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


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Old February 1st, 2012, 10:41 AM   #1
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On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

I'm close to committing to an FS100, but it's a tricky decision. I'm on the fence and I need a push one way or another.

A lot of my work is corporate, non-profit "trigger films" and is produced solely for web, perhaps a small percentage for DVD, etc. I use a combo of documentary and tradition styles. Some of it is now leaning toward high-end clientele in the tourism industry.

Yet I am still working on development of several documentaries, which I want to be acceptable to broadcasters, and for big screen at festivals.

At the moment I have a Canon XF300. So, no shallow DOF, and low-light performance is not the best.

BUT -- it does give me a more "filmic" look quite easily, has an awesome lens, is very versatile -- and, out of the box, it meets broadcast specs and grades well. I wish I could own both cameras, but I need to choose soon, as resale value on the XF is quite good at the moment.

So, any real-world advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from any of you who run the gamut in production like I do.

Thanks in advance!
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 02:01 AM   #2
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

I have used the Canon XF305, and I own a Sony EX1 and FS100. The FS100 will definitely be 'more work' to produce an acceptable result under pressure. The EX1 has a slightly larger sensor than the XFs so I can get some of the shallow depth, but nowhere near the FS100. The XF has a nice codec, 50mb and 4:2:2 color, the internal color on the FS100 is 4.2.0.

The XF has a more ergonomic LCD, and has built in NDs.

However, for new projects, since I got the FS100, which camcorder do I put in the "A" camera list first? I use the FS100. Because with the kit lens I can get deep dof if I want, but if I want shallow DOF I can also get that too. And if I need real shallow, I can change to a prime. Also I'm not as concerned about lighting, I know I can basically shoot in the dark with the right lenses. There isn't a zoom rocker, and the kit lens has some annoyingly non-tactile zoom and focus rings, other than that the kit lens is remarkable. Sharp, amazing auto focus or push-auto, and not too big. However, no zoom rocker.

The FS100 will allow you to shoot similar subjects as the XF305, but it will allow you to have more range if you need and want it. However, it's more work, you have to concentrate, and it's easier to screw up and ruin your footage, it's more risky and requires more skill. If you haven't used a DSLR with shallow DOF, it's incredibly easy to produce awful, out of focus footage. You need good focusing tools, additional monitoring and LCDs. I have a Zacuto EVF and SmallHD DP6. And you have to then rig these to your FS100 and make it work.

Then you have to get a way to add ND quickly and easily to the FS100. A matte box with drop in NDs, or a variable ND.

You will wind up spending a lot on: rigging, external monitoring, additional lenses, ND filters.

Good luck!
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Bill,
I can relate, as I sold my XF305 to purchase my FS100.
Both make beautiful images. The FS is the king as far as low light and depth of field, but the XF has a better broadcast quality codec.

The hard part for me is convincing my clients to think more along the lines of digital cinema, instead of video. By that, I mean take advantage of the FS's strong points, like shallow DoF. And do away with on-camera zooms. Manual zooms look terrible on a camera lens built for a DSLR. Some of the producers I work with still want to do a slow push-in or out. I'm trying to convince them that you don't need all of that movement to have a successful shoot.
The reason I finally chose the FS over the XF is because I wanted to work with a large sensor, interchangeable lens camera. I believe this type of setup is gaining in popularity and I wanted to become familiar with it. Based on all the reviews, I picked the FS over the AF100, although I would have been happy with either.

If I were to produce documentaries, I'd go for the FS100, because it does have a more "cinematic" look. Having a small, standard video camera with a power zoom as a companion wouldn't be a bad idea. Something like an NX70, perhaps. Or an XA10. I keep a Panny TM900 with me, just in case.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 10:39 AM   #4
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Interesting point on the spare zoom camera. I do have a XHA1 on my shelf that still shoots amazingly gorgeous video. It just got back from Africa. Held up beautifully. Great shots, and come to think of it, hardly a zoom shot in all 20 tapes.

How are you with all the extra disk real estate that prores takes up? On the positive side, backup disk space would be much lower with the FS internal codec......
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Well I went for the FS100, not for the XF300. Low light and the FS100 wins. The noise you from the XF300 is digital. The noise (+18db) is more like film (grain).
And the FS100 takes my old Canon FD lenses (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-avc...nex-fs100.html).
So for my the FS100 is a winner.
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 08:05 AM   #6
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Definately FS100.

You will see a lot of creative ideas using this camera. The images are stunning, even if you shoot with kit lens 18-200mm that would be suitable for your style. There is no noise even at +12dB.

