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Old October 27th, 2013, 11:16 AM   #226
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n Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

I don't totally disagree but the back illuminated sensors and on chip processing are an improvement for real and this was not 10 years ago. When I said sensor and DSP are a unit I did not mean a single chip I meant a processing unit to obtain the output. There have been lots of improvements even in the last year with large format sensors that require even more powerful DSP's all becoming available because of processing improvements. Fundamental silicon technology will of course not have changed but processing improvements have changed. Its the output that matters not the details of how that is achieved. Sensor or DSP is not important they are both necessary.

The FDR-AX1 and PXW-Z100 are not expensive pro cameras . As a serious amateur I have paid almost exactly the same price for cameras in this part of the Sony camera range since my VX3 Hi8 camera. Within a few hundred dollars the VX3, FX1 and NX5U and now the FDR-AX1 . As to perfomance over time my little still HX30V is superior to the VX3 or the FX1 and a good match for the NX5U in good conditions. My Sony Xperia T cell phone also takes some really nice video!!!!

Difference with the newer back illuminated video cameras is noise. The NX30U or CX700 I have show much less noise than the NX5 and challenge an EX3 that we shoot with too in low light. When the EX3 has to use gain, just like the NX5U it quickly show grain. Yes the EX3 is superior.

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Old October 28th, 2013, 06:06 AM   #227
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

A typical EXMOR-R sensor has a round 1.5db less noise than a front illuminated sensor, that difference will be barely perceptible to most people, but they are normally around 8db or just a little over a stop more sensitive. So the main advantage of BI is sensitivity, not noise. BI is only an advantage for sensors with very small pixels as the efficiency depends on the ratio of pixel surface area to obstruction from the surface electronics. So, while BI has helped with small sensors, it's been of little benefit anywhere else.

It is processing that has improved, but this comes with a heavy price in terms of image artefacts including smear and a reduction in resolution as gain levels increase. The NX30 shows less noise than the NX5 because it uses a Q67 sensor which allows larger pixels to be used, but this comes at the expense of very low chroma resolution (roughly 1/4 luma). In addition there is a resolution drop in low light. Skin tones of the NX30 are poor, faces look like plastic as they have no texture and the dynamic range is severely limited.

Sensitivity is only one factor in sensor performance. Dynamic range, noise, resolution and artefacts all add together to make an image.
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Old October 28th, 2013, 09:46 AM   #228
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

Thanks Alister for providing the detail. It is what I see between my NX5U and the NX30U. When there is lots of light they are both fine and match well. As the light gets lower there is a point where the NX30U has a more pleasing image than the NX5U. When it gets really dark the NX5U falls apart because of the grain due to gain but the grain is suppressed on the NX30U or CX700 and is more usable. There is a choice, loose some resolution and get an image or have so much grain it is unusable without a lot of processing with noise reduction filter ( often with the NX5U).

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Old October 28th, 2013, 03:39 PM   #229
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

I'd just mention that the RX100M2, with a relatively "large" BI sensor, benefitted NOTICEABLY over the prior RX100 - there was some discussion that it wouldn't make much difference because BI wouldn't benefit a larger sensor, but in practice, it DOES. We may see another jump with the RX10 using a new generation Bionz "X" processor.

Theory and practice are not always aligned - I've seen several instances where "better" wasn't ACTUALLY better, and others where it "shouldn't be" based on "internet wisdom", but IS in practice.

I've also seen where one engineering "team" (I presume this is how they work at Sony?) takes a sensor and gets far superior quality out of one camera, while another camera (I presume from a different "team"?), using the exact same sensor, produces so-so or poor results.


I agree with Ron that in practice (use), the question is if you can get a usable image or not, and what the quality of that image is under various shooting conditions. And Alister correctly points out, there's more to that equation than just how many pixels are packed into how much real estate....
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Old October 28th, 2013, 03:56 PM   #230
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will find out how they all compare when I get my FDR-AX1 and can do side by side comparisons with NX5U , NX30U and CX700. Might even compare to the HX30V which may have the same sensor !!!

