Sony XDCAM, XDCAM HD & Archival XDCAM FAQ
- What recording media does the XDCAM HD system use?
- Which XDCAM HD camcorders have 1/2-inch type CCDs, and which have 2/3-inch type CCDs?
- Why did Sony choose bitrates of 18, 25 and 35 Mbps?
- Does 25 Mbps XDCAM HD recording use the same compression as HDV 1080i recording?
- What is the recording time?
- Can I upconvert XDCAM standard definition content to HD?
- Can I downconvert XDCAM high definition content to SD?
- Can XDCAM HD decks or camcorders also record standard definition?
- Can XDCAM HD decks or camcorders play back my current XDCAM SD discs?
- Can I record HD and SD on the same disc?
- How do I edit XDCAM HD assets?
- Can I use my current HDV editing software to edit XDCAM HD 25 Mbps material?
- Does the XDCAM HD system use Proxy A/V?
- Will Sony offer PAL versions?
- What is overcranking and undercranking?
- What frame rates are supported in the XDCAM HD system?
- What is MPEG long GOP?
- Does Sony plan to immediately discontinue the XDCAM SD line?
- Does Sony plan to discontinue the HDCAM™ line?
- Who makes 1/2-inch HD lenses?
- Can I use my 2/3-inch lenses on the XDCAM HD camcorder?
- Why is the CineAlta™trademark (brand) on XDCAM HD products?
- Where can I buy XDCAM Disc Media?
- Why is Sony offering the Professional Disc media?
- Which models support dual-layer media?
- Can older XDCAM HD products be upgraded to support dual-layer media?
- Is the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media the same as the consumer Blu-ray Disc™ media?
- What is the difference between the recording material used for consumer Blu-ray Disc media and that used for the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media?
- How does the read/write/erase life cycle of the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media compare to the Blu-ray Disc media?
- How does the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media differ from DVD?
- Is the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media playback- or record- compatible with DVD drives?
- Can the HDCAM format be recorded on Professional Disc media?
- Will the Professional Disc media replace tape?
- For what applications are XDCAM Professional Disc systems intended?
- Is it necessary to format a disc prior to use?
- What is the operating temperature range for XDCAM systems?
- Once a Professional Disc media has been partially recorded, can I record more video without first initializing (erasing) the entire disc?
- What is the archival life of the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media?
- Does the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media have copy protection?
- Is it possible to erase recordings on a disc?
- Is there protection from accidentally erasing data on a disc?
- Can I erase the disc (or files on the disc) without using the deck?
- Is there a possibility of a bulk eraser type machine?
- What is the Professional Disc cartridge made of?
- What is the warranty on the Professional Disc media?
- We want to manage Professional Discs using bar codes. Can we stick a bar code label on the front of the cartridge?
- Are there any effects from magnetic fields or airport X-ray scanners?
- Is there protection from accidentally scratching a disc?
- Is there any way to recover data from a damaged or corrupt disc?
- What other manufacturers produce XDCAM media?
- How long does the laser last?
- Can I replace the laser myself?
- Do XDCAM hardware and media work well in humid environments?
- Is there shock and vibration resistance built into XDCAM camcorders?
- What happens if the camcorder battery is removed or power is suddenly lost from an AC adaptor while recording?
- What if a battery runs out while recording?
- What is the time from power on to being able to record, if the disc is already in?
- What is the time from pushing the EJECT button to full ejection of a disc?
- How do I know my signal is being recorded? Is there a playback confidence function?
- How long does it take from inserting the disc to a picture being displayed on screen?
- Is Metadata transferred together with proxy AV?
- When an optical deck receives MXF files from another machine, will there be proxy AV?
- Can I play back while transferring over Ethernet?
- Are the DVCAM and MPEG HD files supported by Material eXchange File Format (MXF) for Ethernet file transfers?
- Does the product line allow for direct file access to the disc in any model?
- I'm receiving an 04-X7 error message on my XDCAM camera. Can you tell me what this means?
- What is the shelf life of Archival XDCAM PFD128QLW?
- What hardware is Archival XDCAM compatible with?
- Is Archival XDCAM PFD128QLW rewritable like the single and double layer discs?
The same PFD-23A Professional Disc™ media as in XDCAM standard definition recording. Only now the media delivers more maximum recording time: 120 minutes at 18 Mbps.
