June 16, 2013

Sony PMW-300 Picks Up Where the EX3 Left Off and Adds Onboard 50Mbps

Sony's PMW-EX1 and its bigger, more shoulder-friendly brother the EX3 came as pretty powerful and versatile tapeless solutions to prosumer shooting. Though they filled out a more modest lower-end to Sony's XDCAM and CineAlta lines, they still saw action in some pretty impressive places, perhaps best known ('round these parts at least) for the DIY indie monster movie Monsters as well as District 9, albeit for a purposely 'more video-y' look in the latter. Now, Sony is attempting to pump some fresh blood into this 1/2" three-chip prosumer family with the newly-announced interchangeable-lens PMW-300.

Via cinema5D, here's some of the key points from Sony:

An evolution of Sony’s industry leading PMW-EX3, the PMW-300 is able to record 50Mbps HD material in MPEG HD422, meeting broadcast standards around the world, including the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) requirements on HD broadcast acquisition. The high bit rate ensures excellent capture of fast moving objects, while its chroma subsampling feature is perfect for a wide range of video encoding areas such as VFX and green screen applications. The camcorder can also be upgraded in the future to support Sony’s revolutionary XAVC codec.

The PMW-300 features the same EX-mount interchangeable lens system as the PMW-EX3, making it compatible with a wide range of 1/2 inch and 2/3 inch lenses. [The] two types of lens packages planned to be available for the PMW-300 [are] 14 & 16 times zoom lenses.

Based on customer feedback the PMW-300 features an innovative semi-shoulder design that has a rotary hand grip, allowing comfortable recording over long periods of time. The PMW-300 has the most flexible choice of recording media in the market, [including] SxS memory card as well as other media such as SD, Memory Stick and XQD cards depending upon budget and application. Finally, Sony today confirmed that an optional wireless adapter currently in development will enhance proxy recording, wireless transfers, Wi-Fi viewing and metadata input.

One of my first thoughts is understandably on its 4:2:2 50 Mb/s CBR straight to SxS, which is no laughing matter. Since its release, I've used the EX1 (and still do) in a variety of shooting scenarios, and to this day I'm still fairly impressed with what you can get out its 35 Mb/s VBR MPEG-2 codec -- with 4:2:0 chroma resolution, no less (err, no more). It's almost needless to say, though, that these specs are what EX shooters wish they'd had from the beginning. Sure, you can tap the EXs for 4:2:2 with whatever amount of compression you wish via HD-SDI, but that's admittedly kind of a drag to have to do with a seemingly full-bodied camera with a kitchen-sink variety of options, sliders, sub-menus, buttons, levers, and rocket boosters already built into it.

Speaking of drags and HD-SDI, the EXs' PsF output during 24p shooting has been known to put a damper on otherwise bright and sunny days, too. Of course, both of these considerations are sacrifices easily made when you really care about what you're shooting, budget and whatnot allowing. This is where the new PMW-300 would have a definite advantage -- all the right stuff is finally happening internally, and finally all onboard the SxS cards you (hopefully) already own. And, if you are a shooter with significant investment in the XDCAM EX line, the lens backwards compatibility is another plus. The bottom line and real question will be, is it worth the re-investment?

Pricing for the PMW-300, which I can't seem to abbreviate as nicely as 'EX1' or 'EX3,' has not been announced yet. But given B&H's pricing for the EX3 standing, for the moment at least, at a little under $8,000, it will likely cost a bit. Again, I'm still quite pleased to shoot on the EX1 and often happy with the results, but your mileage may vary.

Is a 3-chip, 1/2" sensor, pseudo-shoulder-mountable, non-RAW 1080p-shooting prosumer camcorder worth +$7,000 to you? How about $5000? What seals the PMW-300 deal for you -- or, what's the deal-breaker? Is this a 'rental only' model for you, where do you see its application in your shooting?

Link: Sony introduces the PMW-300 semi-shoulder mount camcorder -- Official Sony Press Release

[via cinema5D]

Your Comment

32 Comments

Good too see the DOF craze hasn't completely killed off these sensor cameras love my EX3 even if I do feel like it's in it's twilight

June 16, 2013

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Chris Lambert

I use the EX1R, I prefer the image to a 5D, at least my 5D2. I'm a bit sick of the big chip look that HDSLRs have given the world. DOF is fine but there are times when it gets in the way, sports, news, etc don't benefit from this visual effect.

June 17, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

I think it's brought about a bit of lazyness in film makers that the answer to everything is less in focus and to hell with everything else just this morning I got some lovely shots on a shitty council estate for a docu with lovely deep focus, only one focus pull made.

