with what RED has described in their plans. If not, they will be surpassed. But this happens constantly- competition is good.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D,
Apple Tablet Blog.


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Rafael Amador
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 4:06:45 pm

Nothing to worry about.
With that quality and reasonable data rate (50Mbps) for massive archiving, SONY have planned well his movement.
They build cameras thinking on the guy who extend the checks.
If you need good picture, the best offer in the market at today, is an EX with the NANO.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Alister Chapman
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 5:17:15 pm

In terms of picture quality from the camera head I think we are reaching the limits of what can be achieved with current technology. You won't get more 1920x1080 resolution than is currently on offer from the 350 or PDW-700 with lot's of aliasing issues and thats down to the laws of optics, not sensor design. Latitude is approaching film and in the last 2 or 3 years there haven't been any big improvements there. Noise is now down at the 59db level, comparable to the very best SD cameras, again I can't see any significant improvements there either.
I'm sure there will be small incremental improvements in sensitivity, but do you really want a camera more sensitive than a PMW-350? My PDW-700 at times is just too sensitive.

Sure CMOS rolling shutter should be addressed in the future, I know Arri have tried with a mechanical shutter, but this leads to new problems. I don't like skew and I wish it wasn't there, but I've never found it to be an issue. Flash and strobe lighting is harder to deal with, but the clip browser flash band removal tool works well for interlace.

I think it will be a couple of years before the next step up from Sony. Scarlet will be interesting that's for sure (and keep an eye on Arri) but the current product line up is pretty damn good and will take a lot of beating.

Alister Chapman
http://www.xdcam-user.com


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Tim Kolb
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 9:36:48 pm

Keep in mind that products from RED that shoot motion RAW will be great, but not every job will require that much of a post procedure to reach adequate quality levels.

I know of so many self-funded film festival type projects being done on the RED that end up taking users into a relatively complex post workflow while 'Public Enemy" was shot on HDcamSR tape...high quality images to be sure, but not RAW.

I think that most people who are using P2 and are happy with it would be well-advised to at least take a look at Panasonic's higher end offerings that still record to P2. I've been quite impressed with the image quality of the Varicam's descendants. The P2 post workflow is well-established, so it would be an easy move to upgrade your images in the short term.

Motion RAW is great and their may be a day when we all shoot it for every purpose and modest post equipment will handle it without any stress at all...but that's still a couple years off in my opinion.





TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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john sharaf
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 25, 2010 at 11:30:48 pm

Hi Tim,

I'm a firm believer that HDCAM-SR will become more popular for those folks who are looking to improve quality by going to 10 bit recording and still have a manageable workflow, especially because of S-Log, which I think that once it becomes better known that it provides 12 stops of dynamic range (like film) that it will become the latest "Holy Grail".

I say manageable workflow, meaning shooting on HDCAM-SR tape as your master and archive and simultaneously recording a high quality "proxy" for editing on either Nanoflash, AJA Ki Pro or P2. This eliminates the need to duplicate and backup the file based recording, it already is backed up on the HDCAM-SR tape in it's full 10bit 444 glory and can be conformed for on-line later or played into NLE if there's a crash of the proxy files. In addition you save the considerable expense of renting or buying an HDCAM-SR VTR (SRW5500/5800)to play out the tapes, only renting it for on-line or using the on-line facilities gear at that point.

Another advantage of S-Log is that it does not need additional time consuming and costly processing like RAW does, merely record the LUT out of the camera as proxy, use the LUT in the playback deck if that's your flow, or use a LUT box or monitor equipped with LUT capability to view the S-Log that you've recorded on the file based media (presumes 10 bit like Ki Pro or P2 for best implementation).

I don't think it will be long before S-Log or similar extended dynamic range curves are available in many cameras. The Varicams have a similar concept and there are aftermarket curves from Steve Shaw Digital Praxis for many of the Sony cameras that are similar but not as extreme.

JS



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Tim Kolb
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Jan 26, 2010 at 10:41:50 pm

[john sharaf] "I don't think it will be long before S-Log or similar extended dynamic range curves are available in many cameras."

I agree. I've shot motion RAW and it's wonderful stuff to be sure, but I do see many who seem to want to shoot it for everything. There are some sorts of projects that won't benefit from the latitude inherent in RAW files to the extent that they add complexity to their post workflow.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Alister Chapman
Re: XDCAM - what does the future hold, buy now or later?
on Feb 2, 2010 at 8:06:02 pm

S-log gives a theoretical 1 stop advantage over the Sony Hypergammas. It's certainly a desirable advantage, but very few people are really going make use of it. The majority of lower end camcorder users don't even understand the knee, let alone hypergammas and S-log.

Alister Chapman
http://www.xdcam-user.com


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