Deciding between two video cameras

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Artful Dodger, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    Hello to all,

    First sorry for the long question(s) however many thanks for input :D

    See Links at the end…

    I'm trying to decide between two cameras (Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM or the Canon XF100) as this would be my "A" cam for future Shorts and maybe some really cool vacation stuff but Shorts are first and foremost. I have read from some members here about their hands on take of Canon's cameras but not so much on or about the lower end Sony gear so any input is greatly invited. Also my budget is for either model at this time but as the Sony has a rebate offer that helps greatly placing extra money in other places (audio or lights). With that said, you will see below there are always ways to offset cost in one form or another. My main focus is quality of the video, features second or I should really say 1b and add on gear is then placed behind that.

    Example, quality of video, good colors or too much and things get into trouble in post. Next, functions such as a focus ring(s) and manual controls so that a persons ear is sharper than their eyes :rolleyes: Not last but how is the audio? XLR inputs are great but if the unit on the camera is bad or not enough control so why pay extra for less per se if you can't use it at all.

    I'll start with which models I'm looking at, then let you know what I'm using as of now and go from there… (I'll add links at the end of this also).

    First, I'm interested in the Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM Compact Camcorder. I like the fact it is built for certain areas, not in a studio's control such as mist (I video around Niagara Falls a good amount), some dirty areas (aka dust) and rugged for different weather conditions.
    Small is nice for what I'll be doing, the XLR audio inputs are welcome and a good amount of inputs/outputs in general is nice. The ability to record in 60p if I need to or want to and just from using it's baby brother, the Sony HDRPJ710V Camcorder, I've been very impressed by the colors, stabilization (can't stress this enough for hand held) and over all fit and finish. Only down side to the 710, manual controls are one at a time and no full audio control, only two modes but idiot proof and clean so it is fine and would end up being used as my "B" cam.

    The second camera is the Canon XF100 Camcorder.
    I should start by saying I have the Canon HF-S21 and really like all the controls it offers and would give an additional "point" over the Sony 710 because I have full control over the audio and it can piggy-back recording from one card to the next or both at once which is very nice.
    So, while I do like the Canon unit I have, this doesn't have to make the cut for a "B" cam at this point because I plan on using the Sony 710. I must admit I'm not sure if Canon's big brother, the FX100 can give any better quality of video since they use the same senor chip which is where my concern comes into play for the price. Also I'm not thrilled with the stabilization of the Canon unit (when zooming in around the half way point and on) and extra care has to be taken when hand held, not sure about the XF100 and for the price I would hope it would be better. Again though to be fair my "A" cam will mostly be on a tripod or Jib but at the cost for either unit it is a definite plus having good quality when not mounted.

    Back to the audio, I like the Canon's audio when using my Rode Mic and hoping for some feedback about the XF100's audio? Like anything I understand a good mic goes a long way and while I was on a tight budget a few years back I have had great luck with my RodeVideoMic. I would look into using with either camera unit a Rode NTG-2 unless there is something else people find better for the same or close to cost amount.

    I know some may suggest a Panasonic in the same price/model range but I'm not impressed with the video quality and a few other things I've read about. Not to mention I watched first hand some struggles a few have had in lower light situations which I want to stay away from. Some of my shorts will be darker to some degree but again I'm aware of the lighting and balance needed to pull off what I'm looking for.

    Overall cost to invest into another unit of either brand plays a part as well as I mentioned briefly above however it is secondary to quality. See below as to why.

    I don't want to list everything but the things that stand out as important and other specs that can make two very good units come closer or further apart in the final decision making process.

    My Pros/Cons for Sony short list:

    Uses the same SD cards as I have now, Just bought this summer new SD cards of all sizes at highest quality so I'm set there. Plus they work in my D7000 so it's a bonus. This helps on my Macs since I don't need to have readers hooked up and any chances of broken or lost parts.

    Great colors but hoping the Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM has the same or better quality as the 710 and any real world info or feedback is greatly welcomed.

