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Sony expands XDCAM EX range

22 October 2009

Sony is replacing its EX1 solid state camcorder just two years after launch with a new, and it believes enhanced, model which features SD capability, reports Adrian Pennington.

The company has also unveiled a new shoulder-mount solid state camcorder in the latest in a series of staggered product announcements.

Both the shoulder-mount PMW-350 camcorder and the hand-held PMW-EX1R, replacement for the EX1, augment Sony’s XDCAM EX range. Both include standard definition DVCAM recording – the first time this has been available to EX users.

“SD recording is a response to the market,” said Olivier Bovis, general manager, product marketing, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “Along with other manufacturers we anticipated a faster move to HD but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people still use SD and want to have both a route into HD and into solid state. The HD wave in Europe is far from finished and it’s not going to happen easily hence the reimplementation of SD functionality.”

“There were some small mistakes in the design of the EX1 which we have now corrected,” he added. “99% of the new features are customer-requested.”

Aside from SD recording these include an HDMI output, a higher-resolution viewfinder, and one-push Auto Iris. It also features better ergonomics including an improved hand grip, one-click Slow and Quick mode easier over or under cranking and easy-to-access switches. An image inversion option is included for cinestyle lens options. The unit ships in December at the same pricepoint as the current EX1.

The PDW-350, available from January, fills a gap in Sony’s line-up between the EX3 and the PDW700 allowing Bill Drummond, European product marketing manager to claim that: “We are the only company that offers a compact, semi-shoulder and a full shoulder memory card-based range.” Panasonic doesn’t offer a semi-shoulder model in this category.

The unit uses three 2/3-inch CMOS sensors with 1920×1080 resolution for full HD imaging. It also features DVCAM recording via the CBK-DV01 option and has HD-SDI and HDMI out. Power consumption is 15W “60% lower than standard HD camcorders,” said Drummond.

The PMW-350L body-only model – designed for “entry level broadcast, ENG and corporate video” lists for _16,600. For _18,500 a version comes with a Fujinon lens which offers auto and manual focus with a 16x zoom and a 2/3-inch bayonet mount.

Compatible with both camcorders are new solid state memory options. A new 32GB SxS-1 memory card joins the existing SxS PRO media line-up costing _450 and offering similar data transfer speeds of 800Mbps but a more limited lifespan of five years (compared to the SxS Pro’s lifetime warranty).

A second option, by way of a _100 adaptor, brings cheap E30-40 consumer memory cards into play. According to Bovis, “while this is great as an emergency the media is not as reliable as professional cards, transfer speeds are considerably reduced and it won’t record functions such as overcranking.”

The company is heavily trailing future product announcements, such as this at French trade show SATIS, notably one next month in London regarding “3D and beyond HD” with others to follow.

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