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Old January 2nd, 2011, 01:12 AM   #1
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panasonic hmc150 or sony ax2000 or sony nx5u?

i am in the market for a new camera that shoots to AVCHD codec and i cant decide what camera to go for, i currently shoot with a sony FX1 and want something that will achieve better low light quality and professional audio options(which they all have) my primary use for this camera is to shoot weddings with. i am really interested in the hmc150 but the only thing holding me back from buying that cam is that it doesn't have auto audio which is a big deal for me considering i don't want to wear headphones every time i shoot loud events. i also like that the hmc150 and the nx5u both can do 720p, which is the only drawback to the ax2000. the nx5u however, has the best of both cameras; auto audio and 720p recording. is it really necessary for me to spend 4grand on the nx5u for just those feature..? is there anything significant with the nx5u over the ax200 or is the only difference that it can do 720p and record to a portable hard drive?

i hope i didnt ramble off too much but i am really in a difficult position on what cam to go with. hope you guys can help with my decision!

Thanks
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 04:04 AM   #2
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The following features appear in the professional HXR-NX5 but not in the consumer HDR-AX2000.
1.720p recording
2.Linear uncompressed audio (Dolby AC-3 only)
3.FMU capability
4.Simultaneous recording (due to lack of FMU)
5.GPS, timecode setting, or date recording
6.Upgradability to 60i/50i switchability
7.SDI / HD-SDI
8.TC LINK
9.SDHC card support (Not mentioned on Sony specs page) *
10.B&W EVF mode
11.macro focus
12.high-speed zoom
13.smooth-transitioning gain and white-balance
14.hyper gain
15.viewfinder markers and safety zones
16.numerical zoom display and focus distance display in feet
17.black level
18.black gamma
19.knee and color depth adjustments
20.manual white balance setting
21.colorbars with tone
22.individually switchable front & rear tally lamps
23.shutter angle display
24.hour meter
25.TC reset via remote control.
26.Fewer tweaks for color modes, gammas, and detail settings.
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 04:16 AM   #3
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i wonder also, if low light is an issue for you, if it worth hanging on a bit longer and see if Sony develops a "Exmore R" variant of the NX range

Sony Global - Technology - "Exmor R"

i did read that the initial EXMORE R chips were restricted to small sensor devices currently, but perhaps they are working on that ...
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 07:27 AM   #4
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Mike - are you seriously suggesting the 151 doesn't have a switchable AGC or limiter setting on its audio inputs? If this is true I'd be happy to eat the 151 brochure I have in my hands right now. Now go have a look at the little Auto / Manual switch alongside the audio level pots and tell me what this does.

In most markets the NX5 is priced just a little bit higher than the AX2k so most people plonk for that knowing that when it comes time to sell the buying market will be far bigger. And if you put an NX5 and a 151 alongide one another you'll see immediately why the Sony is the more expensive product. It's not wothout its faults, but it's a mighty fine compromise collection.

Justin, thanks for your list - the AX2k has the super slo-mo as well?

tom.
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 11:24 AM   #5
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Had a 150 for over a year and it does have agc for the audio.
At it's current price the 150 is a steal. With the Sony cams, the LCD and dual card slots would be a major factor that would steer me their way though. Also the ability to add the ssd recorder is a major plus.
I really liked the panny but it was the only game in town (spec and price) when I got it. If the nx had been out at the same time, I would have gone for that.
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 02:26 PM   #6
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For a comparison of the using the NX5 versus the AX2000 for wedding videography, see this link to a discussion from last year:

Should i buy HDR-AX2000 or HXR-NX5U?

I had a several posts in there which detailed my take on the extra NX5 features that I thought would (and do) make a difference to what and how I shoot weddings. Several of us pointed out that others could very well reach different conclusions about the choices that would be best for them.

I can offer a few additional thoughts to supplement what was said there.

