PMW-500 and EX1R's Love Child: The PMW-200

The PMW-500 was lonely, she had been wanted to get out there and date again, but just was nervous. Her friend introduced her to a day laborer named EX1R. Although at First 500 felt like she should not be seeing someone so rugged she could not help herself. They had a Love Child. To PMW500's horror the child looked almost exactly like it's father EX1R. There was one vestige of resemblance in the child and it was her broadcast standard codec. The child's name was PMW-200

For all you filmmakers out there you might be saying to yourselves, "if you were a real filmmaker you would be looking at the latest large image sensor video camera like the C300 or the FS700, not an old tired paradigm known as a handheld camcorder."

That's where you're wrong. There's times when a smaller chip camera is better. It's getting more and more common that I wish for the days of all in one cameras like the sony EX1. Well those days are not actually gone. The PMW-200's recent release shows that Sony still knows a thing or two about what a filmmaker on a low budget needs.

We will get to the perks of having a PMW-200 in a second but I feel like I need to shore up the defense of this style camera. We shoot a lot of different types of content in an average year. Much of it looks best on a large sensor camera. We use a sony FS100 and sometimes our Canon 7D. However, in situations where we have to fly, or travel light, or be in a crowded place where we need a long zoom, we still use a traditional video camera. Our camera of choice thus far has been the Sony EX1R.

The fact is that it's a pain to have to carry a lot of peripheral gear to shoot with. When I have the luxury of driving my production van with all the gear in it to a job, then it's large sensors all the way. If I'm shooting something like a live performance, or a long distance shot, it's my EX1R to the rescue.

So this is why this camera is such a great idea. The BBC has a list of approved cameras that they will allow on the air. (I can't find an equivalent for American TV - If anyone knows where I can find this please let me know). On that list are only either cameras that record at 50mbs or higher. The EX1R is on the list with a caveat. It must have an external recorder that can do more than 50mbs. It's native recording format is only 35mbs.  Now trust me the 35mbs looks amazing right out of the EX1R but it just doesn't meet the standard.

So Sony has done an ingenius thing with this camera. They have made a VERY similar camera that complies with the codec requirements of the BBC and no doubt much of the rest of the world. The 4:2:2 50mbs codec that this thing spits out is considered to be the broadcast standard. I'm aware that there are probably a lot of clips that go out on air that don't comply but this is considered the standard. (I once got a clip on the local news that I shot on my iphone because I didn't have another camera there)

It has three 1/2" full HD exmor CMOS sensor. I can't say enough good things about the sensor they put in these.

I noticed two really impressive things when I started shooting with my EX1R (which means PMW200 will be even better) I had just come off of shooting almost exclusively with my canon 7D. I thought it had a nice look but was a little disappointed with the dynamic range. Before I started using the EX1R I thought I was going to be giving up my ability to get a shallow depth of field. I shot a documentary that we had to travel to India with EX1R. I was blown away at the dynamic range. It reached down into the shadows easily. Something that the 7D always had problems with. The EX1R was also able to grab these amazing wide shots with lots of detail and no aliasing, something the 7D had a lot of trouble with. The thing that I was most surprised by was the fact that I could still achieve a pretty decant depth of field. It meant I had to do a lot more zooming but it was doable. When I posted some of my early footage, one of my shooter friends said that he loved the look I got with my DSLR. He had no idea what I was shooting with, he just judged from my footage that I was using a DSLR, because of the depth of field. That was all I needed to know, my EX1R, with a little planning, could pass for a DSLR in terms of depth of field, and surpassed the look in terms of codec.

Now all that was done at 35mbs (EX1R) so the PMW-200 has 15mbs more than the EX1R. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

Secondly I've found that my large sensor cameras are ill-suited for live performance projects. I shoot a lot of cinematic type stuff, but along with the territory comes live performance projects. There is a professional theater in my area that I've done a lot of work for. I recently had a three camera shoot for them. I set up my EX1R, my FS100 (for wide shot) and had to rent another camera. This PMW200 would be a great addition to a live performance shoot.

Here is the link to the product page for the PMW-200




3 comments:

  1. You either don't know what you are talking about or this is a scam-ad thread. "The thing that I was most surprised by was the fact that I could still achieve a pretty decant depth of field." - small chip cameras have no problem achieving wide depth of field, so why are you surprised? It is the large chip DSLRs that have shallow DOF - which is why they are favoured by filmakers.

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  2. You either don't know what you are talking about or this is a scam-ad thread. "The thing that I was most surprised by was the fact that I could still achieve a pretty decant depth of field." - small chip cameras have no problem achieving wide depth of field, so why are you surprised? It is the large chip DSLRs that have shallow DOF - which is why they are favoured by filmakers.

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  3. He clearly means that the PM200, with it's 1/2" sensors, is able to provide a pleasingly shallow depth of field if you shoot properly (i.e. on a long lens with open iris) - not AS shallow but comparable to DSLRs. I'd suggest you're the one who doesn't know what he's talking about!

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