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posted by - Thursday, 14 May 2009

PDW-F800Sony was nice enough to bring over the PDW-F800 the other day and let us get our hands on it. The XDCAM line has really been improving and the F800 is a great example of that. The camera comes packed full of new features which I’ll outline, but first I’d like to talk about the improvements that it will share with the PDW-700. The 700 will be getting another firmware update around the same time that the F800 will first hit the market.

Here are some of the new features that will be included in the PDW-F800 and the PDW-700 with firmware version 1.5 :

23.98 Support – This comes standard with the PDW-F800 and F1600 deck, and will now be an optional upgrade for the PDW-700 and PDW-HD1500 deck.

Mixed Data Recording – This enables the ability to record multiple formats to the same disc as long as they share the same frame rate. For example, you could record 1080P XDCAM422, 720P XDCAM 422, DVCAM, IMX, or any other record format to the same disc as long as all formats were in the same frame rate. The HD1500 deck will support this with a firmware update as well.

Continuous Record Mode – This allows video to be captured into one single file per disk, much like a tape. Instead of creating individual clips every time the camera is started and stopped, it creates one large clip. This may be preferable for some editors and it will decrease download times off the disc because opening and closing individual clips slows down the process.

USB Memory Proxy Record – The camera will be able to write proxy video to a USB memory stick. This will be the same proxy data found on the disc normally, but very easy to hand off. 60 minutes of proxy video will take up about 1 GB of space.

On top of those upgrades there are a couple of things that make the PDW-F800 extra special. Here are the features that will only be found in the PDW-F800:

Slow & Quick Motion – That’s what Sony calls over and under cranking the camera. In 23.98P mode it can record 1-48 FPS, in 29.97 it can record 1-59.94 FPS, and in 25P it can record 1-50 FPS.

Image Inverter – This will flip the image for use with lens adapters.

Optical CC and ND Filters – They have added back the traditional color and ND filter wheels that we know and love.

Focus Assist – This is a cool feature that displays a bar graph on the screen that lets you know the focus of a center portion of your image. The bar grows as the image becomes more focused.

User Gamma Curves – You can define your own Gamma curve with the Sony CVP File Editor. Curves created for the F900R or F23 will work with the camera as well.

Lastly we will also see another upgrade to the PDW-U1 drive that will enable full UserData writing. That means you’ll be able to write any data to the disc. This is a great way to back up footage or just about anything, and the XDCAM EX Clip Browser 2.5 will allow direct copying from SxS cards to the UserData directory on the the disc.

So when can we see all of these updates? The official answer is… around the end of June. We’ll see how it all rolls out but I’m excited about the big update.

Update: I’ve posted a short video highlighting the F800 – Hands on with the F800.

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