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New Sony NEX-EA50 Footage Might Convince You to Add the Camera to Your Event/Doc Arsenal

10.18.12 @ 10:43PM Tags : , ,

It’s not often that the shape of a camera is surprising, but when Sony announced the NEX-EA50, many were not expecting a camera with an APS-C sensor to take on an ENG form. What makes these large sensor cameras so special is that they can shoot in extreme low light, and that’s what news, documentary, and event shooters often have to deal with. Johnnie Behiri, a BBC freelance cameraman/editor who also recently took the Sony A99 for a spin, shot some footage with a pre-production Sony NEX-EA50 and offered his thoughts on what he liked and didn’t like about the camera.

Some of what Johnnie had to say about the camera:

The camera is very lightweight yet feels comfortable on the shoulder. Lightweight means you can easily mount it on your existing HDSLR accessories like a slider or tripod. Needless to say that by having a shoulder mount video camera the need for a rig and external audio device is eliminated. The most striking weakness of this camera is the absent of a built-in ND filter. I would love to go out with one of the camera engineers and film outdoor in normal lighting conditions and see his response to the footage while shooting without ND filter. Picture quality is good for the price. Be aware that rolling shutter is severe, so plan your shots accordingly when possible. Configuration for this video: 1080/25p “Cine 1″ picture profile. Footage is NOT color corrected.

The first thing I noticed about the footage — besides the interesting subject matter, of course — is how clean it is and how much dynamic range the sensor seems to have — though some of that could also be attributed to the Cine profile that was used. The only trouble the camera did have was outside the window, but there aren’t too many cameras that are capable of keeping that area from clipping. This camera is using a similar sensor as a few other Sony cameras, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the internal processing was better for the NEX-EA50 compared to a sub-$1,000 mirrorless camera.

As far as aliasing and moire, he does mention that they are reduced from what you might find on a normal DSLR, so that lends even more credibility to Sony doing more than just sticking a sensor from one of their other cameras into a larger body. The camera is capable of taking still images, but if aliasing and moire are reduced, it’s likely that there is better processing going on and there is a stronger optical low-pass filter that prevents moire from occurring in certain instances.

Even with the lack of an ND filter, the footage from this clip is promising. There are a few options for dealing with this issue, with the easiest being a variable ND filter on the front of the lens. The other big positive for me is that the camera will come with a real 18-200mm zoom lens, so it will be capable of slow punch-ins when you’re in a variable focal length situation. The camera is retailing for $3,600 and should be released before the end of the year, but you can pre-order right now from B&H using the link below.

What do you guys think of the footage? Is this a camera you could work into your event/doc/wedding shooting scenarios?


[via cinema5D]


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Description image 54 COMMENTS

  • Very nice considering the price. Having seen a few of his videos now, you can also see how the camera pushed him in certain directions creatively. Still my main way to judge a piece of kit – did we get good stuff? Did we have good ideas, or were we too caught up in the tech?
    I can see this getting a lot of event and doco use.

  • If it had an Nd? Would fly off the shelves. Sony are a bit nuts re that.

  • This has me exited. The no ND is definitely a bummer but a great camera for the price regardless. I have been in many occasions where this camera would have been ideal for me.

  • I’m patiently trying to decide what my next camera purchase will be to go with my current hacked GH1 & t3i setup… as of now, the two I am paying the most attention to are this camera and the GH3.

    The footage in this video is much, much better than I expected! Now we just need some real test footage from the GH3 to help me along in this decision.

    What this camera has going for it (for me) more than anything is the ergonomics. I primarily shoot doc-style, though almost never handheld. Not having to deal with dual-system for good audio is a huge plus, plus the viewfinder and servo zoom. Lack of ND is a serious bummer, especially since their reasoning was a mechanical shutter for stills and to reduce rolling shutter (which, apparently, it doesn’t do very well). IMO, ND filters + a slight price increase would be better than a mechanical shutter for pictures.

