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


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Old September 5th, 2016, 08:12 PM   #1
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Canon DSLR to AX100

Just got this AX100 for a travel cam and tripod wedding cam.

I've only had a few moments to test and going to use it at a wedding in four days. Here are some initial observations from some brief tests. Please provide any insight you have, I'm up against the clock on a short learning curve:

1. I don't like auto focusing because I rarely want the focus to be smack dab in the middle of the screen. I do a lot of wide open rule of thirds compositions.

2. Manual focus is fairly easy to do through the LCD screen and with peaking on. That's a nice change coming from the DSLR world. No loupe required.

3. Focus ring is smooth. Individual manual exposure buttons and built in ND filters are freakin awesome. You go Sony.

4. When an "E" is beside the gain on the screen, the camera increases the gain and overexposes. When an "A" is beside the Gain, the camera properly exposes. Why, I don't know. Yes, I do know A means Automatic. The example I have went from 16db down to 9db with the same iris and shutter speed values.

5. Spot meter/focus using the touch screen works very well and may end up being my favorite way of quickly setting exposure and focus.

6. Bokeh can be pronounced and looks fine. Granted, it's not like Canon 85mm f/1.8 glass, but it's respectable. Some online wedding videos shot with the AX100 look like soap operas. Not sure if they're just lazy and shooting full auto or what.

7. As some report, everything up to and including 21db is OK. The footage at 27db would need NeatVideo, but would then look fine. Content is king; therefore, get the footage when the opportunity presents itself - even if it means going to 33db.

8. Not seeing the Image Stabilization issues that are making some folks consider the AX53 over the AX100. I moved IS from Standard (where I didn't notice any issues) to Active and IS is a non issue.

9. Missing my Canon DSLR's way to check exposure by pressing shutter button halfway down to see where exposure is on the scale. This camera can overexpose and you wouldn't know it. If you're shooting manual and on 0db on the gain, be mindful.

Last edited by Mark Davidson; September 5th, 2016 at 09:29 PM.
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Old September 5th, 2016, 08:52 PM   #2
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Exposure secret: use EV @ -2 or -5. For precise exposure Set it in menu and assign to a button.
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Old September 5th, 2016, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Interesting, does anyone know if the exposure compensation setting is overridden if Spot Exposure/Focus is chosen?

Do you use spot exposure/focus or something else?
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Old September 6th, 2016, 12:23 AM   #4
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Davidson View Post
Some online wedding videos shot with the AX100 look like soap operas. Not sure if they're just lazy and shooting full auto or what.
In what way do they look like soap operas?

Quote:
5. Spot meter/focus using the touch screen works very well and may end up being my favorite way of quickly setting exposure and focus.
Watch out with spot focus and always double check with peaking and magnification, my experience is that the ax100 gets it wrong quite often.

Quote:
7. As some report, everything up to and including 21db is OK. The footage at 27db would need NeatVideo, but would then look fine. Content is king; therefore, get the footage when the opportunity presents itself - even if it means going to 33db.
The ax100 is a noisy camera at high gains, it in fact creates the most noise of any camera that I have and is also the only camera I need to use neatvideo on, especially when I"m shooting in darker churches and when I have to zoom in, neatvideo does work quite well on the footage because there is so much detail.

Quote:
8. Not seeing the Image Stabilization issues that are making some folks consider the AX53 over the AX100. I moved IS from Standard (where I didn't notice any issues) to Active and IS is a non issue.
I have a cx730 which has the same IS as the ax53 and the difference is like night and day, the cx730 stabilization is a lot better, the ax100 stabilization is ok for what it does but once you have experienced the effectiveness of a boss system every other stabilization system just doesn't match up anymore.

Quote:
9. Missing my Canon DSLR's way to check exposure by pressing shutter button halfway down to see where exposure is on the scale. This camera can overexpose and you wouldn't know it. If you're shooting manual and on 0db on the gain, be mindful.
The ax100 has zebra's, don't you use those to manage your exposure? If I control the ax100 I never have wrong exposed shots.
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Old September 6th, 2016, 05:23 AM   #5
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Great info, thanks. Concerning the soap opera look, I can't quite put my finer on it. Not sure if it's frame rate, aperture, sharpness or a combination thereof.

I dont mean to be critical, im sure his or her client was thrilled, but this one has that look in a few places:

He or she had some great ideas, worked hard, and was skillful. I'm just talking about the camcorder look in a few spots.

Last edited by Mark Davidson; September 6th, 2016 at 06:00 AM.
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Old September 6th, 2016, 06:23 AM   #6
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

The only problem I see in this film is a few shots that are over exposed and that can cause a problem with colors that seem over-saturated, that's why if you are controlling the camera to never let it handle exposure by itself and don't use the EV to compensate as that will not solve all exposure issues, like that shot at 01:19 when they zoom out from the bride standing at the window, the more window gets in the frame the more the shot gets underexposed.
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Old September 7th, 2016, 06:06 AM   #7
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Some more learning curve notes that may be of some benefit to new users:

Keep in mind, my DSLR's did not have zebras and focus peaking so I'm not used to relying on them.

I tested the camera on a tripod last night aimed at a hummingbird feeder.

The zebra and focus peaking patterns obscured so much detail in the image, it was impossible to find the hummingbird. Trying to figure out how to turn them off quickly was frustrating. That could burn an event videographer who hasn't had time to learn the camera yet.

