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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700 CineAlta
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 01:56 AM   #16
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

Thanks for all who have commented about relevance of the thread's title. I could have just said that this started out as a rant with an attention grabbing title by someone who had a personal dislike of the FS100/700 physical design but I didn't want to get into a slanging match.
As someone who has been waiting over 2 years for a replacement for the EX1R, I would like to see something a little more suitable for run & gun but the FS100/700 series is clearly not designed for that. To say that it is 'sloppy' design is hardly an objective view. It is widely reported that Sony committed a lot of resources, seeking the views of experienced users. Its features like the proliferation of 1/4 Whitworth threads are a direct response to users diverse accessory mounting needs. There are design aspects that seem to have missed the mark, e.g. the LCD screen position, the 'so-so' handle and the lack of built-in ND filter wheel (the later two fixed on the FS700). The F3 and Alexa don't have the same potential design weaknesses, but even at 3 times and 10 times the FS100 cost, they aren't without their foibles. Any rational criticism must take this into consideration.
As far as image quality is concerned, the FS series of S35 cameras seem to be well received and cannot be compared to half and two thirds inch sensor ENG style designs. These low-cost S35 cameras are a strong response to the SLR incursions into the video market.They give cleaner video with less hassle. Only the Full Frame micro DOF junkies would have issues with that.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:48 AM   #17
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

Those that can work around the ergonomics, have done so and we all love the picture.

There are shoots where you need something like an EX1 or an ENG camera. The shoulder-mount ethic with an ENG long reach lens is popular for good reason - it worked well. Going from a shoulder mount ENG camera and lens with a total budget of £20k and up to an FS100 or FS700 is a bit of a leap if you're doing the same kind of work. If you're used to a van, why give it up for a motorcycle and side car? A motorbike & side car is an ergonomic nightmare compared to a van, but compared to a motorbike it's a great alternative if you have to carry stuff.

Please do hand back the FS700 to the dealer. It's not for you. It was a mistake, and all's done now.

Meanwhile, I spent a lovely jolly morning with Sam Morgan Moore yesterday, and we're almost there in transforming my FS700 into a R&G, broadcast spec, shoulder mounted dream machine that, in my specialised niche of our industry, simply pees all over a PMW-350 (what I almost bought after the EX1) for what I have to do. It's not quite ENG because of the lens; the bracketry and accessories cost the same as the camera, but for me I am very happy. You'd hate it, I love it.

The FSx00 series cameras are lego bricks. You have to budget for lots of other bolt on goodies to make the camera work. It's a system camera, and like owning a Hasselblad, if you don't get some extra backs for it, a bagful of glass for the front of it and no end of twiddly bits for the rest of it, you are going to feel a little restricted.

It will come down to the final pictures. EX1 was 'good enough' for me until the FS100 - which had flaws in highlights that the FS700 now fixes. Because of the pictures, I'm going to wave goodbye to one of my EX1s and shoot with an FS100 and FS700 because the pictures are so much better, and I'll be shooting onto a PIX220 because the sound is great and the post is quick and easy beyond reason.

But if it's a shootout requiring x20 zoom and there's somebody else to manage batteries, your old camera would win. I only mention that because the time it takes to go fetch another V-Lock when one's diesel powered shoulder-cam runs out is beaten by a camera that runs on a teeny weeny NP-f970 all day. :)
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:48 AM   #18
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
I have re-named it from "A word of warning about the FS700!" to "Not happy with FS700 ergonomics" which is a much more accurate description of the content
Apologies Chris, my mistake. Whilst I was at the dealer I was told that other dealers were taking full payment upfront before people had a chance to even see demo units. It was a knee jerk title and yours is definitely better!

Frank, how do you have your camera rigged? If I could make it "work" ergonomically, I'd love to!

I'm only offering my thoughts to the community as you offered yours, why is that insulting? If I like something, I'll say like it, if I don't, I'll say that I don't. I like Sony kit and if anything, I was doing my best to try and like the camera as electronically it is a work of genius. However, that only amplified my frustrations with the ergonomic short comings.

