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Sony DSR450WSL vs. Panasonic HVX200


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#1 NBC Shooter

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 11:15 PM

I've debated this question endlessly on another popular forum, and now that I see there are actually people that own the DSR450 here on this board, I thought I'd post this thread here. To cut to the chase, I already know virtually all of the technical capabilities, pros and cons of each camera and each recording format. I've also studied the HVX200's imaging characteristics at both RESfest L.A., and DV Expo West 2005 on both HD LCD and HD CRT displays. I have NOT seen the DSR450 image, but I have shot with DSR500/570 and PDW530 cameras before, so I have an idea of what to expect from the DSR450.

For those of you who haven't seen the HVX200's image quality, let me say this:
1. Surprisingly clean, very noise-free image (in contrast to the VERY noisy DVX100).
2. The HVX200 engineering prototype shown at RESfest L.A. was approximately 1-stop slower than a DVX100B.
3. Oddly, the HVX200 engineering prototype shown at DV Expo West (a more recent revision), was only about 1-stop slower than the HDX400 2/3" HD camera right next to it. In a side-by-side comparison, the HVX' image appeared pretty darn comparable to the HDX' image.

People often comment that I'm comparing apples to oranges. But I have one large camera purchase in my near future and it's come down to a choice between these two cameras. If I were a patient man, I would wait and buy the 1/2" PDW-F330 XDCAM-HD camera ($20K-$25K w/glass) coming from Sony next spring. But I'm not.

My application: Short narrative "films" and features (if I'm so lucky to find a feature script I like).
My delivery medium: Widescreen, progressive-scan SD DVD.

I am not servicing any "clients" other than myself with this camera purchase. I am not intending this for any rental inventory (although, it's arguable that the HVX will be a hot rental item in 2006).

Clearly the merits and demerits of each camera are obvious. Shallow depth-of-field characterisitcs of a 2/3" imager is a big one. Sensitivity and latitude are also in huge favor of the DSR450. But the HVX is just so damned cool. True 60fps slow-motion. Time-lapse capability without the worry about tape or head wear. A 100Mbps, 4:2:2 HD signal vs. a 25Mbps, 4:1:1 SD signal. This thing will be a great "plate" acquisition camera for compositing applications. And did I mention, that the HVX200 is ultra-clean? . . . and I can see noise in a picture like nobody's business.

I own a Steadicam Flyer, and should be able to fly either camera on it. I own a decent tripod, a Vinten Vision 5. I already own a current Anton Bauer four-position charger. So the cost of "professional" accessories doesn't factor in here.

Anyway, if any of you have checked the price of the DSR450 V-mount pack at B+H, you'll see that they've lowered this price twice since its introduction by a whopping $2,400. You get all that crap, a 20:1 Fuji, 2 V-mount bricks, a 2-position charger, and that cool Sony bag for $14,999. That's hard to resist.

Edited by NBC Shooter, 20 December 2005 - 11:20 PM.

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#2 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:47 AM

Hi NBC Shooter (sorry, don't know your real name),

As you may know, I own a DSR-450WSL, about which I've posted in these forums several times. If you haven't already seen them, my camcorder produces images like this:
Posted Image

Posted Image

... but I'm sure it's capable of better quality if fitted with a better lens (I currently own an entry-level Canon lens) and in the hands of an operator more exerienced than myself.

The video from which these two frames were captured was shot using the cam's 24pA mode (with 2-3-3-2 pulldown) @ 1/48th sec. shutter at f2.8. The subject was sitting about 6' from the lens. The key was a 650w Mole fresnel in a medium softbox, with a 250w Mole fresnel providing the backlight. A 2nd 650w fresnel is illuminating the bookcase. These frames were captured off DV tape using FCP.

I have Sony's SDI output card installed in my cam. I plan on using it someday (soon I hope) with a Rosendahl bonsaiDrive ...
http://www.bonsaidrive.com/bonsai.html

... distributed by Sennheiser in the US. These small, portable, relatively inexpensive video recorders/players enable _uncompressed_ 10-bit 4:2:2 recording from an SDI source onto a single, ordinary ATA 3.5" or 2.5" harddisk drive. The list price for a bonsaiDrive with SDI I/O is around $3,250 US.

