30 Replies Latest reply on Nov 2, 2008 5:03 PM by Jim_Simon

    The SATIS report!

    Level 1
      I want to share with you my observations at the French SATIS as far as cameras go. In one word: SONY WON THE CAMERA WAR. This year they introduced the EX3, the Z7, the HVR 270 and the Z5. If you add to that the EX1, as well as the classic V1, Z1 and A1 you quickly realize Sony has close to 10 cameras one can choose from.

      Let's go down the competitors list:

      1) CANON (Knocked Out)
      Canon has not introduced anything new this year. It's still the ridiculously overpriced XL H1 they are promoting. And what a promotion it is: One guy sitting at a table in front of a G1 and a XL H1. No announcement. No price adjustment. This booth has not changed in three years. It seems Canon has given up entirely.

      2) JVC (Trying to survive)
      While the JVC 101 may have been innovative a few years ago with its true progressive 16mm camera emulation style, the fact is JVC was blwon out of the water last year when Sony Introduced true progressive half inch full HD EX1. Meanwhile the EX3 and Z7 with their intergeangable lenses have killed off any remaining JVC advantage. Now JVC is playing the price war. A JVC 111 now costs half the price of a Z7. Yes... half. While JVC has introduced new variants of its 101 it is basically still running 720P HDV while everybody has moved on to 1080P! The only innovation this year was that JVC now allows for EX1 format recording. That is what I call a white flag of surrender.

      3) PANASONIC (Saving the furniture)
      Panasonic is still trying to hang on to its P2 format (which Sony outperforms on all levels) by unveiling ONE new variant of its classic HVX200. The latest HVX200 variant (I forgot the actual model name) is not very different from its predecessor. The image is good but not as good as its Sony competitor(s) in the same pricerange. In other words: Panasonic is trying to ignore reality and is just moving along at its own pace, outgunned, outperformed and outclassed by Sony.

      I don't think more needs to be said. Sony dropped the big one. It's over. Move along now. There is nothing more to see.
        • 1. Re: The SATIS report!
          Jim_Simon Level 8
          >Panasonic is still trying to hang on to its P2 format

          There are far more P2 systems in professional hands than SxS systems, if only because Panasonic was a leader in solid state recording and had their system viable for several years before Sony did. Given that user base, switching now would probably be a bad move.

          >The image is good but not as good as its Sony competitor(s) in the same pricerange.

          That seems to depend greatly on who you talk to.
          • 2. Re: The SATIS report!
            Curt Wrigley Level 4
            > There are far more P2 systems in professional hands than SxS systems, if only because Panasonic was a leader in solid state recording and had their system viable for several years before Sony did. Given that user base, switching now would probably be a bad move.

            And Panasonic didnt ruin a good camera by throwing a terrible codec in it like sony has. P2 is hardly just "hanging on"

            > It seems Canon has given up entirely.

            If you think Cannon has given up, you havnt been around very long. They traditionally defer being first out and take their time with products that fit the market. This is nothing new. And their strategy hasnt exactly been a failure.

            Sony Ex; good cam; bad codec. Its a shame.

            Curt
            • 3. Re: The SATIS report!
              Dan Isaacs Level 2
              > Sony Ex; good cam; bad codec. Its a shame.

              What do you know about its codec? I'm curious... It's some kind of AVC/H.264 variant, right? I'll looked for some specs on exactly what it uses but I didn't find the information I was looking for.

              What is it about its codec you don't like (Quality, sluggish performance, etc.) ??
              • 4. Re: The SATIS report!
                Harm Millaard Level 7
                Essentially it is long GOP MPEG2 with VBR target @ 35 Mbps, wrapped in MP4. I assume Curt does not like the long GOP format. In practice however XDCAM is good enough for demanding broadcasters like BBC, Discovery and National Geographic to rate the format as "Silver", not quite the "Gold" level that HDCAM SR has, but still good enough for 100% HD broadcasts, and which HDV can never hope to achieve.

                From the operating instructions:

                • 5. Re: The SATIS report!
                  Level 1
                  Codec problem? Who cares! The picture quality of the EX1 blows HDV out of the water. During editing you can transfer to another codec such as Cineform. So who cares about long GOP, short GOP or any whateveryouwant GOP. The picture is the bottom line and Sony has the best products out there.
                  • 6. Re: The SATIS report!
                    TradeWind Level 3
                    > ...and Sony has the best products out there.

                    Gimme a good Panny camera any day over a Sony product. And when comparing the EX to an HDV camera, you're talking about half of the Sony prosumer line, so careful there.

                    Canon will come up with something good soon I hope, because HDV is a limited product. It edits better than AVCHD, but in a side-by-side of AVCHD and HDV, the quality of AVCHD (on the high end) is a clear winner.

