August 17, 2012

Introducing the APS-C Sony NEX-EA50. Is This the Future of Consumer Large Sensor Video Cameras?

Sony, seemingly out of nowhere, has announced a new consumer large sensor video camera called the NEX-EA50 (as usual the name just rolls off the tongue). Don't be fooled by its outdated looks, as this camera is mostly new technology under the hood, utilizing a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor to record 1080p AVCHD 28mbps video at up to 60fps. The camera comes standard with an 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 lens that features both auto-focus and image stabilization. The shoulder-mount design of the camera is an interesting choice (I'm certainly not complaining), but it will finally allow proper handheld for a camera in this class. Check out the introduction video below from Sony.

These are some of the main specs:

  • 16 megapixel APS-C sensor (can take still images)
  • 1080p at 24/25/30/50/60 fps (1280 and 480 also available)
  • 24mbps with a max of 28mbps AVCHD
  • E-mount interchangeable lenses, Comes with 18-200mm F3.5-6.3
  • 3.5" 16:9 XtraFine (1920 x 480) LCD
  • Recording Media: Memory Stick - SD/SDHC/SDXC - HXR-FMU128
  • 2 XLR Inputs with Phantom Power
  • No ND filters
  • Weight: 3.79 lbs.
  • Available October 15th
  • Price: $4500 (Price keeps changing, previously $3,600, then $4,000)

The introduction video is interesting, to say the least. So where does this camera fit into the mix? We've got so many new cameras coming out, it's tough to get a grip on who a particular camera is actually designed for. Judging by the video, this will be a wedding cinematographer's dream camera. It's going to have good low-light performance and it's got a servo zoom lens with a rocker on the side. Being able to put this camera on your shoulder at a moment's notice is much faster than dealing with a rig and a DSLR (I know this because I've dealt with both for years). I've talked about my preference for camera design before, and it's obvious Sony is listening to me. I would still like to see one of these Sony cameras put ISO and white balance in an easy to use scroll wheel on the side -- you know, since you'd be changing those the most in a run and gun situation -- but design-wise there is a lot to like.

As for the sensor in the camera, it's most likely taken from Sony's mirrorless line (it probably uses the same sensor as the NEX-5N), so while it's not going to have the video resolution of the FS100 or FS700, it's still nice to be able to get the positives of the Sony mirrorless cameras with the design of a proper video camera. Sony is also introducing a new mirroring memory stick that is designed to record a redundant backup right on the same card. I guess I'm not really sure there is much benefit to that (since if the card is corrupt it doesn't matter if you've got two copies), but it's still an interesting concept.

The fact that it doesn't have ND filters is a bit of a letdown, but it makes up for that by having a real zoom lens, something that has been sorely missed on DSLRs since their inception. The camera also features something that I will need to see to believe, and that is a digital zoom that crops the sensor in real-time so that you can zoom with prime lenses. From B&H:

To accommodate Sony's first E-mount lens with servo zoom, the NEX-EA50UH sports a rocker-style zoom lever. The rocker zoom is a familiar feature for long-time camcorder users, but those who are familiar with interchangeable lens systems may wonder, what good is a zoom lever if you are using a prime lens or a manual zoom? Sony's answer to that question is a lossless digital zoom. The effect is achieved by cropping the image sensor in real-time, which changes the angle-of-view with no sacrifice in resolution.

It will be interesting to see if other manufacturers go back to the shoulder-mount design. Being able to pull out the shoulder pad when you need it and make the camera more compact when you don't is the best of both worlds. Compact cameras are great for certain instances, but they require all sorts of rigging to really get the most out of them, especially in a professional situation.

If you're interested, you can pre-order the camera using the link below.

What do you guys think? Are you interested in a $3600 NEX-5N that has all the features of a regular video camera?

Links:

Your Comment

86 Comments

This looks super interesting for people who are doing event stuff with Ex1s/Ex3s and such. Good to see an ole fashioned shoulder camera. Sony is throwing it all out there right now, good for them!

August 17, 2012

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Thaaaat's me. I LOVE the EX3 and have missed its form factor with all this modular-design fad nonsense. I like a camera that is built to shoot out of the box, without the need for hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of rigging. Granted, I am specifically thinking of run-and-gun situations.. i know the narrative folk here feel differently, and I completely understand why.

WIth that said, at this price, I'll take this over the BMD camera any day. The latter makes much prettier pictures, to be sure, but form-factor goes a loooong way with me.

August 17, 2012

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David

Totally agree when it comes to run and gun. I've shot concerts for a while and I can;t honestly some spindly 15mm rail rig thing with cute grips all over it and a follow focus dealing well with crowds and being comforatble on your shoulder for more than 3 hours.

I think the Black Magic Cinema Camera is going to be much more of a studio camera, or at least for much more controlled environments. The fun part is, for the price of a new ex3 when it came out, you could get the BMD camera AND this one. WOOOOO!

August 17, 2012

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" The fun part is, for the price of a new ex3 when it came out, you could get the BMD camera AND this one. WOOOOO!"

Well said. These are exciting times we live in. Access to equipment is such a non-excuse these days!

