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Old December 17th, 2014, 10:43 PM   #1
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Uncertain of the Sony X70

Hi everyone. I'll try to be brief. I shoot plays and dance shows, so they often have varying and fast-changing lighting schemes. I've used the Z1U for years and I just want something that's better in low light with way less grain and accurate colors. Something that the parents and teachers will be happy with when I finish shooting. More than one person at B&H suggested this camera, so I'm interested. But doing my research, couple of things.
Do I need XAVC to shoot these shows? Seems like people are still having some probs with it here and there. I have Premiere CC, but I mostly use CS6 just because I'm way faster with it and I just want to cut these shows fast, maybe tweak the color and sound a bit and get it on a dvd. Would the AVCHD be easier on the editing software? I know it's a little blasphemous to suggest shooting a lower format when such a powerful format is available to me, but I just want the shows to look good, nothing super cinematic.

Also, are the auto white balance and especially auto focus solid on the camera? I still do manual iris, gain, pretty much everything else, but when I shoot with two cams, one is set to manual focus and auto white balance and gets the whole stage while the second I'm zooming in for close ups, etc.. I need to have it be auto focus because I just can't keep up with everything onstage and I'm often seeing the performance for the first time.
Any info would be greatly appreciated. thanks very much.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 04:07 AM   #2
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

I too video dance and stage events. I recently bought two AX100's, but also use NX5 and MC50 and cx550 cameras. I always shoot in AVCHD. There is really no advantage in shooting at a higher codec in my opinion it just takes up more space on your memory card and computer. No one has ever complained about the quality of my DVDs.
The great advantage of the AX100 is the focus peaking, so with the full stage camera I set it up in manual focus and pre-focus on something mid-stage. Generally at a wide angle this means that everything will be sharp. With the camera I am behind I zoom in and pre-focus and then keep an eye on focus whilst shooting. I rarely have to adjust it once set. Pre-focusing means that when the lights black out there is not de-focusing and then hunting when the lights come back on.
Depending on the lighting I will set white balance to tungsten lights, but this is getting more difficult as LED lights become more common. These have a different colour temperature to tungstens. My solution is to set the K temperature to around 4400 as being somewhere in between tungsten and daylight. If you leave the cameras set to auto then there is a danger that the cameras will change independently of each other and thus throw off the colour matching.
Generally I leave the static camera on auto exposure but knock the EV setting down to -1.0 or so.

Hope this helps.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 04:27 AM   #3
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

Yes, this new led lights have become a real problem getting the whitebalance right, I have had performance that never where a issue up until they decided to hire a light technician that uses these fancy colored led's. I might try your +/- 4400kelvin solution next time I"m at the rehearsals because getting a good whitebalance has been quite problematic.

There is a difference between XAVC and avchd but that mainly depends if you shoot something that stresses the codec, like fast motion and a lot of fine detail, then the XAVC codec won't break up so easily but for most circumstances avchd will do just fine.

I use a ax100 for a wide static shot only so I have a safety which I can also use to reframe and crop if necessary and use cx730 to follow the action more closeup. I find 4K for shooting performances invaluable, shallow dof is not important then and you just want front to back sharpness, so you can use the 4K one and zoom in and reframe in post to have a backup for anything you missed with your manned camera trying to follow the action up close and it will cut in just fine with your 1080p camera.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 07:34 AM   #4
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

I also use NX5U for stage shows with NX30U, AX1 and CX700 or XR500. All but the NX5U are automatic with spot focus on the stage once for the whole show and WB set at indoor preset. Having focus on auto is a problem as it will hunt everytime the lights go up and down. Exposure is set with AE shift at -0.7 ev on most of them with shutter set at 1/60. My wife uses the NX30 and will spot focus as she moves around for closeups and thus sometimes adjusts the AE shift depending on the zebras she sees. If the NX5U had AE shift on a dial like the others I would use that rather than full manual. I have spotlight and AE shift set to 2 of the buttons so that I can always go quickly to auto if things get a little too wild with lights !!! With high school dance shows run by the boys the ranges are great between dances so very difficult to track in manual but no problem for auto AE shift and/or spotlight control.

Last week I tried a demo X70 . Nice camera but not as light sensitive as one might expect maybe the lens is the handicap. An unscientific comparison in my living room with much the same framing gave the following level comparisons. NX5U F1.7 9db, X70 F2.8 24db, NX30U F2.0 18db, FDR-AX1 F1.7 24db. I think the NX30 is just a little bit more sensitive than the X70 though there is nothing in it really. Controls are very nice has all the manual controls as well as the consumer convenience controls like touch focus and AE shift on the dial.

