Sony FS100 Reviews

Sony FS100 Reviews

Sony FS100 Reviews 619 316 Maye

Having heard about the Sony NEX-FS100 back in March, we have been particularly eager to get our hands on the camera. The camcorder you are looking at is not your average device. In it, you’ll find what sounds like a liturgy from filmmakers for inspiration With its large 35mm CMOS sensor, interchangeable lenses, XLR inputs, and professional controls, the Exmor CMOS sensor is one of the best available. A $6,600 price tag, yes, but it also harbingers a trend that may benefit pros and ordinary gadget users alike. It heralds the arrival of big, bold optics common to DSLRs The NEX-FS100’s footage is characterized by white balance and dynamic range. How does this affect quality? Check out the contents of the break after you settle down.

The sensor

As an intro to a review of the NEX-FS100, there is only one way to introduce it “Super 35mm,” which is written across all of the camera’s packaging, the device and Sony’s promotional materials. Sony’s marketing people were quick to seize on its Super 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor, which contributes to the camera’s uniqueness. Because of it, we will focus on this one spec rather than on more niche features like slow-motion, GPS, and It is obvious that we wouldn’t even bother reviewing this camera if it weren’t for the sensor.

In contrast to full-frame and APS-C DSLRs, the NEX-FS100’s sensor size is woefully small, even when viewed alongside those hefty celluloid cameras that set a global benchmark for cinematic beauty in our era of film. Since digital cameras only have small sensors, filmmakers have cried for bigger sensors, mainly since shallow depth of field and aesthetically pleasing footage can be shot with bigger sensors. On the other hand, a small sensor tends to bring more into focus and therefore produces a flat image — in other words, traditional Big sensors can also be used to improve low-light performance via their increased sensitivity without introducing noise, because their pixels can be spread over a larger area.

I was wondering how big the Super 35mm sensor on the NEX-FS100 is. I can tell you that if you thought the label ’35mm’ referenced a full-frame sensor like you find in a high-end DSLR like the Canon 5d, you’re going to feel seriously disappointed. In addition, if you thought the “Super” term meant something even bigger than a full-frame, you’ll be even more If we want to stick with SLR lingo for a minute, the NEX-FS100 is more accurately described as “almost APS-C.” This is because its 23.6mm by 13.3mm sensor is actually smaller than most consumer DSLRs currently available. In addition, the NEX-VG10 (and the forthcoming VG-20) are more capable, a product launched a year ago by Sony which sparked Sony’s moving sensor revolution and costs a fraction of the FS100’s price.


Are you ready to dismiss the NEX-FS100 as a falsely described good? Time to grab your tripod for a walk around the neighborhood? Let me just ask you to hold your horses a moment. In the first place, the Super 35mm moniker isn’t a Despite the fact that it comes from the world of celluloid filmmaking, the format represents a real one. Film runs vertically past the image frame of a movie camera rather than horizontally as it does with a celluloid still By this method, the 24mm height of a stills frame becomes the width of a movie frame, so the movie frame has a fraction of the frame area of stills. As the name implies, the so-called “Super” format refers to a modification of 35mm which slightly enlarges the frame by encroaching on the portion of the film strip that was originally reserved for the Sony’s marketing team, in my opinion, has been dishonest in its (over-)use of the Super 35mm label when many of their target audience will not be familiar with the Sony is, however, telling the truth about its sensor in the end.

In reality, the following is true In contrast to its smaller competitors, the Sony NEX-FS100 boasts a sensor that is much larger than its competitors underneath Other than the NEX-VG10, which is not a professional camera, the closest competitor to the FS100 is Panasonic’s AG-AF100, which has a Micro Four Thirds sensor that covers 65 percent of the area of a Super 35mm sensor. At the same time, the Canon XF305 has a 13.5-inch sensor that covers only 5% of Super 35. Comparatively, the smallest sensor on most consumer camcorders is a quarter-inch, which would cover just two percent of a

E-Mount Lens and optical controls

A Sony NEX-FS100 without a lens costs approximately $5,900, while a lens that features optical stabilization and 18-200mm focal length is around As part of the review sample, this kit lens was included. There were no problems with the lens at the majority of focal lengths, and the auto focus was quiet and quick, and it was light and easy to use. However, it was a slow lens with a relatively small maximum aperture, so some of the positive effects of the large sensor were inevitably cancelled out. Our test shoots revealed that, while it appeared to be poorly built, and had moving sections susceptible to dirt accumulation, it also appeared slightly loosely fitted together, though it did not prove to be a hindrance. It does just about what it’s supposed to do in the real world with its kit lens.

As we mentioned above, this brings us nicely to the E-mount system, which in any case allows users to avoid dependency on kit lenses, and which is an increasingly sensible choice as a lens mounting

Furthermore, you can also add A-series and Minolta lenses with the LA-EA1 adapter, which retains AE and slow AF. As a result, you’re able to stay with autofocus and aperture settings. This should be further improved by the imminent LA-EA2 adapter. It comes with a translucent mirror. So you have all the options and flexibility you’re likely to need with the E-mount system.

Although the NEX-FS100 can’t zoom, there is one thing it does not offer. The following facility won’t be available for any of your shots going forward, so you’ll likely have to adjust your shooting style accordingly. The daylight-simulated sample footage below shows a number of messy crash zooms, arising from the fact that we’re used to zooming in or out quickly. However, using the manual zoom ring does not allow this to be done in an elegant way. The hand you use to turn the ring is the same hand that stabilizes the front of the camera when you are doing a long, smooth zoom. If you’re on a tripod, you’ll have the best chance of achieving smooth, long zooms.

A second important omission is neutral density filters built into the system. In our daylight shoot, these mods would have been very useful because they would have let us open up the aperture more and control depth of field more precisely. To make up for this, Sony decided to stop the kit all the way down to F40 — meaning you can get properly exposed footage in bright sunlight, but not It then becomes obvious that the only way to fully utilize the large sensor will be to bring your own ND filters, matte box, and possibly a rail system to support the sensor and hardware. There will be those who are perfectly content with such accouterments, but there will also be those, especially from the worlds of news and documentaries, who will find it burdensome.

Body, layout and build quality

Our first-ever professional camcorder has a smart modular design that makes it by far the most portable and flexible one we’ve tried so far. Detach the lens, grip and viewfinder from the body and it weighs just 1.04kg (two pounds four ounces) and folds up into a compact size that fits easily into a DSLR bag with plenty of room left in the side pockets and sections to store Compared with interchangable lens camcorders, such as Sony’s popular Z series, it is extremely hard to assemble a camera bag that fits in any bag other than a large, dedicated and obvious one. There is one segment of the market where this will be extremely important Using the least amount of fuel possible is essential for lone shooters. There are also a lot of tripod attachments around the camera as a result of its modular design. The hand-grip screws into a mount on the side, which can also be used for shooting in portrait mode on a tripod — not a feature that will come in handy very often, but flexibility like that is great to have.

A case will be made that a DSLR is more portable than a phone. It’s better to address this issue right now because the NEX-FS100 is a lot more than just a camera with a good lens. Its body and layout make it a much more serious professional contender than most DSLRs. Using a good DSLR like the Nikon D5100 or the Canon 7D is a viable option more and more often. In reality, though, you really only need a video camera that can constantly record all day without getting hot while on, and despite its stated maximum recording time of 510 minutes, the NEX-FS100 easily stands up to that requirement. Additionally, it can be upgraded to a 128GB Flash Memory Unit for around $1000 and stores up to Our test shoots were recorded using a fully digital FMU, but we also had access to high quality 16GB SDHC cards that were good enough to store a full hour of footage without any issues.

