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PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there

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Chris Cardno
PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:15:34 pm

Maybe this is on a different board but I've been very surprised that there has been so little chatter regarding the 800 XDCAM. The camera was released over four months ago yet there have been very few comments on it here. Is it the perfect camera that never gives cause for complaint or reason to question it's operation?

:-)

Granted, it's a $40,000 camera in a world of V-DSLR buzz and RED fervor but it really seems odd that so few people have discussed it. If there is anyone out there with one and some time, would you mind chucking in your two cents regarding your experiences with it so far?

Thanks,

Chris Cardno
Visual Edge Productions
Bethesda, MD


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Sam Painter
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Nov 24, 2009 at 11:41:06 pm

If you are going to shoot with a 2/3" HD camera, it is one of the two best choices out there.

I love the camera!

I bought a Sony PDW 700 back in January and then picked up a PDW f800 in July.

It has all the advantages of the P2 workflow without the download hassle.
You just hand the client the disc and that is their archive/edit master.

The camera is very fast and extremely quiet in low light.
The camera setup menus are extensive so you can dial in what look you want.

I have a Panasonic HDX-900 which is a great camera, but given a choice I'd rather shoot with the 800 because of the higher ISO rating of the camera and the higher resolution.

My only complaints with the camera are:

Power consumption, with a color viewfinder it is power hungry.

Sony's arrogance in making the wireless port in the back of the camera work (w/ both channels ) only with a Sony wireless.
This is supposedly being worked on so you could put an Electrosonics, Audio Ltm. or Micron receiver back there and receive both channels without a wire going to the back of the camera. In this configuration you can record four separate audio tracks.

Also the lack of shooting 24p in SD and shooting 30p in 720p. That has not been an issue for me, but to some future clients it might.

Other than that I would say it is the documentary camera of choice.

The 700 and 800 have been shooting for 60 Minutes the last year and lately more than ever.
If you watch the show they still mix in some HDX-900 footage along with Sony PDW-700 and PDW f800 camera footage.
The difference between the Panasonic and Sony cameras is noticeable.

If you want to shoot film out for a theatrical release you have a 10 bit output from HD SDI.
The camera records 8 bit on the disc... which for HD TV by the time it hits your screen at home, is more than great.

I love Panasonic and the 2700 and 3700 are amazing cameras, especially for the price.
Unless your client has the budget to hire a "Media Wrangler " or you want to spend the end of your day dealing with file transfers, the Sony PDW 700 or F800 are the cameras to go with.



Sam Painter

P I C T O R
Productions, Inc.




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Robin Probyn
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Nov 27, 2009 at 11:35:45 am

couldnt have put it better myself!



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Chris Cardno
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Nov 30, 2009 at 8:50:07 pm

Sam, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with the camera, it's very much appreciated. Ours finally showed up and is currently sitting all shiny and new on the workbench behind me. I'm looking forward to playing with it over the next few days to really see what it can do.

Thanks again,

Chris Cardno
Visual Edge Productions
Bethesda, MD


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Adrian Roup
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:58:00 am

Hi Sam!

I saw your post about the F800. I'm using the camera next week for the first time and I'm really excited about it. I've been looking forward to using it since it came out... I now have the chance to shoot something with this camera for the first time. I will be using an F800 from a rental facility and I'll most likely be one man banding camera and sound. I've shot extensively with the EX1 for years and I know there are similarities in the menu logic and features (time lapse, over/under crank, gain etc.) however I know this camera takes things to a whole new level.

I was wondering if you'd be kind enough to provide me with some tips that might optimize my shooting experience.

