Tag Archives: media

Checking SD Cards Before First Use.

sd-card-copy Checking SD Cards Before First Use.With the new FX6 making use of SD cards to record higher bit rate codecs the number of gigabytes of SD card media that many user will will be getting through is going to be pretty high. The more gigabytes of memory that you use, the more the chance of coming across a duff memory cell somewhere on your media.

Normally solid state media will avoid using any defective memory areas. As a card ages and is used more, more cells will become defective and the card will identify these and it should avoid them next time. This is all normal, until eventually the memory cell failure rate gets too high and the card becomes unusable – typically after hundreds or even thousands of cycles.

However – the card needs to discover where any less than perfect  memory cells are and there is a chance that some of the these duff cells could remain undiscovered in a card that’s never been completely filled before. I very much doubt that every SD card sold is tested to its full capacity, the vast volume of cards made and time involved makes this unlikely.

For this reason I recommend that you consider testing any new SD cards using software such as H2Testw for windows machines or SDSpeed for Mac’s. However be warned to fully test a large card can take a very, very long time.

As an alternative you could simply place the card in the camera and record on it until its full. Use the highest frame rate and largest codec the card will support to fill the card as quickly as possible. I would break the recording up into a few chunks. Once the recording has finished check for corruption by playing the clips back using Catalyst Browse or your chosen edit software.

This may seem like a lot of extra work, but I think it’s worth it for piece of mind before you use your new media on an important job.

FX6-FX9 XAVC Card Recording Times

How much can I fit on a SD card, CFExpress card, SxS or XQD card is a question that comes up regularly. So I have prepared a table of the typical record times for most of the different XAVC-I and XAVC-L codecs and frame rates . Originally drawn up for the FX6 this table applies equally to any other Sony camcorder that uses the same codecs, including the PXW-FX9, PMW-F5 and F55 as well as the FS7 and many others.
Do note that the times given are approximate and do not include proxies.  Not every frame rate and codec is included but you should be able to figure out the approximate record time for most cards, codecs and frame rates using this table.

CODEC/FRAME RATE 32GB 64GB 80GB 128GB 256GB
UHD/4K XAVC-I 24/25p  16 32 40 64 128
UHD/4K XAVC-I 30p  13 26 33 53 106
UHD/4K XAVC-I 50p  8 15 19 31 62

UHD/4K XAVC-I 60p

6 13 15 26 52
UHD XAVC-I 100fps  4 7 10 15 30
UHD XAVC-I 120fps 3 6 8 12 24
UHD XAVC-L 24/25/30p 39 79 96 158 315
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p  8bit 26 51 63 103 206
UHD XAVC-L 24/25/30p 100fps S&Q 8 bit 10 19 24 39 78
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p 120fps S&Q 8 bit 8 16 20 32 64
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p 100fps  S&Q 8 bit 15 30 37 61 122
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p S&Q 120fps  8 bit 13 25 31 51 102
HD CODEC/FRAME RATE 32GB 64GB 80GB 128GB 256GB
HD XAVC-I 24/25/30p 34 67 83 135 270
HD XAVC-I 50/60p 17 35 43 70 140
HD XAVC-I 100fps 10 21 26 42 84
HD XAVC-I 120fps 8 17 21 35 70
HD XAVC-I 240fps (lower quality) 4 8 10 17 35
HD XAVC-L50 24/25/30p 75 150 180 300 600
HD XAVC-L50 50/60p 72 144 175 288 576
HD XAVC-L50 24/25/30p S&Q 120fps 36 72 88 144 288
HD XAVC-L50 50/60p S&Q 240fps 18 36 44 72 124
HD XAVC-L30 24/25/30p 101 201 250 405 810
HD XAVC-L30 50/60p  96 193 237 387 774
HD XAVC-L30 120fps  48 96 118 193 387
HD XAVC-L30 240fps 24 48 59 96 193

What’s the difference between Full Format and Quick Format in the FX6?

The Sony FX6 offers two different ways to format the the SD cards and CFExpress cards. These are Quick Format and Full Format. 

What’s the difference and which should I use?

Full Format erases everything on the card and returns the card to a completely empty state. All footage is removed/deleted from the card and it cannot therefore be recovered later should you perform a Full Format by mistake. Because Full Format returns the card to a completely empty state removing any junk or other clutter it also ensures that the cards performance is maximised. Full Format should be used whenever possible as it ensures maximum performance. However once a card has been Fully Formatted you cannot ever recover lost files from it.

