The Sony HXR-NX100 Professional Camcorder

Sony today announced an addition to their impressive lineup of professional compact camcorders with the HXR-NX100. This is the latest Sony to feature a 1.0” type sensor, which is proving to outperform many 3-chip competitors.

The chip is a good one. It is a 1.0” type Exmore R back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 20 megapixels, similar to the one found in the excellent RX10. The sensor is roughly the size of a Super 16mm film frame, and it promises to deliver high resolution, low noise, and high picture quality in any conditions.

Unlike many pro camcorders, DSLR shooters will want to give this camera a second look.

While traditionally, many  camcorders haven’t offered the same large sensor benefits of a DSLR, the large sensor in this NXCAM makes it an interesting choice for low-light shooting and cinematic depth of field coupled with the all of the benefits of a professional camcorder. The amazing image quality is backed up by the image stabilization, external controls, pro audio connections, optical zoom and other features that make professional handheld camcorders a dream to work with.

Those external connections and controls on the HXR-NX100’s lightweight, ergonomic body are plentiful. Three independent manual lens rings give easy access to zoom, focus and iris functions. The camcorder’s connectivity options include HDMI, Multi/Micro USB, XLR terminals, REMOTE, Composite (BNC) and Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for use with a wide range of accessories without the need for cables, such as Sony’s HVL-LBPC Video Light and the UWP-D wireless microphone series.

The NX100 touts a Sony G lens delivering 12x optical zoom from a 29mm angle of view and a 24x digital Clear Image Zoom. The digital zoom is aided by Sony’s By Pixel Super Resolution Technology, and a Digital Extender, which can expand zoom performance to up to 48x. To control exposure in these extreme zoom situations, the NX100 features a four step ND filter.

“This new camcorder is a great choice for professionals who need a flexible and high-performance compact camcorder, or pro-sumers looking to step up to an easy-to-use pro model,” said Jeanne Lewis, marketing manager, professional digital imaging, Sony Electronics. “With its big 1.0” type sensor, the HXR-NX100 outperforms many competitive 3-chip offerings and allows content creators to capture beautiful images in any environment.”

The HXR-NX100 records in AVCHD, DV and XAVC S 50Mbps, which gives shooters excellent production flexibility. The HXR-NX100 records to SD memory cards, and has dual media slots to record onto two memory cards either simultaneously or via a relay mode, where recording automatically switches when the first card is full.

Key features of the HXR-NX100:

· 1.0” type Exmor® R CMOS Sensor and Sony G lens. High sensitivity and resolution with 20 megapixel sensor and Sony G lens deliver striking detail, colors and wide dynamic range, even in low light conditions (minimum illumination 1.7 Lux).

· Maximum 48x zoom for wide range shooting. The lens offers a 12x Optical Zoom from 29mm angle of view at wide end, which can be increased to 24x with Clear Image Zoom while retaining full resolution thanks to By Pixel Super Resolution Technology. Zoom performance can be doubled at any point with a Digital Extender up to 48x.

· Three independent manual lens rings, built-in 4-step ND filter and other professional functions. Manual lens rings ensure intuitive control of zoom, focus and iris and the built-in 4-step ND filter helps to control exposure in bright scenes. Other professional features include 0.24 type 1550K dots EVF and 3.5 type 1550K dots LCD for easy monitoring, and a wide variety of professional interfaces, including HDMI, Multi/Micro USB, XLR terminals, REMOTE, Composite (BNC) and Multi Interface (MI) Shoe, delivering a seamless integration for video light and wireless audio.

· Multiple recording format capabilities. The camcorder provides multiple choices including AVCHD and DV which are suitable for conventional workflow, and newly implemented XAVC S 50Mbps which delivers better image quality especially for professional needs.

· Dual media slots for recording flexibility. Two memory card slots enable various recording options such as backup, simultaneous, relay and independent recording. The camcorder is compatible with SDXC and SDHC cards as well as Memory Stick PRO Duo (Mark 2) and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo. “SIMUL” mode permits simultaneous recording to two memory cards, while “RELAY” mode automatically switches recording from the first to the second memory card when the first is full. Shooters can use buttons on the camcorder to independently start and stop recording on different memory cards.