    What the GH3 has going for it (since all we have from it so far is specs) is the *potential* image quality and the fact that I’m already slightly invested in the micro 4/3 system. Plus, a lower price (I’m assuming the price with a lens will be around $2000).

    Either way, this footage definitely makes the decision more interesting for me. Even if the GH3 can shoot higher quality, that footage is most definitely good enough for my uses! I’m not crazy about the skintones in the talking head portion of the video, but the footage by the window and outside looks great. Looking forward to some low-light tests once braver folks than I shoot with it more.

  • If they halved the length and added NDs, this would be THE camera to get. It would put the C100 and pretty much every DSLR out to pasture.

    Sony was so close, but this one’s a miss IMO.

    • trackofalljades on 10.19.12 @ 2:08AM

      Why “halve the length” on a camera so perfect for shoulder use? I guess I don’t understand the interest in DSLR shaped video cameras that people buy hilariously expensive plastic and metal for to make them fit on a human body.

      • I totally agree. DSLR image capabilities were revolutionary, but the ergonomics for video… not so much.

        Honestly, I’d rather this camera be a bit longer so the shoulder pad could be closer to the middle for balance.

      • not referring to DSLR ergonomics. I’m referring to DVX100, pd150, hvx, hpx, ex1 – “prosumer” camera ergonomics. OTS cameras like this are pandering to the ergonomics of much larger ENG cameras. and these cameras come from a line of technology that was large, not because that was necessarily ideal, but because the technology was ancient and the electronics huge and heavy. Shoulder mounting was the only practical means of operating the devices. this is not true anymore, and really hasn’t been true since camcorders first appeared.

        so, the question is… why should a three pound nex-ea50 camera take up the same volume as a 30 pound beta cam? no reason if you ask me. especially considering you don’t need a shoulder mount for stability. you need points of contact. a shoulder is such a point yes, but so is your head if you hold a tiny dslr up to your eye. at least with DSLRs you have the option of putting on a shoudler mount. not this guy!

        no, this camera is nice. and verry close. but I’ll wait for the next pass.

        • EX1′s aren’t ergonomically designed by any measure.

          what the EA50 could use (other than NDs, obviously) is a condensed body with a detachable shoulder mount (similar to what they already have), to save the expense of buying a rig after the fact.

          the OTS design is still the best option for stability and endurance. holding a DSLR/EX1 to your eye for an extended period of time fatigues the arms and stability suffers. a shoulder mounted camera, particularly one that weighs absolutely nothing, puts the weight into the shoulders and upper back and you’ll be able to last much longer.

          • I agree with Ben. Anyone who’s shot news/run and gun shoulder stuff in the past (with traditional broadcast cameras) knows how much better the OTS design is than a light weight camera held out in front of you.
            I like that this camera gives back some of the things I missed in those old cameras: servo zoom, auto iris, white balance, xlr mic inputs, etc. with the option to use a wide variety of lens for creative effect. It’s -almost- the best of both worlds IMHO.

          • Shoulder mounted will obviously cause less fatigue, but for a 3.79 pound camera to be designed in an over the shoulder configuration seems wacky to me. Put a smaller camera ON a shoulder mount sure, but I’d rather have that flexibility by default.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you can use this camera hand held, it just seems a tad long for that to be ideal is all. I could probably get used to it though…. IF it had NDs of course. Unfortunately, that deal breaker #1 right there.

            Who eliminates NDs so a video camera can take better stills? WHO DOES THAT?


        • Ex1′s are a nightmare for shoulder use. EX3 wasn’t much better.

    • Is it a Video Camera or a Still Camera? No answer required.

      Is the lens mount strong enough (over time) to support that lens?

      No ND Filter. Wrong.

      Do we really need all of that body to house the sensor and circuts?

      What WERE they thinking? Don’t care……….I’ll never buy one. It’s not a very good looking camera.

