Sony NEX EA50 – ENG cameras go APS-C, interchangeable lens

Sony NEX-EA50

Sony released a new video camera today but it seems to have confused a lot of people.

  1. It isn’t a future consumer camera. It is a low end ENG camera for shoulder mounted video work.
  2. It isn’t a cheap FS100. It is a NEX 5N in an ENG body with XLR inputs. (Similarly the VG20 is a NEX 5N in a high end consumer camcorder body)

Instead this is practical tool for run & gun documentary shooters, live event shooters, news gathers and corporate video.

Most other kinds of filmmakers are much better off with the FS100 or a DSLR.

The new camera is priced at roughly $3600 $4000 $4500. (Update: the price was adjusted by nearly $1000 in one day!). So you are paying quite a hefty premium over the NEX 5N’s image sensor and processor for that different housing, audio controls, XLR inputs and adjustable shoulder mount but for some it will be worth it.

Some describe it as a ‘cheap’ FS100 but actually the FS100 can be had used now for around $4000 and I got mine for £2800. I know which one gives the better image and is best suited for the kind of filmmaking I do and it isn’t the EA20.

It is a similar situation to the VG20 which I was also a bit uninspired by considering the price hike over the NEX 5N. Equally I am not too interested in picking up a NEX EA50 because I don’t think it will offer anything different in terms of image quality, certainly now we have the prospect of a hacked NEX 5N to look forward to.

The EA50 is simply a stepping up of the NEX 5N’s internals (sensor, image processor) to a low end ENG camera. Basically the housing, controls, audio and inputs have all been upgraded and the form factor extended onto the shoulder.

However it will suit people who want to shoot some corporate, news and live events with a shoulder mounted camera, at the same time as avoiding some of the practical issues with DSLRs like having to rig them up and mess with dual system audio.

The power zoom lens will also be useful for some although it is nothing revolutionary and certainly not a first to the market (Panasonic already have the continuously variable iris and power zoom in their consumer Micro Four Thirds range) it is an update to the standard 18-200mm kit lens that is available for cameras like the VG20 and NEX 5N.

I can see this being used by news gathers for local newspapers, smaller operators and live event shooters. The audio on this thing is good, plenty of manual control and XLR jacks. The stills function will be handy for those needing to quickly deliver some high resolution frames to go along with the video. To have that all in one shot and on your shoulder will save time, you won’t have to put down the video camera and pick up a stills camera.

Unfortunately there is still no ND filter on this thing despite ones being built into mobile phones these days! Like the Nokia PureView. It is high time Sony managed to fit one in!

The other drawback is that the viewfinder eye cup and extension is rather cumbersome, the same unit as the FS100 has which I have not really taken to due to the build quality and drop in brightness it causes.

The much more exciting news today about Sony is in my next post. Stay tuned!