Quick Format erases the cards database about what files are on the card. Quick Format is faster than Full Format, but it does not actually remove your video files. When you then start a new recording on the card the new recording will use any empty space on the card if there is any. If there is no empty space then the new file will overwrite any existing files on the card. This does mean that in some cases if you have accidentally done a quick format you may be able to use data recovery software to rescue any files that have not already been overwritten.  But file recovery is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon. As quick format does not clear all data from the card, over time the performance of the card may be degraded, so a Full Format should be performed periodically to ensure the best card performance.

It’s also worth noting that if you want to load LUT’s into the FX6, the card should be formatted in Slot B so that the correct file structure including the LUT folder is added to the card. Once any LUT’s are placed in the LUT folder the card must be placed back in slot B to so you can load the LUTs into the camera. You cannot load LUTs via slot A.

For more FX6 posts and information click here: http://www.xdcam-user.com/camera-setup/ilme-fx6-sony-fx6/

ProGrade SD Cards For The FX6

Screenshot-2020-12-09-at-16.51.27-339x450 ProGrade SD Cards For The FX6

I’ve been testing a lot of different SD cards with the Sony FX6. I have been a long time user of Integral, Lexar and SanDisk cards and generally found them to perform well and to be reliable. But in my search for affordable v90 SD cards I came across a good deal on the ProGrade v90 64Gb SD cards.

I hadn’t ever used the ProGrade brand before and their pricing almost seems too low. But I decided to purchase one to test. Well I have not been disappointed.  The card performs very well and has no problems at all with all of the XAVC-I frame rates up to and including 60fps. 

If you try to use it to record UHD at 100 or 120fps you will get an “unsupported media” warning but the camera will try to record to the card. Most of the time the recording will be OK provided you keep the duration short and don’t try to stop and then restart recording too quickly. Of all the SD cards I have tried this seems to be one of the best.

However you will still see recording failures with this card at 100 and 120fps. Often resulting in the card suddenly becoming completely full. So I still would not recommend relying on any SD card for 100/120fps UHD.  But, as I have said this is one of the better cards that I have come across and given the low price it seems like a winner.

Other cards I have been using successfully with the FX6 are:

Integral Ultima ProX v90 for all codecs including XAVC-I up to 60fps.

Lexar 1667x Professional v60 for all codecs including XAVC-I upto to 30fps.

Sony Tough CFExpress Type A 80GB for all recording modes and formats including UHD 100/120fps.

Which Cards Actually Work with the FX6?

The FX6 takes both SDXC cards and CF Express Type A cards.

Sony recommend using a CF Express Type A for the UHD 120fps. For 4K. The CF Express card support all frame rates, but they are expensive, as is the card reader.

For UHD XAVC-I up to 60fps Sony say you can use v90 SD cards, for some of the XAVC-L UHD frame rates Sony support v60 SD cards and for HD you can use a v60 or v30.
 
The camera won’t stop you from trying to use a v90 (or even a v30) SD card at all frame rates and with all codecs. But if using a card outside of the Sony recommendations you get a “not guaranteed media” warning.
 
For example when trying to use a v60 to record XAVC-I at 60p or a v90 to record 100/120fps the camera will try to record but if the card can’t keep up you will get flashing tally lights followed by the camera dropping out of record and a “Recording Halted” message. In my testing most of the time the camera just displays the recording halted message and you have to press the menu button or OK button to remove the message, then you can try to record again. But around 30 to 40% of times, especially if it is a second attempt to record on a card that is not fast enough, after the recording halted message the card capacity will go to zero and the record tally lights will continue to flash until you remove the card.  You will not then be able to use that card until it has been restored and in most cases you will lose the last clip shot as well as other clips where the recording was halted. In some cases you can lose everything on the card.

As a card fills up it becomes significantly slower. So a card that is fine when only partially used may cause problems as it fills up. In addition as cards get older they slow down as the memory cell wear leveling has to skip extra blocks or cells. So a card that works today may not work tomorrow.
 
My advice: Use the cards Sony recommends. You are playing with fire trying to get away with other cards. The big risks are a: losing footage and b: ending up with no media as the capacity has gone to zero.

Get a CF Express Type A if you want to shoot UHD 120fps. For everything else SD v90 will work fine.

Use the cameras media check to help ensure you don’t get file problems.

Any of the Sony cameras that use SxS or XQD cards include a media check and media restore function that is designed to detect any problems with your recording media or the files stored on that media.
However the media check is only normally performed when you insert a card into the camera, it is not done when you eject a card as the camera never knows when you are about to do that.
So my advice is: When you want to remove the card to offload your footage ensure you have a green light next to the card, this means it should be safe to remove. Pop the card out as you would do normally but then re-insert the card and wait for the light to go from red, back to green. Check the LCD/VF for any messages, if there are no messages, take the card out and do your offload as normal.
 