      Perhaps NFG should run a contest to design the best camera ever for CINE….using digital technology.
      Seriously, what do you want in a camera? Does it depend on use? Is there one out there right now that non of us can afford?



  • Wondering if i should get this or add $600 and get a Sony Fs100…hmmmmmmmmmmmm

    • i am wondering the same thing … ugh such a hard choice.

      • Martin Calvi on 10.19.12 @ 8:04PM

        To me the FS-100 has a weird form factor, it doesn’t seem to be comfortable to use it handheld. What I “hate” the most is the position of the LCD… you can’t get any high shots without an external monitor!
        Now we finally have an “budget” camera that not only has the image but also the cameraman in mind. I’m really happy that somebody listened.

        • Except, of course, the cameraman who uses ND filters and prefers his image to not have gobs of rolling shutter and moire.

        • “you can’t get any high shots without an external monitor!”

          Just turn the camera upside down and flip the image in post?

          • Allanokello on 10.25.12 @ 7:10PM

            FS100 held upside down is a thought that changes the colour of underpants,

            the weight distribution is weird, this is a cam that should only live on a tripod or get a ‘great’ shoulder mount (budget blowing reality really)

            but with that said i LOVE what i get out of it!

  • trackofalljades on 10.19.12 @ 2:29AM

    Since the ND discussion is always the first thing to come up with the EA50 (not just here, but everywhere) I’m curious, can anyone point to a similarly priced relatively large sensor camera that *does* have a built-in ND?

    I’m not being argumentative, I’m strictly a novice to this stuff and just want to know, for perspective’s sake.

    Coming from the hacked-together world of DSLR as opposed to the purpose-built world of five figure camcorder style machines, the EA50 looks pretty damn amazing for its price and since nothing I’ve ever touched had an internal ND, what always jumps out at me as “sad” isn’t the ND at all, but AVCHD as a format.

    For the money though, especially with that kit servo zoom and a rocker on the body, I dunno…I lust for this thing.

    • The AF100 is my first reaction. It is a bit pricier, to be sure, though.

      The servo zoom and rocker is killer, for sure! IMO, it’s the best feature of this camera (I don’t shoot much from the shoulder). I wish the kit lens shipped with at least a constant aperture, though… most of the times I need a slow, servo zoom are indoors and I really would rather not shoot at f/6.3 inside, ya know?

    • For people doing cinema shooting, there’s time to put on ND filters because everyone is fiddling with something on set. But this camera is aimed more at ENG or doc style shooting, and cameras for this purpose have traditionally had built in ND filters. And for good reason since real life won’t slow down and wait for you to pull out an ND filter and put it on the camera. So built in ND filters would make a pretty big difference.

  • One thing I find impressive is that the different angles and close-ups, when the guy is playing, seem to be in time to the music. The cameraman didn’t have multiple cameras set up, right? Because, if not, then that means at the very least multiple takes, and musicians will never play or sing any written piece exactly the same way twice, let alone improv the same way twice. Even worse than multiple takes of the same piece — maybe the editor had to cut together entirely different songs and make them look as if they’re part of the same song.

    As for the camera, I remember when, maybe just two years ago, people used to rave that the HPX300 was a shoulder mount HD camera for under $10,000. Oh, how times have changed.

    And so have tastes. DSLR/C100 form factor now seems more attractive to me personally for the sorts of things I do — more discreet, more compact, easier to pack, LCD at lens height, no handheld if I can help it.

    • There were small and cheap ‘lite’ shoulder mount cameras at the time of the HPX300 as well…the HPX300 was a big deal, because it was a real *broadcast* camera, with all the standard I/O connections and a robust internal codec, compatibility with broadcast batteries and wireless mic receivers, ect.

      • Well, you’re right that there were other reasons the HPX was a big deal (the codec outperformed the HPX500), but I do think the “shoulder mount HD” factor was one of the big ones. I might easily be wrong! Which other cameras are you thinking of?

