Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disagreements over the Sony NEX-FS100

Film & Digital Times opens their post about the new Sony NEX-FS100 with the following line:
What can we say about Sony’s new NEX-FS100U NXCAM Super35? How about “best design of a digital camera this year in a tiny package under $7,000?”
then goes on to add:
It fits in the palm of your hand, feels like a Hasselblad...
Pretty positive stuff!
Film&DigitalTimes: Sony NXCAM Super35

But not everyone's been so positive about the NEX-FS100. You might have seen Nigel Cooper's less than glowing review of the camera which included statements like:
Plastic, ill-fitting fixtures and fittings, finicky switches and buttons, cheap feeling dials are just some of the things that spring to mind. Overall it did not inspire much confidence in the build quality department. It is worse than the EX1 or any other Sony camcorder that came before it.
DVuser: Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper

He was okay with the image quality, but he really hates the build quality and the ergonomics.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this prompted some heated reaction on the internet [does anything about a popular topic NOT prompt some heated reaction? Have you never visited the RED forum? - Ed]

This included negative tweets like:
Why on earth did Sony UK give grumpy old man Nigel Cooper the first FS100?
But clearly Nigel wasn't going to take this kind of thing lying down, as he took to the DVXUser forum to fire back:
It makes me laugh these days how some of these so-called reviewers and experts say how great a product is before they have even had it in there hands.
And takes a particular shot at some:
I also suspect that because certain people were at the Focus Group way back when Sony were asking so-called professional cameramen and experts what features and form-factor they would like to see on a camcorder, they feel obliged to stand there and say how wonderful a product is, just because they spoke a few words at a Focus Group.

Note that the focus group he references included Den Lennie from F-Stop Academy and Alister Chapman from XDCAM-User [see Alister's view of the NEX-FS100 below)

DVXUser: Sony NEX-FS10 with Super 35mm CMOS image sensor #56

In a second post, Nigel admits that he's no DSLR lover:
I bought a Canon EOS 5D MK2 when it first came out, but after a short while sold it on eBay as I felt the aliasing made it unusable for any serious work; that's just me though.
and adds
If you are used to using a DSLR and then move over to a Sony FS100, of course it will 'fit right in", in a similar way to if you are used to having a 1970's Space Hopper for your form of transport, a Tesco's shopping trolly will 'fit right in', but that doesn't make the shopping trolly a BMW now does it?
DVXUserSony NEX-FS10 with Super 35mm CMOS image sensor #73

These DSLR comments might be instructive; because both Den, Alister and others in the focus group clearly told Sony they wanted a small, DSLR-like camera.

This afternoon, Den Lennie did a webchat with Mitch at Planet5D and he was asked about Nigel's review. He said:
I don’t know why Nigel slammed it. I couldn’t take it seriously because he was so disparaging.
It wasn’t a balanced review, in my opinion. [...]We shot six locations in really challenging lighting conditions. We shot the backside out of it, we shot a real project.
I get the feeling he doesn’t quite understand who it was built and designed for. We asked for a modular camera; there’s a time when you want to be covert, and times you want to build it up.
On build quality and ergonomics, he said:
I just don’t agree with him. We used it for 48 hours, I didn’t question the build quality. It felt to me like the EX1. I didn’t have any obvious concerns about the build quality.
He did add that he thought the EX1 is "pretty plasticky," and that he hadn't seen the PMW-F3, so couldn't compare it to that.

Steve Weiss of Zacuto was also in the chat, and he noted that "the build quality is not as good as the F3."

One more data point, Alister Chapman has posted his thoughts about the NEX-FS100. He also describes some of the thoughts behind the design of the camera, and observes:
The end result is this rather quirky but in my opinion, really quite clever and versatile design.
XDCAM-user: Sony FS-100 Super 35mm NXCAM Camcorder Announced

Ultimately, even Nigel concludes:
At the end of the day, my review was and is my personal opinion [...] But one thing is for sure. When the FS100 does hit the streets, people will go and look at it and judge for themselves.

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