Sony XDCAM EX

28
Nov
2007
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I have my Sony XDCAM ex. It is incredibly impressive. I sold my Panasonic HVX 200, which I have owned for a year but used for just 36 hours. I liked it but had real issues with the picture, the P2 format and the way the camera operated.

Now I have a new solid state HD camera and it improves on the HVX in every way as far as I am concerned. The LCD screen is so sharp. The lens, is like a real pro lens, the picture quality is amazing and the workflow is very impressive. 60 minutes recording on one card in full HD is way better that the 16 minutes on the HVX with a similar size card.

My thanks to Den at Mitcorp for all his help and getting me serial number 3 (geek).

Tomorrow I hope to try it out using both my Letus Extreme 35mm adaptor and also shooting it “clean”.

At the weekend I am off on a five day trip which will take in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Mull in Scotland. It’s a series of five short films to run on Channel 5 and Sky over Christmas. It looks at five very different families, who follow five different religions from all over Britain. It’s not about religion but a glimpse into their family lives.

I shot the first part in Brighton a month or so ago on the XDCAM HD F350 and it looks beautiful!

I was going to shoot the rest on this camera but the crazy part of me has decided to see if the XDCAM EX can be more than just a B camera. Can it be a replacement for a full size camera when you want to travel light? Well I will find out! Armed with the camera, 5 cards, 4 batteries, a miller lightweight solo ds 20 tripod, 35mm adaptor with a few lenses and my macbook pro with 2 external hard drives. I will be really road testing this, with some stunning landscapes and lots of actuality.

Over the next week I will be updating my blog with all my experiences, frustrations, and hopefully there will be lots to say!

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Comments

  1. Bob Petersen says:

    Thank you so much for starting this blog. As a potential EX1 owner, I really appreciate the ability to get first hand impressions from an owner. Will you be posting any sample video from your shoots?

  2. Philip says:

    Possibly, time permitting. More likely I will post screen grabs.

  3. Mike Gunter says:

    Hi,

    Curious as to why use a Letus Extreme adapter with the EX1 when the CMOS is at 1/2″. I should think the DOF would be enough for effect.

  4. Philip says:

    Not even close! 1/2 cmos is leagues ahead of 1/3 cmos but the DOF is still nowhere close to 35mm, it’s closer to 2/3rd inch but still nowhere near shallow enough for what I want.

    If you go far away enough from your subject and zoom in and you are wide open the yes you will be able to knock the background out of focus. But, with a 35mm adaptor I can be 3 foot away from that same subject and get an enormously more out of focus background than with just the camera on it’s own.

  5. Gabriel Florit says:

    Thanks for starting this blog! I’m looking forward to your conclusions re: XDCAM EX.

  6. Phil from Glasgow says:

    Phil I went to the IOV show last month (UK video show) and Sony’s demo camera suffered this vignetting very badly on the left of screen, I have tried many times to log onto DVINFO to pass on this info with no joy. Sony told me it was a faulty image stabilizer (IS) and a known bug that would be fixed by the time these cameras went to production. Looking at some of the chaps on DVINFO Sony have not cured this problem and we are still seeing this IS problem. I am due to receive this camera on Friday and will be pretty P***ed off if I also get this problem. Sony have delayed this camera in my opinion to overcome this problem, it’s a shambles.

  7. Philip says:

    I know of this problem and have tried one other camera than my own and not experienced it. Only VERY VERY mildly if you look very hard on a white background. It seems some cameras are suffering more than others.

    I have come across a number of bugs already but I am sure these will be ironed out in the next firmware update. Don’t worry about the vignette issue yet. See what yours is like and if there is a problem. Get it replaced.

    If the fault is wider than this then yes Sony are going to have to sort it out asap!

  8. Steve Shovlar says:

    Hi Phil, nice blog and something I will follow.
    I too am getting very excited about the EX1. I also own the HVX200 with Firestore and am seriously contemplating chopping it in for an EX1. In fact I doubt there’s much difference in price when you factor in all the accessories that I have with the HVX! that would go as well!

    Did you sell your HVX on Ebay or as a trade in? I agree with you also on the hVX image. Very poor in low light, no matter what Mr Green says on the Dvx Forum!

    Enjoy your trip to the Sound of Mull. All those colored buildings on the seafront at Tobermory should look excellent!

