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class="style5" IMX: Tired or Wired

>Published : 14th June 2005

>Hi, all-

>It's rumoured that a local rental company is planning on picking up 2 Sony IMX cameras. I've been trying to talk them into buying SDX900's, which are taking off in this market like wildfire, but apparently they are hooked on the idea of remaining an all-Sony-all-the-time house.

>Problem is, if they buy two of those cameras in this market that will result in a grand total of two IMX cameras in this market. No one I know knows what they are, and none of the post houses have IMX decks... yet they are all now set up for DVCPro50 and DVCProHD.

>So what's the latest on IMX? Is it taking off at all? Are the cameras spectacular, decent, or disappointing? Will they do 24p? What's the scoop? Should I be excited at all about having these cameras in this market or should I utter a long, low groan?

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
Local resources : http://www.artadams.net/local


>Art Adams wrote:

class="Paragraph">> Will they do 24p?

>Only the New PDW-530 will do 24p and IMX (XDCam), not the older MSW cameras.

>Jason Rodriguez
Post Production Artist
Virginia Beach, VA


>Hi...

>I've been looking at a new camera for a couple of months now. 4 months ago my mind was set, SDX-900 was the way to go. Now I am leaning toward XDCam 530 with IMX option.

>I just spoke to Swedish Television yesterday, (public service) and they just wrapped a huge production with 1500 hours of footage. The IMX cameras were mixed with Digibetas (700's) and the result was according to them BETTER with 50 Mbits/s IMX than regular DigiBeta. I've done a fair amount of research on this and it does feel like a solid format. Of course it all depends on what market your in though.

>The camera has a lot of neat options, like firewire in/out, sdi, composite in, network capabilities etc... One downside is of course the fact that this is a relatively new format with limited access to decks etc...

>My 2 cents...

>Marcus Skogstrom
DP, Sweden


>Marcus Skogstrom wrote :

class="Paragraph">>One downside is of course the fact that this is a relatively new format >with limited access to decks etc...

>Ya, what clients/others here in San Francisco (or anywhere) wants to and can handle IMX? I remember a few years ago Rental Express had a JVC Digital-S deck. I rented it once (to compare its DV50-based image quality to other formats), but had a heck of a time even finding local Digital-S tapes. No reseller had ever been asked for one.

>I got the impression (it's been a few years, so don't hold me to it) that the rental house was given/loaned the VTR by JVC to prime the market. I don't think they had it all that long. It sure didn't have may hours on it when I had it.

>So for the rental house thinking about IMX. Perhaps they're getting a great deal from Sony. I know Sony was working to push IMX into the "independent film" market.

>Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the rental house (or you if you'd rather they bought a different camera) to call the local tape suppliers and ask how much IMX tape they're moving. Maybe call a non-local tape supplier where you do lots of business and ask them, too.

>If nobody's buying IMX tape in this market, then perhaps there aren't any IMX-compatible decks around, and so who would request the camera?

>KPIX, our local CBS O&O, is going to XDCAM (my neighbour works there). So maybe, maybe an IMX-compatible XDCAM camera would make some sense for a rental house...maybe.

>Let us know what the rental house decides to do.

>Later,

>Jim Feeley
Doc guy near San Francisco, CA USA


>Art Adams wants to know :

class="Paragraph">"So what's the latest on IMX? Is it taking off at all? Are the cameras spectacular, decent, or disappointing? Will they do 24p? What's the scoop? "

>Well CBS as announced they will be using IMX for CBS News...NBC is expected to announce their intentions to come on board in the next week or so and the remake of Gilligan's Island on TBS is being done in IMX.

>Apparently it makes good pictures, has an emailable scene file allowing one to send the info ahead for off lining until the disc arrives and it apparently does 24p.

>I know someone who is shooting one the Gilligan's Island show and he says the camera gets really, really hot!

>And there shooting in Mexico in 100 degree weather but the camera seems to perform.

>I guess you gotta at least look at it and if your a network whore, you gotta think about getting one...in IMHO!

>Allen S. Facemire-DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc. Atlanta/Norcross, GA
www.saltrunproductions.com


>Allen S. Facemire wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Well CBS as announced they will be using IMX for CBS News...NBC is >expected to announce their intentions to come on board in the next >week or so and the remake of Gilligan's Island on TBS is being done in >IMX.

