April 19, 2012

Review: Atomos Samurai recorder

In April 2011 I reviewed the Ninja from Atomos. If you have a DSLR or video camera with a clean HDMI output the Ninja is still a great option for recording at a higher bit rate than your camera can achieve by using its own internal compression and flash memory. In fact a new Ninja has just been launched at NAB.

There are an increasing number of field recorders on the market. The Atomos Samurai, which can record from an HD-SDI output, started shipping a few months ago, but has been in such demand that it was only recently that we could get our hands on it for a comprehensive review.

The Atomos Samurai is a 10-bit portable field recorder with HD-SDI inputs and outputs. It records in Apple ProRes (and very soon will be able to record Avid DNxHD) onto a removable 2.5-inch drive (SSD or hard disk). It has a touch screen interface that doubles up as a simple field monitor.

April 18, 2012

Atomos Ninja 2 + AtomOS 3.0 launch

NAB 2012: Atomos has unveiled a new version of its Ninja HDMI recorder. The Ninja 2 should be available next month, and new features include: HDMI output; a higher quality screen; and the ability to run the new AtomOS 3.0 firmware that brings a range of desirable features, such as focus peaking, zebra stripes, the ability to record on multiple recorders at once, and do logging and edit selection on the device.

The new operating system will be the same on both the Ninja 2 and the Samurai, but won’t work on existing Ninja devices, although company CEO, Jeromy Young, has promised a low-cost upgrade for Ninja users to the Ninja 2, costing “probably around $500,” compared to a stand-alone cost for the Ninja 2 of £695, €795 or $995.

The Ninja 2 touchscreen is an 800x480-pixel display, with a viewing angle of 170ยบ, both horizontally and vertically, and much improved visibility in direct sunlight. There is also upgraded support for HDMI timecode and HDMI triggering (from the camera), and the recorder should now be able to record from any HDMI device, including iPhone or iPad.

AtomOS 3.0 is promised as a free upgrade for Samurai users from April 30, and addresses several requests users have demanded most.

By adding such monitoring aides such as focus peaking, adjustable zebra, false colour and blue only (exposure check), there's no need for an external monitor. “We're responding to customer feedback by giving even more functionality, but at no extra cost,” said Young.

SmartLog allows you to select favourite clips, and mark in and out points using XML metadata. This means you can effectively do a pre-edit on the Ninja 2 or Samurai before you get to the edit suite and plug it into Final Cut Pro.

SmartControl allows control of any deck, even legacy video equipment, from the Samurai and control of the Samurai from any PC or Mac, which is useful if you need to control recording remotely or are setting up a custom video installation. It was added specifically for James Cameron's Deep Sea Challenge, which used 30 Samurai recorders, and allows start/stop/pause to be triggered on any number of recorders interconnected via their LANC port.

Other enhancements included in this update are: automatic file recovery in the event of power failure; auto-record when an input is detected; Loop Playback; and iPhone/iPad/Mac/PC recording support, which Atomos suggests is “a great feature for gaming and app software companies to record and demonstrate in superb quality how their app or game works”.

The Ninja and Samurai currently record using 10-bit Apple ProRes, but will also add various Avid 8-bit and 10-bit DNxHD codecs.

[[Update: AtomOS 4.0 - including Avid DNxHD support - now available]]

[[UPDATE: Atomos has introduced new Samurai Blade with a sharper monitor and upgraded operating system (AtomOS5) – it has also cut the price of both the Samurai and Ninja-2]]

Related posts: Atomos Ninja Review + Atomos makes the Connection

By David Fox

April 17, 2012

JVC GY-HM600 + GY-HM650

NAB 2012: JVC has launched two new handheld ProHD ENG camcorders, including one with built-in WiFi/FTP for shooting and relaying news back to the studio as quickly as possible.

The GY-HM600 is claimed to be “light, versatile and extremely easy to use” and “designed for fast paced ENG delivering exceptional imagery and features for news, sports, and independent production.” It promises good low light performance (F11 at 2000 lux), and has a 23x autofocus zoom lens.

It records HD or SD in multiple file formats, including native XDCAM EX (.MP4), Final Cut Pro (.MOV), and AVCHD, to SDHC or SDXC media cards. Users can choose relay mode for uninterrupted recording, or simultaneous recording to both memory cards for instant backup or a client copy.

“It sets a new standard of performance for handheld cameras with incredible optics, intuitive operation and the industry’s fastest shoot-to-edit workflow,” claimed Gustav Emrich, European Product Manager.

The GY-HM600 offers a 1.22-megapixel colour viewfinder and 3.5-inch LCD; a second trigger and servo zoom control on the built-in handle make it easy to record while holding the camera at low or high angles; while the Pre Rec (cache memory) feature continuously records and stores up to five seconds of footage to help prevent missed shots of breaking events.

It has: three 1/3-inch 12-bit 1920x1080 CMOS sensors; a built-in Fujinon HD lens with a focal range of 29mm-667mm (35mm equivalent), with manual focus, zoom, and iris rings; three ND filters; auto-focus with face detection; an optical image stabilizer; LANC remote connector; timecode input; plus HD-SDI and HDMI outputs.

There is a built-in stereo microphone plus two XLR inputs with phantom power and a shotgun microphone holder, as well as a headphone jack and separate input for a wireless microphone receiver. It is expected to ship in the Autumn.


The GY-HM650 is based on the HM600 and will be available late this year. It can record full HD files on one memory card while simultaneously creating smaller, web-friendly files (1/4 HD – 960x540) on a second card. It has built-in FTP and WiFi connectivity to deliver the footage back to a station without a microwave or satellite connection. It also records .MXF files with metadata, optimized for asset management.

“With built-in web connectivity, simultaneous recording of a web-friendly video file, and .MXF files with rich descriptive metadata, the GY-HM650 is ideal for today's file-based workflows,” said Emrich.

[UPDATE: More than 500 of the HM650 camcorders have been bought by BBC News]

By David Fox

April 16, 2012

$2,995 Blackmagic Cinema Camera

NAB 2012: Blackmagic Design has launched its first camera. It includes a built in SSD recorder, 13 stops of dynamic range, and lots of high-end features for a low-end price: $2,995/£1,925, with shipping in July.

It is claimed to provide “feature film quality in an extremely compact portable design.” It doesn’t use a particularly large sensor, although it’s probably large enough for most people to get reasonably shallow depth of field, and there are a few other compromises (such as the lack of XLR audio input), but for the price it should really make Sony, Canon, Panasonic, and JVC worried, as it does seem to offer many features that more expensive cameras don’t.

It has: a 2.5K sensor; an integrated capacitive touchscreen 5-inch (800 x 480-resolution) LCD for direct metadata entry; standard quarter-inch jack audio connectors, refrigerated sensor; takes EF (Canon EOS) and ZE (Zeiss) mount lenses; and can capture CinemaDNG RAW, ProRes and DNxHD files (so high quality and ease of editing).

The Blackmagic Digital Cinema Camera also includes both HD-SDI and Thunderbolt connectors and it comes with a full copy of both the DaVinci Resolve colour grading software (which has just been updated to version 9.0 with a faster to use interface) and UltraScope – so that you can simply plug it into a laptop for on set grading and scopes.

“We have been thinking hard about cameras and some of the limitations in quality that video cameras run into. Working with DaVinci color grading has only made these limitations more noticeable,” said Blackmagic CEO, Grant Petty.

“Some of the reasons why video cameras look like ‘video’ is because they have limited contrast range, are limited to HD resolutions, use heavy compression for file recording, have poor quality lenses and of course they don't integrate into NLE software with metadata management.”

The 13 stops of dynamic range is one of the most important reasons why this camera should look more like film – typical film stock will deliver about 13 stops, and it is one stop more than Canon’s EOS C300 can deliver (and it is probably the best of the lower cost digital cinema cameras). An Arri Alexa can give up to 14 stops, meaning you can get more detail in both the shadow and highlight areas of the picture and cope more readily with very high-contrast shots.

“Often people focus on more pixels, but that is just a larger video image,” said Petty. “The real way to get film quality is to capture a wide contrast range to retain more detail in the black and white levels of the image. Then once you colour grade the images, it looks amazing. Combined with amazing EF and ZF lenses, the result is a true film look.”

This quality is lost or diminished when you compress the images during recording, which is why the Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes an SSD recorder – as it already makes the Shuttle SSD recorder, this was also an obvious choice. This means it can record the full 2.5K (2432 x 1366-pixels) 12-bit RAW sensor data as uncompressed CinemaDNG files, to capture all the detail and quality of the sensor. Frame rates are: 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p and 30p.

“No files on this camera are custom in any way and this is the first camera that’s designed to make the whole post production process simple,” he claimed. It records into CinemaDNG format for RAW files (which an increasing amount of post-production software can now cope with - the format is also used by a couple of other cameras, such as the Ikonoscop A-Cam dII). It also records 10-bit DNxHD or ProRes in HD (1920 x 1080), for compatiblity with Avid’s Media Composer and Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

The 2592 x 2192-pixel sensor is smaller than the batch of digital cinema cameras launched recently, at 16.64mm x 14.04mm with an active size of 15.6mm x 8.8mm - about half way between a Micro Four Thirds (as used by Panasonic’s AF100/AF101), which is 18mm x 13.5mm (with an active area of 17.8mm x 10.0mm), and Super 16mm film, which is about 12mm x 7.2mm. So anyone looking for the shallowest depth of field might be disappointed, but unless you have a focus puller very shallow DoF makes it more difficult to shoot, so it should be more than adequate for the vast majority of productions.

The integrated touchscreen LCD includes a "slate" window for adding shot information that is recorded into the file as metadata in the Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve format. Common data like the shot number can auto increment to save time.

You can also change camera settings on the LCD, including frame rate, shutter angle, colour temperature, dynamic range, and focus assist settings. The SDI output has overlays showing all the camera data when monitoring on set, and when playing back recorded files.

The design is very Blackmagic, compact (166.2mm by 113.51mm x 126.49mm excluding detachable sunshade and turret dust cap), simple and well made. It is machined from a solid block of aluminium and weighs about 1.7kg. “It’s strong, very compact and designed to be easily hand held,” said Petty. “I am still amazed we have fitted all this into such a small design, when normally features like RAW recorders and monitoring can be optional extras on cinema cameras.”

Optional Blackmagic Cinema Camera Handles cost an extra $195

For a few examples of test shots, have a look at: www.vimeopro.com/johnbrawleytests/blackmagic-cinema-camera - the third one, Dusk, is worth looking at to see the dynamic range (and higher ISO behaviour - which looks pretty good, a bit of noise but with a fairly pleasing film grain to it).

Also worth a look is John Brawley's blog post about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

By David Fox

April 12, 2012

Canon adds 4 x 4K cinema lenses

Canon is developing four new compact, lighter, low-cost 4K digital cinematography zoom lenses, for its expanding EF Cinema Lens range. These will join the seven high-end lenses announced last November.

The new lenses are designed for Super35mm sensors (such as the upcoming EOS C500 rather than full-frame sensors like the EOS-1D C DSLR) and support 4K (4,096 x 2,160) resolutions.

They will be available with both EF and PL mounts, and will be smaller, lighter and more compact than its earlier offerings. Canon has also promised that they will be available “at competitive prices, offering premium performance to a wider range of users”.

There will be two wide-angle cinema zoom lenses: the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L S (with Canon’s own EF mount) and the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L SP (with a PL mount); alongside two telephoto cinema zooms: the CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L S (EF) and CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L SP (PL). I

They are claimed to be “ideal for handheld shooting” or for working with Steadicams.

Prototypes of the new cinema zoom lenses will be shown at NAB next week (April 16 to 19 in Las Vegas), and they should be available from September 2012.

By David Fox

Canon EOS C500 4K camcorder

Canon is launching the EOS C500, an interesting new 4K digital cinema camera based on the C300 at NAB this week. For full details, have a look at our Canon XF Notebook blog.

Canon EOS-1D C DSLR for 4K video

Canon has announced a new full frame DSLR, the EOS-1D C, that can shoot 4K video (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) at 24 frames per second, or HD (1920 x 1080) at up to 60fps. It should ship in October with a list price of $15,000 or £10,000/€12,300 (including VAT).

Designed for movie and TV production, it is claimed to offer “advanced low light performance and film-like dynamic range”. In 4K, it records 4:2:2 colour sampling (compared to the 4:2:0 typical of DSLRs), but using only 8-bit Motion JPEG compression (the same as the widely praised C300 camcorder, but 10-bit would give better fidelity). For HD it records 4:2:0 internally.

The camera records internally to Compact Flash cards at all resolutions up to and including 4K, but video (excluding 4K) can also be output to an external recorder via HDMI for an uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2 signal.

It also features Canon Log Gamma, which can allow users to maximise the exposure latitude and dynamic range – claimed to be comparable to film (which should mean about 13-14 stops dynamic range – similar to the Arri Alexa and one or two stops more than the C300).

“The EOS-1D C is a fantastic addition to the Cinema EOS System,” said Kieran Magee, Marketing Director, Professional Imaging, Canon Europe. “Since the introduction of Cinema EOS we’ve had an excellent response from professionals who are hugely excited by the image quality and creative freedom the system offers. The new EOS-1D C will expand those creative options further – it’s a unique camera, supporting 4K video recording in a highly compact body that can be used in a number of different ways. We’re very excited to see what the professional community can achieve with it.”

It uses an 18.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, although this is cropped to an area equivalent to an APS-H sensor (with a crop of 1.3x) for 4K work, so that there is no need to resize or scale the image, to ensure maximum image quality. For HD, it can use either the full 35mm frame for the shallowest possible depth of field or a Super 35mm (APS-C) crop – as used by almost all current digital cinema cameras.

Sensitivity of up to ISO 25,600 is on offer with “reduced noise in low-light situations”.

There is support for 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60p frame rates in HD, plus timecode, and a choice of compression methods to fit in with most post-production workflows. As a stills camera it can shoot 12fps (and there is a 14fps burst mode). It has a 61 point auto focus system, and uses dual DIGIC 5+ processors.

It has a built-in headphone jack for realtime audio monitoring, and the ability to view the camera’s 3.2-inch (8.1cm) LCD when the HDMI port is connected to an external monitor. It uses the same LP-E4N battery pack as the EOS-1D X (due to ship in mid June), and can also be powered by an optional AC adapter.

The EOS-1D C will come with software that allows 4K/Motion JPEG and 60p HD video to be output on an external monitor (via a PC equipped with an SDI port) with no loss of image quality. It also enables video shot with Canon Log Gamma to be output on a monitor with standard video gamma applied.

Additional applications include Picture Style Editor and EOS Utility, which enable adjustments to various camera settings to be conducted from a PC. Realtime procedures, such as the editing and registration of picture styles or checking results on a monitor, can be performed on-set using a PC or Mac.

The EOS-1D C is compatible with more than 60 EF lenses, with focal length options ranging from 8mm to 800mm. Over 70 million EF lenses have been manufactured since the EOS system launched in 1987. Canon has also introduced a range of 4K EF Cinema Lenses.

Related posts: New Sony NEX-FS700 4K camcorder; JVC HMQ10 handheld 4K camera; Canon EOS 5D Mark III launched + Canon EOS C500 4K camcorder launches
By David Fox

April 05, 2012

Sony BRC-H900 remote camera

Sony has announced a new remote camera: the flagship BRC-H900 uses three half-inch Exmor CMOS sensors and will ship in May.

It includes: a 14x (optical) zoom lens; image stabilization; sensitivity of F10, signal-to-noise ratio of 50dB, and minimum low light illumination a reasonable 4 lux; adjustable Colour Matrix/Detail, Gamma Level/Black Gamma, and Knee Point/Slope/SAT Level; and HD/SD-SDI outputs.

Installation is claimed to be “a breeze” and “the smooth, quiet camera operates on its own with little fuss.” There are tally lights in both the front and rear of the camera, to provide status indication from more angles.

For outdoor shoots requiring long distance transmission of the video signal, the BRC-H900 can be used with an optical transmission unit (the BRU-SF10).

Sony will also release an IP control function to enable control of several BRC-H900s with remote controllers later in the year.

By David Fox

Sony HDC-2000 + HDC-2550 cameras

Sony’s pre-NAB announcements continue with the addition of two new live production studio and outside broadcast cameras to its range: the HDC-2000 (pictured above) and HDC-2550 (below).

Both use a newly developed 2/3-inch CCD image sensor and digital signal processing with a 16-bit analogue-to-digital converter.

The HDC-2000 also comes in beige

The HDC-2000 is the studio version of Sony’s existing portable HDC-2500, which is designed for studio and sports applications and offers a variety of signal output formats, including 1080/50p and 59.94p and RGB 4:4:4 output.

