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


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Old June 24th, 2012, 12:25 PM   #1
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FS100 for low light club band performances?

I have recently bought a Canon XF100 for one purpose: shooting videos of local club bands.
These are local bands, not name performers, so these small clubs are usually dark and any built-in spots for the stage are few and usually harsh and localized. Additional lighting is not an option.........there is little room and no one wants to take the time.

I have struggled with getting adequate exposure with the XF100. I have shot at 50Mbps, 1920x1080, 30p. When I set at Shutter 1/30 and Aperture F1.8, the Gain runs at 12+. If I try to keep Gain at 6+, I am not able to correct in post........just too dark. Also at 30p, the 1/30 setting (360 degrees) causes blur. And noise is an issue, also.

I am going to test at 24p, F1.8, 1/30, auto gain........maybe this will do the job. However, I am starting to think the XF100 will always be a struggle for these shoots........and this is the only reason I bought the camera.
I love the feel of the XF100, and I am a big Canon fan. But I always use a tripod, so I can accommodate a bulkier camera.

Questions:
(1) Is the FS100 clearly a better choice for this particular purpose?
(2) If so, what lens would be best?
(3) Is another video camera a better low-light choice (max $6k)?

Note: In considering cameras, audio is obviously important for band performances. I use a high quality external stereo mic, so two XLR connectors is a must-have.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 12:42 PM   #2
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

My feeling is that the FS100 can be great in low light situations - BUT you should use a fast lens on it.
What this could mean is using a prime lens that opens to a 1.4 - of course with a prime lens you can't zoom. I've shot some stuff with a Sigma 30mm 1.4 at plus gain that has rivaled or exceeded what I could see with my naked eyes, so the low light capability with a fast lens is extraordinary.
One of the advantages of the FS100 is that you can give it quite a bit of 'plus gain' without the image becoming obnoxiously grainy. But even at plus gain, you might find yourself light challenged using a stills zoom lens (like a 24-70 2.8, which would be a possible recommendation).
You might also want to take a look at shooting at 60i instead of 24p or 30p, since many cameras seem to be a bit more sensitive at that frame rate.
Also check your picture profile settings. Going with a 'cine' gamma can cut down on the camera's sensitivity, so you might want to play with the gammas on location.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 12:51 PM   #3
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Dave,
Thanks for the advice.
Zooming is a must-have for this purpose. I am always zooming in on individual band members. The zoom distance is not huge, but I must be able to zoom.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Fs100 + song 16-60 f2.8 should do the job, if too dark you might need to use ISP to 4000
Otherwise you need to use prime lens at large aperture to keep it 0 noise.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Thomas,
I understand the advantages of prime lens for this service, but I must be able to zoom from full band view to a close-up of a musician's face.
So, I will have to make do with the best zoom lens for this purpose.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 05:15 PM   #6
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

I'll say the FS100 low light performance is really impressive, search the web as there are a lot of samples of high ISO/Gain shots that show very controlled noise levels. Tough to say if its clearly a better choise, but the larger sensor will likely be better - how much is tough to say. Any chance you can rent one first? If a zoom is a must, you're basically limited to f2.8 lenses, do you have an idea of the focal lengths you need? Can you mix a zoom and a prime? There are tons of 50/1.4's selling for less than $100 that would produce cleaner low light stuff.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #7
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Chris,
Well, since I don't really understand how "35mm equivalent" is calculated, let me use the XF100 lens as a reference.

The XF100 lens is stated as a "Canon 10x HD Zoom Lens, 4.25-42.5mm (35mm equivalent 30.4-304mm), f/1.8-2.8".
In addition to the 10x zoom, you can switch on the tele-converter to increase zoom.

With the tele-converter switched off (I have never used it), the XF100 lens is pretty much ideal for me. I am often fairly close to the stage and to one side, to avoid dancers on the main part of the dance floor. So, I usually need close to the widest angle to get the entire band, and sometimes this is not sufficient.

Then, when I slowly zoom to a close-up of a musician across the stage, I will get near the max range of this zoom (although I rarely max it out). So, I know this makes it difficult, but I would prefer not to come down much on the zoom.

FYI, I have watched the aperture reading as I zoom and indeed it changes from f1.8 at widest to f2.8 at max zoom (assuming I can believe the camera's statement of aperture).

So, the issue with the XF100 seems to me to be less the lens and more its lack of tolerance for gain above +6dB. But..........I know little of what I speak. :)
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Old June 25th, 2012, 04:42 AM   #8
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

you can try the 18-200mm f3.5-6.5 kit lens with fs100, it will be simular to the xf100 zoom range. Since it's not constant aperture, don't expect it will give you amazing quality specially when you are in low light at 200mm. If you don't need the 200mm zoom range, try zeiss 24-70 is a good lens for fs100

if you are on a budget, u can try find a canon fd 35-105mm (equivalent to 70mm-157mm) F3.5. I bought one for $50 + $20 for a FD Adaptor
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Old June 25th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #9
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Michael, if you recall, I'm the one that got you started thinking about the FS100 over on the XF100 forum.

If you take my advice on the FS100, please also take my advice on the stock 18-200mm lens that you can buy with it. Stay away from that lens. It would be totally wrong for your purposes and would negate the whole reason you are looking at the FS100 in the first place. You really must invest in a couple of fast SLR lenses if you want to have any chance of success with the shooting situation you have described. Otherwise don't waste your money on the camera.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 07:22 AM   #10
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

I agree with Doug, the stock zoom covers roughly the same range but all superzooms are a bit on the slow side. The 24-70 is a low light wonder, can't go wrong there, the constant f2.8 is great. I have the LAEA1 adapter and the 16-50 f2.8, its a great lens as well, but doesn't have as much reach as what you're looking for. I'm actually getting ready to replace the 16-50 with the 24-70 myself. The nice thing about the FS is the E-mount, you can adapt pretty much any lens on the planet with a cheap adapter, I've used Minolta and Zeiss lenses on mine and if you search around you'll see lots of Nikon, Canon FD & EF, Leica and others.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #11
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

The narrow depth of field with a 2.8 may make focus an issues. I just don't think the FS100 is the right camera for that situation.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 10:40 PM   #12
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

I respectfully disagree. He's needs the light-gathering ability of a fast lens, and f/2.8 is where I would draw the line. Shallow depth of field should not be an issue when shooting a performance at that distance, and really ought to be looked at as plus to help isolate performers from the clutter. Focus is focus. Either you get it right or you don't. If you don't then it doesn't matter what your f-stop is because the video will look soft.
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Old June 26th, 2012, 10:47 AM   #13
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Re: FS100 for low light club band performances?

Michael, if you are going to get the FS100, be aware that there is no servo zoom of any kind on this camera. If your shoot requires lots of zooming while recording I'm afraid you won't like that camera. If you don't mind zooming by twisting the lens still photography-style or maybe manual zooming with a zoom lever add-on (like on many ENG lens), you probably will do fine. Also, forget about 10x range with apertures fast enough to shoot in your situation. If the Canon XF100 just barely made it under the lighting conditions you described perhaps the Sony EX1R would comfortably "make it" while retaining all the friendly controls and form factor of the Canon.

In terms of light sensitivity and shallow depth-of-field look, the EX1R is definitely inferior to the FS100 but it performs significantly better than the Canon in poor lighting. The focus and zoom controls are miles ahead of the FS100 on and off the tripod.

Last edited by Wacharapong Chiowanich; June 26th, 2012 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Typo corrections
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