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My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy

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Stephen Crye
My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Feb 29, 2012 at 6:10:27 pm

Hi Everyone!

The NX5 certainly is impressive in terms of solid construction, build quality, zillions of adjustments and well-thought out engineering (for the most part). The focus, zoom and iris rings are super-silky. The one-push infinity setting seems perfect. The auto-white balance is as accurate as my CX550V, and much better than the NX70. Although all my tests were in low-light last night, I'm cautiously optimistic. I shot the moon at full zoom, and some city lights. There is some chromatic aberration, but it is less than the CX550V and WAAAAAY less than the silly NX70. The noise is "smooth", and does not cause pulsating blur problems. Steady shot is not even close to the CX550V, but I'm learning that no other camera will ever be as good as the 550V.

Because I don't like to do a lot of color or sharpness correction in post, I'm experimenting with picture quality adjustments. The default picture profile is noticeable smudgier and less saturated than what I get from my CX550V. On some other forums, several of us have noticed that the NX5's video does not seem quite as sharp as the 550V. I'm hoping that it is not an inherent limitation of a sensor that only has ~ 1920x1080 elements (the NX5) vs a sensor with more than twice the elements that is down-sampled to produce a 1920x1080 video stream (the CX550V) . Nyquist's theorem might apply. However, I'm hoping it is just a matter of tweaking the image properties on the NX5U.

In past posts NX5 users have shared custom settings, and I am using them for tests. However, I'm wondering if anyone has some updated or alternative profile settings.

One thing I have noticed is that the x.y.Color profile, at least in the viewfinder, gives me colors that I like a lot. I've just started researching x.y.Color, but I am ignorant of it for now. Does anyone else use x.y.Color?

Even assuming I can get the sharpness and color worked out, I'm still agonizing over one other lacking feature: 1080 60p. I know this is not important for wedding videography, but 1080 60p allows incredible smoothness on pans and, in post, can be slowed down 2.5:1 with zero loss of quality. I grew quite fond of it on the NX70, but the image quality problems outweighed the 60p capability.
An example of the slo-mo possible with 1080 60p:






The only other Sony I would consider - that has the new AVCHD 2.0 codec with the 28 Mbps PS mode - is the consumer VG20. There are a lot of tradeoffs - no power zoom, but interchangeable lenses. APS-C sized sensor is super-sharp, and also allows stills. No XLR, but it does have a 3.5mm input that is easy to use with my Rode Stereo VideoMic (for the NX5 I have to use funky adapters). No linear PCM audio, but I find that Dolby is OK for the concerts I record. The stock Sony e-MOunt 18-200mm lens is too slow, so low light sucks. But, I do a lot of outdoor work - more than indoor concert work. The VG20 is a lot lighter. It has been tested with 128GB SDXC cards. The vids I have seen have no visible chromatic aberration. It uses the same batteries as the CX550V. But the manual controls are limited and there is no way to have picture profiles or all the adjustments.

Waaah! Why can't I just have 1080 60p on the NX5??!? The 60p is soooo beautiful. If I had more money I would get both cams ... but I had to get a two year loan to afford the NX5.

Frustrated. Torn with indecision.

Oh well. Over the next few days I will complete my image quality tests. if the NX5 falls down I will be forced to return it. But, if the IQ is the same as the CX550V then I will really be ripping out my hair.

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V, Sony HXR-NX5U


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Stephen Crye
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:33:40 pm

Here's the first frame grabs from test footage. There is some chromatic aberration, not nearly as bad as the NX70.

nx5-moonaberration2.jpg
nx5-moonaberration1.jpg
nx5-moon1.jpg

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V, Sony HXR-NX5U


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Stephen Crye
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:40:25 pm

Hi;

Further testing yesterday has me worried. If anyone has any picture profile tweaks that might correct the problems with lack of detail i.e. "smudginess", please let me know. I've been trying every combination of crispening and detail, but no luck. I know there is nothing I can do about the CA.