August 17, 2012

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David

Now that is pretty awesome!

August 17, 2012

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Kevin

I think this makes large sensors a little more friendly for documentaries.

August 17, 2012

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Kevin

Talk about convergence in reverse... 16 MB RAW w mechanical shutter for still photography in a traditional style video camcorder. Interesting times.

August 17, 2012

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It is kind of weird to see this type of cam without some built in ND, but I agree the lens makes up for it. I mean, back in my days of shooting on the z1u, we had to walk fifteen miiiiles in the snow to get a good zoom lens...

August 17, 2012

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Benjamin Dewhurst
Writer
writer/director

+1 on the lack of ND. I completely understand the form factor. I miss having a quick shoulder mount without all the fuss. IMO, ND would have made this a worthwhile purchase.

August 18, 2012

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DanielJ

Nice.... but will wait till F5 comes.

August 17, 2012

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Peter

Meh, looks like a decent event or low budget doc camera, but the 28mbps is kind of a killer for broadcast and narrative potential.

August 17, 2012

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Alex

If it's anything like the FS100 implementation, it's going to be fine for most purposes, even narrative.

August 17, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Hey at least they didn't put the EVF on the top! ]%

I like my widdle RX100 for run-and-gun. They are coming out with magnetic ND's for it, and the ISO and WB I've set to be the dial left and right buttons. It uses this same codec and isn't awful in low light wide open.

If I have a suggestion for Sony it's "Make fewer, but better, products.' That was the first thing Steve Jobs did at Apple, he made a four-cell matrix for the only four products the company was going to make: Pro vs. consumer laptop vs. desktop, and he made the Mac Pro, iMac, Macbook Pro and Macbook the best they could be with just a bit of personalization added on. Economies of scale kept costs and prices low, and everybody knew which product was for them. Sony has too many cameras and all of them are inexplicably compromised...like a camera designed for run-and-gun that makes you stop and screw on ND filters when you emerge into the sunlight.

August 17, 2012

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Peter

@Peter I agree, Sony needs to release fewer products because some of us are expecting another camera a week from now.

August 17, 2012

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Ajit

28 mbps AVCHD is actually quite good. I doubt any broadcast would turn the footage down if you told them it was shot at, say, 50 mbps.

August 17, 2012

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Hummer

@Hummer You'd be breaking contracts. Not worth it.

August 17, 2012

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Ajit

Having worked on both sides of the broadcast fence, I'll be the first to admit that it really doesn't matter as long as the content looks fine and no one says asks questions.

The standards are to prevent producers from submitting garbage, but you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference shot at a highly efficient 28mbps AVCHD codec and a 50mbps MPEG-2 codec.

August 17, 2012

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Hummer

Tru but sometimes you have to sign a contract in advance and they require a certain camera/specs. Very unlikely that a 28mbs will be listed as an option. Said that, this seems a great camera for independent documentary filmmakers.

August 17, 2012

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Apparently there is clean HDMI out....

August 17, 2012

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Cmdrlaforge

You could also just discuss it with your broadcast partner. We've done this with HDV in the past. You could likely sneak it by, but I think the big thing is keeping the dialogue open with your broadcaster. Content is always King.

August 18, 2012

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shayne

Lack of ND bothers me a lot, and so did the music on that video! ;) But I'm glad they're realizing that event shooters want large sensors on real video camera form factors.

August 17, 2012

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Looks like a decent camera, but obviously with very specific uses in mind. It's an improvement in some aspects. Looks like the kind of camera that will be for people who are accustomed to the EX3 or a Panasonic HPX170. For some of the new features it is introducing to that price point, it will make a pretty good camera for events, but for anyone working on something more cinematic it will probably be better to just save up the extra bit for an FS100 or FS700.

August 17, 2012

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Anton

do you think the recent hacks of the NEX5 will be at all relevant for this camera? if so this could be huge (not that it isnt really cool already).

August 17, 2012

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mike

There aren't any hacks for the NEX-5. That was bad information perpetuated by GH2HD (aka EOSHD) and SonyAlphaRumors, which only confirmed that the Linux firmware is accessible.

August 17, 2012

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Lack of ND filter ... Why they alway have to leave something on the side... People will ask for it and Sony will put it on the next generation... It's all about making more money.

August 17, 2012

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Black dynamite

I would rather get this than a Canon DSLR in the same price range.

August 17, 2012

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Canon

Finally!! For documentary, it should work totally work.

But like another commenter, I have to ask, what is up with that music?! It's almost like this camera is 20 years old that's been sitting on a shelf waiting to be released and someone finds it along with a cd that contains all promotional materials. And they release them both.

August 17, 2012

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Ajit

I feel like this came out in the 90's

August 17, 2012

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Tom

Nobody wanna shooting 1080p in the 90's, most home users watching 4x3 sdtv 480p

August 17, 2012

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Donald F.

I mean to say no one was shooting High Definition, back in the 90's i seen many folks shooting VCR camcorders, DV tapes camcorders, betacam, 8mm Video Camcorder, and none of them are High Definition. You saying this camera looks like came out from the 90's?

