Production

Sony clarifies why it offers optional MPEG2 for PXW-X70 & PXW-FS5 camcorders

In this article, Sony explains the logical reasons why it is offering optional MPEG2 license upgrades for cameras that natively record newer, more efficient códecs.

Owners of Sony’s PXW-X70 and PXW-FS5 camcorders now have the option of purchasing an upgrade license to record HD in MPEG2, in addition to their original códecs. This new optional capability for these camcorders (which can also act as standalone cameras and streamcorders) is in addition to their existing MPEG4 H.264 recording based formats, like XAVC-L in the X70 and XAVC-i in the FS5, which are more modern and more efficient than MPEG2. Adding MPEG2 to either of these camcorder models requires the purchase of the CBKZ-SLMP upgrade license for US$629 or a similar amount in your local currency. After my recent inquiry, Sony responded the reasoning for offering the MPEG2 option for these cameras. The CBKZ-SLMP upgrade license is completely separate from the CBKZ-X70FX upgrade license, which adds 4K UHD capabilities to the PXW-X70 for under US$500.

As I imagined, Sony responded with the following:

The main reason to introduce MPEG2 to our successful, well established, XAVC-i (i-frame) and XAVC-L (Long GOP) capable camcorders is for compatibility with existing, legacy data editing handling infrastructures used in large enterprises. As you know, XAVC is a highly efferent códec at the expense of greater complexity, which in turn requires more capable, data editing and handling infrastructure such as servers, etc. Large enterprises tend to migrate their infrastructure very slowly as they are suspicious of possible bugs that may bring their news operation down. Therefore, some very large cable news and TV networks requested MPEG2 while they transition to XAVC. Not only the X70, but also the FS5 will support MPEG2.

Sony then added:

MPEG2 is also a boon for FCP7 holdbacks and people still using legacy computers.

As stated earlier, the CBKZ-SLMP for MPEG2 for HD upgrade license costs US$629 or a similar amount in your local currency. It offers both HD422 50Mb/s and MPEG HD420 35Mb/s. In the case of the PXW-X70, the free firmware version 3.0 is required, and it includes many other improvements, as I covered in this recent article.

On the other hand, as I have covered in prior articles, the CBKZ-X70FX upgrade license for the PXW-X70 adds 4K UHD capabilities for under US$500. The 4K UHD recording uses XAVC-L, which is based upon the more modern and more efficient H.264 (MPEG4 part 10).

In the case of the PXW-X70, fortunately it can now go up to 100 megabits per second recording when combining the CBKZ-X70FX upgrade license with the free 3.0 firmware upgrade, as covered in this article (illustrated above).

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No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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