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Review of the New Sony FS100

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Guy McLoughlin
Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:56:30 pm

This new camera doesn't appear to be much of an "AF-100 Killer" after all :

Sony FS100 review by Nigel Cooper


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Eric Jurgenson
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 23, 2011 at 7:07:20 pm

I don't know if it's a killer, but after comparing image quality, the AF100 may want to commit suicide;>)



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Noah Kadner
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 23, 2011 at 8:24:36 pm

Not sure what ya mean about suicide- sounds like the FS offers a marginal improvement in image quality over the AF100 for more money and horrible build quality and ergonomics. No thanks.

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Rafael Amador
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 23, 2011 at 9:20:38 pm

Without having yet elements to comparing both cameras, just the fact that the SONY has no SDI makes me fall for the PANA.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Jeff Regan
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 24, 2011 at 1:17:41 am

No internal ND's, no HD-SDI output, no waveform/vector, funky form factor(although I think all palmcorders are funky). Resolution seems to be limited to 780 lines, but that more than an AF100, SN ratio is probably superior to an AF100. Latitude and highlight handling would be good to compare. At first glance, the $5850 body price seems a bit high, IMO.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Eric Jurgenson
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 24, 2011 at 1:12:07 pm

It amazes me the amount of ire this camera is generating in the Panasonic camp. Both the Sony and the Panasonic are exciting cameras that finally offer some relief from the limitations of DSLRs, and will inject some creative energy into mainstream video production.

Frankly, I think the Sony camera is an innovative design. I especially like the viewfinder setup.

That being said, in the end image quality will carry the day. All else is mere quibble.



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Nigel Cooper
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 28, 2011 at 3:27:30 pm

Eric, up to a point image quality is the most important element. But, if your camcorder is poorly built and could break in the field, what good is image quality?

Personally speaking, I'd rather take a hit of a hundred or so lines of resolution, but use a camcorder that is not frustrating and is built to a somewhat higher standard and won't have bits falling off it within a year or so.

Let's face it, when was the last time anyone ever had a client complain because they could see a tad of aliasing in an image, or when did you hear a client say "the resolution looks a trifle low"? you won't, most can't see or don't care; so why should we?

I just feel that lately, each time Sony bring out a camcorder, they are becoming more and more 'flaky'.



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Eric Jurgenson
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 29, 2011 at 5:09:30 pm

It's true that, like the HVX200, the AF100 is built like a brick, which may allow it to hold up better under severe abuse. But frankly, I've not had an issue with other Sony prosumer cameras like my current NX5U, which seems quite similar in construction quality to the FS100. Generally the build quality of Sony products is very high, and I find the unique design of the FS100 more interesting and versitile than the AF100, which seems like a cobbled together hybrid of a GH2 and an HPX170.

This new Sony camera seems to be causing a bit of tension amongst Panny fans. Quite understandable.



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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 29, 2011 at 5:42:53 pm

[Eric Jurgenson] "Generally the build quality of Sony products is very high, and I find the unique design of the FS100 more interesting and versitile than the AF100, which seems like a cobbled together hybrid of a GH2 and an HPX170."

From my perspective it appears that Sony intended to build a new camera that simply looked different, with little regard to the functionality of this new design. Here are three examples:

1- Splitting the XLR audio inputs across the back and right side of the FS-100 camera. This means that you will have two XLR cables sticking out at 90 degree angles to each other, making it harder to keep the audio cables out of the way. This is terrible design.

2- Placing the LCD finder on top of the camera makes it absolutely useless when the camera is on a shoulder-mount or when the camera is placed above your shoulder height. Generally, for most general video shots you want the camera at eye-level, not at waist-level. This is terrible design.

3- Having to use a side-mounted handle to hold the camera because the rest of the camera is covered with buttons and controls, leaving no place to actually hand hold the camera. This is terrible design.

...I personally think that Sony made a BIG MISTAKE with the design of this new camera. I wish that Sony had simply started with the design of their EX-3 camera, and built a large sensor version of the EX-3 body. Sure it might have cost a little more, but I think it would have been far more functional for professional work.


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Eric Jurgenson
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 29, 2011 at 7:02:13 pm

1) While the mic connector location is unusual, it seems functional. Certainly doesn't strike me as terrible, and it's probably better configuration-wise to have the connectors on the main camera body, rather than in a pod attached to the handle (since you may want to remove the handle).

2) Like the AF100, this is not a shoulder mount camera, and doesn't have to be because it only weighs a couple of pounds. But you are right that high angle shots might be difficult. Suggestion: Flip the camera over for the shot, and flip the image back in post.