Combined with a DSR-450WSL, a bonsaiDrive essentially yields better than DigiBeta quality for much less than half the cost of Sony's newest DigiBeta DVW970 model.

Anyway, just a FYI if you haven't heard about this particular approach.

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2005 - 01:48 AM.

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#3 Lars.Erik

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:09 AM

I own a Steadicam Flyer, and should be able to fly either camera on it. I own a decent tripod, a Vinten Vision 5. I already own a current Anton Bauer four-position charger. So the cost of "professional" accessories doesn't factor in here.


If you own a Flyer, you'll have no problem operating with the Panasonic. You might have problems operating with the 450 on it. I don't think you will get this in perfect balance. The rig is not intended for a heavy camera like the 450. They are more for 1/3 inch cams and small 16mm.

Edited by Lars.Erik, 21 December 2005 - 04:10 AM.

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#4 NBC Shooter

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:26 AM

You might have problems operating with the 450 on it. I don't think you will get this in perfect balance. The rig is not intended for a heavy camera like the 450. They are more for 1/3 inch cams and small 16mm.

I know at least two who have flown Varicams on a Flyer, albeit, stripped of its EVF and powered from the sled's brick. According to one owner, he's flown a full-sized camera with a Hytron 120 (which are heavy). I've done the math with the DSR450/Fuji 20:1 and it should "fly" fine at right about 15 lbs. even with its EVF attached. Although Tiffen claims a 15 lb. maximum weight, apparently that figure is fairly conservative and does NOT include the weight of whatever brick you decide to power the sled with. Using a sled-mounted ProPak14 (powering both the sled and the camera) should be fine.

Edited by NBC Shooter, 21 December 2005 - 04:30 AM.

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#5 NBC Shooter

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:45 AM

I have Sony's SDI output card installed in my cam. I plan on using it someday (soon I hope) with a Rosendahl bonsaiDrive . . .

Yeah, sounds like an interesting product--what is their price point and when is it shipping? I saw the Cineform Wafian HDD array at an HD seminar in Burbank a couple weeks ago. It's a 1-terabyte disk array that they had hooked up to the analog component out of a JVC HD100. It's shipping in January 2006 for $15,000.

Unfortunately, tethered production simply won't work for the constraints I'll be working with. The intent of my post was to get any sort of qualitative feedback on how the DSR450's image quality compares with that of the HVX200. It seems difficult to find anyone that's been in the same room with BOTH cameras! I've studied carefully the HVX' picture for several hours now at two different shows--the thing looks damn good. But I know that the DSR450 will give me probably at least two more stops of sensitivity, and of course, that nice shallow, 2/3"-class, depth-of-field characteristic. Two stops and shallow depth-of-field. That's what this is coming down to.


The list price for a bonsaiDrive with SDI I/O is around $3,250 US.

Oh, didn't see that. Anyway, I forgot to ask you . . . how far away is the bookcase from the subject? And how far away is the bookcase from the image plane (camera)?
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#6 Lars.Erik

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:25 AM

I know at least two who have flown Varicams on a Flyer, albeit, stripped of its EVF and powered from the sled's brick. According to one owner, he's flown a full-sized camera with a Hytron 120 (which are heavy). I've done the math with the DSR450/Fuji 20:1 and it should "fly" fine at right about 15 lbs. even with its EVF attached. Although Tiffen claims a 15 lb. maximum weight, apparently that figure is fairly conservative and does NOT include the weight of whatever brick you decide to power the sled with. Using a sled-mounted ProPak14 (powering both the sled and the camera) should be fine.


I'm not saying you won't be able to fly it. I'm saying that you might not get it in perfect balance. This will make it more difficult to operate. Specially if you have to run. But this is a topic for steadicamforum.com anyway. Good luck, and if you do use the 450 on the flyer, please let me know how it reacts to that.

