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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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Gear Review: Panasonic AG-AF100

18 08 2011

Panasonic AF-100 stock photo

Make: Panasonic

Model: AG-AF100

My use: We ordered one of these during my time at UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Online Learning.  Before I left, we used it to film several marketing campaigns.  In addition, I have also had the opportunity to shoot one short film on this model camera.

Average Price: $4,795 (body only)

My thoughts: Having owned an HVX-200 since 2006, the menu system and generalized area of where various buttons are on the AF-100 are familiar.  They are not exact replicas, but if  you know one, it won’t take long to learn your way around the other.  The AF-100 shoots onto SDHC cards in the AVCHD format at up to 1920×1080 resolution and contains a micro 4/3 CMOS sensor.  In relation to size, the micro 4/3 sensor is very similar to the size of a 35mm motion picture film frame.  Because of this, the depth of field is quite comparable.  However, in relation to lenses, the AF-100 is more like a 16mm camera.  A 50mm relative 35mm full frame lens will crop to the approximate equivalence of a 100mm lens field of view on this camera.  The ACVHD compression is definitely more compressed than the DVCPRO HD format of the HVX, so this is one point of contention considering how much newer the release is from its predecessor.  Another thing I was not happy about is that the max Mbs onto your SDHC card is 24Mbs, which is a fairly low bit-rate considering the 5d and 7d will capture footage at around 35Mbs.  However, I have to admit, that the image itself is quite appealing.  There are several HDR modes, but at a normal setting, you do have to watch your highlights very closely.  I personally own a Lumix GH2 (which is a DSLR), also micro 4/3,  and was surprised that the sensor on it holds highlights better than the much more expensive AF-100!  The AF-100, in turn, though has the functions of a camcorder that are sorely missed on DSLRs, such as: multiple XLR mic inputs, multiple IN/OUTs, built-in ND filters and a more ergonomic and friendly design.

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer: 

Image Device 4/3-type MOS Fixed Pickup
Picture Elements Approx. 12.4MP (Effective) (16:9)
Video Recording System NTSC/PAL
4:2:0 Color Space
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds
Horizontal Resolution 800 TV Lines
Built-in Filters Neutral Density 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 or OFF (rotary switch)
Gain Selection VIDEO CAM mode: −6dB to 18dB (3dB step)
FILM CAM mode: ISO200 to ISO3200
Color Temperature Control ATW, ATW LOCK, preset 3200K, preset 5600K, preset VAR, Ach, Bch
Sensitivity F8.0 normal (2000lx, 3200K, 89.9% reflex, 1080 59.94i)
Recording Format AVCHD Compliant (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264) @21Mbps (max)
Recording Modes PH:
1920 x 1080 / 1280 x 720
21Mbps (average), 24Mbps (max)
LPCM/2ch or Dolby Digital/2chHA:
1920 x 1080
17Mbps (average)
Dolby Digital/2ch

HE:
1440 x 1080
6Mbps (average)
Dolby Digital/2ch

Audio Sampling 48kHz (16-bit Encoding)
Maximum Recording Time Using Two 64GB SDXC Cards
PH Mode: approx. 720 mins
HA Mode: approx. 960 mins
HE Mode: approx. 2880 mins
Video Formats 1080:
1080/60i, 1080/50i
Only in PH mode: 1080/30p (over 60i), 1080/25p (over 50i), 1080/24p (native)720 (only in PH mode):
720/60p, 720/50p, 720/24p (native), 720/25p (over 50i), 720/30p (over 60i)
Frame Rates 12p, 15p, 18p, 20p, 21p, 22p, 24p,
25p, 26p, 27p, 28p, 30p, 32p, 34p,
36p, 40p, 44p, 48p, 54p, 60p
Inputs/Outputs HD-SDI: BNC (x1 Output)
HDMI: HDMI Type A (x1 Output)
Composite: RCA (x1 Output)
Line/Mic: XLR +48V (x2 Input)
Audio L/R: RCAx2 (x1 Output)
Headphone: 3.5mm Mini Jack (x1 Output)
USB: Type B Mini v2.0 (x1)
Remote: Super Mini Jack (x1 Input)
Memory Card Slot (2) SD/SDHC/SDXC Slots
LCD Monitor 3.45″ Wide LCD (approx. 920,000 dots)
Viewfinder Wide 0.45″ LCD (approx. 1,226,000 dots equivalent)
Power Requirements 7.2VDC
Power Consumption 12.4W
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.4 x 7.7 x 11.4″ (16.3 x 19.5 x 29 cm)
Weight 2.9 lbs (1.3kg)


Bottom Line
: There are some wonderful things about this camera and it can produce a very admirable image, especially for the price range.  However, it is not a DSLR killer and there are definitely attributes that Panasonic could improve on to make this an even better model in years to come.  Also, don’t be too fooled by the price!  To take full advantage of this camera, you definitely need a good lens set and that makes this camera much more expensive package-wise than it originally appears.








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