Sony PMW-EX1 answers revealed.

ex1sm.jpgRegular commenter and HDV info maven Frank (of Franks Thoughts on HDV) asked many questions on my PMW-EX1 article back in September.

Even though e-mail responses to those questions never came, I managed to buttonhole Juan Martinez at the DV Expo to finally get the dirt IEBA Tech Thoughts readers have been waiting for…

> There’s a built-in stereo mic and two XLRs on the EX1. Is there any way to mix
> sound sources between the built-in mic (either or both channels) and either
> or both of the XLR inputs, or is it an either/or situation?

I’m not absolutely positive on that one. We’ll have to go in and check the camera inside.

> There’s an Expanded Focus function. Can it actually be used while
> shooting live footage?

Yes. We listened to the users of the FX1 and the Expanded Focus feature can be used while recording video- however, the video recorded is of the full frame, not the framing shown in the Expanded Focus.

> The PMW-EX1 has a Picture Profile feature, where camcorder settings can
> be saved in memory and recalled later. a) Is the memory that’s being referred
> to here some internal camcorder memory, or is it the SxS PRO flash memory
> card?

The camera settings are saved to Memory Stick.

> b) Is there any way to transfer a Profile(s) from one PMW-EX1 to another
> PMW-EX1?

You can transfer the setting files from one camera to another via the Memory Stick. You can also copy them to a computer, e-mail them, and another user can use a Memory Stick to load the settings onto their camcorder.

> Is it true that on a Windows system, it’s not possible to edit footage
> directly off of an SxS PRO card because the card’s too slow?

You can drag the content from the card onto the hard drive and then directly onto the timeline. Typically you want to reuse the card, so you’ll want to drag the media onto your computer.

> Which file system is used on SxS PRO cards (as used in the PMW-EX1
> camcorder) – Microsoft’s FAT32, or perhaps some Sony-proprietary file system?

The cards are Fat-32 to ensure cross platform compatibility. The cards require the drivers if you plan on inserting the cards directly into a computer’s ExpressCard slot. You can also use the reader or connect to the camcorder via Firewire or USB, which then uses the camcorder like a card reader. The cards will be directly readable as external media. You don’t need the drivers to mount the cards that way, but access will be slower than using an ExpressCard slot in a laptop. The drivers are free of charge and will be available on the Sony web site for download.

> Is it safe to format an SxS PRO card on a computer (Mac, Windows,
> whatever) or must the cards be formatted in the PMW-EX1 or similar device?

As long as it is Fat 32 you can format the card in a computer or in the camcorder.

> When the included Clip Browser software is used to convert an .mp4 file to
> an .mxf file, if the input .mp4 file contains 35 Mbps full-raster 1920 by
> 1080 footage, does the output .mxf file remain full-raster 1920 by 1080 or
> does it get transcoded to anamorphically squeezed 1440 by 1080? Several
> people have asked me this question and I don’t have an answer for them.

Rewrapping does not change the essence. So the essence remains identical. So the NLE needs to have the high resolution codecs to properly handle the video that is recorded.

> The PMW-EX1 produces an HDV-compliant data stream via its Firewire port, but I
> am also told that in the 25 Mbps recording mode, audio is non-compressed LPCM,
> just as in XDCAM HD. Question: If this is true, does the PMW-EX1 have a
> built-in MPEG-1 Layer II audio encoder so that the HDV datastream is in its
> usual HDV format with MPEG-2 video and MPEG-1 Layer II audio?

Yes. It is converted to the proper format.

> Does the PMW-EX1 have any sort of built-in multi-camera synchronization
> capability.

It’s not possible. It’s not meant to synchronize the camcorders via SDI. You can set all the camcorders to time of day. There is no way to sync multiple camcorders via Firewire either.

> In the PMW-EX1’s 1920×1080 “native 23.98P” recording mode, are only active
> frames written to the SxS PRO flash memory cards, thus affording longer
> recording times per gigabyte of storage capacity?

It records true 23.98 (24p) with no pad frames a the data rates specified.

> What about the fact that the specifications only indicate two different data
> rates, no lower data rate for the lower frame rate of 24p… Does the
> camcorder then allocate additional bits for each frame to maintain the set
> data rates?

Yes. If you reduce the number of frames, and the data rate is still 35 Mbps, the encoder gives more bits to each 12-frame GOP.

However, if you record bursts of video at 60p, you don’t get less bits per frame. The data going to the card is more than 3x the normal data rate. For instance, if you set the camera to 24p and record at 60p- in essence, overcranking it- then the video bitrate will be 2.5x, the audio will be 2.5x, the error correction, etc, will be that much more. The volume of data going to the card is over 200 Mbps. That’s why we use the SxS cards.

Now, if your export is HDV, say, out Firewire, it puts 2:3 pulldown in that stream.

> Sony’s optical disk-based XDCAM HD camcorders also produce low-res 1.5 Mbps
> MPEG-4 proxy files. Is it true that the PMW-EX1 doesn’t have the capability to
> produce such proxy files?

Proxy clips are created when you use the clip browser. It will automatically create the proxies for you. They are created on the back end, not while you record.

> Is there any way to use Sony’s HVR-DR60 hard disk drive in conjunction with
> the PMW-EX1 camcorder?

If you put it in HDV mode, I believe so. I haven’t tried it yet. I can’t answer absolutely positively on this one.


This was a face-to-face interview on the show floor. As such, I must allow Mr. Martinez the ability to be human and not have every single aspect of every single piece of gear perfectly memorized. I sent this article to him prior to publishing for his review and clarification.



8 Responses to “Sony PMW-EX1 answers revealed.”

  1. November 22, 2007 at 2:08 am

    Thank you very much, Anthony, for getting answers to these questions, although I’m a bit lost with regard to those answers that include a reference to Memory Stick flash memory cards, as I’m not aware of any Memory Stick card slot on the PMW-EX1.

    I’m a bit disappointed with regard to the lack of multi-cam synchronization capability, by the way, considering that the Canon XL H1 has genlock input, time code input, and time code output jacks, and even Sony’s HVR-V1 series camcorders have an i.LINK-to-i.LINK sync feature.

    Regards, and thanks again,


  2. 2 Dave C
    November 26, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Hi – we got to see a pre-production model and were told at the time that you COULD select built-in mic on one channel and XLR on the other, i.e. you could record a radio mic on one audio channel and wild room audio on the other.


  3. November 26, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    That would be very nice! But, until it actually ships with the firmware in place, we’ll have to wait and see.

    DV Expo West is coming up.
    A perfect opportunity for someone to actually try and do it.

  4. 4 Carroll Lam
    November 27, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Page 90 of the user manual shows how internal/external channels can be paired.

    Carroll Lam

  5. 5 Morten
    July 9, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Extra sound channels on Exdcam EX1?

    Thanks for a lot of useful info!
    I am very happy w my Xdcam EX1, but I would love one or two more sound channels. Does anybody know of a workaround, maybe via a connected firewire disc or what know I?

  6. 6 Rihari
    September 15, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    can i record from my sony pmw.ex1 straight through to a hard drive (terabyte) or do i have to go through a lap top and then into a hard drive?

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