Best regards

Lars Erik
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#7 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:24 AM

NBC, are you STILL making up your mind?! ;) :)

The HVX200 does appear to give a very good image. But everything is relative. I think if you were to compare an HVX200 to the HDX400 you would find huge differences under scrutiny. Once people get over the wow factor of HD the differences will start to reveal themselves.

The main question you need to be asking yourself is whether there is a need for your footage to be in HD. HD XDCAM won't be out until the third quarter of 2006 at least, although it will be demoed extensively at NAB2006 I gather.

The Bonsai drive solution Peter mentioned is a good one. It won't be tethered in the way you would think as the drive is not much bigger than the average camera battery. So it could quite happily be velcroed onto the back of the camera I would imagine, or into a simply belt pack. I'm looking into using this drive myself for the same purpose.

At the same time I am also looking at HD solutions. But as far as I can see there isn't one that meets my spec. I would like an HD XDCAM, but if I did do this I would wait until a 2/3" version. One broadcast retailer in the US has stated that a 2/3" HD XDCAM will be released in 2007 and are offering special trade in offers on SD XDCAM equipment bought now. No official word from Sony as yet however. One thing is for certain. I wouldn't buy an HVX200 for anything other than a 2nd or 3rd camera.
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#8 Fernando Senosiain

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 11:36 AM

NBC Shooter (I spent twenty years shooting news out of Burbank, who do you shoot for?), did you get a chance to take a look at the UCLA basketball footage shot with the HVX200...they were playing it at DVExpo West. Looked pretty amazing. I agree with Simon W, I would add the HVX200 as a second camera. I currently own an SDX900 w/a Fujinon HD lens, and the 200 would be a good fit with my kit. I want to wait a little longer to see how the HD production world shakes out. Don't know much about the Sony DSR450 but have read good things about it on other boards. Good luck to ya!
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#9 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 12:28 PM

... how far away is the bookcase from the subject? And how far away is the bookcase from the image plane (camera)?

The bookcase was about 8' behind the subject, and as I mentioned, the subject was about 6' from the front of the lens (so about 7' from the image plane). These are maximum distances; the room wasn't very big. ;-)

Of course, almost no one has seen a DSR-450WSL and a HVX-200 in the same room because almost no one has seen a HVX-200, period. According to Jan C., the HVX-200 product manager, it has only just barely begun shipping and won't be available in volume for at least several weeks if not a few months.

And yes, in many ways comparing these two cams is an apples & oranges comparison -- but not entirely, so I think I understand where you're coming from. Let me put it this way: I bought a DSR-450WSL in part because its features and flexibility uniquely allow it to serve as a sort of bridge between the current SD world and the emerging HD world.

As Simon mentioned, the bonsaiDrive is very small and can operate off AC or DC. These details and more (including its user manual PDF) are available on their website. It's been shipping for awhile.

If you also get Sony's composite input option card for the DSR-450WSL, I suspect you'd be able to monitor the bonsaiDrive's video output and control menus via the cam's viewfinder and LCD screen by pressing the cam's "Return" video button. I don't see why this wouldn't work, and would be a nice touch.

Sony's part numbers and list prices for the options and accesories available for the DSR-450WSL are on their website at:
http://bssc.sel.sony...&sp=11&id=80616

The local Flyer rep in SF area says it'll handle a stripped-down, relatively lightweight fullsize cam (such as the DSR-450WSL). As you know, it's very easy to remove a VF & mic from a cam such as the DSR-450WSL; it takes just a few seconds to take it off or put it back on. And of course, the DSR-450WSL's built-in LCD monitor allows you to fully operate the cam (displaying menus & video) even if the VF is removed.

Another cool thing about SDI-based recording: There are a wide variety of devices available to embed/disembed multi-channel audio in & out of the SDI datastream. The bonsaiDrive's latest firmware update handles up to EIGHT audio channels. (Try _that_ with a HVX-200!) For example, Graham-Patten and AJA make SDI audio embed/disembed devices:
http://www.gpsys.com/
http://www.aja.com/

Especially for chromakey/compositing work, I'd think the combination of a DSR-450WSL and the bonsaiDrive would be a dream. For me, it's biggest attraction is the "better than" video recording quality compared to DVCPRO-50 or DigitalBetacam. With a good lens, even blow-ups to HD should look great. The bonsaiDrive's awesome audio flexibility is icing on the cake.

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2005 - 12:48 PM.

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#10 Preston Herrick

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 12:44 PM

There's no doubt that in this business, generally speaking, you get what you pay for when it comes to equipment. However, when you take into consideration the rate that video technology is evolving and the fact that you are not servicing clients other than yourself, I'd rather pay off a piece of hardware like this sooner than later - not to mention all the ancillary gear and/or post cost associated with a particular cam or format. If you're impressed with the HVX or feel it is comparable to the Sony in image quality, I think long term cost is worth consideration.
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#11 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:47 PM

There's no doubt that in this business, generally speaking, you get what you pay for when it comes to equipment. However, when you take into consideration the rate that video technology is evolving and the fact that you are not servicing clients other than yourself, I'd rather pay off a piece of hardware like this sooner than later - not to mention all the ancillary gear and/or post cost associated with a particular cam or format. If you're impressed with the HVX or feel it is comparable to the Sony in image quality, I think long term cost is worth consideration.

Hi Preston: Wow, Wenatchee, WA; I bet you live in a beautiful part of the world!

Obviously everyone's financial situation is different, so I can't advise NBC Shooter or others what they ought to do with their money, but -- :)

Pro video equipment (as opposed to prosumer video equipment) tends to be useful for a relatively long time: 5, 10, even 15 years. Although in some ways we're seeing a spurt of development activity in the industry, I don't think things are changing -- on average -- much faster now than in years past.

For myself, by buying a DSR-450WSL cam (the most expensive non-automotive purchase of my life) I'm betting a native 16:9 megapixel 2/3" 3-CCD progressive-capable pro DVCAM camcorder with SDI output capability will be useful for at least 3-7 years.

I say "at least" both because I think high quality SD video gear will be usefull for a long time, and also because I tend to use equipment I own for a l-o-n-g time. I've been using some of my gear for multiple decades, because these items continue to be useful. Needless to say, they've paid for themselves in many ways, many times over.

Given my tendency to use equipment over a long period of time, I only rent gear if it's relatively expensive to buy (but cheap to rent) and I'm unlikely to use it very often.

One will spend at least $10K US to buy a HVX-200 package capable of doing useful work (probably considerably more!), compared to $15K - $25K US for a useful DSR-450WSL package.

Some of the items one may choose to purchase for use with a HVX-200 (such as P2 memory cards, lens attachments, matte box & rails, shoulder-mounts, carrying cases, and so forth) are likely only useful for that particular camera or handycam formfactor. Whereas add-on gear purchased for use with a fullsize pro cam will typically be compatible with almost every pro cam ever made or yet to be made.

It's difficult to imaging how purchasing P2 memory cards at today's prices (whichever day "today" happens to be) will be a good investment if P2 prices decline even half as rapidly as Panasonic predicts.

Since camera add-ons can easily approach or exceed the cost of the cam itself (especially compared to the cost of a prosumer cam), this "investment" should probably considered as least as carefully as the cam purchase.

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2005 - 01:54 PM.

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#12 Preston Herrick

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 02:31 PM

Hi Peter. Thanks, we do live in beautiful country - at least most of the time. Right now it's very cold and white so I wouldn't mind being in El Cerrito.

You made some very good points and I have to agree with what you said. I guess my thoughts stem from my own experience. I live in a small market where renting equipment most often isn't even practical. I too tend to keep equipment for long periods. Some is 13 years old - alive and well and still in use. I've also made some high end purchases in which I was never able to recoup my investment - so I guess that's where I was kinda coming from. Just suggesting to NBC that he consider his return on investment, regardless of what he buys.