Why? Every time you put an XQD or SxS card into the camera the card and files stored on it are checked for any signs of any issues. If there is a problem the camera will give you a “Restore Media” warning. If you see this warning always select OK and allow the camera to repair whatever the problem is. If you don’t restore the media and you then make a copy from the card, any copy you make will also be corrupt and the files may be inaccessible.
Once the files have been copied from the card it is no longer possible to restore the media.  If there is a problem with the files on the card, the restore can only be done by the camera, before offload. So this simple check that takes just a few seconds can save a whole world of hurt. I wish there was a media check button you could press to force the check, but there isn’t. However this method works.
It’s also worth knowing that Catalyst Browse and the old Media Browser software performs a data integrity check if you directly attach an SxS card or XQD card to the computer and access the card from the software. If a problem is found you will get a message telling you to return the media to the camera and perform a media restore. But if this is some time after the shoot and you don’t have the camera to hand, this can be impossible. Which is why I like to check my media in the camera by re-inserting it back into the camera so that it gets checked for problems before the end of the shoot.

SD Cards – how long do they last?

This came up on facebook the other day, how long do SD cards last?

First of all – I have found SD cards to be pretty reliable overall. Not as reliable as SxS cards or XQD cards, but pretty good generally. The physical construction of SD cards has let me down a few times, the little plastic fins between the contacts breaking off.  I’ve had a couple of cards that have just died, but I didn’t loose any content as the camera wouldn’t let me record to them. Plus I have also had SD cards that have given me a lot of trouble getting content and files off them. But compared to tape, I’ve had far fewer problems with solid state media.

But something that I don’t think most people realise is that a  lot of solid state media ages the more you use it. In effect it wears out.

There are a couple of different types of memory cell that can be used in solid state media. High end professional media will often use single level memory cells that are either on or off. These cells can only store a single value, but they tend to be fast and extremely reliable due to their simplicity. But you need a lot of them in a big memory card.  The other type of cell found in most lower cost media is a multi-level cell. Each multi-level cell stores a voltage and the level of the voltage in that cell represents many different values. As a result each cell can store more than one single value. The memory cells are insulated to prevent the voltage charge leaking away. However each time you write to the cell the insulation can be eroded. Over time this can result in the cell becoming leaky and this allows the voltage in the cell to change slightly resulting in a change to the data that it holds. This can lead to data corruption.

So multi level cards that get used a lot, may develop leaky cells. But if the card is read reasonably soon after it was written to (days, weeks, a month perhaps) then it is unlikely that the user will experience any problems. The cards include circuitry designed to detect problem cells and then avoid them. But over time the card can reach a point where it no longer has enough memory to keep mapping out damaged cells, or the cells loose there charge quickly and as a result the data becomes corrupt.

Raspberry Pi computers that use SD cards as memory can kill SD cards in a matter of days because of the extremely high number of times that the card may be written to.

With a video camera it will depend on how often you use the cards. If you only have one or 2 cards and you shoot a lot I would recommend replacing the cards yearly. If you have lots of cards either use one or two and replace them regularly or try to cycle through all the cards you have to extend their life and avoid any one card from excessive use which might make it less reliable than the rest.

One thing regular SD cards are not good for is long term storage (more than a year and never more than 5 years) as the charge in the cells will leak away over time. There are special write once SD cards designed for archival purposes where each cell is permanently fused to either On or Off.  Most standard SD cards, no matter how many times they have been used won’t hold data reliably beyond 5 years.

Sony Memory Media Utility.

If you use Sony’s SXS cards or USB Hard Drives, Sony have a utility that allows you to check the status of your media and correctly format the media. This is particularly useful for reading the number of cycles your SXS card has reached.

The utility can also copy SXS cards to multiple destinations for simultaneous backups of your content. You can download the utility for free via the link below.

http://www.sony.net/Products/memorycard/en_us/px/dlcondition_mmu.html

Caution with new type 128GB XQD cards in the PMW-F5 and F55 (maybe others too).

xqd-new Caution with new type 128GB XQD cards in the PMW-F5 and F55 (maybe others too).
New, faster G series XQD cards that may be causing problems in some cameras.

UPDATE – IT IS NOW CONFIRMED THAT THE NEW 440MB/s CARDS WILL NOT WORK UNDER V7 OR EARLIER FIRMWARE. A FIX WILL BE INCLUDED IN VERSION 8.

There have been some comments on an older thread about problems with the very latest slightly faster Sony G series 128GB XQD cards with Sony’s F5 and F55 cameras (thanks Justin and Richard).

