Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

3D - HDR-TD10 (2011).
Professional models - HXR-NX70 (2011). HXR-MC2000, HXR-MC50 (2010).
Flash Memory / consumer - HDR-CX260V, HDR-CX580V, HDR-CX740VE, HDR-CX760V (2012). HDR-CX360V, HDR-CX560V, HDR-CX700V (2011). HDR-CX110, HDR-CX150, HDR-CX300, HDR-CX350V, HDR-CX550V (2010). HDR-CX100 (2009). HDR-CX12 (2008). HDR-CX7 (2007).
Hard Disk / consumer - HDR-XR260V (2012). HDR-XR150, HDR-XR350V, HDR-XR550V (2010). HDR-XR100, HDR-XR200, HDR-XR500, HDR-XR520 (2009). HDR-SR11, HDR-SR12 (2008). HDR-SR5, HDR-SR7 (2007).
Rolando
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Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Rolando » 06 Jul 2012 14:13

I have bought the NX30, a small, 1.1 kg camera, which I will use in circumstances where my Sony NX5 is too big and too heavy. My first impressions are:

Positive:
Revolutionary "Balanced Optical SteadyShot" works extremely well, far better than the usual "Optical Steady Shot" (one of my main reason - beside light weight - to buy the camera).
Semi-"professional" camera with professional XLR unit.
Special features include manual Gain, Zebra 70/100%, Expanded Focus, Cinegamma, Push Meter/Focus, Push Meter, Push Focus.

Negative:
No ND filters, Viewer very small with not so impressive resolution (LCD Screen is fine), detaching Lens Hood is not so easy, no possibility to add filters (UV, ND, etc.) between lens and lens hood, Manual Dial somehow obstructed by the lens hood.

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Stephan
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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Stephan » 09 Jul 2012 13:55

Hi Rolando, nice to see you back! :-)

I've bought the consumer sibling - in Europe it's called HDR-CX740VE (with 32GB memory) and in the US HDR-CX760V (with 96GB memory like the NX30). I haven't checked in detail, but I believe they're fairly identical except:
- the audio section: external XLR adapter in the NX30, vs. audio mini-jack in the consumer version (but the NX30 also has a minijack input in addition, is that right?)
- the built-in projector in the NX30,
- software features and controls...

Here my thoughts too.

Positives:
- Picture quality - excellent! Very impressive images, especially considering the compact and light body (I needed a light camcorder, and it's just that!)
- Stabilization: the "active mode" (which seems to involve both optical & digital stabilization) is so effective, I was able to record smooth video while being off-road in a 4WD vehicle. Amazing! However, for static shots it slightly degrades picture precision in a disappointing way, so I usually switch to the standard (optical only) mode which is quite satisfactory. It's very funny how the entire optical block moves (like an owl's head), it's unprecedented.
- The lens hood.
- Push-button exposure: just press the button, exposure is set (usual Sony feature, very handy).

Negatives:
- On the consumer version, the audio minijack input is very bad. Very hard to explain or pinpoint why, it seems to be too noisy and overamplifies background noise (like air conditioning) in an awful way. How does your XLR section work? Does it connect to the minijack, or does it feed audio through the Active Interface hot shoe?
- Lens: good but not as good as a larger camcorder. No issue at all in the daylight, but at night any bright light (like traffic light, city light, cars…) creates a dreadful halo that didn't happen with my larger FX7. Almost unusable, or you need to reframe to avoid the bright lights.
- The consumer version lacks key controls: no picture histogram, unable to adjust color saturation nor picture sharpness. I guess you have all of those, right?
- The negatives that you mentioned: unable to fit a filter under the lens hood. And indeed the integrated viewfinder is crap, I don't use it.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Doughie » 09 Jul 2012 16:30

Looks like a great machine. It has the form factor of the original Sony A1 HDV camcorder, with the XLR module.
I must say that Sony really have a state-of-the-art stabilisation system with these latest camcorders. My XR520 is pretty good, but there is a whole new level of stabilisation with this gyroscopic-stabilised machines where, as Stephan said, the entire optical block is floating around and has actuators moving it to give pretty amazing results. It seems almost Steadicam-like in its abilities.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Rolando » 09 Jul 2012 17:10

The Balanced Optical SteadyShot (I call it "BOSS") feature of the NX30 (which can be combined with the digital steadyshot) is far better than the already good stabilization of other Sony cameras (I have the XR550 and NX5), and -as Doughie says - is type of gyroscopic, or perhaps cardanian suspension (?). But it is not Steadicam-like: When walking or running with the camera you realize the foot-steps. Actually, I prefer this because it is more authentic. I also have the Steadicam Merlin, which gives a true floating look, but find it difficult to avoid a boat-like shaking.

