Sony’s XDCAM-EX & HD1000u & more!


YES, there it is. Sony’s XDCAM-EX in full motion-picture regalia- yours truly at the helm.
I just got back from Sony’s XDCAM-EX event at Sony Pictures Studio in New York City, Manhattan to be precise, and let me tell you, it was worth the drive into the city- something I try to avoid if at all possible.

At the event there were dozens of press from around the world. We were treated to Sony Pictures’ plush screening room, complete with surround sound and 4k digital cinema projection for the introduction of the EX as well as Sony’s new overarching marketing strategy under the new HDNA (HD in their DNA) branding.

After the polished show, which included a Spanish language section for the international press, I had some significant hands-on with both the XDCAM-EX, now the PMW-EX1 camcorder. Lots of photos. Sony also had the HVR-HD1000u camcorder there so I took the opportunity to pour all over that camcorder and take lots of photos.

Here’s a quick, late night report…

First, there are features of the EX1 that everyone will love.

The “Under $8000” price (i.e. probably $7999 list, lower street price) is pretty nice for the feature set. I found out several, heretofore unmentioned features… including the lower of the two bit-rates the EX camcorder records has been designed by Sony to be HDV compatable- making it usable immediately by any non-linear system that currently handles HDV. Sony did not have this on-hand to show (mixing tape HDV and EX’s HDV in the timeline) so we’ll have to take them at their word until I receive a review unit and can test it with my existing HDV library footage. But, if true, it would be an incredible boon to production because people could immediately start using the EX1 in HDV mode and then move up to EX as their NL systems add support for it.

They had a breakaway of the EX1 under glass showing the imaging block and the way they packed the circuitry inside the body of the camcorder. Take a look:


On the left you can see the three CMOS imagers.
On the right, the two Expresscard slots and the audio level controls amids numerous circuit boards.

I had an opportunity to poke around the menus:


The screen is very customizable and here you can se just a few of the EX1’s on screen indicators, including stereo audio, how many minutes of record time left on each SxS (pronounced S by S) card, time code, format, power supply, and several others that any professional can read for themselves. I don’t need to walk you through everything.

I also caught sight and took a few photos of a completely unannounced product.
Here’s a hint:


More on that when I write the full report.
(Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you know as soon as I post it.)

Lastly, another teaser, but I have more than 25 detailed photos of this baby in a new post:


Photos include all the jacks, every angle, top, sides, and more. Very cool. It just takes some time to process them all and, well, I have to continue with my daily production work as well.

Also, in case you missed it, there’s a nice comparison of the HD1000u versus the camcorders that came before it.

There will be lots of information hitting the web soon from all sorts of media outlets.
As a professional videographer and nearly 20 year veteran in this industry, I will be presenting the news as viewed by someone who uses these camcorders and needs to see, or expects to find, certain features and capabilities. If you have specific questions, just hit me with a comment and I’ll be sure to include answers to your questions in the extended reports.


7 thoughts on “Sony’s XDCAM-EX & HD1000u & more!

Add yours

  1. Thanks for the post, Anthony. Frank here, again.

    I understand that the PMW-EX1 produces an HDV-compliant datastream via its IEEE 1394a (FireWire 400 / i.LINK) port (which happens to be bi-directional and not output-only), but I am also told that in both the 25 Mbps recording mode and in the 35 Mbps recording mode, audio is non-compressed LPCM, just as in XDCAM HD. Question: If this is true, does the PMW-EX1 have a built-in MPEG-1 Layer II audio encoder so that the HDV datastream is in its usual HDV format with MPEG-2 video and MPEG-1 Layer II audio, or does the FireWire port on the PMW-EX1 produce an HDV datastream with the usual MPEG-2 video but with LPCM audio? I ask because although the HDV spec was updated early last year to include the use of LPCM audio, I don’t think that most (any?) NLEs will accept such a datastream, given that normal 1080i HDV camcorders don’t produce such a datastream.

    Another question: I’m wondering if the PMW-EX1 has any sort of built-in multi-camera synchronization capability. I appreciate that it’s equipped with an SDI/HD-SDI output jack, but I’m wondering if perhaps it has a synch function via FireWire such as Sony implemented on their HVR-V1 series camcorders.

