Pure Frickin’ Magic–Sony HXR-NX30

Urban Legend has it that buried deep in the guts of the Boeing 747 somewhere is a little black box.

A young engineer once noted that in the schematics, the box was given the cryptic designation “PFM”. It seemed no one knew what the letters stood for.

Years later he tracked down one of the original engineers and asked him.

“Pure F..ing Magic” is what the old man told him.

Sony HXR-NX30, A Cameraman’s Practical Review

(Note: For the complete review, there are SEVERAL videos as well as written notes to be found below)

Related post: Unshackled Camerawork

Some Notes

1:  Shoots in full HD 1920 X 1080 at 50p, 50i, 25p, 25i and 1280 X 720 50p.  All the test shots in this video were shot at 720/50p .

2: There’s a multi-function knob at the front which you can press to assign a key function from a drop down list in the screen (color temp, focus, exposure, etc.) which then allows you to manually control that function from the knob. Using it to manually control color temperature is pretty cool as it is an infinitely variable control. You can just roll it until the facial tones or whatever look the way you want them to.

3:  There is also a feature called “My Button” whereby on the touch screen you can assign specific functions to 3 shortcut keys.  For example, I set mine to Focus, Exposure and  Color Temperature. By touching any of those, it brings up the options on that feature directly so you can turn them on or off or make them automatic or manual.

4: It has 96gb built-in flash memory and one card slot for an SD card.

5. File format is AVCHD and is totally compatible with FCPX

6. If your NLE does not support AVCHD native files, you’ll find solutions in your user group forums. For example, “Clipwrap” does a brilliant job of transcoding to .mov (Quicktime) and other formats with amazing speed and no quality loss. From the Clipwrapper site: “Support for all the popular editing formats (ProRes, DNxHD, etc) and non-linear editors (Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple iMovie)”

7. With the audio block removed, the camera fits easily in the palm of your hand. I found that, unlike other cameras I’ve had, this one is very practical for still photographs as well (21 megapixel). Switching modes back and forth is done simply by pushing a logically placed button (unlike my last camera which required finding a slider switch which was close to another slider switch with a different function–easy to mix up when not specifically looking for it)

For full technical specs, go to Sony’s site. For best UK price and fantastic service, go here: http://www.jigsaw24.com, and mention me and ask for a deal. Hey, I asked and they knocked another £15 off what was already the lowest price for that camera–and it was on my doorstep the next morning!

PRODUCTION SHOOT: LIVE GIG

I just did a one-man-band shoot of a live performance in a Music Bar/Steak House and this bears further comment on the Face Recognition and focus tracking capability of the HXR NX30…

I did the shoot with 4 cameras: 1) the GroPro Hero 3 Black Edition (from behind band), 2) Canon 600 DSLR locked on a side angle, 3) Canon XHA1 locked on frontal angle, 4) Sony HXR NX30 hand-held.

Here we have the worst combination of factors for a cameraman shooting close-ups on a live shoot: Low light level, coloured lights, moving targets.

I simply could not have done this with with either the DSLR or the XHA1–or probably many similar cameras or larger ones.

The Sony HXR NX30, however, was a dream.

By using the auto-focus feature and Face Recognition, there was little to no lag on locking onto focus of the singer, even when she was moving forward and backwards. And certainly when there was a brief lag in the worst conditions of low red or blue light, the camera got it a hell of a lot faster than I could have manually. And when it got it, it held on. The truth is, I just didn’t worry about focus and was able to put my attention on the shot to hand or thinking ahead to where I was going to go next. This was the first I was ever seeing this performance–as I was shooting it, so I was glad I wasn’t introverted into a follow-focus nightmare at the same time because these hand-held shots were the only hope of close-ups. The other three unmanned cameras had to be framed loose to account for any movement that might occur within the frame.

I’ll link to one of the three songs I edited for the singer which will illustrate my point.

Here’s the NX30 in my first actual production situation, a short promo done for a local First Aid Service.

The opening scene utilizes the Active Mode stabilization for a steadicam look.

I ran in behind the actress, then moved laterally to the side and down, then stopped–not something you can do with any camera.

Finally, after a few months of using the camera in various productions, here’s a final report which contains some valuable information:

HXR NX30 Production Report

Related Post: HXR NX30 Image Stabilisation in Perspective

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229 responses

  1. I just picked up the nx70u and had shot a music festival last year with three nx30u cams. Absolutely love the look and feel of these cameras. I was curious about your multi cam shoot you had done.
    The question is what do you recommend to run the timecode on the cameras to be able to sync up the footage with one audio track with multiple angles. I’m thinking that free run rather than record run. Any thoughts or suggestions would be awesome.
    Your stuff is fantastic by the way.
    Regards
    Steve
    neo1233@gmail.com

    Like

    • I just manually synced the cameras in editing. FCPX will do it automatically, but because I’m running around changing batteries on some of the cameras, I have dead spots, so I just manually sync to the main Sony camera. Now I have 3 Sony’s, so should be easier next time.