The XDCAM HD system was designed to meet the urgent requests from customers for affordable, professional HD production with interchangeable lenses. Initially, the XDCAM HD camcorders had 1/2-inch type image sensors. Now, 2/3-inch type sensors are also available. These differences allow Sony to deliver distinct classes of professional HD production: Sony HDV™ 1080i camcorders use 1/3-inch, some XDCAM HD camcorders use 1/2-inch (PMW-EX1R, PMW-EX3 and PMW-320) and HDCAM® camcorders and some XDCAM HD camcorders (PMW-350K, PDW-700 and PDW-F800) use 2/3-inch type sensors.
Because MPEG2 includes both interframe and intraframe compression technology, it can offer higher quality at lower bitrates than intraframe compression alone. The XDCAM HD system uses 18 Mbps and 35 Mbps variable bitrates, plus a 25 Mbps constant bitrate. These rates offer decisive advantages in cost, recording time and compatibility. For example, the XDCAM HD system offers the longest recording time currently available in an HD camcorder: over 120 minutes at 18 Mbps. And thanks to the low bitrates, XDCAM HD recording is compatible with just about any NLE that works with 25 Mbps.
Yes. While XDCAM HD recording at 18 and 35 Mbps uses variable bitrate technology, the 25 Mbps alternative uses a fixed bitrate for compatibility with HDV 1080i editors and recorders. Basically the only difference is that HDV editors use Transport Stream (TS) and XDCAM HD uses Elementary Stream (ES). When the PDW-F70 recorder and the PDW-F30 player are fitted with the optional PDBK-102 MPEG Transport Stream (TS) card, these decks can be connected directly to HDV 1080i recorders, camcorders and compatible NLEs, via FireWire.
|XDCAM Disc Record Times|
|DVCAM||MPEG IMX||XDCAM HD||XDCAM MPEG HD422|
|Single Layer Disc||~85 Minutes
@ 25 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
@ 40 Mbps
@ 30 Mbps
@ 35 Mbps
@ 25 Mbps
@ 18 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
|Dual Layer Disc||~185 Minutes
@ 25 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
@ 40 Mbps
@ 30 Mbps
@ 35 Mbps
@ 25 Mbps
@ 18 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
|Archival Disc||~450 Minutes
@ 25 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
@ 40 Mbps
@ 30 Mbps
@ 35 Mbps
@ 25 Mbps
@ 18 Mbps
@ 50 Mbps
Yes. The PDW-F70 recorder and PDW-F30 player can both upconvert XDCAM standard definition content recorded in the DVCAM™ format at 25 Mbps to 1080i high definition at the output.
Yes. All XDCAM HD camcorders and decks can downconvert to standard definition.
Yes. The PDW-F350, PDW-F355, PDW-F330 and PDW-F335 camcorders and the PDW-F70 recorder will all record DVCAM 25 Mbps standard definition in NTSC or PAL.
The XDCAM HD products can play back DVCAM standard definition discs only.
No. The XDCAM HD file system requires a disc to be all HD or all SD. However you can freely select HD bitrates of 18, 25 or 35 Mbps for each clip you record on the same disc and 60i, 30P,50i and 25P can be mixed as well. However a dedicated disc needs to be used when recording 24P material.
You have plenty of options. First, all 29 companies that currently support XDCAM standard definition are also committed to supporting XDCAM HD production. So depending on your system, you can choose from various workflows. Second, when equipped with the optional PDBK-102 MPEG TS card, the PDW-F70 and PDW-F30 work with the full range of NLEs that are compatible with HDV 1080i. And third, you can use the HD-SDI output of the PDW-F70 and edit as with a traditional VTR.
Absolutely. Part of the beauty of the XDCAM HD system is its compatibility with HDV 1080i editing. The PDW-F70 recorder and PDW-F30 player accept the optional PDBK-102 MPEG TS card. This outputs a 25 Mbps signal over the i.LINK interface* for the large pool of NLEs that are compatible with HDV 1080i recording.
Yes. The system combines the beauty of high definition with all the workflow innovation of the XDCAM system, including the durability of optical discs, the simplicity of file-based operations and the power of Proxy A/V.
All XDCAM HD camcorders and decks support both PAL and NTSC standard definition. One world, one camcorder.