3) Huh? Pretty much every video camera I have ever seen uses some kind of side mounted grip, and there is an attachable top mounted handle. The FS100 is actually light enough to cradle in your hands, unlike the AF100. Much nicer if you are shooting incognito.

As far handheld shooting goes, I think Sony was going for something that is an improvement on DSLR design rather than a traditional ENG camera configuration, which frankly is becoming old school (except for heavy "brick" cameras that are impossible to hand hold for more than a minute, and must be supported on the shoulder).



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Jeff Regan
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Mar 29, 2011 at 7:56:34 pm

Eric, I think the good news is that there are now three large sensor video cameras to choose from, assuming one finds shooting with DSLR's to not be their favorite work flow. For those of us used to shooting with Panasonic palmcorders, the AF100 feels like home. Personally, I don't like any palmcorder for hand held work--be it the HPX170, AF100, EX1, or whatever(and we offer those cameras). My preference is for those "old school" cameras that fit on your shoulder that you find so uncomfortable.

So, Sony has a different form factor that appeals to some--that's great! The FS100 is a non-starter for me because of no HD-SDI, no ND's, form factor that I have no interest in. Of course, if clients start requesting the camera, I'll be happy to provide it to them!

Meanwhile, we're getting more interesting and exciting options at amazingly low price points from my perspective, but from some DSLR shooter's perspective they're too expensive. That's why there's no one camera that suits all shooters.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Lucas Kitchen
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Apr 25, 2011 at 2:19:52 am

Anyone have a thoughts on this. I'm currently working in the XDCAM codec, I'm excited about the FS100 but I haven't used AVCHD, do you guys see that as a draw back for this camera? I hear a lot of people saying, AVCHD isn't a pro codec, any thoughts?


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Apr 25, 2011 at 11:59:27 am

[Lucas Kitchen] "I'm currently working in the XDCAM codec, I'm excited about the FS100 but I haven't used AVCHD, do you guys see that as a draw back for this camera? I hear a lot of people saying, AVCHD isn't a pro codec, any thoughts?"

Every person I've seen comment that "AVCHD isn't a pro CODEC" has never shot AVCHD with a pro camera, like the Panasonic HMC-150, AF-100, Sony NX5, etc... They are basing their comments from experience shooting AVCHD with cheap consumer cameras that do not have professional implementations of the AVCHD CODEC.

There is a big difference between the quality of the AVCHD CODEC used by a $600 consumer camcorder and the quality of the AVCHD CODEC used by the Panasonic AF-100.

FYI, there have also been several real world tests comparing the XDCAM CODEC against a pro implementation of the AVCHD CODEC, and the 21 Mbit AVCHD CODEC is almost always superior to the 35 Mbit XDCAM CODEC.

Barry Green's : XDCAM versus AVCCAM Test

...Regarding the new Sony FS100, I think it's a camera with a fantastic new HD sensor trapped in a very badly designed camera body. I wish that Sony had not been so protective of their higher end cameras, and had produced the FS100 with a professional body like the Panasonic AF-100.

Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper


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Lucas Kitchen
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Apr 25, 2011 at 7:20:16 pm

Dude, that's the most useful thing I've read about the codec, You're so pro. Thanks. This has helped me to totally feel comfortable about the codec, I assumed that Sony would not use something that sucked so thanks.


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Tony Hernandez
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on May 5, 2011 at 7:46:21 pm

Does anyone can confirm if is it 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 clean full 1080p hdmi output ?


Can anyone tell if it will output 1080p60 through the hdmi ?


Tony Hernandez
Hardware & Software Technician
Colaborator of the Cinemartin team



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Nic Leggat
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 21, 2011 at 1:02:40 pm

no one seems to have mentioned the fact that fs100 is full frame and the pana is 4/3.

I don't know about you guys but I'm in love with full frame shooting from the 5d.


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Jeff Regan
Re: view of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 21, 2011 at 1:33:15 pm

FS100 is Super 35 frame size, not Full Frame 35.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Nic Leggat
Re: view of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:31:08 pm

How different are they? I did a search albeit a quick one and couldn't find any info comparing the two


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Nic Leggat
Re: view of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:57:01 pm

okay I've found some info, I was under the impression full frame was nearly identical to 35mm.

I'm really stuck trying to decide what my next camera is, I thought I wanted the biggest FOV but I don't want to be limited by DSLR shortcomings.


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 21, 2011 at 11:02:26 pm

The FS-100 sensor size is very close to the size of the Super-35 Cine format which is approximately 1.25x larger than the AF-100 sensor. When shooting it's not that big a difference in size.