                    As for tape-based production, Panasonic has already made it clear that the HVX200 line is it's last effort in tape...there will be at least one more revision (currently it's on the HVX200A, and we'll probably see a B model next year or soon after). After that, it's all P2.

                    And while we're at it...have we all forgotten that AVC Intra is a P2 format?

                    And while we're talking about the EX1...wasn't the SxS card supposed to be so much cheaper than P2 by now? Why is it the same price as P2 - or in some cases, more expensive? Who lied to who here?

                    Don't want to slam the EX1 too much, because it is a nice camera, but I'll agree with Curt...it's unfortunate that the codec performance wasn't a little bit better, as everyone was expecting it to be. So what if it blows HDV out of the water...how hard was that to do?
                    • 7. Re: The SATIS report!
                      Level 1
                      when the end format is standard definition dvd,
                      and keeping post production time down is a major factor,
                      and (my favourite this) quality not being lost in a digital workflow..
                      canon xl2 > all :)

                      'predicts the xl3 (with avchd & banks of sd card slots) released long enough after my xl2 breaks down I've bought a sony anyway'
                      • 8. Re: The SATIS report!
                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                        >So who cares about long GOP

                        A lot of folks do. Intermediary codecs kind of defeat the purpose of solid state recording. And I don't know that even Cineform can overcome GOP compression errors if they're in the original.

                        >The picture is the bottom line and Sony has the best products out there.

                        Again, this seems to depend on who you talk to. Getting the best picture depends on more than just having a camera with good specs. It also requires a user that knows how to handle it. Some of the complaints I hear about the EX cameras is their form factor isn't the most user friendly. I've read more than one account from people who prefer the 200 over the EX simply because it's easier to use. They're willing to sacrifice some slight resolution for that user friendliness.
                        • 9. Re: The SATIS report!
                          Dan Isaacs Level 2
                          I have seen some native EX1 test footage (1280x720 @ 50p) that a forum user shared with me. It looks outstanding. Granted, these are limited tests by I am so far impressed.
                          • 10. Re: The SATIS report!
                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                            I've seen some test footage myself that looks phenomenal. But I've also seen some that's less than stellar.
                            • 11. Re: The SATIS report!
                              Harm Millaard Level 7
                              Isn't that the purpose of test footage, to investigate the severeness/ usefulness of rolling shutter, CA, auto-focus shifting, PP settings, etc. Once you are aware of the limitations and possibilities of the camera you can make stunning pictures, but that applies to every camera.
                              In testing it is not about shooting stunning pictures, but to find the limitations and pitfalls of the camera.
                              • 12. Re: The SATIS report!
                                Level 1
                                A blind man could see the difference between the EX1 and anything else out there in the same pricerange.
                                • 13. Re: The SATIS report!
                                  Harm Millaard Level 7
                                  That I have to see, said the blind.
                                  • 14. Re: The SATIS report!
                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                    >Once you are aware of the limitations and possibilities of the camera you can make stunning pictures, but that applies to every camera.

                                    I disagree. There can be shooting situations which can't be altered and that a specific camera simply cannot cope with due to it's limitations.

                                    HDV with lots of movement/flashing lights. The Sony VX1000 in very low light situations. The EX1 with lots of camera flashes.
                                    • 15. Re: The SATIS report!
                                      Level 1
                                      Heu... camera flashes? What's that?
                                      • 16. Re: The SATIS report!
                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                        A flash is what still cameras use to generate enough light to expose the image. Because the EX1 uses a CMOS sensor, which scans the chip from top to bottom sequentially, rather than the whole thing at once like a CCD, the flash doesn't always show up in the entire frame. It's very possible to get a camera flash that only shows in the bottom portion of a video frame.

                                        This makes the EX1 a difficult choice for wedding or other event videography, where camera flashes are very common.
                                        • 17. Re: The SATIS report!
                                          Level 1
                                          On a sd video during a (say) nighttime stockcar race type event, when a photographer takes a picture+flash of the same viewfinded area one field (as in 1/50th, pal) of the frame's illuminated. If they were close enough, over-illuminated.

                                          you never notice it during lots of attention grabbing motion:
                                          thus guessing a 1/2 of an image cmos flash occurrence would be even less noticeable.

                                          Sure I'd prefer a job at McDonalds before videoing weddings, but this is only intended as a 'not all videoed events are necessarily [artistically cinematographied] slow' balancing post!
                                          • 18. Re: The SATIS report!
                                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                                            >thus guessing a 1/2 of an image cmos flash occurrence would be even less noticeable.

