I will start this by saying that Sony has never let me down. In terms of gear reliability for professional shooting applications, I have never had any issues with gear failure with a Sony camera. I have been using the Sony PMW-EX1XDCam EX format camera since 2009, and it has performed flawlessly, and is a camera that is built entirely for professional video production.
While many people are clamouring over larger sensors, interchangeable lenses, and DSLR's I have been content to continue my EX1 for the following reasons:
- The 1/2" CMOS sensor creates a decently shallow depth of field for interview work on the long end of the lens, but also allows enough wiggle room for real life applications. Nailing focus even in a documentary interview with a really tight depth of field can be totally impractical in a real life "run & gun" application. For film applications where you're working with a focus puller a tight depth of field can work wonders, but in real life single camera operator situations, it can result in disaster.
- Audio is much easier to deal with when it is recorded into the camera, plus all of the controls and metering tools that I need are right there at my fingertips.
- Lens optics on the Sony EX1 are exceptional. Whenever I shoot DSLR I find myself wishing that I had the lens from my EX1 as it is totally versatile and covers a wide range with optimum sharpness throughout. It's a dynamite lens, and no DSLR lens offers this sort of all around functionality and quality.
Enter the new Sony PMW-200.
The PMW-200 carries roughly the same form factor as the EX1 & EX1R, but with increased functionality, and a reduced initial price tag of roughly $6300 USD. The EX1 started around $8000 when I bought it in 2009.
The lens and control layout looks basically the same as an EX1, but the body looks smaller overall. Some of the major upgrades over the EX1 include:
- 4 channel audio
- Timecode & Genlock input. This is the ideal way to shoot multicam shoots, and has been the professional benchmark for years. However, getting a mid-sized camera that has these features in the past has been very cost prohibitive. This camera follows Canon's move in making this available in this price point via the Canon XF-105 & XF-305 cameras.
- Optional HD 4:2:2 colour sampling. The EX1/1R shot at 4:2:0 only, unless output through HD SDI into a separate recorder
- 50mbps recording. This will be great for those working with green screen and effects.
- Optional XDCAM, XDCAM EX, or DVCam production
- iOS/Android app remote control
What Sony has done here is create an extremely versatile and robust professional camera that fits in nicely with it's higher end shoulder mount cameras, but at a price point and size that is extremely practical for documentary filming. There could be one of these happening for me in the very near future.
Anticipated release date: September 2012
- Three 1/2-Inch Exmor CMOS Sensors
- MPEG HD422 at 50 Mbps
- HD422 1080p at 24 and 30fps
- HD422 720p at 24, 30 and 60fps
- Fujinon Lens with 14x Zoom Ratio
- Four Channels of 16-bit Audio
- Articulated LCD with 852x480 Resolution
- Timecode and Genlock Input
- Cache Recording up to 15 Seconds
- Two ExpressCard SxS Memory Card Slots
Check pricing at: B&H Photo/Video
Chris Stenberg is a creative director, photographer, filmmaker, and traveller. In his spare time you can find him biking and boarding in the mountains of British Columbia.