Regards,
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Old February 6th, 2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

I bought the NX5u as a companion camera for the times I need some of the things mentioned here-
Zoom rocker
ND filters
Easier ergonomics.
Quicker to use for run and gun.

The nice thing about the two cameras together is that when set to the same picture profile, kelvin temp and exposure, they cut together really well. I've used them on numerous 2 camera shoots so far.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 02:51 AM   #8
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Weaver View Post
I

So, any real-world advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from any of you who run the gamut in production like I do.

Thanks in advance!
I made some profiles for my FS100 - comes out quite nice and filmic IMHO.

Teaser - Stunde Null 1945 - Entering Germany - YouTube
Building a better camera dolly - YouTube
Here are the profiles: Free Picture Profiles for the Sony FS100 Frank Glencairn

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Old February 8th, 2012, 10:08 PM   #9
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Bruce, are the picture profile input variables on the NEX5U identical to those on the FS-100, the same menu?
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Old February 9th, 2012, 03:22 AM   #10
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

galen,
They're pretty much the same. There are a couple of small differences, but I'd have to go back through them to tell for sure. I'll fire up both cameras, look again when I have some time, and report back.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 04:28 AM   #11
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Push comes to shove...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Weaver View Post
any real-world advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from any of you who run the gamut in production like I do.
The BBC and a few other broadcasters are beginning to insist on a minimum of 50 Mbit 4:2:2 codecs, this superseding their previous requirement for ' 3 chips larger than 1/3". The Canons are built to a BBC recipe, but I'm not exactly blown away by the pictures. 'Its an image an engineer would love'.

It may have an awesome lens, but - speaking as a recently anointed member of the Lens Slut Club - it's like owning only one awesome book or cooking only one awesome dish. The joy of a wide range of affordable interchangable glass is discovering their personalities, their little ways, and using a broad palette in your work. You'll be gobsmacked by what a Tokina 11-16 can do. Or a 50mm f1.4.

I've got two EX1s which are doing less and less in day to day Corporate and Conference coverage. The FS100 has really worked out well. You have to allow for how to carry at least two other lenses, you need to understand that the FS100 is a lego brick, and you will need to plug other bits onto it*, but the image is what your clients and your audience will notice.

Get a Ninja or hire a NanoFlash if you want to meet BBC/other specifications, but you'd budget for that. The AVCHD codec in the FS100 is pretty robust, matching XDCAM-EX in my humble opinion.

Yes, of course the perfect answer is to have both, and in the first three to four months of FS100 ownership, I'd have kept an EX1. Now I'll keep the FS100.

Play your high end travel work backwards and hear the message 'buy an FS100... buy an FS100'...


* First thing to junk is the 'Chimney' hood for handheld. The easy solution (not cheap) is an EVF on a Noga arm. Second thing is to remove the right hand grip, and work out your own way of lowering it and re-attaching it. I forgot to mention ND - you will need a VariND and a couple of solids. It goes on an on. Soon, you'll want an adaptor and ND set PER LENS, you'll have a matte box on rails, a top handle to carry your radio mics.
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Last edited by Matt Davis; February 9th, 2012 at 09:16 AM.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 09:12 AM   #12
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

Quote:
'Its an image an engineer would love'.
LOL. Great quote. Sort of sums up the conundrum of broadcast.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 11:12 AM   #13
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

In addition to what's been said, I think the advent of large sensors (whether in a DSLR or proper video camera package) has changed the business. Before them, if you weren't shooting film, it was pretty much work your way up to the 2/3" 3-chip part of the product lines. That's all changed and the flood of blurry video shot on crap lenses that can't zoom is changing what people like/want in the same way we were all trying to make video more filmic when all we could manipulate was the lighting, color and frame rate. Manipulating DOF wasn't an option until you got up into the 2/3" chipped video cameras. So anymore, I think we all end up in the same boat in needing both ENG and large sensor acquisition. There are various ways to do this. I chose EX1R and 5DM2. I do not care for Canon's approach to video on DSLRs. I might have gone the FS-100 route if it had been available sooner. YMMV
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Old February 9th, 2012, 04:22 PM   #14
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Re: On the fence re: FS100 purchase -- real world advice, please!

I am a former EX1 user now own the FS100. Haven't regretted the switch one bit. I don't think I've encountered one situation where I would prefer the EX1. If you do a lot of live sports, maybe you wouldn't want the FS100. But I think it looks much better and is way more versatile. Good luck!
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