The terms originated with the early film cameras, where the frame rate was literally determined by a manual crank. Undercranking refers to shooting at a slower frame rate than the playback rate, for a high-speed "Keystone Kops" effect. Overcranking refers to shooting at a higher frame rate than the playback, for the beautiful slow motion effect often seen in cinema. The PDW-F350 enables both overcranking and undercranking at a range of frame rates from 4 fps to 60 fps in 1 fps increments. When viewed at 24 fps, 4 fps yields motion six times faster than normal, where 60 fps yields motion at 40% normal speed. And these effects can be played back right in the camera. Sony calls this feature for the PDW-F350 camcorder "Slow and Quick Motion."
The base PDW-F330 camcorder shoots high definition at 1080/59.94i, 50i, 29.97P, 25P and 23.98P. The camcorder also captures standard definition at 480/59.94i, 480/29.97P and 480/23.98P or 576/50i and 576/25P. The advanced PDW-F350 adds variable frame rate capture from 4 fps to 60 fps in 1 fps increments. The PDW-F70 recorder and PDW-F30 player support all the frame rates of both the PDW-F330 and PDW-F350 camcorders.
Like HDV recording before it, the XDCAM HD system uses the international standard MPEG 2 Main Profile at High Level encoding with a long Group of Pictures (GOP). Because the system combines interframe and intraframe compression technology, it enables us to achieve a higher picture quality at lower bitrates than systems that use intraframe compression alone. As we've just stated, XDCAM HD production is compatible with NLEs that accept HDV signals. MPEG long GOP is the reason why.
No. Standard definition XDCAM products answer an established need for top-quality SD production at up to 50 Mbps. Sony sees SD video production still having a relatively long life and is continually adding to the SD product line up and feature set. Sony recently introduced the XDCAM Cart machine and in June 2006 plans to deliver the PDW-R1 field recorder. Another product under development which was demonstrated at NAB 05 is an XDCAM internal drive unit that would fit into a bay on a desktop PC. With a distinct feature set, XDCAM SD products complement and interoperate with the XDCAM HD product line. XDCAM HD products can play back DVCAM™ 25 Mbps material recorded on XDCAM SD products.
Absolutely not. With 2/3-inch type image sensors and 140 Mbps recording, HDCAM products offer compelling advantages for high-end sports, episodic television and feature films. It's a whole different class.
At the moment, both Canon and Fujinon. As the installed base of 1/2-inch type HD camcorders builds, we expect other manufacturers to enter this burgeoning market. The optional Canon lens that Sony offers also supports auto focus function of the PDW-F330 and PDW-F350.
Yes, with the optional Sony LO-32BMT adaptor. Of course, the difference in size between 2/3-inch and 1/2-inch type sensors means that your lens focal lengths are multiplied by a factor of 1.37x.
Sony uses the CineAlta name to identify a high level of cinema production. With gorgeous performance at true 24 frames progressive, the XDCAM HD system fully meets that description.
Sony believes that the Professional Disc media is a means by which our customers can achieve benefits in production workflows, where flexibility, speed, and cost effectiveness are key requirements. The Professional Disc media has been engineered specifically for professional content creation; its data rate, data capacity, transfer speed, robustness, and instant random access provide professional-quality performance. Because the XDCAM Professional Disc series of products employ existing MPEG IMX® and DVCAM codecs for the SD line up and MPEG HD and DVCAM for the HD line up, disc advantages are immediately available without costly infrastructure upgrades, while built-in network and metadata technologies provide unprecedented levels of production flexibility.
The PDW-F335 and F355 XDCAM HD camcorders, the PDW-F75 deck and the PDW-U1 drive all support both single-layer and dual-layer media. The camcorders and deck also incorporate added operational features.
No. Dual layer disc technology cannot be supported by the PDW-F350 or PDW-F330 camcorders, the PDW-F70 or PDW-F30 decks. However, the PDW-F335, F355, F75 and PDW-U1 all support single-layer discs as well as dual-layer discs. Any single-layer material you record today will remain compatible with the new generation of dual-layer recorders.
No. While there are some similarities, the Professional Disc media uses a unique phase-change recording material to support higher read/write speeds. In addition, the Professional Disc cartridge shutter supports access by two simultaneous pickups, while the earliest Japan-market Blu-ray Disc media had a shutter that accommodated only one pickup. Current Blu-ray Disc media uses a bare disc without cartridge. There is no cross-compatibility between XDCAM products and Blu-ray Disc products.
What is the difference between the recording material used for consumer Blu-ray Disc media and that used for the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media?
