Hands-on Review: The Sony XDCAM PMW-200 HD422 Camcorder

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The PMW-200 will join Sony’s XDCAM HD422 series of professional camcorders and serve as a successor to the venerable PMW-EX1R. The new camera strikes a balance between the compact, lightweight form-factor of the PMW-100, and the image quality of its larger, shoulder mounted brethren. The key to PMW-200’s superior image quality are its three newly developed ½-inch Exmor CMOS sensors, a configuration which enhances resolution, sensitivity, dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio.

50 Mbps MPEG HD422 Codec

Utilizing the UDF file system, the PMW-200’s MPEG HD422 mode records in a MPEG-2 Long GOP codec. 4:2:2 color sampling gathers more chroma information than older generations of XDCAMs, so the codec’s bitrate has been increased to 50 Mbps to accommodate. The average person may not see the difference, but your footage will be much better suited for color correction, green screen and other chroma keying effects.

If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

The PMW-200 features the same Fujinon lens as the PMW-EX1R. The lens has a 14x zoom ratio, and the 5.8-81.2mm focal length range has a 35mm equivalent of 30-439mm. At f/1.9, the fast maximum aperture helps when shooting in low-light conditions and allows for reasonably shallow depth of field. There are also built-in 1/8 and 1/64 ND filters. Camera operators who have grown accustomed to the lens on the EX1R will feel right at home with the PMW-200.

The PMW-200 also uses many of the same accessories as the PMW-EX1R and the PMW-EX3; SxS memory cards and BP-U30, BP-U60 and BP-U90 batteries will work with the new camera. Of course, above and beyond hardware considerations, Sony has done well to make the PMW-200 backwards compatible with older video formats and workflows as well.

Backwards Compatibility and NTSC/PAL World Cam

The PMW-200 can record in HD442, HD440 and DVCAM formats, which means that it is fully compatible with all past and present XDCAM workflows, and either UDF or FAT file formats can be used with appropriate recording media. Likewise, you can easily switch the PMW-200 between NTSC and PAL recording formats simply by adjusting the menu setting.

Design Improvements

The PMW-200 is more than a mere upgrade from the EX1R. The new camera is a legitimate successor, with some important design improvements. While the two cameras share similar dimensions, the new camera weighs slightly less and has some notable refinements to the ergonomics.

While PMW-EX1R featured a large handgrip that could pivot 90 degrees to suit the user’s preferences, PMW-200 has a more streamlined handgrip. It is just as easy to get a firm grasp on it, but the new design is closer to the camera’s center of gravity. The grip no longer pivots, but users should appreciate the more balanced approach, which is kinder to the wrist in the long-run.

The PMW-200’s articulated LCD screen folds out from the top of the dorsal handle, rather than the bottom, as with the EX1R. When in use, the LCD screen has more clearance from the body of the camera, providing unobstructed viewing angles. When folded away, the screen is very secure and effectively serves as a cover for the playback buttons and a D-Pad for navigating the menu.

Streamlined Clip Review

When it comes to reviewing your clips, many camcorders will require you to physically flip a switch from “camera” mode to “playback” mode. But the PMW-200 has a more elegant solution. When operating in standby mode you simply press the Thumbnail button, and thumbnails for each of your recorded clips will be displayed on the screen. If you’re reviewing clips and an opportunity to record something suddenly gets the jump on you, all you have to do is hit the REC START button and the PMW-200 will capture the moment.

Cache Recording

Speaking of opportunity getting the jump on you, the PMW-200 features cache recording. When enabled, cache recording will store up to 15 seconds of footage in the camera’s temporary memory. This makes it possible to retroactively capture footage up to 15 seconds before the REC START button is pressed.

Connectivity

The PMW-200 features three BNC connections: one HD/SD Switchable SDI output, one Timecode In/Out and one Genlock In/Out. These staples in live event and broadcast environments are industry standards for external recording and multi-camera coverage. The PMW-200 is also equipped with an HDMI output, an i.Link (FireWire) port, a USB 2.0 port and an A/V output jack for composite video and audio out. Dual XLR jacks with phantom power and line level out can be assigned to any of four audio channels.

