Sony just released new firmware to help resolve the backfocus issue on the PMW200 which has been seen on certain cameras. Travel and movent to the camera body can sometimes misalign the focus mechanism inside the camera. This firmware upgrade adds a feature to re-align it again. Its an easy upgrade and only takes a few minutes.
You close the LCD, set gain to H and simultaneously hold down the scroll wheel (select/set), MENY and CANCEL. This will bring up a deeper mainenence meny. Find FB Adjust and execute. Do with using a siemens focus star of something similar at about 10ft (3m) aimed directly at the target. The software will do this all by itself let you know when finished.
Doing this fixes the problem of the 2 cameras I tested to 95%. I can still see a slight slight focus shift in EXPANDED FOCUS while shooting wide open, but I think this is within specs on a lens like this. This sets my mind at ease and I would not hold back on buying this camera on account of any focus issue but I would certainly check the back focus with the meny setting above.
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.
Today I shot some more with the PMW200. Picture quality is great but I’ve experienced some focus issues which were of big concern. I just went by our dealer and picked up a new camera to see if this one has the same issues. Hopefully not… Testing more tomorrow.
Yesterday I finally got to lay my hands on the new Sony PMW-200 Xdcam camera recently announced. It is a 50Mbit/s MpegHD422 camera with a 1/2 inch sensor.
I will do a complete post with pictures and more details, hopefully this weekend, but here is a sneak peak…
Image quality is really remarkable for a camera in this price range. We did a quick setup. Black cloth, a few objects, some skin tone and one 600w open face tungsten light. Same gamma settings, HG3, and we white balanced in key light.
On this shot I had, together with a Senior DaVinci Colorist / VFX Supervisor, a hard time to tell the difference between a PDW700 with a Canon HJ22 (a $65 000 setup) and the PMW200 ($8 000).
I had heard it was good looking camera but this more than I expected.
This is of course one setup shot at f5.6 at our office. Other situations may show different thing, more testing will tell. 🙂
The camera has a few things I am not thrilled about but we’ll leave this for the complete post. Check back!
Here is a screen grab converted to Jpg for display. Will post uncompressed pics with later post.
Ok so the rumors were true for the most part it seems. 🙂 A new camera in the Xdcam line up has been released by Sony, the PMW-200.
It is a camera that seems to build on the XDCam EX line in body shape and lens choice. It will feature 3 Exmor Full HD CMOS sensors, each sensor having 2 million effective pixels, which will allow shooting a 1080 full raster HD image without pixel interpolation. Very cool. This camera also adds something I really really wish our Sony F3 had, a 50Mbps image using the solid MPEG HD422 compression. Why is this a big deal? Well because EBU and BBC for example have set the 50 Mbps bitrate limit as an “acceptable” quality for other things than news. (Although bitrate is not everything, not all 50mbps cameras are automatically approved ie PMW-100) The F3 may have a great looking 35Mbps image but will require an external recorder capturing atleast 50mbps images to comply with high end broadcasters. I can only hope, now that this camera is “out of the bag” Sony will decide up allow for an upgrade on the Sony F3.
The PMW-200 will, like the EX1, use the SxS cards both the PRO and SxS1 cards. The new twist is that by formatting the cards in UDF (Universal Disk Format) you can now record in and industry standard MXF file, also very cool. You can still use the MP4 files using FAT32 formatted cards. It will shoot all flavors of HD as well as SD DVCam.
On Sony’s site it says “(Note: Proxy video is not available with the PMW-200).” I think the proxy files associated with each master clip on the XDCam 700 and 800 is a great way to log, and transcribe footage and if this feature is not available on the PMW-200 I think that is a shame.
I don’t know how accurate the PDF User manual is that I got the other day, so we’ll wait until Sony release an official one on their site, to read more into all the features and specs. But what specs we know for sure, the new 1/2 inch sensors, built in ND filters, HD/SD-SDI output, Slow & Quick motion, 14x zoom lens, 4 Hypergammas, 15 sec cache record, genlock and TC interface this could prove to be a great little camera. It is priced just under 8k.
Look forward to seeing some footage and actually get to play with this camera. IBC is next I guess… 🙂
Is the PMW-200 the next big thing by Sony due to be released in the next few days?? Rumors are flying around and I saw a PDF with some interesting information that if true could prove to be a new camera in the XDCam line up. It will, if true, offer 1/2 inch EXmor CMOS FullHD sensors and HD422 in 50Mbps.
A big big dealer in Europe actually has the camera up on its website, I saw it for myself, reachable from a search engine URL.
Anyhoooo, rumors or not, We’ll know what Sony has in store soon enough… 🙂