July 25, 2012

Sony Adding 50mbps 4:2:2 to the EX1/EX1R Replacement, the PMW-200

While large sensor digital cinema cameras are all the rage in narrative filmmaking right now, there is still a huge market for small sensor 3-chip cameras that are convenient for broadcast news, documentary, and event shooting. The PMW-EX1R and PMW-EX3 deliver a fantastic image, but the 35mbps 4:2:0 minimum compression does not compare very favorably to other small sensor cameras in the $5,000-$10,000 range -- like the Canon XF300 series, which features a 50mbps 4:2:2 recording mode (though the Sony cameras should be slightly better in lower light situations thanks to the larger sensors). We recently discussed that the BBC was not likely to approve the PMW-100 as an officially supported camera because it only features a single CMOS sensor. This 3-chip, 1/2" camera, however, should have no problem getting through the strict European standards.

Here are some of the main features of the PMW-200 -- thanks to Cinescopophilia for the information:

  • Three 1/2" CMOS sensors
  • 1080p 1-30 fps & 720p 1-60fps
  • 50Mbps 4:2:2/35Mbps MXF and 35Mbps/25Mbps MP4 and DVCAM
  • 3.5-inch WVGA (852×480) LCD
  • 15 Second Cache Record Feature
  • Card Capability: SxS ProTM, SxS-1 technology (two slots), (SD, Memory Stick Pro, and XQD with adapters)
  • September Release Date -- Price: $7,790

Here is a video review of the camera courtesy of Cinescopophilia:

The 15 second cache record feature is extremely handy for event shooting (like weddings) where you may not always be recording. Something spontaneous might happen and instead of missing the first few seconds because you hit the record button late, you'll actually be able to have that footage safely on your memory card. At this price it makes sense that the bitrate would be increased to compete with Canon's offerings. While the EX1 is still a great camera, there are many situations that would benefit from having that extra color space and less compression. For narrative filmmaking, this camera obviously won't be very attractive thanks to it's massive depth of field. Even a smaller large sensor camera like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is many times bigger than the sensors in this camera (which is why the notion that you can't get shallow depth of field with that camera is a little silly). Thanks to the 3 sensors, though, resolution with the PMW-200 will be extremely good, as each chip is given a primary color of red, green, and blue, instead of the bayer pattern associated with most single sensor cameras.

Though it is not a direct EX3 replacement, since it doesn't feature an interchangeable lens, the PMW-200 has more features at basically the same price as the EX3 (except for being able to remove the lens, of course). The price might scare some people away, but one of the huge positives is that a new release like this will drive a few more EX1s into the used market, and with an external recorder attached to either of those cameras, you should be able to match and even possibly exceed the picture quality of this camera. I've always personally been a big fan of the image quality coming out of the EX1 (I made a feature with a 35mm adapter and an EX1 -- though I dislike the button layout), and I'm sure this updated model will not disappoint.

If you're already an EX1 owner, what would make you want the PMW-200 over those other models?

[via Cinescopophilia & Cinescopophilia Review]

Your Comment

22 Comments

I want the Sony F5 with 50mbps 4:2:2 recording mode

July 25, 2012

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It will be better than that. ;)

July 29, 2012

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My biggest complant about the EX1 is the awful menu layout. Sony puts things in weird places in my personal opinion. Also, the labels on next to the buttons have completely worn off for about 65% of the buttons on my camera. I love the fact that the PMW-200 will have a SD!!

July 25, 2012

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Clayton

Yeah completely agree about the menu. But to be fair, I think most menus on these cameras are pretty bad. Why does a camera have to cost over $50K to get a nice and clean layout with the most used settings given priority?

July 26, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

You know Joe, I like the fact that you are not biased in your opinion... I agree 100% with you!

July 26, 2012

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Black dynamite

Seems like it won't have a direct SD slot, but it will support SD through adapters. Looks like it's SxS only.

July 26, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

My new hacked GH2 has a sharper, better exposure, and auto-focus than my EX-1. Also, the sunsets are dead on vs the horrific blooms from the Ex-1. My Sony PD150 shot more realistic sunsets... so I will wait and see a sunset shot with this new camera. Right now, the gh2 and go pros are fine for youtube and DVD. I can't wait to upgrade with easier workflow.

July 26, 2012

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I'm a big fan of the EX1 simply because it's a workhorse, while newer cameras have surpassed it in image quality, I still would keep my EX1 around for event coverage and the like.

That being said, I might replace it with this, haha.

July 26, 2012

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This is not an EX3 replacement. You should correct your misinformation.

July 26, 2012

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kryslogan

Not a direct EX3 replacement, no, but neither is it a direct replacement of any camera since it's a new product category - more expensive than the EX1 and around the same price as the EX3. It's a whole new line, whether they will release an interchangeable lens version of the PMW-200 is unclear, but I can't see where they would put it. It would have to cost well over $10,000, and at that price point it doesn't look very enticing.

July 26, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Hi Joe...apologies for going off topic, but I really wanted to get your opinion on the rumored canon C100, the baby C300. More specifically what do you think canon will have to do, or rather leave out of the C300 to get a sub $10k 'C100'?