The higher transfer rates of the XDCAM system require a more sensitive phase-change recording layer. The Professional Disc recording layer must change from crystalline (high reflectivity) phase to amorphous (low reflectivity) phase fast enough to enable transfer speeds of up to 72 Mbps. In comparison, the writing speed of consumer media is 36 Mbps. Aside from the different phase-change material, the track pitch, recording density and production processes are the same.
How does the read/write/erase life cycle of the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media compare to the Blu-ray Disc media?
They're identical in the minimum spec. Both are rated at a minimum of 1,000 read/write/erase cycles under normal operating conditions. The Professional Disc media has a maximum read/write/erase life cycle of 10,000 under ideal operating conditions (73 degrees F, 50% RH). All of this information is based on Sony's own testing.
Profoundly. Although both are 12 cm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, Professional Disc media has five times the capacity, 13 times the transfer rate, a shorter laser wavelength and a protective cartridge for the media. Professional Disc media capacity is 23.3 GB, compared to 4.7 GB for DVD. The XDCAM HD decks and camcorders have a transfer rate of 72 Mbps, compared to 11 Mbps for DVD. The XDCAM system uses a blue-violet laser as opposed to the red laser used for DVD.
No. They have different file formatting, track pitch and pickup specifications, in addition to different mechanical requirements.
No. With today's technology, it is not possible due to the data transfer rate. The higher quality HDCAM format is a 140 Mbps stream at a lower compression level, while the XDCAM cameras utilize a much lower data rate (18 - 50 Mbps) at higher compression levels.
The Professional Disc is a new medium capable of storing a variety of formats. Therefore, Sony expects that the optical disc, as a new medium, will supplement and reinforce existing videotape. There are application areas where tape media is quite suitable, and areas where disc technology is more suitable. Sony anticipates that Professional Disc media and tape will coexist for years to come.
XDCAM Professional Disc systems are intended for all video applications including news gathering, production, postproduction, event videography, and so on.
Yes. Formatting, which creates a file system, is required for brand new discs; however, this is a very quick process that is done when the disc is inserted into a camcorder or deck. Because this happens so quickly, an end user will not be aware that the disc is being formatted.
The specified operating temperature for XDCAM camcorders ranges from - 5°C (23°F) to 40°C (104°F) ambient temperature, which is a wider range than current professional tape-based camcorder products. XDCAM products operate as well as (if not better than) current VTRs and tape-based camcorders operate when used in the same environment (ex. typical cold winter weather or hot summer conditions).
Once a Professional Disc media has been partially recorded, can I record more video without first initializing (erasing) the entire disc?
Yes. The disc media is fully rewriteable, and always appends new recordings after the last clip, regardless of what clip was being viewed. You can keep recording more video/audio until the disc is full. Even then, you can delete the last clip or all clips on the disc to free up needed space.
When stored at room temperature (68°F and 40% relative humidity), the estimated archival life of the Professional Disc is greater than or equal to 50 years based on Sony's own accelerated testing.
Yes, all XDCAM camcorders and decks can delete the last recorded shot, one by one. A "Quick Format" of a disc, which is equivalent to "all file delete," can be done in about two seconds.
Yes, there is write protection tab on the disc cartridge. This is similar to a rec/save tab on DVCAM tape media or a rec/inhibit tab on other professional tape media. There is also a REC INH function on all deck products to help prevent a user from accidentally erasing material.
The camcorder has a DISC MENU this allows the ability to delete that last clip, all of the clips, or perform a "Quick Format."
At this time, there are no plans to develop a bulk eraser type of machine. Unless desired for security purposes, there is no need to bulk erase data because unlike tape, directly overwriting data on discs does not degrade quality.
The cartridge is made of polycarbonate and the storage case is made of polypropylene.
Sony warranties Professional Disc media from defects in material or workmanship for 90 days. See actual warranty for details.
We want to manage Professional Discs using bar codes. Can we stick a bar code label on the front of the cartridge?
Yes, adhesive labels, including bar code labels, can be attached to the front of the cartridge.
Since recordings on Professional Disc media are not made using magnetic material like tape, or light sensitive material like film, it is highly unlikely that magnetic fields or X-ray scanners will affect the media.
Yes. A polycarbonate cartridge shields the disc from dust and helps prevent the disc from being scratched. Even if a disc is accidentally scratched, robust error correction enables data on the disc to be played out. If the scratched portion of the disc happens to contain the file system, the data that allows access to all other data on a disc, a mirrored file system is located on the disc in a different physical location allowing the XDCAM system to access files.
