Description image

The $4500 Sony PMW-100: a Sign of Codecs to Come on the 4k Sony F5 (And Why Canon Should Be Worried)

04.4.12 @ 2:15PM Tags : , , , , ,

The powerhouse FS700 wasn’t the only new camera that Sony recently announced. Another camera was quietly (at least to this community) introduced that packs a punch and has its sights square on Canon’s event/doc cameras: the XF100 and XF300 series. The real announcement behind the announcement is the way that Sony is positioning its separate camera models and features. Sony has a clear idea about where specific cameras should stand in terms of features and price, and it seems we might get a more powerful F3 sooner rather than later.

First, here are the big specs, from Cinescopophilia:

  • 1/3″ Sensor
  • 50 Mbps MXF MPEG HD422 Long GOP
  • MPEG HD420 35/25Mbps & DVCAM 25Mbps
  • Compatible with SxS, SD, XQD, Memory Stick Media
  • 3.5-inch WVGA (852×480) LCD
  • Slow/Fast motion: 1 fps to 60 fps in 720p & 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080p mode.
  • HD/SD-SDI output, Composite Out, Genlock input, time code in/out, i.LINK (HDV/DV) in/out, and A/V Out.

So what’s the big deal here? For one thing it destroys compares very, very favorably with the Canon XF series of cameras in features and price. The fact that this camera has a better internal codec than the three times more expensive Sony F3 is not something to take lightly. It’s also arguably better than the internal codec on the FS700, but that’s more of an apples to oranges comparison since it’s MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4. Regardless, it’s certainly telling of things to come. The FS700 is an extremely powerful camera with a 4K downscaled sensor to 1080p (4K RAW will be available as an upgrade with a proprietary external hardware recorder). At just under $10,000, it still doesn’t have the internal codec and the SxS card compatibility of the $13,000 F3. That leaves some interesting gaps in hardware compatibility:

  • $5,000 Sony FS100 – 4:2:0 28mbps H.264 internal (No ND/4:2:2 HDMI)
  • $8,000 Canon C-Series DSLR 4:2:0 28mbps + ALL-I 90mbps (No ND/4:2:2 HDMI/4K MJPEG internal)
  • $10,000 Sony FS700 – 4:2:0 28mbps H.264 internal (ND Filters/8-bit HD-SDI/4K output)
  • $13,000 Sony F3 – 4:2:0 35mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/10-bit 4:4:4 HD-SDI)
  • $16,000 Canon C300 4:2:2 50mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/8-bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI)
  • $16-$20K Sony F5 – 4:2:2 50mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/10-bit 4:4:4 HD-SDI/1080p internal, 4K output)

The bold lettering are my guesses, but I’ve heard rumors of that name being the replacement to the F3. If you look at that pricing structure it creates clear differences and all of the cameras can actually co-exist peacefully together. I’m not sure if that is Sony’s plan, but if they were to keep producing all of these cameras, the next camera down would not have significantly better features without spending some serious money on extras. Sony wants to move to 4K sooner rather than later, but they are setting the users up for a nice transition. They’ve got Canon in their sights at all price levels. At NAB Canon will probably announce their own $10,000 or less 4K camera. Sony is trying to beat them to it and take some steam away by positioning the FS700 right there – in possibly a better form factor as well.

If Sony does release an F5 camera, it would have to be way below the F65 in features. That’s about the only place I could see Sony really cannibalizing themselves – but they seem to be much more willing to do so than Canon. If Canon doesn’t have another high-end camera up their sleeves, the C300 is going to look even more overpriced than it already does compared to the F3, which now has S-Log 4:4:4 standard in all new cameras. The only hope that Canon has is that their 4K DSLR will have the performance people are looking for. At the price point it will probably be released at, it’s going to be crippled in a lot of areas as compared to the FS700. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens at NAB in a few weeks.

[via Cinescopophilia]

Here are some more photos of the PMW-100:


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 54 COMMENTS

  • Am I missing something here? I don’t see what precisely you are referring to as the PMW-100 but if it is the first camera you give specs to, it’s strange that you are comparing it to another Sony camera that you say is 3 times more expensive, as though this is bad for Canon. Maybe I missing something in the flow of the story?

