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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS100 CineAlta
An interchangeable lens AVCHD camcorder using E-Mount lenses.


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Old April 6th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #1
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FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

Those at the VG10 Forum know I started-out writing a VG10 Handbook, but after shooting video using the MUCH cheaper NEX-5 camera, I realized that there were simply -- in my opinion -- too many flaws in the VG10's design to justify its extra cost. So my book is now on the NEX Family with the VG10 in an Appendix.

When I read a very negative review of the FS100, I saw in it the same aspects as I found with the VG10. (I just would never have the guts to say them in print.)

Moreover, last fall it didn't seem justified to be so negative because, after all, the VG10 was "only" a consumer product. (Although a very expensive one.) We all hoped there would be a slightly more expensive version that would "fix" the flaws.

Well we got a really expensive product, but with many the same "use" flaws as the VG10.

I plan to write up additional material on using Vario ND filters that I will add to my ebook. And, also post in the VG10 Forum. No time to do so until after NAB.

But, for now:

1) Yes, you MAY use a Vario ND filter, but saying this does not mean you either will "want to" or "should."

2) There is a huge difference between a specific camera not having an ND filter and a lens system not allowing a camera to have an ND filter. (Which has to be confirmed.)

3) I understand the cool factor in rigging (matte box, etc.) your inexpensive camcorder to look like a real Cine Alta, but having used both E-mount and A-mount lenses on the VG10, the rigging may not be enough to make you really happy. If you haven't used a NEX and the current E-mounts, you may not sense the problem of using the, IMHO, too slow and too consumer built 18-200. The 18-55 is nicer to use, but still too slow and not long enough. The 16mm is only slightly wider and not fast enough.

4) Using A-mounts seems a solution, until you realize 99.9% of what you read about using these lenses has been written by still photographers. Using wonderful old lenses for video can produce surprises.

5) Despite the VG10 camcorder having many more buttons than the NEX-5 camera, the VG10 is actually harder to use. Nigel really nails Sony on its use of tiny buttons.

6) Consider this. The crazy cheap NEX-5 camera has the same 14MP sensor as the VG10 and shoots identical quality video. The next generation NEX camera MAY have the same 16MP sensor as does the FS100. If it shoots the same quality video and is 6X cheaper -- and has acceptable ergonomics -- what does the FS100 really offer? Or, put another way, maybe Panasonic is offering the better SOLUTION even if they seem not to be able to match Sony sensor technology.

7) Lastly, pay close attention to marketing. If a company claims a big chip "creates" a shallow DOF -- run! A big chip only creates the opportunity to create a shallow DOF by using a large aperture -- along with a long focal length and a short subject-to-camera distance.

Can you set shutter speed and large aperture and then EASILY use filters in a matte box to get the exact exposure you want? If you need to switch to the 16mm f/2.8 under low-light, can you really get a shallow DOF from a 16mm lens?

PS1: many have promoted the view that THE critical feature you need is the ability to manually set both shutter speed and aperture. I bought a used Panasonic FZ100 for $300 that can do this (plus control gain) and can shoot both 1080i60 and 720p60. Not a bad deal for experiments.

Full manual control only works in bright light when you have ALSO have a Vario ND filter. But, when you move inside, you need to remove the Vario ND filter because its minimum density is minus 2X. (The maximum density is minus 5X, which is inadequate for a fast lens in really bright light. Beyond 5X, the image quality degrades.)

Turns-out the ability to control aperture along with a set of ND filter actually works about equally well. That's why the NEX-5 camera can, in fact, be used for video.

PS2: I'm still waiting to find out what type of line and/or row skipping is used to get 16MP down to 2MP. Skipping can create artifacts. (This issue may or may not be solved by a video-only OLPF.)

