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Old May 4th, 2011, 11:28 AM   #1
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NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

So I am torn between the Panasonic HMC150 and the Sony NX5U.
I currently own an older Sony HDV and I have shot a film using a rented Sony EX3.

I would like to go the Sony route - but I am a little concerned about all the focusing issues that people seem to be having. Specifically the back-focusing issue and the issue with panning. But most of the complaints seem to be older from when the Cam first came out.

I know that with any new system, it takes a bit for the public to work through the kinks.

Were these mostly operator error, or hardware errors?
Are the newer cameras more stable?

I will be shooting 50/50 Autofocus and Manual Focus - so I need to know that the AF system will preform when asked.

Chris Sgaraglino
The Outdoor Life Blog | Widow Creek Photography
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Old May 4th, 2011, 12:14 PM   #2
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Re: NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

Hi Chris,

I think the back-focus issue was limited to some of the early production units. I really believe there would be a lot more complaints on this board and others if this was still an issue...furthermore, take a look at the NX5 reviews @ B&H. There are 124 reviews, and virtually all of them are five stars. It really is a pretty solid camera.

Regarding the focus issues while panning, I have confirmed (on both of my new NX5's) that if auto focus is [on] they do indeed breifly lose or "hunt" for focus while panning, but...if I turn [off] macro focus, the issue goes away. My solution (when using auto focus) is to keep macro [off] and if I need to focus on something very close (within 2 feet of the lens), use an assign button for macro.

I truly don't know if Sony intended for macro focus to have this effect on panning or if it's the result of something with their G lens as I haven't spoken with them on this matter, but simply using an assign button to turn macro on/off has solved my problem.

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Old May 4th, 2011, 12:19 PM   #3
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Re: NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

Hi Chris,

I have just recently bought the Sony NX5U and the only problem that I have had with the focusing issue is when there has been fast movement the camera would go out of focus for a little but this only happened because it was on auto focus. I now generally shoot on manual focus and havenít had a problem yet. As far as back focus, I have not had any trouble with that either.

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Old May 4th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #4
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Re: NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

I have one of the early NX5U's and had the lens assemble changed under warranty to solve the focus issue. It works fine now. As far as auto focus is concerned it is about the same as my FX1. Not the greatest and I never use auto for the theatre stuff I do. By comparison the smaller Sony cameras l have ( SR11, XR500 and CX700) are far better in auto. But then they were in comparison to the FX-1 too or even the EX3 on my tests.

Ron Evans
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Old May 4th, 2011, 05:19 PM   #5
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Re: NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

I agree with everything said above. I have been using an NX5 for over a year. Never had the back focus problem. Haven't heard of anybody having it recently, either.

Haven't had the issue of loss-of-focus while panning because I've always left the "macro" setting to off and I often run with manual focus, anyway. (I manually set-up for a wide depth of field so zooming is not a problem.)

Autofocus usually works reasonably well for many things on the NX5. It only seems lacking when you find out how advanced the automated capabilities have become on the much smaller consumer cams like the CX cams that Ron mentioned. (I have two of them.) But, the NX is a much bigger camera with a fair amount of glass and machinery to move around. While the autofocus is good enough for many things, it is not so great for others. Where I have problems with the autofocus is with things like difficult lighting conditions (theatrical lighting, dim wedding receptions, etc.) and shooting in crowds where other people or things can get between you and your subject. These are things which "distract" or pull the autofocus to them. Ron has commented on the same things. These are situations where I want to run with manual control Consumer cams, like the Sony's CX models, are designed for point and shoot and have programming for "face priority" and the like, all of which means the camera is making a lot of decisions for you. The NX5 is designed with the expectation that you will make these decisions rather than leaving it up to the camera. Sometimes I want one and sometimes I want the other.

Depending on how much manual control you want, the soon-to-be released Sony NX70 could be a better choice for auto-shooting modes. It has good low light capabilities and is programed with automated functions of the CX700 (in a larger package with more manual controls) for when you do not wish to run with manual control. It also can shoot full 1080p/60p in addition to the modes used by the NX5. In might not have enough manual control for you, and does not have the long telephoto reach of the NX5, either. It might be just fine.

Best way to tell about these things is to try out the cameras. Is there a shop anywhere in your area where you could bring in SD cards and run some tests? That will likely tell you the most about what you like and don't like between the HMC150 and .the NX5.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #6
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Re: NX5U Focusing - Is this still an issue?

You always need to carefully parse bad reviews and criticism. Equipment commonly takes the blame when inexperienced operators misuse it or are not aware of its limitations. Like using auto focus in a dimly lit, low contrast situation and then blaming the camera for focus issues. Another good one is complaining that the built in mic picks up camera noise and they can't hear person who's standing 8 ft away. Often these complaints lack details. There are pros/cons to every camera, which of the pros out way the cons is subjective to each user.
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