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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:00 AM   #1
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Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Filming in the rain. That’s one of the reasons I bought an NX70. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on my experiences at the weekend.

First off: I film (OK, video) trains as a hobby. The NX70 is physically great, portable, easy to carry up mountains or walk all day without putting my back out

Yesterday was the wettest day I’ve yet experienced with a camera, it was constant downpour. “No worries,” sez me, “I have an NX70!” I’ve used it in moderate drizzle a few times without trouble, so this will be fine.

Yes, it was waterproof. The rain poured over me and the camera, everything kept working, no faults. But it was bloody hard to use.

First off, the sound was almost unusable. I know it stands to reason, but the microphone was useless! Even when the rain was quite light, you get pops and clicks from the rain. When the rain is heavier, the mic just fills up with water and the sound degrades further. Wind noise just adds to this.

Of course, you can’t plug in an external mic, because as soon as the little flaps are opened, the camera isn’t waterproof any more.

Other controls are OK (focus, zoom, buttons, LCD etc.), they physically worked fine and no functional problems were encountered. So we can confirm that the camera actually is waterproof.

As expected, the zoom rocker reared its ugly head. I am used to my Libec remote, and get good results with it. Reduced to using the camera in its “bare” state, the rocker is crazy. I settled for a combination of not zooming at all and using the LCD touchscreen zoom. The touchscreen zoom works, and is constant (as long as your finger doesn’t slide off it in the rain). The problem is it’s not adjustable, and is unlikely to be just the right speed for you.

Obviously, you can’t plug in your Lanc control because the camera becomes un-waterproof.

There is also another obvious issue – sometimes you just can’t see the LCD clearly because of the water pouring over it. The viewfinder is an option, but then you can’t use the touchscreen. Aaaagh! I ended up firing the camera into Auto most of the time and it did a pretty good job, so in a sense that saved my bacon.

I think in its waterproof state, this camera is only really useful for the “jungle cam” purposes, handheld, or like the Munro Film project I linked to recently (where the camera is used as a roving documentary-maker’s tool in inhospitable environments). Or if you’re shooting on a boat or similar. In fairness, this is probably as intended.

Seeing as it looks like I’ll not be changing cameras for a year or two, I’ve bought a Petrol raincover for it, so I can continue to use the camera, microphone and zoom control in the rain.

Oh, the irony!

Last edited by Mike Beckett; January 30th, 2012 at 07:28 AM. Reason: Couple of bits I missed out.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #2
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Re: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am afraid I am not as brave as you to attempt using it in actual rain, even though SONY pushed the waterproof aspect strongly. Pity actual field performance wasn't tested. However you also touched on my non favourite subject, namely the zoom control during hand held operations. I concur with everything you said, all I can say is roll on the March upgrade.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 07:42 PM   #3
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Re: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Mike,

I haven't used my NX70 in the rain yet, but I have shot video during a heavy snowfall. Of course to get the "rain proofing" you need to dismantle the external microphone which leads to the less than ideal sound coming from the onboard microphone.

Perhaps Sony could have found another place for the mic, maybe protected a bit from the direct rainfall coming from overhead.

I love the picture coming from this camera, but there are lots of flaws with the NX70. The zoom is the worst and is truly unnacceptable. Like you I film trains and in the past I loved doing nice slow zooms but with this camera it is impossible. After spending $3000k + on the camera, extra batteries, memory card, kit bag, etc. I don't have anything left over for a lanc controller which of course would be useful but not in the rain.

I think Sony rushed this camera to market too early. I really do hope the firmware fixes some of the flaws with this camera. Otherwise it'll be the last Sony I ever buy.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 01:16 AM   #4
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Re: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Eric,

I agree with everything you say.

Just for kicks, here's the video I made:

RPSI No 461 - Rabbie Burns Steam Special - 29th January 2012 - YouTube

From around 6:56 I managed to get lucky enough to use a proper microphone and zoom controller. In the early parts, you can see some less than trademark Beckett zooms as I struggle with the LCD zoom facility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Kruis View Post
Perhaps Sony could have found another place for the mic, maybe protected a bit from the direct rainfall coming from overhead.
Thinking about that, maybe the mic should've been underneath the lens barrel, not on top. I can't see any reason why it would be any worse. The worst thing was when it literally filled with water and all you get are gurgling sounds. And of course you can't use headphones because it breaks the waterproof seal... and even if you could use headphones, what could you do to fix the problem?

I do wonder if there would be any way to make a waterproof mic socket, even a 3.5mm one. It is a bit late now though.

Last edited by Mike Beckett; February 7th, 2012 at 03:48 AM.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 08:13 PM   #5
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Re: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Mike,

Despite the flaws of the NX70, your video looks fantastic. Colours nice and rich, and the sounds of the rain drops really did make me feel like I was there railfanning too and getting drenched. Your fine camera work, awesome railway action and composition made the NX70 technical issues much less noticeable.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 03:36 AM   #6
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Re: Thoughts on the NX70's waterproofing

Thanks Eric!

This is the thing I keep coming back to... we can whinge and worry about the issues that annoy us about a camera, but in the end most people either don't notice them, or if they do notice, they don't care.

And, for my use, it enables me to produce videos of significantly higher quality than most on Youtube in my area... so maybe we should stop worrying so much!
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