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    Senior Member TheReverend's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Minneapolis MN
    Quote Originally Posted by Mestizo Devon View Post
    Is there an agenda here? Having owned both, I think it is easy to see that the FS100 provides a cleaner picture. Not that the Af100 is garbage, just easy to see in real world usage. It seems like much energy is being placed into placing the af100 above the fs100.

    Just my thoughts!
    This seems like your statement is a generalization, even though your experience isn't wrong. I think the AF100 is more difficult to get low noise out of (specific profiles, etc.), but I agree with Barry and the obvious results he posted here. They ARE comparable. There is 5% or less difference between relative image quality in 100% of circumstances. This definitely seems a case of to each his own. Philip Bloom's comparison hits the same issues on the head as well.

    Personally, I'm glad the AF100 has ND filtering that allows f1.4-2.8 in sunlit conditions without any issues. That is super useful. Than again, I'd love to have an FS100 for those night time shots that look cool to the natural eye, but never seem to translate to video.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nyvz View Post
    Agreed. I have found the same in my experience after using the AF100 for months and then the FS100, any findings saying somehow they perform the "same" seem a bit suspect.
    Casting aspersions is of course not appreciated, but I again refer to the footage. I have put them on the charts, and in the real-life scenarios. With a little grading you can get them nigh unto identical.T

    As for Alan Roberts' paper, who knows what happened with his test, but it has enough factual errors in it that it would make me seriously question its validity or at least its usefulness.
    What factual errors are you referring to?


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    Quote Originally Posted by TheReverend View Post
    I think the AF100 is more difficult to get low noise out of (specific profiles, etc.), but I agree with Barry and the obvious results he posted here. They ARE comparable. There is 5% or less difference between relative image quality in 100% of circumstances. This definitely seems a case of to each his own. Philip Bloom's comparison hits the same issues on the head as well.
    For point of clarification -- if someone just grabbed both cameras and pointed them randomly at some scene, they may not get the results I got. I know the AF100 intimately and know how to configure it to extract the performance that it's capable of. I have spent quite a while with the FS100 trying to get competent with it before delving into showing side-by-sides.

    I can make either of these cameras look pretty bad. But that is not my intention. My intention is to show what they are capable of, when massaged to perform their best. That's why in the "cinematic" scene, I had an FS100 owner and cinematographer and DIT determine what the image settings should be, to optimize the FS100's look. I then attempted to match it with the AF100. Whether a 100% perfect match or not, I think they're pretty darn close.


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    Senior Member Chris Messineo's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    New Jersey
    Great article.

    Two wonderful cameras. Filmmakers are lucky to have so many great choices these days.

    I'm very happy with my AF100, but I think I would probably have loved the FS100 too.


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    Senior Member Isaac_Brody's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    Nice write up Barry. Should be pretty useful for those looking to compare. I don't think of the omissions with each camera as bad things, it is obvious that both companies geared their cameras at different user brackets.


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    Senior Member nyvz's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    New York, NY
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Green View Post
    What factual errors are you referring to?
    Various issues have been debated pretty extensively in the past, but the clearest seems to be that he took only the base sensitivity specification of iso800 of the F3 and used that to conclude that the photosites were 5um based on similar 0db sensitivity of 2/3" HD cameras and decided that therefore the sensor was 12MP.


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    Posts 45,636

    Right, but my question is -- why is that a factual error? It may very well be true. There are several things about the F3 and FS100 that point to the notion that it simply can't be a 3.4 megapixel sensor. Alan observed the performance, observed the ratio of green to blue to red, and declared that it had to have a lot more pixels to produce the kind of results he was seeing. Which was further extrapolated upon by his noise comparison.

    Which brings us back to "effective" pixels. Note they don't say "actual" or "active", they say "effective". I would not be surprised in the least to find out that the F3 and FS100 do indeed use a 13-megapixel sensor, and that the marketing department is calling each group of r/g/b/g pixels an "effective" pixel in order to make it sound more impressive than it actually is.

    I mean, in simple math, it just doesn't add up. If it's a Bayer pattern, and there are truly only 3.4 huge megapixels on the chip, then that leaves a maximum red/blue resolution of 25% of 3.4, or 0.85 megapixels. According to Sony's published specs, the chip is supposed to be 2464 x 1394, which means the red and blue resolution would be (in a Bayer pattern) 1232 x 697. That would be adequate for 4:2:0, but would make it impossible to get 4:2:2. Yet the camera clearly resolves more color than 4:2:0. And if the red and green are 1232x697, then it makes the idea of 4:4:4 RGB output just silly.

    If it's an RGB Stripe sensor, it's worse... that would mean that each channel (r, g, b) would be 821 x 1394. Barely enough horizontal res for standard-def. Clearly such an arrangement would make no sense.

    Whereas, if we took Alan Roberts figures, and infer that Sony's counting "r/g/b/g blocks" as "effective pixels", then that means that in terms of individual photosites, there's actually 3.4 x 4, or ... wait for it ... 13.6 megapixels on the chip. And Alan had come to an esimation that the chip had 12.9 megapixels. And with 13.6 megapixels on the chip, that provides enough individual r/g/b resolution for full 1080p resolution at 4:4:4, something that the F3 and FS100 both claim to offer (or, well, the F3 can be upgraded to it, of course).

    It all adds up.

    Furthermore, it explains why the FS100 and AF100 have such similar imaging capability -- the AF100 is using a 12.4-megapixel chip (or, if we wanted to refer to it in Sony-speak, we could call it 3.1m "effective" pixels). If the AF100 is using 12.4 and the FS100 is using 12.9, then the observed results about sharpness, sensitivity, and noise performance all make perfect sense.

