Moving on from the NX5

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sleepytom
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So I've recently acquired a Sony NX5 and have been very disappointed by it generally. It has a terrible viewfinder (RGB colour breakup similar to single chip DLP projectors), The lens ramps so much as to make it unusable past about 3/4 zoom (i often shoot in poor lighting conditions) The length of zoom is great as is the digital doubler but in poor lighting its simply impossible to use it.
 
So I'm going to trade it in for something different. I would of got an EX1r but given the lack of broadcast approval and poor live multicam connectivity has put me off. Given that I'll be moving out of the Sony L batteries on an EX then there is little to make me want to stay with Sony.
 
The short list is now as follows.
 
Canon XF105
Canon XF305
Panasonic HPX250
 
It will be used for live music shoots (multicam so ability to hire additional matched cameras is important) and other live event shoots, normally HDSDI into a vision mixer and recording in DNxHD or ProRes on a BMD Hyperdeck or Atomos Ninja. Genlock is a required feature (to reduce latency and improve lipsync) Timecode would be nice too but less important.
 
I know the cameras cover quite a range in terms of price, and i guess my question is do i want to waste time messing about with a tiny cheap camera like the XF105 or should i sell a kidney to get the 305 or Panny? (which are pretty much the same price as each other after you factor in the high cost of P2 media)
 
Has anyone used the 105 alongside the 305? In some ways it would be nice to have a tiny camera and then hire in 305s - i'd probably use the 105 as a locked off shot and hire the 305s for directed operators to use. Will they cut together OK or not? (the identical onboard codec seems to matter little really, I'm mostly interested in how well the SDI outs will match)
 
I'd love to have enough budget to get the JVC Studio system but at £20k it's way too expensive for something which isn't broadcast approved.
 
Is there anything that i'm missing?

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
sleepytom wrote:
...........should i sell a kidney to get the 305 or Panny? (which are pretty much the same price as each other after you factor in the high cost of P2 media)
Of the two, I'd go for the 305, for reasons mentioned in another thread. The 305 has the ability to use the lens in true manual mode for iris and focus - manual on the Panasonic 250 is still via servos.
 
Probably thanks to the BBC buying a load of them, the XF305s have also become something of a standard - everybody knows about and is familiar with them - just witness the top ten hire list I linked to in the other thread. ( http://www.televisual.com/read-online/Top-10-Rental-Cameras_rid-32.html )
 
Regarding the XF305 or 105, well, more you pay, better you get. Do you need two kidneys anyway? ;)
MAGLINK
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I would agree and go for the XF305 as it is a cracking camera that is now the broadcast industry std and the new Z1, you can always hire a second one or a 105 if you every need a two camera shoot. You can get good deals on them if you look around and they are selling very well and they need to compete with the 250.
tom hardwick
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Although I've nothing but admiration for the Canons and Panasonic you mention I'd just like to come in on the side of the NX5 before you trade.  Straight out of the box the camera's footage is decidedly bland (though I'm sure it's a great default setting for filming test charts).  A few minutes playing with the PP settings transforms the image, as many posters to DVi have found.
 
I can't let you get away with your comments on the lens ramping.  If you want such a cheap, sharp, compact 20x zoom that starts off so fast and wide then it's going to ramp, and very few cameras are immune from this trait (though the EX1R is excluded).  Unuseable past 3/4 zoom?  When did you last use a 500 mm f/2.8 lens on your DSLR?
 
The v'finder may not be up to much, but a lupe on the top screen makes perfect sense.
 
If the 105 is seriously on your replacement list then it sounds like you're the film-maker I believe you are - i.e. you realise that what's held between your palms has far less relevance than what's held between your ears.  Staying with 1/3'' chips is your limiting factor I'd say.  However many approval stickers comes attached to the 305 it's still fighting the photographic authority of the EX's far bigger ½'' chips.  But OK, broadcast approval may be your prime requirement.
 
tom.
sleepytom
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I'm not so concerned with how the footage looks direct out of box or after tweaking picture profiles, I take it as given that any camera at this price point should be capable of producing some lovely looking footage.  Though seeing as you mention it the sony picture profiles on the NX5 are poorly implemented, lack settings which are found on the Z7 and cannot be saved or backed up anywhere. 
 
