Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses at DVinfo.net

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Old July 21st, 2015, 03:12 PM   #1
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Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Pretty much as the title says. Used as primary cam for on-the-go travel footage. I waffled between which cam to order before the trip, so by the time I decided, I only had a week to fiddle with the cam. More would have been better. Did not have the 4k update. Shot everything in highest 1080p resolution (not 4k).

Reflections:

Size/Compactness - Great. You can't get too small for a travel cam. My day pack was the cam bag and it worked great. Just pull the cam out when needed. Kept everything clandestine. To shoot 10 bit with a small outfit is nice.

Lens Hood - Sure it's cheap, and we'd all like a closeable door, but the upside is it keeps the camera short as possible. Worked as needed to reduce glare. I never used the lens cap. Just stored the camcorder nose-down in my backpack when not in use. Also the camera doesn't look 'too' expensive with the Sony shade installed. A lot of times when shooting video of locals where good audio wasn't required, I'd shoot w/o the lens shade which made for a pretty basic, almost super 8 -ish look that didn't draw too many stares. (I mean, I'm a foreigner so I get starred at all the time anyway!). But in summary, the lens shade wasn't an issue and there's enough room to keep the lens protected.

Buttons/Hand holding - Getting a new cam is like getting a new car, ya have to get used to where the new switches and dials are. Eventually I got used to the button placement EXCEPT the manual focus button which is hidden when the LCD is open and really hard to find for sure. I probably should have changed it to one of the assignable buttons, but never did. The roller dial in front, which is nice and smooth in action, is really tough to get placement on sometimes. The cam is pretty light, nice hand strap, comfortable feel in the hand. Really missed an easy way to change the mini-mic volume. There should be a limiter for the audio too to prevent audio blow-out.

LCD - To me, Sony really missed an opportunity to make this cam a whole lot more user-friendly by not allowing a touch menu system. I can use both kinds of menus (touch/Joystick), but they could take a page from the Canon XA** series cams and incorporate more touch menu items. It would make using the cam a whole lot easier and add extra features that you presently have to needlessly dig through the menus to make adjustments. But the brightness of the LCD wasn't usually an issue and used the viewfinder when it was.

Usability - What I truely appreciated is the quick start-up time of this cam .... and the feature that once you flip open the lcd, the camera is basically 'on'. It's just a couple seconds to start shooting, if even that. That's important when stuff happens spontaneously and you need to 'bam', capture the action. That was the whole reason for choosing the X70 over using a DSLR. One of the more disappointing and frustrating issues to me was the whole way reviewing and deleting shots. Its sort of retarded how it's done. If you are trying to comb through a 128G card at the end of the day to eliminate unnecessry shots, it's a real chore to do it. The tagging or information on the shots if you review them is not shown in the multi-shot-delete menu. In fact its a whole nuther menu you have to go into to delete multiple shots. So, if you used the regular 'scene review' to review and evaluate shots, when you go to the delete scenes menu to delete multiple scenes ....you have no shared info in which to determine which shots to delete other than to re-play each scene and dedice if you want to delete. This was a major pain so much so, that it pretty much makes it worth it to just buy an extra card or two and forget about deleting shots all-together.

Another major issue I ran into is this: The cam tops out at 600 files and will read 'card full' even if you know on file 599 that there were 100 minutes left!And 600 files is pretty easy to achieve with a 128G card if you do a lot 10 second shots. Furthermore, what I recall happened to me is that it wouldn't relay record to the "B" card until I removed the 'full' that had the 600 files. At the time, I didn't know if there was a card issue, camcorder issue, or what, because I knew for a fact there was plenty of 'munites' left of the card before it went to 'full'. But I happened to see it stated in very small print in the manual that night. Due to the # of files issue, I wasnt able to get nearly the amount of shots per card that I was hoping. It caused me to underestimate the number of cards I took and I was not able to find anything larger than a 32G SDXC in major camera stores in several Chinese cities and those cards were like $80-$90 each. Fortunately we had some spare 64G DSLR cards, and between those and my changed shooting practices we made it work ...but not w/o some sweat. In addition, using 128G cards really makes the process of reviewing files slow and laborious as it takes a long time to load the thumbnails when the card gets closer to full. It's probably just better to use a bunch of 64G cards.

Battery life - I was actually impressed with the efficiency of the camcorder and it used less battery life than I had anticipated, even with about 90% LCD usage. I took (2) 70-series batteries and (1) 100-series battery with me. I found that for my type of shooting, I gravitated to just using a 70-series battery and keeping a spare 70-series in the backpack and left the 100-series at the hotel. One 70-series wasn't generally enough for a whole day, but the backup (spare) 70-series battery never ran out. But again, I wasn't doing long, continuous shooting either.