    And another question: Sony’s two extant XDCAM HD camcorders, the PDW-F330 and the PDW-F350, both produce MPEG-2 video and LPCM audio in an MXF (.mxf) wrapper. I understand that the PMW-EX1 instead uses an MPEG-4 (.mp4) wrapper. If true, can you tell me why this is? I can see the point in using an MPEG-4 wrapper when the encapsulated audio/video datastreams are, for example, MPEG-4 AVC video and MPEG-4 AAC audio, but why use an MP4 wrapper with MPEG-2 video and LPCM audio datastreams, especially since XDCAM HD uses MXF? Why create an incompatibility when it seems avoidable.

    Yet another question: I understand that the PMW-EX1 has a 1920 by 1080 “native 23.98P” recording mode. In this mode, are only active frames (that is, without 2:3 pulldown) written to the SxS PRO flash memory cards, thus affording longer recording times per gigabyte of storage capacity?

    And yet another question: Sony’s existing XDCAM HD camcorders, aside from their normal full-res files, also produce low-res 1.5 Mbps MPEG-4 proxy files. Is it true that the PMW-EX1 doesn’t have the capability to produce such proxy files?

    One last question, please. Is there any way to use Sony’s HVR-DR60 hard disk drive in conjunction with the PMW-EX1 camcorder? I’m thinking that when shooting live through the lens, for example, if the FireWire port on the PMW-EX1 produces a regular MPEG-2 video / MPEG-1 Layer II audio datastream in an MPEG-2 Transport Stream wrapper (that is, a normal 1080i datastream), that it might be possible to record this datastream on the HVR-DR60 while shooting.

    I note that you made no mention of SxS PRO prices. Sony issued a press release here in the U.S. yesterday that specifies “about $500 for the 8 GB SBP-8 model and about $900 for the 16 GB SBP-16 model”. This is virtually identical to current pricing on Panasonic P2 cards. It looks like the only media cost saving with 35 Mbps Sony XDCAM EX recording versus Panasonic P2-based DVCPRO HD or AVC-Intra 100 recording is due to Sony’s use of a lower 35 Mbps datarate versus Panasonic’s higher 100 Mbps datarate. A lot of people were under the impression that on a cost per gigabyte basis, SxS PRO cards would cost a lot less than P2 cards. This appears not to be the case. While I think that many will find the camcorder itself to be nicely priced, especially if discounted to about $7000 to $7500 street, some will consider the media costs to be too high, even though the cards are reusable.

    I’m tempted to get into the subject of archiving 35 Mbps full raster 1920 by 1080 HQ mode XDCAM EX footage, but that’s a whole long discussion perhaps best left for another time, especially since there will be multiple options available from which to choose.

    As to your teaser photo, where you said, “I also caught sight and took a few photos of a completely unannounced product. Here’s a hint: [photo] More on that when I write the full report.”, can I assume that it’s [I]not [/I]the model SBAC-US10 USB 2.0 SxS PRO card Reader/Writer, but instead something else, such as a storage device to offload footage from SxS PRO cards?

    Sorry for all of the questions, but you [B]did[/B] say in your blog post, “If you have specific questions, just hit me with a comment”. :)

    Thanks again for your post, and looking forward to your full report.

  2. Do you have any plans to test the audio frequency response on this camera? The reason I ask is because we own two HVR-V1Us which Sony’s specification of 20-20,000Hz misleads us to believe the sound quality is near-CD quality. It turns out not to be the case. So naturally, while we’re very interested in the XDCam, we’re reluctant to invest in these units until someone can independantly test and verify Sony’s frequency response claims.
    Have you used RightMark Audio Analyzer to test audio before? It’s available in a free downloadable version and the entire process takes five minutes to perform. It provides a wealth of information.
    I am building a database of camera audio performance data on my web site, and so far, there is a wide deviation between makes and models.
    I would be VERY interested in OBJECTIVE test results on this camera. This aspect of video cameras is almost universally omitted. It would be wonderful if you could break that trend by focusing as much attention on the audio as the video. Thank you for your review on the camera.

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