Den is up front about his involvement with this camera, which began over a year ago when he was asked down to Sony to a meeting to talk about DSLRs. When he - and several other camera people - got there, an entire team of engineers were present, and they wanted to know what the focus group liked and didn't like.
"We essentially designed a camera on the whiteboard," he said. "They didn’t give us everything we asked for, but they went 90% of the way." He added that he thought Sony realized they had not been listening to customers, and were now "all ears." He even brought up a photograph of the whiteboard to prove what they had done.
Sony, he said, had noted the uptick in DSLR sales, but this camera wasn't intended to be a "DSLR killer." Rather, it was intended for the event, music-promo, and commercial shooter; [to me it sounds as though Sony were trying to hang on to those who were previously buying EX1's and HXR-NX5 cameras, but have been attracted to the DSLR.]
He also noted that they weren't exactly paid for their participation, "I think they gave me an SxS card to cover expenses." He also wasn't paid for the shoot that he did last weekend with that camera...
"This will prove to you that we weren’t lying when we said
we sat in a room and designed the camera…."
Fast-forward to last weekend and Den got a call from Sony asking him if he would appear in a promo video about the new camera. They wanted to interview him about the Focus Group, but they added that they had a camera coming, and did he want to borrow it for the weekend?
He went on to explain how the weekend went; the camera arrived Friday evening with only the fairly slow standard lens; no batteries, and no adapter to attach additional lenses. In the end they even ran out and bought a couple of inexpensive A-mount lenses to use with the camera. And though they did some tests of rolling shutter and moiré and picture styles before shooting, it was all very, very rushed.
On missing features:
What are my thoughts on the lack of the ND filter? We asked for it. Sony said they can’t [do it and] keep it small.
HD-SDI & single HDMI: [HD-SDI would] drain too much power. We used HDMI out and it was fine.Video quality
You don’t need two HDMI’s. You want to have as little coming off the camera as possible. The HDMI is a large one at the back of the camera. If we’d had the Zacuto EVF, we could have looped through out to [other monitors].
The HDMI thing wasn’t a big deal breaker for me. I generally couldn’t care less if it’s HD-SDI or HDMI, the signal is the same.
It’s not 10 bit. The more coming out, the more processing, the more heat. Our experience was very positive. You can stream out the HDMI. The Panasonic AF101 (AG-AF100) is 8 bit [but the] color space for the Panasonic is 4.2.0 and the color space on the Sony is 4.2.2.Ergonomics
It's 24Mbps. [The video on] Vimeo doesn’t do it justice. James [the guy that did the color correction] says it’s cleaner than DSLRs. The images coming off the camera remind [James] of working with the RED. There is noise there, but it’s very “clean” noise. When looking at T2i footage and the FS100, it was night and day.
Initial experience with the camera was a very positive one. The sensitivity was staggering.
Don’t be put off by looks, It rocks. We had it designed that way for a reason, because it fits in the plam of your hand. There’s a tendancy to pimp out a camera, but in some cases you want to be able to strip it down. Trust me, when you pick it up and start shooting with it, it will make sense. We were able to walk around with the camera in our hands and nobody stopped us.Other Functionality
- The side grip is pretty cool, it has a start/stop you can use to control the camera when you plug it in.
- It has six assignable buttons, and lots of screw mounts
- It does not give you ISO, it’s sensitivity is defined by gain, which starts at 0. They shot up to +12db.
- "You can shoot at 1/48 which is very nice for 24p"
Was the FS100 limited? I don't know, at the end of the day, Sony is a business. The F3 is ten grand. To make it more affordable, they have to take features off. I don't know the answer to that. For the money, it's a staggering piece of technology, and it's not going to be everyone. But I would trade my EX1 for it tomorrow.
He added that he's doing a Facebook chat with Sony Europe on the 5th of April. He said that Sony Europe wanted him to go to NAB, but that the show is run by Sony US, who "doesn't know him."
- Podcast #26 den lennie and the sony NEX FS100 digital super 35mm camera [watch the podcast replay here]
- Den Lennie's original video blog post: NEX FS 100 Video Blog
- Planet5D: Den Lennie webchat
- His response to Nigel Cooper's review of the camera can be read here: Disagreements over the Sony NEX-FS100
- Alister Chapman of XDCAM-user also participated in the Focus Group about the camera. His thoughts can be read here: Sony FS-100 Super 35mm NXCAM Camcorder Announced
- A clearer picture of the whiteboard sketch can be seen here: XDCAM-user
[UPDATE: Added link to podcast replay in Resources]