I spoke to Juan Martinez, Senior Product Manager, Sony Broadcast & Professional AV Products, and he clarified a few more details of the HXR-NX5 for me.
Is the HDMI signal 10 bit 4:2:2? 1920 x 1080?
Yes. The camera captures at 1920 x 1080 4:4:4, then converts to 4:2:2 before encoding.
He also said that this may be the first camera that presents to the encoder information about camera settings (gain setting, etc.,) so that the encoder can take advantage of this information. He also believes that they are using smaller block patterns for motion estimation than most of their competitors. They can do things like this in the encoder because AVCHD only defines the decoder; the encoder can be written in any way as long as the output is compliant.
How is 24p encoded?
He said that it’s native (not 3:2)
How is the PCM audio stored? Edited?
Dobly Digital and PCM are both defined as part of the AVCHD spec, so they are simply using the PCM option. The files should work with current NLEs.
What are the details on the optional 60i/50i switchable upgrade?
This was done because cameras are sold into certain markets; the 60i/50i is disabled to prevent grey marketing. You send the camera in to a Sony Service center and they will upgrade the camera for a “nominal fee” – it sounded like it would be $300. Turnaround should be a day or two.
Is Europe selling a GPS-less version?
They are selling a version without GPS in “countries that don’t allow it.” There is the GPS enabled NX5E and the GPS-less NX5M. Other versions are variations in power supplies and video formats for different countries. There are NX5P, C & N models, in addition to U (U.S.)
What are the differences to the HVR-Z5U’s chips and lens?
The Exmor chips are the same, and the lens is basically the same, though the lens has had some modifications for the new Active Steadyshot mode.
How is Active Steadyshot different to the regular Steadyshot?
In addition to regular optical steadyshot, they have an “Active Steadyshot” mode. This is ALSO an optical mode, which they claim is 7 times more effective than the regular steady shot, and it can be set at different levels; soft, medium, hard.
The reason for the cropping (and then slight enlargement) of the image is because of possible vignetteing of the image (not because it’s an electronic form of smoothing, which is what I had assumed it was doing.) The movement of the lens is much greater with Active Steadyshot. The Active Steadyshot is adaptive, using acceleration information to try and predict motion.
Since the Active Steadyshot does a slight scale of the image, there is some resolution loss.
If someone’s comparing the EX1 and NX5, what should they consider?
The NX5 has lower cost, smaller/compact form factor for those that like to hand hold. The 24Mbit/s AVCHD is very similar in quality to the XDCAM 35Mbit/s. The EX1 has more sensitivity and direct over/under-cranking. The EX1 XDCAM file format has better native support in NLEs (some NLEs require conversion of AVCHD before they can be edited.)
While only the 720p mode supports 60p, the camera is actually capturing at full 1920 x 1080 @ 60fps, then applying filtering to create the scaled image.
The camera is shipping now (though obviously in limited quantities at the moment.)