Unfortunately though so much demand has shifted to 5d's etc nowadays this cameras market will be greatly reduced to the ENG and corporates of the world with the reasons for it's use you pointed out in another reply below it's a more professional feature set than dslr's but so many people now come into filming thinking because they have a 5d (the same camera as X film) that they are now as good as X filmmaker all the while having no idea what a zebra, peaking etc is and from what I've seen normally using shutter speed to control exposure.

Be interesting to see what comes about when all these kids jump on the 4k and RAW gravy trains

June 17, 2013

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Chris Lambert

Firstly I'm looking forward to raw if only to avoid the Mach banding and blocking that compression has.
Secondly laziness of DOF can be found in my personal projects and movies like the Hang Over 3 were the DOF was distracting as it lead to a loss of scene context and was over used

June 18, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

What do you mean when you say the PsF output puts a damper on bright and sunny days?
Is PsF bad?

June 16, 2013

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dixter

Well, in short, if I can avoid the use of interlacing for the rest of my life, before delivery at least, I'll be happy.

June 25, 2013

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

I loved Monsters, so I guess for cinema it comes down to this: good story first, camera follows...

June 16, 2013

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shaun wilson

I am curious - why not just use your regular D800 or 5D in a fully automatic mode instead of this? With the DSLR's, you can still run&shot with the auto focus/aperture/ISO settings, if need be, while retaining the still shot capability and the multitude of manual adjustments for the wild life, creative or landscaping shoots?

June 16, 2013

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DLD

You dont buy this camera to run in automode. It is a professional camera with a small chip and the Notion of using a dslr i automode with autofocus for anything other then filmning your own children is just silly.

June 17, 2013

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T

I use EX1R for work and have a 5D2. A HDSLR is a completely different experience and visual look. This camera line was created for News crews and is a semi professional ENG body with inbuilt ND filters, XLR, Zebras and a bunch of software which you need hack into a 5D. This is a video camera, it operates as a video camera, the focus is video with no photo options.
On the 5D I miss the physical controls, professional audio options and the feel a ENG body provides. For run and gun I find using a device designed specifily for video is a better option than DSLR and the rig of equipment needed.

June 17, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

Not to mention buttery smooth manual focus, zoom and iris rings with no motor noise.

June 21, 2013

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Zan Shin

I shot an infomercial recently with the PMW200. The camera produces a sharp and vibrant image and is a breeze to work with in post. It' also very reliable!

June 17, 2013

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Mark

The lenses on these cameras are crazy sharp, colour reproduction is amazing and the full control over MPEG matrixs is beyond what I've seen on the 5D's image profiles. I've never lost any footage or had the unit turn off, until my hacked 5D2

June 18, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

DSLR doesn't mean you have to shoot wide open all the time and you don't need a rig.

June 18, 2013

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Both true but at least when it comes to audio you generally need another device to process (and trick) the DSLR into using XLR sources.. It is getting better, see the A99's XLR adapter though have XLRs and physical controls for every is a better option than a 3.5mm stereo jack.
Course it depends what your filming, how much time, prep, control and budget you have. I'm very lucky I have access to a camera with professional quality and feature set. I've had a bad run with DSLRs over heating, turning off and requiring hacks to get basic video functionality.

June 18, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

I use Nikons (D800) and they dont overheat but for audio, interviews I use the wireless G3 with output set to +12db meaning in camera I need very little preamp so getting very clean audio that way, and for more ambient audio I use the Rode stereo mic pro (the one that looks like a ball sitting on the camera) set to +20db on the mic output and again almost no preamp in camera (record level in camera is set low to achieve the same level).
I'm in Kenya for a few weeks using this small setup and its great.

Side note. If you use a collapseable stills tripod as a counter weight with one leg raised 90 degrees to stabilise (twist) it is incredibly smooth makeshift steady cam. Also you can quickly flip it upside down so the camera can skim above the ground while you hold two legs in one hand and the third stabilising leg angled out is important.

I haven't seen that anywhere else yet.

June 18, 2013

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My experience is with a Canon 5D2 and Sony NEX 5N, the latter is a much better camera in my opinion.
The 5D2 limitations are a great annoyance and ML does make the camera more usable but not enough to make me want to use it. I've heard good things about the D5200 video, though I heard good things about the 5D2.

Tried that steadyCam a couple of weeks ago, great idea, see how it would work but it didn't work for me

June 20, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

The difference between a real mounted rig vs tripod trickouts is huge, steadicam being usable footage and the other not unless you never really cared about the shot being steady in the first place or you only use it for one second. I think experimentation with homemade rigs is awesome though, and is what got me into film.

