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?