Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sony NEX-EA50 Webchat

Yesterday Sony Europe hosted a webchat on the new NEX-EA50. For the next 30 days you can read an archive of the webchat here:
Below is an edited version of the chat (primarily I have grouped the answers with the questions):

Q: Why no ND filters?
Alvaro Ortiz: ND filters included on FS700 were completely newly developed, and they are extra-thin due to the short flange-back distance (sensor to mount), so their inclusion on EA50 would've involved a significant increase of price
Kanta: The FS700E has the ND filter in it but it makes body big and it is rather costy part. For EA50EH, you can find several types of variable ND filter from optical filter manufacturer, which gives you seamless ND control.

Q: I have the Sony EX3 with the ST-7 Shoulder mount with heavy duty battery fitted. I can see that this cam has a shoulder mount that can be retracted and used how ever is there provision for a heavy duty batter to be added?
Dave: the camcorder has 2 x 1/4" screw holes on the retractable brace to allow you to mount accessories or counterbalance weights

Q: I see on shoulder mount part, when 'expanded out', I see we can attach something on top (as there's seem a screw or hole something' - how heavy an accessory can I put there? Anton Bauer like batteries?
Kanta: It has screw hole plate on top which is similar one on bottom for tripod. You can attach an external recorder or power kit such as a battery. I think the Anton battery weight has no problem.

Q: I'm curious about the extending shoulder mount on the EA50: does this not make it rather front heavy? Why was it not designed like an ENG camera where the body weight is over the shoulder, not in front?
Alvaro Ortiz: Well, in fact, EA50 was designed to be capable of being used in both handy and shoulder configuration. So, with that sliding pad, it would've been really difficult to keep the weight on the shoulder without compromisin the ergonomy of the camcorder

Q: How good is the low light comparred to the EX3?
Alvaro Ortiz: Bear in mind that EX3 sensor is older, and, apart from that, bear in mind that usually, when using a Large Format Sensor, the quantity of light that goes into the sensor is bigger. Also, it depends on the sensor resolution, as it influences the pixel size. Obviously, dynamic range should be smaller than that of the FS100, but will probably be better than that of the EX3
Anna Doublet: The PMW-EX3 has a 3 CMOS 1/2 inch sensors, EA50 has a large APC-S sensor, during shooting in low light EA50 provides one of the better sensivity on the market for this type of sensor.

Q: How good is the low light comparred to the nx5?
Alvaro Ortiz: As in my prior reply, we need to bear in mind two main aspects: the age of the sensor (NX5 is "old", but very effective), and the sensor size. We learned a lot [about] Large Format Sensors at an affordable price when developing the sensor of the FS100/F3, and we have been able to use such knowledge for developing very powerful moving picture sensors
Kanta: It is difficult to compare these two models because the NX5 has fixed lens and EA50 is interchageable lens camcorder. The EA50EH sensor is good at low light. If you use fast lens for EA50EH, the image can get brighter and cleaner.

Q:It's described as an APS-C sensor rather than a Super35 (which the FS100/700 has) but if you're shooting with a 50mm lens in video mode, is the focal length going to be any different for this camera vs. the FS100?
Kanta: In terms of the sensor size, the APS-C is similar to Super35 which has been used in professional cinema cameras. So the focal length and angle of images will be same as FS100E/700E.
Alvaro Ortiz: APS-C sensor size (Sony, Nikon, Pentax): 23.6 x 15.8 mm = 373 mm2 (EA50)
Super35 sensor size: 23.6x13.3 mm = 314 mm2 (FS100, FS700, F3...)

Q: I was just wondering who you see using the EA50 and why would I choose this above the FS700 or FS100?
Dave: The EA50EH is perfect for event videographers who want to achieve a 'cinematic' look but also need an element of convenient operation. The 'FS' range are more suitable for use in a controlled environment

Q: This is the third 18-200mm lens Sony has released in the E-Mount (I think) does it have the same optics as either of the other models, or is it optically completely different to either of those?
Alvaro Ortiz: This time, you can purchase our model with a motorized zoom (the black version of the lens that you might have seen shown at IBC). It's an improved version of the SEL18200 lens, but basically, it has the same optical behaviour
Kanta: The 18200 motor zoom will be available as one of E-mount lenses but there is no detail information about price and availablity as of today.

