Gear Review: Sony PMW-EX1R

3 02 2012

Sony stock photo

Make: Sony

Model: PMW-EX1R

My use: We got one of these packages, along with an extra battery, 64GB SxS card and SD SxS adapter at my current full-time gig.  I use it for the various promotional purposes and in-house training videos.

Average Price: $6,299

My thoughts: I’ve enjoyed using this camera more than I thought I would.  I’ve shot the EX line in the past, but never at any real length, and this camera is essentially the second generation of the popular EX1.  The “R” denotation has taken into account several issues with the first version and provides such things as a DVCAM SD mode, an inversion tool for use with 35mm adapters (wouldn’t this have been nice 5 years ago?), XDCAM HD compatibility to work with the big boys and an HDMI output, among other little surprises.  The EX1 already was a nice little prosumer camcorder, but Sony has definitely improved its appeal and even slightly boosted the sensitivity of the sensor on this model.  I’ve heard a few variances in what different people are getting shooting 1080/24p, but with the scene file profile I’m using (which is a custom profile), my rating is 500 ISO, which is really nice after being used to the abysmal sensitivity  of such models as the HVX200.  Currently, if I was in the market, well let me rephrase, if I had the cash on hand for a new camcorder, then I would definitely put this camera near the top of the pack.  Sure, the DSLR proponents of the world will state that the arena has largely moved past this time of camera, but let’s face it, most of the work I do is simpler and smoother with a field production camcorder.  Furthermore, if I’m shooting narrative pieces, I’ll go with something better than a DSLR if I have the choice.  My only big complaint with this camera is the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor; they are pieces of crap.  Then again, almost every Sony camera I’ve ever used has had a lackluster viewfinder and LCD monitor, so there’s no surprise there.  Use your meter if you’re not already doing so, even on run and gun and docu-style shoots!

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer (for 35mm Prime as representational of other 6 prime lenses included): 

Signal System XDCAM EX, NTSC/PALNTSC area:
HD HQ mode: 1920 x 1080/59.94i, 29.97p, 23.98p, 1440 x 1080/59.94i, 29.97p, 23.98p, 1280 x 720/59.94p, 29.97p, 23.98p (native)
HD SP mode: 1440 x 1080/59.94i
SD mode: 720 x 480/59.94i, 29.97p

PAL area:
HD HQ mode: 1920 x 1080/50i, 25p, 1440 x 1080/50i, 25p, 1280 x 720/50p, 25p
HD SP mode: 1440 x 1080/50i

Image Device 3-chip 1/2″-type Exmor CMOS
Lens Fujinon 14x Optical Zoom with Image Stabilization
5.8-81.2mm, f/1.9
Signal-to-Noise Ratio 54dB
Horizontal Resolution 1000 Lines or more
Sensitivity 2000 lux, 89.9% Reflectance, f/10 (Typical, 1920 x 1080 59.94i)
Minimum Illumination 0.14 lux (Typical)
1920 x 1080/59.94i mode, f/1.9, +18 dB gain, with 64-Frame Accumulation
Vertical Smear N/A
Built-in Filters OFF: Clear, 1: 1/8 ND, 2: 1/64 ND
LCD Monitor 3.5″, 16:9 Aspect Ratio, 921,000 Effective Pixels
Viewfinder 0.54″ Color/B&W, 16:9 Aspect Ratio, 1,226,000 Effective Pixels
Scan Matching Yes
Memory Card Slot ExpressCard/34
Shutter Speed Range 1/60-1/2000 sec + ECS
Slow Shutter (SLS): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 16, 32 and 64-frame accumulation
Gain Selection -3, 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18dB, AGC
Maximum Recording Time 32GB
HQ: 100 min
SP/SD: 140 min
16GB
HQ: 50 min
SP/SD: 70 min8GB
HQ: 25 min
SP/SD: 35 min
Audio
Audio Dynamic Range 90dB
Audio Signal Format Linear PCM (2ch, 16-bit, 48-kHz)
Audio Frequency Response 20Hz to 20kHz, +3dB/-3dB
Signal to Noise Ratio Not Specified by Manufacturer
General
Input and Output Connectors Component: MiniD (x1 Output)
Composite: Phono via A/V Multi-Connector (x1 Output)
HD/SD-SDI: BNC (x1 Output)
HDMI: A-type (x1 Output)
Audio: XLR 3-Pin Female (x2 Input)
Audio: Phono via A/V Multi-Connector (x2 Output)
Speaker: Monaural (x1 Output) i.LINK: FireWire 4-Pin (x1 Input/Output)
USB: Mini-B
Headphone: Stereo Mini Jack (x1 Output)
Power Requirements 12VDC
Power Consumption 12.5W
Operating Temperature 32-104°F (0-40°C)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 7.13 x 7.9 x 12.25″ (17.9 x 19.9 x 30.8cm)
Weight 5.25 lbs (2.4kg)


Bottom Line
: Solid prosumer grade field production camcorder.  From what I’ve used so far, best pick in its class and price range.

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