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


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Old August 16th, 2011, 09:26 AM   #1
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First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

So, finally I've got the FS100EK - for testing till Thursday, but it will most probably stay :)

I'll post my impressions later, but now would like to say this:

- when I was speculating about using this camera with primes at F1.4, some people reacted strangely with the "why would you need such wide aperture on a camera that sensitive" kind of questions. But today I did my first test shoots indoors, with a quite cloudy sky outside the window and of course no additional light, and believe me: even with my Canon FD 50mm/F1.4 still lens, I had to crank gain up to 18 dB! Thankfully, the camera is virtually noise-free as you know, but I was astonished - people made be prepared for not opening above F5.6 without an ND filter...

Is it normal? I mean, have my expectations re: the FS100 sensitivity been too high, or is my unit faulty?

Piotr
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Old August 16th, 2011, 10:10 AM   #2
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

What was your shutter set at? Were on on full manual? What format were you shooting?, etc.
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Old August 17th, 2011, 01:19 AM   #3
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

John,

Everything is set by the book (1080/25p with 1/50th shutter speed, everything on manual). I'm not complain about the FS100 sensitivity - just stating it's not too sensitive for using F1.4 under certain lighting conditions, which some people were implying.

Piotr
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Old August 17th, 2011, 03:22 AM   #4
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

One of the things I've heard several times is that the FS100 or even F3 isn't that sensitive. The way people are gauging it is by saying that when they use x lens and set it to f1.4 it doesn't seem that much brighter than when they use an f1.4 on their other 1/3" or 1/2" camera. People expect it to be way brighter equating that to greater sensitivity. As I don't have an FS100 and I'm going on fuzzy memory here (so my numbers may be off) I believe the FS100 has a native ISO of 500 and the EX1 is something like 320. So if both cameras are set to 0db gain the FS100 will only be slightly brighter than the EX1. Where you get a major advantage with the FS100 is when you start to turn up the gain. The image will remain clean up to say +18db on the FS100 while the EX1 will have a very noticeable degradation at say +6db.

It's a lot like saying a 5D MK2 at 320 ISO doesn't seem to be any more sensitive than a 7D at 320 ISO and that's because it isn't. But the 5D gives a usable picture up to 1250 while the 7D starts to show some noise above 800.

Does that make sense?
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Old August 17th, 2011, 03:29 AM   #5
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
Does that make sense?
It definitely does, Garret.

The beauty of FS100 is in two things (apart of course from the S35 kind of DOF):

- ability to use high gains when needed, without that ugly noise that can be a disaster in the EX1
- ability to get away with aperture closed down to some F16-ish when needed, without diffraction softness.

All in all, the FS100EK is going to stay in my arsenal!
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Old August 17th, 2011, 07:40 AM   #6
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Hmmm... this was shot on the kit lens - and yeah, try that on any other camera.

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Old August 19th, 2011, 10:48 AM   #7
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

I thought why the heck not give you a reason for some good laugh, guys: it turned out I didn't properly screw my FD lens onto the adapter ring, and its iris only half-opened even though the iris ring was at the F1.4 stop position...

So, the updated message is this: the FS100 is a brilliant camera, and it's going to stay in my arsenal as an excellent addition to my work-horse EX1.

Piotr

PS Oh, and while it's very sensitive & clean, I'll stick to it that it's not too sensitive at all - especially with my Heliopan filter.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #8
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Full agreement with Garrett. Intrinsic sensitivity can show in two ways - high ISO rating and/or low noise at 0dB. Sensible design means normal ISO figure at 0dB, but still giving usable results at gain levels where other cameras turn to mush. It means not too much ND needs to be used in decent lighting at 0dB, but it's got the ability to use a lot of gain comfortably when you need to.

May I ask how it compares sensitivity wise to your AF100, Piotr? The stories I'm hearing are "much better", but I've not heard reliably by how much.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 03:46 PM   #9
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

David, I do not own an AF100 - just my old good EX1, plus now the FS100 (those names are confusing, aren't they).

Anyway, comparing image brightness in the same light between the EX1 and FS100, both at F1.9 (the common denominator - EX1''s lens fully open), the FS100 is 1-1.5 stops brighter, I'd say. But when it really is dark, you can crank up the gain on the FS100 and still have less noise at say 18dB, than with EX1 at 3dB!

Piotr
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Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; August 20th, 2011 at 07:03 AM.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 04:45 PM   #10
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Hmm. That's great to know Piotr. I'm saving for an F3 as that will give me the ultimate mix of usability and performance at a reasonable price. But I'm still a ways off from being able to acquire one. Wondering if the FS100 isn't a good intermediate step. I wonder how their resale value will hold up say 8 months from now?

-Garrett
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:53 AM   #11
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

I hear what you are saying, Garrett - the F3 is a sum of what's the best in both the EX1 and the FS100. Frankly, the FS100 feels a little "toyish" in handling, compared to the PMW line of cameras. The top handle is a joke, the single SD card slot is not serious enough.... I could go on - the point being I'd never actually replace my EX1 with it!

But as an addition to the EX1, well - the FS100 feels comfortably at home. I knew I could never afford the F3, so for me this is a perfect combination. Plus, still being a one-man crew myself, I can now shoot the concerts with 2 cameras which gives me so many more opportunities.

That said, again - the F3 is an EX+FS100 in one body!

Piotr
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Old August 20th, 2011, 05:12 AM   #12
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Speaking of my first trials slip-up with mounting the FD lens:

The adapter I'm using is the cheapest one from eBay (just $20 with free shipping). I had bought it in advance because I wanted to have one ready for my FS100 testing period, and - should I decide not to keep the camera - didn't want to spend too much on an adapter I wouldn't need.

But of course it does have the iris lever stop pin; it's just that putting one of my FD lenses on it for the first time, I didn't pay enough attention to properly twist it full way.

BTW, I read that even more expensive FD adapters (like the $200 Novoflex) can have problems with stray light internal reflections, mirror effects etc.; I'll only have to test mine in various situations to decide whether it's good enough - otherwise, I'll replace it with something more serious.

Is there a consensus on this forum regarding the best FD->NEX adapter money can buy? And no, I don't need those fancy ones with internal iris - for exposure control, I already have my Heliopan Vario ND filter :)

Piotr
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Old August 20th, 2011, 05:20 AM   #13
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Thanks Piotr,

I have to admit I really like the EX1/3 and would keep my EX3 no matter what other cam I got. I can understand your assessment about the feel of the FS100 as it seems that Sony tried to put a camera out at a specific price point that could produce the best image possible. ND filters aren't a huge worry for me either as I already have a Matte Box and filters that I would use with it whether it be the FS100 or F3.

Have you tried the FS100 with your NanoFlash using say 280Mbps I-Frame only? Wondering how high you can go on the gain before you start to see noise. Also, I'd imagine that would yield some pretty spectacular images.

-Garrett
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Old August 20th, 2011, 05:28 AM   #14
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

Garret,

We'll have to wait for the results of my FS100/nanoFlash test - my nF is currently with CD for repair :(

Piotr
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Old August 20th, 2011, 06:38 AM   #15
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Re: First tests: it's not THAT sensitive

I did some FS100 vs. Nano tests that I showed in my workshop at NAB -- and can be seen someplace on line. There is absolutely no visible between recording to a Nano at 100/Mbps and the internal memory cards. No difference at all, and it is a pain to roll the Nano manually. The only benefit I found to the Nano with an FS100 is that at least I could skip the AVCHD workflow and record the clips as XDCAM instead.
My advice is not to wast your time with an external recorder
http://www.vortexmedia.com/DVD_FS100.html
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