Thursday I stopped by Rule Boston Camera to see the Sony NEX-FS100 in the flesh. When I got there, they happened to have it set up with a Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Alpha zoom lens, attached using the Sony Alpha to E-Mount Adapter.
Interestingly, they were trying to diagnose a problem with the adapter; the mount "clicked" quite loudly when adjusting the aperture of the lens. It didn't happen at the step-to-step change (though there's some noise then) but very loudly when it reached the limit of the lenses aperture.
In theory, the Sony Alpha adapter should allow the camera to control the lens aperture and focus, but while the camera could adjust the aperture, the focus command wasn't working. When you pushed any of the focus controls the camera said the lens was not communicating. Tom Talbot at Rule said they had just started working with it, so they weren't too sure what the problem was.
Tom also demonstrated a Zeiss 18mm lens attached using an MTF Services Ltd Nikon G to Sony E Mount Adaptor; there's no focus or aperture control from the camera using that adapter.
I got to spend a little time taping the camera (see video) and parts of the camera seem quite solid (the left hand side with all the buttons seems robust). The side on the right with the detachable handle and the removable panel where you can attach the HXR- FMU128 flash memory unit seemed rather light. The cover for the Audio/Video out jacks was similarly slight. I'd be a little worried about breaking those covers.
And yes, the buttons are small, and you have to really make an effort to click some of them. It took me a couple of stabs before it worked; I guess with a bit of time I'd get used to it.
Hand holding the camera
The NEX-FS100 is definitely an unusual shape of a camera, and hand holding feels a bit different. It's unlike any other camera I've used, but I think I could get used to it! Whether you use it with a zoom lens, the Sony kit lens, or a smaller fixed lens will change the handling characteristics quite a bit.
It was fun to get to handle the camera even for a few minutes. It's different, but quite frankly, if you can get used to using a DSLR to shoot video, this won't be nearly as much trouble.
Thanks to Tom @ Rule Boston Camera for putting up with me!
For those in Boston, Rule is having a LearningLab with the Sony NEX-FS100 on June 29th at 10am (RSVP to email@example.com.) Tom Talbot said that they were hoping to also have an evening event on the same day with the NEX-FS100, a continuation of Rule's Pub Nights.
As of Thursday, Rule still had one more NEX-FS100 in stock from their original shipment. Rule is highly regarded amongst video pros in the Boston area; if you're in Boston, check out Rule Boston Camera.
See also: NoteOnVideo: Pub Night @ Rule Camera with the Sony PMW-F3