STATEMENT : Firstly it’s important that you understand that I do not get paid by Sony or do any consultation work for Sony so what you read is my personal findings on a camera that I had intended to buy from H Preston Media. I do part time independent consultant work for H Preston Media but H Preston Media have no input to this blog or it’s contents. What you get are my honest findings with no bias towards Sony, Panasonic, JVC or Canon.
UPDATE : Looks like my PMW-200 was faulty so my findings are correct but not representative of a working PMW-200.
Probably the shortest amount of time I ever spent with a camcorder for review, the new Sony PMW-200 has gone back to H Preston Media…why ?
As you all know I have spent time with the Canon XF305 for run and gun but the 1/3″ chips don’t do it any favour’s but the media is a God send…Compact Flash is as cheap today as it’s going to get for a 32G 600x card at about £60 per pop.
The media is my main gripe with the PMW-200 and the reason I sent the camera back, I discovered the following…
The PMW-200 out the box is typically set up with far too much edge detail, this is common with most Sony camcorders. I was able to resolve most of the detail problems by tweaking the crispening and HD detail, this caused the picture to loose a fair bit of detail as you can imagine but preferable to the awful edge detail.
I also discovered that you can only use the MEAD adapter in FAT mode (35Mbps) taking away the 422 and giving me an organic picture that I had not seen with my EX-3. (This may be attributed to the fault in the camera).
Fortunately I had a 32G XQD card plus adapter that allows you to film in 422 full quality but the playback picture was not as good as I had been expecting which was very disappointing as this £130 card was to be my saving grace, this I hope was part of the fault within the camera.
Back to SxS and here the quality finally shines which is why Sony advise you use XQD as an emergency only in 422 mode. The XQD card is more than capable speed wise to handle 50Mbps 422 footage at full HD quality.
SxS is far too dear for my productions at £355 per 32G card it’s 5x the price of CF media and not any better in my opinion.
This is the part of the menu system that allows you to choose from PAL/NTSC, UDF (422) or FAT (420), HD or SD and Format 1080 50i/720 50p etc.
The bottom line is to get the best out of the PMW-200 you are going to have to use SxS cards which may not be a problem if you are coming from an XDCAM background, for me this expensive media is a step to far as I get very good results using my Canon XF305 with inexpensive CF cards but you don’t get the 1/2″ Exmor chipset for low light but then the majority of my low light filming is done with my Canon C300.
I really was expecting good things from my PMW-200, after all most of my professional cameras have been Sony and was not expecting to keep the Canon XF305 in favour of the PMW-200.
The camera produces great pictures via an HDMI feed and definitely better than my XF305 in low light but Sony have learned a hard lesson with the EX3 using SDHC card adapters so much so they have in my opinion gone too much the wrong way forcing you to use SxS in 422 mode only !
The one thing I do know is that SxS and P2 are far to expensive when compared to SDHC and CF cards, as I have said before we don’t mind paying for good camera equipment but I for one will not accept overpriced media due to the type of work I get involved with. I need archive, usually that means keeping the original CF cards for 6 months at a time, I don’t rely on computer hard drives as they have let me down in the past, so for archivists like me SxS and P2 camcorders are a no, no.
Further update : Someone correctly asked me what the fault was, during my testing I noticed the playback to be full of artefacts and some pixelation, I phoned Alister Chapman who told me that all modern camcorders should playback as faithfully as the picture was recorded. I also noted that the camera performed better at 35Mbs than at 50Mbps which gave me a good clue that the camera was faulty.