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Sony NEX FS100 as a DSLR alternative - first impressions


Andrew Reid
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[img]http://www.eoshd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/DSCF4001.jpg[/img]

The Sony NXCAM NEX FS100 is the first ever video camera which is competitive with DSLRs on both price and image quality. Yes it took this long!

Now down to $4000 used (£2600) in the US, it is an alternative (for video) to the 5D Mark III at $3500 or £2999.

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/7862/sony-nex-fs100-as-a-dslr-alternative-first-impressions/"]Read full article[/url]

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Andrew this camera looks more and more appealing as the months go by.  I guess i'm still learning low light techniques and the right patches to get with my GH2, but it's so tiny.  I knew it was small but wow. Lol.  As far as overall image quality, i see plenty of DOF with the GH2, but the FS is designed for video.  What are your thoughts on comparison, despite the fact that the GH2 bumps bitrates of 176 or so to the Fs100's 24....?
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Hi Andrew,
thank you very much for the article. Ever since I saw the first video by F-Stop Academy a year ago, I fell in love with the very interesting design, but it was all just a little bit too expensive for me.

We live with megapixel sensors that surpass the target resolution by far for a few years now and curse all the negative aspects. Despite all efforts to allow a resolution close to fullHD (more intelligent de-mosaic-algorithms, AA-filters a.s.f.) there was no success. Now there's a new hype: You buy 4k, although you need less than 2k (your target resolution) and you do the interpolation with your software. A downsampled resolution ist not "real" or "true", but who am I to tell them! Let the lemmings jump over the cliff, and let the FS 100 become affordable. Thank you, Sony!
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Hi, Andrew.
I would put Panasonic АF100 very close to Sony FS100. It's for sure better than GH2 when it comes to low light, the amount of noise, has a better codec than GH2, with certain settings perform miracles.. (Philip Bloom never really went into correct settings in AF100) Not to promote here the Panasonic, just for a reference and the prospective. I think use AF100 can be found at a better that $4000 price tag.

Nikon D800 on the other hand has a better "Look and feel" than 5dmk3 in "bread and butter" videographer ISO till about 3200, better colors and definition. (Not to neglect Nikon out of current offerings). Nikon D4 on the other hand is somewhat better in low light than 5dmk3.
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Andrew, great article. Outside of professional video work where the FS100 would surely excel in almost every way imaginable, what's your opinion as to it's use for dramatic and narrative film work? I realize that the demographic which drives sales for these types of cameras are not indie filmmakers (whom of course do use this camera), but I have always been an opponent of the FS100 in this area only.

The short films that I've seen done with the FS100 just don't seem convincing in a "cinematic" way... I don't necessarily mean "filmic" or any of the other annoyingly ambiguous terms that constantly get thrown around. It evokes a very grounded in reality, behind the scenes-esque , News Style, Travel Channel HD Expose, Top Chef / Cooking Show, Reality TV / Fear Factor vibe.

Don't really know how else to say it; it seems like the most perfect camera for EVERYTHING except a narrative film. Do you have any examples or know of any footage where this doesn't seem to be the case? It would seem like the GH2 or the 5D would fill the "cinematic" needs a filmmaker while the FS100 would take over for everything else that needed a true / legit camera for serious paid video work.
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[quote author=AndrewP link=topic=570.msg3945#msg3945 date=1334374811]The short films that I've seen done with the FS100 just don't seem convincing in a "cinematic" way... I don't necessarily mean "filmic" or any of the other annoyingly ambiguous terms that constantly get thrown around. It evokes a very grounded in reality, behind the scenes-esque , News Style, Travel Channel HD Expose, Top Chef / Cooking Show, Reality TV / Fear Factor vibe.[/quote]

In german, with it's many anglicisms, you say "Filmlook". This refers only to the image itself, not to the motion-emotion-part of "filmic" and "cinematic". A kind of Filmlookology developed, and the rules and characteristics are concrete and available:

1. Filmlook can only be applied to video, not film. In the german pendant to the magazine [i]The Cinematographer[/i] (Der Kameramann, # 4/2012) there was an article about how modern digital cameras are used in a way to make their videos look like analogue film. In other words: Filmlook is desired where Videolook becomes apparent and annoying. Audiences hated the look of Michael Manns [i]Public Enemies[/i] (filmed in 30i). Since [i]Cloverfield[/i] was supposed to look like video, it was okay there. So it's not just limited to amateur movies.

2. Because video cameras traditionally had small sensors, you'd use shallow DoF. Needless to say.

3. Because video cameras traditionally had interlaced video, you'd use progressive video. Also obvious. The artifacts of "i", though perceptible, are a minor issue. What is more important is the [i]temporal resolution[/i]. 24 fps have become a viewing habit to us, they tell us subliminally that the time of the film is [i]narrated[/i] time and not real-time. 25i/30i, but also 48p/50p/60p signal real-time, which is good for docs, news, porn and our baby. Watch Laforets [i]Reverie[/i] again, with it's 30p (5D before the first FW-update): The 6 frames more are enough to make it look less, uhm, [i]cinematic[/i]. Time in a film is too important to allow it to look real. I think nobody disagrees.

4. Films we watch in a cinema use style to be instantly distinguishable from reality. To postpone our disbelief, to draw us into the movie, a lot of techniques are used to create a suggestible mood. Trance-invoking techniques. Ironically these have not to do with more details (not [i]at all[/i]) and high-fidelity-colors (not [i]at all[/i]). Nobody even cares for those attributes. The Videolook of the FS100 comes from people who approached it like a classic video camcorder, resulting in a clean and neutral look. "No style" is seen as realistic style, as the recording of real events, meaningless, uninteresting. A style that fits the emotion you want to express by the image is seen as fictional, meaningful, interesting. You get the feeling that this might lead to something.