Results - Picture quality seems fantastic, and the active steady shot worked really well. I needed to warm up the outdoor white balance a little for my tastes and that feature worked nice. The large sensor allowed for some nice DOF shots. Low light was good. Focus for the most part heald steady, but I put it in maual when I knew I as into a situation where it might hunt. The interval recording (S&Q) worked great and I got some nice sped up time lapse video that doesn't chew up card space. I haven't gotten footage into the PC yet, but looks good on the monitor. Audio is good too.

Overall - Nice cam. Great to have so much technology in a compact package. Worked great for my needs. If you could blend this cam with some of the features of a Canon XA** series cam, you'd have an even greater package.

EXTRA:
Tripod: I spent a good deal of time and read about and looked at everything I could get my eyes on. I needed a tripod that was small and compact to carry. Hiking up litterally thousands of steps in hot, humid and sticky weather when you are dripping wet with your own sweat ....it's incentive to carry light gear. The legs needed to go down quick and it needed to have a quick release mount. I ended up settling on the Silk Video Sprint II. I think it comes in at about 3 lbs. It supports the x70 nicely. The head isn't strickly a 'fluid' head, but it's action is fluid enough, but might be a turn-off for pro shooters used to much sturdier legs and metal fluid heads, but would be impractical for this jouney. I think for my next tripod I'm going to find (or modify one to suit) which is about 12" long but has a better fluid head. I can usually find a wall, table other area to set up on.

Radian Time Lapse Motorized Panning Unit - These are great!
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Old July 21st, 2015, 04:03 PM   #2
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Thank you for the extensive review.

Q: can you tell us a little more about the outdoor color correction setting?
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Old July 22nd, 2015, 12:34 AM   #3
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Thanks for this interesting review, I recently went to Rangoon and would download my footage from a 64BGB card to a macbook air (light and left in the hotel) each day. 64 GB cards seem to hold all I need and I never reach 600 clips when on AVCHD
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Old July 22nd, 2015, 08:41 AM   #4
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

I too have been using 64GB cards, but I should think that one is more likely to hit 600 clips when shooting AVCHD versus XAVC given the smaller file sizes with that codec.
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Old July 22nd, 2015, 10:22 AM   #5
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Bruno View Post
Thank you for the extensive review.

Q: can you tell us a little more about the outdoor color correction setting?

In the Menu: "WB Outdoor Level" I bumped it up to +3.
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Old July 22nd, 2015, 06:32 PM   #6
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Thanks....yes....too blue as default. Thanks
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Old July 23rd, 2015, 05:38 AM   #7
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

600 XAVCHD files, all about 10 seconds in length, and a 128 GB Card is almost full???
Filming with 50 Mbps on a 128 GB Card means 340 minutes (170 minutes on a 64 GB Card).
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Old July 23rd, 2015, 12:05 PM   #8
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Quote:
600 XAVCHD files, all about 10 seconds in length, and a 128 GB Card is almost full???
What I wrote: "600 files is pretty easy to achieve with a 128G card if you do a lot 10 second shots."

I had many short shots, some just a few seconds long, like mistakes and that, but also many shots which were a couple minutes long as well.
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Old July 23rd, 2015, 05:50 PM   #9
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Bit confused on the 600 files bit... is it individual files or clips? For example, for a backup of a test project, I have 4 clips, but 36 total files (32 being all the overhead of the other files/folders). I'm assuming though the overhead is just a one-shot thing. So this should allow one to have 600 - 32 clips. Is that correct?

I have a pair of 256 GB cards that I'll be using on vacation (record mode set to simultaneous). Most times I'll be recording entire events averaging 15 minutes in length). Thus, I know that I will not get anywhere near 600 clips. But if each clip ends up being made up of several files, that could become a problem.
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Old August 7th, 2015, 06:10 AM   #10
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricky Sharp View Post
Bit confused on the 600 files bit... is it individual files or clips? For example, for a backup of a test project, I have 4 clips, but 36 total files (32 being all the overhead of the other files/folders). I'm assuming though the overhead is just a one-shot thing. So this should allow one to have 600 - 32 clips. Is that correct?