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  2. Thanks so much for your review of the NX30. It was the primary reason why I got this camera over another one. I am working on a documentary and am wondering if you have any tips on 1) how I can create a more shallow depth of field when shooting sit down interviews, and 2) if you have any tips for how I can set my camera to avoid grain when shooting nighttime interviews (subject is well lit but the background looks grainy). Thanks again for your help. I’m lovin the NX30! Scott

    Like

    • Depth of field is a function of aperture (the larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field at a given focal length). So, you must shoot wide open for the shallowest depth of field. Since the NX30 doesn’t have ND filters, you either have to lower the light in the room your in so that your key light will expose the person at f2.8 correctly (that’s your widest aperture on the NX30) and so the rest of the room isn’t blown out. In fact, you want the background darker than the subject. So you might have to switch off room lights (eg. overheads), close curtains, etc. Hopefully you have your own set of lights to create an atmosphere. You can also (in manual) up your shutter speed and/or lower your iso to achieve an exposure at f 2.8. Obviously you should have your subject at some distance from the background and preferably shoot the head shot somewhat telephoto. Many interview spaces don’t have enough space for all that, so you’ll have compromises. There’s a whole chapter on this and on interviews in the Run and Gun Videography book (as well as technical explanations for these things) which is advertised on the blog. As to noise in the dark background–well, if it’s dark enough that you have noise you’re just going to have to take it out in post using Neat Video. Did you see the part 2 of that review shot in Paris? I shot a lot in the dead of night and didn’t notice much noise problems as long as there was ambient street or shop lighting around.

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  3. Hi, I got this camcorder and I have to get used to it but I am a fast learner so Thank you for all your information on this page. I just wondering, when I shoot movies in HD , the camcorder automatic split the files even they only 5 minutes long. This is very complicated for my work but I could not find any information how to change the settings to make longer movies. I hope you can help me. Thank you very much.

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    • Sounds like you have an NLE that doesn’t support AVCHD files. I use FCPX. Premiere Pro and others will also natively import AVCHD files. There is no breaking up of the files into smaller pieces. You can recorder 2 hours straight and it will be a single file. What are you using?

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    • It might have to do with the write speed of your SD card, which is causing your recording to be broken up into multiple small files. Be sure your SD card is a Class 10 and has a write speed of 80 MB/s or greater. Hope this helps.

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  4. Hello, Can you tell me if you can adjust the speed of the handle zoom (or rocker as some people call it) on Sony’s HXR-NX30 . Or is it one of those cameras where you have to carefully feel the speed by pressing at a certain pressure. Im really looking for an answer on this, so it would be much appreciated

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  5. Hi thanks for sharing all this information
    I loved the stability of the camera in video paris
    I wonder settings
    or if you used any support
    Thank you very much for supporting

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  6. Hello! Thank you for the informative review of the NX30. I recently took a position at a university in their culinary school, which uses three of these cameras to record live studio broadcasts. I am still getting used to their setup, but they were just using rechargeable batteries for all of the cameras and then swapping them out when they run out of juice.

    Since the cameras are all locked down, I have started to just plug them in using their power adapters, to avoid having to monitor battery levels during longer shoots. My question is: do you happen to know if there is a standby/sleep mode for this camera? One of the three we have is a ceiling-mounted camera, and is a pain (not to mention potentially dangerous) to get up on a ladder to reach the battery, so if I can simply have it plugged in and in standby, activating it via the included remote control whenever we are live-streaming through the HDMI output, that would be a huge help! I am hesitant to just keep it active and on continuously because I don’t want the camera to overheat or any pixels to burn out.

    I have gone through all the menu options and have not found any changeable settings to make this happen. Even if this is not possible, I would love to know either way! Sony’s website is not very helpful for this model anymore. Thank you for your time.

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    • Hi Glenn, You can use the remote to turn it on/off and start/stop. Either use the view screen flipped so you can see it or the red running light to know whether it’s on or off, recording or not. I wouldn’t worry about keeping it on during the course of a whole shoot day though. It won’t overheat or blow out pixels just because it’s on. Video cameras are made to be on a shoot all day! (DSLRs are not)

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      • Thanks for your quick reply, that’s exactly what I was hoping to hear! I have had my share of scares with DSLRs overheating after 10-15 minutes of HD recording time, so it’s nice to use cameras that are made for this type of thing, and take overheating/sensor issues off the list of concerns haha.

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      • That’s right. DSLRs aren’t primarily video cameras. They added in the HD video feature as the shallow depth of field was attractive to videographers (larger format, larger image sensor, faster lenses), but audio capability and running time were drawbacks. Anyway, because of the ‘DSLR craze’ amongst film makers, they’ve long been producing video cameras that give you the large sensor/shallow depth of field advantage without the drawbacks. The high end ones (Red, etc.) cost a fortune, but then not as much as their cinematography equivalents, but now there are a plethora of affordable ones that may not be as good as a Red, but give people that ‘cinematic’ look they’re always looking for. Anyway, not that the NX30 is in that league, but you don’t need to be in that league for what you’re doing. So no worries about leaving the camera on all day. It won’t complain.

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  7. Hello Mr Whisperer,
    So I have what appears to be the last NX30e on the internet and it arrived today. Yes!
    I thought to get a pistol grip as I read this will help with steady shots. I am not much good at understanding the tripod mount size … something like 7/32 in the manual?
    Do you know what pistol grip I could buy … any size info from your experience would help as on Amazon everything says quarter inch … ???
    Thanks a lot
    Emma

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    • Hi Emma, it appears I never answered your question. It may be irrelevant now, but my advice would be to not buy a pistol grip. Wherever you got that advice, it’s bad advice. You don’t need any extra equipment to get steady shots with your NX30. Simply hold it in both hands in front of you (or above you or down low). Your hands ARE the pistol grip. I thought those things went out in the 70s!

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  8. We watched both of your clips on the NX30E and the X70. Both were really well done and very interesting. We wanted the NX30E because of it’s smaller size, lens type and BOSS stabiliser. As t hey are now discontinued here we searched all over the internet and eventually found one in Germany. It’s on its way – hopefully!

    So I am just wondering now if anyone has a view on buying the Pro-HG Duo HX3 32GB cards or the cheaper SDXC 64Gb cards (cost is similar) – does the type/make matter?

    Thanks again for making these very pro and useful video blogs.

