Why can't Digital Camcorder have more internal storage?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by JasonMovieGuy, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #1
    I am thinking about upgrading to a new Sony AX-53 4K cam, but am shocked that it doesn't have much internal memory. And that the BIGGEST SD card you can get is still 512GB. How much will that allow me to film in 4K? And why aren't camcorders putting more internal storage in? Is it quicker with an SD? I asked on the Sony forums, and got yelled at. So please only answer if you can help.

    Also I'm puzzled as to why all of Sony's 4K traditional camcorders lack a built-in internal light. I shoot closeups in low light settings often; the light is a must. Unless the clarity is so good, they don't need them. But then, the Panasonic 4K Traditional Cam DOES have a light.

    Any advice would be great. Perhaps I just need to wait until the 4K Cams are more advanced for longer shoots. They seem to be meant for 5-10 minute videos, and I am trying to do 3-4 hours at a time.
     
  2. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    Sep 3, 2013
    #2
    The AX-53 uses a 100 megabit/sec XAVC-S codec for 4k, which is 12.5 megabytes/sec, or 45 gigabytes per hour. You could put 11 hr of 4k material on a single 512GB card, assuming the camera was externally powered or you changed batteries several times.

    That 4k video will usually require transcoding to proxy to produce smooth editing results. That in turn increases the on-disk size by about 1.6x. The AX-53 will also shoot some kind of oversampled 1080p at 60 megabit/sec XAVC-S, so you might want to evaluate that.

    Re low light, the AX-53 uses a very small 1/2.5" sensor, which traditionally would not do well in low light. However Sony has very good sensors and the test footage I've seen from the AX-53 look pretty good for such a small sensor.

    However even the big professional camcorders we use require additional light for optimal results in very dark conditions. An on-camera light is virtually on-axis with the camera lens and doesn't usually produce good results. You normally want some elevation or lateral displacement via a hot shot or a bracket, and a small LED light panel on that. For even better results a small diffuser or softbox is good. Here are some inexpensive LED video lights:
     
  3. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thanks Joe! This is excellent information!

    I'm getting the Final Cut Pro X app Compressor ; does that make the 4K video file smaller, and also watchable for people accessing my videos via their mobile apps?

    Regarding the lights, thanks! I hope I can get one that attaches to the camera.
     
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #4
    Sort of -- Compressor is for fine-tuning the output bit rate and encoding parameters in greater detail than FCPX pre-sets will do. In many cases you don't need Compressor since the FCPX export presets work well for normal situations.

    If you shoot in 4k and you'll be uploading to Youtube or Vimeo, you can just export to H.264 1080p from FCPX, examine the file to verify it, then upload by dragging it from Finder to the upload page. Normally you don't need to export then upload 4k since most people do not have playback devices where they can see the difference.

    There is a lot of post-production overhead to using 4k so in lots of cases it's just better to use 1080p. A well-composed, well-lit scene shot in 1080p will look much better than a poorly-composed poorly-lit scene in 4k.

    However shooting in 4k allows you to crop or zoom into the frame without losing resolution if the distribution is 1080p.
     
  5. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5

    Excellent information! I think I get it now. Film in 4K and export in 1080. And it will still look sharp, especially with the closeups I do shoot a lot of. That way the file size is smaller, and I assume playback will be smoother. I use YouTube and also convert the files to DropBox for people to download.

    Those lights by the way, are fantastic- especially for the cost. All I would need is a stand and I'll be set!
     
  6. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #6
    To answer your initial question, 512 GB SDXC is the maximum size currently available. Some mfg's have announced 1TB, but I don't think any are available. 2TB is the max for SDXC spec. 1TB SDXC U3 may cost more than your camera!
     
  7. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Why can't they put more internal flash inside the camcorders- similar to how they do SSDs with iMacs and Macbooks? I would think it would be simpler just to film without having to always switch out cards all the time. But I'm not familiar with how the internals of a camcorder work.
     
  8. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #8
    They could but it would significantly increase the price plus cause a proliferation of models. The multiple memory models would increase manufacturing, stocking and sales costs. The current approach lets you buy whatever memory capacity you want.

