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new to EX format questions

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Dave Johnsonnew to EX format questions
by on Nov 22, 2011 at 12:51:46 am

I've used XDcamHD for a few years and love it, but have never touched the EX format and need to buy a PMW-EX3 for my employer on short order. I wasn't expecting so many record options and have very little time to work out all the details so I'd greatly appreciate any insight on the pros and cons in terms of workflow efficiency, capacity, reliability, etc.

  • Sony PXU-MS240 Mobile Storage Unit
  • Sony PHU-120R 120GB Professional Hard Disk Unit
  • Sony SBAC-US10 SxS Memory Card USB Reader/Writer

    My understanding is the first two record to what are essentially proprietary portable drives that offer greater capacity and transfer speeds than the SxS cards and the last one is to transfer from SxS cards.

    Although cost is a consideration, I'm always more concerned with long-term costs over immediate savings. In other words, I'd rather spend more up front than lose money in the long run by adding hours to every project's workflow or losing work due to a "cheaper" and less reliable approach.

    If you use and prefer any of those, please mention why ... along with any gotchas someone totally unfamiliar with the format might miss when buying.

    Thanks in advance for any and all tips.

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    David JohnsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 23, 2011 at 12:16:57 am

    Well, no help yet, but I've heard and read more than enough horror stories about SDHC cards/readers so I've decided we'll only use SxS cards. So, to refine my question, do I just need some SxS cards and one of these ...
    Sony SBAC-US10 SxS Memory Card USB Reader/Writer

    Or, does anyone know why it might be better to use either of these ...
    Sony PXU-MS240 Mobile Storage Unit
    Sony PHU-120R 120GB Professional Hard Disk Unit

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    Andrew WilsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:11:24 pm

    Depends on your needs...

    The Mobile storage unit is for off loading your SxS cards while still in the field. IMO, it's overpriced. For that amount of money, you might as well get an older MacBook Pro from ebay that still has the express34 slot and you get the same functionality as the mobile storage unit but with a laptop for field editing, viewing, backing up to optical, etc...

    The Hard-Disk recorder is good if you need lots of storage while in the field for long recordings. While you can hot-swap SxS cards continually for as long as you have cards, I've found that importing clips that are spanned across multiple cards works but I've found that it helps to have all the BPAV folders mounted at the same time works best. That means copying them to your computer and then doing the import.

    The external USB reader/writer is handy if you don't have access to the camera in the editing bay. If you do, you can just plug the camera into the USB port and import that way. You can even import 2 cards at a time by plugging in the camera. If you have the camera handy, there's no reason for the reader/writer.

    All these options record at the same quality level. If you've got the money and best quality is important, I would look at a AJA kipro mini. That allows you to record to ProRes422 and is no less intrusive than your other outboard options... but costs a little more.

    I have 2 16 gig cards and a bunch of 8 gig cards which you can find used on ebay pretty cheap sometimes. I like the 8gig size since I can archive to DL optical. I do lots of short form work so it's pretty rare I need to off-load in the field. Still, I have enough cards to go non-stop for 5 hours.

    I've been shooting on SsS on an EX-1 for 3 years and it's been rock solid. Never lost a clip or a frame (knocking on wood).

    Andrew Wilson
    WestView Digital Video & Design

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    David JohnsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:34:46 am

    Thanks very much for your feedback, Andrew. My employer is a large corporation so buying used on eBay isn't an option or worth the risks. Using the camera as a deck isn't an option either so I'm currently leaning towards the SBAC-US10 Reader/Writer and a few 64Gb cards.

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    Michael SloweRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:29:04 am

    Good grief David, "a few 64GB cards", how many hours can you shoot at one go? Four hours of 35 VBR in an EX per 64 GB card should mean no need to download in the field. When I have to download I put the BPAV folders on to a portable USB powered 350 GB drive going through a MacBook. Then backup to another drive back at base before importing to the edit system. Why the need for the reader/writer you mention?