To let these FS100 users understand all ambiguous terms connected to what is exciting about DSLR filmmaking, they should read EOSHDs articles. Let Andrew ("R") test some adapted lenses on the FS100, and the magic will come. With the native Panasonic MFT-lenses the GH2 videos also don't look particularly sexy.

EDIT: What you described for the FS100 is also true for every video with higher framerates. Okay, higher framerates are one factor that can cause Videolook, but just because it has always been like this, it doesn't have to be true for all times. One can easily imagine an action sequence that looks shockingly hyperrealistic with 48p or more. What we see instead are stills, nearly motionless. 4k has the same effect. It adds nothing to the image but cleanness, and so cleanness becomes the content of the demo. Incredibly boring.
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[quote author=Axel link=topic=570.msg3947#msg3947 date=1334383472]
[quote author=AndrewP link=topic=570.msg3945#msg3945 date=1334374811]The short films that I've seen done with the FS100 just don't seem convincing in a "cinematic" way... I don't necessarily mean "filmic" or any of the other annoyingly ambiguous terms that constantly get thrown around. It evokes a very grounded in reality, behind the scenes-esque , News Style, Travel Channel HD Expose, Top Chef / Cooking Show, Reality TV / Fear Factor vibe.[/quote]

In german, with it's many anglicisms, you say "Filmlook". This refers only to the image itself, not to the motion-emotion-part of "filmic" and "cinematic". A kind of Filmlookology developed, and the rules and characteristics are concrete and available:

1. Filmlook can only be applied to video, not film. In the german pendant to the magazine [i]The Cinematographer[/i] (Der Kameramann, # 4/2012) there was an article about how modern digital cameras are used in a way to make their videos look like analogue film. In other words: Filmlook is desired where Videolook becomes apparent and annoying. Audiences hated the look of Michael Manns [i]Public Enemies[/i] (filmed in 30i). Since [i]Cloverfield[/i] was supposed to look like video, it was okay there. So it's not just limited to amateur movies.

2. Because video cameras traditionally had small sensors, you'd use shallow DoF. Needless to say.

3. Because video cameras traditionally had interlaced video, you'd use progressive video. Also obvious. The artifacts of "i", though perceptible, are a minor issue. What is more important is the [i]temporal resolution[/i]. 24 fps have become a viewing habit to us, they tell us subliminally that the time of the film is [i]narrated[/i] time and not real-time. 25i/30i, but also 48p/50p/60p signal real-time, which is good for docs, news, porn and our baby. Watch Laforets [i]Reverie[/i] again, with it's 30p (5D before the first FW-update): The 6 frames more are enough to make it look less, uhm, [i]cinematic[/i]. Time in a film is too important to allow it to look real. I think nobody disagrees.

4. Films we watch in a cinema use style to be instantly distinguishable from reality. To postpone our disbelief, to draw us into the movie, a lot of techniques are used to create a suggestible mood. Trance-invoking techniques. Ironically these have not to do with more details (not [i]at all[/i]) and high-fidelity-colors (not [i]at all[/i]). Nobody even cares for those attributes. The Videolook of the FS100 comes from people who approached it like a classic video camcorder, resulting in a clean and neutral look. "No style" is seen as realistic style, as the recording of real events, meaningless, uninteresting. A style that fits the emotion you want to express by the image is seen as fictional, meaningful, interesting. You get the feeling that this might lead to something.

To let these FS100 users understand all ambiguous terms connected to what is exciting about DSLR filmmaking, they should read EOSHDs articles. Let Andrew ("R") test some adapted lenses on the FS100, and the magic will come. With the native Panasonic MFT-lenses the GH2 videos also don't look particularly sexy.

EDIT: What you described for the FS100 is also true for every video with higher framerates. Okay, higher framerates are one factor that can cause Videolook, but just because it has always been like this, it doesn't have to be true for all times. One can easily imagine an action sequence that looks shockingly hyperrealistic with 48p or more. What we see instead are stills, nearly motionless. 4k has the same effect. It adds nothing to the image but cleanness, and so cleanness becomes the content of the demo. Incredibly boring.
[/quote]

This is the most sensible post on the subject that I've ever read, I completely agree.

Andrew, thanks for this brief review, I've had my eye on this camera for a while as a possible step-up from my 5Dii, and had only been put off by some hysteria surrounding highlight rolloff (or lack of). I await your further tests with interest!
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[quote]Surprisingly the FS100 is far better in low light than the 5D Mark III because of the codec.[/quote]

This is not true. Low light is better because the FS100's pixels are bigger, allowing for more photons to be captured. If anything, a bad codec will hide noise while raw video will show more noise.
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AndrewP, I realize this is just a bunch of shots of trees and what-not, but regardless of the subject matter, editing or quality, this doesn't appear like Reality TV, Travel Channel, Top Chef, etc.. https://vimeo.com/29205099 I've been saving up for an FS100 and would love to see more of what you are asking for as well, but it appears it can be done to me.
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"Some of this looks pretty cinematic to me as well. https://vimeo.com/28203770"
blown highlights, the sky, chroma clipping that's what I see a lot in FS100 footage,  more than in GH2, AF100.
setting the camera could be the reason, not too many users could set up AF100 correctly, in their tests.. It's a bit trickier than GH2, which is straightforward good.
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Yeah, but aside from the setup, I was just referring to this footage not looking like Reality TV, Cooking show, HDTV, etc.. that many are concerned with. It appears that with the right lenses and the right lighting, setup, etc.. this cam doesn't have to look so video. I like the idea that if you can set it up the right way you can do some artistic things with it, and when a commercial job comes along that the ultra sharp video look would be a benefit, it is there to a pretty big degree.
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