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View Full Version : One Week with the FS100...



rgdfilms
06-08-2011, 11:50 PM
So I've had the FS100 for a little over a week now. I've shot a few test videos and put it on a 2-day job this past weekend shooting in a variety of lighting conditions. Shot in some really nice and some really ugly light and really got to dig deep into the camera to get the optimal picture.

My feeling is this... this camera rocks! Sure there are negatives about the system but what camera isn't perfect? You say the EPIC is the perfect camera? Sure it is, but it's price is far from perfect for many... This camera isn't going to have the same amazing DR/resolution that you get out of an Epic or an Alexa but then again, you get what you pay for. Not to write off the FS100's amazing DR but just trying to put it in perspective. All cameras have their merits and downsides. That being said, I'm really impressed with what Sony has done here. Not only is the chip very nice & the package compact but it was also delivered ahead of schedule. Sony exceeded their shipping goals to its consumers and started shipping before we all thought this thing would be available.

The 3 biggest positives of this camera for me are,

S35 SENSOR
CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN at all GAIN settings
SHALLOW FLANGE (many lens mount options)

The 3 biggest negatives of this camera for me are,

TERRIBLE ERGONOMICS
HIGHLIGHTS CLIP QUICKER THAN I WANT THEM TOO
OVERALL CONSTRUCTION

The image quality is very very very similar to the Sony F3. It has that same CLEAN look with great color reproduction. The low-light capabilities of this camera are astonishing. It's crazy that I can literally BLOW my highlights out while pointing the camera down a street at night.

I did handheld work all weekend shooting this music festival. I had no shoulder rig so just relied on what Sony includes in the kit. This camera is NOT designed for any handheld use for extended periods of time. The side grip feels like it is going to break at any moment. It puts all this pressure in your wrist so you have to support the body with your left hand as well. There's no easy way to hold the camera eye level. You end up lowering it to mid-chest so you can take the pressure off your wrist. This causes you to shoot 'UP' into your subject's nose. It's OK for wide shots but can limit you due to fatigue if you want anything else. Plus the LCD design is lame. The camera is not designed to allow you to raise it above your eyeline to get a crucial shot.

In the bright HOUSTON sunlight, I had to whip out the EVF attachment. I like this accessory in theory but functionally it just doesn't work for me AT ALL. On the positive, it produces a really nice sharp image. I like the idea that this camera doesn't need an EVF and an LCD that way the form factor can remain as small as possible. One thing you will notice about the EVF piece is that it feels cheap & easily breakable. Those little metal hooks that you use to attach the thing to the LCD feel like they would snap off eventually. Bumps and bangs happen on productions all the time. This stuff needs to be rock solid otherwise why risk using it and breaking it.. It's not like these pieces are found in every hardware store. Another thing that really bothered me while using it this weekend was the fact that the entire unit will swivel to the left or right. There is a way to add tension to the LCD screen's hinge but there's no way to lock the LCD from spinning left and right. Really annoying when you you have your eye pressed up to the unit and you feel it rotating. I felt myself re-adjusting it countless times. Just overall, pretty piss-poor monitoring design from Sony. I appreciate the effort but clearly these guys don't use their own cameras in the field... That being said, there are solutions out there. They cost money but I think they are needed if you plan to use this camera for live event shooting like weddings or concerts, etc. My recomendation is to pickup a Zacuto EVF or RedrockMicro EVF or whatever else that will make this design more ergonomic because right now, out of the box, it ain't working...

Do I think that the ergonomics are that negative that it makes the camera useless? No way... The image coming out of this thing for $5000 is too good to pass up. Right now, this camera is IT for s35 super-low budget indie work. I'm not going to pickup my 5D markII anytime soon... This camera does things way better than any DSLR and it would be foolish to go back.

Advantages over a DSLR,

XLR Inputs
Proper Audio Monitoring
Built in histogram
Ability to use PL lenses on the cheap
Wayyyy better in low light
Proper video settings
Long record times
Long battery life

The list goes on.... If you're trying to decide between spending your money on a 5D or an FS100, get the FS100 hands down. You will not be disappointed.

One last little thing, I've been experimenting with picture profiles and right now I'm enjoying the look of the following,

BLACK LEVEL +15
GAMMA - CINEMATONE 1
BLACK GAMMA - Range Middle, Level 0
KNEE - Manual, Point 90%, Slope +5
COLORMODE - CINEMATONE 1, Level 3
DETAIL, -5

This seems likes it's giving me the most range so far. I haven't experimented with AUTO KNEE yet.

Oh yea, one more thing, when using this camera pay attention to your HISTOGRAM. It will SAVE YOUR LIFE. Also, I wish there was an AUTO-OFF feature.. It's easy to forget to turn the camera off for some reason...