My primary concern is GENLOCK - I do lots of live event multicam to relay screens and having genlocked cameras significantly improves lipsync. This is how the EX1 has ruled itself out of the running. EX3s would be on the table but their ergonomics are appalling. (if they had the JVC compact sholder mount format then they would be a clear winner)
 
Broadcast compatibility is not a big issue really, but it's a nice selling point, and makes it easier to justify spending the extra money.  The chip size argument is valid, sort of. But there are lots of people with a lot to say about the internals of cameras and codecs, most of them say these things without having done side by side comparisons of the results. The 1/2inch sensor of the EX3 should in theory be better than the 1/3inch XF305, but is it in practice? What do we mean by better anyway?
 
It is annoying that the EX3 is such a silly shape, what the hell were canon thinking when they designed it? cheeky

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

tom hardwick
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I agree with your comment about the EX3's odd shape, but I feel Sony had a bigger hand in its design than Canon.  Mind you, Canon persisted with this shape for years with their XL series.
sleepytom
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
That's kind of what i was saying, the EX3 was clearly "inspired" by the XL1 design. 
 
Ironically Canon have now whipped Sony at this game with the XF305 being "inspired" by the EX1 (but done better - the dual side monitor flip out is a great idea) 

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

FreeFlow
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Quote:
The 1/2inch sensor of the EX3 should in theory be better than the 1/3inch XF305, but is it in practice? What do we mean by better anyway?
I have not used the 305, but usually bigger chips will be better for reasons of light gathering capability, but also noise characteristics. My old brain is possibly wrong on this, but I believe that the smaller photosites much closer together, especially on a CMOS system when the sensor is smaller, is much more prone to noise.
 
On the other hand you are talking about a 5 year old CMOS system (EX3) vs a fairly recent chip, albeit smaller, on the 305.
infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
And image quality is only one aspect. What you say about sensitivity is quite true (assuming all else equal) but there's more to it than that.
 
First is depth of field control - and 1/2" has a definite 1 stop advantage over 1/3" cameras. It's not up to 2/3", but it's halfway between the two. Noticeably better than 1/3".
 
Second is diffraction effects, where the image softens as the iris is stopped down. That likewise happens a stop earlier with 1/3" than 1/2" and severely limits the usable iris range. Likewise, 1/2" is not as good as 2/3" - but still noticeably better than 1/3".
 
I believe the XF300 is better than may be expected in some of these respects (though not dof) because to an extent Canon "cheats" with clever lens design. But I don't believe the tricks being pulled would be possible with interchangeable lenses, so don't draw too many conclusions about 1/3" in general from the XF300.
Richard Payne
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I know I'm biased but the 250 is better in low light than the 305 according to people who saw it at BBC Bristol.

 for some footage.
 
infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Richard Payne wrote:
I know I'm biased but the 250 is better in low light than the 305 ..........
It's not a question of being biased but more down to how things were setup. (I'm sure you're accurately reflecting what you saw.) 
 
From what I gather, the 250 has much in common as regards front end with the 371. The 371 came into being to improve on high noise figures with the 301. The problem was that it did it by using noise reduction which compared across several frames. Fine on still images - but when an object moved across frame it left what others have called a "noise ghost". It's not immediately obvious, but once you've spotted it it becomes unpleasant. I've also seen tests where post manipulation emphasises the problem to unacceptable levels.
 
The "fix" was to greatly reduce the amount of processing - which sort of turned the 371 back into the 301....... with the higher noise levels.
 
So my question would have to be what setting was your 250 in Bristol was set to?
 
If it was with the higher setting of noise reduction, it may well have appeared better in low light than the 305, but I strongly suspect that if you'd looked closely enough you'd have seen the ghosts.
 
If that's the case, it may well have appeared better than the 305 for simple viewing, but been far more problematic for post treatment and that includes post noise reduction.
Richard Payne
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I was using scene file 6 with Gamma set to Cine V, which is my preferred setting.  I think it fair to say Panasonic have learnt a thing or two about noise processing in the last couple of years and the general consensus meeting the camera is that noise is low. 
I'm getting a 250 tomorrow, is there some test you recommend to find your 'ghost noise'?
 
infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Richard Payne wrote:
 was using scene file 6 with Gamma set to Cine V, which is my preferred setting.  
I don't think what I referred to has anything to do with scene files from what I remember, it's at a far more basic processing level within the camera.
 