I'm not familiar enough with the HMC150 to comment on how well it does with lower-light level shooting. The NX5 can shoot in some some pretty dimly lit settings, about comparable with my old VX2000 cams. However, grain can be an issue when shooting in auto-modes in those conditions. Also, I've found that the auto focus in dim lighting can be imprecise and somewhat slow. The AX2000 will exhibit the same behaviors. My little CX550v cams do a better job of getting low noise images on auto mode in in dim lighting. (Ron Evans has posted more on these issues.) Basically, I tend to run in manual mode for dimly lit events and resort to using 1/30th shutter speeds to avoid grain. I have not found the slower shutter speed to be a problem for weddings as things tend to move at a pretty sedate pace.

Because most weddings move sedately, I do not see any real benefit to 720/60p. The only advantage that I've ever heard for using 720/60p for weddings is that this format apparently scales down to DVD a bit more readily than, say, 1080/30i (which is what used to be called 1080/60i). My own tests did not show any significant benefit for this, though. Also, I do multi-cam wedding shoots and none of my other cams will shoot 720/60p. I've only found 720/60p useful for single cam shoots of very high contrast. very high motion subjects such as close-to-the-stage shots of dancers and downhill mountain bike racing. Not the kind of thing one expects to encounter for weddings.

The HMC150 telephoto only goes to 13x zoom but the NX/AX cams go to 20x optical zoom. The NX/AX cams go very wide at wide end of the zoom. The wide angle is significantly wider than most other cams I've seen. Very useful for shooting in tight places. The longer reach of the zoom was and is important for me in the venues that I shoot in. Do note that zooming out to 20x with the AX/NX cams will result in some reductions from maximum aperture size.

I believe the HMC150 does have audio AGC. But the NX/AX go one better and have audio limiters. Limiters basically cap how loud things can get, thereby avoiding some audio issues like clipping from sudden increases in sound levels.
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 02:46 PM   #7
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Forgot to mention the lens difference. The 150 starts at 28mm (in dslr terms) where the Sonys start at 29.5mm which is not that big of a difference and is extremely wide. I used to shoot full body greenscreen with the 150 about 4 feet from the talent (without having the camera flipped to portrait!)
The big difference is the zoom. The 150 just doesn't have enough throw for a lot of things I shoot. Having the extra throw on the Sony is worth it unless the aperture change is really drastic. Wasn't bad at all on the 150.
Also, I believe the agc on the 150 was in addition to having a limiter but since I dont have it any more, I can't verify.
Just checked BH and the 150 is down to $2795 which is insane knowing what I paid for mine!
This is becoming a tough choice I'm glad I don't have to make!!
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 03:00 PM   #8
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thanks a lot everyone for your replies! i greatly appreciate it!

From what i can tell now it seems that the panasonic 150 and the NX5U are a pretty good comparison as far as features and what they offer. (excluding the ssd recorder on the NX5U) they both seem identical. if that is the case then i would have to go away from sony and lean towards the 150 due to the fact that its only going for 2,800 vs the NX5U going for 4,000. i would much prefer to stick with sony considering i already own a FX1 but if i can get the same camera as the NX5U in Panasonic then that would be a no brainer. please correct me if i am wrong.

Thanks a lot for every ones input!
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 04:13 PM   #9
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Spec sheets are fine for an initial comparison, but aside from them, here are some of the features I've come to love about my NX5 after using it for a good number of weddings.
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1. Active Steadyshot
This is the most amazing steadyshot feature I have ever seen. It makes it possible to get particular handheld shots that I was never able to get using my Z1, and of course it smooths out all of my standard handheld shooting. Here's an example...at a wedding last night, I spotted a man holding his baby at one of the reception tables. Wanting to catch them in the moment, I backed up against the opposite wall of the room for support, and zoomed in all the way. With the active steadyshot feature turned on, the shot came out great. I used this tactic throughout the night and was able to grab many candid shots. If you do a lot of handheld and/or monopod work, do yourself a favor and do not buy anything else until you've had a chance to try this out in your own hands. (Note, that I prefer the active steadyshot feature be set to "standard" strength. You may like it elsewhere.)

