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Old June 21st, 2011, 10:21 PM   #1
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NX70 First Impressions

I'm usually not a first adopter, but I had the sense that it was time to retire my VX2100 from active duty and this camera really appealed to me. I picked it up today from B and H (they don't have a demo model on the floor yet), so it was basically bought sight unseen.

The NX70 is much smaller and lighter than the VX2100, but still has a fairly solid feel. It's not likely to attract much attention, especially if the handle and XLR inputs are not attached. Would have liked to have seen more metal used on its exterior. It does not come with a neck strap, although there is a metal ring on the hand strap for attaching one. Considering the price of the camera, they should have included one.

The Sony Content Management Utility did not work well on my computer (froze a few times). I found it easier to copy the files manually.

LCD screen is excellent. It's going to take some time getting use to the menu system. A lot of time. It's not as intuitive as I would have liked.

I don't have the computer capacity to edit high def yet (2.4 GHz computer) and need to upgrade this summer. But I was able to view a few clips on my computer and they were outstanding. I intend to shoot some interviews next week along with a conference presentation, all in the standard definition mode.

I can see myself using this camera more than I used the VX2100 which was cumbersome to carry.

Looking forward to giving it a workout in the weeks to come.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 02:37 AM   #2
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

how is it in low light? can it compare to the VX2100..?
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 03:05 AM   #3
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

John, welcome to the NX70 club!

Damon,

It is very good in low light, all things considered; I need to do some proper trials and post some footage and stills, I just haven't had time this week. I'll get to it at the weekend.

It doesn't "see in the dark" like the VX2100 does, nothing will ever beat that I think. I did some simple tests with just 150w of lighting in a room at night, previewing the results on a 26" screen and they looked very good. Oddly, I got better results in auto mode than I did in manual mode, there must be a setting I am missing somewhere.

I also think the gain is acceptable up to around 12dB. In almost total darkness outside with poor street lighting it is grainy - but that's not a surprise!

A lot of people get obsessed with low light performance. I can understand why, but it's not something I need very often. If a room is dark, it is dark, and the camera can't "add" light by itself.

As I said, I will try to get some low light tests done over the weekend, I've been too busy this week with the day job. My impression of good low light performance may very well differ from everyone else's!
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 07:31 AM   #4
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

My first shots were in a room lit by two 60 watt light bulbs with the gain at 12dB. The images were sharp with good, accurate color. I think that the VX2100 might have required a bit less gain for the same shot, but the quality of the hi def image greatly outweighs any benefit this might provide.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 07:54 AM   #5
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

Remember the standard definition is MPEG2 just like a DVD. It's not DV so editing will be just as if you were editing files from a DVD and recompression will introduce artifacts. They will go straight into an authoring program. Dave , in auto, with auto intelligent switched on , the camera will switch to low lux mode if it thinks it will get a better picture. In manual this has to be switched in manually. Low lux will give a picture that is almost see in the dark with full colour.

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Old June 22nd, 2011, 09:19 AM   #6
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

Ron, I'll be testing the standard definition mode today and checking the quality following some edits. I want to use the camera for some two-person interviews that will be used for an educational DVD and hope that the quality will adequate for the task.
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Old June 27th, 2011, 01:48 PM   #7
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

I got the first footage from our NX70 and I am really impressed. The picture is very crisp, it handles highlights much better than any other camera of this price range that I've seen, and the picture allows for quite dramatic correction if needed. Just first impression, but I'm thrilled.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 04:42 PM   #8
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

OK, after previewing the footage on a decent HD monitor I must say that it is not as good, as I wrote before. Highlights handling is excellent, that's true, and there is nice dynamic range in that camera (no miracles though). However the footage exhibits all problems of H.264 - typical motion artifacts, which for some reason I find less appealing than MPEG blockiness, and loss of details in the background, especially with trees and bushes. For some reason I find HDV recorded by Canon HV-30 more appealing, than footage from NX-70. Perhaps it just takes time to get used to.

