HD Video With Sound Devices' PIX 240i Review

Photo of Sound Devices' PIX 240i

If you’re a pro, or pro-minded, video producer suffering from A/V capture ills, the PIX 240i from Sound Devices has the display features, assists, codecs and audio options your ailing workflow needs.

Capturing HD video using DSLRs is hugely popular right now and with very good reason. With large sensors and numerous lens options, they deliver excellent color reproduction and fabulously shallow depth of field, while also performing well in low light situations. Many of them, however, stumble in critical areas. Small, stationary displays are difficult to see in bright surroundings, focusing and exposure assists are often in short supply, compressed recording codecs limit editing options and all struggle greatly in the audio department.

The PIX 240i from Sound Devices seeks to bridge the performance gap by providing a larger, highly functional display built onto a recorder capable of capturing up to 4:4:4, 12-bit HD video with professional audio capabilities.

What You See …

At two pounds, the PIX 240i may be a bit much for run-n-gun use, depending on your overall rig. However, the build quality feels extremely good, making for a very durable piece of equipment. The front is dominated by the 5-inch, 800x480 pixel display and bordered by large, backlit record/playback controls along the bottom, with Menu, LCD, Audio and Files buttons along the sides.

The PIX 240i features two onboard storage options: CompactFlash and a hot-swappable caddy attached to a Sound Devices approved SSD. A FireWire 800 and USB 3.0 port on either side of the caddy make offloading files a snap.

Audio and Video in ports.

Input and output options abound on the PIX 240i making it compatible with just about anything you’ll need to capture pro quality HD video: HDMI in and out, LANC remote control, LEMO 5-pin for timecode, a single 5-pin XLR line-level output, dual 3-pin XLR inputs, SDI timecode in/out, Sync out, SDI in and SDI out. A 1/8-inch headphone jack rests alongside the caddy port.

What You Get …

Simultaneously pressing the control knob and menu button for several seconds brings up the power. Once on, the menu button accesses a multitude of settings for file storage, video, audio, timecode/sync, LCD monitor, display, system and quick setup.

Side controller ports.
To see how well the PIX 240i bridges the aforementioned performance gap, we connected our camera via HDMI along with an Azden XLR shotgun mic. While not a 7- or 9-inch field monitor, the 5-inch display yields considerably more viewing area than the typical DSLR or camcorder. Attached to a swivel mount, it can easily be positioned for viewing in bright-lit situations. The PIX 240i delivers excellent color reproduction with extremely good off-axis viewing as well.

The LCD button brings up a wealth of information including the current connection type, resolution and frame rate, media time remaining, current codec, file name, timecode and audio levels, all of which can be turned on or off in the menu settings.

Hold down LCD and press Menu to access focus assist. In the menu we can choose between peaking (with multiple color and sensitivity options) and edge enhancement. Next, we check our exposure with false color or zebras by setting options in the menu then holding down LCD and pressing the Files button to enable the exposure assist function.

Set audio levels by pressing the Audio button to access each of eight audio channels. Audio input, source and processing functions (low cut, limiter and delay) are easily selected from within the menu.

With everything set, framed and ready we press REC on the PIX 240i to get the shot then press the stop button to finish recording. Playback is instantly available by pressing the play button, and forward/reverse buttons, make viewing clips a breeze. Pressing the Files button displays the list of files on all attached media for easy playback or deletion.

SSD hot-swappable caddy.
Our files were recorded to the SSD in 10-bit ProRes 422 (as in 4:2:2 color sub-sampling) HQ 220Mb/s 10-bit full HD video in a QuickTime wrapper rather than our camera’s native 8-bit, 4:2:0 AVCHD format. This gives us excellent color reproduction and much more latitude in post for things like color grading and keying. Not having a USB 3.0 or FireWire 800 cable handy we easily offloaded the files by connecting the SSD to our computer with a USB 2.0 printer cable.

Our experience with the PIX 240i was very satisfying. Ease of use, solid build, pro audio and video inputs and outputs, high-end codecs, up/down/cross and frame rate conversion capabilities, built-in timecode reader/generator and much more make this a piece of equipment worthy of any professional video producer’s consideration.

Sound Devices, LLC
www.sounddevices.com
$3,295

Tech Specs

SDI I/O: 4:4:4 or 4:2:2; 12, 10 or 8-bit
Input: 3G-SDI (levels A and B), HD-SDI or SDI
Output: 3G-SDI (level A), HD-SDI or SDI
HDMI In: 4:4:4 or 4:2:2; RGB or YCbCr, 10 or 8-bit, HDCP-enabled
HDMI Out: 4:2:2 8-bit, RGB and YCbCr
Resolutions/Rates: 1080p 23.976/24/25/29.97/30; 1080i 50, 59.95, 60; 1080PsF 23.976/24/25/29.97/30; 720p 23.976/24/25/29.97/30 (SDI Only); 720p 50/59.94/60; 576i 50 (PAL); 480i 59.94 (NTSC)
Video Codecs/Files: Apple ProRes 4444, 330Mb/s, 12-bit; Apple ProRes 36, 100, 145, 220Mb/s, 8 and 10-bit; Avid DNxHD 36, 100, 145, 220 Mb/s, 8 and 10-bit; QuickTime: UDF File System
Display: 5-inch LCD, IPS (In-Plane Switching), 800x480 pixels; ultra-wide viewing angle
Audio Recording: 8 channels record/playback, simultaneous with video; analog; HDMI or SDI, AES/EBU, selectable per channel
Analog Audio: 2 balanced mic or line-level inputs on XLR (48V phantom switchable); 2 balanced line-level outputs on 5-pin XLR
Digital Audio: Sampling rate/bit depth (48 kHz, 24-bit), AES/EBU: 4 channels in via XLR (accepts 32k, 44.1k, 96k, 192k sample rates with SRC at input); 2 channels embedded HDMI input, 8 channels embedded HDMI output (accepts 32k, 44.1k, 96k, 192k sample rates); 8 channels embedded SDI input, 8 channels embedded SDI output (48k sample rate)
Headphone: 1/8” with gain control
File Storage: PIX-CADDY 2 mounted drive or eSATAp-connected drive; Sound Devices approved 2.5-inch drive; Sound Devices approved CompactFlash card
Timecode: Modes (Freerun, Record run, External)
Power: 4-pin Hirose, 10-18 VDC; dual L-series batteries
Size (HxWxD): 5.5” x 4.0” x 2.4”
Weight: 2lb.

Strengths

  • 4:4:4 or 4:2:2, 8, 10 or 12-bit recording
  • Pro audio inputs, monitoring and processing
  • Excellent build quality
  • Excellent color reproduction

Weaknesses

  • Histogram and other scopes would be nice
  • High cost

Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

Issue: 

Mark
Holder
Fri, 01/24/2014 - 10:13am