Is it four times better? That’s when to upgrade a piece of equipment
DV.com has a post by Stefan Sargent, who argues, quite convincingly, that in this era of new technology hitting the market almost daily, that the wise time to upgrade is when the new piece of equipment is four times better than the old. As he emphatically puts it, “An upgrade can’t be just twice as good; it’s got to be four times better.”
One example he gives is the question of whether to move from his Sony V1s to Sony EX1’s.
What happens? After a year, Sony brings out the PMW-EX1. I’m very pissed. At least with Apple, you know that next year there’s going to be a new iPhone, but that it’s not an $8,000 upgrade.
I look at the EX-1 specs. The data rate is up to 35Mb/s compared to my V1s 25Mb/s. That’s not four times! The chip is bigger, but not four times bigger. Nowhere is anything four times better. I contact my camera guru, Adam Wilt. He says, “In most real-world situations they’re very hard to tell apart.”
Same with the question of whether to acquire a nanoFlash recorder.
Maybe a Convergent Design nanoFlash? Hmmm — I could add that. The Sony V1 has an HDMI port that gives out the purest video, you know, full of good old-fashioned 4:2:2, exactly the thing you need for excellent chromakey. NanoFlash records to a CF card at over 100Mb/s. Four times the HDV’s data rate of 25Mb/s. Fits into my Four Times rule.
The downside? First off, the nanoFlash is just under $3,000 and then there’s the cost of cards. Last week, I shot 16 interviews in two days. To have enough storage for a single day, I’d need a minimum of four SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB cards @ $700 each. Ouch! That’s $2,800 plus the nanoFlash @ $2,900. For a little more, I can buy the Canon XF305; it’s 50Mb/s and has 4:2:2.
It seems a wise approach to the difficult question of upgrading without burning money unnecessarily.