Enjoy!

diegocervo
06-09-2011, 12:11 AM
thanks for your review, Rick.
Really useful. I'm just concerned on the cheap construction, which is annoying on a camera costing 5K.

rgdfilms
06-09-2011, 12:14 AM
The cheap construction isn't NEARLY as bad as everyone keeps whispering about.. It's on par with an EX1/EX3.... The lens mount is solid, everything else feels solid. I think the reason WHY people keep saying this is because it's so lightweight. Heft and weight sub-consciously translate to WORTH & VALUE. We think that a heavier, beefier camera equates to a better camera whether we want to believe that or not. It doesn't feel cheap like a GH2 but it doesn't feel like a tank like a Red One... Really not as bad as everyone keeps flaming about... What's bad is the terrible ERGONOMICS! If you're on a tripod all day then it's OK but handheld for long periods? Forget it... Rig it up... Buy an EVF... You'll be happier...

ectobuilder
06-09-2011, 01:47 AM
Just overall, pretty piss-poor monitoring design from Sony. I appreciate the effort but clearly these guys don't use their own cameras in the field... That being said, there are solutions out there. They cost money

I feel that this is the business model of the FS100, to add attach. Attach essentially is an added upsell accessory or add-on to make the principle product (aka 'hardware') more complete.

ectobuilder
06-09-2011, 01:48 AM
I'm not too sure if the 'XLR inputs' is going to be an advantage for long as the VG10 successor might get XLR's. Again this is pure speculation.

But for sure the sensor's low light sensitivity makes this camcorder more than worth the money.

Just watch, that 'flimsy handle' will turn into an entire product line or even an entire new industry ('the RedRock Micro of modular side handles').

And if Sony is smart they'll charge a licensing fee.

olindacat
06-09-2011, 02:39 AM
Well, this is the first time I've heard what I really wanted about this camera. Great report Rick. I was freaking out about the build quality and what seemed like jubilation and not exactly hard-core feedback. Thanks for the straight-forward assessment....

cheezweezl
06-09-2011, 03:09 AM
yo rick,

i want to pick your brain regarding the black level at +15. what is that doing to the image? i played with the black level and it seemed to raise the pedestal more or less, but didn't seem to pull anymore range out of the shadows. +15 is pretty extreme. can you describe what the advantage is that i may have missed?

also, i did notice a pretty big difference in shadow detail by turning up the black gamma a bit. what say you on this subject?

overall i am 100% agreeing with you on pros/cons. i am loving the image. i agree that it's too quick to blow highlights. looks like the magic may be to shoot dark, like on the canon's. i just got done ingesting some stuff from earlier today. there was a bit where i exposed for the sky and there were people in the FG. on the LCD, they looked almost sillhouette, which i was cool with. but once i got it ingested, there was way more detail in the lows than i thought there would be. i bet i could lift it a couple of stops, excluding the sky from the lift, and it would look really nice.

and yeah, while the camera itself feels solid enough, the accessories are so cheap. it's only a matter of time before redrock, zacuto, etc. have a beefier side and top handle for this camera. bring it on. i'm buying.

FelixGER
06-09-2011, 04:12 AM
Same question. Why raise the black levels instead of black gamma?

And thanks very much for your report. Thatīs what I wanna read. User experience, not tests from a magazine.

NeedCreative
06-09-2011, 05:52 AM
Very good report and I agree. I am concerned with the quality of plastic on the body though - it's already scratching but aside from my near accident it does feel solid enough. Clearly they went for weight loss.

I used the EVF attachment at length yesterday and I agree wholeheartedly, especially regarding the side to side motion. That really was annoying. And I scratched the EVF up too merely by placing it down on a bench. It's not high quality at all.

I don't mind the handle; it stays locked in solid for me, but why they used plastic for the main part I don't know. And it's not much of an ergonomic "handle".

The position of the LCD I agree with. Once the camera is above eye height or even monitoring it normally from the side the placement of the screen is a bit of a pain.

I also agree about going handheld. It's possible but hard to keep steady due to the way it has to be held. This thing needs a shoulder rig and a Zacuto EVF.

I love the pictures coming out of it. Its very close to the F3 and worlds beyond my 5D2. The functions of the camera are nice too. So camera wise it's fantastic. Ergonomics not so good, at least for handheld.

KyleProhaska
06-09-2011, 07:45 AM
Would it be too much to ask to see a full resolution screenshot of that landscape of LA? Or perhaps where it was dark but the sky was still blue/purple around 2:10sec? Just wondering... :)

Thanks for the report.

Hidef1080
06-09-2011, 08:48 AM
....Heft and weight sub-consciously translate to WORTH & VALUE. We think that a heavier, beefier camera equates to a better camera whether we want to believe that or not....

This is VERY TRUE!!!!

ectobuilder
06-09-2011, 09:46 AM
I think the reason WHY people keep saying this is because it's so lightweight. Heft and weight sub-consciously translate to WORTH & VALUE. We think that a heavier, beefier camera equates to a better camera whether we want to believe that or not.

