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


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Old June 17th, 2011, 02:55 AM   #1
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What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

DVuser: Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper
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Old June 17th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #2
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

Having taken delivery of my FS100 this week, preparing for its first major shoot next week, Nigel's giving his honest and uncoloured opinion. I'd agree with many of the points he raises.

The FS100 does feel plasticky - definitely built from the Z1 camp rather than the EX1 or a camera costing four times more. The switches are a bit fiddly. The side grip does bend a bit and hardly inspires confidence.

The 'aftermarket' is already responding, so I'm not worried.

Nigel doesn't like the camera, its controls and the wobbly handgrip. That's absolutely fine. We should appreciate candid and unbiased comments. He's not saying it's a bad camera, he's saying it doesn't suit him.

As time goes on, I'm feeling comfier with the FS100 - it's not badly built, fit and finish is very good. Quite frankly, carbon fibre can sound and feel nasty and plasticky if you don't know what it is and what it can do. I'd prefer a camera to 'bounce' rather than crack. Unlike Nigel, I like the ergonomics, and am happy with the buttons.

Besides, all is forgiven when you see the video it creates - each frame is a photo. Quite frankly, I'd rather have this than an EX3 or PDW-F350, but that's my market - not Nigel's.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 07:02 AM   #3
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

That was the worst review of any camera I have ever read. It was insulting to read.

He spends the entire review talking about small buttons and the build then one small paragraph on the image!! He also is incorrect in his comparisons to the Panny AF100. Obviously just before this review he must have bought a Panny!!

If he uses a ball point pen to press the WB button then his fingers must be like Cumberland sausages (very fat).

I bought the FS-100. When you look at the images make sure you are sitting down. When I think its only three years that I was shooting with the Z1 and two years with my EX-1 and 3# we have come a long way very fast. This idiot compaared the image to a EX1....!!
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Old June 17th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #4
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Braeley
That was the worst review of any camera I have ever read. It was insulting to read.
The review is factually inaccurate in some quite important details, and considering the length and detail in some respects, it has some strange and obvious omissions, As example, in his conclusion he says the following:
Quote:
Sure it {the AF101} lags slightly behind in raw resolution and there is a tad more aliasing, but the AF101 is about 1,500 cheaper .......
A quick visit to a main UK dealer website showed the current prices of the AF101 to be 3,485 and the FS100 to be 3,850 - both prices without lens and with no VAT. Which is less than 400 - nowhere close to 1,500, even if you were to take the VAT inclusive prices. If he can't even get those sort of basic facts right.....? I can only assume he is comparing the AF101 without lens versus the FS100 with?

From what I've seen, the AF101 does indeed have advantages in terms of HD-SDI instead of HDMI, and built in NDs, but in terms of picture quality the FS100 is the clear winner - compare charts, and the FS100 is much better in terms of resolution and aliasing - far more than the "tad" Nigel allows it.

And one big advantage the FS100 does have over the AF101 is a factor that Nigel surprisingly doesn't even seem to have considered - sensitivity. He refers to "see how the camera performed in a scientific environment" - yet doesn't make any mention of measurements of noise, or how it performs in low light.

He's also wrong about the differences between the two in terms of depth of field - he compares the 16:9 dimensions of the full FS100 sensor with the 4:3 basic dimensions of the AF101 chip. (Instead of the 16:9 crop which is actually used in the 101.) He should also be comparing the differences of area, not linear measurements, and if you do that the difference between the two comes out at nearly a whole stop - a lot more than the "marginally more control over depth-of-field, but nothing really noticeable" that Nigel claims for the FS100.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 06:24 AM   #5
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

To be fair when this review was written the FS-100 MSRP was $6,000 but Sony reduced this by $1,000 on release, so in the review this could be the reason for this error.

However overall this is a horrible review and it has been criticised by many experts ever since - we are not alone.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 08:21 AM   #6
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

Whats the problem? Comparisons between the AF100 and the FS100 are inevitable.

I have been trying to decide which one to buy myself, and I have noticed that many of the FS100 reviews (including reviews by owners) have noted the poor build quality (cheap plastic), small fiddly buttons, and the unusual (some say awkward) design for hand-holding. So surely his review was right in this respect? A lot of other reviews also bemoan the lack of ND filters and lack of HD/SDI out (but that was expected anyway).