I have a pair of 256 GB cards that I'll be using on vacation (record mode set to simultaneous). Most times I'll be recording entire events averaging 15 minutes in length). Thus, I know that I will not get anywhere near 600 clips. But if each clip ends up being made up of several files, that could become a problem.
Bumping thread. Still confused as to if this is 600 actual files on the card, or 600 clips. Thanks.
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Old August 7th, 2015, 07:55 AM   #11
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

600 scenes. I recall seeing 113 minutes recording left when it suddenly showed "Card Full" on the LCD. Later than night I noticed the number of scenes was 600. Many of the scenes I shot were under 8 seconds, some even just a second or two (mistakes which I should have deleted), but there were also scenes which were a couple minutes long. Bear in mind I was using the original firmware., I'd be interested to know if that has changed with the new firmware.

Please refer to Pg. 115 of the manual (under 'Tips'):
"The maximum number of movie scenes that can be recorded is 600 in XAVC HD, 3999 in AVCHD, and 9,999 in DV."

I was using 128G cards. The Card A filled up as described above and wouldn't relay to Card B. As I recall (going off memory here), I was not able to get slot B to work until I removed the full card., which is what I ultimately did. That is the part that gave me momentary confusion and I was concerned there might be a problem with the 'full' card, or perhaps even the camera. Bear in mind, I was in a busy market at the time with lots of people swarming around, getting good shots (or trying to), so it was a confusing situation. In checking, it appeared like I had relay recording set up properly but being a new camcorder, up to that point I hadn't actually relayed between cards yet (but I am familiar with relay recording on other camcorders). I imagine the same issue might occur if one had two 64G SD cards in their camcorder and 600 short clips between them. Anyway, I'm just reporting what I experienced. If there is something I could have done different, I am open to suggestions or criticism.

I had 4x 128G cards in total, which I calculated to be enough storage based on past similar events. But in a new place with feature-rich shooting like China, it's amazing how quickly a card can get filled up. After the second card filled up faster than I had anticipated, with nearly 2hrs of unused recording time (according to the LCD), I realized I would be short on storage. The biggest issue was that even in a big city like Beijing, finding a suitable SDXC card in a camera store was extremely difficult. In smaller cities, even a greater challenge (language wasn't a problem). Most people there use smartphone cameras (which use Micro SD cards), or buy pro gear online. Even when you find a large selection of cards, I only found one or two shops which had SDXC cards, but only 16 or 32G for $50. I guess I violated my own mantra of bringing more storage than I think I'll need, because 128G cards add up in cost $$. We made due by deleting unnecessary shots on the existing cards to maximize the space available, modifying our shooting style (e.g. shooting close-ups and landscape shots together in the same clip), being more selective what we were shooting, and,utilizing other SDXC extra cards we had intended for DSLR use. But all the extra time managing the cards, looking for additional cards, and shooting less was a huge waste of time when you consider I paid about $75 ea. for premium quality Sandisk cards. Suddenly $75/card seems cheap. So, be sure to take more than you need just in case, and be aware of the number of scenes you've shot.

I have since bought the transfer cable and next time will utilize the back up to hard drive feature. I should have read the manual a little more closely initially.
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Old August 7th, 2015, 10:37 AM   #12
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Thank you for the clarification Mark! I'll have no problem with that limit since most of what I'll be shooting are longer-running events.

Was just a little concerned there since I had just purchased twin 256 GB cards!
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Old August 12th, 2015, 10:24 AM   #13
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

I tested a 128 GB Card: After 600 extremely short clips (1-2 seconds) the card was full. There was no automatic switch from card A to B (camera set to Relay Rec).

Using 128 GB cards makes no sense except for continuos Shooting. In future I will stick to 64 GB cards.
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Old August 13th, 2015, 03:04 AM   #14
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

And now I have finished another test: I did a continuous recording until card in slot A was full. There was NO AUTOMATIC switch to card in slot B. Camera was set to Relay Record.
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Old August 13th, 2015, 08:56 PM   #15
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Re: Finished a month in China with x70. Reflections on my Plusses and Minuses

Thank you for doing the test and confirming that I wasn't out of my mind. Recording 600 clips must have given you a sore thumb! Question: are you using the most recent firmware?

Quote:
Using 128 GB cards makes no sense except for continuous Shooting. In future I will stick to 64 GB cards.
Couple things here:
1) Hopefully Sony will change it in a future firmware revision. (but I have my doubts)
2) I think 128G can still work if one takes longer shots. But fundamentally, I agree with you. Taking short shots and reaching 600 clips (but leaving left over time on the card), is a waste. FWIW, I just ordered more cards and I ordered all ......64G!
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