Only a few days old, and the NEX-FS100 seems to have prompted as much heated reaction as any camera announcement I can remember. Much of it might be written off as a difference of opinion between the different factions of the video community; ENG Video Pros don't seem to like the compromises (lack of ND, small controls, no HD-SDI) while DSLR shooters aren't so sure they need all the buttons, and don't like the price. And everyone agrees that what they really want is the PMW-F3 for $2,500.
Could Sony finally have made a camera that no one likes?
Let's not be too hasty.
It's second hand reporting, but Ira Block reports that his friend Mark Forman has had a chance to play with the NEX-FS100 and said of it:
He told me the native ISO for the camera is 800 and the night footage that I saw which he shot at 2400 ISO, had very little noise.IraBlockPhotography: The New DSLR Video Killers
The Sony is a true video camera with a monitor and good sound capabilities. It also accepts professional cables. Mark noted the NEX-FS100U has less color aliasing and moiré than the Canons in the video mode. He prefers the Sony’s codec (video compression signal) because it simplifies the video editing workflow as opposed to the codec in the DSLRs which adds an extra step.
Mark has also posted a video clip of footage captured with the NEX FS-100U on Vimeo: Forman Sony NEX FS-100U Prototype Footage Test
Tony Reale at NextWaveDV recounts the history of HDSLRs, the arrival of the Panasonic AG-AF100, and the NEX-FS100, and also resights the slights against the latter (lack of ND filters, HD/SDI and build quality) then posits:
Perfection is obviously too lofty of an expectation, but getting a high value to the amount you’ve invested isn’t. The question becomes, are these cameras worth the premium price over the DSLR you now use?Surveying the landscape, he concludes that people now have more choices, but leaves unanswered whether they are choices that the shooters want. Which large sensor video camera should you choose? AF100 vs. FS100 vs. HDSLR
Blood in the water
Meanwhile, EOS HD takes on the value proposition. Leaving aside the question of whether the NEX-FS100 is hobbled because of the PMW-F3, he wonders what people get for the extra $ an FS100 will set them back compared to a DSLR?
He dismisses image quality, on the theory that most YouTube viewers won't see the diference, and also ignores the full HDMI out, proper audio jacks and monitoring, and other features, concluding that all you're getting are....buttons!
And I guess he's right. If all you think the NEX-FS100 does is add a few buttons, then yes, it's not worth the price. EOS HD: The Sony FS100 - Why professionals are all mad
Meanwhile, Philip Johnston at HD Warrior has also laid into the camera, mostly on the strength of Nigel Cooper's review. Philip, it should be clear, comes from the professional videographer end of the spectrum, and I can understand why he would prefer the Panasonic AG-AF100 or the PMW-F3 over the NEX-FS100. Still, he's pretty rough on it:
Sony do claim to talk to “Professional cameramen” when producing new camcorders but I do not know one such cameraman so I can conclude they are taking advice from the wrong peopleHe slightly amended this comment when he found out that Den Lennie had taken part, but then suggested that by the time he became involved Sony would have already designed the camera, so that any changes Den might have suggested would be marginal.
When I pointed out that Alister Chapman also took part in the focus group, and that the focus group seemed to want something closer to a DSLR than a typical video camera - and Den even said in a webchat that he was happy with what they had done - Philip's response was:
Thats my problem with this whole debate we are compromising to suit the DSLR which is nonsense.
Good luck to any video camera company that hopes to make everyone happy.