By the same token, TIME is the true test of one's worth and value whether we choose to believe it or not. We'll see how the FS100's body holds up.

speedracerlo
06-09-2011, 10:43 AM
I dont think people should complain of ergonomics too much
this camera probably wasn't built with the best ergonomics in mind when they were thinking 'modular'
the FS100 is meant to be customized, accessories added to make it fit your need
Sony knew that just like the DSLRs, this camera will be outfitted with many aftermarket accessories to make it a better cam
perhaps build quality could have been better, but I'll have to check it out tomorrow when I get mine

rgdfilms
06-09-2011, 11:23 AM
I did +15 black level because that is giving me the flattest image to work with. If I go down to zero or -15, I notice that the contrast increases. With my 5D, I always lowered the contrast as far as possible so I could add black in post if I wanted to. I went ahead and put my Black Gamma to MID with +7 and am getting even more information out of the shadows now. I still prefer my Manual Knee setting over the Auto setting. To my eye, the Auto setting just posterizes all the highs, giving them a weird light pink tinge, where is the manual setting I'm using has a smoother rolloff to white.

Kholi
06-09-2011, 11:41 AM
Cheez and Rick--

I had a Ninja strapped to the FS100 when I went out and played a while ago, and I think Rick's settings would be great paired with an external recorder. Just pointing that out.

I'm glad you guys are hunting for settings that handle highlights better... I am not sure why but, having said it before, boy do those highlights go FAST. It's going to be a bit difficult to will myself to shoot that underexposed...

olindacat
06-09-2011, 11:42 AM
I dont think people should complain of ergonomics too much
this camera probably wasn't built with the best ergonomics in mind when they were thinking 'modular'
the FS100 is meant to be customized, accessories added to make it fit your need
Sony knew that just like the DSLRs, this camera will be outfitted with many aftermarket accessories to make it a better cam
perhaps build quality could have been better, but I'll have to check it out tomorrow when I get mine

Kind of like a baby Epic.

cheezweezl
06-09-2011, 02:26 PM
Hey Rick.

I gotcha. I was in the same school of thought till I put the camera on a wfm. The rolloff and clipping curve of black doesn't appear to change when raising or lowering the black level. It just raises the floor. I ended up settling on +5 just to male sure I didn't lose any sub black that pops up every now and then. You're still getting all the info. Possibly more since you're not jamming your blacks in with your low mids.

On the other hand, you can see the stretch happen when adjusting black gamma.

I'm with you on a flat image and as much info as possible. And maybe I'm crazy but I don't think raising the black level past 5 does anything to help with this.

FelixGER
06-09-2011, 03:29 PM
Sounds reasonable!

Now we need to find out the best black gamma setting (high, middle, low and level) regarding trade-off of gain <-> noise

Oh, if I had the camera already....

David G. Smith
06-09-2011, 03:37 PM
Cheez and Rick--

I had a Ninja strapped to the FS100 when I went out and played a while ago, and I think Rick's settings would be great paired with an external recorder. Just pointing that out.

I'm glad you guys are hunting for settings that handle highlights better... I am not sure why but, having said it before, boy do those highlights go FAST. It's going to be a bit difficult to will myself to shoot that underexposed...

The more things change the more they stay the same. When I first came up I started by shooting lots and lots of reversal film. Exposing for reversal film is the same. Expose for the highlights and try to save detail in the shadows. As soon as I get my F mount to E mount adaptor, I want to try Rick's settings also.

cheezweezl
06-09-2011, 03:47 PM
The more things change the more they stay the same. When I first came up I started by shooting lots and lots of reversal film. Exposing for reversal film is the same. Expose for the highlights and try to save detail in the shadows. As soon as I get my F mount to E mount adaptor, I want to try Rick's settings also.

i think this is good thinking for this camera. it seems to hold lots of detail in the shadows and doesn't crush it away like the 7D does. and with the noise/grain level being so low, i think saving highlights with the intention of lifting the low end in post is a smart way to shoot with this camera. just beware, that raising the black level means that it will never go below that level. meaning that if i have it set to +15, it clips at around 15IRE no matter how dark my image gets. so if you are exposing for the highlights and you have your blacks set up that high, then you will be compressing all of your mids and shadows into a very small range. eventually, in most cases, you will want to bring that bottom end down so that you end up with true black. when you do, the mids will come down with it. i think the key is finding the best setting that will spread the lows and mids out as much as possible when underexposing to save highlights.

David G. Smith
06-09-2011, 04:06 PM
i think this is good thinking for this camera. it seems to hold lots of detail in the shadows and doesn't crush it away like the 7D does. and with the noise/grain level being so low, i think saving highlights with the intention of lifting the low end in post is a smart way to shoot with this camera. just beware, that raising the black level means that it will never go below that level. meaning that if i have it set to +15, it clips at around 15IRE no matter how dark my image gets. so if you are exposing for the highlights and you have your blacks set up that high, then you will be compressing all of your mids and shadows into a very small range. eventually, in most cases, you will want to bring that bottom end down so that you end up with true black. when you do, the mids will come down with it. i think the key is finding the best setting that will spread the lows and mids out as much as possible when underexposing to save highlights.

Yeah, there is going to be a lot of tweaking to get the look we each find is right for us. Ain't this FUN!!! It is great days!

cheezweezl
06-09-2011, 04:27 PM
It is an exciting time for image aquisition....

Danespina
06-10-2011, 07:38 AM
AF100 or FS100?

Ian-T
06-10-2011, 08:23 AM
AF100 or FS100?GS400 :)

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?251744-AF100-or-FS100