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Pro and consumer versions including PXW-Z150, PXW-Z100, PXW-X70 / FDR-AX100


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Old November 12th, 2014, 10:06 PM   #1
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Impressions. x70 and ax-100

It's been awhile now since these cameras arrived on the scene. After some time with these cameras what is your overall impression. Good, adequate, great, don't buy, etc.

I'm looking for a camera to use on a future project that will be all scenic shots.

AX-100 for the price plus included 4k seems like a winner. No xlr and 30p@4k does hold me back.

But the X70 with xlr and higher bit rate encoding looks intriguing. Higher bit rate should allow it to be used on stringer jobs. I'm a little concerned about the "future upgrade". If its upgrade to 4k @ 60p that would clinch the decision.

Neither one is expensive, both seem to have great strengths.

So what do you think, are these cameras serious contenders or pass'em by?

Thanks, John M.
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Old November 12th, 2014, 10:54 PM   #2
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

I don't have either cam, but have been following them closely. Based on forum reports and footage posted, my take is that the AX100 is a fantastic camera that doesn't require (or offer) a lot of tweaking. By just taking care with exposure to prevent blown out highlights - either shooting manually or shooting a bit underexposed in Auto - you can get great results.

The X70 seems to be the camera for someone who wants even more control over image look and is willing to do more tweaking. Although there are great examples on dvinfo.net of the X70 getting a great finished look in-camera, to me this is a camera that is designed for shooting very flat for adjusting in post. The 4:2:2 and 10 bit color are made for that.

I am almost ready to upgrade, but the X70 is more appealing to me because I do shoot very flat and enjoy the creative aspect of working with the footage in post. I would find the AX100 limiting in that aspect. You mentioned scenic shots - you may have need of the 4K for that. It just depends on how soon you need the 4K.

About the 4K upgrade - I'm not optimistic about 60p, but would love that. I've read rumors that the 4K will be the same as that in the AX100 - that would be very disappointing, especially for a paid upgrade. Since the AX100 was announced last January, that means it's already year old tech. Surely we would at least get a higher data rate than the AX100 and it would be XAVC instead of XAVC-S. Since the CX900/AX100 also have 120fps, I really hope that gets added in some form as part of the 4K upgrade.

At this point I'm really just holding off until the rumored NLE plugins come out (next month?). As an FCPX user, the only current import option is so clunky that most people are just shooting AVCHD in the interim.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 02:57 AM   #3
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

You can use sony Catalyst Browse ( free but only one clip at a time)) or Catalyst Prepare (expensive) to encode XAVC to Pro Res then import. I'm doing that into PP CS6 which otherwise won't accept the files
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Old November 13th, 2014, 03:20 AM   #4
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

XLR connections can be had for $800 with the Sony XLR-K1M Adapter. The kit does not include the handle to mount it onto the camera, so you're on your own to figure out that part.

Sony XLR-K1M Adapter and Microphone Kit XLR-K1M B&H Photo Video

Had the AX100 for a few months now. I don't have the X70, haven't even seen one, but do follow the threads on here, and spec for spec, for what I want to use the camera for, the AX100 seems the better deal. It has 4K, is better than the XF305 in low light, has built-in ND filters, has Lanc remote, has Wi-Fi remote, has some good manual controls, has 120fps and night shot mode, HDMI out (no output during 4K record though), is rather compact, decent quality build and balanced to shoot with. Not perfect, but really a good value at $2000. The 4K, when downscaled to standard definition, definitely looks better than footage shot in HD mode. While doing yet another low-light test, I shot in 4K and full HD modes and this is when I noticed what others have reported, more detail in the downscaled 4K footage. The 30P will not work for action stuff; fast pans, etc. I shoot 75% in 120fps mode and the other is mostly 4K. I expect we will see more 4K models come out over the next 6 months, so maybe if none of the current crop fit your needs, try to hold off until the next batch is served up. Personally, I don't care to wait for the promised upgrades. I buy now the camera that has what I want in it. Got lots of 4K footage now which I wouldn't if I had gotten the x70 instead. That being said, I am curious to see a comparison of AX100 60Mbps 4K downsampled to SD (DVD) and the same scene shot with the X70 doing the best it can, and then downscaled to SD MPEG-2 also. Will they be about same? Will one only notice a difference when post editing is performed, such as color correction and NeatVideo applied? This kind of testing would be nice to see.

I really like the FDR-AX100. I prefer Canon's way of doing things, but hey, I don't mind to say Sony did good on this one and hope they keep it coming. Competition in the high speed area is needed.

Mark
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Old November 13th, 2014, 06:43 AM   #5
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Griffiths View Post
You can use sony Catalyst Browse ( free but only one clip at a time)) or Catalyst Prepare (expensive) to encode XAVC to Pro Res then import. I'm doing that into PP CS6 which otherwise won't accept the files
Mike - I've tried Catalyst Browse using some of the X70 clips available for download. I found it very slow, and it would not even play some of the clips, much less convert them. I didn't find it acceptable at all.

Mark - I agree the AX100 is a great camera, just a different focus than the X70. The X70 has the better codec for grading and the XLRs but gives up the 4K. If there was not the promise of the 4K upgrade I would not even consider the X70 however. I also agree that since the AX100's 4K is now one year old, I would not buy a Sony 4K camera right now but would wait to see what is announced after the first of the year.