  9. witzke says:

    Phill….
    do you ever sleep dude?
    My EX gets here on Friday and can’t shake the need to read every last drop of info on the thing…. My merlin vest/arm is ready to spin the thing as well…. bet you beat me to it!

    What are your plans for a mattebox?

    Are you lug’n a macbook pro around to offload?

    Anyways…. keep up the blog!

  10. Philip says:

    Hi Chris

    I have a Chrosziel Mattebox already that works fine. I want the new redtock one but who knows when they will finally start shipping them!

    Macbook Pro is to offload onto the hard drives.

  11. Basspig says:

    How is the audio on the EX1? Does it depart from Sony’s tendency to roll off the bass on all of their prosumer cams?
    I was wondering if you would run a RightMark Audio Analyzer test on it and post the results for those of us who are waiting on this purchase because we’ve been disappointed with Sony’s past definition of “20-20000Hz”.

  12. Philip says:

    Hi Steve
    I initially listed it on ebay and had a lot of interest then a guy saw my listing on dvxuser and offered me my cash asking price. I did throw in 3 gards, 8 batteries and a p2 store!

    I don’t regret it as I hardly used the camera. I didn’t like the image and I hated the LCD screen. Mr Green is a very knowledgeable chap but obviously very biased as he write all those books and stuff.

    Even P2 lovers that I have shown the EX too are blown away by it. One senior guy at Sky TV said he had wished it had come along two years ago before they went down the P2 route.

    Am hoping it wont be raining in Tobermory!

    Thanks for reading

  13. Philip says:

    HI Basspig

    i have little high end auido experience to be honest.

    How would i run that test?

  14. Maxim Dierickx says:

    Very curious on footage from the EX1 with a 35mm adapter. Or stills. Do you notice any abnormalities at all? Is it really that great? Damn, I’m jealous! :)

  15. Phil from Glasgow says:

    I get my EX1 Friday morning with 2x16Gig cards, battery charger, spare battery and card reader. I was shocked to find out that old Sony decided that a “Cine Alta” camera would go down the road of on camera battery charging, I have never done this nor do I recommend it. I was told the WA lens would be available in December.

  16. Basspig says:

    Hi Philip,

    There is a free downloadable version of the analyzer software from RightMark.org and it’s just a matter of playing the test signal from a high quality sound card, or burning them to a CD and playing a CD player output connected to the camera’s line inputs. It takes five minutes to run the test, and it yields a large amount of info about the camera.
    I have several test examples here on my web page:

    http://www.basspig.com/CameraAudioTests.htm

    You get frequency response, distortion, noise, dynamic range, channel separation and a lot more–a complete rundown of the camera’s audio system. It’s very revealing and can explain a lot about what you hear and why things might not be quite right with some of the cameras, such as the V1U.

  17. Look 1st says:

    Hi Phillip, looking forward to the footage, especially with the LEX ;)
    Im not ready to sell my HVX (love this camera!) but I do have my eye on the EX.

  18. Philip says:

    Why do you think you charge in camera Phil? It comes with a battery charger to charge the batteries on.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Where dod you here this.. ??

    It comes with a Charger (IN THE BOX) !

  20. blow says:

    hello philip
    thanks for the blog and hey stunning shots there . very convincing ! what mount is on the letus xtreme 35 , could i mount 35mm nikon lenses from my old
    f 3 ?

  21. norwaycalling says:

    the million dollar question, then.
    the m2 adapter or your brilliantly used letus extreme?
    your footage is beautiful.

  22. philip says:

    i use nikon f mount lenses and i am selling my m2 adaptors!!

  23. Scott says:

    Hi Philip,

    Absolutely beautiful work. Sony should send you a check because your test footage has inspired me to consider trading in my HVX for an EX1.

    One question, with regard to shooting the EX1 with the Letus Extreme. I have a number of Canon L-series lenses. Would I be able to use them with the Letus and the EX1? Forgive me if that’s an amateurish question; but I’ve never shot a video camera with a 35mm glass in front.

    Again, great work. Hope your trip is a success.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hy, I see You have beside the EX1, the JVC 201 camera. On which situations You prefer one or another, or having the EX1 will never use the JVC?

  25. Javier says:

    Hey Philip!, first of all: beautiful footage!!!

