No, I haven’t given up on XDCAM-USER. Just been rather busy with work.
My new year started off with a trip to Iceland for a workshop and to try out the new Sony PXW-X200 camcorder. The weather was really abysmal. I had fully expected it to be cold and snowy, but I didn’t count on the extreme storms and constant gale force winds that we had. The temperature wasn’t too bad, only around -10c but the constant 50km/h plus winds and driving snow made shooting difficult to say the least. I had a PXW-FS7, A7s and a PXW-X200 in Iceland and they all worked flawlessly in the harsh conditions.
While filming the geysers with the FS7 an unexpected change of wind direction blew the water from the erupting geyser all over me and the un-protected FS7. I was drenched and so was the camera, water was literally running off the camera. Thankfully the FS7 has some very good weather sealing and no harm was done to the camera. I spent the rest of the day freezing cold thanks to some very wet clothes.
For the rest of the trip I made sure that the PXW-FS7 was safely wrapped up inside it’s Camrade Wetsuit. The Camrade wetsuit is made from a very nice rustle free fabric that is completely waterproof. There is a large clear panel on the left side so you can see all the buttons and switches. There is a separate cover for the viewfinder that allows it to be used with or without the monocular extension tube. It has plenty of space for different lenses, mounting options and the extension unit.
Most of my time in Iceland though was used to get a good feel for the new PXW-X200 camcorder. This is a replacement for the well regarded PMW-200 and adds some very nice new features such as a 17x zoom lens, new sensors, multiple codec choices including XDCAM Mepg2 of course, but more excitingly XAVC-I and XAVC-L bringing 10 bit high quality recording to a very nice camera front end. If that’s not enough you an even record any of the codecs that have a bit rate lower than 50Mbps on SDXC cards, including Mpeg2 HD 422 (the original XDCAM codec) and HD XAVC-I. To top it all the camera has a full range of wireless options including ftp file transfer and in the future streaming over WiFi or via a 3G or 4G USB dongle.
I’m currently putting together a video on the PXW-X200 and it’s a real delight grading the 10 bit XAVC footage, it holds together much better than the older 8 bit XDCAM footage from the PMW-200.
The second half of January saw me in Norway for my annual Northern Lights expeditions. Once again we encountered some pretty extreme temperatures. The last day of the first group saw -39c and the first day of the second group saw -38c. Most of the time the temperature was below -20c. We saw the Northern Lights most nights but they weren’t very bright. However towards the end of the second groups trip we had some nice Aurora displays and I was able to video these in real time with the A7s. I have to say the A7s never ceases to amaze me. It really is incredibly sensitive and it’s pocket size means you can take it just about anywhere.
For my Norway trip I was also loaned an Atomos Shogun to use with the A7s to enable 4K recording. The Shogun is a nice piece of kit and as it uses off the shelf SSD’s the recording media is pretty low cost. The screen is very good giving very clear and accurate pictures. I did have some problems with it in the cold, when the temperature dropped below -15c it would stop working and present a message saying that the firmware wasn’t correctly installed. As soon as it warmed up above -15c it would start working correctly again. To be fair -15c is well below the design specifications and not many people use kit in that kind of weather so this really shouldn’t be a big deal for most people.
Overall I don’t think the Shogun is as robustly constructed as the Convergent Design 7Q, the Shogun feels very plasticky, but it is a lower cost package than the 7Q and the recorded images do look great. When I get time I’ll be putting together some of the A7s and Shogun footage from the Norway trip and writing more about my experiences with the Shogun.
Another toy I have been playing with recently is the NextoDI NSB25 storage bridge. This is a stand-alone backup and storage device that can transfer data from almost every type of solid state recording media to a pair of internally housed (but easily changed) hard drives as well as a 3rd hard drive connected via USB3. You can make individual copies of the media or duplicated copies of the media across all the drives for added security. The NSB-25 can play back the majority of video formats on it’s built in screen or you can plug in a TV or monitor via HDMI for large screen play back. The unit is about the size of a house brick and has it’s own internal battery. If you need a robust backup solution for larger projects or for bigger media files such as 4K or even raw files you should take a look at the NSB-25.
That’s it for now. I’m off to Norway again next week, but there will be lots of new stuff coming to the web site in the coming weeks so keep checking back.