The HXR-NX100 camcorder is planned to be available in October 2015.

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Russ Fairley
Russ Fairley is a producer, editor and motion graphic designer who enjoys writing for Videomaker. He has also written for About.com (Lifewire.com), RedShark News, Modern Drummer Magazine, and others. He is an Adobe Certified Expert, Adobe Community Leader, and co-founder of After Effects Toronto, Canada's largest motion graphic user group. Fairley is the creator and editor of ProductionWorld.net, a popular production news website.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Russ,

    The large imaging sensor format and built-in ND filters, makes this an interesting camera.

    Sony is weak at offering slow motion capabilities, and in this aspect, this camera lacks this feature; based on my reading of the specifications from Sony's web site.

    For an independent film maker on a budget, this would limit the creative options.

    For people living in countries with a traditionally analog PAL system, which IMHO is irrelevant with wide screen digital TVs capable of accepting 60i/24p (I live in Australia a so-called "PAL" country, and own two wide screen digital TVs purchased locally; one is a Sony Bravia), it's impossible to purchase so-called "NTSC" cameras capable of 30p/60p. The legacy "PAL" or "NTSC" standards, referring to the different analog color encoding and decoding systems, became associated with the 50Hz frame rates for "PAL" countries, and 60Hz for "NTSC" countries. It's possible to have 60Hz with a "PAL" color encoding and decoding as used in PAL-M.

    The 50Hz/60Hz frame rate was adopted because the first black and white analog TVs did not use crystal oscillators (back then, crystal oscillators were prohibitively expensive), the TV electronics engineers of the day, synchronized the frame rate, with the available a.c. (alternating current) mains voltage frequency, which was 50Hz in "PAL" countries, and 60Hz in "NTSC" countries. Later when color TV was introduced, first was the "NTSC" system in the USA in the early 1950's, later was the PAL system in Germany then Britain in the 1960's. Australia introduced "PAL" color TV based on the British standard in the mid 1970's.

    Although the color TV systems included crystal oscillators for the color sub-carrier, and derived their frame rate timing from the crystal oscillator, the "PAL" countries maintained the legacy 50Hz frame rate to allow people who couldn't afford a color TV set, to watch shows using their old Black and White TV sets. Same goes for "NTSC" countries.

    These days, the "PAL"system was abandoned by Australian broadcasters at the end of 2013, and to accomodate people who cannot afford a digital TV set, Australian broadcasters have had to maintain the 50Hz frame rate, to allow people to watch TV with their old analog "PAL" TV sets, using SD (Standard Definition) set top boxes.

    To eliminate flickering, for the old analog Black and White TV systems, the TV electronics engineers, had to introduce the concept of interlacing. In countries using 50Hz a.c. mains power systems, the analog TV cameras would produce 25 full vertical resolution TV frames per second, then transmit 50 interlaced or half vertical resolution frames pe second, by say first transmitting the odd TV lines in the first half vertical resolution frame, then the even TV lines in the second half vertical resolution frame. In countries with 60Hz a.c. mains frequency, such as the USA, the old analog Black and White TV cameras would produce 30 full TV frames per second, then transmit 60 interlaced or half frames per second. For either the 50Hz or 60Hz interlaced systems, the human visual system would perceive them as a full vertical resolution frame by blending the half frames together.

    The 25 or 30 full resolution frames per second, are in today's digital TV era, referred to as 25 progressive or 30 progressive frames per second, shortened to 25p or 30p fps, or simply as 25p or 30p (the fps is implied).

    In the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) era, broadcasters need to cater for the throwback "PAL" or "NTSC" analog color TV sets still in use, which themselves were a throwback to the old analog Black and White TV sets, synchronized to the mains frequency, in digital TV terms, modern digital TV cameras record either 25p or 30p, and when the broadcaster (either free-to-air, satellite or cable) transmits the programmes, they convert the 25p to 50i, or the 30p to 60i. The "i" stands for interlaced; this is a throwback to allow the elderly to watch digital TV using their SD set top boxes connected to their old analog color TV sets.

