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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 November 9th, 2011, 04:50 PM   #1
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ND Filters

Does anyone know why this camera was designed without ND filters? Was there some technical reason for it? Or was it just to make people crazy?
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Old November 10th, 2011, 02:56 AM   #2
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Re: ND Filters

I think it's a factor of the small size of the camera, and maybe the consumer camera (CX series) that it was based on. I also personally think it is a serious omission from the camera, of the "what the **** were Sony thinking of?" magnitude.

My Panasonic HMC40 was the same, no switchable NDs, though it did have an internal one. I am almost certain that the NX70 has no ND at all, even an automatic internal one. I think the Sony A1 was the same, no NDs. I read a comment somewhere that because it had CMOS chips, it didn't need NDs. Funny, that.

My options are (depending on my mood and the nature of the filming session):
1. No NDs, let the camera do its thing on auto (and you get crazy high shutter speeds etc.)
2. Fixed B+W screw-in NDs
3. Polaroid or similar fader ND, but you need to modify the hood to make them fit.
4. My shiny new Cavision 3x3 mattebox and rails.

Of course, if I had a simple ND off/1/2/3 switch, life would be so, so much better.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #3
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Re: ND Filters

Mike, I too believe it's just not good enough that Sony omitted internal ND's on this camera, if they did? I know you cannot be 100% sure but if that is so then I think it's just crazy, though the camera works well in auto I suppose you will never know for sure what is going on "under the hood".

Don't think it can be anything to do with CMOS chips, my EX1R has CMOS chips and there are nice selectable ND's in that camera, though of course it is much larger so maybe it's a size thing that they couldn't squeeze them in to the smaller cam.

Also, it's not true what you heard about the A1E having no ND's, I had one of these cams in 2006 for a year or so. It was my first ever HD(V) camera and I loved it, until the V1E came out when I changed to it for the 3 chips and the 25P mode. While I had the A1E, while shining a light into the lens one could easily see the single ND moving more and more over the sensor as the light increased or the iris opened up. This worked completely automatically while filming, transparent to the person filming and hiding the true F stop from being revealed. What the camera said it was using for the F number was meaningless, a joke in fact. Yes It worked fine but confusing for anyone like me who wanted to know exactly how to get to the "sweet spot" for exposure.

To be honest I don't mind shutter speed rising somewhat in preference to soft images caused by stopping down to much and suffering lens diffraction problems. My present small cam is a Panasonic TM900 and though it does indeed have inbuilt auto ND I find the best highlight handling in bright sunshine is achieved by using 1/100 sec rather than 1/50th. (only ever shoot in 50P mode). My thoughts are that maybe the sensors or the processor are less overloaded by the faster exposure time so can cope that bit better, also (at least in 50P mode) I don't see any unusual motion at this shutter speed.

I think all these newer prosumer cams exhibit poor highlight handling from what I have seen so far, I live in hope of the manufacturers addressing this issue more in the future.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:09 AM   #4
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Re: ND Filters

Hi Claire,

Thank you for your detailed reply, especially for the clarification on the A1E - I almost owned one, but went for the V1E and loved it at the time, until I decided to go tapeless.

I think you're right about the shutter speed; normally it doesn't matter, and these cameras do seem to cope pretty well when left to their own auto settings, except in extremes of low light and sunlight. They normally do better than my brain does.

Re. shining the light into the lens, I did this with my Panasonic HMC41, and the auto ND was very clear to see. I don't see it at all on the NX70 (even if Tom doesn't believe me <grin>).

The worst thing for me is that the NX70 produces some noticeable chromatic aberration in bright conditions, giving a slight purple fringe around some white objects, especially at telephoto. But only video geeks seem to care!

If only Sony or someone else could make a camera at this size and spec, with 2 or 3 stops of switchable ND, it would be perfect.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:56 AM   #5
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Re: ND Filters

Thanks for the input guys, I am about to add a NX70U to my kit. My solution will be similar to Mike. B+W ND's which I own, and a Vari-ND modifying the hood.
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Old November 11th, 2011, 07:58 AM   #6
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Re: ND Filters

Mike do you have a 37mm Vari-ND you use?
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Old November 11th, 2011, 08:05 AM   #7
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Re: ND Filters

Disregard my last question Mike I just found your video on the lens hood. Well done and thanks for sharing.
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Old November 11th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #8
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Re: ND Filters

I purchased a Tiffen Neutral Density .6 filter and it seems to be doing a good job. Without the ND filter it was really bad shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day, unless of course you bumped up the shutter speed very high which I don't like doing.

The filter I purchased was inexpensive (from the US B&H) and is giving me the results I wished for. Just a pain putting the filter on and off as lighting conditions change.

As for not including a ND filter on the NX70, probably for the same reason Canon puts a terrible viewfinder on the XA10, to upsell you to more expensive models.
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Old November 11th, 2011, 09:39 AM   #9
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Re: ND Filters

Thanks Eric,

I would NEVER let my shutter speed change.

Agree putting a filter on and off would be a pain. I am going to use a Vari-ND so I have all the options I need with one filter. Great video that Mike did on showing the mod to the hood. I might do it a bit different and use a step up ring so I can cut a slot in the hood and reach the filter from the outside. Will see when it arrives.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: ND Filters

I use a KALT 37mm to 49mm step up on my CX700 with 49mm Cameron variable density ND filter. I actually leave off the hood when I use this for winter ski shoots etc.

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Old November 12th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #11
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Re: ND Filters

Sounds like a smart move stepping up.
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