The combination of chromatic aberration and lack of detail is counteracting my love for the zoom and the great low-light performance.

I'm beginning to realize that that buying a CX550V as my first HD cam has spoiled me - other cameras loved by everyone else seem flawed.

Continuing to test, here are the latest frame grabs:
nx5-outdoorsceneaberration1.jpg

nx5-outdoorsceneaberration2.jpg

nx5-outdoorscene3.jpg

nx5-citynightzoomaberration1.jpg

nx5-citynightzoomaberration2.jpg

Thanks,

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V, Sony HXR-NX5U


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Steve Mullins
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:57:51 pm

'AVCHD 2.0 codec with the 28 Mbps PS mode'

Hmm i wonder with this new codec whether a new nx5 will be announced at NAB mid april (with autumn release).

I would still say the nx5 is a upgrade from the Z1, but yes, the nx5 isnt 100% with image sharpness ( my major concern as well as the ubiquitous rolling shutter under strobe / fast flashes)


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Stephen Crye
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:23:13 pm

Yeah, I think the NX5 is long overdue for a refresh - but it did not come in time to help me.

It is with great sadness that I have returned my NX5.

Without question the NX5 is a beautiful device. It is solid, well-engineered and crammed with features. It is fun to hold, and fun to use (for the most part, details below). The switches and buttons are well placed and are high-quality. The rings are incredibly smooth, there is zero lag. The zoom is amazing - silky, effortless to adjust from an imperceptible creep to rocket speed. If I were a wedding or event professional there is no doubt I would keep it. But, I only occasionally shoot concerts; most of my work is outdoor stuff. And the NX5 is a tank, it needs a massive tripod and I just can't lug it to where I want to shoot.

I think a big part of my problem is that I owned as a first cam the Sony CX550V. It uses a high-pixel count sensor and down-samples the image to size it into 1920x1080. All of the sample vids I have seen of the NX5, or other cams (such as the Canon XF100 and XF300, or the Sony FS100) that have sensors that are in the 2.2 Mpx range (close to 1920x1080) just don't have the detail I'm used to from the CX550V, or even the NX70. (Keep in mind that for most shots, the NX70 was sharp and in focus; it only had problems at the frame edges or at high zoom when the CA was worse). The VG20, which is another high-pixel count sensor that is down-sampled, also (from the stuff I have seen on the 'net) looks similarly as sharp as the CX550V.

The NX5 has incredible low-light performance. I mean, it is breathtaking. I was blown away. At 6dB it is just as bright as the CX550V is at 21dB - using the same aperture and shutter. The city lights clip really shows that - I shot some of it at 6dB and some at 12dB. It even looked OK, albeit dim, at -3db! This supports my hypothesis that big glass on the front DOES help to gather light! (Basic optics)

The NX5 has soooo many cool features I can't list them all. For example, you can leave the viewfinder on when the LCD is on. It has great menu structure, selectable with the jog-wheel or the d-pad on the top panel. You can simultaneously record to the 128Gig flash and the SD cards. It has an anti-wrinkle skin tone filter. It has three different ND filters that let you keep the aperture at the optimal level. And the zoom is wonderful. It is like having seven-league boots.

But, I realized that if I kept it, I would not be happy. For nearly $5K, I need a camera that I won't regret.

Here's a list of some of the things I did not like about the NX5:

* The LCD is too small
* The LCD is positioned so that it can't be opened when my Rode Mic is on the cold shoe.
The LCD does not have a wide viewing angle, and at different angles the colors shift a LOT. It is dim outdoors unless you crank up the brightness and the backlight, but then it has streaks and artifacts.
* Manual gain adjustments are hard to do. There is a three-position gain switch; L,M, or H. The values for those positions have to be preset in the menu. For example, I set L to -3, M to 6 and H to 12. But, if I want to set the gain to 15, I would have to go into the menu and set one of the three to 15.
* The images are sharper at zoom levels more than 50% compared to wide-angle. This is strange and I could not explain it.
* No matter how much I cranked up the color saturation and depth, or fiddled with the gamma, I could not get the same nice brilliant colors and contrast I like from the CX550V or the NX70. Yes, I know that "pros do all that in post", but I find it annoying.
* Chromatic aberration! Arrrrggghh! I don't understand how people put up with this. Yes, the CX550V has it, but it only cost $1200, and it rarely was noticeable. But on a $5K cam? Jeeze. I guess I'm doomed because ever since I was a lad I have been aware of CA (from astronomy) and I notice it immediately.
* Smudgy, blurry-looking video. No matter what I did with the adjustments, I could not make the video sharp. When the "crispening" is up to high levels, it just introduced those artifacts that give edges a "contoured" look. I could overcome it a bit by over-exposing, but then I had to deal with blown-out highlights and even more CA when subjects were silhouetted against different-brightness backgrounds.

If anyone is curious, I have uploaded some of the raw NX5 files here - I'm not sure how long I will leave them up:
http://www.huecotanks.com/temp2

No doubt, people who know how to use an NX5 better than I did will exclaim that I was freaking out for no reason. But, the chromatic aberration is real, and while it may be true that short of a $60K camera I am doomed to CA, $5K is a huge amount of money for me, and I don't want to be stuck with a cam I don't like and a two year loan. I'm not wealthy and I can't use the cam to make money - I would not enjoy being a wedding videographer even if I knew what I was doing. I'm more of an "artist" type who is playing with video, and has $5K to spend on something I like.

The NX5 is already on the way back to B&H. My next test will be the Sony VG20. I'm not happy about no power zoom, and the small screen will annoy me compared to the 3.5" screens on the CX550V and the NX70. It will have crappy low-light capability. However, it has the 108060p mode I grew to love on the NX70, and I'm intrigued by the large APS-C sized sensor, and the ability to use interchangeable lenses. Perhaps I will be able to adjust to "forced bokeh." Sony is supposed to release two more e-Mount lenses this year. And, I will be able to get nice fat wide-angle, large aperture primes and do some time-lapse astro-photography. Plus, I kind of need a new still camera, my Sony DSC-H50 is outdated.

And, if I save my bucks, I can use lenses like this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/672200-GREY/Nikon_2186_AF_S_NIKKOR_30...

Or, more realistically this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/319784-GREY/Canon_9322A002AA_28_300mm...

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V


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john lenihan
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:43:12 pm

Stephen,

I received an email from BH today stating that Cannon just announced their new dslr, 5DMarkIII

Many of us have been waiting for this for a couple of years. It might be what you are looking for.

John Lenihan

John Lenihan

LeniCam Video Productions
http://www.lenicamvideoproductions.com


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Stephen Crye
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on May 4, 2012 at 5:32:40 am

Thanks, sorry, that Canon is not the cam for me...

Since returning the NX5 I have tested and returned a VG20 and just last week a Panasonic AC160.

See my AC160 review here ... I was not happy. At the bottom I list my requirements.

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/122/861745

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM, nVidia FX 570, Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V


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john lenihan
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on May 4, 2012 at 2:31:30 pm

Stephen,

With all these cameras you are testing, I hope you are going to post a comprehensive comparison for us. Kind of like Consumers Reports style.

John Lenihan

John Lenihan

LeniCam Video Productions
http://www.lenicamvideoproductions.com


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Stephen Crye
Re: My NX5U arrived yesterday, testing like crazy
on May 4, 2012 at 6:00:35 pm

Hi John;

You know, that is not a bad idea. It would have to be mostly text, because I did not save all my footage from all the cams. I'll work on it, but it will be a while.

I'm just sad because it looks like I'll beheading into the summer without my new cam. I really wanted to do some two cam shoots of the final concerts of the EPSYOs next weekend, my daughter's graduation, etc.

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM, nVidia FX 570, Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V


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