My Take on FS100 at DVinfo.net

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


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Old January 30th, 2012, 10:42 AM   #1
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My Take on FS100

I've had the FS100 for trial for several days, something I chose to do because of the excellent information I've gotten on this forum over the past month.

Just a quick overview of my background. I spent 16 years in television news, starting with a Bolex and Back Auricon, Moviolas, CP-16s, etc. -- then on to ENG with huge Ikegamis and boat-anchor 3/4 inch decks, etc. From there I jumped into commercial production for several years, as an independent Betacam owner-operator. Then, I took up documentary production, and produced ten films for Canadian television - starting with Betacam, then to DVcam, then XDCam, HDV, XF, oh my. I still keep my hands in lots of projects, including corporate work. I mention this 35-year-long laundry list not for ego's sake (I still had so much more to learn) , but to frame my perspective -- which mostly comes from using lots of top-of the-line video cameras (for their time), and lots of today's mid-to-lower line cameras, and with budgets and working situations where practicality and parsimony rule.

So, here are my comments on some of the subjects / issues that have come up here.

Image: Stunning. Blows me away.

Low light performance: Same. When I see grain, it has a pleasant, film-like feel. I almost prefer it! I used to use standard Betacam tapes in Beta SP cameras for the same reason. Grain adds a very nice patina, depending on your shooting style.

Codec: surprizingly good. I did a side by side with a Canon XF with their codec, and at 400 percent magnification, no difference. Graded pretty well too.

Lack of ND filters: No problema. Used a grad on kit lens, not an expensive one, which works just fine. If I were to strap big primes on this sucker, then it's time for some higher-end filters.

Kit Lens: Great stabilization and autofocus and variety of focal length. Slow, but worth the price for having these capabilities for verite' shooting. The variable F-stop? Not a big problem. I find this problem mostly applies to fast shooting in low light situations - so here's my solution: 1. Have your gain switch set to your best conservative gain options. 2. Then, sus your lighting situation out, and in the auto-gain limit, set to the highest you can get away with. In these situations, you're going to be shooting wide open all the time, so when you need it, auto gain will adjust for the F-stop difference.

"Clunkiness" : I like this more than any "off-shoulder" camera I've ever used. There's a solidity to it, IMHO. It has enough weight for stability, and can be used for a lot of rock-solid shots from a chest high Hasselblad position. When you need a hand-held, face-high shot, it's quite easy to do, using just the LCD. Works wonderful on your knee as well. You can do a lot with this camera with some slight changes in habit.

The Loupe: The biggest problem I have had with this camera is using the loupe. It's a shame that there is no way to brake rotation on the LCD. As pressing the eyepiece against your face adds important stability, this camera fails on that count, as a little pressure on the eye causes the loupe to swerve to the side. Anyone found a solution for this?

Buttons: After just a day of using the camera, I found the buttons on the side easy to access and memorize.

Modularity: I love it's modular feel, and the fact that you can start with a minimal price for a camera-lens combo, and then slowly work your way up to a first-lass digital cinema rig, with an external recorder, etc.

So from a budget-conscious, practical perspective, this an amazing piece of technology for the price - and it offers a lot of potential for entering the cinematic world at easy pace.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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Re: My Take on FS100

Bill,
I agree...It's a great camera.
I'm using a Zacuto z finder with the small zacuto monitor. I already had the z finder, so just had to buy the monitor (which isn't cheap). I have it attahed with a Small HD ardjustable arm, screwed into a manfrotto 577 base plate, and it works really well.
What I like about the Sony loupe that comes with the camera is that it allows red peaking, which the Zacuto doesn't. I was doing two solid days of short interiews on Miami Beach(blinding sunlight), and focus was crirical. I used the Zacuto with the eyepiece, with an hdmi cable out to a 7" marshall monitor on a stand for the director and sound guy. In addition , I angled the Sony loupe to the left ( side where the Zauto is) and used it in also, mainly for the red peaking function. I was on sticks which made it possible. Sounds like a bit of overkill, but I had to make sure focus was right on for such a long day of quick interviews.
Footage came out excellent, and the client was happy.
I got my idea for the shoulder rig from Jean Phillipe Archiblde's thread on how he put together his shoulder rig. I'll post pictures when I figure out how. I used the Cavision handles, the portabrace pad and aluminum threaded rods( ordered from Trumt on ebay), all off which Jean reccomended. I just ordered an Ikan rod clamp with an attachable cheese plate, which I can hopefully use for mounting an Anton Bauer battery ( for my Frezzi lighjt) and also to velcro an additional counterweight if I need it.
It is challenging, though, to set it up as a shoulder rig ( which I'm used to), but it's modulaity gives you lots of options.
Love the camera!
Bruce Yarock
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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #3
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Re: My Take on FS100