Many people, including myself use XQD cards with the Sony QDA-EX1 adapter in the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 as well as other SxS cameras. Up to now I’ve never heard of any real problems, basically they work pretty much the same as SxS cards.

Very recently Sony released a new very slightly faster XQD cards. The old cards have a maximum write speed of 350MB/s while the new cards have a max write speed of 440MB/s. You can see in the image above of one of the new cards that both the read and write speeds are shown on the front of the card. The old (good) cards only show a single speed (400MB/s).

From what I have been able to gather so far the old 128GB G series cards work just fine, but a few people are reporting that the new faster 128GB ones do not. Problems include being unable to format the cards in the camera or unable to write anything to the cards.

If you have any experience of this issue, good or bad, with the new 64GB or 128GB 440MB/s cards please let me know by adding a comment.

 

Sonnet SDHC to SxS Adapter Review.

I recently reviewed the rather excellent Sonnet QIO I/O device that allows you to very quickly ingest material from SxS cards, P2 cards as well as SD cards to your computer. Along with the QIO I was sent a Sonnet SDHC to SxS card adapter to take a look at. Now I’m going to lay my cards on the table here and say that I strongly believe that if your going to shoot with an XDCAM EX camera you should be using SxS cards in order to get the best possible reliability. However as we all know SxS cards are expensive, although a lot cheaper now than they used to be, I remember paying £600 for an 8Gb card only 4 years ago!

So ever since the launch of the XDCAM EX cameras, users including me have been trying to find alternative recording solutions. I found that it was possible to use an off-the-shelf SD card to express card adapter (the original Kensington Adapter) to record standard frame rates on class 6 SD cards in the EX cameras.  However the SDHC cards stick out of the end of the generic adapters so you can’t close the doors that cover the card slots in the cameras. Following that initial discovery various companies have brought out flush fitting adapters that allow the use of SDHC cards. Then about two years ago Sony openly admitted it was possible to use an adapter in the cameras and released their own adapters (MEAD-SD01 and MEAD-MS01) as well as making some firmware changes that made using adapters more reliable. The key point to consider when using an SxS adapter and SD cards is that the media, the SD cards, are consumer media. They are produced in vast quantities and the quality can be quite variable. They are not made to the same standards as SxS cards. So I choose to shoot on SxS whenever possible and I’ve never had a single failure or unexplained footage loss. BUT I do carry a couple of adapters and some SD cards in my camera kit for emergencies. You never know when you might run out of media or find yourself in a situation where you have to hand over you media to a third party at the end of a shoot. SDHC cards are cheap and readily available. You can buy an SDHC card just about anywhere. I’d rather switch to SDHC cards than try to do a panic off-load to a backup device mid-shoot, that’s a recipe for disaster!

Sonnet-SxS-300x295 Sonnet SDHC to SxS Adapter Review.
Sonnet SDHC adapter for SxS Camera Slot

Anyway… on to the Sonnet SDHC to SxS adapter. It feels as well built as any other adapter on the market. It is mostly metal with plastic end pieces that are made from a nice high quality plastic. I have other adapters that use a very brittle plastic and these can break quite easily, but this one appears to be well made. The SDHC card slots into a sprung loaded slot in the end of the adapter making a reassuringly positive sounding click when it’s latched in place. Once inserted the SDHC card is slightly recessed into the adapter. This is good as it helps prevent the SDHC card from being released from the adapter as you put the adapter into the camera. It means that as you push the adapter into the camera you are pushing on the end of the adapter and not on the SDHC card like some other adapters I have used. To remove the SDHC card you simply push it quite firmly, further into the adapter until you hear another click and it then pops out far enough to be pulled out. This is certainly one of the better made adapters that I have come across.

To test the adapter I used some Transcend class 6 SDHC cards as well as some Integral Ultima Pro class 10 SDHC cards. I used the adapter in my PMW-F3 with firmware version 1.10 as some user have reported problems with other adapters and this firmware revision. I was able to completely fill the cards shooting using S&Q motion at 50fps or 60fps using long and short clips with lots of motion. This is I believe the toughest test for these adapters as the recording bit rate is close to 70Mb/s. I had no issues at all with either type of SDHC card and there was very little delay between finishing a recording and being able to start the next, a good indicator of the cards high performance. I also tested recording very long clips to ensure that there would be no issues when the camera breaks the recording into 4Gb chunks. Again, no problem.

So if you are going to use SDHC cards and an SxS adapter I would suggest you consider the Sonnet SxS adapter. It’s certainly cheaper than the Sony adapter. Sonnet are a large business with a wide range of products and a global distributor and dealer network, so you should have no problem finding a local supplier.