There is no doubt that the FS100 has much better low light performance though, and that was the main thing that the reviewer seemed to have missed, but given that he had a short amount of time with a pre-production model it was inevitable that he would miss some aspects.

I still have not decided which to go for. The lack of HD/SDI is the killer for me - I hate relying on HDMI cables when I am hand holding and on the move.

I guess the cost of an AF100 plus Neat Video for noise-reduction would still work out far less expensive than an FS100 plus a matte box.....
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Old June 18th, 2011, 02:59 PM   #7
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

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Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
I guess the cost of an AF100 plus Neat Video for noise-reduction would still work out far less expensive than an FS100 plus a matte box.....
Yes it would be less expensive, but I think if you are somehow imagining that a noise reduction filter will allow an AF100 to have similar noise performance and image quality to an FS100 in low light, I suspect you will be very very disappointed. That is like saying, well an HMC150 and After Effects will cost less than an AF100. Yes there may be one instance in which you can rotoscope or process an image to get an acceptably comparable simulation of shallow depth of field or other image characteristics using AE, but 99% of the time it will be way more work to match desirable image characteristics and you'll still get a worse image after all that time and effort than if you had just used the tool that actually does what you want and is designed to do so.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #8
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

As for Nigel's review, I agree with some of his assessments but I disagree on the magnitude of most of his negative comments and I would come to a completely different final conclusion on the camera. I should mention that I've used the AF100 quite a bit and recently bought an FS100, so you can probably see where my conclusion differs. Most parts of the FS100 are not built as solidly as an AF100, however they are certainly solid enough for most uses. No I would not mount the camera to a car rig using the screw holes on the top handle, and the top handle is not as strong as the AF100s but even with my FS100 rigged with zoom lens, rails, ff, mb, wireless, 10hr battery, etc I am comfortable lifting the whole thing from the top handle, which I was surprised by. Yes NDs are convenient and HD-SDI out is also convenient but both can be added if necessary. On the other hand, the AF100 image quality makes it a no go for me if I have other options. I've found it to be noisy past iso640, highlights to shift to yellow before clipping, overexposure latitude to be too small, and all gamma curves use superwhite. A project I shot recently had the whites clipped pretty terribly in post, and with other cameras I always try shoot broadcast safe if I do not know who's going to be handling the footage in post. Every single time I shoot with the AF100 I curse its lack of expanded focus, since that is a truly necessary function. You won't always need HD-SDI and you won't always need NDs, but you will always need to focus.

Nigel neglects to mention a lot of the great benefits the FS100 has over the AF100. Yes the hand grip is more flimsy but that is because it is rotatable which can be useful and more comfortable. Yes some of the buttons are smaller but it also has additional features like expanded focus, 120fps recording, ability to put any sound input on any channel and monitor any channel separately among others all of which have their own separate buttons, so they had more buttons to fit on a smaller body. I'd rather have the quick access to those functions in smaller buttons than fewer large buttons and have to go to the menu all the time. The buttons are smaller than the AF100 so it may bother people with unusually large fingers, but it is hard for me to imagine how large his hands must be if he could not operate the white balance button without a ballpoint pen. The FS100 is unusually low noise in low light and in normal shooting and has knee options that allow you to force broadcast safe whites and more picture profile adjustments in general. It doesn't hurt that it also has more than twice the battery life of the AF100 and a better LCD/EVF and is smaller in size.

Maybe Nigel needs his cameras to be made of solid magnesium more than he needs the best image quality, but that is not how I form my opinions about cameras. I need build quality to be good enough that it does not get in the way and that I do not have to worry about it. The FS100 seems to achieve this. If someone came out with a camera that was in every way the same as the AF100 but was made entirely of solid metal with bigger buttons, would that suddenly make the AF100 build quality not good enough and buttons not big enough?
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Old June 18th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #9
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

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Originally Posted by Noah Yuan-Vogel View Post
Yes it would be less expensive, but I think if you are somehow imagining that a noise reduction filter will allow an AF100 to have similar noise performance and image quality to an FS100 in low light, I suspect you will be very very disappointed.
Well yes and no. Generally I use lights to try and get the shot looking the way I want it to begin with. Its fairly unusual that I would be shooting in very low light situations without lights, but what I'm saying is the few times that it might happen I guess I could fall back on a noise reduction filter.