>To be clear, and it looks like Allen realizes this, the IMX format can be recorded by either an IMX tape-based camcorder or an IMX disc-based (XDCAM) camcorder :

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/webapp/SubCategory?

m=0&p=2&sp=11&sm=0&s=41&cpos=3>

>Jim Feeley


>The IMX format has been adopted by just about every reality show out there. The audio folks like that it will carry 4 channels of audio and camera folks like that its very sensitive in low light. It will shoot progressive, I know 30 but I am not sure about 24P(as in I don't know) I am pretty sure it will shoot 25P.

>My personal experience has been pretty good with these cameras. They are fairly light, which is nice for hand holding, their tapes can run for 60 minutes...not so great for handholding...I have shot an entire scene by candle light at +6 and it looked great. +12dB of gain and only a slight amount of grain. I have scene a bit of blocking up in deep shadow...which I attribute to the MPEG compression. I forget the circumstance in that matter, but I have not seen it again.

>I have not noticed that the cameras get excessively hot, certainly not like the Cinealta, which could fry an egg.

>I know that Sony has a deck out there that will read beta, digi-beta, and IMX tapes. I also know that the tapes stock is pretty darn cheap. A lot cheaper than DigiBeta.

>Raoul Germain
DP
LA / NY


class="Paragraph">>Apparently it makes good pictures, has an emailable scene file >allowing one to send the info ahead for off lining until the disc arrives >and it apparently does 24p.

>All of Sony's cameras make arguably good pictures, depending on what you're using them for. What I want are great pictures. I LOVE the SDX900 colorimetry. Has Sony matched that? I don't like Sony colors, I don't feel they are very accurate at all.

class="Paragraph">>If nobody's buying IMX tape in this market, then perhaps there aren't >any IMX-compatible decks around, and so who would request the >camera?

>They might go the DVCProHD route and buy the deck and rent it out with the camera. The thing is, I just don't know that anyone in this market knows what IMX is. The SDX900 had a jump start because it was 24p capable and the color looks like nothing else out there. It was revolution, not evolution.

From what I can tell the IMX cameras are evolution, and not much evolution at that.

>I have no reason to request IMX cameras, and no reason to talk my clients into using one. I'm just trying to find out if I should get excited about the cameras for any reason other than that they are cheap. D35's are cheap, but I don't want to rent one if I can help it. I'll take a more expensive camera with a better picture any day.

>Why would I request an IMX camera on a nicely budgeted corporate production when the post production infrastructure isn't in place? Is the camera that special? That's the question I can't answer.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Jim Feeley writes:

class="Paragraph">>had a heck of a time even finding local Digital-S tapes. No reseller had >ever been asked for one.

>I could be wrong, but wasn't one of the selling points of Digital-S that it used S-VHS tapes?

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>Dan Drasin wrote :

class="Paragraph">> I could be wrong, but wasn't one of the selling points of Digital-S that it >used S-VHS tapes?

>I can't recall. But I think the pitch was that using Digital-S tapes would produce full-quality Digital-S. It's been a few years and I haven't used the format since.

>Jim Feeley


>Art Adams observes :

class="Paragraph">>I LOVE the SDX900 colorimetry. Has Sony matched that? I don't like >Sony colors, I don't feel they are very accurate at all.

>Can't address that. Alls I know is that I've only heard a bit about the IMX and XDCAM during the last few months and now I find that out that two major networks and bunches of other folks are embracing this technology.

>Same thing with the SDX900.

>Hd a hands on demo with the 900 and like it, but I had to ask myself "who will post this stuff and is the DVCPRO format easily handled at the average facility?".

>And will any clients embrace it???

>My basic answer was no, so while the camera looked nice and made nice pictures, post was going to be a problem for me.

>Then I get two gigs back to back wanting this camera (including WGBH's NOVA) and when I go to rent one, there's none to be had on the planet.

>MTV has some reality series where they have a couple of thousand 900's tied up and everywhere I looked, there no available to meet my schedule.

>NOVA found a DP in Chicago who literally just took delivery of one, looked at it and shipped it to me.

>I've had my hands on one once, so we'll see how bad I FU with it.

>The DP, BTW, is on his way to Mexico to start shooting a second season of Gilligan's Island using IMX cameras, I am assuming the XDCAM version but I'm not sure.

>It's like you have to have a different camera for every network now!

>Still doing bunches of Beta SP however but new formats are hitting me from all sides!

>Whew!

>Allen S. Facemire-DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc. Atlanta/Norcross, GA
www.saltrunproductions.com
Creativity Just Flows Here...


class="Paragraph">> Alls I know is that I've only heard a bit about the IMX and XDCAM >during the last few months and now I find that out that two major >networks and bunches of other folks are embracing this technology.

