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Sony NX5U

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David Anderson
Sony NX5U
on Jul 15, 2010 at 3:19:55 am

Hello John Leniha

I was ready a post from you on Creative Cow regarding the NX5U and was wondering your thoughts on the 5U. I’m looking at getting a new camera and have looked at the XHA1s, I know its tape based. I have a Canon HV30 and T1i and just ordered the T2i. I’ve also looked at the Panasonic HMC150, not sure if I like the 13X zoom on this camera. Can you give me some of the Pros and Cons on the 5U and any of the other cameras that may be worth looking at.

All other members are welcome to comment.

Thanks David Anderson

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john lenihan
Re: Sony NX5U
on Jul 15, 2010 at 7:20:22 pm

Hi David,

First of all, what are you planning to shoot with it?

I use my nx5u for events, weddings, sports, and corporate work. Both HD and SD. I am very satisfied.

When I did my initial purchases of PD170s a number of years ago, I compared them head to head with Canon and JVC. Since low light was very important to me, PD170 won.

When I started to look at moving to HD, I decided the following were very important:

1. Tapeless
2. Ability to record long events, without switching media, like 2 or 3 hours.

3. Low light performance.

4. A better than or equal to 12 x zoom, which the pd170s had.

I went to NAB two years ago and tried all the cameras from everyone on the floor. I decided the best fit was the Sony EX3.

I advertized HD, and if I got a gig, I rented the EX3. However, it had a flaw. I could not store long events on it. So I watched memory go from 8 gig to 32 to 64 but it was taking too long. Also the EX3 erognomics for handheld work are exhausting.

When the nx5u came out, I bought one, and compared it to the ex3 and the pd170. The zoom was 20 x. Better than the ex3 and the pd170. The low light was the same as the ex3, both are worse than the pd170. The ergonomics are nicely balanced, left to right and fore and aft.

However, the brilliant stroke of genius for sony was using avchd plus the attachable 128 gig memory device which combined give me plenty of storage time. I recently shot three hd weddings over the weekend, and on monday loaded them into my editing computer.

When I get a broadcast gig, then I rent the ex3.

--To your application, If it is like mine, then looking at your list of equipment I make the following observations from specs only. I have not touched the models you mentioned.

1. HV30 is a consumer camera, not in competition

2. T1i, T2i are slrs, not serious video contendors due to audio workarounds you have to do.

3. Panny HMC150 is a step above the HV30, but not much.
a.It has a small number of pixels for the lcd, which will drive you nuts trying to check focus in HD.

b. It uses the small sd cards, which I think are fragile if you have to keep taking them in and out compared to the sony attachable unit.
c. The zoom is not very wide range

d. The audio is only AC3, rather than allowing linear PCM. The problem with AC3 is, although it takes up less memory, if you EVER go past about +6db signal, it produces a loud snap sound. If you always use the built in auto gain control and never feed it theatre house input and never use a wireless microphone, and never record a rock band, then you will be ok.

4. XHA1s This is a reasonable camera if you bought it in 2005. It records in HDV, which in my opinion is dead. It was a transition to full HD of 1920 by 1080. HDV is an intermediate size HD. Better than SD, but not real HD.

b. It records on Tape. I would never ever use tape again. If you ever record events longer than an hour, like a wedding that starts late, or a stage performance and the intermission is after an hour and 15 minutes, you go crazy trying to guess the best time to change tapes. And tapes have dropouts, always at the worst times. Simple dropouts only mess up the audio, worse once leave pixelation on you video.

One day it was 105 degrees here in Dallas and I was shooting a wedding with my PD170 tape camera in a nicely air conditioned church. I was all set up and all checked out. The bride pulls up in a limo, so I go out to record the arrival. Condensation gets into the camera when I step outside. After returning into the church I did not know it at the time, but later had dropouts all through the ceremony. I had to do some huge editing gymnastics to hide the drop outs. There is no wrath like a bride asking why she can't hear her saying her vows.

Between all your listed choices, I would go with the nx5u and the memory block that is extra.

John Lenihan

LeniCam Video Productions

John Lenihan

LeniCam Video Productions

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jim stamos
Re: Sony NX5U
on Jul 16, 2010 at 5:21:01 am

How can the lowlight on the 1/2 inch ex3 be worse than the pd170. ive shot with both,the PD is excellant in lowlight for a 1/3 inch camera,but the ex3 is clearly better with the 1/2 chips.
ive heard some nx5s have a backfocus problem and can be a bit soft. are you having this problem?
i was going to get the ex3, but coming from shooting a dsr300 for 12 years, im going with the pmw320 and probably the nx for my b cam and shoots that i dont want to pull out the shouldermount 320.

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john lenihan
Re: Sony NX5U
on Jul 16, 2010 at 1:29:37 pm

I agree, I would prefer shooting with an ex3 or the nxcam compared to the pd170. But I believe they appear better is the high definition appears to compensate for the low light noise.

There are other factors beside chip size that could affect the low light characteristics.

Here is the test I performed.
PD170 on tripod right next to ex3, and later next to nx5u. Settings were 1/60 interlaced and automatic exposure and gain.

At night they were pointed at the same object in my room.

Gradually lowered the light all the way off.

I was recording on the tape, and on the media.

I connected their composite outputs to the TV set. Later I compared the image on the computer in a timeline.

What I found is when the light was low, the pd170 had a recognizable image as it gracefully darkened. The ex3 and the nx5u were filled with digital noise at the same light level. Curiously, their image looked brighter, but the brightness was due to the digital noise making the black look like other colors.

I found it easier to brighten the low light in post with the pd170, than the noisy low light signal from the ex3 and nx5u.

Let me make one other comment.

I have performed this pd170 comparison on other similar HD cameras over the last two years. The ex3 and nx5u were BY FAR the closest to the pd170.

John Lenihan

LeniCam Video Productions

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