I was also glad to see you say that the AX100 has better low light than the Canon XF305 - I have the XF100 and that's one of the things I'm hoping for in this upgrade - better low light, longer zoom, sharper, NDs, touchscreen manual focus, a little bit shallower depth of field, etc. - and the Sony cameras hit those marks.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 07:51 AM   #6
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

JVC has just announced three new 4K cameras that might be good alternatives to the AF100/X70:

JVC Launches Three 4K Handheld Cameras

Will their video be easier to edit?
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Old November 13th, 2014, 08:24 AM   #7
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

Those do look interesting, although I'm not really very familiar with JVC.

The HM200 has very similar specs to the AX100 with the XLR module added on, or what the X70 will be like once 4K is added. B&H lists the price at $3000, but that's list and it will probably drop a bit later. And I do like the 4K at 150mps in 24 and 30p. It does have 4:2:2 but I think only in 1080 and since it doesn't say 10-bit I assume it's 8-bit. I like the 1.2 --> 3.5 lens, if the quality is good, and it also seems to have genlock/timecode (not that I need that.)

I haven't seen anything on how soon these will be available though, and for me the main drawback is the 1/2 inch sensor. With the 1 inch sensor in the Sonys I'm not sure I'm willing to settle for less. If I was going to consider 1/2 inch sensors I'd look strongly at the Panasonic X1000 - for only $3500 you get 4K @ 60p, 20x optical zoom, and three physical lens rings.

But, we'll see. And yes, all of these have a more universally compatible recording format. But, I think Sony will have plugins for FCPX, Avid, and Vegas very soon (without buying $200 software) so I don't think it will really be a concern for long.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 08:37 AM   #8
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

Yeah, there's suddenly more choices for a low budget 4K camera.
The JVCs should be available in February.

If you need a true broadcast codec, the X70 is tough to beat. I'm not sure if an MOV file is "broadcast friendly."
Both the Sony and JVC have SDI out.
The Sony has a bigger chip, unless you consider the LS300 with its S35 sensor, but it's a bit more costly. Still, cheap for an S35 4K cam.
The Panny does have the best lens controls. It might have the weakest codec.

Good choices all around.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 09:24 PM   #9
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

I have the fx100 and am pleased with it. I also have a breakaway XLR box that can mount underneath using the tripod screw....and then it has another threaded mount on its bottom. I only rarely use the XLR inputs so why carry more bulk than you have to?
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Old November 13th, 2014, 09:43 PM   #10
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

"I have the fx100 and am pleased with it. I also have a breakaway XLR box that can mount underneath using the tripod screw....and then it has another threaded mount on its bottom. I only rarely use the XLR inputs so why carry more bulk than you have to?"

I agree completely, and that's one of the many reasons I'm drawn to the X70 - the XLR handle is removable.
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Old November 13th, 2014, 11:05 PM   #11
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

The 4:2:2 and 10 bit color on the x70 are a strong plus. Will the high bitrate codec make the network types happy?

Might result in some decent "b" camera work.

It would really help if Sony would release the specs on the 4k as well.



jm
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Old November 18th, 2014, 03:16 AM   #12
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

[QUOTE=David Dixon;1867636]Mike - I've tried Catalyst Browse using some of the X70 clips available for download. I found it very slow, and it would not even play some of the clips, much less convert them. I didn't find it acceptable at all.

I agree Browse is tedious but I was able to convert. Prepare is very different and I got a trial copy to test first, that may be a way forward ( I was also lucky to get a discount!)
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Old November 18th, 2014, 08:03 AM   #13
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

I have both.

Without a long winded comparison:


.AX-100. Easy intuitive menu. Only one PROFILE. Great picture

.PXW X70. Multiple profiles which are adjustable. Great feature. XlR and handle. Bulky in the right handheld areas and multiple assign buttons in the right place. XAVC codec rocks. However, the White Balnce procedure requires a stupid menu procedure which is convoluted. The auto WB is OK.


Conclusion. AX70. Beautiful video XAVC. Adjustable profiles.

AX100. 4k. Will need the proper viewing monitor. AVCHD look good but not a good as the XAVC.

Bottom line: Hard to tell the difference if both set to cinematone. If, not the 70 is a better Pro choice
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Old November 18th, 2014, 02:24 PM   #14
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

I don't know what I was doing earlier, but after reading Mike Griffiths's post I tried Catalyst Browse again. When I opened Catalyst it prompted me to install an update. I did that. The software works perfectly for me now. I don't know if it was the update or what, but all clips play well and the transcode to ProRes (one clip at a time) is quite fast. I never do anything on a real deadline so it's just not a problem until there is a plugin for FCPX.

The files I was using were downloaded here but I don't remember who posted them. They show a street with parked cars, some rolling shutter and active zoom tests, and runs through a comparison of all the PP settings including an edited PP2. Christopher Young maybe???

Anyway, one nice side benefit - my wife saw some of the clips as I was checking them out in Catalyst Browse. She said those looked better than my current camera (Canon XF100) and that if these were from "that new camera" I was thinking of buying, I should definitely get it.

OK, if you insist.

Last edited by David Dixon; November 18th, 2014 at 04:33 PM.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 05:47 PM   #15
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Re: Impressions. x70 and ax-100

Thanks everyone. the X70 seems like the better choice. More likely to at least be considered for pro b cam work. All in it looks like its going to be an extra 1000 bucks (with 4k) but not having to buy and then lug around an xlr adaptor is worth a fair amount. Seems like a lot of camera for 3k.

Now if I could just edit the footage. :)

jm
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