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New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness

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Stephen Crye
New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 3, 2011 at 6:54:41 pm

I've had my NX70 for two days after saving $$ for months in great anticipation. I also have an HDR-CX550V which I love.

My tests of the NX70 over the last two days reveal some disturbing problems. They are so bad I might return the camera - but there are no other viable alternatives in this price range from Sony, Canon or Panasonic that have the features I want. I'm freaking out, man!

I'm working on creating a video that shows the problems , and will try to post it tonight. Until then, here are descriptions of some of the problems; I'm wondering if anyone else is also experiencing them. I'd really appreciate feedback from other NX70 owners.

In "low-light", when the gain is anywhere above 12dB and Active Steady Shot is engaged, there is a pulsating effect in the video, about 1 to 2 times a second, where the image will blur. Blur, sharp, blur, over and over again. Does not happen with my HDR-CX550V when shooting the same subject at the same time. (BTW, the 550V has slightly better low-light performance) It reminds me of Auto Focus hunting, but it also seems to happen when focusing manually. The effect is so horrible that it rendered footage of my cat Max pretty much unviewable. The problem seems worse when the camera is pointed at subjects with fine detail - the hair on the cat, cloth, books in a bookshelf, etc - but it is there on anything, just harder to notice. It happens if the cam is on a tripod or is hand-held. It happens in HD-FX in both 60p and 60i. The problem is NOT evident on the LCD screen while shooting, but if you export the video to a computer, you notice it right away. It is also there if I plug in via HDMI to a TV. I noticed it immediately in the first vids I watched.

The problem is horrible, and unexpected. I've never seen anything like it on my CX550V.

If I turn off the Active Steady Shot and just go with Optical (standard), it is not as bad but it is still there.

In general the Steady Shot is not nearly as good as the 550V - this was also mentioned in reviews of the CX700V (the NX70 seems to have the same internal "engine" as the CX700V, as far as I can tell)

The other thing I noticed is the color is muted compared to my CX550V - it makes me wish there was a "saturation" control that I could turn up. The sky is a duller, more navy blue, instead of the beautiful cobalt blue I get from the CX550V. The auto white balance is not nearly as accurate.

In general, the NX70 has a terrible picture compared to the CX550V! This is unexpected and disturbing. The clock in ticking on the return window - need some feedback soon. I have not yet called Sony support, but will do so as soon as I have a video posted they can watch.

Any comments greatly appreciated!

Worried and sad,

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 3, 2011 at 7:07:24 pm

One more thing - Aside from these two problems, I love my NX70 - man I hope I can solve them. I would hate to have to always also carry the CX550V with me for low-light shots.

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 4, 2011 at 6:19:05 pm

Hi;

I've posted a vid (sorry it is so long) of the problem, also shows some pretty bad problems with color balance and muted (not vivid enough) colors. Side by side comparisons with my HDR-CX550V as a reference. YOu will need to watch in 1080 to see the pulsating blur problem. I'm wondering if it has something to do with any GoP or CODEC mods that were done in the NX70 to support 60p and 24p.







BTW the dissimilarity of the zoom is due to the overall slightly wider lens on the NX70 - oops.

I've started the return process, but can halt it if anyone can help with a practical solution to the muted color and other problems.

Thanks!

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 6, 2011 at 5:10:43 am

Hi;

I'm getting lonely posting to my self ... is anyone out there?

I've uploaded another video specific to three big problems with the NX70U:
1.] iAuto (or Auto white balance in general) does not work reliably, particularly in twilight conditions.
2.] The auto-focus hunts WAAAAY too much! The CX550V does not have this problem.
3.] Manual focus, when set so that the little distance indicator shows "infinity", results in the image being slightly out of focus. The problem is worse when Active Steady Shot is engaged. To get the image to really be in focus, I have to set the focus to 50m ... 200m instead of infinity.








The clock is ticking on my return window ... I really, really need other NX70 owners to chime in and let me know if I have a faulty unit or if their cams have the same problems ...

Thanks!

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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Kennet Eriksson
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 6, 2011 at 10:06:21 am

It sounds like it's an AVC codec problem. You need to remember that the NXCam uses H264 at a quite low bit rate and also at a 4:2:0 color subsampling, so the stored files probably won't be better then that.

The total bit rate needs to cover all frames, but if you run low (when some frames in the GOP takes too much of data...) the following keyframes (keyframes need more data then B-frames or P-frames) wont have enough data to display in full quality. So what you probably see is keyframes every sec or two with too low bit rate to be displayed at full quality.

