Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


After almost a year thinking about a blog I decided to take the plunge…why HD Warrior ? In a past life I wrote for a magazine called IOV Focus and I became the DV Warrior, writing reviews on video equipment etc. When I was thinking about a name for my blog it seemed an obvious progression to write about HD rather than the now dated DV video equipment. On March the 21st I posted my first entry about “Blu ray what are your options” as Apple were and are even today not fully committed to Blu ray.


The 1st of April gave me my best readership to date as I had invented the Sony XDCAM EX-7 but as the 1st of April is traditionally a day for joking in the UK it seemed a good day to launch an imaginary camcorder.This picture flew round the globe and it was helped by it’s inclusion in Philip Bloom’s blog…thanks again Phil. April also saw the dawning of a new phase with the appearance of the HD DSLR. The Panasonic Lumix GH1 although not the first as Canon had the 5D2 (30fps), the GH1 was the first to give us 24fps and a swivel viewfinder.

I am not a fan of HD DSLRs as I prefer to use my 5D2 as a photographic tool, as it was originally intended but I am also old school and see myself as a video cameraman and have no aspirations to “make a movie”.

The end of April saw the Panasonic HPX-301 P2 camcorder with lens for under £10K, this was to be a double edge sword for Panasonic and should have been one of their best ever selling camcorders but for one vital design flaw…noise !

It was the noisiest 3 chip camcorder I had seen in many a year and I was one of the first people to spot the now infamous “Dancing black dots”.  I gave Panasonic two weeks grace to give me an answer to what we now know was a design flaw, exacerbated by using 1/3″ chips.


May brought us the first sightings of the NanoFlash a fantastic piece of kit that allows you to record 50mbs and above via your HD SDI socket out of your camera giving you 4:2:2 broadcast acceptable pictures straight onto compact flash. The end of May also saw Version 1 of PluralEyes a cracking bit of software that syncs various audio tracks all recorded separately at the same time. This software came just at the right time when Phil Bloom was experimenting with a GH1 and a zoom digital audio recorder. Phil soon found out that the internal sound from all HD DSLRs to date have very basic sound recording facilities which is not usable in serious video work so an external audio recorder is needed to record interviews etc. This gave the editor a real headache matching all the external sound tracks till PluralEyes came along.


The sadist event in June was the death of Michael Jackson a great entertainer who will be sadly missed by a lot of video producers in the USA. I reviewed the JVC HM 700 during June and I was very impressed with it. The video quality in normal lighting was stunning and has a lot of innovative features.


July brought an updated firmware for the HPX-301… hoping to ease the noise issue Panasonic designed new software but as I never got to see an updated 301 with the new firmware update I can’t comment. July was pretty bare on the news front Philip Bloom was trying out a Canon 5D2 with the newly designed Zacuto optical viewfinder. AJA i/o HD users were asked to use FCS-2 meantime as they were designing new software which took fifteen weeks to deliver.


August was the quietest month due to my son’s wedding in Italy, I had intended to update my blog while on holiday but my 3G dongle to date never got a signal in my hotel room. The Sony PDW-U1 finally got the new firmware update 24 month’s too late in my opinion but it is one of the few devices on the market that will deliver reliable archive for various HD formats.


September saw the Canon 7D a downmarket/upmarket DSLR depending which camp you are in…Photographers were not amused at the inclusion of an APS-C sensor in this camera as the 1.6x conversion mucks up the 35mm lens ratio. (50mm x1.6 = 80mm). The movie boys were a lot happier though as Canon had included a 1080 25i and 720 50p frame rates…The NEXT TO DI 500 GB video injester was shown for the first time…this was a unit that took SxS, P2, SDHC and compact flash cards to transfer your recorded material onto it’s internal HD freeing your memory card for more filming.

I also moaned on about the Japanese Yen v the Pound sterling and how we had seen some video equipment go up by £1100, this works in your favour if you bought a camcorder just before the price hike and you are now about to trade it in as you should not loose as much as you would have if bought after the price increase.

Tiffen were sporting the new T1 IR filter for Sony camcorders from the EX-1 or 3 to the F35 all suffering from RED RED infra red leakage turning some blacks a nice brown colour. The prototype filter was shown to eradicate the black/brown problem and is now readily available for around £60 plus vat and post.


Ikegami brought us the GF CAM a camcorder that no one doubts the quality but at a price of £25K and a complete new £900 memory card in the GF PAK who in the world is going to buy into such a specialised system at these prices when Sony are producing camcorders like the PMW-350 at £10K less.

Possibly the white elephant of 2009…no one even broadcasters would contemplate a camera at this price let alone the ancillary kit needed to playback GF CAM material.

October also saw the introduction of the new Sony range of SxS camcorders…the Sony EX-1R and the PMW-350. The EX-1R was a surprise to me as the R stands for Revise. This is an updated EX-1 with everything that was bad…design wise taken out and re-designed, apart from the battery compartment which I still maintain will eventually becomes the EX-1’s Achilles heal especially if you use the bigger BP-U60 batteries. I was never happy with that amount of weight sitting underneath the camcorder the EX-3 on the other hand re-positioned the battery compartment to a better position…can’t think why Sony did not use the same design in the EX-1R !

The PMW-350 is the EX camcorder a lot of professional cameramen and women have been waiting for, gone is the strange L shape of the EX-3… in is the traditional shoulder mount and a camcorder with 2/3″ chips that are even better in low light than the EX-3 and lower noise. Even at the price of around £14K this camcorder will fly off the shelves and may have been my camcorder of 2009 had I seen one in the flesh.

October was full of surprises and just at the last tick of the clock on the 31st we saw the specs for the RED DSMC Epic X a new Digital Stills Motion Camera. A lot of webbers are cynical when it comes to RED as they are good at producing hype on paper but no so good at delivering the goods. I think Jim and his team are just making sure their products are A1 before they are launched into the marketplace which is no bad thing.


Once again no major announcements bar one during November but we did get a copy of Larry Jordan’s Power Skills book “Working faster and smarter with Final Cut 7” a review will be on it’s way during January 2010. Sony had their second on-line Expo which was nothing to write home about and as I told Sony in my blog…cameramen and women prefer to see and feel a camcorder before buying them so please don’t think a virtual show is the answer to turning up to a live event !

Sony decided to finally announce the NXCAM, Sony’s jump into AVCHD technology, this camcorder records onto memory stick pro cards and also records full HD and SD. Once these camcorders are shipping I will get a full video review for you online during 2010.


December is a poor month for news except good old RED announced their specs for Scarlet, a long awaited film like camera that will take on the likes of Canon but only if we see them in the flesh and at a competitive price.

We also saw the late, due to working on a BBC drama (more in Feb 2010) but momentous Best of 2009 Awards from HD Warrior, the first awards for video kit with a few surprises in my choices…many people were expecting a Canon to win the HD DSLR and even more expected the Sony PMW-350 to romp home with the best camcorder…lets see what 2010 will bring.

2010 Predictions…

I still maintain Canon Pro Video will come up with a film like HD solid state camcorder that will affect both RED and Canon Pro Photographic. We will finally see RED’s Scarlet in the flesh. I think as soon as a film like camcorder appears at the right price we will see the demise of HD video as a feature on DSLR’s.  We are going to see a 24 core Apple MacPro, an Apple tablet that you will control Final Cut Pro with and a new 5mp iPhone.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

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