June 20, 2013

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Bill

Guys love gadgets and a rig I definitely a funky gadget. But it's function is a myth. A camera on a tripod (hopefully there are others out there that use tripods) the footage looks identical wether in a rig or not.

From a stabilisation point of view most rigs are crap forcing you put both hands on stupid handles. You need one hand on the lens always if you or your subject is moving. I'm over the handycam look anyhow but that's just me.

I guess I'm just saying if you prefer tripod then there is no need for a rig. Unless you want to impress your client....

June 22, 2013

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I don't pretend to know all of the components involved in the design and creation of a video camera, but if Sony could throw a super 35mm sensor in a body like this, I would buy in an instant. I am aware of the FS100/700, but they sort of lack the run and gun capability that cameras like this possess.

I've got a 5DII anyway, so maybe this camera plus my dslr would make a good team (albeit with a very different look)...

June 20, 2013

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David Stewart

There is the NEX-EA50, which might be something to look into.

June 20, 2013

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what is run and gun??who really runs with there camera?who really likes the extreme shakiness of that??who really runs around chasing a story or actor and uses that footage??who would really do that??all this talk of run and gun is so overblown and rediculous,,if you did run with your cam you always try to limit the shake with stepping lightly or with some kind of stabalizer or vest and arm,,,to say you choose a dslr for run and gun is just dumb,,,come on,,,do you really film like that,,,?

June 20, 2013

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steven

It's just a euphemism for a more mobile style of filming - like "guerilla" - don't let it bother you so much. :)

June 20, 2013

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shub

Try following a police unit into an early morning raid. You run.

June 21, 2013

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Rory

Or following a promo crew out on the streets of a major city promoting a new service from a fortune 500 company. Events, weddings, documentaries, news etc. There are many applications for this camera. This is no one tool that is good for all jobs.

August 7, 2013

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Allan

I'd pay $8K if I could. I'm not in the market for that at the moment, but I reckon it would be worth it. This camera is the perfect complement for people who already own large sensor units like the DSLR. By the time you fully kit out say a 5DIII rig to the same level as this, you're well over $5K anyway. I'm sure you could get the footage to play nicely with your large sensor footage so together you'd have a kickarse combo - especially for event coverage and weddings etc.

June 20, 2013

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Terence Kearns

Good article. You can find the PMW 300 user group on Vimeo below.

https://vimeo.com/groups/sonypmw300

It would be nice to see the two lenses and their specs.

June 21, 2013

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Bill

For the PMW-300 to stand out from the dense crowd of cameras available now and produce some sales numbers for Sony they should adopt an aggressive pricing strategy. $6,500 - $7,000, no higher than $7,000. If that hurts PMW-200 pricing then reduce the price on the PMW-200. Either that or do as before and offer a rebate for the full purchase price of one or two 64GB SxS cards. This should kick things off.

July 1, 2013

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Al Funo

MY GOD, JUST PUT THE 14X OR THE 16X ON THE S35 EA50 AND BE DONE WITH IT!

OR AT LEAST PUT 2/3 CHIP SET IN THE 300!

July 13, 2013

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name

You can't put a 1/2 inch sensor lens on a super 35mm sensor camera. The lens won't cover the sensor. Sony does need to make a decent zoom lens for their super 35mm sensor cameras though. The current options are absurd.

December 8, 2013

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bob

:) it's more like run, stop, gun(shoot), run again. Essentially this is a camera that allows you to literally move around, even run to get a location, and quickly shoot before the shot is missed. I love the dSLRs(especially now that raw is possible) and bigger cameras, but for certain situations, like some reality shows, a camera that is this contained with a small chip(which makes it easier to keep stuff in focus than a bigger chip) is welcome. However, you should always have a 5D around with a fast lens for sunset and beyond, as the 1/2 - 2/3 chip cameras cannot compete in low light.

January 4, 2014

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basil

"Run and gun" doesn't literally mean running around shooting images, it refers to the speed and efficiency with which you can complete your shots. When dslrs are trapped inside an aluminum frame with handles , mics and monitors hanging everywhere , it's time consuming to reconfigure the rig to either take a ground pov or simply rest on a tripod . That's why there are two distinct work flows for the two styles of camera . If time is not an issue with what you're shooting ie.... A sit down interview, then a dslr is fine , but if action is unfolding quickly in front of you , good luck trying to sequence that with a 5dll.

April 12, 2014

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