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Sony refreshes HDCAM SR product line

Sony Electronics has announced the next generation of its tape-based HDCAM SR 4:4:4 high-definition (HD) acquisition product line, which now includes a new HDCAM SR camcorder (SRW-9000). The camcorder, to be available by the end of the year, provides an upgrade path to 35mm imaging and file-based production.

New SR memory solid-state media, a new version of Sony’s SRW recorder and more cost-effective BCT-SR series tape pricing were also announced.

Across the SR range, Sony can deliver up to 1080/60p and 50p recording at a 880Mb/s data rate, and that range also now includes a next-generation file transfer and storage technology.

Rob Willox, director of Sony Electronics’ content creation group, said the SR format is file-based, and currently supports data recording in resolutions up to 4K as DPX files. The addition of solid-state media enhances the format’s inherent file-based design.

The new SRW-9000 camcorder combines the SR format’s image quality with the versatility of a one-piece camcorder. The full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution camcorder uses 2/3in CCDs with a 14-bit A/D converter and digital signal processing to capture up to 1080/60p images.

In addition, recognizing the market’s need for a 35mm “B” camera to complement Sony’s high-end F35, the company is unveiling an optional upgrade path for the SRW-9000 to a 35mm imager and PL mount to increase the camcorder’s flexibility and protect a user’s investment.

The company also announced the latest in HDCAM SR compression, “SR Lite,” which is a 220Mb/s data rate codec based on the MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio Profile) format and will be supported as an MXF wrapped file. This will help ensure high picture quality and enable near real-time exchange over a fast GB Ethernet connection. Content recorded on HDCAM tape can also be integrated into the MXF SStP file-based operation since the system is backwards compatible.

Three different transfer rates — 880Mb/s, 440Mb/s and 220Mb/s — will all be available in future HDCAM SR products.

The SRW-5800/2 deck, to be available next summer, will support MXF file transfer and the 220Mb/s data rate as well as the ability to record and playback 4:4:4 content at 2X real time. These capabilities will also be available to existing SRW-5800 owners through optional hardware upgrades.

A series of new SR solid-state memory cards will deliver transfer rates of more than 5Gb/s and a storage capacity of up to 1TB. This new SR memory technology is designed to be the ideal media for future high-end production, with native acquisition capabilities for applications such as 3-D 1080p and higher resolutions up to 4K. Sony also plans to deliver an upgrade to SR memory on the existing SRW-9000 camcorder together with a memory adapter for the F35 and F23.

For the immediate future, the company’s new pricing structure for small-shell HDCAM SR cassettes will begin in January 2010, offering a near 25 percent cost reduction on the BCT40SR, the preferred model for SR production, as well as other cost savings on the BCT6SR and BCT33SR models.