The Sony PMW-200 shipping in September “The things you need to know”

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A great surprise, for once Sony have almost been listening to my moaning, we all love the 1/2″ sensor and all the rich features it brings especially in the low light department. 50Mbs destroys the constant bug bear of using 3rd party external recorders which is a blessing and much needed in the lonely world of Canons XF300/305.
Having a 3x 1/2″ CMOS Exmor chip set will bring a lot of fans to this camera, so many of us have bought into 1/3″ cameras and its not the same experience.
The 14x fuji lens is a good well tested, sharp, constant aperture lens that has my vote, others like Canon do give you 22x “L” glass but not constant aperture and thats important when filming indoors, the 1-2 f stop drop in light in non constant aperture lenses can destroy a great shot.
Bad news… I have it on authority the PMW-200 produces 422, 50Mbps on SxS, this limits the CBR (Constant Bit Rate) 422 to an expensive media, at £360 for 1 hours worth of footage is excessive in my books and will not compete with the Canon XF305 with its CF media which is 6x cheaper.
Good news…As far as I am aware you will be able to use Sony’s XQD cards to record 422 50Mbps, ranging from £170-£230 for a 32G card.
XDCAM is an 8bit format but you can get 10bit out of the HD-SDI port if you need the extra quality.
The camera records 1080 50i and 720 50p CBR at 50Mbps and 35Mbps at VBR and 25Mbps at CBR.
Electric Viewfinder (EVF); Approx 1.2 million pixels. 852 x 3 (RGB) x 480 a vast improvement on the PMW-100.
Here is a list of features that did not transfer from the EX1r to the PMW-200
  • The Shot Transition push-button feature for moving automatically between two sets of presets (focus, zoom, etc) has been discarded
  • Component video out is gone. Instead, the camera has a BNC terminal for composite video out that doubles as a genlock in. Another BNC enables timecode in and out. (The EXR1 had neither genlock in nor timecode in/out.) HDMI and SDI output are still there, of course. “We took off one output connector and gave you two additional,”
  • The PMW did not inherit the rotating handgrip from the EXR1r

Sony have missed a trick with this camera if it turns out that you only get 50Mbps using expensive SxS media or XQD cards, the only reason the EX1, 3 and 1r sold in vast numbers was because you could use SDHC card adapters, if you have got plenty of SxS media then clearly the PMW-200 is a good upgrade, second camera, but for those of us who relied on SDHC for archive and keeping the costs down you are limited to 420 35Mbps variable bit rate which is nothing better than an EX1r can produce for £2000 less !

Don’t get me wrong the PMW-200 will sell by the bucket load but if Sony could find some way of either reducing the price of SxS or the more domestic XQD cards all the better.

In the past Sony soon realised that by holding onto their legacy “Memory Stick” media, that they were severely hampering sales of solid state camcorders and changed over to SDHC card compatibility, one of the best moves Sony ever made.

So what now, it seems clear that Sony are driving a new path of XDCAM camcorders and the PMW-300 will be on the drawing board with similar specs to the EX3, interchangeable lens, semi shoulder mount and an LCD hood, lets hope it comes with super slow motion like the FS700 and the ability to record 50Mbps onto XQD cards !

PS. Please remember you still need to upgrade the F3 to the F5 with 50Mbps back end and super slow motion like 240 fps at full HD.

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