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The XDCAM EX PMW-350


Gustavo Brum
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Gustavo, I've had one for 5 months now and am very happy. Mind you I also bought a nanoflash unit so have upgraded the potential somewhat. But even out of the box it produces beautiful images, the purpose-built

Fujinon 16 X lens that comes with the "K" version is surprisingly good. Even the Fujinon 0.7 wide converter is better than I expected, especially for the price. Any particular questions you have? I'll be happy to answer.

I don't often visit this forum so I'm not sure on the rules for URLs but I have some test footage up on vimeo you might like to look at. If you just google: vimeo and my name it will come up.

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It is a good workhorse camera, physically neither too light nor too heavy.

 

It is 1/2" chip camera, and while the adapter to use 2/3" lenses on it is not terribly expensive, there is a field of view conversion crop.

 

I really like that it does variable bit rate encoding, unlike HDV, which is constant. The latter creates really annoying artifacts sometimes (whip pans, running with the camera, etc).

 

They record onto pretty pricey proprietary XDCAM disks. BUT, one can recycle a disk seemingly forever. That I know of, there are no dropouts if the disks are continually reformatted and used again and again and again, unlike tape.

 

The menus can be a bit confusing at times. The image on higher gain (it lets you pump it up to +20db, I believe) will fall apart terribly (of course) which is annoying. Why would Sony put that as an option when it creates SO much image noise? Etc. But all in all is a great camera system.

Edited by Saul Rodgar
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Chris: My apologies, I was referring to the PDWF355. Can't keep the model numbers straight . . . :(

 

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-broadcastcameras/cat-xdcam/product-PDWF355L/

 

Adrian: I hear what you are saying about a camera's low light capabilities (high db gain) practicality vs picture pleasantness. Nice to have if one really MUST use it, but cringe inducing at the very least, as far as I am concerned.

 

The 355's pickup is CCD versus CMOS on the 350, which are significantly cleaner sensors. But the 355 also goes all the way to 48db gain (not 20db, as I originally claimed). Because of that and the dirtier nature of the CCDs, it makes for nasty looking images at anything over 20db, IMO unusable for 99% of broadcast material, short of Dirtiest Jobs.

 

I'd be curious to see what 48db of gain look like on CMOS cameras tho . . . ;)

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My experience Saul is you wouldn't want to go past 9db on the 350, of course if the shot allows you still have shutter settings to play with for lower light situations.

I'd go wherever on gain shooting news, for instance I had to get a shot of an alleged Murderer being transferred to the other side of the country and stopping here for a refuel, the police plane landed and I had to bump up to 18db to get him walking across the tarmac. Pretty noisy, but that's news! I think the 350 goes "up" to 48db, but it's so laughable I haven't even looked for the setting.

The jury's out on CCD vs CMOS, both have advantages and disadvantages.

 

I am warming to the CMOS though, it can be quite filmic with the right lighting.

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Chris: Cool. Technically, I suppose a CMOS sensor with higher power charge (dB gain) should be pretty noisy. I tested a 5D mkII (in native ISO) with underexposure and it was really noisy. A side-by-side high dB comparison on CCD and CMOS same size sensor footage would be nice to get a hold of. But it wasn't a high DB gain. Should do a test soon. Thanks for the info.

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Gustavo, I am a little confused with where this thread is going. You asked what the camera was like but since then we've heard nothing else from you. As your question is a bit like "How long is a piece of string?" I then asked "Any particular questions you have?" but have had no response. What will you be using it for mainly? "Thoughts" on what aspects of the PMW-350? Are you thinking of getting the K version with the Fujinon lens, or are you buying/supplying another?

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