2. Iris Ring
The iris dial of the HMC-150 is not the slickest, but I can't knock it too much either since it can do the job in a similar fashion to most other prosumer cameras. With the iris ring on the NX5 though, you're able to easily adjust the exposure and focus without ever having to remove your left hand from the lens assembly of the camera. This holds true with the camera in a football hold as well where I will often use my right thumb to ride the iris. My handheld and monopod shots are steadier because of this, and I am now able to hold more continuous shots.

3. 20x Zoom Lens
I use this camera at full zoom many times on every shoot. With my previous cameras, I always felt that I was having to "make do" with their inability to zoom in enough for me to frame longer shots the way that I actually wanted to. Also, the 20x zoom allows you to focus all the better as you can actually get in close. You know what I'm talking about if you've ever tried to achieve critical focus on a person standing over 20 meters away. Additionally, my previous cameras produced a soft picture, and so I had more leeway when it came to focusing on distant subjects, but with the superior sharp picture of the NX5, I have to be far more careful about this. The 20x zoom is an absolute necessity toward this goal in my opinion.

4. Expanded Focus
I simply cannot be sure of my focus without this feature. My previous camera did not allow me to access this function while recording, but the NX5 does and I use it all the time.

5. Viewfinder
Although the LCD looks nice, the viewfinder is by far the better tool to use when focusing with this camera. The HMC-150 as I recall had a very tiny picture when looking through the viewfinder, making focus nearly impossible. (Panasonic partially made up for this through the great display of focus distances via a numberline that appears on the screen with a slider showing the distances that are in focus. I think this is still only a partial solution and I will take the larger screen anytime.)

6. 1/30 Shutter Speed
The grain was terrible on my previous cameras (combined with interlacing) when I shot at 1/30 shutter speed, but the NX5 does an excellent job with 1/30 (shooting progressive). The extra stop of exposure this adds is critical to my low light shooting. To put it another way, I do not feel that I am trading detail for exposure when shooting at 1/30 versus 1/60. After evaluating the picture given using both settings, I feel that any blurring effects at 1/30 are small enough to be considered imperceptible by most videographers.

7. Dual Recording
What a relief to be able to record simultaneously to the card and flash unit. Do I need to anything more on this?

8. LCD Placement
I like how Sony sticks the LCD on top of the handle. It makes my handheld work much easier then if it were in the farther back position of the HMC-150.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 02:19 AM   #10
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Almost everything that Alec mentioned about the NX5 is also true of the AX2000. The one difference he mentions is the add-on flash memory unit (FMU) as well as the SD cards.

But there is a price to be paid for this. Here in the US, an FMU adds $750 to the cost of an NX5. So, in comparing the HMC150 to the NX5 with an FMU, we're really talking a price difference in US$ of $4750 for the NX/FMU combo versus $3500 for an AX2000 versus $2825 for an HMC150. Spending more on the Sony cams gets you more features. Whether that "more" will be worth it to Mike is a different question.

Regarding Robert's comment "Having the extra throw on the Sony is worth it unless the aperture change is really drastic." At full wide on the NX5, you can stop down to f/1.6. At full 20x zoom, the NX5 goes down to f/3.4. I don't remember what the HMC150 does, but I recall it being similar.

Mike: since you are in Chicago, where there are some rental shops, have you checked to see if anybody can rent you an HMC150 for day? Undoubtedly, you could rent an NX5. There is nothing like getting your hands on a camera to find out if it will or will not work for what you want to do.