Steve, in my opinion "sloppy" is the perfect description for the objective reasons that I listed. The camera is laid out as a palmcorder but is virtually impossible to use in that configuration. It makes no sense to me. I was not expecting an Alexa, that was only a response to the post that claimed the FS700 is laid out as a cinema camera.

Maybe I'm just old school and mourn for an Aaton XTR!
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 10:13 AM   #19
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

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Originally Posted by Mike Marriage View Post
Maybe I'm just old school and mourn for an Aaton XTR!
+1 on that. Trouble is, you need to visit the parts bin to take your domestic runabout into a track day special - see pic below and many others who have been down that road.

To this, add a simple yet comfortable shoulder pad, a V-lock on a D-tap adaptor at the rear, get rid of the kit lens, adapt the main camera support to ensure lens is in the middle of rails and matte box but uses the same tripod adaptor as everything else. The idea is that the rig must be in 3 bits: front end, back end, and middle/camera support - the whole thing to live in same bag as tripod, and fit thereon.

The new FS700 grip can be attached with a spud to replace RH grip, but moot point until Sony do 'Expanded Focus' on HDMI and/or SDI output, so rely on EVF button for that for now.

So what you have is a sort of skeletal PMW-350 (and then some) sans ENG lens. Aaton? Not quite - but Caleb Crosby does this:

https://www.shootingmachine.net/prod...inegrip-mark-3
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Not happy with FS700 ergonomics-fs700_in_progress.jpg  
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 10:59 AM   #20
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

+1

My question is: why do I have to "visit the parts bin", buy hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of rig in addition to the camera, and figure out how to piece it together myself? I'm no dummy, but it has been a real challenge for me to figure out "rails", shoulder pads, offset adapters, EVFs, and all of the other stuff one needs to make a DSLR or palmcorder into a shoulder mount. I'm not saying that manufacturers shouldn't continue to make customizable palmcorders like the FS series, or that these cameras are not wonderful cameras and usable as they are right out of the box.

What I am saying, is that we should acknowledge that these ergonomic challenges are a real problem for some people (without disparagement or feeling insulted because they've pointed out these challenges). In my view this is a real opportunity for manufacturers -- to offer large sensor interchangeable lens DSLRs/palmcorders for those who prefer handheld or custom rigs and rails - and shoulder mounts for those who don't (e.g., the HMC-40 and HMC-80).

Cheers,

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Old June 23rd, 2012, 12:10 PM   #21
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

HMC-40 & 80 - interesting.

Does this match a Sony equivalent, which is basically a Sony A1 in a boxed setup that is mostly fresh air inside?

Whilst it's partly about ergonomics, it's also partly about client perception - in that shoulder mounted cameras are perceived to be more 'professional' than handheld cameras. We can recall the 'working with a bigger camera' debate from the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, and that has a trickle-down effect in low-to-mid end corporates and event video. It can (egad) really matter.

I'd agree that the whole 'rails' thing is an absolute nightmare. I've observed it from the outside and found it way too difficult to comprehend, but living the FS100 life, one really does have to get into it because we're talking 'modular' here.

For example, my pet hate is batteries. Every system wants its own special battery. My EVF wants to use Canons, and that means a separate set of batteries and chargers, but it really DOESN'T because my Canon T2i/550 has it's OWN set of batteries and a little charger. I've spent too long setting alarms to wake me in my dingy hotel room to switch batteries on the charger, or have critical charges jinxed by over-zealous housekeeping staff.

So, like many here, I'm finally at the point where I want one big 'Go Forth & Multiply' battery at one end, and everything else at the other end to suck from it. It takes time to work out which bit works, which bit doesn't, it takes nouse to work out what won't work (e.g. it is worth paying extra for a V-Lock baseplate that does 5x the same feed rather than one that does one little one, one bigger one and so on), and this is the biggest advert for why we are right here, right now.

