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NanoFlash Review

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Ernie Santella
NanoFlash Review
on May 8, 2010 at 3:30:34 pm

I recently got a Convergence NanoFlash for my aging HDX900. Love it. Works flawlessly. I've had no issues at all on any shoots.

http://www.convergent-design.com/Products/nanoFlash/tabid/1666/Default.aspx

I have a client that needed my footage on files (Can't use DVCProHD tape) So, I bought the Nano. I was considering getting a Focus FS100, but the Nano made way more sense. It uses CF cards, way smaller, better image quality with HD-SDI and more features. Plus, after you figure in the FS100 and a bunch of batteries for location shooting, the cost goes up fast. I power the Nano off a AB Dtap. Doesn't use that much power and goes to sleep mode automatically which is cool.

Another plus is that CF cards are way cheaper than P2 media and easier to download to HD for safe archive at the end of the day or during the day as you don't have to use the camera or an expensive reader for the P2 cards.

I also picked up an Nexto Extreme ND2700 500GB HD ($300) which is a CF card storage device. It does fast auto-copy from CF to HD (with verification). Then at night, I just save that off to another HD for dual backup. (Has eSATA for really fast transfers!

http://www.nextodiusa.com/product_info.asp?nexto_product=1

The image quality at the high bit rates is worth every penny. And the time-lapse feature works great too. Unlike the HDX900's tape timelapse, the Nano gives you a edit-ready finished time-lapse file vs. the 900's short record which has to be edited in post.

It's built very solid with solid connections/buttons vs. worrying about jarring the HD in the FS100 or its flimsy FW400 cable, which guys have posted is an issue.

And no, I don't work for Nano or anything, just wanted to post my field test. This is perfect for us with Varicams or HDX900's.


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John Cummings
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 8, 2010 at 6:12:36 pm

Thanks for the review. I'm very interested in pulling the trigger on one of these but I'm a little put off by not being able to...as far as I can tell...use the record button on the lens or have a tally without stringing more cables on the camera. It's a small thing, but maybe not an insurmountable one from a technological standpoint? So, do you throw in tapes and double record or just use the record remote switch?
Also, are the files ready-to-edit without re-wrapping or transcoding and can you record a center cut SD if you need it?

J.Cummings
Chicago
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50
847-220-3172


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Ernie Santella
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 8, 2010 at 7:27:59 pm

J,

I did double record when I got the unit, just to make sure there were no CF glitches in the media. Not one, so I don't run tape anymore. I would agree, the only bug-a-boo is without tape, you have to hit the REC/STOP buttons on the unit. But, there are some things that might help. There a company that makes some remote start/stop with Tally light cables. Sure, that's one more thing to attach, but I bet you could run the cables without too much issue. Here's the link, they also have some other cool stuff for the Nano.

http://nanoflash.net/remote_control__time_code

I might get one of the tally cables. I don't do much run-and-gun, hand-held shooting, so it's not a huge thing to me. (Mostly corporate/commercial work.)

The Nano records using the Sony XDCAM 4:2:2 Codec. There is no wrapping or any funky transcoding. Just copy the files off the CF cards to your edit Raid, drop them into the timeline with no rendering at all. Couldn't be easier. Makes the P2 workflow look kinda' silly. You can set the Nano to record in QT or MXF for AVID.

Not to get off track, but I also have the Focus Enhancements FS-H200 for my little HDV camera (Which I get calls for too) That uses CF cards and also works great. That sold me on using CF instead of going P2.

You do need to pay attention to Nano and get only the cards they recommend. They have to be really fast. Here's the list of tested cards.

http://www.convergent-design.com/Products/nanoFlash/Media/tabid/1653/Defaul...


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Jeff Regan
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 3:05:53 am

Ernie,

I agree with most of what you've posted, but a couple of things are worth mentioning:

FireStore FS100 can be powered off of the D-Tap or Hirose DC connector on the camera, same as nano.(But, yes, I prefer the nano.)

Internal P2 recording is the best choice if you aren't trying to extend the life of a legacy tape based camera because of choice of codecs, including 10-bit AVC-Intra, five card capacity, write protect switches on the cards, myriad of hardware and software support including the new PCD2 P2 reader at $350 and safety/security/reliability of internal recording.

Yes, Quicktime .mov recording can be convenient, but not all NLE's work easily with QT files. If you use .mxf instead, it's like native P2 files and most NLE's support DVCPRO HD and even Intra now.

The cards cost less, but for the price a used HDX900 + nanoFlash, you could buy a used or B-stock HPX2000, many of which have Intra boards, and have some money left for a couple of P2 cards. I could have sold my 900 for a used 2000 and the cost of a nanoFlash would have paid for the P2 cards, except I bought the 2700 instead. The 2000 has more features than a 900 as well, even without the Intra board.