If you have possibilities to record the HDMI signal you probably going to get a much better picture.

This is a problem with all consumer/semi-pro camcorders. Even if the cameras look good the stored compressed files are terrible.

Did you see the Canon Cinema C300 newly released? It's an amazing camera, but you only get MPEG-2 LongGOP files out of it! Insane! But that's another story... :)

Regards
Kennet

Video Compressionist


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 7, 2011 at 6:45:50 pm

Wow ... this great stuff. I really appreciate your insight. I've been reading up on GoP and 4:2:0 and some of it is starting to gel in my mind.

What puzzles me is why the problem is worse in dim light. I can kind of understand why it would be worse with 60p, but the little HDR-CX550V at HDFX (1920x1080 60i 24Mbps) looks sooooo much better than the NX70 does in side-by-side low light tests, with both cams set to the same rec mode.

That Canon looks amazing, but at $20K it is not even a fantasy. I've been considering sending the NX70 back (but I want to like it!) and getting the Canon XF100. Problem is the reviews seem to show worse low-light than the NX70, and it also has the MPEG-2 LongGoP thing (which I don't fully understand). Help me out here - is 50 Mbps 1920x1080 60i at 4:2:2 with MXF wrapper better or worse for an amateur like me using Vegas 10 (soon 11)? The Canon has a lot of great features, the intervalometer and the color adjustments appeal to me, but the thought of expensive CF cards and crappy low-light would be a big problem for me.

Thanks again, really appreciate the reply.

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:22:13 pm

Will be sending the NX70 back tomorrow.

Was really hoping some NX70 owners would help me with this thread ...

Oh, well.

Steve

Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400 MultiTB SATA 8 GB RAM Vegas 10e x64 DVDA 5.2 Sony HDR-CX550V


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john lenihan
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:00:33 pm

Stephen,

I don't have the 70 model, but I can offer some insight to your question on why the blurriness is worse at low light.

The focus sysmtes in these nxcam models seem to all work on a feedback look that tries to get the sharpest edges, particularly vertical edges.

When the sensors are working in low light, they have video noise. Noise is where the sensor can't quite tell which of several colors or shades it should be, so it changes between the range that it thinks it is.

The focus system sees the sensor output changing and things that it needs to adjust the focus, so it trys to do that.

This style of focus system will always be worse at low light.

John

John Lenihan

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


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:25:46 pm

Thanks, John.

What you said would make sense in situations when auto-focus is on. However, the "pulsating blur" happens in manual focus. it is a compression artifact.

I'm pretty sure it has something to do with a slightly different implementation of the GoP in the new AVCHD codec that has the PS mode and the 24p mode. It does not happen in the CX550V, even in situations with exactly the same low-light and noise.

I'm not sure how long the GoP sequence is in the new codec, but the fact that the pulsation has a definite periodicity makes me suspect it is GoP related.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Steve

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


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john lenihan
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:38:07 pm

Did the people at sony support have anything to tell you?

John

John Lenihan

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


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:57:14 pm

I'm still working with them. They are not just blowing me off, and have provided pretty decent support. They have the serial number of the unit I've sent back for a refund.

Right now I'm trying to get them to commit that at least one problem, the asymmetrical edge aberration, is a defect that could be fixed under warranty if I were to purchase another NX70 and it has the same problem.

Several people have commented that the asymmetrical aberration could be caused by a misaligned sensor. However, in my night shots of city lights, I can see that there is also spherical aberration - that usually means defective lens design.

Have a look at this vid, I've tweaked the URL to go to the spot where the spherical aberration is apparent ( you will need to copy to a browser window and remove the spaces )

youtube . com/watch?v=xZzz-dvUMP4#t=1m12s

Notice that the blurs from the out-of-focus lights all point away from the center of the image, and are worse on the right side of the frame.

Steve

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


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Stephen Crye
Re: New Sony HXR-NX70U has crippling problem with "pulsating" blurriness
on Dec 19, 2011 at 5:42:37 pm

Although at least one tech at Sony Pro support is very helpful, they have not been able to fix anything - they are forwarding my complaint emails to "management and engineering". Nothing else is happening.

I'm pretty bitter about the situation.

I see that two years ago Juan Martinez made some posts here on the cow - but nothing since.

Very disappointing.

Steve

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


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