You can go buy a rails system in one big mega package, but as far as I can work out, it doesn't necessarily work out that way for the best.

And if you DON'T go the modular route, you'll have to put up with something that doesn't quite fit your needs. I never needed a 422 recorder until recently. I found out the hard way that the FS100 chimney viewfinder was pants and now love the Zacuto EVF when outdoors. My matte box was an absolute heap of junk until it slipped onto a decent rails system...

The best kit is ... the kit you actually use, and what I use isn't what you should use. What Sam Morgan Moore uses isn't what I use. What Frank Glencairn needs would drive me nuts.

*That* is why we need to visit the parts bin. :-)
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 01:52 PM   #22
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

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Originally Posted by Bill Bruner View Post
+1

My question is: why do I have to "visit the parts bin", buy hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of rig in addition to the camera, and figure out how to piece it together myself? I'm no dummy, but it has been a real challenge for me to figure out "rails", shoulder pads, offset adapters, EVFs, and all of the other stuff one needs to make a DSLR or palmcorder into a shoulder mount.
The answer is, use the right tool.

The FS series (and also DSLRs) where never made as shoulder camcorders. So why should they work that way, right out of the box?

If you want to use them as such, you have to modify them. That´s what the whole industry did since donkeys years. They use the 35mm cameras on sticks, dollys cranes andwhatnot. In the few cases they have to go shoulder, they add grips and some sort of shoulder mount/pad. Why should the FS100/700 be any different.

On the other hand, no ENG team would use a regular 35mm film camera to get the news, why should they, it`s not made for the job.

As Matt said, you try to turn a van into a bike - if you want a bike, why don't you get a bike in the first place?
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 04:51 PM   #23
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

Respectfully, Frank, it's because no one has manufactured the first bike yet. :-)

Love your work, by the way - and grateful for the pioneering work you have done on behalf of the community.

Bill
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 05:23 PM   #24
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

We mainly use the F3 on sticks, crane or dolly, and envisage using the FS700 the same way. I'm not so fussed about handheld for this sort of camera, but if I see a suitable cost-effective shoulder-mounting system, I will definitely have a serious look at it. I can see many guys here will be using the 700 as an A-camera, but we wil be using it as a super slomo platform instead of hiring a Phantom or Weisscam for shoots where we don't need 250fps and above.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 10:05 AM   #25
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

I think the modular aspect of the FS camera is not a weakness, but a real strength. You can strip everything off, mount a small prime and shoot with a really compact package, hold it against your torso like a medium format camera and your set. Even with the lame-o stock top handle and grip its still easy to go handheld, you just don't shoot on the shoulder. Its so light you can put it on a Glidecam without a vest and its really easy to kit out for any configuration. I go run-and-gun on my Manfrotto video monopod and its a thing of beauty.

To me the FS addresses a lot of the most common complaints DSLR shooters have trying to rig a stills camera form factor into a cinema camera - while producing a better image. I'm still trying to sort out the optimal shoulder setup for my camera - and it is a hassle, but once I find the right configuration I'll be able to seamlessly go from handheld, to shoulder, to monopod, to tripod, to slider, to glidecam in just a few seconds because everything has Manfrotto plates.

Everyone is different, but a camera like the HMC40 is more limiting IMHO, its on the shoulder or on the sticks. In order to do slider stuff or anything steadicam oriented, it would require a far more expensive kit than just outfitting the FS with a simple rod - baseplate - shoulder pad - handgrip setup for shoulder use. Then you're stuck with just one lens, I'm never going back to a fixed lens camera - there's so much great glass out there, a single lens is just so limiting. YMMV...
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Old June 24th, 2012, 10:38 AM   #26
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

Thank you Mr Joy - eloquently put!

BTW, lame-o top handle and screen at top does enable camera to be held upside down 'by the scruff of its neck' for overhead shots...
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Old June 24th, 2012, 05:46 PM   #27
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

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Originally Posted by Frank Glencairn View Post
The answer is, use the right tool.

