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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700 CineAlta
4K EXMOR sensor with SDI, slow-motion recording.


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Old September 30th, 2012, 08:15 AM   #1
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FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Hi.
I own the FS100 but due to the lack of HD-SDI and ND- filters I am wondering if it is time for me to upgrade to a new camera.

I have been looking at the FS700 mainly because of the HD-SDI port and built in ND- filters. I don`t like the workflow with the AVCHD codec using my FCP system. It is fairly slow and transcoding takes quite a while.

So I have been wondering whether it would be a good idea to use the FS700 with my Atomos Samurai, skipping the AVCHD workflow alltogether, or if the F3 is the wiser choice but then using just the EX- codec. I already own two EX1Rs as well so I have a lot of SxS cards.

Are the images similar? I am looking for the best possible image quality, but not to concerned about the bitrate differences. An FS700 rig with a mounted Samurai is perhaps going to end up bigger than an F3?

Does anyone have any experience in this regard?

Thanks.
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Old September 30th, 2012, 08:39 AM   #2
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

I own a F3 and a FS700. The image between the two cameras are similar. The F3 is a bit better at handling highlights in the standard picture profles. You have the option to use S-Log on the F3. The F3 also has more options to tweak the images when not shooting S-Log.

In my opinion the F3 is the better camera if the difference in cost isn't a barrier.
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Old September 30th, 2012, 09:06 AM   #3
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

I have both and the F3 is definitely the better camera. The 14 bit DSP and processing in the F3 gives the pictures a much more refined look. Highlights and high contrast edges on the FS700 they can look electronic and this is due I believe to the internal 8 bit processing. The F3 on the other hand handles most lighting situations very well and even when your not really pushing it the pictures just look more refined and have more subtle shades and textures.
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Old September 30th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #4
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

If we assume that camcorders today are basically a bit of glass at one end, a storage device at the other and a computer in the middle, it becomes clear that the F3 is better than the FS700 and the FS100 because of the better processing software and hardware within it.

The FS100 has the same sensor as the F3 but cannot generate the same results because of the F3's superior processing power. The FS700 has a higher definition sensor than the F3, but cannot generate teh same results for precisely the same reasons.

The F3 has superior image processing. Period.

The F3 also comes equipped with little details like Electronic Clear Scan (fractional control of shutter speed), dual slot recording, It performs subtle tricks like feeding viewfinder info to the HDMI output whilst putting out a clean feed on the HD-SDI. With a 3G SDI recorder (Alister, please correct if I'm wrong) you're getting S-Log or at least 10 bit over 8 bit, which is a big deal.

The difference between ProRes recording the FS700 8 bit image and the F3 recording EX codec will show the F3's better image processing. In good hands, the FS700 will be close, but if I could make my clients pay for the difference, I'd shoot F3 over FS700 (even though its a big chunky brick compared to the svelte and pert little FS700).

It comes down to your clients (even if the client is YOU): will they pay for the difference? Even if it's just 10% more quality for 50% more cost?
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Old October 2nd, 2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Wow. Thanks for your answers guys.

If i understand correctly the F3 seems to be better, imagewise, due to the internal processing whereas the FS 700 is better for travelling when one wants to travel as light as possible. Although they share the same sensor. But will my clients know. Good question.

Maybe I am looking at the wrong cameras for my purpose. The F3 seems big and bulky for travelling. Especially when adding lenses. But I do like the XD Cam EX workflow. I am a documentary filmmaker, but I also love shooting wildlife and stuff in general.

My problem, and I guess it is only me, is that I don`t feel that the AVCHD codec is....professional enough? I am not sure I could go to the Norwegian broadcasters and say my program was shot in AVCHD at 24 or 28 mbps. The pictures look great from my FS100 but I still shoot with my EX1R for national TV. I know it is only 35 mbps but it is accepted for TV in Norway. I don`t know why but I am somewhat hesitant about using the FS100 for TV.

I have browsed the internet recently and I actually believe the Canon C300 would be great for travelling and may fit me better, but I have always liked Sony and the battery time on the FS100 lasts forever it seems. Also the BMCC looks very exciting. I have read from your blog, Alister that you sold on your C300 for the F3. May I ask why?