Q: Why no LCD?
Alvaro Ortiz: well, in fact, the EA50 actually has LCD; maybe you were referring to EVF in the rear part of the camera... The LCD is a high-quality screen in which users can even install the "loupe" that was shown for the first time with the FS100, and it's included by default with EA50.

Q: Is that a small speaker on the side above the memory card? If so, how do you adjust the volume; is there a dial, or do you have to do it through menus?
Anna Doublet: You can adjust the volume with volume buttons on top of the camcorder

Q: Is the image out of HDMI compressed or uncompressed? 4:2:2 or 4:2:0?
Alvaro Ortiz: HDMI output is 422, standard. Recording is AVCHD H.264 420 8 bit, at a maximum speed of 28 Mbps and maximum quality of 1080/50p, 60p
Anna Doublet: The HDMI output is 4:2:2 8 bits with TC out. You can also send the SD signal with HDMI
Alvaro Ortiz: So, yes, any external recorder with HDMI input can be used

Q: Is the external mic it comes with, the ECM-XM1 stereo or mono? If it's stereo, can you record it to one track and use the XLR as input to the other track?
Anna Doublet: The NEX-EA50 is also compatible with new microphone - ECM-MS2 [$349.95] Affordable compact stereo microphone from Sony.
Alvaro Ortiz: Did you all know that NEX-EA50 has 2x XLR (Line/Mic, +48V) audio inputs?

Q: Is that external mic considered the built-in mic? or are there also built-in mics on the camera?
Anna Doublet: Yes, EA50 has a built-in microphone
Alvaro Ortiz: Internal mic, in fact, was highly demanded, not just for high quality recording, but when using some external recorder, for synching purposed. This time, with EA50, you could even avoid such situation, by inputting the Audio source (i.e. from an audio mixer) directly to the Audio XLR inputs. So, any configuration is likely to be used with EA50

Q: Does EA50 have the same sensor as FS100 ?
Kanta: NEX-FS100 and FS700 are using motion picture sensor. Everything is optimised for motion picture in terms of number of pixels for example. It has very small moire compared with the APS-C sensor used in VG10/20 and EA50EH. But I can say the picture qualiy of these cameras are also very good.
Alvaro Ortiz: EA50 uses the "same" sensor size, but not the same sensor. In fact, FS100's is a Super35 mm sensor, FS700'S is a 4k Super35 mm sensor, and EA50's is an APS-C sensor. All them with Exmor CMOS technology. Sensor size of Super35 is 23.6x13.3, and APS-C size (from Sony, Nikon and Pentax) is 23.6x15.8. So, the width is the same, but APS-C is slightly larger, due to being "taller". When outputting the panoramic image from it, they're the same sensor size; APS-C is "letterboxed" or "cropped" on the upper and lower parts of the sensor

Q: What about moire and aliasing? is better than nex-vg20 or vg10? or is similar to nex-fs100?
Dave: Both the EA50 and FS100 will produce fantastic images that are difficult to achieve on your current camcorders. However it is really down to your application and of course your budget.
Alvaro Ortiz:  As an introduction, our wide experience with Large Format Sensors allowed us to use the APS-C format in a "video" workflow much more effectively than ever. Our way to downconvert 16 Mpx into FullHD is a very powerful algorhythm, different from simply "wasting" image lines to get a FullHD image from, for instance, 21 Mpx sensors. Also, bear in mind that APS-C is the same size (in width; in "tall" it's even larger) as a Super35, so the "geometry" and the aspect of the image will be the same as on classic cinema