Wi-Fi Module

The PMW-200 is compatible with at least one Sony Wi-Fi adapter, and there is speculation regarding future models. The camera includes a mounting bracket for the CBK-WA01, which is a Sony Wi-Fi adapter for professional broadcast cameras. A Wi-Fi adapter will allow wireless remote control of the PMW-200 from Wi-Fi enabled devices such as a smart phone or computer. While we don’t yet know the full potential of such a device, we expect Sony to release more information soon.

Who Cares?

The PMW-200 is such a versatile camera that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who its intended users might be. Documentary and TV shooters will surely appreciate a true broadcast quality image in a consummate run-and-gun package. ENG professionals should consider the PMW-200 a fitting accomplice to the shoulder-mounted PMW-500. Moreover, any type of video production that could be made using the EX1R should only turn out better using the PMW-200.

Specification

Camera & Imaging
Imaging Device 3 x 1/2" Exmor CMOS Sensors
Effective Picture Elements (HxV) 1920 x 1080
Slow Shutter 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 16, 32 & 64 frame accumulation
Sensitivity (2000 lx, 89.9% reflectance) F11 (typical)
Gain Section  -3, 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 dB
Recording
Video Recording Format UDF Mode (HD)
MPEG HD422 (MPEG-2 422P@HL):
CBR, 50 Mb/s
MPEG HD420 (1440 x 1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL):
HQ mode (VBR, maximum bit rate: 35 Mb/s)
SP mode (CBR, 25 Mb/s) - playback only
LP mode (VBR, maximum bit rate: 18 Mb/s) - playback only
UDF Mode (SD)
DVCAM (CBR, 25 Mb/s)
FAT Mode (HD)
MPEG HD420 (1920 x 1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL):
HQ mode (VBR, maximum bit rate: 35 Mb/s)
SP mode (CBR, 25 Mb/s)
Fat Mode (SD)
DVCAM (CBR, 25 Mb/s)
Audio Recording Format UDF Mode (HD)
MPEG HD422 (MPEG-2 422P@HL):
4 channels, 48 kHz, 24-bit LPCM
MPEG HD420 (1440 x 1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL):
4 channels, 48 kHz, 16-bit LPCM
UDF Mode (SD)
DVCAM: 4 channels, 48 kHz, 16-bit
FAT Mode (HD)
MPEG HD420 (1920 x 1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL):
2 channels, 48 kHz, 16-bit LPCM
Fat Mode (SD)
DVCAM: 2 channels, 48 kHz, 16-bit LPCM
Recording / Playback Time UDF Mode (HD)
50 Mb/s MPEG HD422 (MPEG-2 422P@HL): approx. 120 min with 64GB memory card
35 Mb/s VBR, HQ Mode MPEG HD420 (1440x1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL): approx.180 min with 64GB memory card
UDF Mode (SD)
25 Mb/s DVCAM: approx. 220 min with 64GB memory card
FAT Mode (HD)
35 Mb/s VBR, HQ Mode - MPEG HD420 (MPEG-2 MP@HL): approx. 200 min with 64GB memory card
25 Mb/s CBR, SP Mode - MPEG HD 420 (MPEG-2 MP@HL-14): approx. 280 min with 64GB memory card
FAT Mode (SD)
25 Mb/s DVCAM: approx. 220 min with 64GB memory card
Recording Media SxS Express 34 Cards
Inputs / Outputs
Genlock Input 1 x BNC (switchable to Composite video out), 1.0 Vp-p, 75 ohms
TC Input 1 x BNC (switchable to TC out), 0.5-1.8 Vp-p, 10 ohms
Audio Input 2 x XLR 3-pin female (Line, Mic & Mic + 48V selectable)
SDI Output 1 x BNC (HD/SD switchable)
Composite Video Output