The Error Correction on Sony XDCAM products can recover extensive lost data. However, just as with videotape, if the damage is too severe for error correction to recover, or if the media is broken into pieces, there is no way to recover data.
Fuji, Maxell, and TDK all sell the single sided XDCAM discs.
In the decks, Sony's recommended replacement interval for the laser is 6,000 hours of operation (recording and playback combined). This corresponds to three years of use at a constant eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. On the camcorders, the interval is 4,000 hours of operation. These replacement intervals are based upon Sony's simulation of normal usage. Sony optical products constantly monitor the laser's health by checking the current to the laser. As the laser approaches the end of its life, the current will fall out of tolerance, triggering an alarm. In this way, you can replace the laser before failure occurs.
It depends. The replacement item is not the laser itself, but an optical block that includes the laser. Replacing and adjusting the optical block requires no special skill. But the installer would require a special measurement tool called an Autocollimator. However, Sony does not expect that a customer will want to buy an Autocollimator for such infrequent servicing.
Incredibly well. Thanks to non-contact recording and playback, the XDCAM system has nothing that would cause the sticking that interferes with videotape operation. Sony specifies operating humidity up to 90%. However, in Sony's own tests the camcorders have been shown to operate as long as there is no condensation or dew on the surface of the disc. Should condensation exist on media while in a camcorder or deck, the user will be prompted with a HUMID alarm. In case of dew, if you allow the disc to acclimate to room temperature and humidity (68°F/40%RH) you can resume recording. One other hidden benefit of the media type is that even when moisture appears on the surface, there are no permanent effects. With other media types utilizing pins for contact, often when those pins come in contact with moisture, they have a tendency to short out, causing loss of data.
Yes, Sony XDCAM camcorders use rubber dampers to hold the disc drive block in place, thereby minimizing the effect of any shock or vibration. In addition, a tracking system, based on the best Sony servo technologies, reduces the chance of the optical head recording off track. In the event a shock exceeds the servo's capacity, causing the head to move off track, recording continues in a buffer memory until the head is positioned properly. Once the head is back on track, the buffered information is recorded to disc. A substantial amount of buffering is built into the camcorder to operate in harsh environments.
What happens if the camcorder battery is removed or power is suddenly lost from an AC adaptor while recording?
The emergency recovery system is designed to restore as much AV data as possible even if the file system is not closed properly. If power is suddenly lost during a recording, the AV data can be recovered automatically once power is reapplied. When this type of recovery occurs, the duration of a lost recording is a maximum of four (4) seconds from the time just before power was lost.
The system controller automatically stops recording and closes the file system before the full exhaustion of the battery. The camcorder also provides customizable battery settings for notifying the operator when battery power is below a desired level.
Approximately 3.5 seconds. Tape camcorders take around four seconds.
The EJECT button on the camcorder does not abort the recording process. Whether an EJECT is done shortly after a REC STOP or while the camera is idle, the EJECT process is completed in approximately 5 seconds.
XDCAM products automatically confirm laser-writing conditions by checking the focus servo, tracking servo, reflection of laser beam, and laser power. An alarm will alert you if an unusual condition is detected. Because optical recording is fundamentally different from tape recording, there is no traditional playback confidence monitoring.
Approximately 10 seconds.
Yes. All XDCAM decks automatically create proxy AV that is not included in the MXF file. This function also works at high data transmission speeds via the Gigabit Ethernet or FireWire (file access mode) interface.
No, it is not possible.
Are the DVCAM and MPEG HD files supported by Material eXchange File Format (MXF) for Ethernet file transfers?
Yes, both DVCAM and MPEG HD formats are supported.
Direct file access on the disc is provided over FireWire interface (via 'file access mode'). "File access mode" over FireWire enables such operations as Browse File Directory, Direct read, Get File, Put File, etc. Since it occurs over FireWire, all products support the feature as all XDCAM units include FireWire as part of the standard offering.
The 04-X7 error code is described in the service manual as "Cannot move to disc's innermost or outermost circumference." This could mean something may have fallen into the transport and is preventing the optical block from moving back and forth along its track.
Sony XDCAM Archival discs have an estimated shelf life of 50 years.
Currently, Archival XDCAM PFD128LW is compatible with PDWU2, XDS-PD2000, and XDS-PD1000 Content and Archive Solutions.
Because the PFD128QLW discs are designed for archival only, they are not rewritable.