July 26, 2012

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Marcello

There really aren't any real rumors about this camera - it's still speculation whether Canon will even enter this market. I think for them to make a C100 different, they'd probably use the new mirrorless mount, and it's possible that the C100 would not have ND filters. Other than that, changes in the physical body of the camera might make for a lower price. Certainly it won't have better than 50mbps 4:2:2 8-bit just like the C300, so I don't expect them doing anything different with codecs. It's also possible that they won't have an HD-SDI port on the camera, HDMI only.

But take all of that with a grain of salt, as that is pure speculation based on the competition and what Canon has done in the past.

July 26, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

review of the Sony PMW 200 by one of the most knowledgable guys in the field, Alister Chapman:

http://youtu.be/qQoDRNinmss

July 26, 2012

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lexicon

...Is there a hardware limitation why 50 Mbps 4:2:2 can't be implemented via a firmware update for the EX-1R, EX-3, or F3 cameras ?

Or is this Sony forcing you to buy a new camera when the old one is capable of being upgraded to record 50 Mbps 4:2:2?

July 26, 2012

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Guy McLoughlin

They could end up doing the same as they did for the F3 and charge for the firmware update for about a year until people stop caring and then just release it for free. That is, assuming it is possible, though I can't see why not when it is a matter of codec. Though the EX1 does encode the same way as older XDcams, so it may be a completely different way of processing the MPEGs.

July 26, 2012

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LeighO

I hope that for the FS700 4K update they offer a 4:2:2 8 Bit in-camera recording at 2.5K res. I would gladly pay for something like that.

Not sure if I need 4K RAW, but 2.5K AVCHD would be fine. Since BMC is pushing the game, maybe it can even be 4:2:2 10 bit at 2.5K. I would gladly pay even more for that.

July 26, 2012

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Gene Sung

I've made a bunch of comparisons of the EX1 of the HQ 35Mbps image quality of the in-cam SxS XDCAM files versus the same shots sent out of the HD-SDI spigot recorded onto a AJA KiPro in Apple ProRes422 and I was really surprised at how hard it was to tell them apart! Initially I was upset about it because I was hoping for a big difference, and I went as far as to question the true quality coming from the HD-SDI output. But the flip side of the results basically shows that the Sony XDCAM codec is simply great at delivering a quality image at such a low bit rate. The half inch CMOS sensors can deliver enough DOF if you purposely set yourself up to get that and also, it's just nice to be able to quickly setup and record good balanced audio without a lot of workaround.

I know this sounds very pro Sony EX but know that I also own a Canon 5DmkII and I really love that camera, but it truly is more difficult to shoot on compared to the EX1 in many ways. I've gone as far as using a Wendt X3 with a custom TA5 cable that send a stereo unbalanced mix from a shotgun or lav to my 5DmkII and it sound fantastic, but it's still easier to shoot on a EX1. Mostly I miss the higher dynamic range of the 5DmkII and I use it for certain things but the EX1 is still a great camera and it's wonderful to not end up with terabytes of HD shot in 100Mbps when the 35Mbps SxS media looks really really good.

July 27, 2012

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Stephen

I don't understand, what is the use of having 3 chips, when the chroma sampling is stil 4-2-2?

August 2, 2012

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sanveer

No jello.

August 2, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Chroma subsampling has to do with encoding, not with the actual sensor. When you have three chips, each sensor is either red, green, or blue. This means that you have one pixel for every color which then get averaged together to form one final pixel that is a combination of all three colors. This means that there isn't any interpolation going on at the sensor side - you're getting the full resolution because the camera doesn't have to make up information for sensor data.

With a single sensor, you have to deal with a bayer pattern, which means that you have pixels in groups of 4 that are red, blue, green, and green. This means that interpolation has to be used to achieve a full image, because pixels don't exist for every color. After interpolation, you're losing some of the resolution and color information because the camera is guessing from the very beginning, at the sensor level.

So a Single CMOS sensor camera that records 1080p, will have lower actual resolution than a 3 Sensor CMOS camera that records 1080p. This is the reason why RED continues to up their pixel count. With a single CMOS design, the more resolution you start with, the better looking your target resolution will be (in the case of RED, 4K). For example, their new Dragon sensor will do 6K - and many people will ask why, but the answer is in the fact that a single sensor 6K will resolve more than a 5K or 4K single sensor if your final output will be 4K.

August 2, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Has anyone had problems with the viewfinder on the EX1. There is one in excellent condition going second hand for a good price and i ma very tempted, but have heard that the viewfinder is not very clear. I would never use the flip out screen to shoot with so thats not an option.

February 26, 2013

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lee otten

"So a Single CMOS sensor camera that records 1080p, will have lower actual resolution than a 3 Sensor CMOS camera that records 1080p."

Well explained! Most folks do not know this. It does seem though that larger sensor cams do have a more film like look. I have both, a Nikon D800 and a Panasonic AG-HPX300. Wish Nikon would give us more pixels for video.

You might also explain that pixel count is not resolution. Lines per picture height is resolution. Drives me crazy that this is not brought up more often.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_resolution

And lastly XDCAM 50mps 422 is still Long GOP, correct? It's 2013, lets get off long gop! My HPX300 is several years old and does AVC Intra 422 at 100mbs/10bit to the P2 card. Admittedly the 422 out of the HDMI on the D800 is color wise only 8bit but you can do an intra codec or "raw" via an external recorder as I assume you can with the PMW-200's SDI.

Y'all be cool,
Robert A. Ober

March 30, 2013

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