Warnings and problems with a Sony 32GB SXS-1 card and other questions
I'm shooting weddings in Europe with a Sony EX3 and two 32GB SXS-1 cards in slots A & B. Full HD at 35mbps.
I was shooting speeches at a wedding on November 6th 2010, and halfway through the Best Man's speech, the camera went off and came back on. There was a message on screen:
"Media Error: Media needs to be restored" (or a variation of that message)
It asked if I wanted to 'execute' the command. I did so. The camera changed the slot to 'B' and began recording again, missing only a few seconds (mainly applause).
It was one of my first shoots with the EX3 and I got such a fright that I nearly collapsed.
I checked the footage later on and nothing was missing on either card.
I asked another XDCAM friend about it and he said that it happened to him before but not while shooting.
I thought nothing much of it, because the footage wasn't ruined in any way. I thought it might be just "one of those things" that happens.
I shot many weddings between then and last Saturday, the 15th of January. No problems.
Then, during a speech (I film speeches on a tripod) on Saturday, the same thing happened. No footage ruined, just a few seconds missing.
I consulted the manual and did a bit of research online, and it seems that it might be my 'Card A', as it was the same card that the problem occurred on before.
I turned the EX3 on yesterday with the two cards in it, and I got another error message: "Unknown Media A1 Please change". This is very strange. According to the manual, that means that I'm not using a compatible card. The EX3 firmware is currently 1.10 which is fine for the cards I'm using. I've used the cards on various shoots without any problems whatsoever, or any error messages.
Today I dropped the card into the place that sold it to me, and they are sending it back to Sony.
I am pretty sure the problem is with the card.
Does anyone have any idea, or have you experienced the same or similar problems?
I usually transport my EX3 in a hard case, with the cards in the camera. As far as I'm aware the camera hasn't experienced any hard knocks, which might damage the cards in the camera. I can't think of anything else. Do you guys recommend transporting the camera with the cards in it?
Another worry is that by removing and inserting the cards into the camera, I might have damaged one of the "connections" (or whatever you call it) on one of the cards. I'm very careful with cards. They're either in their box or in the camera. And I insert and remove very carefully, straight in or straight out. Any thoughts on this?
Also I want to ask about the 'Shutter On/Off' button under the lens. I shoot at 1/50 as I'm shooting 25p. When I flick the shutter switch to off, I get a much nicer and brighter image than when it's on, which is great for indoor shooting. However, I'm told to keep it on. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference to anything really when I have the shutter off, except that I'm getting a brighter image, which is better for me. Can anyone tell me what is actually happening when you have the shutter on or off? If I should keep it 'on', why?
Thanks for any help or advice in advance.
[Richard Doyle] "Can anyone tell me what is actually happening when you have the shutter on or off? If I should keep it 'on', why?"
Near as I can tell from the info you're giving is that with the shutter off the shutter speed has decreased from what the shutter on speed has been previously set to. Anytime you decrease the speed the picture will get brighter because the available light is hitting the sensor for a longer period of time. As I understand it the shutter speed with the shutter off is constant. If you want to change the shutter speed you turn it on first. Make sense?
As for your SxS-1 cards there should be no difference in transporting with cards in or out. You're not doing anything wrong. On the contrary, you're probably taking better care of your gear than a lot of us. I can't comment on the reliability of the SxS-1 cards because they haven't been in use long enough to get a reputation.
Don Greening: "Near as I can tell from the info you're giving is that with the shutter off the shutter speed has decreased from what the shutter on speed has been previously set to. Anytime you decrease the speed the picture will get brighter because the available light is hitting the sensor for a longer period of time. As I understand it the shutter speed with the shutter off is constant. If you want to change the shutter speed you turn it on first. Make sense?"
Thanks. Yes, I guessed that the shutter speed had decreased, but I wonder how I can view on screen what the shutter speed is when I turn it 'off'. Is it 'automatic' when it's 'off'? It doesn't appear to be changing which is what I would expect when something is automatic because the camera is doing the work.
