Sony's S-LOG Gamma encoding reaches a broader audience
By The Sony Tech Guy | February 23, 2011
The S-LOG Gamma curve of the Sony PMW-F3 (blue) maintains camera highlights up to 800% of nominal peak white. This is far beyond the capability of conventional Rec.709 gamma encoding (red).
As the much-talked-about PMW-F3 handheld Super 35mm camcorder hits the streets this month, it comes with the promise of S-LOG Gamma, which will be available as an extra-cost upgrade later this year. S-LOG will join the F3's built-in HyperGamma curves as creative tools for managing high scene contrast. So what can S-LOG Gamma do for your images? How does it differ from HyperGamma? And what are the basic requirements for handling S-LOG Gamma in post? I'm glad you asked.
Sometimes bigger can actually mean better.
By The Sony Tech Guy | January 27, 2011
Next month marks the debut of Sony's first handheld Super 35mm model for professionals: the PMW-F3. It's also Sony's first such camera with XDCAM EX recording and first with CMOS technology. And the F3 starts at just $16,000 MSRP. The new camera is beginning to make a name for itself after some sweet pre-production tests and first-on-the-block Vimeo posts. In this article, we'll take a look at the new camera's Super 35mm image sensor, and see exactly what Sony means by "Super 35."
Is HD "bigger" than SD?
By The Sony Tech Guy | December 22, 2010
The screen corners are rounded, the viewing distances are inexact and the angles aren't accurate. Still, this early SD versus HD diagram was prophetic.
I'm holding a Sony white paper on the proposed 1125/60 international HDTV standard for studio origination and program exchange. You say that standard doesn't sound familiar? It was the forerunner of 1080/60i. The white paper is dated April 1988 and it extols the virtues of future HDTV in terms of more scanning lines, better colorimetry and wider aspect ratio. But the most striking graphic shows an HDTV screen with a whopping six times the area of a superimposed SDTV screen. Why? What, if anything about HDTV translates to a bigger screen? And how closely do the televisions of today reflect the predictions of 22 years ago?
When numbers get numbing.
By The Sony Tech Guy | December 17, 2010
This picture is worth at least a few words.
So much of the technical jargon around digital content creation is fraught with traps for the unwary. As we've previously written, an image sensor "pixel" is not the same as a recorded "pixel" and nothing about a 2/3-inch type sensor actually measures 2/3 inch. Another classic source of confusion is the seemingly innocuous ratio-such as 4:4:4-that expresses the digital sampling structure.
Camera control unit for XDCAM EX camcorders
By The Sony Tech Guy | December 02, 2010
From corporate video studios to public access television to small market call-letter stations, there's a full-court press for affordable HD studio camera solutions. If you want full 1920 x 1080 resolution, full digital signal transport, full camera remote control and a full range of studio facilities, Sony has a surprisingly affordable new option. A new camera control unit (CCU), the XDCU-50 enables low-cost studio configuration with the PMW-EX3, 320, 350 and 500 XDCAM EX™ camcorders. While all these camcorders offer full HD resolution, there's a choice of imager sizes. The PMW-EX3 and 320 offer 1/2-inch type image sensors, while the PMW-350 and 500 step up to full 2/3-inch type imagers. The new CCU is destined to bring big smiles to a lot of faces with an MSRP of $3,500.
Some chaps in the UK have shot a short with an PMW-F3, and Sony announces a pro large-sensor NXCAM camcorder.
By Adam Wilt | November 17, 2010
Things are really heating up in the large single sensor camcorder world.
Quick links to early info on this large-format camcorder.
By Adam Wilt | November 10, 2010
[Updated 2010-11-13: Added link to Jon Fauer's preliminary report.][Updated 2010-11-11: Sony USA press release, shipping date, US prices.] Sony has announced the PMW-F3, a 35mm-sized camcorder designed for interchangeable lenses. Think 35 Mbit/sec, 4:2:0 XDCAM EX; handycam form factor; new Sony F mount with a PL mount adapter; available as a body only or packaged with three new Sony cine primes (35mm, 50mm, 85mm T2.0). It will ship in February 2011.
One app; many talents.
By The Sony Tech Guy | November 09, 2010
If it hadn't already been taken, E pluribus unum would have been a great motto for Sony's latest development, XDCAM® Browser version 1.00. This free, downloadable software unifies and simplifies what had been five separate applications for XDCAM and XDCAM EX products. This unification is particularly important now that the recently introduced PMW-500 camcorder and PDW-HR1/MK1 field recorder support both XDCAM and XDCAM EX file types. The new software also operates under both Windows® and Mac® OS.
A downloadable PDF for your entertainment and edification
By The Sony Tech Guy | November 09, 2010
Why is the image circle of a 2/3-inch type image sensor so much smaller than 2/3 inches?
Exactly what in a two-thirds inch sensor measures two thirds of an inch? What does a two-thirds inch 4:3 sensor have in common with a two thirds inch 16:9 sensor? And how big is a 35mm frame? As today's directors of photography move among different image sensor formats, these questions are becoming more important. But the answers are somewhat elusive and potentially confusing. That's why Sony has created a handy, one-page Guide to Image Sensor Sizes, which you can download here.
PDW-HR1/MK1 portable supports both Professional Disc and SxS memory recording.
By The Sony Tech Guy | October 27, 2010
It slices. It dices. It juliennes fries.
If the Swiss Army made a file-based recorder, this would be it. The Sony PDW-HR1/MK1 field deck integrates an XDCAM® HD portable recorder with two SxS™ media slots. The new deck enables you to copy and transcode any flavor of XDCAM recording between SxS cards and Professional Disc™ media. So it's a nifty solution for several field recording applications.