    Re having to switch out cards, imagine running out of storage and NOT being able to switch out cards. Your only option is stop shooting, find a cable and computer and download the content over a wire, then format the camera storage and resume shooting.

    Another complication is camcorders and other similar devices often use USB 2.0, not USB 3.0 so the wired transfer rate is much slower than just popping the SD card into a reader.
     
  9. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #9
    I think you may not fully appreciate the utility of removable storage. Get the size you want, hand it over to someone else to do something with, swap out cards (as joema2 states). Plus, upgradeability. The number one b%$&h people seem to have with new Mac models is they're not upgradeable.
    Anyway, as joema2 pointed out, you should get 11+ hours per 512GB chip. Still not enough?
     
  10. jerwin macrumors 68020

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    Jun 13, 2015
    #10
    blackmagic cinema cams use proper SSDs

    [​IMG]


    Vastly higher data rates, but in return you can "grade" and otherwise tweak the resulting video as you would a raw image from a still camera. Also a lot more expensive... Their cheapest cam uses SDXC cards, but it's only 1080p.

    https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera
     
  11. kohlson macrumors 68000

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #11
    You're right, it can be much better to have an SSD, assuming weight and size are not an issue. Of course these solutions (such as BM and Atmos) costs thousands. It was my understanding that this thread was about why cameras like the one you want (under $1K) didn't have these features.
     
  12. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #12
    As a blanket statement, it is NOT better to have an SSD. SDXC works perfectly well in our professional Panasonic AG-DVX200 at 200 megabits/sec.

    Our Inspire 2 drone's X5S camera can record H264 4k to SDXC or 4k ProRes to SSD, and we usually use SDXC because its data management is more convenient. I have edited lots of 4k 300 megabit material from a Canon XC15, and it uses CFAST, not SSD. What's "better" is what works and is appropriate for the scenatio.

    You are absolutely correct -- what does SSD have to do with the OP question and camera type?
     
  13. jerwin, Jul 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017

    jerwin macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Is the OP bothered by the 4GB filesize limit imposed by exFAT? Even the Sony divides its recordings into 4GB chunks.

    I brought up SSD because I thought it an interesting curiosity. As a technical solution, it's verging on obsolescence (more expensive, larger, heavier) for no real gains.

    The real question is whether the Sony FDR-AX53 imposes technical limits (e.g. no h.265 support) that actually affect usability.
     
  14. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #14
    exFAT has no 4GB file size limit -- it is 16 exabytes per file and 128 petabytes per volume. All SD-type cards above 32GB are SDXC and are only formatted exFAT.

    If a camera using SDXC breaks up files into 4GB chunks this is a camera firmware limitation not a file system limitation.

    The AX53 seems to be a pretty good camcorder for that class. It doesn't have H265 -- few cameras do. If it had H265 I'd be hesitant to use this without extensive testing of all software and utilities in the post production pipeline.

    However even 4k H264 cannot be edited smoothly without transcoding to proxy or a more edit-friendly codec, and H265 is far worse. So he'll be transcoding whether it's captured in H264 or H265.
     
  15. baypharm macrumors 65816

    baypharm

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    Nov 15, 2007
    #15
    Interesting. Not sure why you find that "shocking" - maybe that explains why you were yelled at....

    Additionally, how do you propose to record for 3-4 hours without a continuous power supply? I have always found it easier to record in smaller segments - the shorter the better. That helps tremendously in post. Think about it. I can't imagine having to edit a single four hour continuous stream of moving imagery let alone having to watch anything that long. Whether or not you are shooting a wedding, a commercial, corporate image, or TV show, you will find it more efficient to shoot in short segments. You may not agree with me and that's ok. I'm giving you a glimpse into my workflow that I have used successfully.

    The FDR-AX53 is a consumer camcorder with auto focus. I hope you will not rely on its AF ability if your 3-4 hour shoot is an important one. You did not mention if the job you are doing is a paid one. If it is you can rent a substantially higher end camera for a day or two and be happier with the results. Good luck.
     

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