: Don Greening's Blog
: PMW-EX1 First Impressions
Today my wife and I walked out onto the Port Coquitlam river dykes to do some scenery shooting with our new EX1. We didn't spend a lot of time there because it was cold and I was a real wimp today. We ended up taking about 10 min. of footage. I didn't try any other picture settings other than taking the camera out of the box and changing the recording setup to 1080P 30fps. I used the highest quality setting of 35 mbps.When we got home I immediately hooked the camera up to our 50 inch Samsung plasma TV using component in. I pushed play on the camera and it cycled through all the scene files on the card non-stop. I thought it would have stopped at the end of each clip but the camera just played all the clips in one go. Nice.Anyway, the video is impressive. Huge amount of detail from what I'm used to from shooting MiniDV. I must say that watching the progressive picture on the plasma is far better than the flickering interlaced that is present in the broadcast hi def stuff from our local cable signal. Progressive shooting is the way to go when your delivery is for a client watching your product on an LCD or plasma screen. No contest.Even though I was shooting with the default picture settings (other than 30p and a shutter speed of 1/60) I was impressed with the colour saturation, the amount of increased latitude in the blacks and highlights, and the amazing shallow DOF. I'm so used to shooting MiniDV and protecting highlights that I ended up unconciously underexposing just about every scene. This resulted in some picture noise in the blacks, but as soon as I exposed properly the noise disappeared completely.
NOTE: Let me clarify that the picture noise present in the underexposed shadow areas was not a failing of the EX1 but of our Samsung plasma TV. Once viewed on a computer monitor and increased to twice the resolution I could see no noise in the actual recorded video. The double zebra bar function is wonderful, at least for me. Now I can set zebra 1 at 80% for faces and zebra 2 at 100% IRE to see what woul be totally blown out if the picture is recorded. Both zebra settings can be active at the same time. The pro cameras have had this feature for years and I've been waiting a long time for a camera I can afford that has this function.The lens contols for manual focus and zoom are smooth, give lots of feedback and are repeatable for things like rack focus, etc. What I liked best is the iris ring on the lens. It's so much easier to adjust exposure than anything I've ever used in the past. And it's fast and smooth.
One of my shots today was of a small boat on the river going by at a brisk pace. I zoomed all the way in (14x) and panned with the boat for several seconds. There were lots of bare winter tree branches in the foreground of the picture whipping by but the XDCAM codec powered right through the fast action without a hiccup. I have a new respect for the MPEG2 35 mbps VBR compression. I haven't done any capturing to computer yet, and will report back after that test is carried out. This camera will definitely help to make an amateur videographer look more like a pro because it's always easier to shoot good video with a better camera. The pros, on the other hand, will be able to accomplish amazing things. - Don