1 x BNC (switchable to Genlock in), HD-Y / Composite switchable,                1.0 Vp-p, 75 ohms

Audio Output 1 x A/V out jack (10-pin connector)
TC Output 1 x BNC (switchable to TC in), 1.0 Vp-p, 10 ohms
Headphone Jack 1 x 3.5 mm mini-jack (rear, stereo)
Monitor Speaker 1 x monaural speaker (250 mW)
Built-In Microphone 1 x omni-directional stereo electret condenser microphone
i.Link 1 x FireWire IEEE-1394 (4-pin), HDV (1080i) / DV in-out, S400
USB Port 1 x USB 2.0 mini-B (device)
Lens
Type / Focal Length Fujinon / 5.8 - 81.2 mm (30 - 439 mm 35 mm equivalent)
Zoom Ratio 14x optical (servo / manual)
Iris f/1.9 - 16 & close (auto / manual selectable)
Focus Autofocus / Manual Focus / Full Manual Focus selectable (Macro)
Monitoring
Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder (EVF); approx. 1.2 million pixels; 852 x 3 x 480 (HxRGBxV)
Built-In LCD Monitor 3.5" (8.9 cm) color LCD display; 852 x 3 x 480 (HxRGBxV)
General
Media Type 2 x ExpressCard/34 slots
Power Requirements DC 12 V
Power Consumption 13 W
Battery Life Up to 4 hrs (BP-U60)
Operating Temperature 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C)
Storage Temperature  -4 to 140°F (20 to 60°C)
Relative Humidity 10 to 90%
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.9 x 6.5 x 16.5" (172 x 164 x 419 mm)
Weight (Camera Only) 5.1 lb (2.3 kg)
Weight (Fully Loaded) 6.0 lb (2.7 kg)

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Why on earth dont you sell to Australian Companies when a number of other sony resellers do?

Why on earth dont you sell to Australian Companies when a number of other sony resellers do?

I know this may not be the right forum to groan about life's injustices, but this is US$7500 in New Zealand. Frustrated - come on B&H, I'll flick you an extra $500 to play ball!

When can we find out IF Sony will allow the use of SDHC cards for HQ mode on this camera as they do with the EX 1 R?

What is the output resolution, bit depth and bit rate from the HD-SDI port?

Is this in stock yet?

I love the last chapter, "who cares?" and the answer "it's hard to pinpoint." I couldn't agree more. The biggest differences from the EX-1 are a smaller handle and a repositioned LCD?

Electronics bought for dsieotmc (Japanese) use often have warranties that are only valid in Japan. In my experience, the warranty and support you get in Japan is usually superior to what you'd get from something bought in the States (but you often need to speak Japanese to get that support).If you're going to be buying something extremely pricing and used for professional use, you're going to want the support and warranty. So reverse importing will be small/rare for professional equipment, I think, as the odds of commercial shops taking a chance on unsupported equipment are low.Also, your price comparison for the XDCam was based on the assumption of the current yen/dollar rate (where the yen is at a historically freakish high against the dollar). If you compute that dollar amount against a more typical exchange (pre-recession crash) rate (a5120/$1), their is no significant markup. Retail local prices don't usually fluctuate against the foreign exchange market.It's a bad time to live in Japan (and many other places in the world) if you make your salary in dollars.

I have a wide angle and tele adapter from Century Precision that I use in my SONY HVR Z1U (HDV). Will they work on the PMW200?

When the camera is in UDF 50 mbs 422 mode, is the resolution reduced to 1440 x 1080? I have heard that is the case, but the specs seem unclear.

No, in UDF 50mbps 4:2:2 (CBR) the resolution is 1920x1080.

There is another setting in UDF that will be different:
MPEG HD420 (1440 x 1080, MPEG-2 MP@HL)

But for the highest quality 50mbps setting it is full HD 1920x1080.

The overview says I can shoot slow motion with this camera. Is that true? If so, what frame rates are available and at what resolution?