        I’ve got a feeling that other cheaper full HD cameras around that time (like Ex3) are more shoulder brace than shoulder mount? Plenty of shoulder mount options in SD cameras though.

  • Not graded?! WOW.

  • “severe” rolling shutter? Lack of ND filters?

    So…yeah. It really is just a DSLR in a shoulder-mount body.

  • Considering it’s lack of ND filters, severe rolling shutter, and the obvious aliasing (look at the saxophone in the second window shot), I’m pretty sure this isn’t much better than a DSLR, other than having a shoulder mount and looking more professional.

    • 2 XLR ins, ergonomics, servo zoom, battery life, timecode, color bars, tone, and proper HDMI out make this camera unlike any DSLR that does or ever will exist. This is a professional video camera for those reasons, not only that it can be OTS.

      • Incredible that you have the clairvoyance to predict the future of DSLR models.

        At this price point, though, why wouldn’t someone just pick up a used FS100 and avoid the DSLR-ish headache of moire/aliasing?

        • “Incredible that you have the clairvoyance to predict the future of DSLR models.”

          Slow your roll, pilgrim – no need to be prickly. We’re just talking about cameras here.

          My point was that DSLR’s will never have these features, because these features are what make this camera NOT a dslr. (Shoulder mount, timecode, XLR audio inputs, servo zoom). I also realize sony has a battery grip with XLR for their new line, and that’s great. Timecode will maybe come soon, that’d be cool.

          Not slighting against DSLR’s or anything. I own many, they pay my bills. Just pointing out that this is not simply a repackaged DSLR camera in a longer body. It has many professional features that a lot of event video guys need.

    • +1 If noticeable rolling shutter and aliasing are present, I’d rather stick to a DSLR. I figured most of these issues would be worked out before placing DSLR-style sensors in camcorders. I do like the image it produced in the most of sample video.

  • Austin Mace on 10.19.12 @ 11:49AM

    This will most certainly sound like a noobish question, but can’t you just use a matte box and drop in ND filters? Why would this not work?

    • Of course you could, but unless it’s a clip-on mattebox you’re going to have a pretty ridiculous rig. Matteboxes tend to work better when you’ve got the time to change filters but this camera is aimed at people who need to run and gun, so I think a variable ND is probably the best solution if you can’t control your environment.

  • considering that ive purchased fs100′s used for 3500 not sure if the pricing is quite there considering the picture quality isnt going to be quite as good. but the ergonomics make it quite tempting!

  • mike_tee_vee on 10.19.12 @ 3:35PM

    Any word on how well the digital lossless zoom works with prime lenses? If the quality doesn’t degrade much, this could really open up the realm of possibilities!

  • very nice video… and you all forgot about an special thing in this camera, that can convert any prime lens in to a zoom lens; yes, electronicaly zooming x2 in any lens without loose of definition or light; so another reason to think about buying this camera; you can use a 30mm f1.4 and use it as a 30-60mm zoom f1.4, or that amazing 85mm f1.4 to an 85-170mm f1.4, lovely power in this camera… NDs? ok is a little problem, but for the price is a fantastic camera.

  • Robert Armstrong on 10.25.12 @ 4:02PM

    This is not a shoulder mount camera. Its just like the Sony EX3 Viewfinder is at the back of the camera. All the weight of the camera is on your arm. With real ENG camera’s most of the weight is on your shoulder and the viewfinder is closer to the front of the camera. Show us a picture with the camera on someones shoulder?


  • Allanokello on 10.25.12 @ 7:41PM

    This camera really needed HDSDI out to be a real contender in the events category,

    the B&H site made me laugh with the description “cinematic event videography” what does that actually mean maybe we’re gonna see the trend of shooting events with a finish worthy of a Michael Bay crowning lol

    At this price bracket £2,400 (approx) GBP here in the UK it maybe a choice for some especially if they can somehow rig it for multicam use… 4 cams under £10,000 is a steal in my eyes,

    now to figure out how to even get 4 HDMI feeds in for a live edit without borrowing from China!

