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post #211 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Sweet shots Shawn. smile.gif

The reason I'm really convinced it's in the processing is that I've seen that same 'look' from many different Sonys regardless of lens. I think it's an image type they go after depending on the camera line. Despite having very different sensors, in good light the A65 & A57 produced very similair videos. They obviously have very similair processing.

There's also obviously something different going on in video mode when you use the Alphas as opposed to the NEX (VG20 or NEX7). When you hit the video button on the Alphas the image enlarges and is cropped relative to the still frame image, which I assume is due to the cropping of the sensor in video mode. This doesn't happen in the NEX as the still image area is exactly the same as the video image area. So obviously two different image processing schemes are needed just to deal with these two approaches. I'm not saying one method is flawed, just different requiring different processing.

It reminds me of some TV manufacturer's approach with some TVs. Often a somewhat hyped picture with too much edge enhancement and a too blue picture is what draws customers in the showroom. They're not accurate, but manufacturer's know that consumers are drawn to them and it sells. Others wll not appreciate the look and immediately get them ISF'd. Still others will hate the ISF calibrated look, saying it looks too drab. It's a very rough analogy, but it does come to mind.

The Alphas produce a very contrasty image and are very punchy, but to me the NEX looks more like what my eyes see. I shot my wife late yesterday in our backyard (that didn't come out right! smile.gif). The A57 produced a very punchy, contrasty image. Shadows on her face were quite dark, but dramatic. The VG20 shadows were lighter and less dramatic, but more detail was visible in those shadows. The VG looked more like my eyes saw it. With that said, it's quite possible more people might pick the A57 video as the clip they'd prefer. It wouldn't surprise me in the least. As with TVs, better accuracy doesn't always sell. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the 57 was inaccurate, I'm just saying to my eyes the VG was more natural.

Remember, in theory these cameras have different missions. The Alphas are still cameras first and videocameras second. That's not to say they can't produce excellent video, they do. But the VG is designed as a videocamera first and still cam 2nd. BTW, the VG20 does produce some gorgeous stills, just not with 28mp resolution, but enough for me. It also can't fire off 10 fps or more like the Alphas. But for me, more importantly, the VG does have that gorgeous Sony color in still mode.

A last word on my argument about a 'look. I can throw the $298 18-55 E lens on the VG20 and get precisely the same look as I get from the $899 E 18-200 lens. Truth be told Shawn, it's a tad sharper than the 18-200 at the same focal length! So here we have a lens that's 1/3 the cost, yet produces exactly the same imagery.

You should try one just to see what I mean. To my eyes it's just a little more natural, unprocessed look. And yes, I think you'd appreciate the ergonomics for longer shooting sessions. You also have unlimited clip times if that's important, so no worry about a 29 minute cut-off. That may or may not be important to you.

Great tools, all of them. We're lucky to have them. wink.gif
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post #212 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, if you could, I have a favor to ask. Can you try shooting with your 57 at both the +3 and -3 settings and tell me what if any difference you see? I just got back from my buddy and after playing around, we did get some nice results. But both of us are still not sure and we both agree there is a different 'look' to these cams.

I have the contrast down to -2 on the 57 to try to offset some of the high contrast inherent in the Alphas. But I just don't seem to see any effect at all when I adjust sharpness. It seems to me that the setting should be holding in the video mode, but for whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be. I'm using the "P" and the 'standard' mode. Using those same modes on the NEX7 shows a definite difference (not huge, but visible) when adjusting picture sharpness. I'm not sure if my sample is somehow defective, but I doubt it. It seems hard to believe a defect would manifest itself only in the sharpness settings. Both color intensity and contrast work fine.

Also, how much quieter are some of the better lenses for the Alphas when using AF?

