CAMERA



Sony XDCAM Summary

The very popular SONY XDCAM series of cameras has experienced a facelift in recent years.

Newer models have replaced some of the popular cameras in this series such as the FS7, FS7 II , and PDW850.

In the current range (as of the spring of 2017) there are 18 models ranging from compact camcorders to shoulder-mounted Professional Disc Cameras such as the PDW-850.

In addition to the Professional Disc as a recording medium, the compact models use  flash memory cards such as SxS , SDHC , SDXC , or QFD cards.

The sensor layout varies across the range. The largest sensors are offered on the SLS models (Single Large sensor), FS7 and FS5, which are fitted with a single Super35 CMOS sensor. Other configurations are made of 1/2 "- or 2/3" -3 chip CMOS sensors. While the compact PXW-X70 camera provides a 1 chip CMOS sensor, the professional shoulder camcorders PXW-X500 and PDW850 have 3 x 2/3" CCDs.

Apart from the SLS models mentioned above, these cameras are suited for single person operation, and scenarios where mobility is important.

All devices in the family offer a wide range of different recording formats, including XAVC -Intra and XAVC-Long-GOP MPEG-SStP 422 Lite (HDCAM SR), and XDCAM HD422 , XDCAMHD420 and MPEG IMX and even DVCAM. Not every recording format is available on every device, so make sure that the production camera choice fits the contracted deliverables. The MPEG IMX formats, for example, are reserved for the Professional Disc camcorders.

The SONY XDCAM series of cameras are mainly used in News and factual programme making. When delivering to a TV channel, it’s important to ensure that the capture settings and camera recording options meet the requirements of the broadcaster. These should be available on the broadcasters delivery website, including a guide to cameras suitable for production use.

The newer XDCAM devices feature HyperGamma (HG) which is used in the Sony CineAlta camcorders. This offers greater control of colour reproduction in the camera. In addition to the standard gamma curves or the S-log record on some cameras, four HyperGamma curves are an option.

HyperGamma is a set of new transfer functions specifically designed to maximise the latitude of the camera, especially in highlights. HG1 and HG2 are optimised for a TV workflow with a White clip level of 100%. HG3 and HG4 are optimised for a more cinematic look with an expanded White clip level of 109%. (Warning: if at any point in the workflow the option "Extended, or Full-Range" hasn't been processed correctly, the top 9% will be cut, equivalent to approximately one f-stop).

Both HG1 and HG3, depending on the selected workflow improve the highlight behaviour. In addition, the mid-tones are slightly raised, which improves the quality of skin tones. If one chooses HG2 or HG4, again depending on the selected workflow, the dynamic response is enhanced in the shadow areas and slightly raised in the darkest areas of the image.

S-Log, providing that it is available, allows much more extensive access to all information collected by the sensor. Under S-Log, the camera can be used in a manner similar to that of a film camera. However, this necessitates extensive on-set monitoring and a much more complex post production process including colour correction. Using HyperGammas expands the range of options, but remains in the "What you see is what you get" world of Rec709. Crucially, monitoring is possible without LUTs on standard HD displays.


Related Articles: