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Old September 9th, 2010, 01:51 AM   #1
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My Sony HXR-MC50U review

I bought the MC50, have been using it and would like to give my impressions. I realize this is basically a 550 so if you can give me any tips (especially on the manual controls) I'd love to hear them.

THE GOOD: I can comfortably shoot handheld and carry it around for long periods. The active stabilization is amazing and you also have the option of regular stabilization when you don't need such extreme correction (I find that in the Active mode the picture will crawl if there is not much shake to correct). The LCD is big, bright and clear. The picture quality is very nice and the sound is decent. The touch screen (though I don't care for them) gives you the ability to put your six top choices as first options which makes things easier. Touch spot focus works well. Flash memory gives plenty of record time and the included battery has a decent run time. I think the camera looks pro enough not to make clients worry but is also small enough to be stealthy. The camera turns on and opens the lens shade automatically when you open the LCD or pull the viewfinder. This is slick and makes run and gun easy. It also turns off automatically and drops the lens shade when you close them.

THE BAD: This camera has no zebra stripes. My SR11 has zebra stripes. How can Sony market this in their pro line and leave those out??? Peaking would also be a welcome feature especially it you want to use manual focus (via the wheel) instead of touch spot focus. Manual audio controls and visible levels also seem like a must in a pro camera. The sun shade prevents you from installing a UV protector which is a shame and bad design that allows dust in.

As far as the manual controls to be honest I'm confused. I'm used to my Z1 where I can set my iris, shutter and gain to manual. On this camera if I set my exposure to manual I cannot set my shutter to manual and it jumps up higher than I want it to be and vice versa. Also what is the difference between iris and exposure? Aren't they the same? When would you use the iris control if you cannot put everything into manual? This seems like a semi manual camera not the full manual that many articles and Sony's own marketing seems to claim.

Anyway that's my take so far. It's a great little camera but could be so much better. I sure hope Sony does the right thing and upgrades the firmware to what it should be.

Marc
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Old September 9th, 2010, 08:06 AM   #2
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I share your desire for zebra, I have a SR11 , XR500 and NX5U. Still have a FX1 and some other tape camcorders too but have now fully moved to tapeless. Bought the NX5U because the XR500 was making the FX1 look like the lower cost camera!!!!

What made you buy the MC50 over the CX550? I assume the manual controls on the MC550 are like the XR500 ( or the SR11). You should be able to set more than one using the selector wheel as long as they don't override each other. "Exposure" is probably like AE shift on the SR11 but fixing the image, so would use the auto exposure mechanism to work gain, shutter and iris to the brightness you select. Iris will set the iris and the auto exposure will change the others to get the exposure allowing you to control depth of field. At least that is how I assume it would work!!!

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Old September 10th, 2010, 06:59 PM   #3
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Hi Marc -

Why Sony didn't include a few "pro" features in the MC50 firmware is beyond me, I might have been interested in it over the CX550V, but it's pretty much the same camera, and I've got big batteries, a couple lens hoods, and mics... with the modded A1U hood, the thing looks pretty convincing even if it is a "consumer" level camera - the image is top notch, so can't argue with results.

Zebras and peaking would DEFINITELY have been worthwhile - the HC9 had them... not to mention the laundry list of additional features the A1U had over the HC1...

AE shift is simply a way to override the camera, and while you can set the control knob to change it, it's actually better to just set it between -2 and -4 and leave it on... the camera then effectively offsets the auto exposure to the dark side - it's almost always been a necessity in Sonys to set the AE shift to the - side to avoid an overly bright image.

Exposure is a bit more crude - if the camera is in auto and you hit the control button, it will come on at the settings the camera chose and you can then dial it up or down from there (and you should note that it will STAY where you adjust it to, unless you again change the exposure wheel or return to auto) - not sure offhand what the hierarchy of setting changes is, but I know I got some interesting effects while shooting in fireworks setting and shifting exposure - it must have altered the shutter, as I got almost a stop motion effect.

I'd also describe the "manual" controls as semi-manual - you can't set iris and shutter individually like you could with say a TRV900, it's one or the other, which to me puts me back just using AE shift preset and exposure to compensate as needed at the push of the control button. That worked well enough for ealier Sonys I've had, so it's probably partly habit.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 10:50 PM   #4
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Hi Dave,

I'm hoping they were just backed up with work and plan on offering a firmware update with Zebras.

Thanks for the explanation. I think I get it. I always use the AE shift on my SR-11 for the same reasons. Still don't quite get having manual iris and exposure control especially when you can't set both to manual at the same time. Seems more like a gimick.

So will the shutter also STAY put once I switch from auto to manual exposure? On some footage I played back with camera data I noticed the shutter was higher than 60 on certain shots.

Ron: I just felt the extras features were worth it and also that the firmware might get an update.

