Wednesday, January 20, 2010


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.)

Other notes
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.)


Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. I am really leaning toward this camera or the AX2000 version of it. Good Stuff!

Michael Murie said...

I'm saving my quarters!

Assuming the AX2000 actually prices out at around $3,100, that's what I'd probably go for; but if it stays at $3,499 and the NX5 is at $3,999 the jump to the NX5 seems worth making.

Have to wait and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but you need to add a flash memory recording unit to NX5... That adds another $1,000 or so..

Michael Murie said...

The FMU (Flash Memory Unit) is NOT required - the HX5 has the two memory slots just like the AX2000.

The FMU gives you 128 GB of recording time in one also allows simultaneous recording (you can record to the FMU AND the memory slots, and one can be HD and the other SD.)

But you can skip it and just use the memory slots (there's no simultaneous recording to the two slots though)

Also, right now - in the States - they have a rebate on the FMU of $500, which brings it down to $250

Unknown said...

I run a wedding video business - the Z7 gave me tape backup and compact flash for rapid capture to FCP. I am still very scared of recording just to flash card and am glad to see the 128GB solid state drive but it is quite expensive. Havent seen much in terms of demo on Vimeo etc so shall wait before the changeover to full solid state.

Michael Murie said...

If you buy it before March 31st, there's a $500 rebate on the FMU, making it $250 for 128GB, which isn't too bad.

I hear you about backup though. HDV tapes make a nice archive. If you're tapeless, you either end up having two copies of everything on two hard drives, OR keep a copy on a flash card, OR buy an (expensive) tape backup mechanism!

I am still thinking about a Blu-ray burner as an archive tool; but there's questions about longevity there too.

The Z7 is still a nice camera; and I can see the appeal of sticking with your workflow.