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Old November 20th, 2017, 09:52 AM   #1
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Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

I am looking into buying one of these is there a picture quality difference between these 2 cameras? Or is it just differences in the features? Mainly low light questions I do weddings.
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Old November 21st, 2017, 12:45 AM   #2
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Short answer: The AX100 has better low-light performance.

Extended version: IQ-wise, the two cameras are very much alike. The advantage of the AX100 over the AX53 is its larger 1.0 inch-type sensor. It's not literally 1.0 inches, but that's the "class" it's in. The AX100 has good manual controls for controlling exposure via independently adjustable iris, gain and shutter speed. On the AX53, these functions are mostly automated. You can get around some of the automated exposure limitations by going into the menu and setting a maximum gain level in dB, and then choose either shutter speed or iris to be controlled manually. On the AX53, you only get to manually adjust one of the three exposure controls at a time. Once you choose to manually adjust the shutter speed, the iris and gain will become fully automatic. It's not a huge problem for me, but definitely not as good as the AX100 in that regard. On the AX100, you can either do all three manually at the same time or any combination of manual/auto.

The AX100 is best used on a tripod. Image stabilization is a little weak, was weak when the camera was released and is falling further behind each gen of new cameras. 4K image is good. You can choose 60Mbps or 100Mbps bit rate. I did testing of the two and saw very little difference (no difference for all practical purposes) but I do not own a 4K monitor so maybe that's why I see no difference. What I did was buy 256GB U3 cards and I shoot in 100Mbps mode by default, going down to 60Mbps only when I'm running low on blank cards.

If you are not going to put the camera on a tripod, or for the parts of the ceremony where a tripod is not going to work, you can do a decent job of steadying the AX100 by attaching something like a Peak Design adjustable neck strap to the hand grip d-ring and the tripod attachment point on the bottom of the camera and open the LCD and hold the camera out from you, with the neck strap tight. This technique has worked for me, but took some practice to become fluid in my movements.

The hot shoe on these cameras is not too good for attaching heavy lights and such. I bought an accessory that works on both my AX100 and AX53 and it allows me to attach heavier or bulkier accessories without fear of ripping the hot shoe out by the roots. I don't remember what the thing is called but it attaches via the hole for the tripod and has a cold shoe suspended over the top of the camera.

The strong points of the AX53 are that it has the most awesome image stabilizer ever made. They call it the BOSS, balanced optical steady shot. Works great. This camera can then be handheld with near tripod quality shots. You still need to work on smooth panning and on correct body posturing to provide the steadiest support of the camera, but it's truly amazing what the BOSS can achieve. I personally have found that by keeping the camera in a sort of slow panning motion will cover up any shakiness and will mimic a tripod pan very well. If you need to film while walking, the BOSS will do very well to keep your image from going all jittery. Another plus for this camera is that in 120p high frame rate mode, the resolution is full HD, while the AX100 is only 1280x720. Not a huge deal in my book, but the difference is there and it's noticeable to me. The AX53 also has the longer reach lens of 20X vs the 12X of the AX100. If shooting in 4K, inside a church, I think the 12X might be good enough, especially if you are going to deliver in HD or SD quality. That would allow you to crop in on that 4K and gives the effect of additional zoom capability.

I have enjoyed my AX100 very much and it is currently my main go-to camera for tripod work. I do not use it handheld anymore as that neck strap technique works but also tends to wear me out faster, having to concentrate so hard on making smooth movements and keeping the tension on the neck strap. I think the AX100 beats the AX53 in low light just by the sensor size. I have both cameras sitting here next to me and have not even bothered to do a low light comparison, but that might help someone like yourself so maybe I will do that when I get a chance. I know my AX100 beat my Canon XF305 and I also know the AX53 performs more like my GoPro Hero 6 and my Sony FDR-X3000 when it comes to low light. That's to say, the AX53 acts like a small sensor camera and does not do great in low light.

About that cold shoe accy...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search/BI/2855/KBID/3801
... and a pic of it in use.



Mark
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Old November 21st, 2017, 03:41 AM   #3
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Just an observation, as stated elsewhere on this forum, the HD on the AX53 is much better than the AX100 HD - the in camera down conversion is way better - however the AX100 wins in UHD over the 53.

Personally I think the AX53 is much cleaner and therefore has a wider acceptable gain range.

The sensitivity of the AX100 touch screen is very poor - the AX53 has real time code and user bits, auto focus on the AX100 is lousy at best, the AX53 is difficult to control as almost all is "auto" much better manual settings on the 100.

Right now I would buy the new AX700 which has a much newer chip, better noise figures, better viewfinder and TCode Ubits - also much improved auto focus - and a LANC connection! or the Z90 if you have the money.

I own two 53's and an AX100 - and these are just my opinions.

Paul :-)
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Old November 21st, 2017, 08:11 AM   #4
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

I own an AX100 and I can definitely see a difference in between the bit rates in certain situations.

When shooting moving water -- something I quite a bit -- 100Mbps definitely looks better. I noticed the difference in close ups of ocean waves at the beach. 60Mbps resulted in a poor shot that I can best describe as highly pixelated. When I shoot equivalent scenes in 100Mbps the waves are much better. I'm not pro regarding these things, but I assume the lower bit rate just can't handle the massive amounts of movement across the entire shot. (I shoot exclusively in 4K and view on 4K monitors and TVs so it may not be an issue in HD.)

I agree with Paul that auto focus on the AX100 isn't great, but it depends on your situation. I just go to manual focusing when necessary.

The AX100 has LANC capabilities. I have one, but I find myself using the remote instead almost all the time.

And I hate the placement of the focus assist button! Looks like from photos that the AX700 has it in a much more useful spot. For that and all the reasons he mentioned, I would definitely go for the AX700. If it has HDMI out while shooting so an external monitor can be used, I may trade up.
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Old November 21st, 2017, 09:01 AM   #5
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Thanks very much for the input it was very helpful. I think the thing that sticks the most for me is the independent controls over iris shutter etc. I cant afford to have the camera go rogue with shutter or gain. I need to be able to lock the shutter on a 1/60 even if I am manually adjusting the gain. I assume I cant do that with the 55 if I am reading your post correct.
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Old November 21st, 2017, 11:40 AM   #6
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

I set the shutter on my AX53 to match the other cameras I am using and also set a gain limit. In my case indoors it usually 1/60 and limit of 18db. AX53is clean at 18db. I then set exposure using AE shift which will keep shutter speed as set and control gain / iris to meet the brightness I have selected ( using zebras ). If you use the manual exposure control you will have no control of any of them and you will still be setting image by brightness as camera selects what it uses for gain, shutter and iris in this mode. However in this mode it will not change if lighting changes and will need to be adjusted all the time. AE shift avoids this but can get it wrong of course. Most of the time its fine for my use though as a full stage fixed camera. So for me the closest to full manual control is to set shutter speed and a low gain limit. The camera will then use just gain and iris. The AX100 is definitely better in this regard as it is full manual. However I still use it the same way as the AX53 as my wife uses it and it is by far the easiest way of her getting exposure with changing conditions. Zebra on white stuff no zebras on faces works great for her just rotate the control wheel !!!
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 04:58 AM   #7
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

I did a low light test between the cameras. With both at 1/60th and full wide on the lens, the AX53 needs 6dB more gain to match up to the AX100. At full wide, the AX53 is at f/2 while the AX100 is at f/2.8. If I decrease gain on the AX100 by 6dB, the two cameras match up as far as exposure goes, but the AX100 looks better. There is slightly more blockiness and less detail in the AX53 clip. I shot test clips in both HD and 4K. I have not evaluated the HD clips yet, so all of the above pertains to 4K mode. I only shoot in HD if I'm going to shoot 120p.

I will take a look at the HD clips and report back. Maybe there's some special mojo there but the AX100 has more effective pixels than the AX53 and the sensor technology is probably identical, just one is bigger than the other.

Note that the gain will max out on the AX53 at a lower setting than if you're in Low Lux mode, which lets the camera go up higher. The highest value I saw in Low Lux was 39dB, (and it was not pretty).

Mark
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 05:25 AM   #8
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Mark bought two the other day then just sold them, my iphone 7 plus better footage than ax53, they where useless.
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 12:23 PM   #9
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Finished the HD low light test and the results are the same as the 4K test. The AX100 is 6dB more sensitive than the AX53, with both lenses at max. wide open and the AX53 iris at f/2 and the AX100 at f/2.8, which is the best both cameras can do. The grain on the AX100 is finer. The AX53 is not a low-light camera in my opinion, but the AX100 is decent. I won't say it can "see in the dark" but for a wedding event inside a church, I think it's fine.
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 12:40 PM   #10
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bleasdale View Post
Mark bought two the other day then just sold them, my iphone 7 plus better footage than ax53, they where useless.
Well that's a bummer. I have not returned any camera gear yet except a small tripod accessory that was not compatible with my fluid head. I'm wondering if the problem was just some setting that needed to be changed on those new cams of yours.

The AX53 exceeded my expectations to the extent that I bought a second one shortly after the first. When shooting motor sports with an assistant, I set us each up with an AX100 on a tripod and an AX53 for handheld use. The FS7 will get pressed into service once I'm satisfied with the quality and quantity of footage from the event on the little Sony cams. They are great for my purposes.
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 01:50 PM   #11
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

No problem Mark in broad daylight but hit a little low light and they are unusable terrible noise
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 02:41 PM   #12
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Re: Sony FDR-AX53 vs 100

The AX53 sensor is a little bigger than 1/4 the size of the 1" sensor in the AX100 and if the pixel sizes were the same would have proportionally less low light performance. I too have both and shoot mainly in the theatre with theatre lights that can sometimes ( most of the time !!) have high contrast and low light. For me it works fine. I have gain o limit at 18db ( no noise that bothers me certainly less than the NX5U at 6db ) AE shift usually -0.5 because I want the scene to look real if it was dark rather than seeing in the dark which would be different to the intent of the show. The AX53 for my shoots is as sharp as the AX100 and sharper than my aging NX5U. None of them will match my GH5 for instance.
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