REDs don't skip pixels. So until a camera can record all sensor pixels, one does not, IMHO, have a video equivalent to film. Let's see what JVC brings to NAB.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 02:08 PM   #2
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

FS100 does not use a 16mp sensor. It's the same sensor found in the F3. 1920X1080, specifically designed for video acquisition.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 04:44 PM   #3
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

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Originally Posted by Jean-Philippe Archibald View Post
FS100 does not use a 16mp sensor. It's the same sensor found in the F3. 1920X1080, specifically designed for video acquisition.
I also hope so, but will only know for the fact after official debut at NAB. Even though all Sony brochures say the S35 sensor on both the F3 and FS100 is ca. 3Mpixels (and not 13+ like with the VG10), the BBC's Alan Roberts claims otherwise...
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Old April 6th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #4
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

As a VG10 owner, I will say the FS100 is a big, big step-up from the VG10.

Start with the obvious - XLR inputs. Huge advantage.
Bigger form factor.
A real viewfinder.
Focus assist, peaking - BIG!
Moire and aliasing artifacts are gone. I don't care how Sony did it, as long as it works.
Don't like the 18-200? Don't buy it. Get an adapter and pick your lenses. Even Zeiss is gearing up to make E-mount lenses.
How will the A-mount lenses do? We'll soon find out.
You want tiny buttons? The VG10 has teeny-tiny buttons. I mean, really small. Just looking at the pics, the FS100 wins here.
What's the mystery about shallow depth of field? A bigger sensor wil deliver better control over DoF. It works for DSLRs, it works for RED. Of course a faster lens will bring better results. That's true from 1/3" cams to Super 35 cams. And working under the same environment, an S-35, at say, f2.8, will deliver better DoF control than a 1/3" camera at f2.8. Isn't that why these cameras were developed in the first place? why the DSLR craze happened? That's not marketing hype.

One reviewer doesn't like the buttons on the FS100. Why is his opinion the be-all and end-all of reviews of this camera? Other reviewers have said there was no problem. Who do you believe?

Now, is the VG10 better than the NEX-5? Hard to say, at least it won't overheat and shut down. Is it three times the price better? Probably not.
Will the FS100 offer more than the NEX-X? See all my points above. My answer is yes, yes, yes.
The FS100 is a VIDEO CAMERA, not a DSLR. If I want to shoot video, I'll buy the FS100. If I want to shoot stills, I'll buy the NEX-whatever.

Steve, maybe I'm missing the point of your post, but the FS100 is a huge step-up from the VG10. If I choose to buy an FS100, I will certainly sell my VG10 to help finance it.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 11:39 PM   #5
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
I also hope so, but will only know for the fact after official debut at NAB. Even though all Sony brochures say the S35 sensor on both the F3 and FS100 is ca. 3Mpixels (and not 13+ like with the VG10), the BBC's Alan Roberts claims otherwise...
I agree with Piotr that I have yet to see a photocite count for this chip. Of course, it records 1920x1080, But, it SHOULD HAVE at least 3MP in order to get 2MP after debayering. This 3MP can come from any number of photocites. Canon has chips with 25MP. The question is HOW are the 3MP obtained. I've not seen Sony explain that -- and they may refuse.

I can't believe it doesn't have at least 3MP in a 16:9 window. Which, if the chip is 4:3/3:2, means it must have about 5MP. (And, if Super stabilization for the 18-200 uses EIS plus OIS, then it must have even more. Perhaps 6MP, or more.)

The key is a Bayer camera must have a 16:9 window with a number of pixels that can be reduced in a way so the Bayer pattern is preserved. Bottom line the chip could be anything from about 4-5Mp to 16MP.

The magic number of photosites is 12MP. Why? Because in a 4:3 chip this nicely supports a 16:9 window from which 3MP pixels can be obtained for 1920x1080 and 8MP+ can be obtained for a 4K2K camera. I would not be surprised to learn that Sony is using a chip it will employ for several generations of cameras.
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Last edited by Steve Mullen; April 7th, 2011 at 12:24 AM.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 12:11 AM   #6
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

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Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
As a VG10 owner, I will say the FS100 is a big, big step-up from the VG10.
I agree it is a big step up. But I sent back my VG10 because to me it wasn't worth $2000 + the cost of an 18-55 lens.

So how much are these missing features worth given there are still missing critical, to me, features?

