Sony's entry level format to the HD market, HDV offers great pictures and superb portability at low operating costs. HDV records full 1080i line HD pictures onto widely available standard DV cassettes, keeping media costs low and easy means of archiving.
A hugely popular format, HDV offers backward compatibility with both DVCAM and DV recording and playback options as standard, ensuring costs are kept low and the transition from SD to HD is a smooth one.
The HDV family comprises of 5 camcorders - HVR-A1, HVR-Z1, HVR-Z5, HVR-Z7, HVR-S270 and 4 VTR's - HVR-M15, HVR-M25, HVR-M35, HVR-1500
The latest format introduced to the market, the HXR-NX5 NXCAM is the first AVCHD camcorder from Sony. The camcorder records 1920x1080 images at 24Mbps, along with a host of other formats including 720/50P and SD recording as standard. The camcorder records to affordable and widely available Sony Memory sticks or SD/SDHC cards. An optional 128GB Flash memory unit further extends media options, offering 11 hours recording at the maximum bit rate.
The NXCAM family is currently its infancy, with just the HXR-NX5 camcorder and the optional HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit available.
A recent addition to Sony's product range the XDCAM EX format is completely tapeless format, with all media being recorded to solid-state SxS cards. This extremely robust format offers stunning picture quality and incredibly fast, efficient workflows along with features traditionally associated with cameras far higher up the chain.
The format is a true, native 1920x1080 format with newly devised codec, squeezing a large amount of information into a relatively small data stream, meaning longer run times and smaller storage needs.
XDCAM EX supports under and overcranking, with the cameras being capable of capturing up to 60 frames a second (720P mode). Other features such as time lapse, slow shutter, hypergamma curves are all included as standard.
The XDCAM EX family consists of PMW-EX1R, PMW-EX3 and PMW-350 camcorders and the PMW-EX30 VTR.
Another in the growing line-up of Sony HD formats, XDCAM HD422 is the latest, and most advanced format addition to the XDCAM HD family. With improvements in colour sampling and a new 50mb/s mode, recording to dual layer discs, HD422 expands on the offerings of the earlier XDCAM HD models.
The latest camcorders in this range, PDW-700 and PDW-800 are both 2/3" cameras and have become popular due to their multiple recording capabilities. From full 1920x1080 HD422 down to DVCAM SD recordings, with overcrank and undercrank options available, both cameras have a feature set to rival any other cameras in this range. Coupled with Sony's seamless and efficient non-linear workflow, XDCAM HD seems to position itself comfortably wherever you'd like to place it.
HDCAM has been amongst the market leaders for over 10 years and remains an extremely popular format amongst programme makers. As the disc and data cameras slowly emerging into a market place that has been ruled for so long by tape cameras, HDCAM continues to do what it has done for so long - Make excellent pictures at affordable rates.
With a widespread international network of facilities across the industry adopting and supporting HDCAM, it has proven itself not only in acquisition, but also in post-production on a global scale.
The HDCAM product range includes the HDW-730S, HDW-750, HDW-790 and HDW-900R camcorders and J-H3, HDW-M2000 and HDW-F500 VTR's
SR is an acronym for Superior Resolution and HDCAM SR sits at the very top of Sony's HD tree. The format of the future, SR is rapidly establishing itself as the delivery and acquisition format for most major broadcasters worldwide.
SR was initially the recording format for the F23 and F35 cameras as an external recorder and is now included and built into the SRW-9000 camcorder. HDCAM SR offers a visually lossless codec when running in either 440mb/s or 880mb/s mode.
Having proved itself as the ultimate tape format, SR was adopted by other manufacturers including ARRI who compliment their D20/21 cameras with the SRW-1 recording decks, Panavision who worked with Sony in pairing the deck with their Genesis camera system and, even Panasonic if capturing the 4:4:4 dual stream outputs from their HPX-3700 camcorders.
With Sony's recent announcement of future proofing this format, it could be that this finally establishes a foothold in an increasingly changing market.