Thanks!
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post #213 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, after tons of tests on my own and with a friend (I'm exhausted), I've decided to keep both the NEX7 & the VG20 and return the A57. We finally saw what it was that was bothering us. There seems to be a degree of luminance noise in the A57 & A65. It's noticeable to me in areas of fine detail and can be seen as a kind of 'shimmering' as the camera moves. When I focused on a wire fence with the 3 cameras at the same focal distance, I was able to make out the structure of the fence on both the NEX7 & VG20. But the A57 only hinted at that detail and part of the reason was that there was that luminance noise that I believe partially obscured it. I truly don't think it had anything to do with the lens or the quality of the glass, it was just the noise which is part of the electronics and not the optics. It's like any ISF calibrator will tell you, if you turn up your sharpness too high, you'll reduce detail not increase it. But it does give 'apparent' sharpness which is different than true detail.

Looking at vertical posts that made up that fence (as well as tree limbs against a blue sky), I can see a kind of subtle white ghosting. This is not an unknown issue to me as I've seen it in video for many years on both displays and video cameras and it usually relates to some kind of sharpening being applied or edge enhancement. I can also see it to a degree on my Canon XA10.

Again, to be fair, the picture is great and many people would never notice it. I had to have my wife go up to the TV screen so that she could clearly see what I was talking about. On the NEX cams there was only the tree limbs and fence posts and no artifacts at all on either side. But as I've said before, the Alpha picture is 'poppier' and I'd bet that many would prefer it. It just depends on the kind of image your after.

At any rate I'm comfortable with my decision now and I continue to be amazed at the quality of equipment out there at reasonable prices. smile.gif
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post #214 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 02:50 PM
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I think that was a foregone conclusion for you Ken to keep the E-mount bodies. I prefer the IS of the Alpha line and the much larger Alpha glass selection, but you can't go wrong either way. I know you like the "live look" too which I think the VG20 is better at; I prefer shallower DOF. All cameras are great.

I hear the stills are pretty darn good on the VG20 as well, if somewhat awkward taking stills with a camcorder body.
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post #215 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, the VG20 isn't the most elegant way to take stills, but they do come out beautifully. Truth be told, if I know that's the thrust of the day's shooting (stills), I'd go with the NEX7 since it too takes fabulous videos should I need that. I ranked its video very close to that of the VG20. You can clearly see the 'family signature' between the NEX7 & VG20.

It really wasn't a foregone conclusion Shawn. At one point I was actually leaning a bit toward the A57. But in the end, I was really after the most natural looking video, and that's how the VG20 hit me and my friend. It produces the most natural looking video I've seen in a video camera...and I've had some of those large prosumer cams from Sony. In the end it was a few artifacts that bothered me with the Alpha line and it wasn't until today that I realized what it was. But I do think the A57 is excellent at that 'live look' too and I think it absolutely has a 'poppier' picture than the VG20. But I was really trying to match what my eyes saw with what the video was depicting. I can't tell you how many times I ran in & out of the house with these cams....and then back out to check the actual scene with my eyes vs what I was seeing on my ISF'd display. My wife was hysterical. She feels I'm in my glory when I do this kind of stuff. Honestly though, it gets a bit old after awhile.smile.gif

As for lenses, I'm really happy with the high quality of the 18-55 & 18-200. I just need a good low light lens. I'd be tempted to get the less expensive 50mm, 1.8 lens @$299, but I think the 50mm (70mm equivalent) is just a bit too long for indoor use. I don't feel like spending $1,000 for the Zeiss 1.8 despite its great reputation. I know Sony is supposed to come out with a bunch of E-mount lenses later this year, so I can wait. In the interim it's truly amazing how good the low light of the VG20 is with the 18-200mm lens or the 18-55. The picture is just so damn clean and free from noise.

Thanks for your help Shawn.
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post #216 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 03:48 PM
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Don't know if you've returned the A57 yet - but do me a favor - set the creative profile to "portrait" and let me know what you think. Then, set it to "sunset" (you will need to manually set the white balance after this last one) and try that. Just curious to hear what you think.
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post #217 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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You're absolutely right Shawn. I discovered that early this afternoon and it did keep me going for awhile after. The Portrait mode absolutely did tone down the more 'in your face' Standard setting. Contrast was brought down to a more manageable level for me. That's the setting I found best and it did up my hopes. But I was still seeing that luminance noise in fine detail and I still couldn't get the picture as clean as the NEX7 or VG20. There's a 'tightness' about the NEX picture that's tough to beat.