Maybe it is just to many choices. Which is a good thing...
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Old October 2nd, 2012, 01:07 PM   #6
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Okay, sorry to muddy the waters even further, but have you looked at the PMW-200?

Basically a broadcast specification EX1 in the sort of Canon XF305 form factor.

Sure, it's half-inch sensor is a bit lame compared to S35, but hey - nice pictures that are broadcast specification. All in a package that can be fit in a backpack including audio, power, editing, hard disk and some filters.

I love my EX1Rs, still working with them over and above my FS100, and especially the DSLR stuff.

The bottom line, perhaps, is that the FS100 is a huge step up from DSLR.The FS700 is a B-Roll camera to the F3 - and should be patted on the back for that (great camera). However both are fiddly. You could make the FS700 work - the difference between the HD-SDI output and the 4:2:2 output are close (but the BBC can tell the difference) - but if you need broadcast ready stuff and don't want the faff of a big-sensor camera, Sony made the PMW-200 to fill this gap. And the difference between 1/2" and 1/3" is significant.

If you go F3, you'd still need a Samurai.

If I could afford it (meaning, IF my CLIENTS will PAY for it, rather than feed my ego) I'd go F3 - my clients will pay for me and an FS100, they won't quite yet pay for an FS700, and only my ego would make me go F3 or C300 (which is a really strong pressure, BTW).

If you're like me, you may be well served by an FS700 with Samurai.
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 04:30 AM   #7
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Matt, yes, you are mudding my waters......Too many choices again, and even harder to sort out cameras and what they are intended for.

I have briefly looked at the PMW 200, it looks nice, but keep telling myself I sold my EX3 to buy a Super 35 camera.

There is just something about film or filmic images that I love. Not the 24p or 25 p but the image as a whole. I believe I am after a camera that can handle great contrasts in landscapes as well. I live in the mountains so I often have to deal with mountains, vs skies vs water, snow and so on and would like to try keeping my exposure as close to real life as possible. Not sure if I am explaining myself correctly, but I am not a huge fan of blown out elements in the picture. That being said I am using Doug Jensens picture profile for my EX1Rs and I am very happy it.Exposure with taht profile is very good.

I just feel it is time to move on and find what I am looking for, without blowing my budget or go equipment crazy. Maybe I am asking to much for the various jobs I do.
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 05:08 AM   #8
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Lets see if I can apply a little flocculation...

Ignore the PMW-200. Ignore the FS100 thanks to the alchemy required to handle highlights safely (though it hurts me to admit this after over a year of experimentation).

There is a visible difference in the quality of the FS700 over the FS100 - mainly because of CineGammas in the FS700 - and you can capture that on a Samurai, Ninja, NanoFlash or Pix (your choice - no picture difference between HD-SDI and HDMI, NanoFlash uses LongGOP for more footage in less space, PIX has superior audio (audibly superior, even to a cloth-eared cameraman).

The picture quality between what you record on the external device and what you get on the internal recording is minimal for 2-5 generations. Only when you pass that point are you going to realise the benefit of an external recorder.

For Slomo, you'd have to get a very expensive 3G external recorder - or you can cheat like buggery, use your 5%-10% allowance of non-spec material for just those shots. And we're talking Broadcast here, with its painful production chain that happens AFTER you've delivered your master.

The next step up from the FS700 is the F3 with S-Log but you're about to enter the realm of Big Hairy Audacious Grading. And it's a big heavy lump with expensive accessories, and it looks silly wearing FD or Sigma lenses. A colleague I work with has one, I love its pictures, but for me FS700 delivers 98% of what the F3 does 99% of the time.
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 11:12 AM   #9
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

I sold my C300 because it didn't suit me and I felt the F3 produced a slightly better image. Like you I was looking for a one box solution to shoot Super 35mm at broadcast quality, which for me means a minimum of 50Mb/s 422. The C300 appeared to tick all the right boxes. But, I soon found that for me at least, the way you must use the external (it's connected by two cables and sits in a cold shoe on the handle) and often droopy LCD module just to get manual audio controls and XLR inputs completely defeated the concept of a "one piece solution". On top of that there were some other ergonomic issues I found frustrating and lack of 10 bit options, so in the end it felt like a backwards step for me as an F3 owner. Please don't get me wrong, I do feel that the C300 is an excellent and very capable camera, it's just not for me.