Although I've owned and still own some Sony gear I'm a Panasonic fan at heart. Love to own a Varicam or SDX900 and feel I could put it to good use - but alas, there's no way I couldn't justify the expenditure or long term committment. At least not where I'm located. Currently my clients are more than happy with the end product. Down the road, those demands may change.

Happy Holidays!
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#13 NBC Shooter

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 06:22 PM

At the same time I am also looking at HD solutions. But as far as I can see there isn't one that meets my spec. I would like an HD XDCAM, but if I did do this I would wait until a 2/3" version. One broadcast retailer in the US has stated that a 2/3" HD XDCAM will be released in 2007 and are offering special trade in offers on SD XDCAM equipment bought now. No official word from Sony as yet however.

Yup, Simon, it seems I'm back to square one on this purchase decision again. Interesting news about the bonsaidrive. I guess my thinking is that, if I were to spend the money on the SDI board and the bonsai, I could've just purchased a better camera in the first place (perhaps the upcoming 2/3" shoulder-mount version of the HVX?). But I agree, the 1/2" PDW-F330 is a huge compromise with respect to chip size and lenses (if you ever do move up to 2/3" camera, your glass is worthless).

I did want to point out that NBC is considering SD XDCAM cameras and was offered that Sony "trade-in" deal. The trade-in deal is fairly paltry, and I think it worked out to something like a mere 30% discount on the REAL 2/3" XDCAM-HD cameras when they become available (2007?). Interesting to hear a delivery date for the PDW-F330. That really is a huge deciding factor in my purchase decision since the shoulder-mount 2/3" HVX-style Panasonic I expect to be at least $30K with glass. Do you really think the PDW-F330 won't be out until Q3 2006? What was the source on that information?


Just suggesting to NBC that he consider his return on investment, regardless of what he buys.

I just wish it were that simple. I'm trying to fulfill an application requirement (independent film production) that I just don't think the HVX will be able to lens (due to mainly to sensitivity issues). I'm also trying to satisfy a huge aesthetic standard that only a larger imager can achieve (shallow depth-of-field). If it were only an ROI decision, it would be the HVX hands-down. I've made about $8,500 in rental income from my little DVX100 to NBC. I'm sure the "HD-ness" of the HVX will be even more attractive to them as a rental item. I don't expect ANY rental income from the DSR450. But again, I'm not trying to satisfy an ROI requirement, I'm trying to satisfy an aesthetic one.

Edited by NBC Shooter, 21 December 2005 - 06:23 PM.

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#14 NBC Shooter

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 06:36 PM

Part of what's making this decision so difficult is that when you have used DSR500s selling on E-bay for $5,000 and used BVW400s selling for $4,000, it makes you think . . . the SD handwriting is on the wall. Who in their right mind would spend REAL money buying a NEW SD camera at this point? Especially someone who, again, doesn't need to serve an existing SD client base and is trying to work in a medium which is always resolution-starved in the first place (when compared to the medium we're trying to emulate . . . film).

But regardless of all that (and I'm not fishing for any response here, I'm just thinking out loud), I know in my gut . . . that I'll regret every dime of that HVX purchase the minute I try to lens my first night exterior with nothing more than a KinoFlo and existing street lighting, or try to shallow up my depth-of-field on a tight set with walls too close to my subject. If I feel it now, I'm really gonna feel it in the edit bay later.
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#15 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 07:48 PM

Part of what's making this decision so difficult is that when you have used DSR500s selling on E-bay for $5,000 ... the SD handwriting is on the wall. Who in their right mind would spend REAL money buying a NEW SD camera at this point? ... [However] I know in my gut . . . that I'll regret every dime of that HVX purchase the minute I try to lens my first night exterior with nothing more than a KinoFlo and existing street lighting, or try to shallow up my depth-of-field on a tight set with walls too close to my subject. If I feel it now, I'm really gonna feel it in the edit bay later.