    I have a question for you: I was planning on getting the EX1 for an indy film, over the HVX-200, nevertheless, looking at the 1920p stills that have been posted lately I notice a very disturbing “oil paint” effect on the image. It doesn’t seem to bother the people who own it and seems to be totally blown away by the low light capabilities and better resolution. My question to you is: do you notice that “oil paint” effect???. It just looks unreal image to me, and even though it shows better resolution I am afraid I will end up blowing down the image to 720p to soften it and make this disturbing effect dissapear (which would totally defeat the purpose of getting the EX1 on the first place). I wanted to ask your opinion from a DP point of view. I was thrilled by your 720p footage, but I wonder if you have seen this “oil paint” in the 1080p footage… This is so disturbing that completely takes away my worries about the 35mbps compression. This worries me much, as it really reminds me of the artifacts of a $100 digital still camera that my little nephew owns, it just looks cheap!!!… was it just a bad technique to extract the stills, or the camera really exhibits this problem???

    Please Philip, I need your trained eye to make a decision as I have no access to a EX1 on my area as of yet.

    Thanks!!!

  26. Philip says:

    Hi Javier

    I have only noticed the oil paint effect on compressed images. The raw footage it perfect!

    I also haven’t used my JVC since getting my EX1.

  27. LogWagon says:

    Hey Phillip, You mentioned Raw data v. compressed. Doesn’t the EX1 store its images as MPEG2 files? So doesn’t the life of an image in the EX1 start as a compressed file?

    Thanks
    Jeff

  28. Philip says:

    when I say compressed, i mean compressed for the web. When I say raw, I mean full ex codec.

  29. Henrik says:

    Hi Phil!
    First of all I like to thank you for your posting and your devotion to the moving arts. Seems to me like you have your heart where it should be. Helping others while helping your self. Thats´s a nice point of view in my book. And for all your films that you have posted I am amazed how well organized and framed every singel shoot is. It is art when it is the best. Thank you for that!

    Now to my questions.

    I am curious how much work you did in post for the Piccadlilly Furs? I know you used Magic Bullet Looks(never worked with it) but I am wondering if it is alot of tweeking and squeeking or if it´s just a standard filter to apply?

    Secondly. I read that you are a fan of Nikon lenses on the Letus35 and are wondering if you have any suggestions on good lenses and a tip where to get them for a descent price. Going to the Philippines in february for an independet shooting and I would love to get your thoughts on these matters.

    Thanks for your time and I hope I hear from you soon.
    An admirer in Sweden.

    /Henrik

  30. Anonymous says:

    Philip, all of your stuff is wonderfull. I’ve just bought an EX1 partly because of your shots.
    I notice you dont pan much and I’ve noticed that pans and verticals blur badly with this camera. I believe its due to the rolling shutter CMOS sensor
    We have found changing the shutter helps. Any tricks or tips would be appreciated. Look forward to hearing you on Digital Production Buzz. See below comments on the EX1 blur.

    http://www.freshdv.com/2008/01/xdcam-ex1-hands-on-night-footage-compression-examples.html

    its the first mov file under the 1st paragraph

    http://www.freshdv.com/podpress_trac/web/1744/0/EX1_400_0186_01_HQ_720-24-60p_nightrun_full.mov

    http://dvxuser.com/jason/CMOS-CCD/

    http://www.ssontech.com/content/skool.mov

  31. Mike says:

    Thanks for all of the video clips with comments and tips on the EX-1. i just bought mine last week.

    i have a few questions for you:
    1. regarding your PP thread. i was unable to access the KNEE screen. do you know why?
    2. i noticed that some of your EX-1 clips have the same glitch mine makes. its a horizontal line that starts at the bottom and moves vertically thru the screen. have you contacted Sony about this?
    3. i plan on buying a Letus for my camera so that i can use my Minolta still lenses. have you had a problem pulling focus with your Nikon/Nikkor lenses because the focus marks on my lenses are hard to read because of the small text? or do you just use the viewfinder to judge? if so, how would a 1st AC/Focus Puller manage to achieve critical focus?
    4. how much does your built system weigh with the camera, letus, rods & support, and lens? i’m looking for a good tripod and head and was wondering what kind of payload i need?

    thanks in advanced for your help.

    keep up the good work. with your talent, the big feature is near.

    cheers,
    mike

  32. MARC DIPAOLO says:

    Philip,

    Congratulations on your 15 millionth website hit!
    Job well done!

    Cheers,
    Marc
    USA, IL