August 17, 2012

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Donald F.

hes talking about the background music

August 18, 2012

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mike

Narrative types might as well go for the FS-100. This camera like many of Sony's recent offerings shows they are hungry. Rumors about a NEX full frame seem to suggest they are very hungry.

August 17, 2012

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moebius22

This is a step in the right direction, and affordable too.

August 17, 2012

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Max

Hmmm I still think that for under £4,000 my best option is the GH2.

Ive looked at the features of all cameras under this price point and none can compete with the price/performance ratio of the Gh2h once hacked.

If money was no object I would have about 5 Arri Alexas!

August 17, 2012

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Simon

This is an ENG camera with proper XLRs, shoulder pad, zoom etc... GH2 is a good cam but for live events this new camera seems really a better choice. Wedding shooters will probably love it! Sad that is not the same sensor of the FS100...

August 17, 2012

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Alex Mand

The GH2 has very poor low light sensitivity, and obviously unsuited form factor, and its much-ballyhooed hack is an unnecessary liability of storage space.

August 17, 2012

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Has a grudge against EOSHD, hates on the Gh2, and has no clue.

August 17, 2012

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moebius22

I shoot wedding all the time and in my experiences ND filter is absolutely crucial for shooting outdoors in the sun!

August 17, 2012

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David

regardless of XLR connectivity, the preamps aren't going to be any use if signal to noise ratio is anything to be bothered about. So the way I see it, I would still record sound separately into a purpose built industry standard or higher location recorder with some proper Preamps and so on. You can get rigs for the GH2 and have some kind of shoulder pad accessory for it, as well as zoom etc... all of which could be bought for less than the asking price of this camera body.

Just my view though. At this time I can't see a better option than the GH2H with a ton of accessories for the same money. but yeah I can see why this camera would appeal to others, just I would wait a noter 3 years to see what cameras are available on the market for the money and learn things on the GH2 meanwhile...

But yeah the other cameras are good too. Its all about budget and opinion. and ability!

August 17, 2012

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Simon

Might as well buy a camcorder, instead of spending money trying to turn a lock down camera into one. To each his own I suppose.

August 17, 2012

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moebius22

Honestly, I can't think of a good reason to use a GH2 over this new Sony for most doc or doc-style stuff. I love the GH2, but let's face it - it is still a PITA for anything apart from shooting a relatively unchanging scene from a stationary position.

I miss XLR inputs, zoomable video lenses, a respectable EVF, and a form factor that doesn't get tiring after 20 minutes. Having an APS-C finally gives me the cinematic DOF to justify the crossover back into camcorder land.

August 18, 2012

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Hummer

As a verite documentary videographer, no ND filter is a deal breaker. I use ND 100% of the time outdoors and use it often indoors to force my iris wide open to achieve a shallower depth of field. The run-n-gun nature of verite documentary is such that I'm usually fighting just to capture the action as it is occurring, much less stopping entirely to screw on filters. If this camera is intended for studio productions then I can understand the absence of ND because you'd have the time to screw it on, but the video clearly indicates it is intended for a wider range of video productions. I can't understand why somebody at Sony approved this, unless the decision makers are out-of-touch with the needs of videographers. Or maybe I'm the only one using ND anymore!

August 17, 2012

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Allan

Well with this being a large sensor camera, you're still going to get pretty shallow depth of field by stopping down the iris.

August 17, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Is that so expensive to implement such an crucial feature as ND filters? I use it all the time when needed on my EX3. It's a must have...

August 17, 2012

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Alex Mand

I really don't know, and neither do we, but it may very well take quite a bit of engineering to get them to work with large sensors - which is why we haven't seen mechanical ones on any of these cheaper large sensor cameras.

This isn't really an ENG (electronic news gathering) camera though. News people don't usually need or want shallow depth of field (though the larger sensor definitely helps in low light). It's a consumer/prosumer camera most likely aimed at wedding shooters. The real ENG version of this camera would most certainly have them, but it would also probably cost quite a bit more.

August 17, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Agreed... An ENG cam at this price tag without proper ND filters is a little stupid. They already have the tech for that, just implement the same way they did on the FS700 and sell it and BAM!! You have a killer low end ENG cam for a variety of situations...

No proper NDs on an ENG cam is really a NO for me too...

August 17, 2012

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Alex Mand

For fucks sake, get a 30 dollar variable ND screw on filter from amazon and slap it onto the top of the lens.

August 17, 2012

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john jeffreys

Variable NDs aren't nearly as sharp as one piece of glass, but it's a valid point for anyone who really needs one and is going to leave the kit lens on much of the time.

August 17, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I have a 52mm polaroid variable ND, as a temporary until I get the money for a matte box and filters, and it works just fine. I dont notice any color cast or anything.

August 17, 2012

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john jeffreys

As Shane Hurlbut likes to remind us (check his latest blog post for an example), vari-ND's are made from two circular polarizers, and as such they flatten the vitality out of human skin. Since mostly we like to see humans in our films, Vari-NDs are decidedly a shortcut, or at least an effect.

August 17, 2012

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Peter

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