Like the HDC-2500, it uses 3Gbps, high-bitrate fibre transmission to deliver higher frame rates without compression and support 3D operations as two single camera signals can be transmitted in parallel through a single fibre. It also allows 2x slow motion picture production when used with the SR-R1000 SRMaster storage unit.

This means the HDC-2000 will allow sports productions to shoot slow motion from all angles in the field, although it is not purely a slow motion camera.

The 3Gbps fibre can also enable dedicated IP network communication between the HDC-2000 and its control panel, the HDCU-2000, which should offer further advantages for live camera operations.


The portable HDC-2550 includes a standard triax cable interface, for simple integration with existing studio or outside broadcast infrastructures.

However, it also has a new changeable transmission side cover allowing users to easily switch between fibre and triax connections.

The camera body has a carbon fibre outside cover, which makes it firmer and stronger without adding weight.

Other features include: a dual optical filter wheel; and variable frame rates: 1080/50i or 59.94i and 720/50p or 59.94p as standard, with progressive frame rates 1080/23.98PsF, 24PsF, 25PsF and 29.94PsF as an option.

The HDC-2550 can slot into a studio cradle

“Both the HDC-2000 and HDC-2550 build on Sony’s legacy in live production and help us to push the boundaries of what is possible in live sport production. Through technological innovation, both cameras have been built so they are as operationally efficient as possible, with the real customer and operator in mind,” said Claus Pfeifer, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe.

The HDC-2000 and HDC-2550 will begin shipping in May.

By David Fox

Zero-delay wireless out of the Boxx

Boxx TV is launching a new zero-delay wireless link for less than $10,000 at NAB, alongside what it believes is the first Iris Control and Tally Light accessory for wireless broadcast cameras.

The Meridian Lite, its entry-level RF camera system with zero delay, is claimed to deliver broadcast HD video and sound perfectly in synch, and will support full 4:2:2 formats up to 1080p 30.

It boasts a simple interface for quick setup and ease of use, and has the same range and reliability as Boxx’s high-end systems. It will be upgradeable to provide all of the features of the full Meridian RF link.

The Meridian Lite is designed for live broadcast use on a budget, and for Steadicam operators, but it will also suit video assist, webcasting, conference, large venue audiovisual use and Big Screen outdoor presentations.

“Meridian Lite contains exactly the same technology as our established Meridian system, but with a reduced feature set. We believe the quality and performance of our RF links are unequalled at this price level,” said Boxx CTO, Scott Walker.

The existing Meridian system has been used on a wide-range of live programming, such as the X Factor finals, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Australia’s Got Talent, KABC and TTLA’s coverage of the Martin Luther King Parade Day and the Canadian General Elections. It is also used on a number of TV dramas and Hollywood feature films, where it is mainly used for video assist.

Meridian Tallis

Also at NAB (booth C7219), Boxx will introduce what it believes is the first iris control and tally light for wireless camera rigs, Meridian Tallis,

To keep costs low, it provides remote control only for Iris and the Tally light. This also means it is small enough to mount on any camera. As Tallis only controls the lens there is no Black level or red/blue gain control, but at a price of around $2,000, it opens up a solution to many productions where controlling the iris only is sufficient.

It works with any brand of broadcast camera on a wireless rig or Steadicam, and is not limited to Boxx TV’s own wireless camera systems.

The control knob is claimed to give accurate, high-resolution control of the iris, and the system solves the problem of providing iris control for a different manufacturers’ cameras by tapping directly into the lens to adjust the aperture.

"There simply isn’t another solution as this price point to control the iris on wireless camera rigs. This enables you to match the brightness of the video from a wireless camera with other cameras,” said Walker.

Related posts: Boxx unveils cost-saving wireless links + Boxx TV Cerulean wireless links

By David Fox

April 03, 2012

Sony PMW-100 50Mbps camcorder

Sony’s PMW-100 XDCAM HD422 handheld camcorder will be the new little brother for the PMW-500 shoulder-mounted camera popular for news, and is the smallest and lightest camera (1.5kg) in the XDCAM range.

It uses a newly developed 1/2.9-inch Exmor CMOS sensor, which is claimed to be good in low lightz. The 10x zoom lens gives a far-from-wide 40-400mm (35mm equivalent), which means that a wide-angle adaptor will be necessary.

