Sony NEX EA50, A Cameraman’s Review

Does size really matter?

or…

How Big is Your Sensor?

EA50 sensor

If you love that shallow depth of field look and are fighting with the limitations of DSLRs for video production work, then the Sony NEX EA50 video camera might be for you, ‘cuz guess what, you can put your prime lenses on it too.

The camera actually has many impressive features not covered in my review (such as being able to program focus shifts), but it is assumed that anyone researching this camera will also look over the promotional material available on the camera.

Instead this Sony NEX EA50 video review features about 5 minutes of footage from the camera under various conditions along with commentary from a cameraman’s point of view.

As usual, I forgot to mention a few things, but one thing I want to mention here is that if you’re seriously looking at this camera, be sure to watch this video in full HD so you can actually evaluate picture quality, noise level in low light situations, colour, sharpness, clarity, etc.

A few notes:

1. Sample footage includes exterior day (with and without sun), dusk, night, low light interiors, church interiors, interview sample.

2. All footage was shot at 50p.

3. Except for the first shot, all footage was hand-held and shot in Active Stabilization mode.

Health disclaimer:

I was sicker than a dog for the first part of the video (but I had to do it as the camera was being returned the next day).

This may have accounted for the fact that I forgot to dust off and polish up the camera before showing it off. Embarrassing.

I was only half as sick as a dog for the second part.

Sony NEX EA50 PDF Summary

Click here for a nice little PDF on the Sony Nex EA50 that gives a nice overview of its features.

Update 11/01/14: Please check out some of the excellent comments from EA50 owners below, including how exposure lock is accomplished.

And here’s a 1:47 promo video for the Video Whisperer shot on the Sony NEX EA50.

To be honest, I may have been faulty in setting the camera up for this (high gain?), but anyway, it’s just too cute not to share…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvsof_qpVUE

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19 Responses to “Sony NEX EA50, A Cameraman’s Review”

  1. […] I found a new review for the Sony nex-ea50 made by the Videowhisperer, check out the review and his blog here. […]

  2. I purchased the EA50 back in early 2013 and love this semi shoulder camera. My only gripe is the lack of ND. I dont need a shutter to take photos! I started making films for other people while I was a lad at school and I am now over 60. I was raised on still cameras that just took photos and film cameras that could not take stills. That in my opinion is how it should be today! I get fed up looking for kit for my EA50 only to see the kit been demonstrated on a DSLR that should only be able to take photos!! Come on, lets get back to having Videographers and Photographers, not one person trying to do both!!

      • Yes, the Sony EA 50 is a really great camera but you should also check out the VG30 which uses the same lens mount, sensor and features but is a third of the size and you can get the body for around 1k on ebay. Personally I shoot with both but I like the VG30 better unless you are needing the pro audio XLR’s which you can still get for the VG30 but it will cost you another $800. Happy shooting!

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed review of the Sony NEX-EA50. By far, yours was the most intelligent and valuable review I have read of this pretty remarkable new, low cost, DSLR like camera with a camcorder form-factor. I just bought the camera today, in part due to your valuable information. If you and your wife are ever in Sedona, Arizona, you can stay in our elegant guest house!

    Michael Dubrow

    • Thank you Michael. You won’t believe this– My wife is a French sculptor (Laury Dizengremel). Before she was my wife I was doing a stint driving for Swift Transportation, partly to discover the whole U.S. (which is also how we wound up later moving to Montana, “the last best place”). Anyway, I had also discovered Sedona as I was based out of Phoenix where I kept my car, motorcycle and Winnebago, so when I first invited her over, guess where I took her? That’s right, that other-worldly, hidden gem you call home and the rest of us call Sedona. (don’t be surprised if we take you up on it!)

  4. Hi Joe,

    fabulous reviews! Would you rather use the Sony NX30 or something like a EA50/VG30 for weddings or events? Thanks so much for you help as I’ve been researching myself to death to try and decide.

    • I’d use the NX30. Low profile. Light. Great picture quality. Fast intelligent auto (focus,exposure). Superior hand-held steadiness capability. Full pro audio capability. Shoots 50p (as does the EA50) for great slo mo, but also will shoot real time slo mo. Easy to hold high and steady above your head (during that hustle bustle of the reception line) etc. (That is, unless you’re a shallow depth of field buff). I’m a minimalist when it comes to kit. I pack the NX30 along with a GoPro and Canon 600D along with all my audio equipment into a single case small enough for airline carry on, and all might lighting in another suitcase sized roller case. As soon as you get into larger cameras and more kit, you can’t move in and out with speed, nor with the same speed once your in.

      • Wow! Thanks for your fast and detailed response. I’ve watched your videos at least 5 or 6 times all the way through and so I appreciate your feedback. What GoPro set up to you use along with the NX30?

      • Hi Kim, just happened to be sitting here waiting for something to export. Anyway, I’ve got the Go Pro Hero 3 Black edition. That’s the best all-rounder as it performs better at lower light levels too. I don’t use it often, but came in handy most recently on a multi-camera concert shoot.

  5. […] I found a new review for the Sony nex-ea50 made by the Videowhisperer, check out the review and his blog here. […]

  6. Nice review, I used the camera extensively for a year and I can tell you can lock the ISO, I never had any exposure jumps and always handled my exposure manually. I sold the camera some time ago but if I recall right you can lock the iso just by pressing the ISO button on the side of the camera which either puts it in auto or manual mode, when in manual you can select up to 3 ISO values with the switch on the side as well and those values you have to assign though the menu. If you still would see exposure jumps in manual then it has to be a setting in the menu, problem is I don’t have the camera anymore to check and I set it up when I got it a year ago so I don’t remember exactly, but once it was set up my exposure was always where I wanted it to be.

