Sony’s – PMW – 400. A 2/3-inch type Exmor sensor XDCAM camcorder recording Full HD 422

[ 0 ] July 23, 2014 |

Sony’s latest offering the PMW-400, a 2/3-inch type Exmor sensor XDCAM camcorder; recording Full HD 422 at 50Mbps had officially replaced Sony’s PMW-350, as announced in April 2013. The extremely popular freelance camcorder was one of the first affordable solid-state recording systems that supported 2/3-inch glass.

The new shoulder-mounted PMW-400 has great low-light sensitivity of F12 at 59.94Hz and F13 at 50Hz. Now, the 400 saw big changes in terms of what the camera records in, which for the 350 was MPEG-2 at 35Mbps, essentially limiting the types of productions it could be used on.  You will be pleased to know that the PMW-400 includes all the codecs as the PMW 500, so what does this mean? Well, it means that it will record MPEG-2 HD422 at 50Mbps, but wait there’s more!

 The launch of Sony’s F5 and F55 cameras also saw the release of Sony’s XAVC codec, which comes ready on the PMW-400; along with the 2014 summer firmware upgrade which will enable Intra frame of 100Mbps. The XAVC codec inclusion to the PMW 400, gives the camera much longevity as possible for owners.  The implementations launch at NAB Show 2014, received positive responses, after indicating that it will be a free upgrade.

So what do you get with the PMW-400?

Firstly, Sony’s latest offering has two versions; the L version comes without a lens and K version with a Fujinon 16X zoom HD lens. XAVC is Sony’s application of the H.264 standard, where Sony uses level 5.2. This essentially allows a single format that is capable of handling High Frame-Rate (HFR) HD and 4K imaging, already used on Sony’s F5 and F55 cameras.

 Sony Europe’s Head of Strategic Marketing, Fabien Pisano said,

We’ve designed the PMW-400 to acquire high quality, clean images especially in low-light environments. It’s very ergonomically balanced, easy to operate and includes features that make it fit seamlessly into various types of productions and workflows. This really opens up new opportunities around cost efficiency and flexible shooting to achieve the desired results.”

When Sony developed the PMW-400 they had in mind an ENG camera with better versatility in the field, as well as it being a highly capable studio camera. Along with this option was the introduction of the free firmware upgrade in November 2013 for their Flash Band Reducer. Those familiar with CMOS sensor cameras, will know that flash banding can tremendously affect recording. To safeguard from this, Sony announced the PMW-400 will have a built in flash band reduction algorithm that will counteract footage before it is recorded. This option essentially makes the camera a valuable field asset, not forgetting that it was developed with the studio environment in consideration.

The PMW 400 comes equipped with 2 SDI outputs for multiple video devices, offering an optional CBK-CE01 interface, allowing the camera to connect to either Sony’s CA-FB70 optical fiber adaptor or the CA-TX70 digital triax adapters. In a nutshell, with these connections you will transmit high quality signals over great distances using the PMW-400, just as you would any CCU in a studio location.

Sony’s PMW 400 Facts:

  • The low res VGA viewfinder of the PMW-350 had been replaced with a ¼ full HD 960X540 pixel resolution, resulting in better contrast and greater viewing angles.
  • Battery life of approx. 180 minutes with BP-L80S compared to 310 minutes with BP-GL95 on the PMW-350
  • Camcorder allows for live logging from a tablet or smart phone via Wifi. If the new CBK-WA100 wireless adaptor is added, content can be wirelessly uploaded via ftp to a server or cloud service via 3G/4G mobile phone network.
  • Recording to SXS  Memory Cards
  • Supports all current SD & HD 4:2:2 broadcast workflows based XDCAM EX using the MP4 & AVI codecs( Including MPEG-2 HD 422 @50Mbps
  • SD CARD or XQD Cards (FAT32)
  • Records .MXF broadcast files on SXS & XQD cards (UDF formatted)
  • New 3DNR noise reduction processing system, giving a signal to noise ratio of 60 dB
  •  Wide gain selection range from -3dB up to +42dB maximum
  • Supports the New XAVC codec to offer 10-Bit HD 4:2:2 100Mbps and XAVC Long GOP 10-Bit (low bit rate)- although limited to 25P or 30P in HD (naturally, 4K is not supported)
  • MPEG IMX @ 50Mbps and DV CAM
  • HD 420 @ 35 Mbps or 25 Mbps

To conclude, Sony’s PMW-400-K is estimated at +- R180 000 and PMW-400-L at +- R147 000 Ex Vat. Being fairly new to the South African landscape, the  400’s can only be found at Visual Impact South Africa (Cape Town & Johannesburg), Timeframe (JHB) and Puma Video (JHB) at this moment.  As time passes, we should see more of these cameras available at dealers and rental houses.

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Category: Film Tech