                                            I suspect that will vary with the person watching. I'd notice. And I'd prefer not to take the chance on an $8,000 camera that my client would notice.

                                            There are a LOT of flashes during a wedding.

                                            In any event, this point was brought up as only one example refuting the notion that a good DP can get good images with any camera. There are times when the equipment is the limiting factor.
                                            • 19. Re: The SATIS report!
                                              Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                              > I assume Curt does not like the long GOP format.

                                              Correct. The only benefit of that format is space savings which is a big deal when saving to flash cards. I understand why, but the Panasonic P2 solution is far superior in my humble opinion.

                                              Curt
                                              • 20. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                Dan Isaacs Level 2
                                                You can use those Firestore drives with the Panny's also, no? It's still expensive, but less so than P2 cards in the long run. (I have no direct experience here, so I may be wrong)
                                                • 21. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                  Level 1
                                                  "Panasonic P2 solution is far superior in my humble opinion"

                                                  And humble it is.
                                                  • 22. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                    TradeWind Level 3
                                                    The one advantage of P2 cards over an external device like the FireStore is that the P2 cards have redundancy built in, wheras the FireStore is a single hard drive. There's also a difference between the solid state technology in a P2 card versus the moving parts in a FireStore drive.
                                                    • 23. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                      Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                                      The advantage of P2 is no Long GOP.
                                                      • 24. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                        Harm Millaard Level 7
                                                        At the expense of bad ergonomics, outdated technology and ludicrous prices of P2's.
                                                        • 25. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                          Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                          The ergonomics are superior to tape and equal to SxS (and even superior to SxS if you consider that CS4's Media Browser offers thumbnail previews of P2 media, but not for SxS media), the technology may be older but is far more established in professional circles than SxS and won't be going anywhere any time soon, and the ludicrous prices (can't argue with that) are about the same for SxS.

                                                          So as a comparison of the two storage technologies, Harm, your arguments fall flat.
                                                          • 26. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                            Harm Millaard Level 7
                                                            > and the ludicrous prices (can't argue with that) are about the same for SxS.

                                                            Only over two times as expensive if you take recording time into consideration.

                                                            Ergonomics in terms of balance, weight, user friendliness, etc.

                                                            > the technology may be older but is far more established in professional circles than SxS

                                                            That may be true if you limit the range of professionals to WEVA members and the like. I sincerely doubt that statement when you include ENG professionals, and others outside of the wedding business. XDCAM is very much established as a professional format. And AFAIK P2 is not on the approved Silver list of broadcasters.
                                                            • 27. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                              TradeWind Level 3
                                                              > I sincerely doubt that statement when you include ENG professionals, and others outside of the wedding business.

                                                              Your sincerity will get you nowhere in the US, where P2 workflows dominate major market ENG operations. In fact, I don't know any wedding video guys who will touch P2 (limited time capacity for P2 cards means long format productions, such as weddings, are not well matched to P2). Most wedding guys are still on MiniDV or HDV. In some really remote places, you might find a guy recording on VHS-C (collective, forum-wide shuddering ensues).

                                                              > And AFAIK P2 is not on the approved Silver list of broadcasters.

                                                              I'm not sure either, but keep in mind that broadcasters do not accept a single recommendation or approval list across the board. There is more than qualifier out there.

                                                              As a side question...Harm, I was not aware you were involved in broadcast (I guess I never put much thought to what your specialty was)...do you do a lot of broadcast/ENG work? We could certainly have some worthwhile conversations.
                                                              • 28. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                >Ergonomics in terms of balance, weight, user friendliness, etc.

                                                                Well in the camera department, the Panny's win those contests hands down, at least according to the user reports I read from professionals who've used both.

                                                                >That may be true if you limit the range of professionals to WEVA members and the like.

                                                                Actually I was thinking more along the lines of broadcast and professional post houses.

                                                                >XDCAM is very much established as a professional format.

                                                                Yes, on Sony Professional Disk. XDCAM EX on SxS cards is much newer, and has a much smaller user base in professional circles.

                                                                >And AFAIK P2 is not on the approved Silver list of broadcasters.

                                                                The HVX200 has the same limitations as HDV cameras (15% of the running time). This is more in relation to the 1/3" chip size. The DVCPro HD codec is fully approved (100% running time) on the larger P2 cams with bigger chips - at least by Discovery HD.

                                                                And of course, AVC-I on P2 is a Master Quality format.
                                                                • 29. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                                  Dan Isaacs Level 2
                                                                  > AVC-I on P2 is a Master Quality format

                                                                  Anyone have any samples of AVC-Intra? I'd love to check it out.
                                                                  • 30. Re: The SATIS report!
                                                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                    There are independent films currently in production using the HPX3000. Not sure when the release dates might be.