The developers of the cameras explain all you need to know.
Sony's XDCAM HD 422 range of broadcast cameras, which record full HD 422 at 50 Mbps, are universally rugged, reliable and deliver consistently high quality recordings. The extensive camera range is continually under development, with models such as the popular PMW-200 and its little brother the PMW-150, amongst those added last year.
Not wanting to rest on its laurels, earlier this year at NAB2013, Sony announced another new XDCAM HD 422 model – the PMW-400 – an affordable 3x2/3-inch CMOS sensor broadcast camera that's future-proofed to support XAVC 10-bit HD422 recordings. The PMW-400 has a 16x zoom HD lens, high-res LCD viewfinder, an internal flash band reducer, and can even be converted into a shoulder-mounted system camera for covering live events.
“It’s very ergonomically-balanced, easy to operate and includes features that make it fit seamlessly into various types of productions and workflow,” says New Products Manager Yoshinori Nakako, who took a lead role in designing the camera and bringing it to market. “I met many customers while designing the PMW-400 – those who were using the PMW-500 requested lower electricity consumption, while customers of the PMW-350 asked for MPEG2 HD422 50Mbps MXF file recording, mainly for broadcast operations. They also wanted a codec for production in higher resolution, which will be available via the XAVC codec on the PMW-400 in the future.”
Added to this, Nakako says, “Customers of both the PMW-500 and PMW-350 commonly said they needed a colour viewfinder of higher resolution for HD productions where more accurate focusing was required.”
Now it's a system camera
One of the really interesting features of the PMW-400 is its ability to be converted into a systems camera by attaching an adapter to the camera body. The adapter makes it possible to cable the PMW-400 to a camera control unit, which controls the camera up to a maximum distance of 250 meters, including the power and signals of Tally, Intercom, Video Return and also Prompter.
As Nakako explains: “The PMW-400 can be used for studio camera operations, either with the CA-FB70 optical fibre camera adaptor and the HXCU-FB70 camera control unit or with the HXCU-100 camera control unit. This provides more choices for various workflows in different transmission systems.”
Flash band reducer
Talking about the camera's internal flash band reducer, which deals with the potentially irritating bands that appear when camera flashes go off during filming, as is commonplace when covering press events, Nakako says it's “a valuable new feature.” The flash band reducer is based on a processing circuit installed inside the camcorder that “employs a sophisticated algorithm to detect and process flash banding inside the camcorder before recording.”
Nakako is justly proud of the PMW-400. In particular, he says, “I’m so thrilled to provide MPEG2 HD422 50Mbps in more affordable line-ups – it was established for higher line-ups such as the PDW-700/F800 and the PMW-500.”
Packing the features inIn addition to the PMW-400, Sony recently announced yet another XDCAM HD422 model – the PMW-300. “The PMW-300 has many attractive features including lens exchangeability (using an appropriate lens mount adaptor, any 2/3-type or 1/2-type bayonet mount lens can be used), slow and quick motion, and genlock and timecode interface,” says Sony's New Products Manager Isao Matsufune.
“Heat can be a serious issue when putting so many features in a compact body, so the development team carefully studied the mechanical construction and the airflow inside the camcorder to successfully solve the issue.”
“The PMW-300 has a unique semi-shoulder style body and by utilising the retractable chest pad mechanism a camera operator can hold it stably for long periods of time,” adds Matsufune. “The rotary hand grip on the lens also helps the camera operator to shoot comfortably.”
Replacing the PMW-EX3
Aimed at replacing the successful PMW-EX3, the PMW-300 has been designed to surpass the image quality of its predecessor. “The PMW-EX3 was well accepted in the market because of the high quality image produced by the 1/2-inch Exmor sensors,” says Matsufune. “One of the challenges with the PMW-300 was to further improve the picture quality from the PMW-EX3, so we've improved the signal processing and drastically reduced picture noise to ensure the PMW-300 creates a cleaner image.”
Like the PMW-400, “HD422 recording is one of the camera's key features,” says Matsufune. “Many broadcasters use XDCAM HD422 50Mbps as a standard format, so with HD422 recording capability, the PMW-300 can slot into this workflow. Furthermore, the PMW-300 will adopt Sony’s revolutionary XAVC codec through a future software upgrade.”
Another feature the PMW-300 and PMW-400 have in common is the ability to add a wireless adapter so content can be wirelessly uploaded to a server or cloud service via the 3G/4G mobile phone network. “The wireless adapter is currently under development and provides easy transmission by network and efficient on-site operation using wifi and 3G/4G line connection,” says Nakako. “The wireless adapter is directly connectable to the PMW-400, PMW-300 and other current products.”
Both the PMW-400 and the PMW-300 took less than a year to develop. Nakako explains: “We challenged ourselves to do the development in a much shorter period of time, as the market changes rapidly and so do our customers’ businesses. We needed to move quickly to catch the business opportunity and to realise the market demands for our customers. Engineers, product planning, marketing and manufacturing worked as one to achieve this goal without any compromise on quality and completeness.”
Other than the PMW-300 and PMW-400, Sony offers the shoulder mount type camcorders PMW-500/400, the handy camcorders PMW-200/150/100, the studio recorder PMW-1000 and the portable recorder, the PMW-50.