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Sony NXCAM / AVCHD Camcorders
Sony HXR-NX100, HXR-NX70, NX30, NX5, NX3/1, HXR-MC2500, HDR-AX2000, etc.


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Old May 3rd, 2010, 02:00 PM   #1
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NX5U or AX2000?

I've noted reports of buffer overloads, back focus issues, recording to the FMU device on the NX5U. In terms of percentages, has the AX2000 received as much bad press as the NX5U? Would it be worth it to spend the extra $500.00 for the NX5U or save that for other accessories and get an AX2000?

I guess what I'm asking is about relative reliability and uptime for the two models. Thoughts?
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 02:10 PM   #2
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For me in Canada at the time I bought the NX5U the difference was about $200 and it came with a mic making it almost the same price. The feature differences between the two are definitely worth that and more to me. The ones that are important to me are:- smooth gain switching, 1280x720P60, SDI output for the future and dual record FMU and cards. If i just record to the cards until the FMU issue is resolved then it is still a better deal.

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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:57 PM   #3
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Bob:

I agree with what Ron said, but the worth of the extra features to you will depend entirely on what you and how you shoot. That we find some features useful does not mean you will or should do likewise. Frankly, I would have been quite pleased with an AX2000. The NX5 just turned out to be more useful for me.

As for reliability and uptime concerns, the NX5 backfocus issue was not a reliability issue. It was a manufacturing/firmware defect. It was in some (but not all) of the first batch of NX5 cams that were shipped to customers a couple of months ago. The AX2000 escaped this because it was released later. Remember also that the NX and AX share the same lens and focusing firmware and mechanisms, so they will share bugs as well.

If memory serves, you posted elsewhere that you won’t be buying until the summer. By then, the backfocus issue shouldn’t turn up in either camera that you get then.

The other reliability concern that you mentioned was the “buffer overflow” problem. This is probably not a concern to you. You mentioned a $500 ($US) price difference, which is the price without an FMU for an NX5. (With an FMU, the NX5 will run $1250 more than an AX2000.) The memory issues only seem to occur when simultaneously recording 1080iHD FX (highest quality setting) to both the SD/Memory Stick cards and the FMU. So, not a concern if you won’t be using an FMU. If you do want one, Sony has announced a firmware fix, so this should not be an issue when you buy a camera in the summer.

Your question about whether the NX5's other additional features are worth an extra $500 is an assessment you have to make for yourself. I wrote up my own assessment of the differences between the NX5 and AX2000 about a month ago, when my NX5 was on order. (See the thread "Should i buy HDR-AX2000 or HXR-NX5U?") . (Sorry about no direct link; for some reason I can't paste a live link one in. Here's a url: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-nxc...-hxr-nx5u.html).


Now, having used an NX5 for a couple of weeks – and used in in four long projects — my assessment remains the same. I would only add the following.

First, the ECM shotgun mike that comes with the NX5 is not a bad mike but you can certainly do better. It is a lightweight shotgun that only operates with phantom power, which limits its usefulness off the NX5. The $500 you save on an AX2000 would go a long way to buying a much better shotgun or wireless mike set-up, one that you would be able to use it with other cameras or for other purposes. (For example, my old AT877 shotguns can run on either an AA battery or phantom power.)

Second, the usefulness of Linear PCM audio will depend on what you record and what you edit your video with. I think LPCM does a better job — easier to work with, less likely to clip — than the compressed AC3 with full range music like a piano trio. But not everything will accept LPCM audio as part of AVCHD video. Your profile mentions you use Adobe PPro CS4 to edit. Neither my CS4 nor Cineform NeoHD worked with LPCM audio. CS5 seems fine with it. If you aren’t planning on upgrading to CS5, you would switch off the LPCM and use the standard AC3 audio (what the AX2000 uses.)

Ultimately, deciding whether to get an NX5 or an AX2000 is probably a lot like the quandary you faced back when you decided to get a PD170 rather than a VX2100. How many of the extra features of the PD170 did you need and use for what you shoot?
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Old May 10th, 2010, 09:40 AM   #4
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Dang it, Jay!!! Why are you making me THINK??? I want someone to TELL me what I want...

OK, back to reality...

Your last comment about the choice between the PD170 and VX2100 really brought it home. This is very much like that decision. I actually went PD-170 (which I still love) because of the XLR option vs. and external box like the VX2100 would require.

For the AX2000, the lack of a shotgun mic and 720/60p recording modes doesn't concern me much. I have a nice Sennheiser that will work quite well with the sucker. The FMU is a great option, as is the audio on the NX5U, but...

My main concern was the initial "problems" noted here and elsewhere with the first units made available. All things being equal, looking at my shoting style and clients, I am leaning more toward the AX2000. The NX5U would allow for a bit of "future proofing", but I'm also looking at that price difference which would allow the acquisition of additional batteries, filters, or most probably that upgrade to CS5.

(Side note: Downloaded the trial version and a few NXCAM clips and played this weekend. Let's just say a lot of lusting occurred!)

Thanks for your post and your help, and I guess I'll have to make the choice on my own! ;)
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Old May 10th, 2010, 12:53 PM   #5
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One of the things that sold me on the NX5U rather than the AX2000 was the smooth switching for gain and WB. I don't normally switch WB but I do switch gain frequently so having this smoothly change is very important to me. IF you always leave everything in automatic it won't make a difference. However if you spend most of the time in automatic I think the XR550 or CX550 would be a much better choice as I think their automatic functions are better, the video is cleaner with the "R" sensor and they have the advantage of spot focus etc that the AX2000 and NX5U lack. Apart from that they are almost 1/4 the price!!!! My XR500 certainly has very close performance to my NX5U, sometimes I even think it is better!!!!

