Successor to PMW-EX1R Offers 50 Mbps MXF Recording, Genlock, Timecode

Sony has improved on the PMW-EX1R XDCAM with the new PMW-200, which offers MPEG HD422 recording to SxS cards at 50 Mbps. Sony is positioning it in part as an ideal B-camera counterpart to the $25,000 PMW-500. The PMW-200 is expected to ship in September for a list price of $7790.

The camera captures imagery via three 1/2-inch Exmor CMOS chips. The increased quality of 4:2:2 recording is a nice upgrade, but the workflow advantage is the PMW-200's support for the MXF container and the UDF file system. UDF is the basis for recording to the Blu-ray optical-disc recording media favored by reality-TV producers (due to the high shooting ratios and low cost of media), and it's also utilized by the PMW-500.

That means the PMW-200 allows facilities to use the same UDF/MXF recording mode across both memory cards and optical media, using established XDCAM workflow. (However, the PMW-100 does not generate a separate proxy when shooting in MXF mode.) The PMW-200 also supports 35 Mbps and 25 Mbps MP4 and DVCAM recording tp SxS in the FAT format, making it fully backward compatible with existing XDCAM EX workflows.

The PMW-200 is far from a replacement for the PMW-500, which is a shoulder-mount camera boasting 2/3-inch CCDs. Still, Sony officials say it's a nice improvement over the EX1R, boosting the signal-to-noise ratio from 54 to 56 dB and sensitivity from F10 at 2000 lux to F11. Compare that to published figures of 59 dB and F11 (60i) and F12 (50i) for the PMW-500.

"They're pretty well matched," Sony Electronics Senior Product Manager Christopher Tsai tells StudioDaily. "The EX1R has always been noted for really good sensitivity with low noise, and we already have a lot of people who are using the EX1R like a B camera with the PMW-500 — or even the PDW-F800."

Another upgrade from the EX1R is the ability to record up to four channels of 24-bit LPCM audio in the MXF container, the same as the PMW-500. The viewfinder is the same, but the 3.5-inch LCD panel has been upres'd from 640×480 to 852×480, and a new Wi-Fi option for remote operation via mobile app should be available via a firmware upgrade that''s scheduled to go online in December.

The 14x zoom fixed Fujinon lens has been ported over unchanged from the EX1R, meaning existing lens accessories like the VCL-EX0877 .8x wide converter will work with the new camera. The EX1R's slow-and-quick speed and slow-shutter options are also intact, along with the 15-second cache recording feature, and the battery system and accessories are the same.

In the interest of full disclosure, we asked Tsai which significant features from the EXR1 are missing. He said there are three.

  • The Shot Transition push-button feature for moving automatically between two sets of presets (focus, zoom, etc) has been discarded
  • Component video out is gone. Instead, the camera has a BNC terminal for composite video out that doubles as a genlock in. Another BNC enables timecode in and out. (The EXR1 had neither genlock in nor timecode in/out.) HDMI and SDI output are still there, of course. "We took off one output connector and gave you two additional," Tsai says.
  • The PMW did not inherit the rotating handgrip from the EXR1.

No doubt one or more of these will be dealbreakers for some users. For more details, take a look at the official press release or click on over to the official XDCAM website.