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    • “e” probably stands for “europe” which is the PAL version. “U” probably means US and would be the NTSC version.
      You don’t need SDXC cards for the NX30. You only need them for 4K. As to brand, go with Sandisk and just get a medium speed Class 10 card–or even their top of the line Class 10 which is not expensiver.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I need to buy a couple of 64GB but SanDisc only make SDXC cards in that size. The maximum size for the SDHC cards is 32GB. Will the SDXC cards still be OK?

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      • Should be fine. I’ve been using SDXC cards in my X70 but shooting in AVCHD still. However, watch out for counterfeit cards on ebay or amazon. I just went through a nightmare with my two SDXC SanDisc 64 gb cards which worked fine for a while and then recently would not be recognized for import. The shots were on there but I had to go through hoops to get them off. I did tests with my regular SDHC cards in the same camera which imported fine, so ruled out the camera and got rid of the two bad cards that wouldn’t work even when reformatted. I suspect they were counterfeit. So now I only order from a reputable dealer and pay whatever the price. I just ordered two more because I’m going to start shooting in 4K and need them. Anyway, you’ll be able to shoot AVCHD on them with your NX30 just fine. Format them first in the camera and do some test shots before you go out and do a full-blown production.

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    • The Sony cards are too expensive. You can get reliable SDXC cards from Sandisk. I’d recommend those over any other brand as they are all I have ever used and NEVER had a failure. Yes, type and make do matter. Mind you, the SDXC cards are for the PXW X70 and specifically for shooting in 4K. If you’re not shoot in 4K, you get regular SD cards–and go ahead and get the Extreme Pro version, which aren’t really that expensive anymore–but way less than the Sony cards.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi,

    A quick question. I can buy a NX30 without the XLR adapter. I was wondering if I can get the adapter off a NX70 and plug it onto the NX30?

    Like

    • Don’t think the X 70 will mate with the NX30. If you want an NX30 without the XLR, its the consumer version (same camera without XLR handle). I forget the model number off-hand but you can find it with google search.

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  10. Hi,

    I’m a bit late to the show, but have to say awesome review! I’m thinking of buying this cam because I want to shoot a documentary in China and this cam has the perfect size for that. I will be doing this alone and this makes audio a bit difficult. I will be following one person around in his daily life, so I will be outside a lot. Will the xlr shotgun mic on the cam be sufficient for good quality sound? or should I also hook up one wireless lag to the main character? The problem will also be that my main character will interact with people on the street who are not hooked up wireless. Can you give me some tips how I should handle it? I’m hoping to get good sound by using the shotgun mic alone because of budget problems for buying a wireless lag

    Like

    • You really have to be pretty close for the shotgun to be effective, and you’d really want a higher quality one anyway. More affordable than the Sennheiser would be the Audio Technica short rifle which I have. That might do the trick, but I’d have a radio lapel mic on him as well. They are omni-directional, so will tend to pick up a lot of ambience, but if you get it close enough to the lips that will minimize the ambience (won’t get rid of it) but at least give you a back-up when you’re too far away with the rifle.

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      • Thanks for your quick reply. Not sure if I have the budget to buy the Audio Technica mic. The one that comes with the cam is that bad? And the wireless lav mic is not that better then the shotgun mic for sound because of the ambient sound? Sorry for all these questions but doing some research to get some decent/good results when shooting for a small budget. If the lav mic doesn’t really deliver any big improvement I won’t invest it. I wish I had a boom guy:) which affordable mic would be good for that. Not sure if i can go that route because I will be shooting in China and don’t want to attract too much attention…Thanks again!

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      • I wouldn’t say it’s ‘bad’, but cameras don’t tend to come with high quality mics to keep the price down. It will probably be adequate to your needs so long as you keep in mind that for the best sound (voice), the closer you are, the better.

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  11. Greetings, and thank you for your excellent and very informative reviews. I´m currently going to upgrade–at long last–from my Canon XL-2. I’d been considering either Canon XA20 or a Sony NEX-VG20 (leaning toward the latter). But today I came across your reviews and footage of the Sony HXR-NX30, and I’m very favorable impressed. Over the years I´ve worked as an independent doc. video producer covering human rights and social and environmental justice issues exclusively (essentially “guerrilla” video). That means I have to work in tight and tense situations, and for that reason I´m quite interested in the image stabilization that the NX30 offers, and which you are obviously impressed with.

    Your advice… Considering the three models mentioned above and the work that I do, which camera would you recommend. One of the attractions of the NEX-VG20 is the control over depth of field, as well as the 20x zoom over the 10X zoom of the NX30–but the 26-260 range seems ample for me. Does the NX30 offer comparable control over depth of field as well?

    Many thanks, in advance, for your reply–as well as for your other valuable advice on-line.

    Be well,
    Jonathan

    Like

    • Hmmm–I think you’d be very interested in the Sony PXW X70 which I bought last month and reviewed. It’s everything the NX30 is plus 1″ sensor (nice depth of field), an amazing zoom range including (surprisingly) digital zoom which you have to see to believe. Anyway, it’s a bit bigger but still a small camera, and has easier access to manual controls, two card slots instead of one and is electronically ‘4K ready’. Do come back and let me know what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mFBoo4jvKo

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      • Greetings and thanks for your book and reviews. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to put your hands on the HDR- AX33. I’m interested in its low light capabilities compared to the NX30 -or the CX760V which is the one that I actually have. Thanks again. Hope to see new stuff from you soon!

        Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2014 08:42:16 +0000
        To: jmcastaneda1@hotmail.com

        Like

      • Jorge, there’s a good chance that it will do excellent in low light because I saw in a photo that it’s got a 1.8 Zeiss lens (at wide angle) which will pass a lot more light to the sensor than the NX30 or X70.

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      • No. I don’t really do reviews unless it’s a camera I plan to buy. I only do them because most of the other reviews I see are really lacking in footage and other things one would want to know before buying. I try my best to inform a potential buyer. I don’t have much interest in or use for a consumer 4K camera.