Good review, Bill. I feel the same about mine.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 03:17 PM   #4
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Re: My Take on FS100

Bill,

I think you are right on. I am still just amazed at the images.....I bring
the footage home and put it up on a big HD monitor and there is stuff in
the shot that I didn't even notice when shooting (of course I take credit
for it anyways.....:-)
If I had a choice, I'd rather have built in ND's but the Heliopan variable
ND is so good, that the only time this is an issue is when I have to take
the Heliopan off one lens and screw it on another. I've been looking at
the 'magnetic' filter solution which allows you to just snap your
variable ND filters on different lenses but haven't jumped on it yet.
But to me, it's a small price to pay for the stunning imagery the camere
is capable of.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about the fact you can
buy the camera and kit lens cheaply, and then as you make more money, buy
more pieces to make it into more of a 'cinema' camera as well. I did
exactly that, and I love how the FS 100 can be 'different types of cameras'.
When out shooting scenery I often use the kit lens.....nice wide shots of
the mountains and glaciers, and good close ups of the bears in streams,
all in one lens! Outdoors where there is plenty of light, the kit lens
really shines. For interviews, I will use either my 50mm F1.4 or my
28-90mm F2.8. If I use the 28-90, I have to 'rig' the camera up with
rods, and a lens support system as it is a heavy lens! If I want to
be ultra small, I can strip the camera down and use it with just the
small 50mm F1.4 and it looks almost like a still camera. For use on
my steadicam merlin, I will often strip the camera down and use my
smallest lens, my 28mm F2.5. It really has a lot going for it, and
I think it has the best looking images of anything in it's price range.
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Old January 31st, 2012, 01:53 AM   #5
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Re: My Take on FS100

After seeing this camera at NAB and being amazed at it's clean gain, I figured it 'might' be my next camera. There were a few bothersome aspects....and they still bug me but I'm coping.
1) Top mounted LCD. Sony missed the mark on this one. They have to show me their justification for doing this, as I just don't get it. Side mount, or like Canon is doing with their C300, bring it forward and allow for flip up/down/side/whatever. While they're at it, how about tossing me a bone and incorporating an OLED monitor.
2) Only one SD card slot. Could it be that much more expensive for a 2nd slot for cheap confidence recording?
3) ND filter. Yeah, I know the technical reasons, but I would think there is some kind of workaround.
--------and for a future wish-list-----
4) Cable routing. Using 2 XLR mics starts getting messy, especially without clip points for mic 2's cable.
5) Backlit buttons. Not a must-have, but it would be SOOO nice to have those customizeable buttons lit up for easy night viewing.
6) Time lapse intervals slower than 1 second.

Bill, if you haven't already adjusted the loupe friction knob on the top-right, set it to maximum. Happy shooting.
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Old January 31st, 2012, 07:14 PM   #6
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Re: My Take on FS100

The friction know seemed to stop vertical movement, but not L to R rotation....
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Old January 31st, 2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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Re: My Take on FS100

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Weaver View Post
The friction know seemed to stop vertical movement, but not L to R rotation....
Yeah, i haven't found a way to stop the slight left-right movement. It can be annoying while you're shooting.
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Old February 5th, 2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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Re: My Take on FS100

Bill,

Did you shoot Mushroom Man with the FS100? I just watched this well crafted video on Vimeo.

- Gerry
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Old February 6th, 2012, 10:42 AM   #9
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Re: My Take on FS100

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Fraiberg View Post
Bill,

Did you shoot Mushroom Man with the FS100? I just watched this well crafted video on Vimeo.

- Gerry
I shot that on an XH-A1...

Interesting that this piece really demanded the versatility of the XH. Glad you liked it.
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