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Old November 1st, 2013, 07:54 PM   #231
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

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Originally Posted by Ron Evans View Post
When it gets really dark the NX5U falls apart because of the grain due to gain but the grain is suppressed on the NX30U or CX700 and is more usable. There is a choice, loose some resolution and get an image or have so much grain it is unusable without a lot of processing with noise reduction filter ( often with the NX5U).
I thought I was all set to get a PXW-Z100, but after doing some research I found that the low light performance will be not only slightly worse than my NX5U, but much worse.

from my NX5U operating guide: 1.5 lux, 1/30 shutter speed, f 1.6

from B&H PXW-Z100 spec webpage: 4 lux, 1/30 shutter speed

I know light sensitivity specs can vary greatly, but at least this comparison seems to be close to the same method of comparison.

Good low light sensitivity is more important to me than 4K capability. Maybe I need to be looking at a Panasonic AG-AC160A instead ( 0.4 lux, 1/30 shutter speed, f 1.6 ) ? I don't want to go the DSLR or cinema cam route, I want a run & gun video camera below $7,000 with a nice 20x or 22x lens that works well in low light.
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Old November 1st, 2013, 08:05 PM   #232
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

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I don't want to go the DSLR or cinema cam route, I want a run & gun video camera below $7,000 with a nice 20x or 22x lens that works well in low light.
While it may not fit the 20x or 22x criteria, finding a good condition used EX1 or EX1R would be perfect for this since it has 1/2'' chips.
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Old November 1st, 2013, 09:45 PM   #233
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

The only thing I might say about the specs is that gain is relative. Decided by the engineers and marketing !! So that if the NX5U specs are at indicated 18db db max auto gain , unusable for the NX5U. FDR_AX1 and PXW-Z100 range is 0 to 21db. The NX5U goes from -6 db to 18db gain but the FDR_AX1 and PXW-Z100 start at 0 to 21db. The NX5U has a 3db gain advantage in this artificial test, even though from my experience unusable. Above 12db the NX5U is problematic, is that really 18db !!

For me the measure is when the picture falls apart because of too much noise. I should get my FDR-AX1 soon ( I hope ) then I will be able to compare side by side with the NX5U. I expect it to be just a little worse in low light. But not almost 3 times as the specs may indicate and the noise reduction of the newer processor may make it more usable than the NX5U !!!. With the NX5U my normal range of operation is iris between F1.6 and F3.4 and gain -3 to +6db. That should work fine for the FDR-AX1 too. When it get really dark I hope my friend is there with his EX3 or use the NX30 or CX700 for a clean wide shot!!!

Ron Evans

edit: Now looked at both NX5U specs and pdf of FDR-AX1 and see that although ranges for switch positions say one thing the auto limits say something else !!! NX5U has an AGC limit set of 24db but no apparent way of setting this manually and low light spec specifically says in auto. FDR-AX1 pdf says switch positions with limits of 21db low light spec with manually settings of 27db ( page 63 of the PDF ) but I cannot see how to set the camera to 27db manually when the switch position limits are 21db !! Will have to wait until I get mine or someone can answer what are the real limits. Sony always seems to get the specs mixed up ?

Last edited by Ron Evans; November 1st, 2013 at 10:17 PM.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 05:30 AM   #234
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

I would suggest that the NX5 and Z100 sensors have similar sensitivity. The NX5 has bigger pixels and uses a prism while the Z100 although it has much smaller pixels see's an approx 8db sensitivity boost per pixel because of the back illumination. Overall they should come out very similar.

However the Z100 has more sophisticated image processing. When I tested the Z100 alongside a PMW-200 I found the Z100 to be 1.5 stops less sensitive than the 200 at 0db, but... and this was the big surprise the Z100 was showing less visible noise (or at least the noise was less apparent). Raising the gain on the Z100 quickly results in more noise and some image softening, especially above +9db. So I think you'll see similar sensitivity to the Z5 at 0db with possibly a cleaner looking image from the Z100. But if you start adding in lots of gain the Z100 performance will start to fall away quite quickly.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 08:40 AM   #235
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

Thanks Alister. I will shoot some side by side when I get the camera. Looking at the pdf that is now up on the Sony site, Sony eSupport - FDR-AX1 - Support, there are a few things I do not like such as battery indicator being just an icon instead of time, no smooth gain switch setting in menus, no spotlight setting either. Display indication are also not as good as I like to see all parameters and if they are in aututo or manual. Now AGC appears if gain is in auto rather than seeing the value and having an "A" next to it.. Button assignments are limited too compared to the NX5U. Very strange to go backwards on a consumer camera. These sort of things were the differences between the AX2000 and NX5U so wonder if these menu/ LCD settings are on the Z100. I like the dc power input though. One of the USB ports and SD ports do nothing at the moment waiting for that firmware update.