The XLR-unit connects to the AI-Hot Shoe. I also tested the small directional Sennheiser MKE400 with MZW400 windshield / bass cut on (which I use with my XR550) on the NX30, connected to the mini jack input, and the sound is good. If you have bad sound, it may be caused by your microphone? I intend to use this mic on vacation, where I tend to avoid to carry the bulky XLR-unit with me.

The NX30 seems to be almost identical with the features of the Sony NX70 except the latter has in addition a histogram and is 100% dust and rain proof (if the XLR unit is disconnected). But only the NX30 has the "BOSS" feature.

The built-in projector is for me an unnecessary gimmick.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by dalemccl » 14 Jul 2012 03:01

>>for static shots it slightly degrades picture precision in a disappointing way,<<

Stephan, can you elaborate on that? In what way does the picture degrade? Is it zooming-in digitally and thus reducing resolution, something like the post-processing image stabilizers do.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Stephan » 14 Jul 2012 15:25

Yes, that's what I believe it does - digital zoom-in. It does provide additional benefits: very solid stabilization overall, and also rotational stabilization - in standard mode if your cam is severely shaken (by wind gusts for example), although the image is stable horizontally and vertically, you will still see rotational shake. In 'active' mode, the digital zoom is able to compensate all 3 axis: horizontal, vertical, and rotational.

The slight degradation is of no consequence when filming in motion - in a car for example, because the motion blur and the AVCHD codec itself already cause some impact on resolution, therefore the 'active' mode is a fantastic bargain: very good stabilization, while the slight picture degradation is invisible compared to motion issues. It only appears in fully static shots where 'standard' mode' (to my opinion) is required for High Resolution to appear in fullest glory .

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by dalemccl » 14 Jul 2012 17:25

Thanks for the additional explanation. I was attracted to the CX760 or NX30 by the prospect of better stabilization than I get with my 3-year old Sony XR500V. But most of my shooting consists of static shots and I would not want to degrade the picture quality. In standard stabilization mode the new cams may, or may not, be much better than the XR500V. The only way to know I guess is to order one and try it.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Rolando » 14 Jul 2012 17:30

In fully static shots (e.i. on a tripod) it is always recommended to use no stabilization at all.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by dalemccl » 14 Jul 2012 21:14

Rolando wrote:In fully static shots (e.i. on a tripod) it is always recommended to use no stabilization at all.
Sorry Rolando, I wasn't clear when I said "static". I meant hand-held, but trying to hold the camera still, with no intentional movement such as panning or zooming. I get quite a bit of movement due to less than steady hands. My 3-year old Sony XR500V does a decent job in Active mode, but I am hoping for an improvement with Sony's new technology where the entire optical block moves instead of just a lens element.

With the 740/760 or nx30, does the entire optical block move when in "standard" stabilization mode (i.e. not in active mode), or does it revert to the older style Sony stabilization where only a lens element moves? .

Also since you have an NX30, can you tell me what Sony means when they say it has a "fixed" stabilization mode? It sounds to me like they mean when you intend to hold the camera still with no intentional movement, you can use the fixed mode and it will provide additional stabilization because it doesn't have to try to distinguish between unintentional movement (shake) and intentional movement (like panning). Is that true? If so, does it still use digital zoom to accomplish this like it does in Active mode, thus reducing resolution?

Thanks for any info anyone can provide. I am having a hard time finding good information about the CX760 and NX30. There are very few reviews by users who have experience with a variety of recent camcorders. (Many customer reviews speak of great improvement --- compared to their 10 year old camcorder.) There a lot of examples on YouTube of the stabilization of the CX760 and its sister models, but in almost every one of them there is a lot of panning and zooming, so it's hard to distinguish between movement caused by shortcomings of the stabilization system vs. movement caused by panning or zooming.

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Re: Sony HXR-NX30 - experiences?

Post by Rolando » 15 Jul 2012 12:32

Yes, in "standard" stabilization mode, the entire optical block moves (as far as I can judge from the visible movement of the optical block).

What "fixed shot" means is a mystery for me. The operating manual says it "further reduces camera-shake. When you attempt operations such as pan and tilt, turn Off the FIXED SHOT function." I made several tests, including pans and tilts, but could not see any differences. "Fixed Shot" does NOT use the digital zoom if you are in "standard steaydshot" mode, however, if you are in "active steaydshot" mode, digi zoom is on with or without "fixed shot".

Have you seen the following videos:

http://vimeo.com/39824407
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGytmxNs0qY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phyrmmfD ... re=related

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