Given the price of the AF100, which has all the features a camcorder needs, it has got to be significantly less. To me that would be at least $2000. Which would place it between the VG10 I wouldn't buy and the AF100 I would buy. What would make the FS100 a go would be a price of $3500 just as the VG10 would have been a go at $1000.

Of course, we are not talking real-world because we can buy the FS100 w/o lens and we can't buy the VG10 w/o lens. Also, I've not seen Sony say the A-mount adaptor from the VG10 will work. Nor, are any of the coming E-mount lenses fast (f/2.8) 18-100mm zooms.

And, if RED shows up with anything around $6000 -- the AF100 would likely become a no buy for me.

PS: the demo video from the FS100 looks painfully softer than from the NEX-5. I'll live with a tiny bit of very occasional aliasing to get a high rez image. 1000tvl/ph is a minimum.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 01:35 PM   #7
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

Yes, the A-mount will work with the FS100. It's in all the literature. It's the same E-mount as on the VG10 and the NEX-5, so the adapter will work. And I'm sure you can find a faster zoom with an A-mount, but expect to pay a heck of a lot for it, as you would any fast zoom lens.
I'm guessing the FS100's image will be much better than the NEX-5s, for the simple reason that they've greatly reduced the moire and aliasing. I did not find the FS100's video being too soft, but whatever.

If you don't think the FS100 is worth the asking price, then this camera's not for you. But good luck finding all the features on the FS100 in a camera costing $3,500. I'm guessing you'll be searching for a long, long time.
And do we even have to bring RED into this discussion?
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Old April 7th, 2011, 02:11 PM   #8
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

I expect "no luck" in finding a $3500 camera with what the FS100 offers. But, unlike, you do not see any need to spend $6000 on an FS100 and NOT get what I want when I can spend $6000 in the AF100 and get far more of what I want. I'm neither locked into a brand. I'm not sure why you insist it must be a Sony?

Sometimes I have to wonder if Sony/Panasonic buyers really understand HOW different a RED works.

Neither the FS100 nor the AF100 record 8MP of RAW video data. If you understand what this means for quality, then the debate about Sony/Panasonic really is a waste of time. By the time you buy several compromise cameras, you have spent enough to get a 4K2K camera. I feel no pain in saying no thanks, I'll save and wait for what I want.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #9
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re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

Rumor has it that the VG 20 will be announced at NAB.
We'll see what it's got- if it really shows up.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 08:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
I expect "no luck" in finding a $3500 camera with what the FS100 offers. But, unlike, you do not see any need to spend $6000 on an FS100 and NOT get what I want when I can spend $6000 in the AF100 and get far more of what I want. I'm neither locked into a brand. I'm not sure why you insist it must be a Sony?

Sometimes I have to wonder if Sony/Panasonic buyers really understand HOW different a RED works.

Neither the FS100 nor the AF100 record 8MP of RAW video data. If you understand what this means for quality, then the debate about Sony/Panasonic really is a waste of time. By the time you buy several compromise cameras, you have spent enough to get a 4K2K camera. I feel no pain in saying no thanks, I'll save and wait for what I want.
When did I ever claim that I had a "need" to spend $6,000 to buy an FS100? Show me where I have. I've never said I would. I 'm not committed to buying anything. I'm curious about it, nothing more at this point. You presume too much, my friend.

I also never insisted on owning a Sony product. Again, I never once stated that. For the record, I currently own a VG10 - and a Canon XF305. I just sold my Panasonic HPX500, and before that, a JVC HD200. I believe in a little diversity.

I have never worked with a RED, so no, I do not know how they operate. You're right, the AF100 and the FS100 don't record 8MP of RAW data. But neither does the HPX2700, or the PDWF800, and they're very successful cameras. I don't need to record RAW data, not for the work I do. Many people don't. And if you need to do so, then why are you in a forum about an AVCHD camera? Criticizing the FS100 because it doesn't record RAW makes little sense. It wasn't designed to, nor does it command the high price tag of cameras that do. The FS100 and the AF100 don't record RAW - so what? Go buy an EPIC.