I'm assuming that you still have clients asking for tape, which makes keeping the 900 a bit longer worthwhile.

I much prefer the internal P2 approach and find the work flow to be no problem for me or my clients most of the time--the exceptions being those who are new to AVC-Intra 100, usually.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Ernie Santella
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 4:09:40 am

Jeff, lots of good points!

I'm not sure of the bit-rate of the Intra codec, but the Nano can record at up to 280MB which is amazing, especially for EFX/green-screen work. I'm not sure if there has been any Intra vs. Nano 280MB shoot outs?

Not to start a flame-war, but a lot of the shooters I know think the Proprietary P2 format's days are numbered, so, most are not investing it in. It seems every manufacturer has a new, better camera/format being released monthly. It's scary to invest in anything.

For me, with the economy as it is, buying a new camera was out. But, the Nano was the perfect option for working in a high-quality, file based workflow.


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Jeff Regan
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 2:59:50 pm

Ernie,

The bit rate of an MPEG2 codec is hard to compare to an MPEG4(h.264) codec. The latter is more efficient, some would say twice as efficient at a given bit rate. It's not that straightforward, depends on frame structure, color space. AVC-Intra 50 is considered to be similar in quality to DVCPRO HD at half the bit rate. AVC-Intra 100 is 100Mbps and there is no other in-board, one-piece camera, 10-bit, full sample codec available except for the Sony 9000 HDCAM SR camcorder.

The other thing a high bit rate can't change is the difference in 8-bit vs. 10-bit color depth. AVC-Intra 100 has 4X more shades of gray than any 8-bit format.

Regarding P2, it is not a format, just a memory medium. We know that it is scalable, since it has been used with multiple codecs. Panasonic will be offering AVC-Ultra, which should offer higher bit rates to handle 4:4:4 color space and 3D recording, using P2 cards.
P2 cards have a throughput of 1200Mbps, are very durable and reliable. Those who use P2 work flow know it is pretty bullet proof.

My point about changing cameras to a P2 model, such as HPX2000, is that you could have sold the 900 for a price similar to a used 2000, taken the money spent on nanoFlash and applied it to P2 cards--but this only makes sense if you don't have clients who demand tape.

I agree that nanoFlash is a great option for original Varicam owners and F900 owners, and of course HDX900 owners who still need to deliver tape as well. I just think an HPX2000 with Intra is a better solution.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Ernie Santella
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 3:42:07 pm

I did think of selling my HDX900, but I do have clients that still want to walk away with tape at the end of the day. So, I decided to keep it. Plus, I didn't like the idea of buying a used camera that I have no idea how it was used and maintained. My camera is 4 years old and still looks brand-new.

A couple things I can add... Nano will be releasing a 10Bit update for the NanoFlash soon. That will be great. I just like the company. It's Colorado-based (where I am) They release great new features in each update. (Timelapse, Under/Over cranking etc) They are very sharp to what us pro's need.

Something that turns me off is that, I don't like the fact that P2 is Proprietary storage. Kinda' rings of what AVID did that with their AVID only hard drives, That's not good for the industry. Panasonic can charge whatever they want for storage. We need more universal, easy access storage. (I want our production world to be BetaCamSP again - haha)






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john sharaf
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 4:00:18 pm

Ernie,

I'm interested to know your source of information about 10 bit "upgrade" from Nanoflash. In my various queries to them on the same subject they say they have no such plans. Furthermore, because the codec they use is hardware driven (by a Sony card) I find it very difficult to believe that if they were to offer such a feature, that it would not have to be on an entirely different product.

Also regarding your comment about Avid-only drives, I know, because I did it for many years that one could purchase the same hardware Avid did as OEM and by turning off "drive filter" you could save a lot of $$$. You see hacking of all all types of electronic equipment to improve speed, performance and to save money these days, but turning a 8 bit device into 10 bit is a more like alchemy than anything else. I hope to be proven wrong though!

JS





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Ernie Santella
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 9, 2010 at 4:12:58 pm

I found the 10bit upgrade in one of the forums. It was a post by Mike Schell, the Convergence guy. I will try to find it.

UPDATE: Found the link...

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/convergent-design-nanoflash/469173-dv-magazine-...


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Jeff Regan
Re: NanoFlash Review
on May 10, 2010 at 9:48:37 pm

Ernie,

A couple of things--and I agree with most of your points-- a solid state record camera bought used is nowhere as big a risk as a used tape based camera. The Panasonic HPX2000/2700/3000/3700 cameras have 5 year warranties. This is because there are virtually no moving parts.