>I first saw IMX at NAB in 2002... Hardly glanced at it, figured my next camera would be HD, why would I care about a new SD format? Haha...A few months later I owned an MSW-900 IMX camera.

>Why the IMX? I could give clients 16:9 4:2:2 at pretty much the same cost as Beta SP, with 60-minute tape loads (mostly doc clients – they love this) and 30P as a bonus, not to mention features like the 8-second image cache and time-lapse, better low-light performance, 4 channels of audio, etc.

If the SDX-900 had been available at the time, it would have been a shootout between these cameras, as they are very much after the same market. (The 24p of the SDX-900 gives it a definite edge, as the tape-based IMX cameras only do 30P. This isn't a huge factor for me, but it certainly makes the SDX-900 more marketable.)

Tape formats - in my area the Sony J-series decks have become ubiquitous as feeder decks for non-linear systems... As they can play back SP, SX, IMX, or Digibeta, and are very affordable compared to previous Digibeta decks, a lot of folks have been buying these, which means that IMX playback capability has definitely become more common.

>In my area there are also a few DVCPRO facilities - one local TV station, several smaller production houses - several years ago I bought a DVCPRO camera too (AJ-D810). However, no one here ever moved up to DVCPRO50, and our strong local Panasonic dealer retired, so there's no one actively evangelising or supporting the format.

>And then there's DVCAM...Lots of DVCAM users in my area, which I think may be partly responsible for DVCPRO losing some ground.

>George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada


class="Paragraph">> it will shoot progressive, I know 30 but I am not sure about 24P(as in I >don't know)

>The MSW-900 (IMX tape based) will shoot 30P (NTSC) and 25P (PAL) But NOT 24P.

>The PDW530 XDCAM (DVCAM/IMX disc based) does the same, but has an optional 24P board. At IMX50, however, you get only 45 minutes of recording time on a disc vs 60 on tape. But you do have the option of using lower bit rates.

>Haven't seen real pricing on the Blu-Ray discs, so I don't know how it compares with tape on cost - that was a big advantage of IMX over Digibeta or HD for my documentary clients.

>From the couple of days I had a PDW530 to play with, it seems that the camera head is virtually identical to the MSW-900 in all aspects...and I am very fond of the MSW-900, for basically the same reasons that have already been given.

>Haven't really had a chance to torture-test that DVD recorder, but it seemed to perform well on my test day (lots of shaking and flipping the camera upside down and around, but no problems).

>I did some tests at 24p with various shutter speeds as well as 30p...Showed them to a couple of editors and folks hanging around the office. They unanimously preferred 30p to 24p, which was interesting since most people see 24p as the "killer feature"

>I think the DVD recorder is going to catch on quite quickly in TV news where immediate random access for editing is going to be a huge advance.
Smaller post production facilities will also like it because the cost of a drive is even less than the cost of a J-series Beta deck.

>And of course XDCAM-HD could really open things up...

>George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada


class="Paragraph">>Hd a hands on demo with the 900 and like it, but I had to ask myself >"who will post this stuff and is the DVCPRO format easily handled at the >average facility?". And will any clients embrace it???

>It took off like a house on fire here. A number of people who bought one SDX900 had so much business come in for it they bought two. Several post houses have decks, and for those that don't they are easily rentable from camera owners.

>But IMX... I've not heard of anyone who owns IMX equipment locally.

class="Paragraph">>Still doing bunches of Beta SP however but new formats are hitting me >from all sides!

>I'm still doing a fair bit of work on Beta SP, just because that's what everyone has and they're comfortable with it in this market. But the SDX900 is making significant inroads, mostly in the realm of higher end projects. That's where I've been seeing it. Everyone loves the color and the 24p look. Including me.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


class="Paragraph">>Hd a hands on demo with the 900 and like it, but I had to ask myself >"who will post this stuff and is the DVCPRO format easily handled at the >average facility?". And will any clients embrace it???

>Recently shot some projects with SDX900 and yes many facilities here in Sydney do not have DVCPRO 50 decks but one of the local SDX900 camera suppliers has a Panasonic DVCPRO VTR with firewire output. The client simply took in a portable firewire drive to the rental company who does transfers to firewire hard drives for a reasonable price. This system is especially attractive to all the small production companies or individuals running FCP but have not invested in an expensive VTR. Its amazing how much material can be recorded onto a modern inexpensive large firewire drive and this system works equally well when shooting with the HD 100 Varicam. This can be a real cost saver.

>Many Thanks

>Tom Gleeson DP
Sydney
www.cinematography.net