  • I’m not really a filmmaker, but it seems like this isn’t really a filmmaker’s camera. More like a broadcast TV camera. Codec is great, but it’s got a 1/3″ sensor and a fixed lens. I’d easily take the FS700, or even the FS100 over this.

    Different market I suppose.

    • Narrative filmmaking, no, documentary filmmaking, yes?

      • Well yeah, documentaries, reality TV, that kinda thing. That makes sense.

        • You’ll only shoot tv and/or documentary on something like this when your budget is zero to none or all you need is a really small camera.
          These little handheld 1/3″ cameras are a plague to work with, I’ll take the Sony pmw-350k over this at any time for tv shooting. Nothing beats a shoulder-mount 2/3″ camera for documentary work.

    • Whoops, I was confused. Thought those specs were for the F5, not the PMW-100. Forgot which camera the post was about haha.

  • Vanlazarus on 04.4.12 @ 2:29PM

    I don’t understand your statement: “For one thing it destroys the Canon XF series of cameras in features and price. ”

    We own a Canon XF100. It cost $2999, and outputs 422 MXF files at 50Mbps. It has a 1/3 sensor and XLR inputs. How is the PMW-100 destroying it in features and price at $4500. The Canon XF105 has Genlock and Timecode for $3999, which still beats this camera in price. What other important features does this camera have that the Canon XF100/105 don’t? Am I missing something?

    • Joe Marine on 04.4.12 @ 2:56PM

      Maybe destroys is too strong, but it’s certainly better. I’ve used the XF100 compared to the XF300 and the XF100 screen is much worse. Forgot to put the sound up there too:

      24-bit four-channel 48kHz audio vs 16 bit
      Minimum illumination: .08 lux vs 1.6 lux – which at the low end means nothing, but the signal to noise ratio is better on this camera
      More card options SxS, SD, XQD, Memory Card
      Significantly Higher Resolution Screen: 408,960 pixels vs 306,666

      • Nonsense. Your comparison is pure speculation based on Sony’s press release. This isn’t “journalism” and your sweeping statements (“certainly better”), based on Sony’s press release isn’t intelligent and lacks credibility.

        • I don’t understand. It’s not journalism because he’s basing his info off of a press release?

          • Vanlazarus on 04.5.12 @ 8:40PM

            @Drew… I don’t think anyone is out of line using specs given in a press release for comparison!

      • I think “destroys” is a fair statement when you consider that the sensor used by Sony will (IMHO) shame the over-priced XF100 and XF105. The Canon’s aren’t bad cameras per se, but for $3,300 and $4,300 respectively, the CMOS sensor they use is bested even by Canon’s own HF M500, which uses an upgraded version of the CMOS PRO sensor, and sells for only $550. Just my opinion of course.

        • Vanlazarus on 04.5.12 @ 8:49PM

          At the time we bought the XF100 it was the only camera offering the 422 MXF at 50mps. Hardly overpriced for that, unless you think a better sensor with a far worse codec is better!

      • Vanlazarus on 04.5.12 @ 8:46PM

        @Joe… Most of these better features are ones that I don’t care about (nor do my clients)… so for $1500 more, I’m not keen.

        “24-bit four-channel 48kHz audio vs 16 bit”
        Will my clients notice this at all? Could I even tell?

        “Minimum illumination: .08 lux vs 1.6 lux – which at the low end means nothing, but the signal to noise ratio is better on this camera”
        Better low light performance would be nice I admit.

        “More card options SxS, SD, XQD, Memory Card”
        This is totally a non-factor to me and most others. The Canon XF100 supports cheap CF cards. The only other format I care about is SD. SxS? Why would I want support for that expensive format?

        Significantly Higher Resolution Screen: 408,960 pixels vs 306,666
        Nice, but not worth $1500 to me.

        • Joe Marine on 04.5.12 @ 8:50PM

          That’s fair, different preferences for different shooters. For people who’ve been using the EX and NX for awhile, this is the perfect addition.

    • Sure the Canon XF100 is a great camera; remove the fixed lens and ND’s while adding a $1000 S35mm sensor, downscaler and S-Log and you have a $16,000 C300? I think the point being made here is that Canons product line is in disarray, specifically where they’ve attempted to position their C-series.