Prices on eBay might not have much to do with what's important to _you_. If the herd mentallity is currently saying "interlaced = bad", "24p = good", then that's two reasons why typically wonderful DSR-500 cams might be selling on eBay for a fraction of their original cost.

I happen to agree with "interlaced = bad" and "24p = good", but I also know that a DSR-5xx cam in good condition is worth a heck of a lot more to _me_ than $5K US! Because I know what great images can be made with one of those cams in capable hands. For example, the film "The Anniversary Party".

Now, add to the real value of a DSR-5xx cam (or similar Ikegami or Panasonic) the 24p, 24pA, 30p, Slow Shutter, SDI and many other features of the DSR-450WSL ... Well, let's just say I felt OK spending slightly less than $20K US for my DSR-450WSL package (with basic Canon lens, SDI output card & Varizoom lens controller [I already had batteries, AC charger, matte box, etc.]).

Sure, the 1/3" HVX-200 may have a few neat features (?) the 2/3" DSR-450WSL doesn't have, but IMHO the HD vs. SD aspect is the least of it: Both have CCDs with about the same number of active pixels, but the CCDs in the DSR-450WSL are much larger, and you can hang the best darn 2/3" lens on the DSR-450WSL you can afford without having to bolt-on a lot of additional _expensive_ lens adapter/converter cr*p (to get shallow DOF) as you do with a small cam like the HVX-200 (and lose 1-2 stops in the process).

As I've mentioned before, I've seen carefully shot DigitalBetacam footage (shot using an HD lens) carefully upconverted to HDCAM and projected on a large screen via an HD projector, and it looked great! Smooth as silk and beautiful. Footage acquired using a SDI-output-equipped DSR-450WSL via an HD lens and SDI bonsaiDrive should look as good or better. As a result I'm not worried about the potential capabilities of my DSR-450WSL.

On projects with budgets which allow it, I'll rent or buy whatever super-duper HD cameras and other gear if and when required. But a client would have to convince me they need quality significantly better than "The Anniversary Party" -- and can afford it -- before I'll be convinced I need to go that route.

So, now, be happy and get a DSR-450WSL with SDI and a bonsaiDrive, or a SDX-900 (using DVCPRO-50, which can look quite lovely, or get the SDI option and a bonsaiDrive), or a SPX-800 (but only if SDI-out is available, plus a bonsaiDrive).

The mantra is: "Depth of field, color quality, depth of field, color quality ..."

In a few years, after you're more rich and more famous, you can buy/rent/use whatever toys you want.

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 21 December 2005 - 07:51 PM.

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#16 NBC Shooter

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 11:00 PM

I have Sony's SDI output card installed in my cam. I plan on using it someday (soon I hope) with a Rosendahl bonsaiDrive . . .

After thinking about that SDI board a bit more, that's actually a pretty intriguing option (the board is less than I expected). I looked at the Rosendahl website and found that the bonsaiDRIVE only comes with analog video I/O. In the "features" page, they state, "Option port for digital I/Os: 270 MBit SDI with embedded audio." Where is this "option port?" Assuming you have your DSR450 equipped with the $1,299 SDI-out board, do you have to buy an "option port" for the bonsaiDRIVE from Rosendahl? If so, how much is that?

Edited by NBC Shooter, 21 December 2005 - 11:03 PM.

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#17 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 01:00 PM

... I looked at the Rosendahl website and found that the bonsaiDRIVE only comes with analog video I/O. In the "features" page, they state, "Option port for digital I/Os: 270 MBit SDI with embedded audio." Where is this "option port?" Assuming you have your DSR450 equipped with the $1,299 SDI-out board, do you have to buy an "option port" for the bonsaiDRIVE from Rosendahl? If so, how much is that?

Hi Mr. Shooter (do you have a real name?):

According to Sennheiser, the US distributor for Rosendahl products, they say the SDI option is shipping for the bonsaiDRIVE, and the list price for this option is $835 US. It's a small daughter card installed within the bonsaiDRIVE housing, and can be installed in new and previously purchased units. There's a blank area provided on the back panel of a standard bonsaiDrive where the 2 BNC SDI I/O connectors mount.