Ron Evans
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Old December 18th, 2014, 08:11 AM   #5
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

I expect the ax100 to have the same low light performance then the x70 and that the nx30 is the same as my cx730 and I can concur that the ax100 is a tad less sensitive and more noisy at the highest iso levels then my cx730 though resolves way more detail. So that's in line with what Ron saw when comparing the x70 eventhough that one is currently still 1080p only.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 08:38 PM   #6
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

To add to Noa's comments. 9db is about the limit for me to use the NX5U without having to cleanup noise with Neat filter in post. Detail in the images was best with the AX1 with X70 next. Likely since both originate with a 4K image !!! The cleanest image ( from video noise ) was the NX30U. I have found that after 18 db the image tends to soften likely due to noise reduction so having gain go to 30db is questionable !!! Of interest is the 1/3 HD cameras have low light performance around 1.7 lux with the new 4K cameras like the AX100 ( X70 ) FDR-AX1 and the new Panasonic HC-X1000 being 4lux. If you always operate in good light it will not be a problem the issue comes in lower light environments where gain over 18db will start to soften the image. Not a problem for direct conversion from 4K to HD but will reduce the amount of cropping that is viable.

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Old December 19th, 2014, 02:02 AM   #7
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

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Originally Posted by Nick Karner View Post
Any info would be greatly appreciated. thanks very much.
Know where you are coming from. Here are a couple of examples straight from X70 camera files. Shot in 1080i as the end product is DVD. These were rendered out as progressive, and show some quality loss downside of going from interlace to progressive. Rendered out at a pretty lowly 4000kbps for bandwidth considerations. These were shot using my modified PP4 but with the Black level brought back to '0' istead of +4. The most important settings are the manual Knee and Slope settings to handle highlights plus the Black Gamma changes that I've outlined in other previous X70 posts.

These two samples were shot full manual. That's focus, iris and gain. One example is with 6dB of gain and the other 12dB both with varied lighting as you will see. With white balances we always all do a manual white balance prior to show start. We ask the lighting guys to give us the primary white light that they will be using throughout the show be it 3200 or 5600K. We balance on that and that's it. If the show goes warm or cool in its lighting then at least all cameras follow the same way.

For these types of concert shows we see no advantage whatsoever in shooting XAVC. Let's face it DVD is at max around 9000kbps if it's under about 75 mins and it's 4:2:0 color space and on that basis I find the 24-mbit AVCHD codec more than ample for these jobs. The clients are very happy with the DVDs so I'm happy.

If you are leaving an X70 locked wide with no operator I suggest manual focus and set your max dB depending on what you think you need. For most concerts I find 9dB is about best to start at. For the auto iris set the AE override to -0.7 or even -1.

If you feel you have to focus occasionally I use the 'Spot Focus' function. Used by just tapping on the screen where you want the focus point to be seems to work the quickest in theses concert situations. Just leave the Spot Focus function active don't 'menu' back out of it. You can then tap anytime to focus.

Not saying these suggestions will work for you but I think they will give you a pretty solid starting point.

X70 Dance average light levels 6db. All manual focus, iris and gain. (100MB)
https://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/6z5hrm

X70 Dance very mixed light levels 12dB. All manual focus, iris and gain. (100MB)
https://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/v5u5us

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney
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Old December 19th, 2014, 07:32 AM   #8
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

When you say full manual I hope you also set the shutter speed otherwise the camera was in auto riding the shutter speed. For the theatre shows I do I also set AE shift at -.7 or so and use spot focus and leave the screen up. I have shutter set at 1/60 with WB set at indoor preset on all of the cameras. With mix of LED and tungsten lighting these days setting white balance at any point is not going to give an impression of the show for me anyway. Making sure the cameras do not change is more important and I find using the stock Sony preset is more convenient. If a particular scene looks off I just WB that clip in editing something that would need to be done whatever the WB was set at initially anyway.

Ron Evans

Last edited by Ron Evans; December 19th, 2014 at 08:27 AM.
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Old December 19th, 2014, 08:14 AM   #9
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

I just got my X70 and just shot 3 school music events (one play and two concerts) that my kids were in. been shooting AVCHD, 1080P 60.

The play I shot with both the X70 and a Canon XA20. I had actually bought the XA20 first and then had qualms about its controls etc. so I bought the X70 to compare. The XA20 went back.

I have already edited the play and I have to say I see no difference in quality between the two cameras....the Sony is much better as far as controls etc. and a list if other things that the Canon did not have. I did like Canon;s lens better -- wider wide shot.....1.8 iris.......But overall the Sony wins.