  • I still don’t see how that even remotely deserves the moniker “destroys”.

    24-bit vs 16-bit audio? The ability to use SxS cards? Since when are these are killer features? And for…$1500 more?

    • Joe Marine on 04.4.12 @ 4:03PM

      Yeah it was a bit strong (I’ve adjusted it), probably because I think those specific features are worth it.

      • How can overpriced memory cards be a benefit?

        • Joe Marine on 04.5.12 @ 3:17AM

          Being able to use the same media if you’ve invested in the Sony system is an important feature for a lot of people. If not, you can use regular old cheap SD cards.

      • Shaun Wilson on 04.5.12 @ 5:19PM

        Joe, I think ‘destroy’ is a perfectly good way of describing it. I’ve shot for two months on the C300 and know its limitations, from what you have speculated based on the new Sony Specs I would completely agree.

  • Hahaha All that are good news. the best is yet to come… I am not in rush at all I am pretty sure that I will finally have the camera I have been looking for a longtime ago at the right price too… hhihhi hahaha

  • You know, my biggest gripe is with the form factor of all cameras coming out these days and the lack of any sort of shoulder rigging like older models. I understand that these can be used in conjunction with rails and shoulder mounts, and the fact that the cameras are supposed to be “lightweight” and “handheld”, but trying to get a steady shot after a few minutes with your hand on the side just doesn’t seem to be plausible.

    • c.d.embrey on 04.4.12 @ 5:36PM

      I agree, I want an Eclair/Aaton, and all they give me is a Bolex.

      I think the problem is that they think that DSLR people prefer KlugeKages. After the success of the 5D2, Canon dropped the the more ergonomic XL/XL1, form factor from their line.

      The FS-100 has a good chip, but I have to spend $750.00 at Solid Camera (plus about a $1,000.00 for a viewfinder) to get the viewfinder where it should have been from the factory. Then you need to move the side handle — the list is endless and so too is the additional cost.

      • Once you have invested in those support rigs, they will work for several generations of cameras, much like your lenses. I mostly shoot with a monopod on-the-go and tripod for rock-steady shots. If I want camera motion, I’ll use my glidecam.

        • c.d.embrey on 04.5.12 @ 2:46PM

          If the camera companies made properly designed video cameras (not talking about DSLRs), there would be NO REASON for KludgeKages!!!

          Take a look at the first 7:30 of this video showing Rodney Charters, Lan Bui and Drew Gardner using a Side/Front Viewfinder that Lan Bui cobbled together from Zacuto parts. Now look at what Zacuto designed The Canon C300 Target Shooter would not be fun to hold all day, Now look at their New Recoil kit Ah, they finely got it right.

          Now take a look at the Eclair ACL 16mm film camera, designed from the start as a shoulder mount camera. Why in the effing ‘ell can’t an inexpensive video camera be made this user friendly???

          • They make these cameras to be as small and as modular as possible and I’m glad they do. On almost everything I shoot, the camera is on a tripod, dolly or crane. A shoulder mount would add extra weight and be in the way.

          • @dixter, how would a camera, designed from the start, as a shoulder mount add weight?

            With a C300 all they need to do is move the viewfinder from the rear of camera, to just in front of the lens. And to move the side handle more to the front. How does this add weight? The people who sell KludgeKages want to also sell you a shoulder pad, but they are not necessary. The Eclair and Aaton film cameras didn’t come with a pad, and a C300 wouldn’t need one either.

            Many Arri Alexa spend most of their time on a gear head, but they can be put on your shoulder in seconds.. No need to buy and install an expensive (and heavy) KludgeKage.

  • Jordan Carr on 04.4.12 @ 5:07PM

    40mm is the widest the lens goes?


    Uh oh.

    Back to stacking cheap wide angle glass and adapters.

  • My wish list, a Canon C300 with 10-bit 4:4:4 at 2K internal but, more importantly 10-bit 4:4:4 !

    I don’t really fear for Canon, Sony makes wonderful cameras and this one is very impressive but, no interchangeable lenses weaken it.

    There is always some sort of compromise and, there is usually something better for film-makers, especially when it comes down to usable features and price.