    Batteries, yeah I know, I have to have them no matter what but the small Sony unit uses the same as it's big brother and again I have plenty of them so that is an investment factor though not as much as function and final output is which I have not mentioned enough ;)
    The description of rugged and weather sealed is a nice bonus and what appears to be a nice viewfinder for those really bright days.

    Canon short list:

    I am comfortable with the menu system so adding extras is just that, things to make the filming a better flow and to get use to like buttons and the like.

    The HF-S21 has a nice picture, gets better when editing/correcting the color in post and I can only hope the XF100 can do the same, feedback welcome.

    A bit concerned about how steady the XF100 is handheld and since it will be heavier I would like some feedback on that part.

    I would need different cards to record to and then again a CF reader as well for offloading the video, not a deal breaker but budget cost adding here.

    My only other concern is you can get the 50/60p added to the Canon unit but I'm not sure how much extra this is and if the quality ends up degrading or improving, again any feedback would be great.

    While I don't think either unit you could go wrong with I would like to know how these compare or are they really different in the long run?

    Links below:

    Canon FX100

  2. coldsweat macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2009
    Grimsby, UK
    I've got 4 NX70's, but don't own a XF100. I have however had footage from an XF100 from a few subbed out jobs & personally prefer the footage from the NX70 it's far cleaner, less grainy & has more natural colours in my opinion. I know that the XF100 does 50mbps & is BBC approved, but set the NX70 to 1080/50p 28mbps & the footage is stunning for a camera so small.

    The other major advantage with the NX70 is low light filming, the NX70 does a far better job - I find the XF100 footage in low light shockingly bad & everything needs running through neat video, however the NX70 footage at the same light levels is more than acceptable.

    Audio on the NX70 is absolutely fine & in most cases the Auto settings do a great job with the levels but if the source is loud (i.e.. a band or disco), you'll need to go manual. The included shotgun mic quality is somewhere in between a Rode Video Mic & NTG2. Footage I've had from the XF100 also has good Audio.

    So thats the good points about an NX70, but heres the bad points. The NX70's are full of flaws, bugs, annoyances & will make you mad. The main problems I've had (and this is on all 4 cameras).................

    1) The well documented zoom rocker problem.
    2) Occasionally you get a weird blur effect on the left 1/3rd of the image.
    3) SD Cards when dual recording sometimes give random buffering errors & the occasional 'Rebuilding Database' Error. However recording on the internal memory has been bullet proof.
    4) Various Freezing Glitches where you need to remove the battery.
    5) Switching the camera on sometimes gives nothing more than a green screen.
    6) When using the Eye piece, you need to have the LCD closed & guess where Sony put the touch controls (idiots)
    7) The Auto White balance is appalling, completely unusable (I know it should be set manually always, but Im just saying - it's bad!)
    8) in bright sunlight needs an ND filter

    The above bad points aside, the NX70's are a good camera, they just have a few annoyances - but as soon as it rains & you can keep on filming, the problems just fade away & you realise how good the camera is!

    I would say when deciding which of the 2 to get, that if you have time to set up each shot, light each shot, retake each shot, and want the best quality - go for the XF100. If you want a rugged run & gun camera that works well what ever is thrown at it go with the NX70.
  3. daybreak macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    Go to
    There is an article by Rick Young on a new camcorder just come out he is testing.
    Might be just what you are looking for.
    Sorry but i dont know how to post the web page on here.
  4. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    That's the Black Magic Cinema Camera.
    You are the second person on the web that called it a camcorder ;)
    Its far from it trust me :)
  5. daybreak macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    Sorry about the name.
    I guess i can say the same when a video is shoot on a camcorder and they call it a film.
  6. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Haha no harm, I just found it funny that the word camcorder is still being used in this decade :)
    when I think of camcorder, I think of them giant VHS bodied behemoths along with the big bright single light held with the other hand.


    Sorry to confuse the post but this is out soon:
  7. Artful Dodger thread starter macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    It's all funny since BH and other places still have the name camcorder after everything including the Black Magic :p VHS, too funny but so true thinking back to family events and seeing one of those on someones shoulder.

    Thanks to coldsweat for the info, I've been all over looking at video, issues and complaints from both and some fixes for both as well. I know nothing is perfect and I know my cameras have a few issues as well.