I've had the camera at 1/50 (as I'm shooting 25p) up until now. But I think I'll keep the shutter off on a couple of shoots just to see the results. My gain is set to -3, 0, 6 db. Shooting mostly indoors at weddings with the EX3, and if I'm wide open at f1.9 and if I have my gain up at 6db, in a bright room, and with shutter 'on' (at 1/50), I think it's not exposed as bright as I'd like (surprising with such a large sensor; my 7D is actually better). I'm usually able to compensate with a bit of on-camera light, but don't like to use it too much. So by having the shutter 'off' it's just fantastic, even if I'm doing something that a lot would deem to be technically "wrong" (if it is automatic).
From the EX3 PDF version of the manual (pages 56-57) turning the shutter on allows you to set the shutter speed/angle manually. This is called the 'fixed' mode. Turning the shutter switch off results in an auto mode where the camera will adjust the speed according to the light levels. The downside of shutter off is that the camera will reduce the speed to the point that motion may become blurred etc. because there's too much time between shutter open and closed to adequately capture things smoothly. The chapter also talks about SLS or slow shutter speed mode and frame accumulation which you should also familiarize yourself with.
[Richard Doyle] "I think it's not exposed as bright as I'd like (surprising with such a large sensor; my 7D is actually better)."
A larger sensor will always gather more light than a smaller one. That's why your 7D is more light sensitive.
Yeah, that's all fine. I was pretty sure that it was auto that I was going into but it handles fairly well. Better than other cameras I've used (unless the light is changing rapidly you can't really tell it's auto shutter). I knew the 7D had a larger sensor which is why it gathers more light. Unfortunately, the 7D is too much of a pain to use when you want to capture audio.
The big question is what the hell is wrong with my SXS card? Or if it is even the card that has the problem?
If I recall, Shutter Off is locked to the frame rate, not auto. Shooting at 25p would mean the shutter is locked to 1/25. That would make it much brighter of course. If you're shooting low motion content it could look OK. Speeches might be fine, Dancing, if it's disco or rock might have slight motion blur. Fast camera motion might have slight motion blur as well. This may be preferable to the noise from gain. It depends on whether you're moving the camera quickly or shooting something fast. I've used in when shooting speeches in darkly lit halls.
I just reviewed the dancing footage that I shot at the wedding last Saturday, and I literally can't tell the difference between 1/50 and 1/25. It's just brighter and better. People are dancing like crazy. If I don't notice it, the viewer is certainly not going to mind. :-)
Re: the camera shutting off. I've publicly admitted to not being to bright and letting my battery run down and shutting off the camera. If you are using non-sony batteries, you may not get a warning. So, always put in a charged battery between your wedding and reception to make sure this doesn't happen.
The battery or camera being shut off while recording is like yanking the power cord out on your computer. The card is being used and the the brakes are being slammed on, stopping mid recording. This may have damaged your card.
I've lost footage having this happen when using an SD card adapter. Fortunately the last time my other shooter let this happen, I had the very expensive, but reliable, SxS card in the camera and it fully restored the footage. I certainly understand the sinking feeling you get when seeing the Restore Media message in the middle of the shoot.
If you camera continues to shut off without notice, try a different battery and make sure it's fully charged. Also, if you leave your battery in the camera, even when it's off, it'll drain your battery. Always take the battery out when not in use.
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Hmm.. You might have something there.
I use Global Media Pro batteries with the EX3. They work perfectly.
However, I use a light battery pack, and then before the speeches, change to the heavier battery pack (more power) in order to power the on-camera light as well. But the last time it happened (2nd time) I didn't change over batteries before the speeches, BUT the battery was still good. And when it happened, and when the camera shut off and turned back on and after I 'restored media', I continued shooting on card B in slot B (another 32Gb sxs-1 card) on the same light battery without any problems.
But you might have something there.
I did, however, get another error message 'Unknown Media A1 please change' on the same card in the same slot just days later when I went to "investigate". According to the manual, and others online, and Sony on the phone, this means there's a problem with the card.