1.) Any idea where I could download a users manual online?
2.) Any tips on shooting PAL, or more specifically delivery / setup specs for UK TV? I know they like 14:9 title safe. I'm assuming 23.98p.
3.) Any other insider tips or things to watch out for / protect against? From what I've read the disk system is very robust with a 30 second (at least) buffer so bumps (should they occur) should be handled smoothly.
4.) Do you know the ISO equivalent at 0db gain? Any tips on good exposure practices (using camera auto focus on midtones as a "lightmeter")
Any tips or thoughts are very much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Adrian



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Michael Shugrue
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Dec 8, 2009 at 5:12:52 pm


We purchased one of the Sony PDW-800 Cameras. I think we are one of two in British Columbia. We are a rental house and have rented the camera on a Doc for the past 3 months and the client loves the footage. Menu's were a little tricky, but no issues.

http://www.cameraonetechnologies.ca


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john sharaf
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:45:09 pm

HI Chris,

As an owner of three 700's and an 800, I can not speak highly enough about these products. Previously I've owned Varicams and F900/3 and F900R's and I can say without hesitation the the 700/800's are twice as good at a half and a third of the price.

Sony has leveraged their preexisting imager and DSP from their top-of-the line OB camera, the BVP-1500, included a brilliant media recorder and sells is for under $30K and $40K respectively.

I have not always been a Sony lover, having owned Ikegami Betacams (which were clearly superior both in look and service support) but I really have to hand it to them with this current PDW line.

While the rest of the industry fragments around recording media, formats and codecs, Sony has chosen XDCAM Professional Discs with MPEG, and while propriatory to them they still take advantage of low cost, high capacity, file base and 50 year archival quality, without (as Sam says because he knows) the need to download at the end of the day, or at least hire someone else to do it.

When you add a 1920 native imager that also does 720 in all the HD and SD formats and speeds (except of course 24p in SD and 30 in 720 which can be accomodated by transcoding or conversion on output) you really have a "Swiss Army Knife" of broadcast cameras.

If it weren't for our present economic doldrums these cameras would undoubtedly have already become the "new Betacam" and created an environment where freelancers could own one piece of gear that would be universally accepted for a time long enough to both amortize their investment and to turn a good profit.

By way of disclosure, I have to say that I do work with a Sony dealer in SF selling this and other of their Professional and Broadcast products in addition to my work in LA as a DP and rental facility. If you want to talk about a purchase please feel free top contact me off list.

JS

john at sharaf dot net




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Adrian Roup
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:52:17 am

Hi John,
I saw your post about the F800. I'm using the camera next week for the first time and I'm really excited about it. I've been looking forward to using it since it came out... I now have the chance to shoot something with this camera for the first time. I will be using an F800 from a rental facility and I'll most likely be one man banding camera and sound. I've shot extensively with the EX1 for years and I know there are similarities in the menu logic and features (time lapse, over/under crank, gain etc.) however I know this camera takes things to a whole new level.

I was wondering if you'd be kind enough to provide me with some tips that might optimize my shooting experience.

1.) Any idea where I could download a users manual online?
2.) Any tips on shooting PAL, or more specifically delivery / setup specs for UK TV? I know they like 14:9 title safe. I'm assuming 23.98p.
3.) Any other insider tips or things to watch out for / protect against? From what I've read the disk system is very robust with a 30 second (at least) buffer so bumps (should they occur) should be handled smoothly.
4.) Do you know the ISO equivalent at 0db gain? Any tips on good exposure practices (using camera auto focus on midtones as a "lightmeter")
Any tips or thoughts are very much appreciated.
Kind regards,
Adrian



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john sharaf
Re: PDW-F800 XDCAM - it's awfully quiet out there
on Dec 8, 2011 at 2:04:58 am

Adrian,

Here's link to user manual download:

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-broadcastcameras/cat-xdcam/product-PDWF800...

PAL frame rates are 25P and 50i (never 23.97!). 25 emulates the "film look" and 50i for the "Live TV" look. You should consult your client for their preference.

Camera's ISO is 320-400 at 0 Db. If you're shooting outside resist the temptation to use minus gain as you'll loose latitude in the highlights. For sever contract situations use HG2 or 4.

This camera makes beautiful pictures, but always use it's highest recording format "HD422" and be careful, the next lowest is called HQ, that's only 35Mbits not 50 like the 422.

Good luck.

JS



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