    Prosumer grade to Professional grade modern digital cameras offer 25p/50i and up to 50p in countries with 50Hz a.c. mains frequency, and 30p/60i and up to 60p in countries with 60Hz a.c. mains frequency.

    In my experiments with 50i, 30p and 60p cameras, for fast moving objects, the camera with the highest full frame resolution frame rate, will yield the highest quality image.

    A good camera, will allow the film maker, to switch between 25p/50p to 30p/60p, and offer a minimum slow motion frame rate at full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution of 120p fps.

    One caveat if a film maker happens to live in a country where "PAL" models are available, and a slow motion camera such as the Panasonic HC-VX870 is offered locally, the full NTSC slow motion capture of 120p fps is not selectable from the camera menu. Instead, the slow motion capture rate is clocked to the 50p "PAL" frame rate, and the slow motion capture is whittled down to 100p.

    In general people may wonder if 100p performs any worse than 120p. I have seen video on YouTube comparing 100p with 120p; the best videos feature the same camera model; using two of them mounted on a rig, filming the same scene under the same conditions. The result? The 120p frame rate will always demonstrate smoother motion compared with 100p.

    For smoothest motion play back, if a film maker lives in a country where only "PAL" models are available, and are looking to obtain the best quality images, and are willing (at your own risk) to waive product warranty rights, consider purchasing the "NTSC" model directly from an USA based supplier. Don't trust local suppliers' web site product specifications; I have seen several Australian web sites from three different camera houses, located in three different states clearly advertising the "NTSC" model., and after inquiring by email, a

     
  2. When I first saw this announcement, I thought they had accidentally shown the NX3 (now with the "/1" suffix) picture. And now that I know that it really is a new camera, I am puzzled. Why roll out a new camera and NOT include the 20X G lens and give it much more optical zoom flexibility? And even the smaller form factor X70 (that has the larger sensor) has a 3G-SDI out, though it, too, only has a 12X lens–albeit the ZEISS Vario-Sonnar version. 

     

    I like several of Sony's cameras in this feature/form factor/price range…now I just have to sift through to figure out which one will really be the right choice. Has Sony hinted about the price for the 1000?

  3. Hi Russ,

    I agree fully with Terry’s and Greg’s comments.

    The Panasonic HC-VX870 already offers a 20x zoom lens, 4k shooting at 60p (NTSC model), 120fps at full HD (NTSC model) in slow motion, and a broadcast standard 1/2.3″ image sensor, for USD897.99. No USD500 firmware upgrade is required for the full 4k shooting mode.

    The Panasonic HC-VX870 may not have built-in ND filters, but for a few dollars more, you can install ND filters. I think independent film makers on a tight budget may be willing to forego the 1″ sensor and the convenience of built-in ND filters, without having to pay USD1500 for the inconvenience of screwing in ND filters before each shoot.

    I recall that Sony released the NEX-FS700 for USD7000 or so, and later offered an USD500 firmware upgrade to allow shooting in 4k, after paying USD7000 forking out another USD500 for a 4k upgrade is financially justifiable. Eventually Sony released the NEX-FS700R that already had the firmware and FPGA upgrade included, then dropped the price to USD4599.

    The FS700 does have a super 35 sensor, but I think the lessons should be clear when comparing prosumer to consumer models between different manufacturers.
    Sony dropped the price to match the competing cameras offered at the USD4599+ price point.

    Is anyone at Sony seriously looking at the different camera markets and what the competitors are offering right now? Is Sony asking real independent film makers what they’d like to have in a camera? My guess would be a 1″ sensor camera with a 20x zoom lens, both switchable 50p/60p at 4k resolution and 100p/120p slow motion at 2k, with built-in ND filters; for USD1000 that would blow the Panasonic HC-VX870 out of the water.

