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Old February 7th, 2013, 10:19 AM   #1
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Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Hi all.

After deciding to ditch gussying up an SLR, I have decided to bite the bullet and purchase a real video camera for a documentary series I'll be working on.

I'm absolutely killing myself fawning over the sub $5,000 choice. If anything I'd like to keep it around $3,500.

The Sony NX70 has glowing reviews, the right size, but glaring flaws. Having AVHD in my Canon HFS21, I realize the pain it can bring. Is there still no way to view clips on a computer on the fly? Still don't know why they're making people have to convert just to get .avi files.

Anyways, I am considering the NX70 for obvious weather related reasons, but the Canon XF100 is also grabbing my interest over and over. My brain hurts.

I've dug through far too many threads and my brain is jumbled.

What do you all think about the sub $5,000 market for run and gun doc work?

NEEDS :

- Good low-light
- Moderately small / lightweight
- If possible, no AVCHD!

I've made a new thread and ask this, because I realize how quickly things change.

I have until June to make a decision, as I won't have the funds until then.

Thanks for looking.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 10:31 AM   #2
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

John, have you had your hands on either one yet? In Chicago you should be able to find a shop that has them in stock... like perhaps Calumet: Digital cameras, lenses and photo gear at calumetphoto.com

You're right of course, workflow *is* a big deal. But ergonomics are important to... how it feels in your hands and all. In my opinion there's really no right or wrong choice.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 10:48 AM   #3
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

That's the thing. I'm currently in Montana. Starting things here. There is no such thing even close to Calumet and the like....sadly.

I understand that, and that's the main reason this choice is so hard. Being in crazy scenarios, having the NX70's tiny frame and water resistance is a HUGE plus, but I really, really hate the AVCHD aspect. Maybe I can deal with it for a bit longer, as it looks like I could grip an NX70 for around $2,000 is I play my cards right. That's insane for what it does.

I'm also starting to see some great stuff from a year or two ago for around $2,500, and it's making it all the more difficult. I'd really like to be able to run and gun, plug it in, check sound levels, and go...but damn this NX70 keeps poking me.

Blergggh.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 11:23 AM   #4
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Any way you can get to NAB in Las Vegas this April? Even one or two days at the show would get you some touch & try of everything there is (and possible complicate your decision even more, oy!)
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Old February 7th, 2013, 11:44 AM   #5
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

John,

See my thoughts about using the NX70 in the rain here: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing. There's other thoughts from me and other people on the NX70 forum (not least about the unusable zoom rocker).

Suffice to say, I had to buy a Petrol raincover to make it truly usable with mic, headphones etc. The bare camera is OK in light rain, or if you have separate sound, or don't need sound. Rain gurgling and clicking through the mic is not a nice sound. I suppose you could rig something over the mic like a little umbrella maybe?

It was a great camera in auto. I never had any workflow problems (Premiere Pro CS5 and CS6 cope very well with AVHCD without transcoding the files to another format).

I found the use of a touchscreen for most settings very frustrating. Maybe because I have hands like two bunches of bananas. The XF100 at least has more buttons on it, and you can customise a lot of them. I also thing it has a better lens than the NX70, and in hindsight is the compact pro camera I should have bought.

The NX70 did do surprisingly well in poor light, and in auto in tight spaces.

In the end, I sold the NX70 and got a bigger camera because I wanted a full sized camera with buttons for everything rather than touchscreen-poking for everything. But if my requirement had been for a more affordable camera with reasonable manual control, and in a compact form factor, I'd have stuck with the NX70 (or XF100, had I made that choice).
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Old February 7th, 2013, 08:53 PM   #6
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

I love my XF100. The specs on it and the Sony seem pretty similar. The Sony may be a little better in low light, but the XF100 is slightly smaller and doesn't use AVCHD. It also has 4:2:2 color. But the Sony has 1080/60p, the Canon is limited to 720/60p, Tough choice - you'll just have to weigh the differences against your shooting needs. Both are now around $2500-$2800.

If you're looking at sample videos remember that the XF100 comes with very flat settings by default but you can customize it to get exactly the look you prefer - I crush the blacks and dial up the sharpness and saturation, but others shoot flat and adjust the look more in post. I have several custom settings files, including one that controls noise in high gain situations. I don't think this kind of customization is possible with the Sony.