“The PMW-100 combines exceptional picture quality with portability and outstanding manoeuvrability based on the proven XDCAM workflow, taking professional users to a whole new level of productivity,” claimed Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe.

He sees its development as a natural step in the progression of the XDCAM range and said it is “a direct response to our customers requirements. Long-time XDCAM users requested a light and compact camcorder that will not only work seamlessly on its own, but also alongside other XDCAM cameras such as the acclaimed PMW-500.”

The PMW-100 supports full HD video at 1080i, 1080p and 720p recording at up to 50Mbps MXF, based on the MPEG HD422 codec using MPEG HD422 Long GoP compression. It is also switchable to MPEG HD420 35/25Mbps (as used by the EX1/EX3) or, for anyone still shooting standard definition, DVCAM 25Mbps. For audio it records four 24-bit channels at 48kHz.

It records to dual SxS memory cards, as well as Memory Stick, SD card and XQD (with adaptor). Sony’s new SxS Memory Card Management Utility software (which will be available to download from May 10) will provide additional features for SxS memory cards, such as data backup and a lifetime indication of card use.

Other features include: a colour 3.5-inch WVGA (852x480) LCD; slow & quick motion from one frame per second to 60fps in 720p mode and from 1fps to 30fps in 1080p mode; 15 second cache (loop) recording; HD-SDI and Composite output, Genlock input, time code I/O, i.LINK (FireWire for HDV/DV) I/O, and A/V output. It will start shipping in May, and should cost about £3,500/€3,990/$4,500, making it a competitor for Canon’s XF105.

If Sony added the recording capabilities from this camera to new versions of its venerable EX1/EX3, it would mean they would be usable for shooting broadcast HD without an external recorder.

By David Fox

Tiny Sony HXR-NX30 HD camcorder

The new Sony HXR-NX30 is its smallest, lightest handheld professional camcorder. It uses Sony’s Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation to make it more usable for handheld shooting. It can also take care of playout, as it has a built-in projector.

Conventional image stabilisation systems typically float an individual lens element with a motor drive to compensate for camera shake. The Balanced Optical SteadyShot combines the entire lens and image sensor assembly into one floating element that moves as a unit, which it claims considerably reduces the shaking effect caused by normal motion during shooting (watch the promo video below for a good explanation).

“This high-quality yet easy-to-use camcorder is an extremely versatile field production tool,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe. “It’s perfect for videographers, journalists, educational establishments or corporate users, for shooting in many different situations where other stabilisation equipment is not practical, such as on-board a vehicle or in a crowd”.

The NXCAM camcorder should be available in June for about £1,900/€2,300/$2,500, and records AVCHD 1920x1080 images using a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens (going from a reasonably wide 26mm to 260mm - 35mm equivalent) and a single 1/2.88-inch Exmor CMOS image sensor. It outputs 1080/50p, 25p, 50i and 720/50p (or 60p, 30p, 24p, 60i and 720/60p for the 60Hz version).

It has 96GB of internal memory (about 8.75 hours at the highest HD recording quality – 28Mbps), with a dual slot that accepts either SD or Memory Stick PRO Duo media cards for additional capacity.

The built-in video projector allows playback on any flat surface, producing an image of 100 inches at a 5m distance, useful for reviewing rushes in the field or on set, if a monitor is not available. It also has a built-in video light (just above the lens) and an infra-red (Night Shot) mode.

For audio, the HXR-NX30E has a detachable XLR unit (which also acts as a handle), record level control, the option of Linear PCM audio recording, time code and the ability to set time code on multiple cameras via an infrared remote control.

By David Fox


In response to comments - some setting is currently preventing us from adding a comment below - so we're adding this comment here:


The HXR-NX30 is certainly light (under 2lb/800g with battery), and it looks like the stabiliser is as good as they get on a small camcorder.

However, it doesn’t appear to have any built-in ND filters, never mind automatic ones (it will probably adjust the shutter for you – although that is rarely a good thing for your image quality…).

Very few small camcorders have any sort of built-in ND filters. Some, such as our Canon XF100 offer negative gain (which they call an ND filter), which at least means it doesn’t mess with the shutter speed. You could add a variable ND filter.

If the main attraction of this camera is the stabiliser, and you don’t need the XLR audio inputs and some pro features like timecode, then save some money and have a look at the consumer version, the Sony HDR-PJ760 (see www.cnet.com.au/sony-handycam-hdr-pj760-339335621.htm for a review with video showing the stabiliser in action).