Thanks for the tip though and I was at least glad to find that setting today! It would have been the one I used if I had decided to keep the camera.
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post #218 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 06:07 PM
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Hey Ken can you post the "luminance noise" that you referring to? Just a short clip showing me the difference, or two clips. Curious what you're referring to.
Thanks,
Shawn
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post #219 of 226 Old 06-24-2012, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, I think I've cleared my SD card, but I might still have a couple on another chip. Basically, for lack of a better description, it's a twinkling within the fine detail. On one clip there's a shot of a bush and as the camera moves slightly the bush twinkles in spots. The same shot on the VG just shows a solid bush with no noise.

I'll see if I still have a few clips and if so, I'll post them tomorrow.
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post #220 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, here ya go. The clips I was able to locate was a comparison between the NEX7 & the A57. I actually tested all 3 cameras for awhile. I have another one with the VG20 & the A57, but the results are very similar. I think this shows better on a large screen HDTV, but I can still see the difference on my computer monitor.

In addition to greater detail on the NEX/VG20, look for the shimmering or crawling noise I spoke of in grass and the bushes on the side and in front of the camera on the A57. The picture on the NEX/VG20 is tighter with less noise and more detail. Disregard the under-saturated color on the NEX7, the WB was not set properly, but this had no impact on the results which were consistent regardless of WB settings. These differences were exactly the same with the A65 & the NEX cams.

I can dig up the VG20 clip, but this shows the same issue. BTW, you'll also notice a couple of focus misses on the A57. Ironically this was my real rationale for looking at these cams, improved autofocus.

A57- https://vimeo.com/44656466

NEX7- https://vimeo.com/44656353
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post #221 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 05:35 PM
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Yep Ken, I do see the shimmering that you mentioned. I would say with almost 100% certainty it was the glass you were using. At F/3.5 that wasn't exactly sharp, and definitely not as sharp as my Sony 16-50mm F/2.8 @ F/3.5. I also noticed more moire on the blue minivan with the NEX7. This is a tough comparison as the sun was out and shining much brighter for the A57 test - did you notice that? Did you see how much more detail you see in the trees as the A57 shot is much brighter?

See attachments. Otherwise I think they look about the same.
I am biased to the A57 though. There's not very much difference in either of these shots and the overheating with the NEX, the cost, and the OIS of the A57 would certainly swing me that way if I hadn't already.

Just my honest opinion. The NEX-7 is much more "fun" to shoot with though. I kept hitting the video button which drove me crazy! What a silly spot for it to be in.

Thanks for posting the vids!
Shawn

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post #222 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, actually I had many A/B tests where the sky was clear before we had some partly cloudy conditions. The results were consistent throughout with greater detail and less noise on the NEX7 & VG20. I actually still have two clips under exactly the same sunny conditions, but trust me, they're exactly the same in terms of showing the same differences in noise levels. I'd bet the bank the shimmering and luminance noise was not due to the lens. In fact I'd virtually guarantee it. Yes, I do agree the sharpness could well have been a function of the lens, but the shimmering artifacts are not lens-produced, they're almost certainly electronics. I've been doing video for many years and it's certainly not the first time I've seen that type of noise. I've seen exactly that same issue with much higher quality lenses in other camcorders. It's just a function of whatever processing is being used, not the lens. I've never seen that type of noise disappear with a different lens.

Just as the videos had the same low noise imagery whether it was the inexpensive $299 kit lens on the NEX7 or the more expensive $899 NEX lens on the VG20, I'd bet the bank the same noise issue would pop up with better glass on the A57. I'm convinced they simply use different processing schemes in these cameras despite the similar chip of the VG20 & A57. The biggest difference between the picture on the NEX7 & VG20 is the better low light of the VG20 as a result of the lower pixel count chip. It's a very different image on the Alpha cameras from what I've seen. The Alpha series picture is poppier with more contrast and deeper colors out of the box, but more luminance noise. As I said, I think many/most people would not be bothered by the noise and might not even notice it. I do and it bothers me.

