SxS vs Consumable Media The SxS Debate By Guy Thatcher Hireacamera W e are all probably already tired of hearing the phrase `cutting costs' but the reality is that ways have to be continuously found to reduce our production costs in order to stay competitive. The question is are some savings a false economy or are they really worth it? We have been hiring out Sony's XDCAM EX cameras for over a year and they are now more popular than ever. It's easy to see why what they offer for the price and size is very impressive indeed. But I can't help thinking that more people would have taken to the new format if they hadn't been scared off by two factors lack of SD recording and memory card prices. Thankfully, when Clip Browser V2 was launched, the former issue was resolved but the card prices still remain a stumbling block for many people. Of course, at Hireacamera we don't sell SxS cards but we do hire them out with our cameras and their price does have an effect on what we charge the customer or can include as standard. Ironically their high price has actually created a hire market in itself with EX owners regularly hiring spare media from us. When first launched, we were promised that due to popularity of the underlying ExpressCard Industry Standard, card prices would soon start falling and become more affordable. Nearly 18 months on, has that happened? Well, in a word no. Sandisk now offers an alternative but realistically the price differences are marginal. The fact is SxS cards are still horrendously expensive when you compare them to other solid state media. A quick search around the internet will find you paying around the 400 ex VAT for a 16gb card from either manufacturer. But then is that fair surely it is hardly a like-for-like comparison anyway? Last year, Sony launched the PHU-60K external hard drive unit as a cost effective solution designed to work with the EX1 or EX3. With that launch came a firmware update for the EX1 (Ver 1.1). There had been a few rumours of people testing adaptors and cards with the EX1's up to this point with no success. However, with this firmware update, everything was to change. From this moment onwards, the whole SD card debate started in earnest and the forums came alive with people testing any card and adaptor available. The first adaptor I managed to get my hands on was a Kensington 7 in 1 which, with a Sandisk Ultra II, card seemed to work just fine. All shooting modes worked perfectly and the adaptor swapped between an SxS card in the other slot without problem. Yes, there were limitations in terms of speed but I was still downloading a full 16gb card in around 15 minutes. Considering the cost (around 65), it seemed pretty good value. On the forums, this combination had taken on a new name KxS (K for Kensington Adaptor and S for Sandisk). Of course there were issues. Although I never had any problems with my adaptor, it would seem that quite a few people did and my early adaptor's design meant that the door couldn't be shut on the EX1 which was a pain. The niggling doubt in my mind over reliability meant that I would only use the cards for personal footage or in a situation where I could afford to lose the footage but I was keen to keep testing. Since then, things have moved on quickly. In mid December, e-Films in Australia started distributing their MxR Expresscard Reader and we managed to get a batch sent over to the UK just before Christmas. These adaptors have been designed from the outset to work in the EX cameras. The immediate advantage was being to close the door on the EX1! I had also changed to using the Transcend Class 6 SDHC which at just under 20 for 16gb meant you could say it was finally disposable. >> Page 48 of 100 TV-BAY027JAN09_MAG.indd 48 29/1/09 17:28:06