If you have an input Alister maybe suggest going back to time indicator for battery and adding back in the spotlight setting. I mainly use my NX5U full manual but sometimes use in auto excposure with buttons assigned to AE shift and spotlight, with AE speed set to slow so that switching the buttons takes effect slowly. Found this combination useful.

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Old November 4th, 2013, 07:58 AM   #236
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

That is kind of backwards... Batteries (especially INFOLithium) should indicate how many minutes remaining. Almost certainly an omission that may need correcting in a firmware update.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 08:52 AM   #237
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

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That is kind of backwards... Batteries (especially INFOLithium) should indicate how many minutes remaining. Almost certainly an omission that may need correcting in a firmware update.
Yes I hope so. I was expecting there to be less on the AX1 than the Z100 ( not seen a manual for that yet) much like the differences between the AX2000 and the NX5U but there seems to be a lot gone backwards from the high end consumer Handycams !!! Will wait and see when mine comes as having lots of Sony cameras they get a lot wrong in specs !!! However I like the LCD indications on the NX5U where I can see the values if they are in auto or manual, just an A next to them. Means I can switch to auto or manual when I know the value is the same for instance. Or know when iris is going beyond F5.6 or gain above 9db and take some action. Having the indication change to AGC or A.Iris is not useful at all. The AGC limit, AE shift and speed are there as well as shutter speed limit but no iris limit, very strange.

The AX2000 also had picture profiles and now there appears to be just a paint setup. The marketing seems to indicate 6 but what that means is one setup with 6 parameters !!! AX2000 and NX5U had 6 picture profiles there were just more parameters for the NX5U.

With three interfaces not working ( two SD slots and a USB slot) I think the real first release will be after the first firmware update !!!

Ron Evans

Last edited by Ron Evans; November 4th, 2013 at 10:37 AM.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 06:41 PM   #238
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

Everybody is saying that 4K still needs 3 or 4 years to be everywhere, lets say i want to stay with 1080p and i have to choose between Z100 and PMW 300 and i care about better quality considering that Z100 is 233Mbps and PMW 300 is 50Mbps

Which 1 should i Buy if im looking for better HD quality ?

ive read all the comments in this thread but still no one made it clear, or i missed it somehow sorry guys ))
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Old November 7th, 2013, 09:20 PM   #239
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

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lets say i want to stay with 1080p and i have to choose between Z100 and PMW 300 and i care about better quality considering that Z100 is 233Mbps and PMW 300 is 50Mbps

Which 1 should i Buy if im looking for better HD quality ?
No question about it, the PMW300 will produce a much better HD image. I suspect it will produce a better 4K picture once upscaled than the PXW-Z100 too. Oh, I'm sure the 100 will show more detail in good light, but in normal situations where lighting is not perfect, the 300 will win. The sensor of the Z100 will not even come close to maximising the capabilities of the codec.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 10:39 PM   #240
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Re: Sony launches PXW-Z100 4K Handheld XDCAM

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Originally Posted by Arlen Sahakian View Post
Everybody is saying that 4K still needs 3 or 4 years to be everywhere, lets say i want to stay with 1080p and i have to choose between Z100 and PMW 300 and i care about better quality considering that Z100 is 233Mbps and PMW 300 is 50Mbps

Which 1 should i Buy if im looking for better HD quality ?

ive read all the comments in this thread but still no one made it clear, or i missed it somehow sorry guys ))
If you only want HD quality then the PMW300 is likely the best choice or even a PMW200. If you want to shoot and then crop into 1920x1080 then the Z100 will be a choice or a FS700, F5 or F55.
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