    I don’t want to troll but… when Sony charged for the S-Log upgrade on its F3, it made me think twice about ever buying their cameras.

    I personally though that upgrade should have been free and, I DON’T, know, if its normal for manufactures to charge for upgrades like that.

    In short, I still think the C300 is better.

  • curious to see panny’s reaction to all this. hoping for an af100 successor, or new sibling altogether.

    • We all are waiting to see what Panasonic has to offer.. hopefully this will make some prices going down…

  • Yeah Joe… I don’t know.

    I mean it all sounds good on paper, but let’s be honest – this is a handheld ENG/TV camera. The people looking at the Canon C or Sony F aren’t gonna give this a passing glance.

    24 bit audio and multi-card support are nice extras, but nobody will pull the trigger based on those goodies. Ultimately, it’s about the image. Shooters can and do do some crazy workarounds just to use the camera that looks right for their “vision” or whatever. Onboard XLRs and a nice LCD won’t matter to them.

    Oh, and they’re gonna HATE the fixed lens.

  • This is more about the Sony F5 – a cinema camera so it’s relevant. This is super interesting information. I am psyched.

  • ACtually, dont count out the “F5″ as a crippled version of the F65. I met with sony, they intentionally made the F3 better than the F35 at 1/4 the price. The F5 or what ever the F3′s replacement will be will most likely be all the camera it can be…. just like the F3 is. What will separate the F5 from the F65 is that the F65 records 8K raw. The F5 will most likely be a 4k camera only. And by 4k i mean most likely Quad HD, to fit in with the 16X9 world. so something more like 3840×2160.

    • Joe Marine on 04.5.12 @ 4:15PM

      That’s interesting. I guess that goes with Sony not worrying about cannibalizing their product line. The F65 will still have the huge advantage in that it will still have more color information because of the oversampling. I was under the impression that the F65 could never actually record 8K because of the way the sensor is designed, just like the C300 will never record 4K. Or is that not what you meant?

      • Joe, the Sony F65 will only currently record at 4K even though it is an 8K sensor. You’re right, it is all about oversampling to get the highest resolution for all colors. I doubt they will ever try to enable 8K recording – there is just no real need for that. When and if that day comes, there will likely be a whole new camera with additional new technological features.

  • I’m willing to bet Canon’s 4k C-series DSLR will also carry a much stronger flavor of codec than the 5D’s ALL-I/IPB options, mostly because 4K data is so dense.

    Remember that Canon RAW patent that was flying around? It would make sense to announce this camera now in April, release it Q4 along with a C300 update that lets it shoot their RAW variant too. It would instantly make them competitive against the slew of new cameras.

    • Raw and halving their prices! I obviously missed the Canon patent, do you have a link for it?

  • Reading this again, it probably wouldn’t work on the C300 sensor.

    • The C300 has a bayer pattern sensor, if it were possible to get raw data of the camera it could be traditionally demosaiced. As best I understand it, the patent is on using a heuristic to choose between resolutions for each frame (intelligent downsampling of the chroma channels) as a form of lossy data compression. Not sure I like the idea but I’ll withhold judgement until I get to play with some footage.

      Thanks for the link.

  • Daniel Mimura on 04.11.12 @ 4:30PM

    Ha ha! They still haven’t given up on the Memory Stick.

  • Hi Guys

    So what is the conclusion re Sony PMW 100 v Canon XF105 ?

    I need a third camera for multicamera shoots to go with Sony PWM 350L and Canon XF 305.

    Also thinking of investing in the Black Magic Television Studio – any experience with this ?


  • What I like about this Sony PMW 100 is that it comes closest to one of my most favorite cameras, Sony PD100 DVCAM, which was brought out in 2000. I make creative documentaries and this looks like a perfect choice to invest on, given the present Broadcast dictates and HD rule.

  • only internal ND filter that kick in

  • Mário Rildo on 10.22.12 @ 8:16AM

    Olá,eu gostaria de saber quanto custa esse equipamento entregue no Brasil – Curitiba PR..desde ja muito obrigado–

  • The Sony PMW 100 manual says that the video clips are limited to 2GB. Kind of disappointing.