But scene files CAN obviously affect perceived low light ability, especially settings like "coring" (or whatever different manufacturers call it). That can certainly make a camera look quieter - but at the expense of fine detail, and make such as a face look "puddingy".
 
I'm going out now, but will try to find a more definitive answer later.
 
MAGLINK
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Note as a panasonic HPX301 user for over three years now a lot of the noise complaints were from the NTSC side and in particular working at 24p, skew and jello were also a lot worse at drop frame rates so the HPX371 has a two stage PAP filter fitted in the firmware.
 
The PAP 1 setting resulted in the ghosting effect but once again this was worse on the NTSC and 24p rates.
 
You can set the filter at PAP 2 and this gives you the same filtering as on the 301, at the time panasonic claimed a new sensor but when this was challenged on the fora the firmware was updated to include the two stage filters.
 
Personally I have never had noise problems with the 301 or the 371 and as the 250 is pretty much the same camera if you set it up using Alan's 301/371 settings it should be a good starting point.
 
Also don't do what some people do and think that it can shoot in no light with full gain applied, I use Alan's recommended settings of -3, +3 and +6db  and it all seems to work very well.
infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Richard Payne wrote:
I was using scene file 6 with Gamma set to Cine V, which is my preferred setting. 

I’ve now had the chance to find more out about this, and the noise reduction that I’m referring to is not connected with scene files. I’ve found a manual online, and I’m pretty sure it’s what referred to as the “P.A.P. FILTER” and accessible via the “OPTION” menu. The first manual refers to p 151 of Vol 2 of the manual.

 
The following is listed there:
Quote:
The type of video filter for improving image quality with 3D processing technology can be selected.
TYPE 1
This setting is suitable for image production that reduces noise as far as possible with increased sensitivity by using a 3D adaptation effect.
TYPE 2
This setting suppresses 3D adaptation effects and is suitable for an image production with natural sensitivity and image quality
• When a setting is changed, the message “TURN POWER OFF” appears. Then turn the power off and turn it back on again..
Richard Payne wrote:
I think it fair to say Panasonic have learnt a thing or two about noise processing in the last couple of years and the general consensus meeting the camera is that noise is low.

The above, I believe, is exactly the same in principle as the 371. It would seem that “Type 1” gives a lower apparent noise figure – but very likely the same “noise ghosts” as caused complaints with the 371. “Type 2” is normal (albeit higher noise), and is what should be used for any meaningful low light comparisons. It relates to the “fix” offered for the problems of the 371, effectively turning it back to the 301.

 

I very strongly suspect the model you had to demo was likely set to “Type 1”.

 
In this context, “3D” means the two linear dimensions of width and height, and the third dimension of time. Put simply it is averaging pixels both within the frame and across consecutive frames – and it’s the latter effect that may be expected to give differing effects with motion to a static scene. The first effect is likely to lead to a slight softening.
Richard Payne wrote:
I'm getting a 250 tomorrow, is there some test you recommend to find your 'ghost noise'?

When I got to look at a 371 it took me a little while to see it at first, but then it becomes pretty easy once you know what you’re looking at. The shot I remember was in an office with plain cream walls, and door with round knob, shot framed such that you could see about 2 foot height of the door. Panning the camera fairly slowly (about 5-6 seconds at least to cover a frame width) showed a “noise ghost” behind the knob in the plain grey of the door. A light switch on a plain wall is likely to make it easier to see as well.

The initial reaction is to think it’s not that severe, is it really worth worrying about? Unfortunately yes, it is. Post production can amplify it to (IMO) unacceptable levels – the example I was shown was what it looked like after a chromakey.

I’d only expect you to see it in Type 1 PAP, switch to Type 2 and it should go away. But I’d then be very surprised if you still thought the 250 was better than the XF305 in low light.......

You can tell that from page E32 of Vol1 of the manual, giving specifications:

Quote:
Sensitivity
*50Hz mode:
F8 (1080/50i, PAP FILTER: Type 2)
F11 (1080/50i, PAP FILTER: Type 1)
Acceptance or rejection of the noise ghosts gives a full stop of difference to sensitivity. Any such comparisons should be done with it in Type 2 mode.
 
Richard Payne
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
The 250 is not the same camera as the 371.  The processing is different, as is the lens.
 
