Price When Reviewed: 3770
Pros: Wide range of formats. Captures huge amount of detail. High-qualiy built-in lens.
Cons: Fixed lens. Slightly darker image than the Z7E.
This model was reviewed as part of our group test of HD camcorders.
A quick glance at the PWW-EX1 reveals a family resemblance to the HVR-Z7E. But although its CMOS sensors also use the Exmor technology, the EX1 has a trio of 1/2in units, each with a true 1,920-x-1,080 resolution. On the downside, the EX1 has a fixed lens – though it’s an excellent 14x Fujinon HD unit, with great optics.
The other main difference is the XDCAM EX recording format, which has implications for both video modes and media. Two recording modes are available. The HQ mode offers 1,920-x-1,080 and 1,280-x-720 at 35Mbps, while SP offers 1,440-x-1,080 at 25Mbps (the same as HDV). Frame rates range from 23.98p all the way up to 50p and 59.94p, although the latter two are only available at 1,280-x-720.
Unlike the HVR-Z7E, the EX1 is solid-state only. However, instead of using a standard format like Compact Flash, Sony has chosen SxS PRO, which uses the ExpressCard connection system. This makes sense, as notebooks are starting to move from PC Card to ExpressCard. We didn’t have much luck importing video via the FireWire port, but hooking up via USB allowed us to drag and drop clips. The MP4 format is not as compatible as HDV’s M2T files, but we were able to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro CS3.
Surprisingly, in our low-light test, the EX1 didn’t produce the brightest image – that accolade went to the Z7E. This is probably due to its larger CMOSes having physically smaller pixels. But while its image was a little darker, it resolved more detail, with greater clarity, thanks to the true 1,920-x-1,080 CMOS resolution.
Since it’s been around longer, the PMW-EX1’s price is similar to the HVR-Z7E. Choosing between the two depends on your application: the PMW-EX1 is very much intended for serious filmmakers – for more everyday video capture, the HVR-Z7E makes more sense.