At the play, the lighting was all LED and I had no issues with color rendition or rolling as I had with an EX3 last year.

I DID have an issue with one scene while shooting the X70......it was an all blue wash, low light......I didn't have AGC on and was shooting full auto and it just gained full up and blew the scene out. So in the edit I used footage from my $200 Sony Handicam that I had set as my wide shot. LOL

Otherwise I was very pleased with the footage and performance from the X70!

The next two events (concerts) I knew better. I set the AGC at 18db for the second event and then shot with the manual gain for the third event as I got more comfortable with the camera. I haven't looked at the footage from day 3 yet. But in the viewfinder it looked awesome.

For both of the concerts I set white balance to the white surround on the stage behind the orchestra and colors look great.

So far I think the X70 was an awesome choice for me.......great professional features and workflow that I am used to and a great price. The potential for upgrading to 4K appealed to me too, though I may never need it. I think it makes the camera more "future proof" to some degree,
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Old December 19th, 2014, 09:04 AM   #10
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

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Originally Posted by John Hume View Post
I too video dance and stage events. I recently bought two AX100's, but also use NX5 and MC50 and cx550 cameras. Hope this helps.
Not wanting to hijack this thread , but I'm curious as to how well the CX550s interchange with the NX5, and then the AX100.

Do the 550s match up in color pretty easy to the NX5?
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Old December 19th, 2014, 09:41 AM   #11
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

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When you say full manual I hope you also set the shutter speed otherwise the camera was in auto riding the shutter speed.
Yes Ron sorry. Should have mentioned it. You are dead right though in our case the shutter is set to 1/50th.

Re the white balance we find find having some people on stage with just whatever white light is going to be used works for us as a white balance. Under just the white light we check for good skin tones and then we are happy. During the show they can chuck as much of that horrible blue, red and pinky purple light as they like and the white balance becomes immaterial but the moment any performers appear in any white light their skin tones are correct.

Chris Young
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Old December 21st, 2014, 03:47 AM   #12
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle Root View Post
Not wanting to hijack this thread , but I'm curious as to how well the CX550s interchange with the NX5, and then the AX100.

Do the 550s match up in color pretty easy to the NX5?
I find that the MC50 and CX550 match up completely (they use the same sensor) and they seem to match the AX100 pretty well (however it once again depends on the lighting. The MC50 and CX550 have no facility for dialling in a specific K setting, so a mix of LEDs and tungsten is a nightmare). The NX5 matches up except for some red/orange tones, this could probably be solved in the camera profiles by tweaking the red settings, but I only tend to use this camera if I know that I will need the extra zoom. Being a one man band its difficult enough to cart around 3 or 4 tripods let alone an extra bag for the NX5.
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Old December 21st, 2014, 03:50 AM   #13
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Re: Uncertain of the Sony X70

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Zavetsky View Post
I just got my X70 and just shot 3 school music events (one play and two concerts) that my kids were in. been shooting AVCHD, 1080P 60.

The play I shot with both the X70 and a Canon XA20. I had actually bought the XA20 first and then had qualms about its controls etc. so I bought the X70 to compare. The XA20 went back.

I have already edited the play and I have to say I see no difference in quality between the two cameras....the Sony is much better as far as controls etc. and a list if other things that the Canon did not have. I did like Canon;s lens better -- wider wide shot.....1.8 iris.......But overall the Sony wins.

At the play, the lighting was all LED and I had no issues with color rendition or rolling as I had with an EX3 last year.

I DID have an issue with one scene while shooting the X70......it was an all blue wash, low light......I didn't have AGC on and was shooting full auto and it just gained full up and blew the scene out. So in the edit I used footage from my $200 Sony Handicam that I had set as my wide shot. LOL

Otherwise I was very pleased with the footage and performance from the X70!

The next two events (concerts) I knew better. I set the AGC at 18db for the second event and then shot with the manual gain for the third event as I got more comfortable with the camera. I haven't looked at the footage from day 3 yet. But in the viewfinder it looked awesome.

For both of the concerts I set white balance to the white surround on the stage behind the orchestra and colors look great.

So far I think the X70 was an awesome choice for me.......great professional features and workflow that I am used to and a great price. The potential for upgrading to 4K appealed to me too, though I may never need it. I think it makes the camera more "future proof" to some degree,
I know what you mean about the blue wash. It always used to be the case with DV tape that cameras didn't like reds, it now seems to have gone the other way and especially with LEDs it is the blues that really wash out and look awful.
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