To get back on topic if Tom can borrow a 305 I'll bring the 250 down to Brighton and we'll let him compare them and give his report.
 
 
sleepytom
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Richard - is it possible to arrange a loan unit to try for myself?
 
Also I'd be interested to know how much time YOU have spent with the XF305? You seem to be claiming the Panny is better, so i'd like to know how well you know the other camera to make this value judgment?
 
For me (having seen an AG160 briefly and the XF305 for a couple of hours) I'd say the 305 wins on ergonomics by a country mile. The lens control is far far better than the panasonic. So to convince me to get the panasonic it would have to either be significantly cheaper (it isn't) or have significantly better image quality (seems unlikely)

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Richard Payne
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Hi Tom  - I can't loan you a 250, but I can come down and show it to you. (I live just north of Brighton.) You may well be able to borrow a 250 from one of our dealers.
 
If you don't like the ergonomics I won't be able to do much about that, however a current BBC Cameraman at BBC Bristol told me that the live 250 pictures I was showing him looked considerably less noisy than he had seen in the same room from the 305 and that is what I based my original post on. 
 
Personally I have not used a 305, but I have seen well lit very pretty pictures from it.   
 
If you would like to see the 250 let me know, I'll have it for the next week.
 
 
infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Richard Payne wrote:
The 250 is not the same camera as the 371.  The processing is different, as is the lens.
 
The lens is certainly different - non-interchangeable, and servo focus and iris, unlike the 371.
 
As far as the processing goes, the question must be how different?
 
What I quoted is from the HPX250 manual, and the figures (sensitivity with PAP on and off) and nomenclature seen uncannily close to what is specified for the 371. In each case they use what is normally described as "temporally-recursive noise reduction", what Panasonic refers to as "3D adaptive". It basically means averaging between successive frames.
MAGLINK
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I take any marketing blurb from panny with a pinch of salt these days as there has been too much smokescreen marketing to hide camera design faults in the USA, they claimed a new sensor on the 371 and it was just some extra filtering which caused even more problems.
 
I did not say the 250 and 370 were identical anyway and said they were pretty much the same as they share a lot of the functionality and menus system as well as the sensor.
Neon Films
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
infocus2 wrote:
sleepytom wrote:
...........should i sell a kidney to get the 305 or Panny? (which are pretty much the same price as each other after you factor in the high cost of P2 media)
Of the two, I'd go for the 305, for reasons mentioned in another thread. The 305 has the ability to use the lens in true manual mode for iris and focus - manual on the Panasonic 250 is still via servos.
 
Probably thanks to the BBC buying a load of them, the XF305s have also become something of a standard - everybody knows about and is familiar with them - just witness the top ten hire list I linked to in the other thread. ( http://www.televisual.com/read-online/Top-10-Rental-Cameras_rid-32.html )
 
Regarding the XF305 or 105, well, more you pay, better you get. Do you need two kidneys anyway? ;)
 
We had a look at the Canon XF300 and 305 and was shocked by how bad the manual zoom ring was.  Even in manual it's servo driven and the delay makes it practically impossible to use.  Other than that it's a great camera but the poor zoom means that we probably won't purchase one.
 

Mark Smith

Leeds Media Services
Video Production in Leeds and Yorkshire

sleepytom
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
That's the first bad report i've heard of the lens on the XF305. I thought it was switchable to full manual mode, like the EX1?
 
 
(edit) I just realized your talking about the zoom, not the focus. TBH i couldn't care less about manual zoom, if i want horrible stuttery zooms i'll add them in post. I presume the focus manual mode is actually manual, like the EX1??
 

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

infocus2
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
Neon Films wrote:
We had a look at the Canon XF300 and 305 and was shocked by how bad the manual zoom ring was.  Even in manual it's servo driven and the delay makes it practically impossible to use.  Other than that it's a great camera but the poor zoom means that we probably won't purchase one.
I tend to agree with sleepytom - it's the focus/iris I'd expect and want to be good in manual, the zoom would normally be used in servo mode, right up to the most expensive cameras and lenses.
 
That said, on pro 2/3" lenses there's normally a switch to disengage the zoom servo if you do want to use it manually. What you describe sounds a little like trying to operate the zoom on such a camera without disengaging? Maybe worth querying it with a Canon rep?
MAGLINK
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Re: Moving on from the NX5
I agree too I rarely use manual zoom control and most of the time it is on a remote handle as well.