Last edited by Jay West; January 3rd, 2011 at 01:13 PM. Reason: corrected name
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 03:40 AM   #11
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Personally I'd try to choose between the HMC150 and the NX5. The HMC150 only costs $2,800 while the AX2000 costs $3,500. I view the AX2000 as being way too expensive for not offering any 720p modes or a fully native 24p mode. It does 24p within 60i. The NX5 on the other hand not only has 720p modes and fully native 24p like the HMC150, it also has HD-SDI output and you never know when that can come in handy.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 07:36 AM   #12
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Good detailed post Alec. One point worth mentioning though is that switching to active steadyshot robs you of some wide-angle coverage as well as reducing the image quality. I'm not so concerned for the former (as you gain telephoto reach at the other end for no lens speed loss) but the quality loss disturbs me - doesn't it you?

OK, if you shoot 1080i and downconvert to SD that quality loss may become academic - I haven't tried it, so can you comment? I do love the NX5's slo-mo though, and I can now film table decorations and so on at a hand-held, medium telepho setting while tracking round them. 3 seconds becomes 12 on screen, and snipping 3 or 4 seconds out of that in the edit looks really good. Quick, simple, effective.

Of course there's a quality hit and you need a lot more light as the camera's shutter speed automatically jumps to 1/215 th sec, but it's a price worth paying for 'first time' tracking perfection. I never bother with the longer slo-mo times as the quality drops alarmingly, though it is fun to watch on the camera's tiny LCD. Again, the downconvert to SD almost (but not quite) hides the slo-mo's quality hit.

More points. The twin card slots of the NX5 are way better than the 150's single slot. What were Panasonic thinking at the design stage? But the 150's big 4:3 side screen does clear the image of a lot of its spam - the NX5 (even with the tiny font its saddled with) can have a lot of the image obscured by info.

The Panasonic' lens is f/1.6 to f/3, so overall the Sony G lens is faster and has a much longer zoom range. Side by side though the 28mm coverage on the 150 sees a lot more than the 29.5 mm of the NX5. Thing is in this day and age 28mm is considered very mild, so you still need a decent wideangle converter to add some visual punch to both cameras.

tom.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 01:06 PM   #13
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I believe the slo-mo is another function that the AX2000 shares with the NX5.

A point of clarification: when Tom is talking about resolution loss, I think he is referring to both the slo-mo function and the active steady shot. My perceptions are slightly different than Tom's. I found the slo-mo to have what looks to me like a significant resolution loss but the resolution loss with the active steady shot isn't very significant in most of what I've shot. Where I've noticed it, it seemed to me like a slight softening of the focus. Where I noticed this was a close up shot of a wedding flower arrangement, a shot I made while I had the Active Steadyshot engaged. (I know this is resolution loss rather than a focus issue because p.74 of the manual mentions this.) Basically, I use active steadyshot for things like shooting hand-held while following the wedding couple, making pre-ceremony shots of the members of wedding party in a hallway as they get ready for the ceremony, etc. It's basically a choice between having video that is unwatchably unsteady and watchable video where the shot isn't quite as wide or sharp as it might have been. Otherwise, I vary between the "standard" and "hard" settings for the regular steady shot, and generally have it off altogether when shooting from a tripod. Here's another example, a couple of weeks ago, I used the NX5 Active Steadyshot at near-full telephoto (probably 18x) to hand-hold a shot of a flock of wild turkeys in a herd of whitetail deer as they were feeding in a snow-free patch of a grain field. The video looks like I was hand-holding from about 20 feet away. If I had been only 20 feet away, I probably would have scattered the group while I fiddled with camera settings.

The way I see it, Active Steadyshot is one more tool in the NX5 kit and has its uses. It works well for what it does but I do not leave it on for everything. On the other hand, my tiny CX550 cams are so small and light that I generally leave them on Active Steady shot even when shooting from a tripod. Usually, they are on tripods as locked-down b cams so I don't need to worry about jerky pans.

The 150 has nothing like this tool.

And that brings me back to something else that Mike said: "it seems that the panasonic 150 and the NX5U are a pretty good comparison as far as features and what they offer (excluding the ssd recorder on the NX5U) they both seem identical."