Secondly, if you plan to rely on spot focus/exposure peaking, there are four noisy beeps that would detract from an event. You can do this quickly, but each of the four required steps has a beep: Menu, Camera-Mic, SpotMtr/Focus. Touching the area of focus

Not sure how to turn those beeps off yet.

Despite my comment on Gain above, I'm hoping to discover the sweet spot to stay below on the Gain for skin tones. For instance, I try to stay at ISO 1250 or below on crop sensor Canons.

Last edited by Mark Davidson; September 7th, 2016 at 06:49 AM.
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Old September 7th, 2016, 11:54 AM   #8
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

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Not sure how to turn those beeps off yet.
Beep setting: Main menu > Setup > General Settings (Wrench symbol) > Beep > On or Off

Id give Noa a +1 for what he said about the BOSS system: once you have experienced the effectiveness of a boss system every other stabilization system just doesn't match up anymore. For comparison, I also have a Glidecam but to set it up takes work and sometimes there is a space constraint. The AX53 fills a cam-need-requirement space where the cam is in motion very well and is a magnitude better than the AX100 in this regard. Because it is so compact (compared to the Glidecam system), no need to balance (compared to the Glidecam system), and is ready to go with the push of a button (or two), it is being used a lot in spite of not having all the controls that would be on a more pro cam. Like you said earlier, content is king so sometimes perfect cam settings have to take a back seat.

The AX53 uses a back-illuminated Exmor R sensor which is an improvement over the earlier sensor used on the AX100 so there is more bang per sensor inch. The sensor, combined with the BOSS system and its compact size, makes the AX53 a formidable cam. In a shoot like for a wedding when there is no chance for a Take 2, and every second can count, Id think this would be a good kit option.

And now there is the x3000 very interesting. Does it ever end?

Here is a link about the Exmor R sensor: “Exmor R” CMOS Sensor
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Old September 9th, 2016, 08:24 AM   #9
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

I paid more for the AX100 for it's supposed better low light capability. Hope that wasn't a mistake.

Regardless, I just watched some footage from last night's rehearsal. It looks freakin awesome on a 15" Retina MacPro even though I had to put the cam on automatic for my daughter.

Freezing the action, the image look sharper with better auto white balance than the jpg still images captured on a Canon 70D DSLR at f/2.8, ISO 3200 and 1/125th. Wow!

This has got me hyper focused on extracting stills now. I still cling to 24fps, but maybe I should rethink that and go to 30fps if it will help with stills. Will that make much difference?

I have no idea what aperture and shutter speeds the camera chose so I'm thinking of locking in a 1/120th shutter speed before handing to my daughter for this late afternoon wedding today to keep the stills sharp while hopefully not running up the gain too high. Maybe I should also lock in the widest aperture as well since those two settings will never overexpose for this event. In other words, this should guarantee mostly sharp images with minimal gain.

Last edited by Mark Davidson; September 9th, 2016 at 09:21 AM.
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Old September 15th, 2016, 10:02 PM   #10
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Glad you like your cam. Just need to spend a little more time to get to know it ..like you're doing. I still do a little DSLR shooting (very little), the results can be fantastic and maybe more artistic, but I got so much lousy video too when watched on the big screen later. If you need to do a lot of quick on/off video to get your shots, a camcorder really shines. Audio is easier for me to manage too than a DSLR (with an X70).

Low light colors and grain may be hard to beat your DSLR if you have it set up just right. Depends on how dark it is and how good the shots need to be. Probably tough to control at a wedding reception. Maybe mix together. Different tools for different jobs.
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Old September 16th, 2016, 01:53 AM   #11
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

The AX53, while a lot better than the AX33, is still outclassed by the AX100, IMO. Of course for handheld, the BOSS of the AX53 (and that new X3000!) will have its advantages.

For the age of the camera, the AX100 still holds up well. I wish they would put the updated second generation 1" class sensor from the RX100m4/RX10m2/3 in a successor, but who knows... It's still a camera that is hard to beat, and I remain unconvinced by "small sensor" 4K, though it's getting better/closer to the larger sensor sharpness.

The AX100 really shines when run in manual mode for 4K, you want to keep shutter speed down enough to introduce a bit of motion blur so you don't get stutter/shimmer from the high levels of sharpness. It shouldn't take too long to learn the various manual controls well enough to be able to get superior footage that's even better than the "auto" settings.
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Old September 19th, 2016, 01:33 AM   #12
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Re: Canon DSLR to AX100

Just now seeing the last two posts and couldn't agree more. That first wedding event is over now so I'm a bit smarter although we haven't edited any 4K footage yet.

I set my daughter up at stage right with a crop sensor canon with a 50mm prime running at f/2.2 for beauty shots. On a 1920 x 1080 monitor, her footage is much more artistic looking with creamy bokeh and richer colors out of the camera (I don't shoot with a flat picture style like I should). Curious to see how blending the DSLR with an AX100 on a 1080p timeline is going to look.

Just reviewed footage from a family birthday shot last night where I used partial manual controls (wide open iris and 1/48th shutter) and auto focus. I didn't get the bokeh I mentioned in my OP. The images are not as nice as when I used spot meter/focus and I missed some shots waiting for focus.

The built in audio is much better than a Canon DSLR. By the way, concerning the shutter speed: At the wedding we did 1/100th (on monopods) when we had decent lighting. Normally, we'd choose lower, but we wanted to test 4K stills. The still captures from the 4K stream look pretty darn good and the video motion was fine.
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