On the other hand, foreground is sharp, and details are pretty good, low light capability is quite impressive, and colors are really nice, especially for Sony camera, which always for some reason seem to be on the more bland side of the spectrum in this matter.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 05:27 PM   #9
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

Hi Bart - how did you find the zoom? Another couple of users have complained it's impossible to achieve a slow crawl using the rocker. But then, they posted clips which had me seriously doubting if they should be using a video camera at all. Thoughts?
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Old June 28th, 2011, 05:58 PM   #10
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

i handled the camera at nab and that was the one thing that was bad about it. you barely press the rocker and it zooms way too fast.
they need to fix this.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 06:28 PM   #11
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

RATS! Oh well... I'll test it, demo unit arriving at local suppliers in a week or 2. They boast "The camera also has a professional style (front to back) zoom rocker, similar to the HXR-NX5 for variable, servo zoom control" on the official site so I'm really puzzled about these reports...
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Old June 28th, 2011, 10:38 PM   #12
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

The zoom rocker is variable, but it takes a very, very light touch to achieve a slow zoom. I find it much easier to use the zoom buttons on the LCD panel when I need to make a fine adjustment. Those are set to zoom in and out very slowly.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 11:04 PM   #13
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Walczak View Post
OK, after previewing the footage on a decent HD monitor I must say that it is not as good, as I wrote before. Highlights handling is excellent, that's true, and there is nice dynamic range in that camera (no miracles though). However the footage exhibits all problems of H.264 - typical motion artifacts, which for some reason I find less appealing than MPEG blockiness, and loss of details in the background, especially with trees and bushes. For some reason I find HDV recorded by Canon HV-30 more appealing, than footage from NX-70. Perhaps it just takes time to get used to.

On the other hand, foreground is sharp, and details are pretty good, low light capability is quite impressive, and colors are really nice, especially for Sony camera, which always for some reason seem to be on the more bland side of the spectrum in this matter.

This explains a few things. You see, I was puzzled when sample footage on YouTube and Vimeo appeared sharp in macro shots, but lost a lot of detail in wide shots. So it seems that codec artifacts lose a lot of background detail which then looks blurred or soft.

I'm curious. Have you tested live footage, straight from HDMI to the TV? It would be a great way to test the camera's sharpness or clarity when shooting distant objects, bypassing the codec entirely. Up until now, I have attributed the significantly softer images I have been seeing (compared to videos shot with the Sony EX1, for example) to the small sensor size; ~1/3" vs. 1/2".
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Old June 30th, 2011, 01:49 AM   #14
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Palomer View Post
This explains a few things. You see, I was puzzled when sample footage on YouTube and Vimeo appeared sharp in macro shots, but lost a lot of detail in wide shots. So it seems that codec artifacts lose a lot of background detail which then looks blurred or soft.
Also the fact that you are compressing it two times (once at camera, once at output) does not help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Palomer View Post
I'm curious. Have you tested live footage, straight from HDMI to the TV? It would be a great way to test the camera's sharpness or clarity when shooting distant objects, bypassing the codec entirely. Up until now, I have attributed the significantly softer images I have been seeing (compared to videos shot with the Sony EX1, for example) to the small sensor size; ~1/3" vs. 1/2".
Certainly some loss of detail is due to smaller sensor, but this kind of compression artifacts is something that I've seen repeatedly on other devices working with H.264, so I guess it's part this and part that. We did not test the live footage, because it's not how we'll be using the camera, but it's a good idea, I might try it next week.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 10:02 AM   #15
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Re: NX70 First Impressions

I think that there are a large number of influences in picture quality of the latest set of handycams. They have much higher resolution than most HDV cameras and since focus is very critical any out of focus situation makes the image look poor. They work best in full auto as the on board computer can optimize focus and exposure to get the best from the camera. Fast panning with background of leaves etc is a big challenge for the encoder especially if the camera movement is not smooth. The encoder runs out of bits !!!! I moved to my NX5U because all my little Sony's ( SR11, XR500 at the time) made the FX1 picture in HDV look poor. There are compromises in getting high resolution and the camera use has to change too. Not quite going to film style movements but close if one wants consistent resolution.


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