I looked carefully at the moire issue too on both the Alphas and the NEX series and have seen very little difference. They're both prone to it in certain situations, but honestly neither is bothersome to me with either the Alpha or NEX. I'm much more prone to being bothered by the kind of noise I see on the Alphas...but that's me.

I still haven't experienced a single case of overheating with the NEX7 and I've shot several clips, for test purposes, up to about 25 minutes. The overheating issue is largely irrelevant to me either way as I don't anticipate shooting long clips with it as it will be primarily a still shot camera with some video (maybe 80/20). The VG20 will be my go-to camera for video as I find the camcorder-style body much more comfortable for extended periods. The great low light is another big plus. I'm also not limited to the 30 minute max clip length as in the Alphas. To be fair, for the most part even the 30 minute max wouldn't be an issue for 95% of my shooting, but I would be concerned about that other 5% that might occur from time to time. So clips length that's limited only by memory chip size, great imagery with low noise, great low light and excellent ergonomics are what the VG20 gives me. It really fits my needs.

The other issue is the autofocus. You saw that huge miss on the Apha in one of those test clips and I saw that same thing in the A65. I saw no real difference in either cam despite the different focus approaches, they both had their misses. So I've satisfied myself that I wasn't gaining anything on the autofocus side either. I also was surprised by how loud the autofocus was at times. I knew it would be louder than the very quiet NEX lenses, but I didn't think it would be that loud. I know they make quieter lenses, but they're still louder than the NEX.

At the end of the day Shawn, for me at least, I find the NEX to be a better-engineered design for my purposes. I just love the imagery they produce and find it to be very professional looking with its very low noise in both good and poor light.

As you can see, we both look at these systems differently and I guess that's why both systems sell well! They're both fabulous tools for different people with different needs. It's been an interesting journey, but unlike some of these equipment journeys I've bee on over the years, I'm really satisfied and content I've made the right decision for me.

Thanks for your help Shawn!
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post #223 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, just as an aside, I had sent that link to a guy that also does video professionally and he agrees, that noise is undoubtedly a by-product of the processing. He too has seen it over the years in different cameras and he's never seen it being a function of glass. Just an FYI. smile.gif

OTOH he doesn't like any of these DSLR type cameras for video (VG20 included) because of the moire. He has yet to see a DSLR cam by any manufacturer that can produce a moire-free image like a dedicated videocamera. You see, everyone is bothered by something different! biggrin.gif
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post #224 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 07:52 PM
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You ever shoot with a Panasonic AF100? It was as close to moire free as I've ever seen. I did some A/B tests with it and a GH2, and it was noticeably artifact free.

I will shoot some grass and other footage for you with the A57 + some lenses and see if I can replicate your results. It's quite possible that it does it and I just haven't noticed it. But, again, I haven't shot with the kit lens. Will let you know.
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post #225 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 08:11 PM
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Ken I just looked at all my A57 footage (or most of it where I filmed grass) and I'm not seeing what you had. At all.


Let me get some time this upcoming weekend and I'll try to do some test shots with the kit lens plus the other lenses I use; if anything we'll be able to see the difference. I do definitely see it in your footage.

I will send you a link to a file that I shot with my A57 since I think I can no longer upload HD this week to Vimeo. Check your PM.

Shawn
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post #226 of 226 Old 06-25-2012, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Shawn, try to shoot with bushes and grass if you can (assuming you don't already have that). I saw really bad noise in a clip where there's dirt in an area in our backyard. That showed lots of shimmer in the texture of the dirt.

I would love to see you shoot the same kind of finely detailed scene in bright sun with the kit lens and a better quality lens to see the difference in noise. I'm not concerned with the detail as much as the noise. The other thing I mentioned was the inability to see changes in the video from a sharpness setting of +3 to -3.

There are other things I still prefer about the NEX system, but I'm very curious to see your tests.

I've never shot with the AF100. To me it looks like the AF100 and FS100 share the same 'non-ergonomic' styling. Not my cup of tea.

I'll check my PM. Thanks much.
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