Ron Evans.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 05:17 PM   #6
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Another difference is the way the camera generates 24p. The AX2000 adds pull-down while the NX5 doesn't. Basically with the NX5, you get pure 24p from the very beginning.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 03:02 PM   #7
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Excellent writeup on these two cameras. I've had a hard time finding reviews on the AX2000, so this helps a lot.

Thank you
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Old May 14th, 2010, 05:27 PM   #8
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I'm gona have to mimic Scott and say that y'alls replies have been quite informative! The 24p question does make me lean more toward the NX5U and shelling out the extra Benjies.

OK, next question... Which do I do? Take on another few clients to cover costs or do I approach the powers that be (the wife) and request more cash? **snicker!**
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Old May 15th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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In the immortal words of Richard Nixon, "Better you than me."

Let us know how things work out.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 12:44 AM   #10
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I think the NX5/AX2000 are the best value prosumer cams Sony has ever released. The AX2000 is the first of the consumer division cams to include XLR's and 24p (I think), yet is the same price as the FX1000. The price difference between the pro and consumer versions is also closer than ever.

It should be mentioned that for people converting AVCHD material to AVI with NeoScene, removing the pulldown is a simple extra click. So the native 24p of the NX5 versus the AX2000's 60i stream should not be the pivotal factor in deciding between the two.

The 720p60, smooth gain, and flash unit might sway me though...
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Old May 17th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #11
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I keep seeing smooth gain being touted as an advantage the NX has over the AX. The older and lowly FX7 has smooth gain so it seems unlikely that the AX2000 would not. Can an AX2000 user confirm?
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Old May 17th, 2010, 10:07 AM   #12
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The gain switching we are talking about is when one switches to one of the three values using the gain switch. I don't think the FX7 has a gain switch in this way. It uses the selection thumb wheel and switches in steps just like all the other Sony consumer cameras . When the switch is moved on the NX5U the camera slowly changes the value. On the other cameras it changes abruptly to the selected value.
In automatic they all change smoothly it is in manual that the impact is noticed.

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Old May 17th, 2010, 11:04 AM   #13
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I got you. I thought reference was being made to the iris which on VX series would increase drastically for every click of the wheel. Withe FX7 it switches smoothly, in fact you have various settings to choose from from low, middle and high. My Panny has a gain switch and it doesn't ramp up so I guess its not something that would be a deal breaker for me.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 06:41 PM   #14
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I've filmed a theatre show last semi-manual mode with my NX5U. I say semi-manual because I was adjusting the IRIS as required (very very smoothly) and the Gain was automatic using Auto Gain Control (AGC). The Iris adjustment is not something would see, this is totally different than what I was getting with my old XL2.

I've tried to keep the gain to 3,0,-3 most of the time it was 0. As was seeing the gain changing I was then increasing or decreasing the IRIS.

So far, I a m very please with the result. The AGC function is definitively a plus for me. I do not know if the AX2000 has this function but now that I know its capability I would not go without it.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 10:33 PM   #15
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By changing the iris and leaving the gain automatic you are altering the depth of field with the iris control and letting the camera alter the gain to maintain automatic exposure. If you left the shutter speed also in automatic it will stay at 60 until it gets too light then it will alter the shutter speed. If you want it to be lighter or darker than the automatic decides then engage AE shift ( assign to a button and set value you want in the menu) for a show you might try spotlight that works quite well with a few drawbacks. You can still set one of gain or iris to manual and the spotlight function will control the other to avoid over exposing based on spot metering I think. I did try this both full auto and with iris or gain fixed. The drawback for me was that panning across the stage altered the exposure and this was not very professional for me. If one pans into a dark area I expect it to stay dark not light up !!! So I have gone back to full manual as being more realistic for me. For the shows I did over the weekend, gain was either 3 or 6 db to keep iris above f3.4 to get reasonable depth of field on the stage. Most of the time iris was between f 4 and f 5.6.
I have zebra set at 90% and peaking at medium. Seems to work for my style at the moment.
I also had the opportunity to compare SD from the card recording and a downconvert using TMPGenc of the HD video. The TMPGenc software downconvert was a better than the SD recording to the card even at a lower data rate. It did of course take over twice realtime to do the two pass downconversion to MPEG 2 for DVD !!!!
I still find the auto focus bad. I am now convinced it is happy as long as it is within the depth of field rather than at the true focus point. ie if the object is at say 50 feet and depth of field is 45 feet to 65 feet then the auto focus is happy anywhere between 45 and 65 feet but will not get to 50 feet ever. If one manually set at the 50 mark the auto focus will stay there unfortunately it would also stay at 45 or 65 !!! I always used manual focus on the FX1 but did use the one shot button to get focus unfortunately this doesn't work at least on my NX5U and I now use manual focus with expanded focus button and check with peaking and my eyes!!!!.
By mid June I will send the camera back for the firmware update if they have it in Canada and get them to look at this focus issue as it may well be just my camera.
I know this sounds a little negative but I do like the camera and it is a big improvement over the FX1 in many ways. However for a camera that is 4 times the cost of my XR500 it has a rough time competing on convenience and image quality a lot of the time. Cameras this weekend were my NX5U, EX3, SR11 and XR500. The SR11 and XR500 were unattended fixed full stage from different angles set with AE shift at -4 and with focus on manual set with spot focus. Of the 4 cameras the XR500 had the cleanest picture !!!! Of course it didn't have to contend with closeups from close to 100 feet away with stage lights occasionally from the wings backlighting the actors that the EX3 and NX5U spent most of the time doing !!!!

Ron Evans
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