    What I would love to do is find a way to verify that, once and for all.


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    Actually, this is interesting, Juan Martinez of Sony seems to be supplying confirming information. In a video presentation for the FS100, he says:
    We're grossly oversampling for HD, and we're not allowed to say the specification of the sensor, but I can say that we are grossly over-sampling high definition
    He says he's "not allowed" to quote what the real sampling is, but "grossly oversampling" doesn't sound like a 3-megapixel chip for a 2.2-megapixel frame. Rather it sounds like a 12.9-megapixel frame. Which, again, backs up everything else that's been said.


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    Section Moderator Rick Burnett's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Raleigh, NC
    I have spent a great deal of time with both cameras as well and have done plenty of my own tests. There are aspects of both cameras which I like VERY much, and things that I detest.

    Pertaining to features, there are some omissions and mistakes above:

    1) The FS100 has an internal speaker. You know this when you turn it on or hit record and hear the chimes. Also, if you play back material with audio, it will play out. Most of the time I don't have a mic hooked up to the FS100 so it was a surprise to find that.

    2) The battery life per battery weight on the FS100 is FAR superior to the AF100. This is a huge plus. It's an extremely efficient camera.

    3) The flash module that attaches to the FS100 is not just a usb device. It's specific to Sony. What is nice about it is that you can simultaneously record to both it AND and SDHC card. You cannot do simultaneous recording with the AF100 in the same way.

    4) The screen on the FS100 can articulate in 2 directions; just 2 different directions then the AF100. While I agree that vertically the AF100 gives you more freedom of position, horizontally you can view the LCD from 2 different sides of the FS100. This has been really helpful when running around on a Blackbird stabilizer. Both cameras lack a moveable EVF solution (as in position).

    5) The focus assist color can be changed on the FS100.

    Pertaining to errors in Robert's reports, I can say that his testing of the AF100 rolling shutter was incorrect. The rolling shutter was much faster then he reported and I even reverse engineered his provided pictures and came up with more appropriate numbers. I tried to contact him to discuss those results, but I never got a response. I've spent a lot of time testing rolling shutters on my cameras and comparing the results with other professionals who've reported their results and feel very confident with the methodologies I use. For the rest of his report on the AF100 and/or if he did one on the FS100 (I've not seen it) I did not evaluate.

    Pertaining to the noise on either camera, my findings were not the same as Barry's. I spent a great deal of time shooting with the AF100 on a few professional shoots and I spent a lot of time tweaking the AF100 to get the most out of it. I have also done the same thing with the FS100.

    My views come from not just what I got in camera, but pushing around the footage in post. The biggest difference to me on the AF100 is I had to make a choice, sharpness or noise. I don't like the sharpening algorithm in the AF100 and had reduced it to -5 detail/vdetail. At or around 0 gave a noise signature in the greys that was blocky and typically had a magenta feeling to it like mentioned earlier. Also, when pushing footage further by raising up the bottom end, that noise would also come out. By reducing the detail to -5, and the effects of the 8-bit compression, that noise would go away and I was VERY happy with the footage.

    With the FS100, I don't have that problem. I think the noise signature is cleaner (and denser) in the image I see and I don't have to reduce the detail at all. This is why I find the FS100 sharper because I can have both worlds (to an extent) and not have to pick one or the other. I spent a lot of time pointing both cameras at a low light scene and tweaked the settings back and forth to see this.

    Why this matters to me is I am not perfect. I have accidentally underexposed scenes on the AF100 because I was in a hurry and out of time shooting it and I wasn't as happy with the results. Trying to push the scenes just a little bit and I saw a lot of noise come in. I've recreated those conditions in general with the FS100 and have more freedom to push the footage. In addition, given how fine the noise detail I see is on the gain settings I use, I find that cleaning up that noise with a plugin has VERY good results, and not something I saw with the more blotchy noise I was getting with the AF100.

    All that said, I have terrific footage off of the AF100 when I nailed the exposure, I was extremely happy with the footage. I say this because all this talk about the noise is in specific cases to me. Only a few shots did I have this issue and moving forward, I would have known to be more careful in those conditions. I also cannot say one camera is overall better than the other because, as many of the points Barry has pointed out, there are good and bad on both. This is a pretty good summary of the cameras (other than of course my different feelings! Haha).

    What I hate the most is there is no aperture control for EOS lenses yet from ANYONE (and I mean the aperture in the lens, not one in the adapter).
    formerly know as grimepoch.


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    Senior Member
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    Apr 2006
    Thanks for doing this, Barry!

    Both look great. My 2c - in the cinematic example, whichever camera came first seems significantly higher resolution and also aliases a lot less vertically.

    The second camera has three problems:
    - at the end of the move, there seems to be some aliasing in her hair details at the top right (almost as if it is being deinterlaced or something?
    - some video oversharpening thing happening with the metal highlights on the girl's bracelets, rings, etc.
    - much less detail in the face

    The first camera does have something slightly funky going on as well though with subtle detail. But good enough!

    BTW - I don't have a favorite. I am not buying either camera out of protest for both of them totally lacking genlock / 3D sync! How can two manufacturers make 2 cameras that would be perfect size/weight/performance-wise for 3D mirror rigs... then not bother to give any sync options? Ironically, F3 has the genlock & 3D sync options... but then you're saddled with a bulky camera when you could have been using the same sensor in the FS100! It's a joke. Don't they want to sell 2 cameras instead of 1? Don't Sony and Panasonic both want the 3D ecosystem to succeed with good content?

    Bruce Allen


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