PDW 700 firewire video is there, then it isn't
I wonder if anyone else has had this happen? I purchased the PDW 700, with SD record and playback option, in early November 2008. Paid full price and was promised by local reseller that I would get it in two weeks! Did not get it till Feb 2009. Did not get my SD option till March 2009! (Way to go Sony!) Then found out 800 was coming out (Once again, way to screw us Sony!) You had my money interest free for 3 months, then introduced a better version! Anyway, I digress to my current frustration! I have used the camera for several ABC network shoots and had to go to the local affiliate here in Orlando to feed my (SD dvcam) video via firewire, its the only way they have it set up for xdcam feeds. It worked flawlessly for several times... then a couple of months ago I upgraded to the new 1.5 firware to get the new neat features. Lo and behold, the next time I went to feed at the affiliate through firewire, there was no playback of video through firewire... I don't have an xdcam deck, and they could not figure out how to feed SDI, had to feed test out VSB but with no audio, as they could not figure that out as well (was on the weekend)...needless to say the network engineers were pissed that there was no audio.
I have since checked with Sony tech support and they all said that this camera cannot and does not have a playback feed of video through firewire, only FAM-file acces mode. Well, I hate to break the news to them, it worked before the 1.5 firmware upgrade! It worked perfectly fine several times, unless I was in a twilight zone and was really using a older Sony 510 sd camera (which, firewire playback works, thank you very much!), or every prosumer mom and pop dv camera since 1995! Let me state this another way. Every 25 megabit dv stream that every small dv firewire camera has, has been able to play a live video and audio stream since the dawn of time! In fact, the local tv station camera guy hooked up his palm camera with firewire and was able to see it on their system, so no problem with their setup. I even tried the only menu setting on the 700 that deals with firewire. That is firewire FAM mode: Enable and Disable. Tried both ways with no video! Also tried FAM access mode and was able to transfer video to my laptop via FAM access mode, so the firewire bus is working on the camera. No problem there!
What the hell is going on with Sony? They claim sd video playback via the firewire couldn't work on the 700 camera, and yet it did! It also works on every SD XDCAM camera before the PDW 700! Are they trying to smother that feature with the new firmware so we all have to buy a deck! I am very frustrated by the fact, that such a universally accepted feature like firewire, that used to work on my 700 camera, and then didn't work, all to be told by Sony that it never worked! ....I must be in the twilight zone! Please let me know if anyone has had this problem, or if there is a work around. I am meeting with the station ops manager to hopefully setup an SDI feed point in the future...
I believe that the 700 does not support Firewire playback, and I know it's a problem, especially as you report, in the breaking news realm. I know of another ABC News photog, a staffer in LA who discovered this issue while trying to feed video to his laptop/uplink at the Tsunami, when he also discovered that it didn't work, and just as the engineer at your station did, used his little DV cam thereafter. He called me on his return and we discussed this and he was definatly going to persue the issue up the network engineering chain to Sony. We both believed that it could be addressed in the next software upgrade. I have yet to hear back from him, but will make it a point to check up on his progress and report back to you.
john at sharaf dot net
John, thanks for the input, and I appreciate any and all updates. I had called ahead and went today to the ABC affiliate and The news Ops Manager Dave Sirak, had set up an SDI feed loop for me so I wouldn't have any more issues... very cool of him! What really gets me is the fact that the firewire actually worked several times before, on my camera, for sending a live video and audio stream (in SD), and then after the firmware/software it did not! This should not be an issue! It should absolutely work through firewire like every other older SONY XDCAM camera still does! Especially since I paid for the SD record and playback option! ( $1880 hard earned clams ) I was under the impression that firewire playback would work...There are many situations where the firewire option is needed in the field and the camera should not have less of an option to feed video, than that of an older less expensive camera... again I appreciate any updates... thanks, John...
I just got off the phone with Sony Tech support and they confirm that the pdw 700 does not do what the 510 and as you say... every other sony camera does... output video/audio via the firewire output except in FAM mode. Yes it is rediculous and incredibly annoying when there is a ton of equipment out there that uses firewire as their primary point of connection.
From what I can see there are no plans from Sony to address this unless something has happened and the tech is out of the loop.