    Thanks for the link mBox I will check that out with my coffee :D
  8. MacBookProzak macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2011
    Wow... I just went to check out the background on the Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM.... Dang, this camera is very cool. I was actually considering on getting the Sony HDR-AX2000

    Now after looking at this camera you care considering purchasing I am torn.... the rain and dust protection factor is a very nice feature.

    The Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM could be my pick between this and the Canon one you are considering
  9. Zwhaler, Sep 19, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012

    Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I own the Canon XF 100 and can tell you all about it. The camera produces VERY good quality images in a finished production for the price of the camera. The images are also very workable in post which is key to getting them to look as good as they possibly can. Low light performance is actually not bad, but 1080p can produce noisy images in low light, more so than 720p at 50Mbps but with Neat Video noise reduction as someone mentioned you can fix it seamlessly. The 4:2:2 color sampling is pretty amazing for color correction. If you think you S21 responds well to image post processing, wait til you work with 4:2:2 footage. Color correction with a 3-way is fine but you can really do amazing work with the footage from the XF 100 in a dedicated color grading app like DaVinci Resolve. Then run it through Neat Video if it's too noisy and you're good to go. Daylight footage has virtually no noise at 1080p. Indoor well lit shots can have some noise but look amazing after running it through Neat Video or a noise reducing equivalent. The hardware is really good and doesn't have any glitches or issues like the Sony. I also read that some Sony camcorders skip frames during recording files over about 12 minutes due to splitting the files on the storage card. The MXF Codec in the Canon has no such issues. The hardware is lightweight considering what it can produce and I have no problem using it handheld for 90 minutes holding my arm up filming a concert... for example. Happy filming!

    p.s. the "Gatorade" video in my sig was filmed with the same type of camera as the S21.
  10. Artful Dodger, Sep 22, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012

    Artful Dodger thread starter macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    Thanks Zwhaler I did look at your videos as I use to play the drums before my back injury. A sweet gig would be getting video of the drum off from Guitar Center ;)

    I was just saying last night, if the Canon still had the $500 rebate the decision might be much easier but I'm a tad bit late to the party, laughs. That has the big part as well MacBookOrozak as I've been all over YouTube and every where else looking at footage from dawn until dusk and some night video.

    This one really has me on the fence about both, see link:

    One question, was most of the footage shot hand held and how do you like the stabilization? I know my HF-S21 could really be better in this department but again I could also have a handheld rig for it as well if I really wanted (see below).

    Attached Files:

  11. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006

    This video was shot entirely handheld. The XF100 was the camera doing the filming up to about 2:30, then it was the VIXIA HF S20 footage from over a year ago (you can see the difference.) Handheld stabilization can be set to Standard (medium) or Dynamic (more stable). I use dynamic and it works great for me.
  12. Artful Dodger thread starter macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    Brief update, called up BH yesterday and spoke to a helpful guy in the pro video section of the store to help out with some questions since no place around me has either camera on hand.

    The Sony while good in the stabilization department, it does not have the same system as the NX30 or the Sony PJ710V which has the newest in the stabilization optics. So if others are wondering that is a factor if going mostly hand held.

    The Canon FX 100 as others have mentioned produces great colors and if you need it to be a must (I'm not sure how much it will matter) is broadcast certified by the BBC. He gave me a few links for some fantastic video footage at night hand held and it looks great.

    My only question left really is what is the refresh cycle for cameras in this area or range? I know the Sony came out October/November 2011 but when did the Canon units come out? I know the more consumer type units are or have been around a year to 18 month cycle but all things considered with the Japan happenings it seems to be a bit off. Both of these may not be placed into that area for sales/marketing but who knows what companies are thinking.

    I really can't find anything concerning an updated unit for either company and I just want to make sure for the dollar amount I don't pull the trigger if I missed an announcement of new units rolling out soon.

    All things considered I most likely will order the Sony this week once BH reopens after their holiday off. Once I get my camera I will post some links and answer any Q's the best I can to help out others on the fence like I have been.

    Thanks to everyone here for all the help, links and so on :D

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