Sony teaches proxy AV some new tricks in the PMW-500.
By The Sony Tech Guy | October 27, 2010
The PMW-500 personifies the Power of the Proxy.
Proxy AV is one of the great little secrets of the Sony XDCAM® HD format. Users run the gamut from those who aren't aware of proxy to those who gush about it like religious converts. The PMW-500 camcorder is the first product to record proxy onto SxS™ media cards.
Sony's new plug-in for Final Cut Pro® instant playback of MP4 clips from Sony XDCAM EX™ camcorders
By David Leitner | October 18, 2010
In a perfect world, digital cameras would wirelessly zap moving images to servers in the cloud. Clips would appear instantly on timelines anywhere in the world, playable regardless of compression. Maybe that isn't your vision of a perfect world--although glimpses of it already appear at mobile phone apps like Qik and Ustream ("Broadcasting live is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Get started today!").
Size matters, but not as much as you might think.
By The Sony Tech Guy | September 27, 2010
There's no question which photosensor is bigger. But which is better?
In the 1980s, when dinosaurs walked the earth, high definition cameras cost more than suburban family houses and weighed more than anyone wanted to shoulder. Today, you can put a pair of HD camcorders in your pocket and still have room for keys. Where will it all end? Will a 4K image sensor eventually be engraved on the head of a pin? When you go small, what do you give up? If you can't break the laws of physics, how badly can you bend them? Mark Schubin wrote a classic magazine article on what he called the "format factor," examining the practical and technical implications of changing sensor size. Let's look at just one aspect, the fundamental tradeoff between the size of individual photosites and their quality.
CMOS or CCD? Yes.
By The Sony Tech Guy | September 20, 2010
Of all the choices in digital cameras, few are as fundamental as the type of image sensor: Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) or Charge Coupled Device (CCD). Both types have their adherents, and both have advantages. At Sony, we care passionately about every aspect of image sensor technology. And we're extremely partial to... both. As a world leader in image sensors, we manufacture both in roughly equal numbers. This puts us in an ideal position to comment on how the two compare.
Little low-light 60i handycam with 64GB of built-in storage and a sharp, stable image.
By Adam Wilt | September 14, 2010
Sony's HXR-MC50U (US$1695 list, $1499 street price) is a fit-in-your-fist handycam shooting 1080/60i and recording AVCHD (and SD MPEG-2) to 64GB of built-in memory and/or a removable card (Memory Stick or SDHC). A back-illuminated sensor gives it great low-light capability, and infrared "NightShot" mode lets you shoot in utter darkness. Active SteadyShot adds superb stabilization, and the supplied shotgun mike offers tightly focused sound. [Update: typo: it's 64 GB, not 64 MB!)
The virtues of the word "photosite."
By The Sony Tech Guy | September 09, 2010
Pretty as a pixel: it's called Q67.
Quick: If a 21 megapixel HDSLR records a 1080p image, how many pixels are there? Hint: It's a trick question. As DPs alternate between single-sensor cameras and three-chip cameras, there's a huge potential for confusing pixels, the microscopic rectangles of silicon on the image sensor and pixels, the digital samples that get recorded. There may be six times as many of the first as there are of the second. Or the numbers may be the same. Calling both of these pixels tends to paper over these differences. It also thwarts communication when someone means one thing but the listener hears the other. For the sake of clarity, if not sanity, I'm learning to call the little image sensor rectangles photosites.
Half truths about MPEG-2 vs. AVC-I compression
By The Sony Tech Guy | August 17, 2010
Good GOP, good GOP. This Group of Pictures includes 15 frames, starting with a fully-defined Intra frame (I), Predictive frames (P) and Bi-directional predictive frames (B).
Proponents of AVC-I compression have been quick to seize on a simple, and we believe simplistic, claim: "Twice the compression efficiency of MPEG-2." It's a bold promise that has a nice ring to it and has been repeated ad infinitum. The only problem: it just isn't true.
A/D/A/D/A versus A/D/D/D/D
By The Sony Tech Guy | August 16, 2010
Sony's pure-digital DWR-S01D wireless receiver is shown slotted into the back of a PDW-700 XDCAM® HD camcorder.
Under the hood, some of the new digital wireless microphone systems reveal an awkward truth. They actually convert the digital signal to analog for conventional wireless transmission. To us, this negates the basic advantage of digital audio: uncompromised sound.
Streamlining the Closed Caption process
By The Sony Tech Guy | July 15, 2010
Concern for the hearing impaired initially led Congress to mandate closed captions. But captions have also become valuable to English language learners, barkeepers and restaurateurs. Now Sony XDCAM® HD studio decks make closed captioning infrastructure a little bit easier.
Getting the best from your batteries
By The Sony Tech Guy | July 14, 2010
Excuse me, Miss, but I couldn't help noticing your BP-L80S is down to 10%.
Treat your Lithium Ion batteries right and they'll return the favor, with longer life and optimum operating time. Herewith, the secrets to maximum performance.
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Sony F65 - true 4K and Beyond
DPs gave Sony a wish list. Higher resolution than any previous digital motion picture camera.1 Even greater exposure latitude, dynamic range and wider color gamut than Sony's previous best. Plus file-based SR Codec recording for fast, efficient episodic TV production workflow. Plus 16-bit linear RAW to support the most demanding feature films. On the Sony F65 digital motion picture camera, it's all true. And it's only the beginning. Learn More.