The FS series (and also DSLRs) where never made as shoulder camcorders. So why should they work that way, right out of the box?
Frank, my complaint is that the camera doesn't really suit any shooting style without modification. The hand grip location suggests that it is designed as a palmcorder but it is virtually impossible to use for any length of time in that way because of the weight, balance and layout. On a tripod or dolly, the viewfinder arrangement is very limiting as you need to be behind the camera but vertical movement is limited. It doesn't really tilt below the body and the top handle restricts tilting the evf upwards when attached. The EVF also wobbles from side to side when you put your eye against it and can't be locked off (the lock only stops vertical movement).

If you add an external EVF, you are sacrificing important functions such as expanded focus (at least I couldn't get it to function on the video outputs). You then also have to deal with cable managment and if required, extra batteries. Yes, this can all be done but it makes the operator's life harder, not easier.

If you add a shoulder rig, it is hard to obtain good balance, proper positioning of controls and retain a fast turnaround between handheld and mounted shooting.

I was also not a fan of the Canon C300's design but I can at least understand what they were trying to do and for certain styles of shooting it is a sound ergonomic design. What I am trying to highlight with the FS700 are objective design flaws rather than subjective design choices. My hope is that if we raise such issues with manufacturers, they will avoid them on future designs. Of course, many people will happily accessorise the FS700 and work around the issues but I can't see a solution that would work for me so will have to wait.

I would pay several times the cost of an FS700 for what I want but it doesn't exist yet. Put an F3 in a compact shoulder mount design and I'd be happy. Add in the FS700's frame rates and XDCAM HD & Prores on board and I'd be first in the queue. All of these features exist in current low cost cameras and recorders and could be combined if there was the will to do so.
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Old June 24th, 2012, 05:58 PM   #28
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

I don't think calling a camera 'cinema style' should be an excuse for a brick with buttons.
Film cameras of that size use to fit to the body.

The top mounted viewfinder just drives me insane - you start shooting everything from below eye level when you're hand held.
So I haven't bought one, other people will and be happy with it. I'm hoping someone will bring out a similar unit that feels like a camera.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 03:11 AM   #29
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

Dudes, if you don't like the Lego-brick FS700, there's still the Panny AF101/102, there's the C300, there's the Black Magic Camera, heck there's even the Digital Bolex, Red One and Scarlet.

Regarding the BMC and Red One, they too are 'modular' - and IMHO the BMC could actually steal the 'Ergonomic Disaster Area' accolade from the FS700. I shot with an FS100 for almost a year, went back to EX1s on a couple of intense jobs, and considering the gestalt experiences, really want to get back to the FS100.

But, to business...

The market for the FS700 reaches pretty far and wide, economies of scale make this 'brick' cost effective for the consumer and profitable for the manufacturer. An F3 style camera in a shoulder mount form with the correct balance to cope with much heavier, bigger glass up front will have a much more limited audience which will raise the price dramatically.

In other words, Mike - what you want is called an Arri Alexa. :-)



Oh, and another thing - Aaton XTR almost same price as an Alexa. 400' of molten cow hooves dipped in chemistry wrapped in aluminium weigh a lot more than an SxS card and counterbalance your $30k Angenieux up front. Don't get me wrong - I'm so sad I have framed PRINTS of Aatons in my office, I think they're so beautiful. But to use another analogy so weak it's almost a fortnight, we're wanting something that costs one up from a family car to be specced like a track-day racer? FS700 for most of us is 1) Affordable, 2) Available, 3) Good Enough.
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Old June 25th, 2012, 05:15 AM   #30
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Re: Not happy with FS700 ergonomics

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In other words, Mike - what you want is called an Arri Alexa. :-).
Haha, yes beautiful cameras however too high end for me to own.

I think there is currently a gap in the market for a S35 shoulder mount camera in the £15k ($20k) range. That is what an F3 costs by the time you add the required bells and whistles. A shoulder mount casing doesn't require any expensive R&D and companies like Sony already have designs that could be used. I'm now talking higher end than the FS700 so I digress.
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