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


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Old December 31st, 2011, 08:44 AM   #1
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FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Hi.
I am looking to invest in my first digital film camera and I have been looking at the Sony FS 100 along with an Atomos Ninja with a 160 SSD. Do you think this will be a good package to start with? The camera comes bundled with Sonys own lens, which I think will be a good starting point for me. Big sensor cameras are new to me, but I am very excited at the possibilities they offer.

I already own the Sony EX3 and have been very pleased with the images it produces. Does anyone know how these two cameras compare picture quality wise, and do you think they would cut together well?

Thanks.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 07:15 AM   #2
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

I don't think I've seen a single test that has shown any visible difference when the FS100 has captured to the Ninja over the in camera 24mbps AVCHD, although there are still indications that the ProRes from the Ninja holds up better if you are going to be doing a lot with the footage in post. You may of course also want to speed up workflow with the ProRes capture or need a 50mbps requirement for broadcast which you can also comply with via the Ninja, but for many projects its doubtful that it is actually needed.

As for FS100 vs EX3, well they are very different cameras, but I've used EX1's and 7D's extensively over the last couple of years and I have literally been blown away with the performance of the FS100.

I'm still a new FS100 owner but I've been using a variety of lenses from the kit lens (great for all round run and gun type situations) through to EF Samyang lenses (great value and manual controls) and even old Pentax K mount lenses that I had lying around and they have been giving me some remarkable images.

It has a few drawbacks, but all around the FS100 has been a fantastic purchase for me.
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Old January 1st, 2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

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Originally Posted by Svein Rune Skilnand View Post
Hi.
I am looking to invest in my first digital film camera and I have been looking at the Sony FS 100 along with an Atomos Ninja with a 160 SSD. Do you think this will be a good package to start with? The camera comes bundled with Sonys own lens, which I think will be a good starting point for me. Big sensor cameras are new to me, but I am very excited at the possibilities they offer.

I already own the Sony EX3 and have been very pleased with the images it produces. Does anyone know how these two cameras compare picture quality wise, and do you think they would cut together well?

Thanks.
I have not seen much that proves the Ninja to be a better choice than the internal codec, but the bigger issue is cutting between the EX3 and the FS100.. the sensor size would be a jarring difference. you could always grab some clips and try before you buy.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 06:25 AM   #4
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Thanks for your answers, Michael and Simon.

My reason for wanting the Atomos was because of the AVCHD codec, which my MAC does not seem to handle very well. I imported some clips from my NX70 cam and the final Pro Res files were stuttering. Now my machine won`t recognize the clips through Log and transfer anymore. So I am not sure what is going on.

Just a bit afraid that my machine is a bit outdated for the AVCHD codec. It works fine with Pro Res, though. Just wanted to futureproof my purchase.

I hear several people claim that the AVCHD codec is actuall really, really good, but not as good as the XDCam EX codec.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 02:14 PM   #5
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

You may want to check out ClipWrap to convert from AVCHD to ProResLT:

ClipWrap: Easy AVCHD and HDV conversion for the Mac

Preserves TimeCode but not other metadata. Not the slowest, not the quickest, needs some care in converting longer clips - >25 minutes or so - as you need to spot files that need to be linked together.

I've heard Doug Jensen's had issues with it, but it works well for many of us.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 04:09 PM   #6
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

+1 on Clipwrap. You can either re-wrap to a .mov file to make Mac friendly or transcode directly out to ProRes like Matt says. The only downside that I've personally come across with Clipwrap is that Cinema Tools doesn't like it, so you need to use MPEG Streamclip if shooting 50p then conforming to something else.

This may come as a shock but there is actually quite a bit of evidence to suggest that AVCHD at 24mpbs is actually broadly comparable to XDCAM at 35mbps. Personally I'd never been a fan of AVCHD, but that was probably due to the fact that it was mainly found on lower end cameras and therefore never looked great. With hindsight the quality issues were almost certainly the camera's fault and not the codec because it looks absolutely stunning on the FS100.
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 04:36 PM   #7
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

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Originally Posted by Simon Spear View Post
The only downside that I've personally come across with Clipwrap is that Cinema Tools doesn't like it, so you need to use MPEG Streamclip if shooting 50p then conforming to something else.
Hmmm... Interesting...

Is this rejection by Cinema Tools based on the wrapped QT movies that ClipWrap makes? If so, the problem more likely lies with Cinema Tools, which expects a intra-frame based (erm, frame by frame) codec, not the Long GOP of AVCHD and H.264. It doesn't work with XDCAM-EX footage either.

If you transcode to ProRes with ClipWrap, it 'should' do exactly the same job as MPEG Streamclip, and work just fine with Cinema Tools (I'm sure it does, just haven't got any files to play with here and now).

And yes, Sony say the AVCHD at 24 Mbits 1080p24 is roughly equivalent to XDCAM-EX 1080p24, due to the benefits of a more modern codec (H.264 vs MPEG) and far more quick/efficient/expensive processing chips in the camera compared to home camcorders, but not quite the beastie inside the PMW-F3 (which I know isn't AVCHD, but the two have the same chip, but the different processors give the F3 its Cine Gamma and S-Log).

Brief shoutout to OP (to the chorus of 'tl;dr')

A dear friend has an F3 plus a couple of EX1Rs and an EX3. Lots of multicam. He's besotted with the F3 and its image, and has repeated bouts of desire to sell off the EX3 and an EX1 to fund another F3. Neither of us work under the strict 50 Mbit law of the BBC here in the UK, and for everything up to basic talking head chromakey, the on-board recording is FINE, it's all about the highlight handling and so on.

