Tips & Tricks

After much demand (well, someone mentioned it in passing) we decided to give new life to our Tips & Tricks page.  So, again, here you’ll find a compilation of all the things we’ve run into, and screamed bloody murder about, in that wonderful moment right before you’re meant to be shooting.  Drop us a line at and we’ll add your suggestions of the things you’ve come across that would help out someone else when they’re faced with the same situation.  And, no, it doesn’t have to just relate to the gear we have, we’d like to make this a useful resource for everyone.

If you’re looking for a camera manual or operating instructions please check out the individual camera pages on the site.


“I have an F3 and an EX3 and an F800 and an EX1R and I shot on 12 SxS cards and I plugged them into the card reader and plugged it into the computer and NOTHING’S HAPPENING!!!”

It’s funny how often that call comes in. First of all, calm down. Second, I hope you have an internet connection, because you need to download some software. Go here first. You should now have this website in front of you:

Now, you’ll need the drivers for the SxS cards, so click on the ‘SxS Card and iLink FAM Device Drivers’ and follow the instructions to install the drivers. After that, your computer will be able to recognize the cards. To review footage you’ll want to download ‘XDCAM Browser Software’ and to transfer it easily to your NLE of choice you’ll want to click on the appropriate link for your NLE. Done.

“Argh! Same problems but with P2!!!”

Again, calm down. Panasonic doesn’t make it terribly easy to find their software and drivers so here’s a quick link that will take you to this page:

Download the software and/or drivers you need and make sure they’re compatible with your operating system.

Sony HDW-F900R CineAlta

“How do I switch the frame rate on the CineAlta?”

Access the Top Menu by holding down the clicker wheel on the front of the camera and moving the Menu switch to On.  Use the clicker wheel to navigate to Maintenance and depress the wheel to select that sub-menu.  Navigate to Item 17 – Format.  Select this, navigate to Next, click the wheel and then select your new frame rate.  After selection you will be prompted to, and must, reboot the camera by switching it off and then back on.

“Is there a standard definition output on the F900R?”

The down-converter board for the F900R was an optional extra and, unfortunately, we don’t have one installed.  If you need an SD signal, we can provide the AJA downconverter.

Panasonic AJ-HDX900

“How do I get visible Timecode up on a monitor from the HDX900?”

Access the Main Menu by holding down the soft Menu button on the front of the camera for three seconds.  Using the clicker wheel navigate to System Setting and depress the wheel to select that sub-menu. Navigate to Output Sel, click the wheel, navigate to Output Item, click the wheel and choose TC.

“Why can’t I get the SD signal out of the HDX900?”

For once, this isn’t a menu option — they actually put a switch on the camera!  On the side of the camera, beside the Timecode switches, you’ll see a switch labeled HD-SDI/SD-SDI/VBS.  For composite SD video, use VBS.

Ikegami HL-DV7W

“Where’s the headphone socket on the Ikegami to monitor audio?”

It’s on the front left of the camera, under the lens.  No, we don’t know why they did that…

“How do I switch to 16×9?”

On the side of the camera hold down the VF CHAR button and then, while holding that down, push the PUSH SET button on the front.  A menu will come up — using the dial on the front of the camera scroll down to SCREEN ASPECT MODE and push PUSH SET again.  Scroll down to ASPECT RATIO, push PUSH SET again, use the dil to change the mode, hit PUSH SET one more time and then hit VF CHAR to get out of the menus.

Panasonic AG-HVX200

“There’s no audio! Why is there no audio?”

Assuming you have all the connections and switches correctly set up, the problem could be that the frame rate you’re shooting doesn’t match the frame rate set up in the Scene File menu.  Press the Menu button on the top of the camera and select the Scene File sub-menu.  The first line in there is Operation Type.  If that is set to Film Camera, and you’re shooting 720p, then you need to make sure that the next line, Frame Rate, is set to either the Default setting or it matches what you want to shoot.  So, if you’re shooting 720/30 the Frame Rate in the Scene File menu has to read Default or 30.  You should now have audio.

“How do I reset the timecode on the HVX200?”

Panasonic, in their infinite wisdom, chose to make this a little tricky.  While in the camera mode press the MENU button on the top of the camera.  Using the directional buttons on top (PLAY, FF, REW, STOP) scroll down to RECORDING SETUP.  Select this by pushing the PAUSE button and then scroll down to the second page.  Make sure TCG is set to REC RUN and then move down to TC PRESET.  Select this and confirm YES.  You’ll now have a new screen that has timecode on it.  Using the directional buttons, set the timecode to your desired start point and, once done, hit the MENU button.  Select YES, get out of the menus by hitting the MENU button repeatedly and your timecode is now set.