    Quite agree with you on the E-Bay card question, why take chances, it's like using second hand tape, would you? So far (touching wood) I've found my S X S cards to be faultless, Sony did a good job with those, better safe than sorry I always say.

    Michael Slowe

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    Dave JohnsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:36:26 pm

    I appreciate your feedback and understand your points, Michael. I was trying to keep my posts brief by not going into every detail, but must factor in our specific circumstances. For example, it's very likely cards will get lost and budget cycles won't allow purchasing additional cards as needed. So, we can't miss important needs because we chose to delay a relatively minor expense by buying an extra card after we needed it.

    Similarly, we often shoot 4-6 hours on each of 2-3 consecutive days with no opportunities to transfer footage and reformat cards. So, footage will have to sit on cards until there's an opportunity to transfer and back up.

    Also, our primary cameras are PDW-F355s and we often shoot in HQ mode so we can't assume we will want to shoot all EX footage in SP mode.

    [Michael Slowe] "Why the need for the reader/writer you mention?" To get footage from cards to any one of three edit suite computers of both platforms (but none of which are a MacBook Pro with an express34 slot) and without using the camera as a deck. Also, to avoid the method of copying files from cards via Finder and Explorer, which many EX users seem to consider problematic and unreliable.

    [Michael Slowe] "... why take chances, it's like using second hand tape, would you?" No ... we take zero chances in our circumstance and it has served us well. In fact, we didn't even re-use our own tapes when we were shooting on tape (primarily because all footage is archived, rather than concerns over re-using tapes).

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    Michael SloweRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 28, 2011 at 8:51:55 pm

    Dave, I now understand all your points. You refer to the fact that you don't want to shoot all your footage in SP mode. I don't think many users of the EX cameras shoot any of their footage in SP mode - that would be at 25mbps and is SD. When I mentioned shooting times for the cards I assumed it would all be in HQ mode at 35mbps (VBR).

    Michael Slowe

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    Dave JohnsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Nov 28, 2011 at 9:55:20 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, Michael ... you mentioned 4 hours record time so I thought you were suggesting SP mode ... the 64Gb SxS card specs say HQ Mode (35Mbps) record time is 180 min and SP Mode (25Mbps) record time is 240 min

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    Butch HendersonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:39:05 am

    We shoot news with 17 EX-3's, and use SxS cards primarily. I have not tried the "SxS-1" cards yet, as a backup we have Hoodman SDHC cards and adaptor sleves. I like having the adaptor sleeve option if I run out of space and can go out and grab a couple of cards.
    I have had many SDHC cards physically fall apart from the constant use, but have not had any data loss (knocking on woodlike substances).
    We use Mac Book Pro's with XDCam Clip Browser to offload the cards to hard drives. I believe the Windows version of Clip Browser does the same. Ideally you could keep the card, and a backup copy of the data on a seperate hard drive(or 2).
    Good luck fitting all the accessories on the EX-3 though. my camera went from 8 Lbs out of the box to 18 with 2 Lectro wireless recievers, a Sony V-Mount battery, a top light, and a D-M Accessories shoulder mount.

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    David JohnsonRe: new to EX format questions
    by on Dec 11, 2011 at 9:05:24 pm

    Thanks for the great feedback, Butch. Our circumstances aren't as extreme as shooting news so it's reassuring to know that the format stands up in your scenario.

    We use XDcam Browser for our XD-camHD footage, which will still be the large majority, so I'm hoping we can use it for the EX stuff too. To clarify, since Sony didn't see any need to do make things clear, I'm talking about XDcam Browser (the one where they supposedly combined XDcam Transfer and XDcam Clip Browser).

    I went with the SxS-1 cards since they're about half the price and, according to Sony, they offer "the same performance and reliability as more expensive SxS Pro cards, the SxS-1 has about one-tenth the lifespan (about 5 years with heavy use)". I'd feel safer replacing any type of memory cards with new ones after about 5 years anyway.

    Since I had to rush through the various purchase decisions before I knew about the D-M Accessories shoulder mount, I ended up going with the Nipros shoulder mount (

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