Even though you've taken great care of your camera, a tape transport is nothing but moving, mechanical parts that wear out and get out of alignment over time. Any used card based camera is a pretty safe buy, compared to tape or even disc based.

P2 memory cards are proprietary to a point, but Fuji and Maxell also sell P2 cards, albeit for around the same price as Panasonic. Sony's SxS cards are somewhat proprietary(with the exception of some JVC and Arri models), as are their XDCAM disc based models.

P2 is the most mature and well accessorized memory card platform and is proven daily in news gathering world wide. I think it would be unlikely to see network news crews with external recording solutions onto tiny, non-write protectable media.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Peter Corbett
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 1:51:29 am

[Ernie Santella] "And no, I don't work for Nano or anything, just wanted to post my field test. This is perfect for us with Varicams or HDX900's."

Just a note for 50Hz Varicam users in PAL countries. I've been testing the Nano extensively with a Varicam H-series, and my conclusion is that the audio will not sync up in 25P mode on the Varicam. This is becasue of the constant 60Hz/60fps Varicam recording in which the Nanoflash can't pick up the corrected audio when recording in 25fps Crank mode. The pictures look fine but the sound is out of sync.

Also, I think it is due to the 60fps thing, but T/C triggering the Nano in 25P mode leads to a two-second delay before recording starts on the CF cards (I'm using Sandisk Extreme 64gb 90mbs cards in case someone thinks it's the cards causing this).

I still really like the Nano and will use it on other cameras. If anyone has a workaround for PAL/50Hz/25P AJ-HDC27 filming, I would love to hear it.

Regards,
Peter

Peter Corbett
Powerhouse Productions
http://www.php.com.au


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john sharaf
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 2:53:53 am

Peter,

I know for a fact that audio is not embedded in the 25p/50i formats, but I'm not sure about time code. I believe the work around would be to input the audio to the audio in connectors on the Nanoflash.

JS





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Peter Corbett
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 3:00:51 am

I'm definitely getting audio recorded on the Nano. It's just out of sync. If I record the same HD-SDI signal into Final Cut with an AJA Kona set to VFR, the sound is recorded in sync at 25P/60Hz.

Peter

Peter Corbett
Powerhouse Productions
http://www.php.com.au


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Ernie Santella
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 3:28:38 am

Did you try contacting Convergence directly? They are a pretty small company, I'm sure they will respond to you.


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Peter Corbett
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 3:48:20 am

Yes, they've been looking at it, but I don't think they have a tape Varicam there. The camera is out getting a new VF gadgets handle fitted but I will try again on Thursday and keep plugging away at it.

Peter Corbett
Powerhouse Productions
http://www.php.com.au


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John Cummings
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 11:04:52 pm

Hey Peter, not to derail the thread, but I thought I'd mention that I just put one of those VF gadgets handles on my HDX and love it. Much stronger and more versatile. Now if I could just find some strap posts for it...


J.Cummings
Chicago
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50
847-220-3172


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Peter Corbett
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 11:09:34 pm

[John Cummings] "Hey Peter, not to derail the thread, but I thought I'd mention that I just put one of those VF gadgets handles on my HDX and love it. Much stronger and more versatile. Now if I could just find some strap posts for it..."

I'm the one probably derailing this thread! ;) I got it last week on eBay for a hundred bucks. They are so well made.

Peter

Peter Corbett
Powerhouse Productions
http://www.php.com.au


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John Cummings
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 10, 2010 at 11:17:46 pm

Wow, that was a great deal.
Sorry boys...as you were...

J.Cummings
Chicago
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50
847-220-3172


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John Rosson
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 17, 2010 at 1:06:24 pm

ernie,
really appreciate this thread.
i'm looking at the nanoflash too down the road.
right now i've been using the FS100 -- and have had no 'loose cabling' issues such as others have had. i did get a cable made especially for the the 900 though -- paid a good nickel for it -- it's worked great.
but solid state, smaller, and better picture is hard to ignore.
thanks,
jr


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Erich Roland
Re: NanoFlash Review (PAL Varicam)
on May 25, 2010 at 11:03:22 pm

hey Guys, One of the great things about hanging the Nano onto a HDX or Varicam is the producer then has the choice of using the tape as primary and file for back up or Off-line viewing/editing. Or Using the file primarily and having a fairly solid Archival copy to put on the shelf with out having to worry about backing up the back-ups when there is only one file recorded. The archival issue continues to be a major problem for non-tape original recordings that live just on hard drives. with file recording ideally 2 copies are made in the field, and then transfer again to ingest and again to Archive.

It's a win-win when we have a duel recording going to tape and flash at the same time, all those questions and issues are gone with one recording, no multi copying needed, ingest once and done.

Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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