Sony HVR-Z1U

“How can I swith the Z1U to shoot PAL?”

Press Menu on the back of the camera and then use the scroll wheel down to Others.  Push the wheel to select that menu and then scroll down to 50i/60i SEL.  Selct 50i and then reboot the camera.

“Why won’t the HDV tapes I shot with the Z1U work on my Canon/JVC deck?”

HDV is a name that is licensed out to various companies but each company has a proprietary codec.  As such, tapes shot on the Z1U will only play back on a Sony deck.

“The Z1U shoots 24p, right?”

No, it applies an effect to make the footage look like 24p.  The camera is always shooting at 60 frames per second and the 24p effect is nothing more than that: an effect.  Bluntly, it’s not recommended.

Sony HVR-Z7U

“How can I switch the Z7U to shoot PAL?”

You can’t, Sony elected not to give the Z7U a PAL shooting mode unless the camera is converted by Sony.

“The Z7U shoots 24p, right?”

Yes. And 30p.  But…

“Why can’t I play back the tapes I shot with the Z7U on my deck?!”

Because if you shot 24/30p with the Z7U you need to have one of the newer decks from Sony, such as the M15/25/35U.  The true 24p that the Z7U can shoot is not just the effect that the Z1U applies, you need a deck that can handle the changed frame rate and, unfortunately, it’s not something that many people have.  So, before shooting 24 or 30 with the Z7U ASK ABOUT THE POST-PRODUCTION WORKFLOW.

Panasonic AJ-HD1400 Deck

“I’m trying to record the signal from the SDX900 to the deck but it’s not working.”

The 1400 deck doesn’t accept an SD input signal.  It’s only for HD input.

“Okay, I can give it the signal by Firewire but that isn’t working either.  Why?”

Because the deck doesn’t recognize a standard definition Firewire input, either.  It’s only for HD input.

“Is there an SD output from the deck?”

Yes, the Video Out 2 is always a standard definition composite output.  Please see page 14 of the manual located on our Decks & Switchers page for a diagram of the rear panel.

“Can I get a timecode window up to make a TC burn-in?”

Yes, use the Video Out 2 BNC as mentioned above.  There’s a ‘Super’ switch at the bottom right of the front panel of the deck — switch it on and you’ll have a superimposed window with timecode.

“I’m having a hard time with the Firewire connection from the deck to ingest footage into my edit system.”

Odds are the menu settings on the deck need to be adjusted — assuming that you’ve got your edit system set up correctly to begin with.  The easiest thing to do is connect a monitor to the Video Out 2 output and then switch on the superimpose so that you can see the text version of the menus as opposed to the numeric version.  Using the joystick on the front of the deck scroll down to the 800 – DIF menu: this is the Firewire menu.  Push the joystick to the right and you’ll enter the DIF menu.  The first item (880) affects the DIF speed — to change it hold down the Search button beside the joystick and, while keeping the button depressed, move the joystick to the right to select the speed you want.  Once you have the speed you want selected release the Search button.  The next relevant menu item is 894 – HD->DIF OUT.  Use the joystick to scroll down to that item and, again, press the Search button and move the joystick to the right to change your selection — you can choose to stay in HD or down-convert to DVCPro50 or DV.  That should be it, but now you have to confirm the changed settings.  Press the menu button and the following message will display: ‘SETUP MENU SET OK? YES (PLAY)/NO(STOP)’  To confirm your changes press Play.

Panasonic AG-PCS060G P2 Store

“The P2 Store isn’t working with my computer, what’s going on?”

Follow this link to a PDF that explains PC/Mac Compatibility for the P2 Store.  Bear in mind that you have to hold the buttons down for longer than the document says and that the buttons need a little extra ‘oomph’ to make sure they’re down.

P2 and XDCAM EX Workflow


Take a gander at this post we conveniently prepared earlier — it contains links to the drivers and software you need to work with Sony and Panasonic’s solid state cameras.


“Okay, I’ve futzed around for the past 10 minutes, screwed up a bunch of menus and have no idea how to do what I need to do. I’m ashamed to admit it but I need the manual…”

There’s no need to feel bad about needing a manual for a piece of gear. In fact, if more people would read the manual (or at least consult the damn thing) there would be a lot less phone calls from people screaming at rental houses. We have manuals for all the gear we rent on the individual pages but if you need a quick compilation I recommend bookmarking this page: