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Old September 4th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #1
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NEX-5N review

PROBLEM ALERT

HDMI:

It’s full HD and even progressive 1080p. It’s live and works well with an EVF or monitor whilst recording. That’s the good news. Unfortunately whether it is uncompressed or 4-2-2 is all academic because we never quite get as far as an external recorder with the 5N! The output is hobbled by an insistence on displaying various overlays and settings on the screen, as well as some in a wide black bar on the right, even when the Disp button is used to pair down info to a minimum.

Handling

The 5N lacks a dedicated video mode on the dial, it just has the record button. For manual control in video mode you set the camera to M. There are not many handling quirks that you can’t get around on this camera. It even has AF micro adjust. The camera has peaking built in which is useful for manual focus – highlighting the edges of objects which are in focus. Interestingly I am told the pre-production model also had zebra and a function to highlight crushed blacks but it has not made its way into the version 1.0 firmware.

COMPRESSION

Similar to an out of the box GH2 in 24p mode but in 60p mode compression is a little heavy on fast action and handheld camera work. The 5N doesn’t hold a candle to the hacked GH2 however. 44Mbit and above on the GH2 looks far less compressed – because it is.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 10:55 PM   #2
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Re: NEX-5N review

My apologies, Steve, but the source from which you got this should be taken with a grain of salt (search this site and you won't find many instances of it -- I've had so many complaints about it that I no longer allow links to it). I would greatly prefer to read *your own* review, first-hand. For one thing, it would be a hell of a lot more credible than what you're finding elsewhere on the web. Is that something you'd be interested in doing? If so, I'd like to contact you off-list.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 01:00 AM   #3
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Re: NEX-5N review

Much rather have a firsthand report from someone who knows Sony cams! I'd do it myself if the budget were there to buy a 5n! Sample footage I've seen already shows that the reviewer didn't know to stop Sonys down a bit to get best results...

These new Sonys are VERY interesting now that full manual control seems to have been implemented, and touchscreens, which can be handy... I ruled out the NEX series as I didn't want to invest in another set of lenses, but the 5n is really catching my eye. With one of the new transparent mirror adapters to A series lenses, could be an interesting image acquisition device.

Considering the size and potential to adapt many lenses, the 5n might be the best bargain of the lot...

Anyone know how the heat issues look on these new Sonys - I never heard issues with the NEX3/5, but the A33/55 definitely have heat issues when using in body active stabilization... hopng they licked those with the latest A65/A77.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 01:27 AM   #4
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Re: NEX-5N review

Steve/Chris - I read that earlier as well. Didn't fret too much for one simple fact - The VG 20 will be what, 2 or 3 times the price of the 5n? While I'm digging all the good reviews of the image the 5n (as it appears that the VG20's image will be very similar/at least as good as the VG20), I haven't looked at the functionality of the 5n for second. Apples and oranges, even if the VG20 was the same price.

Which it isn't. If the output is muddied, Sony will essentially be killing any chance for the line. The VG10 was (or so I have read - don't own the 10) clean, and I think the 20 will be clean as well.

I know some have mentioned that the VG 20 would slice into FS100 sales if it is too "professional." I doubt that. It says "handycam" on the side. Lots of shooters just won't us some thing that isn't a certain level of "pro." If a camera doesn't have all the bells and whistles, it simply won't be acceptable. Well the VG20 has no built-in ND filters. Nor XLRs, SDIs (or even full size HMDI) inputs, or a host of other "pro" features. It's tiny and not made of titanium...

But it does have a touch screen, the ability to shoot stills, a weird looking but excellent built-in mic, and even a remote control - all of which smack of that most dreaded of words, "consumer."

Point is, I think Sony knows it's market very well - this whole campaign was calculated to regain the mojo they've lost to Panny and Canon. The VG20 has the potential to be what the what the original Panny DX100 was - cheap, lots of pro features, but also lots of consumer features - a camera capable of producing an excellent, cinematic images while retaining consumer roots. A real niche camera.

Fact is, there's been almost no new news, stats or footage about the 20 since the August announcement. Until we actually have real world shooters with production line cameras, we're not going to know whether Sony has the makings of a super-hit... or a "could have been." (Fingers crossed)
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Old September 5th, 2011, 06:42 PM   #5
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Re: NEX-5N review

"Which it isn't. If the output is muddied, Sony will essentially be killing any chance for the line. The VG10 was (or so I have read - don't own the 10) clean, and I think the 20 will be clean as well."

Yes the VG10 was clean. But, the idea that recording via HDMI is needed on a Handycam is silly. Sony's 24Mbps-28Mbps AVCHD is going to be "good enough" for anyone shooting with a $1500 camera. It's good enough for the FS100 at twice the price.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 06:56 PM   #6
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Re: NEX-5N review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post

These new Sonys are VERY interesting now that full manual control seems to have been implemented, and touchscreens, which can be handy... I ruled out the NEX series as I didn't want to invest in another set of lenses, but the 5n is really catching my eye. With one of the new transparent mirror adapters to A series lenses, could be an interesting image acquisition device.

Considering the size and potential to adapt many lenses, the 5n might be the best bargain of the lot...

Anyone know how the heat issues look on these new Sonys - I never heard issues with the NEX3/5, but the A33/55 definitely have heat issues when using in body active stabilization... hopng they licked those with the latest A65/A77.
I had zero overheating issues with the NEX-5. And, since I'm confident of the quality Sony's AVCHD encoder can produce (bit rate is not anymore all that useful an indicator) I see zero need for a recorder. Therefore, an NEX-5 or NEX-7 seem to be very interesting because that leaves more money for lenses. All of which can transfer to a FS100 or FS200 next year.

Putting a touchscreen on the left side of a camcorder along with it's buttons is not -- for me -- as ergonomic as having it on the back of a NEX-5 or NEX-7. In other words, for me, the VG20 camcorder shape is not as useful as photo-style camera.

The NEX-7 looks interesting to me.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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Re: NEX-5N review

IIRC, the NEX bodies that don't have internal stabilization don't suffer with overheating - I know that supposedly with the in-body stabilization off the A33/55 will do 29 minute clips, same as the NEX's. The OSS must generate a fair amount of heat... which leaves an interesting question - is there sufficient electronic stabilization in the NEX series (memory is that only the 18-200 lens is image stabilized?) to give steady shooting, comparable to say a CX550... I'm a tad spoiled with the active image stabilization!

I too am looking at the NEX5 and 7... same reasoning, I'm just as comfortable shooting video with a "camera" format as a "videocamera" format - in fact, as you note, with a touchscreen, it doubles my control interface potential (you can use both hands/thumbs/fingers!

Much will ride on the output capability of the 16 vs. 24 Mpixel sensor - indications are that the 16 (which I presume is borrowed, stroked, and tweaked from the A55/580) may be the current development sweet spot. The 24 Mpix one is "new" and if it follows Sony tradition it takes 6-12 months to fine tune "new" sensors from what I've seen.

Saw a suggestion that they should release a "NEX6" - the 7 body with a 16 Mpix sensor... hmmm, that would be potentially a couple hundred cheaper, ($1000-1100) and fit into another price point... and take all of probably an hour in "engineering"!

Any way you look at it, Sony is definitely putting out some rather interesting tools with this release, which came and went with almost a whisper... but the "Buzz" seems to be heatng up!
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Old September 5th, 2011, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: NEX-5N review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
"Which it isn't. If the output is muddied, Sony will essentially be killing any chance for the line. The VG10 was (or so I have read - don't own the 10) clean, and I think the 20 will be clean as well."

Yes the VG10 was clean. But, the idea that recording via HDMI is needed on a Handycam is silly. Sony's 24Mbps-28Mbps AVCHD is going to be "good enough" for anyone shooting with a $1500 camera. It's good enough for the FS100 at twice the price.
Not silly at all! At $1,600 with no lens it's mighty pricy to be a pure consumer camera (although what exactly "professional" and "consumer" means gets blurrier every day). It is in fact only the world's 2nd "handycam" or consumer camera with an interchangable lens. In other words - it's something different; thusly, it should have a different set of expectations. For this camera to be a success, I'm guessing pros/serious amateurs will have to embrace it...

Which they're sure not to do if there's no clean HDMI output.

What's the best guess - clean or no? I got a buck over here that says it will be.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 12:49 AM   #9
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Re: NEX-5N review

Why do you think anyone needs to record via HDMI to use the VG20.

I can see the point with the FS100 with its far better sensor.

But, on a $1500 camera -- spending $1000 or more to record video is a waste IMHO.

This whole idea that AVCHD isn't "good enough" for serious work is totally counter to logic.

MPEG-2 long GOP at 50Mbps it totally professional. 24 to 28Mbps AVCHD is just as good.

Since distribution is 90% going to be via 4:2:0 there are only a few applications where recording 4:2:0 makes any sense.

Why consider spending money on a recorder before you've even seen the AVCHD recording?

PS: since the NEX-5 had a clean output and the new NEX-5 does not, and they are essentially the same hardware, I'd bet Sony gave us everything needed for very high quality AVCHD shooting in the VG20. In their mind, if you want more, then spend the the extra for the FS100. They would be crazy to let folks who want a pro camera to get it for $1500.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 03:48 AM   #10
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Re: NEX-5N review

Steve -- As you probably know, several VG10 users have experimented with recording to Nanoflash and Ninja external recorders.

There is also an entire subculture devoted to overcoming the limitations on clean HDMI recording from the Panasonic GH2. One of the pioneers of this technique, Martin Beek at marvelsfilm.com, says on his blog,

"Despite everything, HDMI recording eclipses the AVCHD recording in many ways, such as:
More detail in shadows (less muddy blacks)
No compression artifacts
Better overall detail
Better color rendition
Different noise pattern (finer)
Less pronounced solarization (a.k.a. color-banding -> yes, this is an 8 bit camera)"

Martin shoots professionally with the Panasonic AF101 -- but he also shoots straight to ProRes 422 with the sub-$1000 GH2 and an Atomos Ninja. Here is a 1080p YouTube example of the result: GH2 HDMI output recorded with Atomos NINJA

AVCHD is a great codec, and I expect that AVCHD 2.0 will be even better -- but people record externally to other codecs for various reasons -- whether it's perceived image quality, post-production workflow, or a preference for CF cards or SSD drives over SD cards.

In my view (and I could be wrong), I'm not the only one who is excited about the option of recording clean HDMI to an external drive without paying $4-5K for an AF100 or FS100.

Cheers,

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Old September 6th, 2011, 05:15 AM   #11
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Re: NEX-5N review

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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
MPEG-2 long GOP at 50Mbps it totally professional. 24 to 28Mbps AVCHD is just as good.
Not even close. The Canon xf300 50mbps 4:2:2 mpeg2 codec blows the Sony XDCam mpeg2 codecs at 35mbit away. And also the AVCHD on the FS100 is no match for the canon codec.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 07:58 AM   #12
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Re: NEX-5N review

"Why do you think anyone needs to record via HDMI to use the VG20."

Certainly not everyone, but many of the people reading this thread might, for lots of reasons already mentioned. But I'll mention a few more - if you want to use the VG20 as a B cam to the FS100 or even F3, it'd sure be nice to be able to record it 4:2:2. Certainly you'd have a better chance of matching footage down the line.

And there are many people who might want to shoot green screen stuff - even pure amateurs - and 4:2:2 will certainly take you further in that regard.

Many networks are beginning to say they won't be taking 4:2:0 material in the future. The ability then to shoot clean 4:2:2 to an outboard recorder then becomes even more important. Many many reality shows are shot on the cheapest possible cameras that will still pass the network(s) standards - why kill that potential market right off the bat?

Steve I'm not saying Sony won't sell some units of the VG20 if it doesn't have a clean HDMI - what I'm saying is that they'll sell a lot less of them. More than that though, I'm saying that Sony could be costing themselves a potential hit camera - something that is every pro's back pocket as a B cam.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 08:31 AM   #13
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Re: NEX-5N review

All IMHO, but my experience with the NEX-5 overheating has been somewhat different. Even with OSS disabled, if I try to record more than 40 or 50 minutes without a few minutes break in the middle it will often overheat and have to shut down. Sometimes the camera will only be able to record for just over one 30 minute clip when in a gig environment before the overheat warnings start.

It's a great cheap B-Camera for events work but you need to keep an eye on it and having worked with one for a while now I certainly wouldn't place it in the same bracket as the VG10.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 01:34 PM   #14
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Re: NEX-5N review

The nice thing about the Canon HDSLR's is the picture profile facility where upon you can have custom curves etc.

Do the NEX series have something equivalent?
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Old September 6th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #15
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Re: NEX-5N review

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Not even close. The Canon xf300 50mbps 4:2:2 mpeg2 codec blows the Sony XDCam mpeg2 codecs at 35mbit away. And also the AVCHD on the FS100 is no match for the canon codec.
Somehow all this reminds me of the "DV isn't good enough for X."

But, there are indeed many who claim to SEE problems in AVCHD. And, in the HIFI world there are those who think wires and power conditions make a difference. They can HEAR the difference.

The biggest problem can't be overcome -- the compromise that comes from making a video camera shoot stills. Aliasing is horrible. And, it is worse in the Canons everyone loves.

As many have said, if you really care about picture QUALITY do not go with a DSLR. Spending money to remove the claimed imperfection in AVCHD will not help the crap that the sensor captures.
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