They also sell a rackmount option for $490 US list which holds the bonsaiDRIVE itself plus allows use of slide-in/slide-out HDD trays.

The list price for the bonsaiDRIVE itself is $2,325 US.

For more information, including retail pricing & availability, contact your favorite authorized Sennheiser dealer, or Sennheiser directly:
http://www.bonsaidri...m/distlist.html
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#18 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 01:42 PM

A few additional comments concerning the bonsaiDrive for anyone considering using it with a pro ENG style cam:

- For "run & gun" (or even "walk & gun") style shooting I'd recommend using a 2.5" laptop-type harddisk drive instead of a 3.5" desktop-type HDD. Most 2.5" drives are designed to withstand _much_ more physical shock -- especially during a write operation (e.g.: while recording) -- compared to 3.5" HDDs. Specific information concerning a HDD's "Operating Shock" resistance is available from the HDD manufacturers; they typically list this info in each drive's spec sheet. A value above 300g is considered good; the higher this value the better! For tripod or tabletop work and so forth -- in any situation when the equipment will be subject to little or no physical shock while recording -- a 3.5" HDD will work fine.

- In addition to the bonsaiDrive's built-in pushbutton control panel, many of its features must be controlled via an on-screen menu superimposed on a monitor video display. The bonsaiDrive does not include a built-in video screen, so an external monitor of some type must be used instead. For example, a small portable LCD screen or any standard video monitor might be used for this purpose. Some pro ENG-style cams have a composite video input which can be viewed on the cam's hi-res CRT viewfinder (or built-in LCD display) whenever the cam's "Return" button is pressed. With some cams, such as the DSR-450WSL, this composite video input is available as an option card installed within the cam. Contact Sony for info on the cost of this and other options for their cams.

- To the best of my knowledge, a bonsaiDrive is required to play the video data stored on its HDD. In other words, the video stored on the HHD can't be played by connecting the bare HDD directly to, or installing it in, a PC or laptop. Video stored on a bonsaiDrive HDD can be played by either the original bonsaiDrive or -- if you move the bare HDD to another bonsaiDrive -- any other bonsaiDrive. For example, data recorded by one bonsaiDrive is playable on another (although it may be advisable for both bonsaiDrive units to be running the same version of Rosendahl's free downloadable firmware software). Rosendahl has said they may release an ethernet option for the bonsaiDrive at some point, but no definite timetable for this has been announced, and it may or may not happen.

- Like any HDD-based system, data on a bonsaiDrive's HDD should be backed-up as soon as possible in case of HDD failure. Since the bonsaiDrive does not currently offer direct connection to a PC -- other than via it's A/V connections -- backing-up a bonsaiDrive data can't be done faster than realtime. For example, a 1-hour recording will take 1-hour to backup. This would be done by either playing the bonsaiDrive material and capturing it into a PC-based uncompressed SD NLE, or by making a copy of its video playback using a videotape deck. In the latter case, the copy will typically be compressed (DVCAM, DVCPRO, etc.) and so is not a true backup of the original, uncompressed video as recorded by the bonsaiDrive. Prudent backup procedure would probably involve making at least two backups of each original recording, and keep at least one backup copy "off site" to guard against disasters such as fire, theft, and so forth. And of course, before erasing the contents of a bonsaiDrive HDD: If this video was previously copied into a PC or onto other media, these copies should in turn be backed-up, since they are about to become the only "originals". Ah, the joys of non-tape acquisition! :)

Edited by Peter DeCrescenzo, 22 December 2005 - 02:12 PM.

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#19 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 06:44 PM

I'll let you all know how my test of the Bonsai drive goes. I will be testing one out over the weekend with a colleague who is about to shoot a feature using the SDI out on his PDW-510.
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#20 NBC Shooter

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:57 PM

DYING to know how much faster a DSR450 in 24psf @ 1/48th is, when compared to an HVX200 in 24pa @ 1/48th!
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