I'm only interested in the KiPro for long-form recording because unloading a bunch of cards to disk, then using XDCAM Transfer to process them up takes a long time (not using FCP to do this for various workflow reasons). I think I mentioned elsewhere that I've been using AJA KiPros when budget allows, so again it's not the quality of the Ninja, it's the ability to record in an edit ready codec.

Yes, AVCHD can be edited 'natively' but give it a go with three cameras on a 90 minute timeline with PPT visuals dropped in, and note how your nitrogen cooled mega computer is reduced to a sweaty mess of colourful cursors. It's the kind of work ProRes was designed for. :-)
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Old January 2nd, 2012, 06:12 PM   #8
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

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Originally Posted by Matt Davis View Post
Hmmm... Interesting...

Is this rejection by Cinema Tools based on the wrapped QT movies that ClipWrap makes? If so, the problem more likely lies with Cinema Tools, which expects a intra-frame based (erm, frame by frame) codec, not the Long GOP of AVCHD and H.264. It doesn't work with XDCAM-EX footage either.

If you transcode to ProRes with ClipWrap, it 'should' do exactly the same job as MPEG Streamclip, and work just fine with Cinema Tools (I'm sure it does, just haven't got any files to play with here and now).
If you transcode to ProRes via Clipwrap you can still open the clips in Cinema Tools but the 'Conform' button will be greyed out and not clickable. Not a huge pain with the FS100's built in overcranking but it just adds more PITA to the workflow if you end up shooting various formats on the same job. On a recent shoot I needed slowmo but wanted to retain the audio track so I shot 50p and then conformed in Cinema Tools to 25p after I had removed the audio. The footage was mixed up in camera with normal 25p and it was a real pain going through each clip one by one for different workflows.

I'm a huge ProRes fan and I've used the Ninja before and especially like the benefits of speedier workflow, but on most cameras it is also actually providing a jump in quality over the onboard capture options. On the FS100 is just doesn't seem to unless you are going to start ripping the footage apart in post.

re: 50mbps broadcast - I've never personally run foul of this requirement as generally there are allowances that can be made. The last time the Beeb bought some of my footage (2011) they ripped it off an evaluation DVD and turned down the option of ProRes data file - I kid you not! :)
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 04:45 AM   #9
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Interesting again.

It's been stated on another forum here that the FS100s internal recording is no better than HDV albeit at full HD. So getting others opinions is very good for sure.

Duncan.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 01:07 PM   #10
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

I am using FS 100 with Ninja and I can say yes, there is clearly visible difference between footage captured with Ninja and the footage with its internal codec.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 12:11 PM   #11
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Hi

I've been using my FS100 and Atomos Ninja since September and there is definitely a difference in the quality of the footage.

The AVCHD footage looks great, but in low light you will see banding and noise far more easily. It also doesn't like to be graded too much before it shows up compression artifacts.

The Pro Res files from the Ninja on the other hand are far more robust. They may not look much different out of the camera when shooting in good light... but low light is a no go with the AVCHD for anything but web content in my opinion.

S
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Old January 6th, 2012, 03:38 PM   #12
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Walter and Sean

Thanks for your input. Apart from seeing the differences in low light and when doing lots of post work is there anything else that shows up when comparing the onboard AVCHD and the Ninja's ProRes?
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Old January 8th, 2012, 03:43 PM   #13
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

Hi Simon

In good lighting, there really isn't any difference visable to the eye. If you are just going to rely on getting the look you want in camera and not grade it at all, i don't see a problem with using the internal codec.

However, i'm a Final Cut user, and the AVCHD is a pain in the ass to work with i find... it's do-able for sure... but not ideal. Taking a Pro Res file directly from the Ninja to the timeline is pure bliss in comparison.

FCP will let you 'log and transfer' the AVCHD files, but only directly from the SDHC card they were captured on... if you've moved the files or are capturing from a back-up... it won't see them. Huge pain.

I use 2 small 120GB drives in the Ninja and that easily covers a full days shoot.

I only use the AVCHD when shooting 1080p slo-mo. This is worth the hassle of converting to Pro Res later as it's stunning... way better than the 720p that even the F3 shoots slo-mo in.
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Old January 8th, 2012, 09:55 PM   #14
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

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Originally Posted by Sean Vincent View Post
Hi Simon
<snip>

However, i'm a Final Cut user, and the AVCHD is a pain in the ass to work with i find... it's do-able for sure... but not ideal. Taking a Pro Res file directly from the Ninja to the timeline is pure bliss in comparison.

FCP will let you 'log and transfer' the AVCHD files, but only directly from the SDHC card they were captured on... if you've moved the files or are capturing from a back-up... it won't see them. Huge pain.

I<snip>
Sean, are you using FCP7 or FCPX? I don't have a FS100 yet, but this kind of worries me hearing about issues like this.
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Old January 9th, 2012, 03:32 AM   #15
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Re: FS100 and Atomos Ninja vs EX3

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Originally Posted by Sean Vincent View Post
However, i'm a Final Cut user, and the AVCHD is a pain in the ass to work with i find... it's do-able for .
Sorry to hear you have problems with FCP. PP5.5 handles FS100 AVCHD video seamlessly. You can download a free 30 day trail and try it out.

It's a joy to use and I hear PP 6 is even going to be better.
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