  4. I love the form factor of this camera compared to the smaller PXW-X70 and its three manual lens rings are a big plus as well. BUT, where are the 4K capabilities??? No Sony, a $500 firmware update is not acceptable! Currently, there are many offerings in the DSLR form factor under $1000 that offer 4K recording. As time passes technology becomes more affordable and should trickle down into less expensive models. So 4K recording with an OLED EVF and a proper LCD just seem to be appropriate for this price range now. The market is hurting for updates in the camcorder range and by adding features at this price point I believe you could corner the market. I would purchase this camera with 4K! Sony, I have always admired your company for providing great features at an affordable price. Please don’t release products that already seem to be 2 years old the day they are released…. Sorry for the rant. I just really wanted this product to replace my Panasonic GH3 and I don’t think it will…

  5. Sorry for the belated response.

    I agree there is more to broadcast quality than just sensor size.

    Broadcast quality cameras are defined by having a specific minimum bit/Byte per second rate, depending on the video codec and image resolution.

    To give you an idea of what some TV stations require, here is an old document from 2010 I was easily able to find using the swagbucks’ search engine, from the Australian Government’s TV station the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Network):
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/independent/doc/ABC_Delivery_Specs.pdf

    I’m not sure if other TV news broadcasters, such as NBC or CNN would require video footage to be submitted in HD video tape format, or if ABC TV have updated their requirements.

    Not all TV broadcasters may have the same requirements, so it would be wise to check with them.

    Traditionally, broadcast quality cameras used by news crews have used a sensor size of 1/2.3″, and in general the larger the sensor size, the better the camera’s performance under low light shooting conditions and the dynamic contrast sensor response in bringing out detail in shadows.

    There is a youtube channel owned by BCNEWSVIDEO, using one of the predecessors to the HC-VX870, the HC V750 shooting full HD video with the MP4 codec.

    Comparing the technical specs between the HC V750 and the HC-VX870, the sensor size is the same at 1/2.3″. The HC V750 is an older model and thus only shoots at full HD (1920 x 1080), and the newer model HC-VX870 can shoot full HD and also Ultra HD (3840 x 2160). The HC V750 and the HC-VX870 are capable of full HD resolution slow motion video at 120fps.

    Here is a youtube video showing the 120fps performance at full HD with the HC-VX870:

    Sony’s ears (or eyes?) may have been burning when I wrote some of my previous posts because in the CES 2016 exhibition, they released the new Sony FDR-AX53, with a slightly smaller 1/2.5″ sensor, Ultra HD and full HD shooting. At full HD this camera can also shoot video at 120fps.

    Whilst the FDR-AX53 costs US $100 more than the Panasonic HC-VX870, the FDR-AX33 includes a cinematographic 24fps shooting mode at Ultra HD and full HD, and a Multi-Camera control mode.

    At the end of the day, which camera a videographer or film maker may need to use will not just depend on the image sensor size, bit/Byte rate per second, available codecs, or if the camera can record video to the specifications required by the TV broadcast studio (if the camera records to a better standard, it is possible using contemporary video editing software such as PowerDirector or FinalCut to convert the video to the TV stations’ required standards); the camera to be used will also depend on how it fits in the hands of the user, and the accessibility of the controls.

    Not everyone is built the same way, what some people will consider to be a difficult to use camera, may be a joy for others to operate and work with, as well as if it fits well within their work flow.

    If a person owns different cameras, another quality to consider is the way the sensor encodes color; for people who already own Panasonic cameras and need an additional camera for slow motion shooting, the HC-VX870 may make a good addition, to reduce the amount of post production work with color grading, to match the different looking footage shot from different cameras. Using different cameras with similar sensors greatly reduces the color grading work load.

    Now that Sony is expected to release the FDR-AX53 on March 20, owners of Sony cameras now have a slow motion capable camera to add to their equipment repertoire.

    The information on the different cameras, I obtained from the http://www.bhphotovideo.com online store.

    I hope the above information helps to clarify the question a bit.