    Also that “exposure lock” which was referred to in the firmware wishlist was something else, I believe the user who mentioned it wanted a button like you had on the Sony vx2100 where you momentarily could lock the exposure you where in at that moment and by pressing it again go back to autoexposure.

    About the shoulder pad being useless, if you have used the camera as much as I have I”d say it’s a very useful addition to the camera, like with the Canon xl2 it doesn’t turn your camera in a shouldermount one as, like you said, all the weight is still in your hands, but it makes quite a difference shooting stable as it adds another contact point when you are handholding the camera. You can also add a extra weight to it that extends further back or add a wireless receiver to that pad which helps distributing the weight in a bit better way, still no full shoulder mount but all bits help.

    That this camera is not a run and gun camera, well, if you would say that a dslr is not a run and gun camera I’d agree but the I”ll take the nex-ea50 with me in a run and gun environment with enough confidence while a dslr would make me very nervous.

    About the sensor, it’s not a “full size” one but a APS-C one, sensors come in different sizes and “full size” might be confused with full frame which it isn’t.

    One last thing about the resolution the camera handles as you mentioned it can handle lot’s of fine detail, my experience is that it doesn’t, especially with very fine detail in wide shots like trees branches or also those stained glass windows in the church video you did, the nex-ea50 has aliasing/moire issues that turns very fine detail into a jittery mess, it’s hard to explain but if you place the camera side by side with a Panasonic gh3, which I own now, you”ll clearly see the difference.

    Nevertheless the nex-ea50 is a great camera to use and the image it outputs is nice, I certainly will miss the way it handled, going back to a dslr formfactor wasn’t easy but I wanted a smaller camera again, the ea50 was too big for my use.

    • Thanks for a very informative reply. I’m sure this will help those decide in looking at this camera. Wish I had it now to check on that exposure lock trick (it’s not too obvious, but I figured there MUST be a way, so there it is). I guess I’m a little snobbish or something on my “run and gun” definition! I used to run and gun with a full sized Sony 70is beta cam–all 18 pounds of it. Now I prefer the smaller, shorter cameras because of the myriad of ways you can hold and shoot with them and somehow I never got into shoulder mounts with lightweight cameras. Something about the weight of that 70is Betacam seemed to justify it.
      Thanks again for the clarification.

      • I shot with a Sony dsr 250 back in 2005 and only used handicam type of camera’s after that, when I first got the ea50 it was a blessing being able to use a viewfinder in the proper way but the bigger size got in the way when I was covering weddings, the camera was a attention magnet and eventough it’s a light camera it wasn’t fun dragging around all day.

        Btw, if you want to have a confirmation about the ISO setting, just post on dvinfo.net in the ea50 category, plenty users there that can inform you about that.

  7. Here’s a Linkedin exchange from an EA50 owner commenting on this blog I wanted to share here. From Chris Harding of Wedding Video Productions:

    “Nice review but I disagree with the run ‘n gun comment! I have two of these and shoot on shoulder almost all the time! Just needs a few balancing tweaks. I’ve run my EA-50′s for a year now and it was worth jumping ship to Sony after 23 years with Panasonic cameras. 

It’s actually very hard to fault …Sony have thought of everything !!”

    (my reply)

    “Fair enough Chris. What did you make of the full exposure lock issue? Is there a way to do that I missed?”

    (Chris’s reply)

    “Hi Joe

    Nope! there is no AE lock like my Nikons have or any other DSLR .. What you do is use the Exposure Shift on the menu mainly for backlit situations ..it allows you to set a negative or positive EV which will compensate for a bright background sorta like the BL button on video cameras but on the EA-50 you can set the value in 1/3 stop intervals …the only issue is that you have to do it via the menu ..I assign normally a 1 stop over expose to a function button but if that happens to be too much or too little so still have to change it in the menu. The camera will remember the setting and you can recall it BUT not change it …the only other option is to turn off auto iris and expose manually ..I find the EV Value works a treat!

    You got some nice footage there!! The standard profiles are actually a bit poor and need tweaking too! I tend to use PP3 that has saturation lifted and that works well for both outdoors and indoors (weddings have you moving from outdoor to indoor quite quickly!)”

  8. Burkhard Kratzer \(Mediaworx\) Says:

    Hello Mr. Whisperer,

    Thanks for the work and I was affraid to see your review, because after the last one I bought the sony 30.

    (And I hope you got much money from Sony for this perfect promotion !!!)

    This Nex EA 50 camera seems not to be the right one for me and my work, but I have one question.

    I like the sound on your video, alltough there is a little noise in the background. So can you tell me, which mic you used ??

    I just bought the very expensive Rhode lavalier mic and it sounds really bad. May be something is wrong, I ll have to send it back.

    I also realized you did postproduction on the sound, I hear compression and EQ. Did you use FCP X or as I do sometimes “Studio one” or another external programm, anyhow, the voice sounds very good and that is important because: hearing is believing :-))

    All the best especially for your health

    Burkhard

    (made this city review with the sony 30 you recommanded, a nice camera for quick and dirty production :-))

    http://vimeo.com/75802610

    _____

    • You have a good ear! Yes, well I EQed it as I sounded pretty awful with that cold. I am using the Rode lav, and coincidentally I think I’ve now got a problem with mine which might be the background noise that FCPX was alerting me to. My strain relief broke at the plug end and I’ve got exposed wires. I have a feeling I’ve got an intermittent short. I did have a couple of sound cut-outs and a couple of spikes during recording. I’ve since shored up the strain relief and still have to test, but may have to send it out for repair. I’ve had it a couple of years and it’s a great mic. You just have to keep an eye on the strain reliefs of these lav mics as the wires are so small. Sounds like there’s something wrong with yours out of the box. It’s a great mic for the price.
      Your video is really good. I mean that. Well done!

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