  • I own the Sony FS100, the Canon 5DMk2 and a Sony Z5, with Zeiss glass. My thoughts are leaning this way:

    #1 The shoulder option sure is nice – but that can be fixed for all my cameras with very simple. lightweight rigs today from eBay for about $150. The advantage is that they can be custom set up for different applications, so that takes care of that problem. Shoulder is nice. The rig might be able to give a bit more flexibility and can adapt all 3 cameras.

    #2: The quality of the image of the FS100 is unbeatable. Canon has been retired to stills and ultra wide shots and ultra shallow D0F – it simply does not cut it in quality and after 1250 ISO, it just does not work. The F100 is sharper, warmer, cleaner, better grain and I can and do shoot in candlelight. It is that good. The Z5 is small chip and after the sun goes down, the camera goes down – BUT is has a gorgeous 20X zoom and tons of ENG features. But small chip which means everything is in focus.

    #3 The ability to do anything you want with picture profiles in the FS100 is unbeatable. Latitude is pretty darned good with a good profile. Not F3 with S-log, but getting close. And that counts for a lot. That chip is good!

    #4 ND’s. Yup a problem. The reason they did not put them in is because Sony had to develop a whole new technology for ultra thin ND’s for the 18mm space – not easy. They got it working for the FS700, but ain’t cheap, so maybe a cost consideration was made here. The cheap variable ND’s aren’t that good. And you have to screw them on each and every time. And when you want some other options like IR or UV or shading filters, you are adding a ton of stuff up front. And then you need a sunshade. A lot of work. So started looking into matte boxes. What a mess and expensive – need rod and rails too!

    I found a compact one at CAVISION that is a clamp on type that fastens to a step up ring on the lens. Comes with 2 – 4 x 5.5 filter trays,one that can be set anywhere you want, rotated etc. And can add flags if you desire. And they have great glass filters too. So in some ways, this is a better solution with a bit of inconvenience but a lot more flexibility.

    What would I do? Well for now, the F100 is still king, but can be made to work wonders.

  • If the footage is not color corrected as stated, the camera looks real good. We will add this into the rental inventory in the near future.

  • The fs100 is a great camera but the placement of the view finder is limiting as it’s on the top of the system and not on the left as per the 50. I own the 50 and Johnnie’s review is spot on. The lossless digital zoom is astounding as it not only works with primes, it also works with zooms, thus doubling zoom capability while maintaing image quality. On primes, the ability to do 2x without losing speed while gaining framing capability is a deal maker for me, something no other camera has at this time. Is the system perfect, no but thus far, image quality has been amazing. The build is solid and the controls extensive. Sony has, IMHO, a hit here. A VG 20 on steroids is apt here as I own both and could not be happier at this point in time.

  • This camera Sony Ea 50 has AF? AF works well?

  • Wow, so much hate for the the shoulder mount form factor?

    I come from a background of shooting Doco style on UMatic – Beta – Digibeta- and HDCAM. I now shoot almost exclusively with DSLR’s. My DSLR with audio recorder DP4 EVF and small rig / hand grip would probably be bigger than this camera. You people who say ‘why the big form factor for a sensor and some electronics need to compare apples with apples. This camera has everything built in. Yep, if you only shoot from a tripid and with no sound then the DSLR size is better but those who say the shoulder mount cameras where only built so big to house the large electronics and that the over the shoulder form factor is less ergonomic than an FS100 or even Sony Z1 style camera are plain wrong.

  • I have shot everything from film to many video formats and now…well, this. I’ve had it out of the box 2 days…we’ll see. After 30 years in video production it seems I may have found THE kickass creative tool. I also haven’t had to change too many filters or lenses on location for a long time. After the last few years with a Sony dsr 500, (pull out…shoot) I’m looking at just how run and gun ill be. Back to school! I’ll keep you posted.