Using the same lens on both cameras, the larger FS-100 sensor displays a wider angle of view ( good for wide-angle shots ), and the smaller AF-100 sensor displays a narrower angle of view. ( good for telephoto shots )

The Full Frame 35mm still photo format is huge, which can be a problem in low-light situations because you have to stop down 2 more F-Stops with a FF 35mm camera to achieve the SAME depth-of-field as a Micro 4/3 camera.

So if your M4/3 aperture is set to f/4.0, you have to use f/8.0 with a Full-frame 35mm camera to see the SAME depth-of-field.

I see a lot of people using the Canon 5D MK2 for low-light shooting, but their depth-of-field is often paper thin because they are shooting at almost wide open. This can create a kind of "claustrophobic" feel to the images because very very little is in focus. This is how the TV show "House MD" used the Canon 5D MK2 for the final episode for last year's season.

Here's the full breakdown of the different sizes when shooting with a 16:9 ratio...

Panasonic GH-2 / AF-100 16:9 Sensor Size = 18.8mm x 10.6mm

Sony FS-100 16:9 Sensor Size = 23.6mm x 13.3mm ( 1.25x larger than AF-100 sensor )

Super-35 Cine Format = 24.9mm x 14mm ( 1.32x larger than AF-100 sensor )

FF 35mm Still Photo Sensor Size = 36mm x 24mm ( 1.90x larger than AF-100 sensor )


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Nic Leggat
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Jul 22, 2011 at 1:40:24 am

[Guy McLoughlin] "Here's the full breakdown of the different sizes when shooting with a 16:9 ratio...

Panasonic GH-2 / AF-100 16:9 Sensor Size = 18.8mm x 10.6mm

Sony FS-100 16:9 Sensor Size = 23.6mm x 13.3mm ( 1.25x larger than AF-100 sensor )

Super-35 Cine Format = 24.9mm x 14mm ( 1.32x larger than AF-100 sensor )

FF 35mm Still Photo Sensor Size = 36mm x 24mm ( 1.90x larger than AF-100 sensor )"




Thanks guy, thats the best info I've seen on the sensor sizes. I'm definitely leaning towards the fs100, thats if I can scrape together enough funds for it :)


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Henry Vaughan
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Jun 5, 2011 at 1:21:15 pm

I was thinking about investing in a FS100 for my next camera after reviewing some footage and seeing some specs i'm extremely impressed. Although the AF100 is a pretty cool device too for it's price range.

My observations are that the FS100 performs better in low light compared to the AF100, is there any videos i can review that might change my mind regarding these cameras?

*edit*

This is the footage i have seen from the FS100



Stray Fox Newcastle video produciton - "Transforming Ideas Into Engaging Experiences" -


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Jun 5, 2011 at 2:08:34 pm

The FS-100 does perform better in low light, but the AF-100 is still pretty good for low light work.

Adam Wilt posted some interesting test results from NAB, which doesn't include the FS-100 but you can probably use the Sony F3 performance as a guide to how the FS-100 might perform...

Adam Wilt NAB 2011 - SCCE Charts

Philip Bloom also did a good comparison between the AF-100, FS-100, and F3.

Philip Bloom Camera Comparison

My only beef with the FS-100 is that I think Sony did a very poor job at designing the camera body for practical film-making. The camera body should have been bigger, included built-in ND filters, had both XLR audio inputs together, and allowed enough room to properly grip the camera.


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Per Klason
Re: Review of the New Sony FS100
on Aug 28, 2011 at 11:48:20 am

I just purchased the fs100 and have been working with it a bit. Actually I like the form factor. It is small, light, and you can hold it in that hand grip quite comfortably (remember the grip can be rotated to find a convenient position). I often use it stripped down to the minimum to carry with me -- it is nice with that modular system. The LCD display with that hook-on viewer works well for me too. You can snap off and on that viewer or just fold it towards the front for using the LCD instead.

But I really bought it for the image quality. I tested it in low light and it is just very impressive. 12 dB gain is still quite ok. With 32 dB the camera can practically see anything my eyes can see in a dark room. Sure it looks like some highly pressured 16 mm film but for extreme documentary situations it is good to have to fall back on.

That 18-200 lens is...ok. But it gets real cool when I stick my Leica M glass on it. And it is neat to have a Nex-5 too, for stills and even as a second cam (when there is enough light it performs pretty well), using the same lenses.

Ok, no ND. No motor zoom. I has a film camera feel. I hope I learn to live with that.

I can't understand the complaints about the build quality, though. Seems quite alright to me. And the XLR placement -- what's the big deal?

Lack of two SD slots, sure. Well, there is the SSD holder which will be real cool once SSDs will come down in price. For now it just feels too expensive, and I'd prefer to use a Ninja instead.

I like to stick my DV Multirig on it. It folds in neatly underneath, and there I got my shoulder mount with me all the time.

So no regret so far. I like it.


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