Ok So for the last week I have been trying to write a review on the PMW200. The image quality is really great but something else got in the way of finishing the write up. I thought it was a faulty unit but have now confirmed this on 2 different cameras.
The cameras I’ve tested are 2 brand new production models on loan from our dealer Scandinavian Photo. Upon hearing that I had focus concerns on the first camera they gave me another one to see if this was an isolated problem. It does not appear to be.
Before I go on, a small disclaimer. I have spent very little time with mid sized camcorders ala EX1, DVX100 etc etc. Therefore this focus issue of lenses not being parfocal might be a know issue with these “permanent-hardmount-lensed” cameras. If so I can only share my concerns from my point of view. I am grateful for any feedback you may have.
What happens is this. If you zoom all the way in, set your focus everything is fine. But if you zoom out a little, perhaps to re frame, you loose focus, but some of the peaking remains on screen. You can see what happens really clearly if you are in “expanded focus” but its easily missed in full display, especially if you are outdoors. If you correct your new wider frame then in case you decide to zoom back in you are out of focus again. The drift doesn’t seem to be constant but changing along the zoom range. Its sort of like a drifting back-focus.
Everything set to manual focus, focus ring pulled back to full manual. “Anti-shake”/”steadishot” makes no difference if its on or off. Again, confirmed this on 2 different cameras at f1.9 or f2.8 hard to see at f4 gone at f5.6- Video above is shot wide open, no shutter. Not a scientific test by any means but still a clear issue.
Hopefully this is just a firmware fix for Sony, to keep this little baby in play. It does put out a remarkably good image for the price tag. I am working on a review and will hopefully post shortly.