You cannot take good video without being able to see what you’re shooting, and the NEX-FS100 covers this need nicely with its 3.5-inch LCD screen and optional viewfinder attachment for shooting outdoors that is superior to any DSLR monitor. A few niggles exist in this area, including the LCD’s tendency to pick up finger smudges, which are very difficult to remove, and the fact that it does not flip out to the side, so you cannot tilt it downward when shooting at eye level. Even though the camcorder has an HDMI output, it would be even better if a good field monitor were included, since this

There are two XLR inputs on the NEX-FS100, which make it ideal for using boom mics and radio microphones of broadcast quality. 

Especially important are its dedicated hardware buttons for all the controls you need when shooting video, such as quick-auto buttons for exposure and focus (while still shooting in manual mode), expanded focus, auto and manual lock, white balance settings, gain, audio levels and channel selection. There are only a few settings you should configure in the menu system that are rarely used so you can get to them in time for reactive shooting. DSLRs hide the majority of their video settings in their menus where you can’t get to them in time for reactive shooting. the NEX-FS100 has all the right controls in roughly the right places, but they are disappointingly small and hard to use. When shooting handheld, auto focus and expanded focus buttons are virtually impossible to hit accurately, which is why you will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to shoot news stories or fly-on-the-wall stuff that would require quick responses.

Furthermore, the quality of the build is a big issue. Procamcorders like Sony’s Z1 and Z8 in the past were heavy and powerful. They could handle being bashed about in kit bags and aeroplanes on foreign soil and even 4x4s in foreign countries. The boom attachment was one of their more vulnerable parts, but it not uncommon to find a four-year-old Z1 in a news room locker that was covered in scratches, cracks, gaffer tape, and blood stains, and yet it still worked just fine. Our first impression of the NEX-FS100 was that we would not have the same confidence in it that we have in the Sony. Modular design may have contributed to the problem — the grip attachment, for instance, feels weak even when screwed tightly in place. Besides the microphone holder, there are no handles on the top of the camera. The adapter that screws into it is obviously weak. Additionally, the camera isn’t dust-proof or moisture-proof, so you’ll have to take extra care when using

Video Quality

We used to attach a Sony Z1E to a plank of wood near a Nikon F3 stills camera many years ago. It was for this project that we wanted to film a view of the world as seen by a As opposed to the hideous flatness of normal video, we saw digital video with a shallow depth of field for the first time, and it blew us away. Once again, we found ourselves with a buzz with the NEX-FS100, but this time without

As our first job with the camera, we helped on a three-camera shoot featuring some amazing kids with We were able to find shady corners where we could stop down to F6.3 to F11 despite the bright day and the lack of ND filters, and as you can see from our sample clip, this was enough to provide a sense of depth in certain Despite the quick edit, there is a shot of a proud father taking pictures — both foreground and background are blurred just enough to make the viewer notice the father. In the same way, the kids make up their messages for bottles in the same way As a result, you will be able to notice and connect with each kid individually in a way that flat video would never be able to accomplish.

Trying to test the performance of the camera at low light was the next step, and this was the first time things went Because after the daytime shoot we were under the impression that the NEX-FS100 could perform miracles, we totally misunderstood what the camera was capable of. Despite the poor lighting, we established ourselves in a poorly-lit music studio in London’s East End to capture shots of a friend’s band in rehearsal. Although the studio wasn’t dark as such, all the lights were positioned in completely the wrong areas and pointing in a totally unnatural direction, and we did not have the time or permission to bring our own lighting or move anything.

In our test, we captured a few shots at low gain and were extremely disappointed with the output — this camera appears to have the same output as As it turned out, we weren’t thinking straight since the point of a large sensor is not that it enhances light sensitivity at zero gain, but that it allows you to pump up gain without adding too much noise. By recognizing this, we boosted gain to 12 dB. Even this much gain is taboo on the UK broadcast scene and may require footage not be fit for broadcast if it is anything other than news. A news programme may accept 12db footage only if the cameraman obviously had no other choice, such as a nighttime accident scene. As a result of habit, 12db felt “bad” to us, liked a compromise too far, and the image was still too dark and muddy for us to consider it