The camera set up we use when we need to travel light (whether on vacation or doing interviews) is our little Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder (superseded by the slightly upgraded 900 series), which is a three-chip camcorder and delivers very good pictures.

It does have a built-in stabiliser, but not as advanced as the Sony, but for extra stability we use a very lightweight Manfrotto 560B monopod (which has three little feet and the ability to pan the camera smoothly, with a tilt head), which should cost under $150. When we need XLR audio we use a small add-on BeachTek box with two inputs (which sits beneath the camcorder on the monopod).

Hope this helps.

New Sony NEX-FS700 4K camcorder

Sony has unveiled a new higher-resolution, higher framerate camcorder for about £6,000/$8,000/€7,500 + tax (or about a thousand more with 18-200mm lens). 

The NEX-FS700 will record full HD at up to 200 (50Hz) or 240 (60Hz) frames per second for 4x or 10x slow motion (depending on your base rate) and will eventually be able to record 4K (with a firmware upgrade and on an external recorder).

The FS700 improves in several ways on the existing NEX-FS100, and compares favourably with JVC’s new small-sensor 4K GY-HMQ10 camcorder (although the FS700 is about twice the price).

It has a Super 35mm (APS-C sized) CMOS sensor using a new 4K Exmor design with 11.6 million pixels (which can also be used for stills). It also has 3G HD-SDI output (which allows it record 4K externally) and built-in ND filters (unlike the FS100). There are also more creative options and shooting styles, as well as enhanced ergonomics, based on customer feedback.

“The NEX-FS700 opens the door to a new world of creative shooting,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe. “You can record beautiful high speed Full-HD movies with the freedom of choosing interchangeable lenses. The NEX-FS700, with its super slow motion mode, is ideal for pop promos, commercials and documentaries as well as sports and a variety of events productions.”

It doesn’t look like it will have the creative control of the PMW-F3, but the higher frame rates and/or resolution will probably make it more useful for many types of production – although once you factor in the cost of an external recorder, it may not be that much cheaper than the F3.

The it can deliver HD at 100/120 and 200/240 frames per second in bursts of 8 or 16 seconds respectively. It will also do 400/480fps HD at a lower bitrate and 800/960fps at reduced resolution and bitrate – the camera is 50hz/60hz switchable.

The NXCAM’s E-Mount can be fitted with virtually any SLR or DSLR 35mm lenses, thanks to inexpensive adapters, without optical degradation. With the FS100, the design hadn’t enough room to allow the fitting of neutral density filters, which are important to allow those wide-open F stops that give shallow depth of field, but the FS700 has a newly designed ND filter wheel that rotates across the sensor like a turret, with positions for Clear, 1/4 (2 Stop), 1/16 (4 Stop), and 1/64 (6 Stop).

The NEX-FS700’s 3GHD-SDI and HDMI connectors can output full HD 50p and 60p, plus 60i, 24p, 25p or 30p frame rates with embedded time code and audio. 3G HD-SDI can output native 23.98, 25, 29.97 progressive signals, but users can choose to output PsF over the 3G HD-SDI, and virtually any external recorder can be connected. A future firmware upgrade will enable the NEX-FS700 to output 4K bit-stream data over 3G HD-SDI when used with an optional Sony 4K recorder, which will no doubt make it a useful addition to the new 4K F65 as a B-roll or crash camera. Of course, the F65, of which Sony has now sold about 500 worldwide, is an 8K sensor, making use of all those extra pixels to deliver much higher quality, whereas the 4K sensor on the FS700 is ideally used for HD (in the same way as the 4K sensor on the Canon C300).

Users can save up to 99 camcorder profile settings on an MS or SD memory card and copy the same setting to multiple units. It also uses the MS or SD cards for internal media recording at AVCHD 24Mbps or 28Mbps.

The handle includes an “active grip” with four buttons for commonly used functions – expanded focus, auto iris, still capture and Recording Start/Stop – so handheld users can operate the camcorder more easily than the FS100. Function buttons have also bee enlarged to make operating easier, even while wearing gloves.

The NEX-FS700 is planned to be available in June 2012.

Introducing the Sony NEX-FS700 from Sony Professional on Vimeo.

By David Fox