Monday, April 26, 2010

VideoQ&A: HXR-NX5U vs HDR-AX2000

What are the main differences between these two cameras? Is the $500-1000 price difference worth the upgrade to the NX5U, if a person is shooting documentary style or events (weddings, etc)
This question has been covered in other places, but I thought I'd take a shot at it once more. I'm currently planning to replace my Sony HDR-FX1 later this year with one of these cameras. I had been waiting to see what Canon came out with as a competitor to this camera, but unfortunately the Canon FX300 is beyond my reach, so it's back to the HXR-NX5U vs HDR-AX2000 question for me too.

Here in the States, I think the choice is very simple: the HXR-NX5U is only $500 more than the HDR-AX2000, and comes with a number of extra features and capabilities that make it easily worth spending the extra $500. If the difference is larger (as it is in some countries) then the equation becomes more complicated.

Here's the major differences between the two:
  • Linear PCM audio (LPCM)
  • 720p/60
  • FMU compatability (and simultaneous recording*)
  • SDI / HD-SDI
  • High-speed zoom (1.5 faster than the HDR-AX2000)
  • Viewfinder markers and safety zones
  • Image control: black level, gamma, knee and color depth adjustments, manual white balance setting
  • Individually switchable front & rear tally lamps
  • Rear mounted cold shoe
  • Can be upgraded to 60i/50i switchability
These aren't even all of the differences! In addition, included with the NX5U is an external shotgun microphone and an NP-F770 battery (instead of the NP-F570 in the HDR-AX2000) which together probably equals about $200 (so now the difference is $300!)

I look at that list, and even though some of the features are things that are in the category of "could be useful in the future" - like the SDI/HD-SDI out - the Linear PCM and 720p are two features I'm sure I will use. Add in the image controls that I should probably think seriously about using, and this seems the obvious camera to get.

BUT, if you don't see yourself using any of these features; if you're only doing comparatively simple and straight-forward shooting (and an event videographer falls into that category) then I might agree that none of these features will appeal to you, and if you already have a shotgun mic too, then why not save $500?

So take a look at the list. If none of the features get you excited, then save the money and get the HDR-AX2000.

WARNING *FMU and simultaneous recording
One concern I have about the HXR-NX5U are the reports of problems when dual recording. Several users have reported problems with the camera reporting memory buffer errors while doing dual recording. It happens when recording HD to the FMU and flash card, as well as HD and SD, and recording to Memory Sticks as well.
At the moment I'm hesitant to recommend getting the camera IF you intend to use this feature. For what it's worth, Sony is aware of this problem, and are reportedly working on a solution.
The HDR-AX2000 does not support dual recording, and does not have this problem.

Amazon $40 off
As I was finishing this up, I checked Amazon's price on the HDR-AX2000 - they don't sell the HXR-NX5U - and noticed that right now the price was $40 off, making the price difference $540. For me, I'd still get the NX5U.

Now, if they dropped the price of the HDR-AX2000 down to $3,100 then I would have a much harder time justifying getting the HXR-NX5U...

B & H: HXR-NX5U $3,999 (Sony if offering a $250 rebated until 5/14 if you buy an eligible accessory)
B & HHDR-AX2000 $3,499
AmazonHDR-AX2000 $3,458.98 (@ 4/26)

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