Q: It's great that all these full frame sensor cameras are coming out, but I don't get you guys on codec. Why don't you use 50Mb/s into your cameras? It doesn't seem to be a cost factor as the PMW-150 was just released with 50Mb/s 422. I have an FS700 an it seem to be crippled just for marketing sake.
Alvaro Ortiz: Please bear in mind that a Full Frame 35 mm sensor is NOT the same as a Super35 mm sensor. This comes from the Cinema tape times: both photo and video were using 35 mm width tape, but photos were recorded with their wide sides parallel to the tape, and, due to signal correlation, video images were recorded transversal to the tape. That's why it's not the same working on 35 mm on photo (Full Frame) than on Video/Cinema (Super35). Also, the Depth of Field of a Full Frame is so shallow that in most of the productions for video, a great part of the time the image is out of focus.
Using a 50 Mbps chipset would increase A LOT not only the price of the camcorder, but also the cooling demand for this small-size cameras. And, nowadays, recording with an external device is very likely to happen; that's why we don't use that "interface" connector as the only solution, but also HDMI (EA50 & FS100) and SDI + HDMI (FS700)
Kanta: The NXCAM series including NEX-EA50EH and FS700E are using AVCHD codec as you know. Because it is globally generic codec. It can be played back on Playstation3, consumer camcorders, television (such as Bravia with USB slot), Blu-ray player etc. without installing any special software. Also the AVCHD was born from Blu-ray specification. Many are enjoying the Blu-ray Disc quality, it means they can also enjoy the AVCHD quality.
Anna Doublet: Each camcorder in the NXCAM line up has different benefits: FS700 - 4K recording in future and super slow motion, FS100 design and quality/price ratio and EA50 - weight, shoulder design with shallow depth of field. The good news that you can keep all your accessories from Z1, S270 - NXCAM camcorders are compatibles with Z1 batteries and S270 light

Q: If the PMW-150 can manage 50mbps why can't the EA50?
Alvaro Ortiz: Because PMW-150 was designed to work with 50 Mbps from the moment it was engineered. Let's take an example: for a low/mid-budget music video, or a en event recording, a wedding... is not Blu-Ray quality more than enough? That's what AVCHD internal recording allows. Most of our users for these models don't usually work on a Broadcast environment. And, if they do, and they really demand the high-quality cinematographic images that a FS100, FS700 or EA50 can provide, I'm sure most of them are able to hire an external recorder (for example, an Atomos Ninja). That will be always cheaper than incorporating the 50 Mbps in the camcorder, and hearing complains about the overprice it would involve...
Alvaro Ortiz:  I agree that 50 Mbps is not just for broadcast. But the customer profile that uses to demand 50 Mbps uses to have money enough to afford, for instance, an Atomos Ninja. So, we prefer you, the users, to choose an upgraded configuration from a basic one, than limit our customers park to only those than can afford a 50 Mbps chipset. I mean: with no 50 Mbps inside the camcorder, you can record externally with additional cheap equipment, and the camcorder is still affordable. If the 50 Mbps recording is internal, then the camcorder would be not affordable for the same quantity of people. I used Broadcast environment as an example...

General Comments:

Event Admin: If you haven't seen it already, Bill Drummond introduces the NEX-EA50 at this year's IBC in this short Sony video blog.

Kanta: Lens lineup. NEX series camera can take any E-mount lenses. Also by using LA-EA2, you can use A-mount lenses as well. LA-EA2 gives you continuous auto focus in motion picture shooting.

Alvaro Ortiz: BTW, you can use the same Solid State Flash Memory unit that could be used for HXR-NX5, NEX-FS100, NEX-FS700, and now NEX-EA50: the FMU128, which can be attached to the camera body, and incorporates a direct USB connector to download materials to your system
And, of course, apart from that FMU128, SD cards and Memory Stick cards can be used, allowing recording up to 28 Mbps bandwith with AVCHD coded, with LPCM for audio, and with 1920x1080/50p, 60p for Video...

Dave: The NEX-EA50EH is comaptible with the new MS-PX64/32/16 Mirroring Memory Stick products that provide a dual recording function - giving immediate back-up onto a single card

Kanta: Did you know the zoom rocker can work not only for the supplied zoom lens but also a prime lens? The EA50EH has newly developed smart digital zoom technology. It can gradually magnifying the image with small picture degradation when you press the zoom in rocker key. It just looks like optical zoom. It offers zoom upto 2x.

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