We were able to shoot at 18db and more off the camera when we turned on the automatic gain capability. Nevertheless, the musicians’ image had become properly exposed, though the lighting was still terrible and it still did not appear attractive. It was clear that there wasn’t much noise visible on the LCD screen, but all our instincts told us that when we got back home and viewed it on a larger monitor, this 18db footage would appear speckled worse than a speckled hen. At that level of gain, we tried our best to hunt out decent shots. This turned out to be a lost cause, so we switched back to 12db. In the end, we decided to have a beer instead of giving up (for good). There was a terrible error If we had permitted the camera to shoot with whatever gain it wanted, and then re-worked the studio lighting to make it more flattering, the result would have been better. By doing this, we would have discovered the images we created on the LCD were as noise-free as they seemed. We expected to see lots of speckly noise in the shadows, but there was nothing but, It’s pitch black.

When back at home, we realized our mistake and quickly arranged a second shooting session with the Smithfield meat market in low light. Having let the camera run as it wishes, we were stunned by how the image turned out. Even with the inconsistent lighting and the late hour, the shots looked clean and engaging despite the low lighting and the low hour.

A few shots were taken on the Panasonic HCR-SD90 that belongs to the consumer market, simply for comparison’s sake. This wasn’t been meant to be a comparison of a $6,000 camera with a $600 camera, as that would be wild. In any case, we felt it necessary to remind you how noise appear on a quarter-inch sensor image with a high gain. Above is a picture of the market clock directly below taken with the NEX-FS100 shooting at 18dB, and below it is a picture taken with the SD90 as well, also It is evident that despite the shrunk and re-compressed image for this page, the purplish noise contamination on the bottom image is as obvious as the quality of the NEX-FS100 image as a whole. It’s true that you can see some noise on the NEX-FS100 shot of the two market traders a bit further down the page, but the noise has a film-like quality to it, without having too (It is possible that auto gain jumped to 24db for this particular screenshot without us noticing it – it did rise into the mid-20s numerous times during the market shoot but at no point did we hear it.)

Is there a lesson to be learned from this It does shoot great video at high gain levels (up to 18dB), but all that will do you no good if the lighting in the scene is truly bad. When using this camcorder in low light, you can pretty much be sure that your own mistakes will be at


While the NEX-FS100 does not make a great all-around camcorder, it is a decent little camera. This camera is particularly limited thanks to its lack of auto zoom, minuscule buttons, and fragile construction. These characteristics will limit the range of filming situations where this camera will be suitable. The individuals who make the leap of faith will be forced to adjust their style in one way or another in the meantime. You must take photographs in a traditional manner if you want to make good use of a camera like this An angler mounted a tripod with a matte box in a fairly gentle environment, and spent time before pressing the record button focusing on lighting and framing each shot properly. This is (Read) This gadget seems to be too good to be true – but it’s not. Shooting reactively for news or documentaries is not impossible, but it’s challenging. Some gadgets are worth making sacrifices for, however. By combining the raw, cinematic quality enabled by a large sensor with a smart lens platform, as well as all of the essential video and audio controls and input/output options required for any professional shooter, the X60 delivers the ultimate machine. The experience of dragging a DSLR or VG10 through isn’t even close to what this is. To say that Sony’s NEX-FS100 is more than just a camcorder isn’t going too far. In our view, it represents an optimistic step forward along an increasingly important path that we hope all manufacturers will eventually be forced to follow. Digital video formats and cameras have ignored the fact that there is no natural way to look at things Images that are sharper, clearer, smoother, and more consistent as a result of higher resolutions, higher bit rates, and higher bit rates. Meanwhile, manufacturers have cut back on the key optical ingredients that give filmmakers the freedom to make the world appear better than it actually is. Nowadays, most hands-free, professional and consumer camcorders have sensors that are no larger than those used even five years ago. They cover an area of about a sixth or a third of an inch, or less. Despite the fact that the Super 35mm EXMOR sensor is not nearly as big as it sounds, Sony could have been more generous. It’s not a complaint though since S35 is pretty big and makes stuff look fantastic.