I do not think you can say that the NX and 150 "seem identical" unless you mean they are functionally identical for your needs and shooting style. One can make a rational choice that the additional functions of the NX/AX series are not important to you or, perhaps, not important enough to warrant spending the extra $600 for an AX or $1200 to $1700 for an NX. (And remember that there will be additional expenses for things like tripods, mics, etc.) Maybe one or two weddings would cover the additional costs? Maybe, it is just more money than you want to spend. The choice of camera is rarely a question of which is better/best? The question really is more complicated: best for whom on what budget to shoot what for whom?

I could have been pretty happy with an HMC150. I am happier with the NX. As the discussion above indicates, the NX/AX cams have more features and functions, and the NX has more than the AX. See

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-nxc...-hxr-nx5u.html

and

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-nxc...5u-ax2000.html

When it comes to choosing between an NX/AX and a 150, things like the AX/NX having a 20x zoom, Active Steadyshot, the high-res viewscreen (with expanded focus function) and multiple SD slots are just five of the things that the NX/AX have that the 150 does not.

The twin SD slots that Tom mentioned are very useful for long form events such as weddings. With the NX/AX cams, the camera will fill one card, automatically switch to the other while allowing you to swap out the full card for a new one, and keep going as long as you have the power and cards to feed it. Of course, you can use one 32g card in the HMC150 to get about three hours of 24Mbps AVCHD and that may be sufficient for what you want to do.

Do note that some videographers like the 150's use of CCDs versus the CMOS sensors in the Sony cams. This is the so-called "rolling shutter" problem. With a CMOS-based camera, a photographer's flash covers only part of the frame or field (say, the bottom or upper half) while, with a CCD camera, the whole frame is covered. Some shooters are passionately offended by this artifact. Some wonder: why all the fuss? My personal opinion is that the flash thing can be annoying if you like slow-motion effects in your wedding videos (I rarely use them) but otherwise, I could hardly care less. Your preferences may be different and, if they are, this may help you in making your choice.

One thing we did not think to ask yet is whether or not you will be keeping your FX1 for multi-camming with whatever new cam you get? If you decide to keep the FX1, you can share batteries, chargers and other accessories with the NX/AX series. The FX and NX/AX footage will visually mesh with less effort than with the Panny. Doubtless you've been through the Panasonic HMC150 threads and so have seen what others have said about this. (I'm guessing you did because I see you made a similar posting in that DVinfo forum.) Another consideration is that the control layouts on the NX/AX are pretty similar to those on the FX1. They are similar enough to make it very easy to transition from one camera to the other. That can be a big deal while under the pressure of shooting weddings. (I speak from experience on this.)

Again, if you can spend a day with a rented HCM150, you could find out pretty quickly if it is enough for what and how you do what you do or if, instead, an AX/NX might be preferable.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 07:44 PM   #14
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Wide Angle Lens for Sony AX2000?

Does anyone use a Wide Angle Lens for Sony AX2000/NX5?
How much will it be useful?
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 08:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Good detailed post Alec. One point worth mentioning though is that switching to active steadyshot robs you of some wide-angle coverage as well as reducing the image quality. I'm not so concerned for the former (as you gain telephoto reach at the other end for no lens speed loss) but the quality loss disturbs me - doesn't it you?
Good point Tom. Yes, with Active Steadyshot there is a resolution loss that I didn't think to mention. I'm sure that it didn't cross my mind though because to my eye, the loss is negligible (as in...nonexistent as far as I'm able to discern). I was definitely worried about this before handling the camera, but once I saw the comparison shots side by side at 1080p, I was very happy.

Conversely, I was really looking forward to the slow-motion feature, but was extremely disappointed with its quality in my tests. Although the overcranking does a great job of apparently smoothing out my handling of the camera, the blurring of the image is too much for me to take, along with a flickering effect under certain lighting conditions. I prefer to keep shooting at 30p and to use Twixtor to slow my footage in post if necessary.

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