Hi Kirk -

It's true, it's true! 

When the camcorder is in UDF HD Mode or FAT
HD Mode and the video format  is set to
one of the following settings, you can set the
recording frame rate and playback frame rate to
different values.
NTSC Area
HD422 50/1080/29.97P, HD422 50/1080/23.98P,
HD422 50/720/59.94P, HD420 HQ/720/59.94P,
HD422 50/720/29.97P, HD422 50/720/23.98P
HQ 1920/29.97P, HQ 1920/23.98P, HQ 1280/
59.94P, HQ 1280/29.97P, HQ 1280/23.98P

PAL Area
HD422 50/1080/25P, HD422 50/720/50P,
HD420 HQ/720/50P, HD422 50/720/25P
HQ 1920/25P, HQ 1280/50P, HQ 1280/25P     

*******Notes*******
• Slow & Quick Motion recording cannot be used in SD
Mode.
• Slow & Quick Motion cannot be set to “On”
simultaneously with Frame Recording, Interval
Recording, Picture Cache Recording, or Clip
Continuous Recording. When you set Slow & Quick
Motion to “On,” these other functions are forcibly set
to “Off.”
• Slow & Quick Motion mode cannot be used while
recording, or while using Recording Review or Freeze
Mix.
• Slow & Quick Motion mode cannot be used when
“SLS/EX SLS”  in the CAMERA SET menu
is set to other than OFF.
• Audio cannot be recorded when the recording and
playback frame rates differ.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Some of my cients in S. Africa still require SD 4:3. Is the PMW 200 4:3, 16:9 switchable in DVCam mode?

There are squeeze and edge crop options when recording in SD DVCAM for 4:3.

Am using an xdcam cam in studio to shoot news with a lit TV at my background but am experiencing difficulties with the TV flickering effect. Someone help

If the TV is a CRT monitor you will need to match the camera settings (frame rate and shutter speed)to the refresh rate of the CRT screen in order to try to eliminate the flicker.

Also using an LCD screen as opposed to a CRT would be an option.

Hi
Can I used weddings this camera?.

I've never used an EX1 before, but I do own a PMW-320. Other than the 50mb/s recording versus 35mb/s, how do these cameras compare and will they compliment each other look-wise?

Dave

The Sony-PMW 200 does NOT shoot 4:2:2 in-camera. It will give you 4:2:0.

You need to purchase an external recorder to get 4:2:2. I love Sony products but they need to be clear on this issue.

i'm using pmw ex3.can i use pmw 200 for online multicam shooting purpose?what best compatible equipments required for multicam online switching using pmw 200 cameras?

The EX3 and the PMW200 will compliment each other pretty well. You can use them together in a multicam environment. Are you looking to record separately and edit multicam in post? or will you be looking to edit live with a video mixer? If you are looking for a live mixer HD-SDI would be the signal path from both cameras.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: AskBH@BandH.com

I made a comment yesterday about this camera not being 4:2:2 unless you use an external recorder.

I'm sorry. I was wrong.

I was actually thinking about 10 bit. This camera shoots 8 bit. You need an external recorder to get 10 bit.

Again, sorry for that mistake.

For the PMW - 200 the transfer times are massive. I have SxS cards and XD transfer. It is taking 5X real time to transfer. I heard i need a UDF driver for XDCAM HD 422 footage. What is that about?

Will the Sony LCEX3TH Transit Case be a good fit for the PMW-200?

In UDF mode cannot use media A. What can I do? Thanks

I want purchase this cemra

Very nice functions...

 I Want to Know whether Sony PMW200 has 4:3 Aspect Ratio Recording Available or not Please tell.And Price Also.

Thanks.

Hi Mukesh -

You can export footage in a 4:3 aspect ratio via "DOWNCONVERTER" MENU option. 

Please see page 91 of the SONY PMW-200 OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS

Our current price is posted at our webpage for the Sony PMW-200 XDCAM HD422 Camcorder

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: AskBH@BandH.com