The FS700 has a different sensor to the F3. The FS700 is IMHO superior to the FS100 in many ways, there's the obvious ND filters and super slow mo, but the image quality from the FS700 is more refined that that of the FS100. For me the FS700 really is the baby F3 that the FS100 isn't quite. AVCHD is surprisingly good, especially when you have a low noise sensor like the one in the FS700, it grades reasonably well and holds up to a moderate amount of abuse. My biggest concern with AVCHD is that when it does break down, it does so rapidly and in a rather ugly way, but this is very rare. In the UK there is now a push from some broadcasters for cameras with AVCHD at 35Mb/s for broadcast as it is felt that this is comparable to 50Mb/s mpeg2. 24Mb/s AVCHD is probably comparable to 30Mb/s mpeg 2 in most situations. Of course it is easy enough to add an external recorder to the FS700, maybe you don't use the external recorder all the time, only when your doing stuff specifically for broadcast. Broadcast shows in the UK are allowed to use non broadcast material for up to 20% of the programme. One note is that this year EBU R118 started to allow the general use of 35Mb/s 420 for broadcast news, so most EU broadcasters will now allow an EX1 to be used for news without an external recorder. Under EBU R118 24Mb/s AVCHD "may" be accepted for news, so it's at the discretion of the broadcaster and depends on the specific camera.

I don't think you would be disappointed by an FS700, the images are much more film like than an EX1 or even the new PMW-200.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 07:03 PM   #10
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

There is an interesting free video (in two parts) by Doug Jensen on the Sony website comparing the FS100 and F3. Not your question I know, but it might prove valuable.

At a recent meeting in Boston I asked Juan Martinez (product manager of FS700) if they were going to support 50Mbs with the 4K upgrade. He said (more or less): "It's not going to happen. It's technically impossible. If you need 50 Mbs, use an exterenal recorder."

Jim
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Old October 4th, 2012, 07:06 PM   #11
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

The 4k upgrade will be RAW @ 3Gb.

50mb compressed will not be part of that for sure.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 03:15 AM   #12
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Its been established by anyone who has used both cameras, that the F3 is a better camera at least processing wise. But so far, nobody answered the question of the title. Does the FS700 outputting to a higher bitrate recorder, would fare better than F3 recording on board 35mbps 420?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Depends on what you intend to do with the footage, how you set the cameras up, what the subject matter is, how much motion there is, whether your using gain, what you do with the material in post and many other factors. There are too many variables for a simple yes/no answer and it depends on what you mean by "fare better".

In most cases I think the F3 will be the better of the two, but there will be some situations, for example very high motion with fine detail or very high gain where the FS700 may have the edge. Either way, it's not going to be a night and day difference. Of course if you were looking at an F3 with an external recorder then it would be a hands down win to the F3.

The quality of your recordings will never be better than the quality of the camera. The F3 is the better camera so your starting with a better input to the recorder, whether that's 35Mb/s 420 or something else.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 11:12 AM   #14
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

Thank you everyone.

At this point I am looking very hard at the F3. I am not sure I will find what I am looking for in an FS700 after having read your posts. Initially I thought it would be a good choice to opt for the FS700 as I have a Metabones adaptor and a Tokina 11- 16 lens.

Searching UK sites it looks like there are good bargains to be had on the F3 now with the 3 Sony lenses. This is a big investment for me, so I really want to make the right decision.

Is it possible to use the Tokina and other Canon lenses on the F3 and also being able to adjust the iris as with the Metabones?

Shooting landscapes and wildlife I believe the F3 on its own would be perfect, for chasing documentaries I believe the C300 would fit me better. And just to make the confusion total, maybe the BMCC would do both jobs perfectly in a small and affordable package?
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Old October 8th, 2012, 11:29 AM   #15
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Re: FS700 with Samurai vs F3 with EX codec

The F3 uses a different mount than the FS700.

The Metabones adapter is not currently available for the F3 lens mount.

MTF makes a Canon EOS to Sony F3 mount that lets you control the electronic iris of the Canon lens. You will need the mount and the controller in the links below.

Live Canon EF to F3 adaptor

MTF Canon EF Control Unit
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