The subject of this thread you started is if the FS100 is a step up from a VG10, and I can unequivocably say yes. I have listed my reasons. But where does RAW video come into play?

Not trying to rattle you, Steve. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding your point.

Rumors: we'll see. I'd be interested, for sure. Might even be a half-arsed alternative to the FS100, but it'd need XLRs and some kind of focus assist to be taken seriously. I guess the moire and aliasing will still be present, though.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #11
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Re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

I don't think you'd get a compact large sensor camera with an internal ND filter that would allow you to shoot with wide apertures (for a shallow DOF) on a sunny day. The combination of high sensor sensitivity and available space (not referring to the flange depth) would limit the range of internal NDs to allow this.

The F3 allows to shoot on a sunny day, but you're not getting a shallow DOF. However, the internal NDs are more convenient and reduces the ND pack required on the front. So far as I'm aware, the only RED camera that will have internal filters is the 2/3" Scarlet.

I don't think you always get the same features for the same price. However, if you don't get the same features, you would expect improvements in other aspects. In this case, perhaps an improvement in image quality over a more features camera could be a key difference for a number of people. Although, this has yet to be fully tested on the FS100, but initially it does appear to be better than the AF100 in this regard. How well the HDMI out works out in practise remains to be seen.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 02:18 PM   #12
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Re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

I have never worked with a RED, so no, I do not know how they operate. You're right, the AF100 and the FS100 don't record 8MP of RAW data. But neither does the HPX2700, or the PDWF800, and they're very successful cameras. I don't need to record RAW data, not for the work I do. Many people don't. And if you need to do so, then why are you in a forum about an AVCHD camera? Criticizing the FS100 because it doesn't record RAW makes little sense. It wasn't designed to, nor does it command the high price tag of cameras that do. The FS100 and the AF100 don't record RAW - so what? Go buy an EPIC.

The subject of this thread you started is if the FS100 is a step up from a VG10, and I can unequivocably say yes. I have listed my reasons. But where does RAW video come into play?

Not trying to rattle you, Steve. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding your point.[/QUOTE]

I think it's the perspective that's different. I've covered almost 20 years of NAB as a member of the press so I can't have any brand preference. But in general the press tracks what is not yet public so we can see how a product fits long term. So when JVC has shown 4k2k cameras and monitors for the last two nabs and we learn there are already 4k2k monitors available in japan and then in January JVC shows a 4k2k prosumer camcorder, it's not a huge leap to say that japan will soon deliver a RED-like camera.

That's why I mentioned RED. It is a camera you can buy today that offers 4k2k. Thus I view both the fs100 and af100 as interim products.

And if Scalet ships this spring and is about $6000, then I'm not sure the question is does one need a RED but why would any one looking for a cinema look not buy one?
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Old April 8th, 2011, 02:54 PM   #13
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Re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

The Scarlet looks extremely promising, but it's a 3k 2/3" bayer sensor. Perhaps not the camera for the 35mm shallow DOF effect, but for a wide range of productions that are happy with a RAW workflow it could be hard to beat. A digital replacement for the 16mm film camera.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #14
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Re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen View Post
And if Scalet ships this spring and is about $6000, then I'm not sure the question is does one need a RED but why would any one looking for a cinema look not buy one?
If we're lucky Scarlet will be shipping next year, if we're super lucky - this fall,
but anyways I am not replacing my EX with FS or AF, to me 21Mbps just not enough, i will try to replace one of my DSLRs with FS, but only if test results will positive, but really doubt that
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Old April 8th, 2011, 03:18 PM   #15
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Re: FS100. A real step-up from the VG10?

Even if Scarlet is indeed out finally, and/or the FS100 proves to be a killer camera whose sensor is worth working around all its limitations and compromises - I, for one, would never replace my EX1 with any of them.

Complement the EX camera with one of those large sensor newcomers - yes. But replace? Even if the FS100 did have internal ND filtering, it's still a kind of camera that is simply unsuited to the many tasks the EX1 shines at!

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