On February 10th, 2009, I informed our readers that Sony USA was offering upgrades to world-class compatibility on their 3G HDV camcorders. As explained in that first article, the Sony upgrade activates the otherwise dormant modes of these cameras, i.e. 576i PAL, HD 25p, and HD 50i modes, on top of the original “24p” (23.976p), “30p” (29.97p) and “60i” (59.94i) modes. Now I am happy to report that Sony BPLA (Sony Broadcast Professional Latin America) is offering the same upgrade on the same cameras in their region.
Readers of my recent articles in ProVideo Coalition, past articles in Latin American magazines, and those who have attended my seminars are aware of the many 25p production advantages over “24p” (23.976p) production, especially when the video is shot on HDV and the workflow is to take advantage of HDMI or HD-SDI capture. Up until now, producers in the USA (and other 60Hz Pan-American countries, including Canada, the Caribbean, and most of Latin America) who chose progressive Sony HDV cameras and appreciated the advantages of 25p had no choice but to go through “unofficial channels” to purchase the 25p/50Hz version of the camera. The ones I know personally are all very happy with the choice and with the workflow. However, the aren’t so happy that after spending so much extra for the camera and optional worldwide warranty, they still don’t have the flexibility of the 60Hz (59.94Hz) to shoot at “30p” (29.97p) or even “60i” (59.94i) for a slow-motion shot. Although most of them prefer 25p for their own productions, some of them are also often subcontracted to “shoot only” for other producers who aren’t so informed about 25p, and often request video to be shot at “30p” or “60i”. Fortunately, Sony USA has now recognized the need for a universal version of their 3G (3rd-generation) of HDV camcorders, which now include the HVR-S270, HVR-Z5 and HVR-Z7.
Details of the Sony Universal Upgrade
The universal upgrade catapults the standard, off-the-shelf 3G HDV camera (HVR-S270, HVR-Z5, HVR-Z7) to full range, world-class compatibility. The standard 3G HDV models sold in the 60Hz countries offer “24p” (native 23.976p or pulldown over 59.94i), “30p” (29.97p), and “60i” (59.94i) in HD, and 480i NTSC only in SD.
After the upgrade, the camera offers all of that, plus 576i PAL, 25p (native 25p or 2:2 pulldown over 50i) and 50i in HD. As reported previously, the cost of the upgrade in the USA is US$300 including return freight from Sony to the user. In Latin America, the upgrade can take place at any Sony BPLA Service Center throughout the region, and the price varies from country to country, according to Dave Scoggins, Director of Engineering for Sony BPLA:
“We haven’t set a standard regional price, since the economic conditions are so diverse across all of the countries we cover.”
To find a Sony BPLA Service Center (Latin America and the Caribbean) for pricing or to schedule your upgrade, click here.
To read the original article about this upgrade in the USA, including the profile of Carolina Bonnelly, a Miami-based 25p producer who shoots all weddings in the USA in 25p, click here.
Status of other HD cameras and their universality
- Other professional Sony HD cameras (HDCAM, HDCAM-SR, XDCAM-EX, and XDCAM-HD) are all universal as shipped from the factory, and don’t require any such upgrade.
- The Panasonic AG-HMC150 is not universal and when a friend contacted Panasonic USA in December 2008, there was no option to upgrade it. However, the European AG-HMC151 is universal. Other Panasonic cameras are universal in the USA starting with the AG-HPX500 (US$14,000 list price). The AG-HPX300 as sold in the USA is not universal, although the AG-HPX301E is universal. If any reader knows of a liberation/universal upgrade offered by Panasonic USA for the AG-HPX300, please comment below, and I will update this.
- All professional JVC HDV cameras are universal in HD modes only (not in SD). The new GY-HM100 and GY-HM700 are also universal in all HD modes.
- Canon offers a similar universal upgrade on their professional HDV camcorders. The last time I checked, it was in the US$500 range. Contact Canon for details.