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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 August 19th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Fontana, CA
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Help Comparing Cameras (Southern California)

This is a piggyback to my previous thread...

I'm having a hard time believing that so many people are happy with the NX5's low light capability. Now, the only camera I've ever really used is the Sony Z1, so other than that, I have no real frame of reference...there's my disclaimer. I do know though that in my side-by-side tests though, the Z1 gives me a much brighter image with less noise in the blacks.

It appears that the noise is still there in the Z1, but the "dots" of noise are much larger in size and seem almost to overlap each other, giving what I can only describe as a far smoother type of noise that is acceptable to my eye. In gaining up to achieve a similar exposure in the NX5 though, the dark areas end up with a different type of grain that (A) is far smaller in size and punchier/noticeable and (B) creates a miniature macroblocking look in dark gradients (such as a black couch near the edge of the frame in a dim room where the camera light is falling off).

Is this effect typical? The picture looks awful to me. I've tried many different tests with all sorts of different settings within the picture profiles as well as the camera's default settings. I've captured footage using every gain setting up through 12db and tried tweaking the footage in post many different ways.

So, I'm wondering if there are any NX5 owners out in Southern California that I might be able to drive out to so I can compare my camera and make sure that it's not defective. I figure that either I got a bad camera, or I need to re-evaluate this whole issue of grain.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
Fontana, Southern California (~45 minutes east of LA)
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Old September 1st, 2010, 06:54 PM   #2
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
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NX5 vs. Z1

In may I sold my Z1, which had served me almost four years, and got the NX5. I made the move for several reasons, mainly getting away from tape and going to a full 1920x1080 format. I really like the logistics of using cards.

Prior to the Z1, my main camera was the PD-150, which I felt was reasonably good in low light. To me the Z1 was not quite as good as brightening up dark scenes, but it had a wonderful natural look to it particulary at night scenes on the street or even dancing at a dimly lit wedding reception. The result had the same tonality on screen as it did at the real event.

I have just started using the NX5 and I'm thinking of this one particular job where the wedding reception was on the 21st floor of a building, overlooking Baltimore Harbor. The camera did a great job of getting everything at once, and enabled me to do my lighting with simpler LED panel lights. I didn't have to push the gain up all that much either.

You will probably notice a subtle difference in the rendition because the Z1 had CCD and the NX5 has CMOS. It's hard to beat the look of CCD.
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Old September 1st, 2010, 08:13 PM   #3
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Location: Fontana, CA
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Thanks Mark.

I think I'm getting used to the limitations of this camera. I was hoping for a much better low-light performer than the Z1, but at settings producing all the grain I can handle, it's only slightly better for my purposes. Its other aspects are pretty awesome though and I'm now happy with my purchase. It was just a foreign idea to me that so many high gain settings would be offered if those settings were basically unusable. I guess Sony was playing it safe by making those offerings available and also probably wanted to appease any consumers who might not notice or care about the degraded picture at those settings.

Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 06:57 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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I have an FX1 as well as the NX5U. I moved to the NX5U because the XR500 and SR11 that I also use were making my FX1 look a little OLD. Clearly lower resolution and colour than the single chip consumer cams !!! As far as grain noise the XR500 is much better than the NX5U and I was a little disappointed that Sony didn't use the "R" sensor in the NX5U. I wouldn't be surprised to find a version 2 NX5 with the "R" sensor come out next year !!!! The difference the "R" sensor makes between the SR11 and XR500 is VERY noticeable.
For me the NX5U is a real improvement over the FX1 in picture quality and the fact I don't have tapes to worry about. Like you I find the video noise level an issue when compared to the XR500. You may want to check the black level as the XR500 and SR11 are spot on 0 but the NX5U was more like the FX1 a little above 0. This can effect how the preset gamma curves look and give a lot of noise in true black areas.

Ron Evans
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