OK -- The EX1 is REALLY an amazing camera.
It basically packs just about all the punch of its big brother, the XDcamHD PDW-F355 into a small package - with three 1/2” CMOS chips featuring full 1920x1080 resolution. WOW!!!!! It has the same chip set as the slightly larger EX3 camera, while being slightly lighter and more compact when traveling with a lot of airline carry-on gear.
This camera can create truly astounding images. Hands down, it’s the best small HD camera on the market. For my money, it beats the pants off the HVX-200 / HVX-170 and their low-res (basically standard def chip) brethren. Of course it really is ‘my money’, since I bought my own EX1, and have traveled with it to four continents so far.
It records to SxS memory cards -- they come in 8Gb and 16Gb (and new 32Gb) sizes -- but unlike the P2 cards, they use a highly efficient long-GOP compression scheme that allows you to put about 27 minutes on an 8Gb card (at 1920x1080 resolution !), or 37 minutes on the same card at 1440x1080 resolution. With two 8Gb cards in the camera at once, that’s like having a Beta camera with two tapes simultaneously - or 4 Beta tapes with the 16 Gb cards -- or should I say 8 Beta tapes with the 32 Gb cards!
Yes, the cards are expensive (not as expensive per minute as the P2’s, but still up there.) I’d read about the various SDHC to SxS adapters, at first a bit skeptically, but finally the lure of extending my record time at a reasonable price point led me to try the Hoodman SxS card adapter with their RAW cards. Admittedly the SDHC cards don’t feature the high data transfer rate of the SxS cards, but if I’m not shooting at a ‘slow motion’ frame rate, their speed is more than fast enough to record with. I especially liked the idea that the cards are fully tested before they go out. And my fears that the ‘transfer to hard drive’ times would be overly slow have been basically unfounded. Transfer speeds aren’t quite as fast as the SxS, but they’re not a whole lot slower (and certainly still a whole lot faster than P2 for equivalent shooting time.) The Hoodman system has proved to be reliable, and I’m happy to have added enough memory to shoot all day without putting a huge hole in my wallet.
Recently I had to do a few pickup shots for a client editing over a summer holiday weekend. Being 50 miles from him (and not wanting to deal with beach traffic back and forth) I used my fast FIOS (fibre internet) connection to upload 3 groups of full resolution clips to an FTP site - and saved what would probably have been 8 hours of sitting in traffic (I sent him footage each day). Admittedly I wouldn’t have wanted to upload a long interview - but for short clips the FIOS/FTP came through and gave him access to the footage long before the next standard FEDEX delivery would have arrived. My one concession to upload speed - I shot at 1440x1080 (25 Mbps) to keep the file size almost 30% smaller.