Both good cameras though if they fit your needs.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 10:17 PM   #7
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dixon View Post
the Canon is limited to 720/60p,
Hmm. I would not say that it is "limited" to 720/60p. It is native 1080/60i.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:10 AM   #8
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

I read some complains about the xf100 being quite noisy when you up the gain, not sure if there is a way to minimize that but it could be a concern if low light performance is what you are after. The nx70 should perform the same as my cx730 and low light is really good with minimal noise, the image does get a bit softer at very high gains. The very wide angler lens can also help a lot in tight space and if the stabilisation is on the same level as on the smaller sony handicams you can get near tripod like footage when filming handheld. Autofocus is also very good on mine and I suspect the nx70 will be the same, only touch focus is not that reliable but that might differ on the nx70.

A downside to consider is that the lens tends to be soft in a corner at certain focal lengths, sometimes I get this on the left side of the image, sometimes on the right. It's just minor but I notice. There has been a report here from a nx70 user that had the same issue but worse.

Image wise the xf100 should be better but it looks you have to dive into the image presets as the factory defaults can be improved but at least you have control.

If you plan to use the camera in tougher conditions like rain, dust the nx70 is the best choice for sure, at that price range it's the only camera that can withstand rain without an issue, you can't expect the xlr mike to work flawlessly as well then, in such a case you need to secure your sound in another way.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:20 AM   #9
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Noa, just to clarify - you don't have an XLR option when you want to be rain or dust proof, you have to remove the XLR module and handle, and close all the little flaps and ports. Sound is then recorded from the built in mic.

As I said, it's a useful camera (the NX70) in some circumstances.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:45 AM   #10
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

That's what I meant, you can't expect the xlr mike to function in rain as it was not designed for that, then you need to go for an external solution.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 03:04 AM   #11
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

How about a PMW-100? Uses XDCAM HD422 (same level codec as the XF100) and it's only $4000.

I know for certain in the 35mbps mode that the MP4 files are playable in both VLC and Media Player Classic.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 04:35 AM   #12
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Yes, I just meant that with the XF100 (and the PMW-100) you get a full 1080 sensor but if you need 60fps it's at 720p.

Yes, on my XF100 I limit the gain to no more than 12db (and 6-9db is better). There is a limit setting you can specify. If I have to go higher, I have a custom picture file setting that I use which minimizes the noise at a slight expense of sharpness.

The PMW-100 looks more interesting to me than the NX-70. It's more expensive, but only by a few hundred dollars. It looks like it's heavier, not as wide angle, but does include timecode and genlock.

There really are a lot of choices now in this range, as well as the $5K-$6K range. I keep looking at the XF300 which is now $4975 at B&H....
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Old February 8th, 2013, 08:51 AM   #13
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

If you don't mind getting used, you can pick up Sony EX1s in the $3,500 range. They'll better in low light than your aforementioned cameras, plus they have the XDCAM EX codec.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 01:38 PM   #14
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

Cool, thanks for the responses. Guess i'll just have the pull the trigger. I figure I could sell my Vixia HFS21 for $500, leaving me with an NX70 for around $1,800 or so. Can't beat that, and it's probably what I'll go with. Traveling around with such a small little guy will be nice. Any other input would be welcome.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 10:29 PM   #15
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Re: Doc camera - Sony NX70? Canon XF100? Struggling...

These forums are killing me. Endless.

Upon even further research, it almost seems to me like the NX70 isn't the way to go. Almost like the XLR + other options are an afterthought. Any input on NX70 VS XF100, input + sound wise?

While I will be filming in dark spaces, basement rock shows and the like, I'm now leaning toward the XF100! Ha.

I wish there were more XF100 tests in my situation (i.e. dark basement rock shows). I see some EDM videos in vimeo groups and the like, but I guess what I do doesn't involve this discussion much.

You guys had me researching the EX-1 for a bit, too! Ouch. Sorry I went there. Now I'm just salivating.

The EX1 is definitely too much camera weight + size wise for the craziness I'm about to embark on.

It's really a tough call.

Last edited by John Yingling; February 10th, 2013 at 10:45 PM. Reason: 1
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