Generally I find myself shooting outdoors, or in fairly bright environments, so I figured the I would be using the ND's more to begin with.

But I agree with what you're saying. I wish I could afford an F3, as I do prefer the Sony full sensor, but the FS100 just seems to have a number of comprises (as does the AF100). I'm still sitting on the fence...
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Old June 18th, 2011, 04:01 PM   #10
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

I will add that with a Genus variable ND and Canon lenses (2.8 max) on my FS-100, wide open (iris control adaptor not yet available) the range of the Genus has been plenty sufficient to handle full daylight. That was one of my main concerns, but the variable ND makes using the camera in daylight without constant fiddling. And the reviewer who had trouble hitting the white balance button must have fingers the size of baseball bats.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 04:58 PM   #11
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
Whats the problem? Comparisons between the AF100 and the FS100 are inevitable.
The problem is the level of inaccuracies (price difference, dof difference,etc) and obvious omissions (sensitivity, dynamic range etc) in the review, which in every case are in favour of the AF101. He makes a very great deal out of undeniable advantages that the AF101 has - HD-SDI, built-in ND - but fails to even mention the undeniable advantages of the FS100, namely sensitivity and dynamic range. As such, the review leaves itself wide open to charges of bias.
Quote:
I have been trying to decide which one to buy myself, and I have noticed that many of the FS100 reviews (including reviews by owners) have noted the poor build quality (cheap plastic), small fiddly buttons, and the unusual (some say awkward) design for hand-holding. So surely his review was right in this respect?
I'm actually not a great fan of the FS100, and comments about poor hand-held ergonomics etc may indeed be well based. But have you tried hand-holding an AF101 either? I don't find either of them at all good in this respect, or indeed in respect to a lot of matters of ergonomics, build etc. But don't anybody take my word for it - go to a dealer and compare them yourself side by side.
Quote:
I guess the cost of an AF100 plus Neat Video for noise-reduction would still work out far less expensive than an FS100 plus a matte box.....
No. Noise reduction software can give a cleaner looking image, true, but it can "clean up" a lot of the subtle detail at the same time as noise. So a "cleaned up" image will not be able to be post tweaked in anything like the same way as an image with inherently less noise due to a better camera front end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Braeley
To be fair when this review was written the FS-100 MSRP was $6,000 but Sony reduced this by $1,000 on release, so in the review this could be the reason for this error.
The wording used in the review is "The cost of the FS100E will have a street price of approximately 5,000 for the body only. - no "expected" or any other caveats. And he's got it badly wrong. Same in his final conclusions - ".....the AF101 is about 1,500 cheaper ...." - no caveats, no "expected to be", but rather put as a statement of fact. And this actual 3,850 figure soon after the FS100 became available in the shops, not months later.

You're probably right about the reason for the error, but it seems he's guessing about the street price on the basis of original recommended price, but stating his guess as fact. Worse, he's then drawing comparative conclusions from his own incorrect figures!

If this was the only problem with the review, then, well, we all make mistakes. But it's not, just one that is very easy to prove as wrong.

Regarding the depth of field comments he makes, I've just worked out that when you take the 16:9 cropping of the AF101 sensor into account, the FS100 sensor has about 1.86 times the used area compared to that of the AF101. (23.4x13.2 versus 17x9.75) That's very nearly a stop difference - for an FS100 at f2.8, you'll have to set an AF101 to nearly f2 to get the same depth of field. For Nigel to say that is "nothing really noticeable" is nonsense, it's comparable to the difference between 1/2" and 2/3".
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Old June 19th, 2011, 02:18 AM   #12
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Re: What do you guys think of this FS100 review?

I would push for bigger buttons and less of them, for example the Z1 has too many button's covering it. The JVC cameras are much neater in this regard.

I suspect Sony went for light construction so that the camera was manageable hand held, with the hand roughly at the GC when a lens is fitted to the front. Handlicam style ergonomics start falling apart when you have a camera heavier than a Z1 and I've never used the rear V/F on the Z1 hand held. The FS 100 is an attempt at something different, bordering on the RED style, although it will need the 3rd party manufactures to fine tune the ergonomics.

Nigel writes tough reviews and tends to favour equipment that can withstand the rigours of professional camera work. In that regard we'll have to see how well the FS100 holds up after a couple of years of regular use.
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