Atomos Samurai

Sony vs. Blackmagic

I mis-wrote when I said the BMCC is future-4k -- it's the Sony FS-700 that will have that capability.  The BM is a 2.5k sensor.

Phillip Bloom reviews the Sony:

Well really kinda apples and oranges here, they're both nice but different.  One thing that seems to get lost in the Blackmagic deal is that despite being a (future) 4k-capable imager, the chip is WAY smaller than the Sony.  BOTH need lenses and other expensive add-ons.  On the plus side of the BM vs. Sony is the built-in SSD recorder, includes Resolve AND Ultrascopes (each worth about a grand) though you pretty much need a Thunderbolt-capable computer to go with it.  I would say the Sony is a more "traditional" camera (in a good way) from the functionality point of view.  Plus it does awesome slo-mo.  I would guess that it will generally make better images than the BM, due to the imager - but in order to be apple-to-apples there, the Sony requires an outboard recorder like the Atomos Samurai, etc.

What I mean by that is that the BM has an onboard hard drive recorder that can potentially record in any format - and on the high end natively records 12 bit RAW files.  The Sony's internal recorder is NXCAM AVCHD compressed files.  As with my EX1, which records XDCAM EX at 35mbps - you have to go out the SDI spigot to get a 4:2:2 uncompressed signal, and to record that properly you need an external recorder.  The Samurai records ProRes in three flavors, I typically use the middle ProRes422 at 150mbps.

So if you wanted to truly compare the outputs of the BM and 700 apples-to-apples, you would need to record the Sony to a high res external recorder.  (Or set the BM to record compressed) So - another point for the BM.  $3k INCLUDING internal RAW recording capability AND full Resolve AND Ultra Scopes.  That would be a deal at $5 or $6K.  The Sony is $8k without lens (or external recorder, or Resolve or scopes).

This is not to say that the Sony's internal AVCHD files would not be fine for most stuff.  A drive in my Samurai locked up on a recent shoot, and so all I had was the XDCAM on the cards in the camera as backup.  Bummed me out, but the clients can't tell.  And I sure was glad I had the backup rather than having to re-shoot a half day.

So it's a lot to sort out.  I'm having this issue with a lot of items these days - not just what do they do, but what don't they do - and what's the best for my particular needs?

The new Sony PMW 200

It’s pretty bitchin’


People have been complaining that they aren't putting pro codecs in these awesome cameras they're coming out with - like the FS100 and 700.  Why a so-so AVCHD onboard codec, and not an established pro codec like XDCAM?  Even the EX1 and EX3 are XDCAM EX 4:2:0 at 35 Mbps.  This little unit is XDCAM 4:2:2 at 50 Mbps!  Cool!

Again, though, I would like to see what this (new, I think) sensor looks like.  Assuming it doesn't suck, the camera looks like a sure-thing-type good investment. TC in/out, Genlock in/out, SDI out…. it will likely get a lot of use in multi cam shoots due to the connectivity alone.

The big question is, "Where is the PMW-EX5?".  Many expect that to be the next thing to drop.


Sony PMW 200

Some pros and cons on the new Sony camera


$7,800 list price.  The EX-1 listed for around that but sold for $6,500.  I think the earlier numbers were guesstimates of the street price.

Yeah - not exactly cheap.  B&H is listing it for $6,300.  Plus cards and batts and etc.  But it's the same price as the EX-1 was back when I bought it, so not terrible.  And you don't have to buy a lens, and can likely get by without an external recorder.

The only thing that's a bit of a bummer (for me, if I was to consider it as a replacement for my EX-1) is that it is essentially the same chips and lens as the EX-1 with some added features and better on-board recording.  So it's not like I would be getting better quality from the main guts of the thing.  Yes, the recordings going to the cards would be better, but with the Samurai, I am already getting 4:2:2 AND even higher-bitrate ProRes, so I can technically make better recordings with my existing camera.

If I didn't already own the EX-1, though, I would definitely put it high on the consideration list.

The integration with 'pro' XDCAM stuff will be big for a lot of folks.  It should make it easier to do dailies and archives to BD, which I would really like.  I'm finding myself wishing I had an easy way to burn discs of the raw footage I shoot on the thing.  I have already lost some original footage by mistakenly erasing the wrong hard drive (the one with the ONLY backup on it - AFTER I had re-used the cards).  

So just having it on hard drives still makes me nervous, even if I have two copies.  After a year or so, you start looking back through the HDs and going, "hey there's a bunch of space on this one, what if I moved this over here, blah blah…"  and pretty soon you don't know what you've got or where it is.  Clearly I need better data management skills.  If it's burned to a shiny disc though, it's locked down for at least a decade - it's more like having a tape master backup.  I think a lot of pro environments are still using DLT tape, but unless that has changed significantly, it takes forever.  I guess you just leave it running overnight.