Thanks, Marc
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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Adam Wilt did an excellent review of this camera.
ProVideo Coalition.com: Camera Log by Adam Wilt | Founder | Pro Cameras, HDV Camera, HD Camera, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, RED, Video Camera Reviews
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Old October 24th, 2010, 04:26 PM   #6
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So will the shutter also STAY put once I switch from auto to manual exposure? On some footage I played back with camera data I noticed the shutter was higher than 60 on certain shots.
This is the problem with all small consumer cameras, including the new large chip Sony VG10- they do not have built in neutral density filters.
Therefore, if you are in bright daylight, you cannot open the iris without jacking the shutter speed up, and conversely, you cannot maintain 1/60 shutter if the brightness exceeds the highest f-stop.
The bigger cams all have 2 levels of internal ND filters: ND 1 and ND 2. In bright light you can dial in the appropriate one and maintain control of both the iris and shutter.
My workaround for this with the VG10 is the lens mounted variable ND filter, but I'm not sure such a product is available to fit the 37mm lens of the CX550 (MC-50).
Honestly, without ND filters, the manual settings for iris and shutter are not really all that useful on this cam.
However, the exposure compensation, manual focus, WB adjust, "Touch" focus and exposure, and Low LUX setting do give you a terrific degree of quick control over the image.
This cam is missing a few little things (zebras) that they could have thrown in, but overall I think it is one of the most brilliant tiny cams that Sony has ever produced: Native wide angle, 24 mbs data stream, phenomonal low light, low noise, sharp colorful images- amazing for an inexpensive cam that you can actually stuff into your pocket.
If you need more control than this, you'll likely need to step up to the larger cameras.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #7
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Robert -
You could always get a selection of fixed ND filters in 37mm - I've got a pile of ND8's sitting around here. I also experimented with stacking a couple of polarizers to get a variable - had some strange color issues under some circumstances though, but point being that filetrs for these little guys are fairly cheap to buy and experiment with.

Marc -
Excellent review of the MC50, I'm still happy to have the CX550V, but I modded an A1U hood (edges show up due to the super wide lens, dremel took care of 90% of it!) - definitely makes the camer look more serious.


I'd have to say the CX550 covers so many of the "weak" points of earlier Sonys I've had that I don't know where they'd go from here (zebras?, peaking?, I dunno?). Hard to argue with what the camera is capable of at the price point!

I hope to augment with an SLT-a55 for the glamour DoF stuff sometime soon, looks like another similar value for the $ camera, but from the still side of the equation.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #8
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Robert -
You could always get a selection of fixed ND filters in 37mm - I've got a pile of ND8's sitting around here. I also experimented with stacking a couple of polarizers to get a variable - had some strange color issues under some circumstances though, but point being that filetrs for these little guys are fairly cheap to buy and experiment with.
You know, I'm really just fine to let the CX550 run naked.
There are all of the theoretical reasons why it shouldn't work well, shouldn't look good- but for my purposes it does work great and does look great- so I just go with it.
If I need to get all "arty" about it, I just pull out a bigger cam.
I think the CX550 is magic :)
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Old February 6th, 2011, 07:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Marc Salvatore View Post
I bought the MC50, have been using it and would like to give my impressions. I realize this is basically a 550 so if you can give me any tips (especially on the manual controls) I'd love to hear them.

THE GOOD: I can comfortably shoot handheld and carry it around for long periods. The active stabilization is amazing and you also have the option of regular stabilization when you don't need such extreme correction (I find that in the Active mode the picture will crawl if there is not much shake to correct). The LCD is big, bright and clear. The picture quality is very nice and the sound is decent. The touch screen (though I don't care for them) gives you the ability to put your six top choices as first options which makes things easier. Touch spot focus works well. Flash memory gives plenty of record time and the included battery has a decent run time. I think the camera looks pro enough not to make clients worry but is also small enough to be stealthy. The camera turns on and opens the lens shade automatically when you open the LCD or pull the viewfinder. This is slick and makes run and gun easy. It also turns off automatically and drops the lens shade when you close them.

THE BAD: This camera has no zebra stripes. My SR11 has zebra stripes. How can Sony market this in their pro line and leave those out??? Peaking would also be a welcome feature especially it you want to use manual focus (via the wheel) instead of touch spot focus. Manual audio controls and visible levels also seem like a must in a pro camera. The sun shade prevents you from installing a UV protector which is a shame and bad design that allows dust in.

As far as the manual controls to be honest I'm confused. I'm used to my Z1 where I can set my iris, shutter and gain to manual. On this camera if I set my exposure to manual I cannot set my shutter to manual and it jumps up higher than I want it to be and vice versa. Also what is the difference between iris and exposure? Aren't they the same? When would you use the iris control if you cannot put everything into manual? This seems like a semi manual camera not the full manual that many articles and Sony's own marketing seems to claim.

Anyway that's my take so far. It's a great little camera but could be so much better. I sure hope Sony does the right thing and upgrades the firmware to what it should be.

Marc
Great review Marc, I have a question because I'm looking forward to buy one, can mc-50 hold the shutter speed in manual control when shooting? because I prefer that way and other setting is up to the camera itself..thanx Marc

AN
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Old February 6th, 2011, 09:04 PM   #10
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I would not buy the MC50 now as the CX700 will be out in a short time and be a much better camera. Zebra, peaking, expanded focus, 60p and 24p and 96G of memory.

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Old February 8th, 2011, 08:02 PM   #11
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I would not buy the MC50 now as the CX700 will be out in a short time and be a much better camera. Zebra, peaking, expanded focus, 60p and 24p and 96G of memory.

Ron Evans
yeah, I read about that here, in this forum..and will hold the plan..thanx Ron
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Old February 12th, 2011, 07:27 PM   #12
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Great review Marc, I have a question because I'm looking forward to buy one, can mc-50 hold the shutter speed in manual control when shooting? because I prefer that way and other setting is up to the camera itself..thanx Marc

AN
Yes it can but you lose the other manual controls. In other words you only get one manual control at a time. If you want to use manual shutter then exposure and iris jump into auto and vice versa. So in other words it looks good for Sony marketing to say manual control but it's really not in reality.

Regards, Marc
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Old February 16th, 2012, 03:29 PM   #13
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Re: My Sony HXR-MC50U review

I like this little camera. That's my first camera i bought. I like it because i use it for all my church event. But planning to buy another camera later on for now my sony hxr mc50u is doing the job.
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