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    • Thanks for your help. Im still a bit confused about the lav set up. Most of them seem to be plugged into the mini jack input on the cam. If I have the NX30, Wouldnt it be better to plug it into the XLR input?

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    • Hello, and thanks in advance for your excellent column. Looking forward to buying your book.

      After your reply to my last question, I was ready to go out and purchase the Sony X70. But then I found a few concerns that people had posted about it´s video compatibility with Final Cut, for example… I´ve posted some of those comments below, and would be grateful to hear your thoughts, as I´m ready to buy a camera…

      Thanks in advance for your assistance,

      Jonathan

      My only immediate concern with the X70 is codec compatibility. Sony XAVC has been around for a while and is well supported in nonlinear editing systems, but the camera’s Long GOP variant (XAVC-L) is just x introduced. Support is not yet available in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. Apple Final Cut Pro X requires a third-party MXF module, but there is no codec support for the Long GOP variant. Likewise, there is no AMA import module for Avid. Adobe Premiere Pro CC and 2014 read the files without a problem on both PC and Mac. Sony’s own NLE for PC, Vegas, also reads the files. Sony’s Content Browser software will open and read the files and transfer to media drives from the cards; however, it performs no transcode functions. As the XAVC-L codec is put into use by more Sony cameras, I expect software vendors will increase their support for it. Having said that, Premiere Pro can edit XAVC-L files now, and Adobe Media Encoder could be used to transcode for other NLEs.

      My overall opinion on the camera itself is rather favorable. I’ve had the X70 for about a week now and took it for several days of shooting in the Sierra Foothills. The fit and feel of the camera is nice, feels solid and well constructed (except for the zoom rocker which could be a bit better sealed against dust and moisture). The dual XLR audio inputs are what really make this a step up from the AX100, more of a pro camera with line, mic and phantom options. If you want to output video beyond the 50Mbps, you also have an HD-SDI (especially useful for broadcasting or sending to an external recorder). And Sony has included the colored peaking for fast and accurate focusing (as found in some of the camera’s bigger cousins like the PMW-350). BUT let me tell you why you should wait to buy this camera. Sony has labeled this fine piece of technology as XAVC. What they don’t tell you (unless you call ProSony) is that it is not XAVC-intra like the F-5 and F-55, which happen to be supported by all the big editing programs. No, friends and neighbors, this is XAVC-long GOP, and nothing can read this codec. By nothing, I mean FCPX with the XAVC plug-in cannot. Edius cannot. Sony’s own Vegas Pro 13 cannot. I’m not sure about Premiere Pro. Aftermarket transcoders cannot (of the three free ones I’ve tried). Sony Creative Software folks say the new Catalyst Prepare will be able to read and transcode, but that software is not yet available. Catalyst Browse, however, will transcode XAVC-L to ProRes but only one file at a time (no batch projects) which is a huge issue if you’ve just shot 119 clips over your weekend in the Sierra Foothills. In fact, I am writing this review as I manually transcode every file. That said, if you don’t mind shooting video on any of the X70’s lesser formats like AVCHD, you’ll be okay. Does this product launch fall into the dismal failure category? Yes. The PXW-X70 camera is well worth your consideration for its performance in its price range, just not until Sony finishes developing everything needed for it to work. Once all these bugs are worked out, I’ll have no problem bumping this review up to 4 or 5 stars.

      Like

      • I believe that’s now been handled with both the recent Sony update and FCPX’s latest update. Interestingly, though the FCPX update doesn’t mention XAVC-L, several people have commented that they are now importing XAVC-L files into FCPX natively. There’s an FB group on the X70 where you can follow these comments. I haven’t updated myself yet, otherwise I’d give you a first-hand answer (because I have a big project on right now), but probably will in a week or so.

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      • Jonathan Treat, EditReady (50$) quickly transcode any MXF, MTS (AVCHD), M2T (HDV), or QuickTime file to an edit-ready format like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD. It has support for all the popular editing formats (ProRes, DNxHD, etc) and non-linear editors (Final Cut Pro, FCPX, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple iMovie). EditReady can wrap MFX files so you can work with them in FCPX, not need to convert and transcode them. I’m using it successfully on a project shot on X70 with the XAVC-L codec.

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      • P.S. XAVC-L aside, you do realise Jonathan, you can record in AVCHD as well–which has long since imported natively to FCPX. However, it seems it now takes XAVC-L too in addition to all the solutions Benny mentioned.

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      • Joe, more and more broadcasters are asking films to be shot on XAVC. I’m looking forward to Apple updating FCPX to handle this codec natively – it doesn’t at the moment.

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      • You sure? According to several people on the X70 Facebook group, it does. These two for example: “I recorded this vignette in XAVC-L after the v.2.0 firmware upgrade last week, copied the SDXC card contents to a folder on my hard drive, and imported directly to FCP X 10.2. Nice. Cinematone 1 (PP5), f5.6, Gain -3db, ND2, WB manually set (5300K reading), Clear Zoom; XAVC-L, 30p, 50mbps; Slight grade in FCP X for exposure. Shared Master File at ProRes LT, Compressor 4.2 for YouTube Fast Start, 1920×1080.” and this one: I can confirm that we can finally ingest XAVC-L natively into FCP X after the firmware update of the X70 to 2.00. Short test video of the original post announcing this feature. Many thanks to Benoit Joseph Duez Escobedo for discovering it!

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      • Joe, I shot my material on the x70 without the v.2.0 upgrade. If the gentleman from the FB group says it works I assume it does. Btw, have you applied the v.2.0 upgrade on your x70?

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      • Thanks once again for your reply. So…I´m ready to buy my new camera. Final check in: I originally wrote to you for your advice on whether to purchase the Sony HXR-NX30 or the NEX VG 30. You suggested instead, the PXW-X70. Do you still think that is my best choice? Thank you for your help. Jonathan

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  12. thank uou for sharing your experience and knowledge with us 🙂

    A question: how does it deal with distortion? .. I understand that nx30 has got 17mm lens, so I assume that I will have problems relating to image distortion while shooting full body shots (portfolio shoots of models in my case).

    Could you please share your thoughts and experience regarding this question?

    Thank you in advance,
    Helmuts

    Like

    • It’s a zoom lens. Equivalent to 26mm-260mm, so if you can get enough distance to chose the focal length you want. For my purposes I don’t find objectionable distortion on the subject. For reference, ALL those walking shots were done at full wide (17mm)

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  13. G’day Joe

    Wondering what your opinion might be on the following scenario. I have to do a shoot with a group of people who generally are somewhat camera shy. I want to get them talking about a particular subject matter in as easy a manner as possible. (tips from your interview blogs here) So I am thinking of a dinner at night, maybe 10 people fairly large table. Film as the dinner progresses, discussing and capturing the round table talk. Then obviously trim and cut to get a finished product of about 15 mins. I use FCPX but have never done any multi cam editing.

    I am thinking two cameras, both hand held. I have the NX30 and also a smaller Canon HF10 to work with. I also have a couple of 125W large rectanglular softboxes, (equivalent output 600W) with stands and booms, and am considering maybe some redhead lights off ebay as a starter. (like these http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2400W-Redhead-Continuous-Lighting-Video-Photo-Red-Head-Light-Focus-Kit-Dimmers-/281201385211?_trksid=p2054897.l5659)

    For audio I am thinking take the shotgun off the NX30 and put on a boom pole and also get a second shotgun and boom pole kit. Both plugged into the sound block on the NX30 With two operators for the sound, a second person for the Canon and myself on the NX30, roving around the table to get different angles, close ups etc.

    How would you light and record such a set up, and as this is like a million mile step up for me, what tips could you give me. (the softboxes are 5600K) so would I also include some soft household lamps for backlighting?

    Thanks for any tips.

    Like

    • Hmmm just been doing some reading on Redheads — hot and maybe the ebay ones dangerous. perhaps a better choice might be bi color dimmable LED’s 600 or 900.

      What do you think?

      Like

      • LEDs are the way to go.I don’t have any yet but they’re on my list of stuff to get. Relatively expensive now, but prices will come down. Best to get the most powerful in terms of choice. I assume the 900 is more powerful than the 600. You can compare output values with lamps you’re familiar with by checking their spec sheets. Lux measurements probably the most telling.

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    • See if you can “fly” the soft boxes over the table (or otherwise rig so you don’t have cables or stands in any of your angles around the table. Fly them opposite to each other and flag to only hit the table area (not the walls–unless the walls are dark). That way they will act as key light an fill light for both sides of the table. And yes, put to use any atmospheric lights in the room. They’ll be a much warmer color temp mixing with your fluorescent lamps,but you can evaluate on site whether it adds to the scene or detracts from it. Sound will be a real challenge. Close shotgun microphones on booms is your best bet, but cables will be a hassle. I’ve got a Sony transmitter that plugs into the XLR input of any mic and transmits to the receiver plugged into the camera. A couple of those would make it a dream, but I’m sure you can deal with the cables too. Just need a couple of competent boom operators.

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      • Thanks Joe,
        I didn’t consider my Sony wireless Mic set up. All I need is a 3.5mm Stereo to 3-pin XLR Female connector which I can get locally and then tape the transmitter to the boom and thats one fixed up. The other will probably have to be cabled, but yes I reckon that I can deal with that.

        LED’s certainly seem to be the way to go. You can get dimmable and bi color now. (5600 down to 3200K) have to see what I can get them for. A freind of mine in the phillipines has some from China, he reckons they are good. Will have to talk with him.

        Thank you for the input. If the shoot comes off, then I will let you know how it goes and link you to the result. Might be a little while but here’s hoping.

        Thanks

        Like

      • Round table interview shows can be really hard to light. I was working at PBS a few years back and we did one, and our lighting guru got a thing called a china ball. It was a simple paper ball like you see at IKEA and but a 1000 watt bull in it and hung it in the middle of the table. Ti gave off a great light and illuminated the faces of the guests so nicely. The sphere of the ball seemed to spread the light so it wrapped around the faces. Such nice and soft light. Ew had a studio with three cameras and. Black drapes to hide the cameras behind. It turned out looking like the setup from the Charlie Rose show. I think you could use a variation of that setup. It is so simple.. A round table is a must though. One light source, equal distance from all the guests and a few back lights and I think you will be amazed at how nice it looks.

        Like

  14. I just purchased the NX30, haven’t received it yet. Now seeing reports about Mac incompatibility. Do you know: can I just plug into Mac and edit in iMovie, or not? That is the only editing ability I have! I read on Amazon reviews that new Mac iOS does support this? Thanks!

    Like

    • Doesn’t sound right. My Mac is certainly running on fully updated Mavericks and has no problem with the AVCHD files. I use FCPX, so I can’t speak for iMovie. Just google your question in regards to iMovie, but down worry about the operating system. It’s not a factor.

      Like

    • Works with imovie but I believe it depends on the frame rate of the file. If I remember, 1080/60p didn’t work well. It didn’t work well on FCPX either until a software update. So maybe by now imovie has been updated. Also, I found imovie was better at “sharing” a video to YouTube. Don’t know why but it was faster in compressing and uploading.

      Like

      • Thanks VW and Will. I just got my camera and it worked seamlessly with my Mac and iMovie. I have the newest Macbook and software so I guess that helped. I LOVE this camera. I can’t believe how amazing it is! Thanks again for your help, your videos VW helped to convince me to buy it.

        Like

      • Great to hear that the camera works with imovie. Did you have any problems with importing and editing 1080/60p files with imovie?

        Like

      • You shouldn’t have any problem Wil. 25/25, 50/60 are just the standard frame rates for US and Europe respectively. iMove and FCPX cross all borders. FCPX automatically sets the frame rate and image size based on the media that’s imported. I assume iMovie does the same, but at any rate, the comment above yours notes no problem with iMovie. Frame rate shouldn’t be a factor–even if you shoot at 24fps.

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  15. Hello, thanx for all this information.

    My questions are this: I try with NX30 coz i want to get one, but i find 2 BIG issues.

    1. Im gonna record concerts and theater in a tripod, but when you pan, at the final point of the panning, the image do something strange, it moves like it float, like 2 seconds, and feels SO BAD!, unnaturaly. I try to remove this with the steady cam, standard stabilization but none of those works and still do the same weird move at the end of the panning and tilt, without stabilization don’t do thism but the stabilization does not exist and it’s a creap.

    2. Picture profile. I i’m gonna use this camera side by side to a canon dslr 650D with cinemastyle profile picture http://www.technicolor.com/en/solutions-services/cinestyle that give me a fabulous range for post production. In the NX30, i don’t see a flat profile who can match with the canon, i can install one or what i can do about this?

    ¿Can you help me with this? This 2 detalils, make me not get the camera. Are something i can do for setup this?

    Thanx you so much, your answer it’s very important 4 me.

    Saludos y muchas gracias!

    Like

    • 1) If you’re on a tripod, disable the active stabilization.
      2) I too have a Canon 650 and it’s a good question. I haven’t yet done much research on software to match profiles, so can’t help there.

      Like

      • Hello and thanks for your answer, but… Dissable the active stabilization is my only way to not get that move error, that reduces my options a lot, there is no way to get a stabilization without that “error”?

        Thanx!

        Like

      • I understood that you were having the problem when on a tripod. The whole point of a good tripod and head is to stabilize the camera. If you have a bad, wobbly tripod with a head that is not smooth on panning and tilting, then you need a proper tripod for your camera. But when on a tripod, you should turn off stabilization. Image stabilization is for hand-held work.

        Like

  16. Hi there, I’m trying to choose between the NX30 and Panasonic AG-AC90…my biggest issue is that the nx30 doesn’t have dedicated rings for focus, iris,etc…as far as the ac90 goes, I’m a little hesitant about the image stabilization and the low light/transition from outdoor to inside or through a tunnel. any advice? thanks!

    Like

    • I did a part 2 to this review which showed exactly what happens when you go into a tunnel from the outside and also passing under bridges. The NX30 handled that very impressively. As to the dedicated rings…quite right.

      Like

  17. Thanks so much for the extensive reviews and footage. Your stuff convinced me this was the camera for me. been using it for about 6 weeks now and love it.

    I am new to trying to shoot good videography as opposed to home movies in years gone by, one thing you mentioned in one of the videos I think it was the Paris shoot, was that even with it’s stabalisation you still need to learn to walk correctly to minimise the up/down tendency in our walk.

    Try as I might I cannot get footage anywhere as smooth as yours, and using steady shot and I auto still doesnt eliminate it. I know it is the operator and not the camera — I can’t find any tips regarding correct stance or ‘soft’ walking that experienced camera guys use — are there any tips you could pass on from your experience?

    Like

    • Just re read the stabilisation report above, this was the pghrase I was thinking about “So if you practice good technique in minimizing it and add to that a camera that minimizes it further toward something approaching the fluidity of a good steadicam shot, then you should start getting interested.”

      Can you explain a little about “good technique”

      Thanks

      Like

      • Hi Douglass,

        For that size of camera I just hold it in two hands in front of me. As to walking, I think soft shoes help, but other than that you’d best talk to a model!

        Like

      • I’ve achieved excellent results by walking while keeping my knees slightly bended; a lot of the up/down effect is observed by the legs. I got this tip from an old, very experienced, film DP.

        Like

      • Ah, quite right. I’ve always sort of done that automatically so hadn’t thought about it. (I have to because otherwise I bob up and down when I walk–more than most people!)

        Like

      • Thanks Joe and Benny, I am of out to practise “No bob filming” hahahaha.

        Joe, I was just reading your preview of chapter ten of you book, loved the information about relaxing your interviewee. I have an upcoming interview to do with a friend, and she is very camera nervous. I think I know now where and how to start with her in order to relax and get her talking about her passion – Power Yoga from a lady with a second prosthetic hip. Going to intercut the interview with shots of her teaching – should be powerful I think (or hope I should say)

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  18. I love the back-and-forth praising of the NX30 since I have one and I’m very pleased with it. I would like to get another videocamera and I have had my eye on the CX900, notwithstanding the “allegedly slow” auto-focus. I’d welcome your thoughts on the CX900!

    Like

    • Can’t tell you much about it except that I just happened to be getting interested in Sony’s large sensor small video cameras like this one. There’s another I was looking at recently for a bit more, but you really can’t beat it for the price when it comes to the shallow depth of field and low light sensitivity you’ll get with that 1″ sensor. Maybe there are some trade-offs, but my bet is that it’s worth it. I’d want the version with pro audio inputs (forget its designation), and I think it was less than £2500. I’m just a big fan of these small Sony cameras that pack all that technological punch. Don’t need something that costs twice or 4 times as much (or more).

      Like

  19. Hi TVW, I’m fortunate to own a PJ8780 which seems like it’s an NX30, but without the time-code facility. A question for you, specifically related to skin-tones. What’s your experience of auto-white balancing (and the following) when it comes to skin-tones under daylight balanced video lights. What I’ve noticed is that I can set the camera to manual white balance, but that in turn switches off i-auto mode, which in itself wouldn’t be an issue except that manual white balance also turns off face recognition/tracking and other auto-sensing capabilities such as the auto mode change to macro mode and back (as the camera must be in full i-auto mode for these ‘extras’ to operate). So the choice seems to be, to use full i-auto with auto white balancing – or go for manual white balancing, but lose face recognition. What I’m thinking about the face recognition, is that (1) the camera software is setup to focus really well in respect of a persons eyes, once a face has been recognised and (2) the auto-white balance and face recognition are tied together somehow in the camera, in the sense that it is aiming to provide a good skin-tone via measurement of facial skin. I’m therefore tempted to just go with i-auto all the time, though I do feel the manual white balance does provide better calibration/reproduction – at least of the white balance card itself.

    Like

    • I agree. I’ve found the value of intelligent auto exceeds any supposed gain or control from manual settings. For one, I’ve always gotten unsatisfactory results from white balance to my 56K flouro lights. Don’t know why. Intelligent auto does it better. The last video I did (https://thevideowhisperer.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/jennies-journey-ovarian-cancer/) is a perfect example. Watch it into the first minute or so when Jennie’s interview is live (past the B roll). That is 100% intelligent auto with absolutely no processing or adjustment in post production. That’s straight out of the camera. And yes, I think it even tracks colour temp automatically if, for example, you’re on a moving shot through different light conditions. The shots on the boat in Paris going under bridges (in part 2 of the Sony HXR NX30 review) are a good example of that. So I’m sold on i=auto and rarely use manual settings. If it’s ever off on colour or exposure, it’s rarely off much and easy to tweak later. It’s because of the intelligent auto and image stabilisation that I call the NX30 a good “wingman”. Your camera is basically the same except the audio block and less internal storage (which I rarely use anyway), so it’s a great camera to have as a back-up even if you have an NX30.

      Like

  20. Hi, I have a EA-50 and shoot basically weddings. I´m looking for a B-Cam. Something small, good in low light churches and venues. On your EA-50 review, we see you through both, EA-50 and NX-30 -they match pretty good to me. Anyways, I was thinking of any the VG series, the NX-30 or the FDR-AX100. ¿Which will do better in low light churches as B-Cam for the EA-50? Any thoughts will be appreciated.

    Like

    • Can’t really comment on the other cameras, but if you want to see what the NX30 can do in low light, watch part 2 of the NX30 review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McFi_ii1ZWI. As a wedding B-cam it’s a great choice for several reasons: low light, stabilization and price. You can get the version without the audio block which is otherwise identical in terms of optics and electronics for under £1000.

      Like

      • Thanks! Great reviews! As long as it performs good in low light Churches it´ll work for me. The audio block helps on handeld shooting right? Do you know the model # of the version with no audio block? Thanks a lot again! Keep up the good job!

        Like

      • Looks like it’s called the CX40 now. The “audio block” on the NX30 gives you two XLR inputs and comes with a sony mic as you might have seen in my video. No, I wouldn’t say the audio block helps in hand-held shooting. The camera is so small and light you’ll be holding it with two hands in front of you with or without the audio block (lower than the typical shoulder camera height), though of course you can hold it higher. It’s dead easy to use as a hand held. You’ll love it for that.

        Like

      • Thanks George, of all the camera’s I’ve ever used, it’s my favourite. Just finished a chapter in my new book “Run ‘n Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide” on the NX30. I’d use it for weddings and corporate videos alike. If I were to shoot a “short film” or something I’d probably use my DSLR, but otherwise it’s my wingman.

        Like

      • Im very interested in this cam. I liked the wedding video you posted as well. Looking forward to hear about your new book. Best regards!

        Like

      • Those weddings were shot with the Canon XHA1. Well, to be specific, unlike other videographers I hired others to do the tripod mounted main shots and I did the roaming ones. Not sure which wedding you saw, but likely the main shots were done with a big JVC shoulder mounted camera.

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  21. Hi video whisperer, and anyone, what is the verdict on the black magic camera’s? I’ve heard they give you video quality equivalent to 35mm film. You can buy separate lenses which makes it versatile. How does it compare with the sony NX30? It doesn’t have xlr audio inputs but then Im used to using a double system. For portability, Im wondering if the Black Magic would be better than the NX30? ie for ENG? Anyone have any info? thanks

    Like

    • No doubt you’ll get GREAT quality out of the Black Magic. It’s certainly small and portable, but it’s not really made for hand-held work, so I wouldn’t classify it as an ENG camera. If you’re ok with tripods and external audio recording to sync in post, the quality will smoke the NX30, but it’s a whole different breed of cat. The NX30 is as close as you get to point and shoot in the video world with it’s intelligent auto system. The Black Magic is more of a video version of a cinematography film camera. I’d say we’re comparing apples and oranges here, but look forward to anyone else’s feedback that actually uses the Black Magic.

      Like

  22. I just got one of these and am enjoying learning to use it. I can’t figure something out from the manual, however. In intelligent auto, if you choose 30p instead of 60p, will the NX30u have better low light performance? I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what shutter speed is appropriate for filming an interview vs a hockey game versus a drummer playing, and plan to use it iAuto setting most of the time. I thought I could hedge my bets and use 30p filming a music concert which might be poorly lit. What frame rate/mode did you choose when you shot the Maddie Rowland videos? 30 or 60, and p or i ?
    Thanks,
    Todd

    Like

    • Hard to answer. Any “auto” mode will make choices between shutter speed, iris (lens opening) and shutter speed to achieve an exposure. “low light” will opt for a slower shutter speed and wide open iris. I shot Maddie at 50p and I’d bet that in intelligent auto it’s selecting wide open aperture and an appropriate shutter speed to achieve the exposure. Shooting at a slower frame rate (30) gives you a bit more blur when you either move the camera or something moves within the frame. I’d stick with 60p if I was you.

      Like

    • Sony HXR NX30 dispone di un sensore di immagine più grande e quindi più ampio angolo e una migliore sensibilità alla luce bassa. Inoltre, penso che funzioni meglio, messa a fuoco automatica e l’esposizione

      Like

  23. Hi everyone, I am digging the NX30u so far, and i am in need to use a wired remote to control the camera from a jib. I bought the VariZoom VZ-stealth and the Manfrotto 522AV LANC to AV-R adapter cable thinking this would work, but did not.

    Does anyone have any experience with such remote LANC or A/V-R cables with the NX30u? I liked the VZ-Stealth due to it’s really small size, 15mm rod-mountable design, and variable zoom ability. If there are similar setups that are confirmed to work with the NX30u, I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately The remote won’t work for my application: the Jib work I’m doing id in bright daylight outdoors, and the camera may not necessarily be line of sight. Also, the supplied remote lacks the tactile sensation of a true zoom controller for precise zoom movement.

        Like

      • Yea, ok. I know the type of controller you’re talking about. I’ve used them with bigger cameras. Just wasn’t sure of your application. I think you’re out of luck, but if you do figure out a workaround, come back and let us know!

        Like

      • I too am looking for a suitable wired lanc controller for the NX30 when using it on a crane but there’s no socket for it on the camera. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

        Like

      • The NX30 does come with a remote controller which you can use to start and stop it (and zoom). I’d tend to not try to zoom on the crane as it’s not as good as professional zoom controllers. My X70 has a smart phone app that also allows me to remote control the camera. Not sure about the NX30. Google and see if the Sony Content Browser Mobile app will work with the NX30.

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  24. Ok, noob question here. I am now trying to import footage into my computer to edit some footage from my NX30. However, I have a Mac. I am starting to understand that only PCs are supported via direct USB connection to the camcorder. Is this accurate? If so, this was one oversight on my part. I guess I will have to buy a 64GB SD to allow faster file transfer otherwise.

    Like

    • Oops, I definitely made a noob mistake. I finally RTFM and used the included usb interface cable. Now my Mac sees the file structure. Too bad this extra cable is needed. Would have been great if the attached cable was all that was needed.

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  25. Thank you for such a comprehensive overview and review of the HXR-NX30. After much time researching compact pro-level camcorders, your insight really did justice to demonstrate what a small jewel this camera is.

    I put off its purchase for a couple of months in anticipation of a newer model to be released, but I have found nothing online to suggest such for this year. It’s a gamble since NAB’14 is next month, but I decided to purchase the NX30 due to upcoming projects this month. The recent price drop and rebate helped, but your review really sold me on the camera. Sony should hire you to do all their pro gear reviews 🙂

    Just arrived this week so I’m fiddling with it. I may post some questions here as it seems the most knowledgable people on this camera are active. Great stuff everyone.

    Like

  26. I’m getting delivery on an NX30 either tomorrow or on Monday. I’ve done a lot of research on videocameras, and I’ve searched my soul for what I need (vs what I want), and your blog, way more than anything else, has convinced me on the merits of the NX30. Thank you, thank you!
    (And what about the Canadian women’s hockey team in Sochi? awesome? or what?)

    Like

    • Great! Very shortly I’m going to do a new blog article on the NX30 now that I’ve put it through the hoops and learned a few things. It should be helpful. (I still think it the best camera I’ve ever owned)

      Like

  27. I do mostly web videos for clients. Recording in slow-motion mode at 200 FPS is the cropped picture 720 or smaller? Could it be used in a 720 video project? What is the real quality? I cannot find an answer on the web.

    Like

    • Well, it only records 3 second clips and stretches them out to 12 seconds, but you probably know that from your research. By looking at someone else’s test on YouTube I just went to settings and it gave me options all the way up to full HD so that answers that question. But even at full HD I must say the quality of the image was rather poor, so I wouldn’t bother with it. Shooting at 50p gives you a smooth slo mo at half speed. There was a sample shot of that (two people on bicycles) in the first review (part 1) on the NX30. Hope that helps.

      Like

      • Thanks for the quick reply. I just won an auction on ebay for one of these little camcorders. Is the picture quality up to specs when it comes to low light too? By the way I am an old dog too. Been doing this for about twenty years, ten of those at PBS in Wyoming.

        Like

      • Hey old dog, Not sure what you mean by “up to specs”, but I would say it’s the best low light video camera I’ve ever used. I was stunned. Of course there is always a point where you’re going to start seeing noise in the blacks, but this one holds off to the bitter end. I should qualify that by saying that I’ve not used or tested other cameras that may be as good, but for the price and it’s combination of features and the brilliance of its “intelligent auto”, I have no particular need to look for something better. My two cents.

        Like

  28. Hello There and greetings from Detroit, Michigan! I really love your Blog and website… and have learned a lot from watching your videos. In fact, your two-part video review of the Sony NX30u is what made me decide to buy this camera! It was the best & most complete review I saw. So far I love the camera! I do have a question though… what kind of Conversion lenses would you recommend? I would like to get a wide-angle lens since some of the things I am shooting are in small quarters, and everything won’t fit in the shot. I have tried to look online and I have seen some very cheap lenses on eBay, but they are no-name brand and I am sure the quality is horrible. I also looked on the Sony website, and they really don’t list anything for this camera, and in the manual it makes sure to point out that the Conversion lenses are sold separately… so I am assuming I will have to look for an after market brand. Can you recommend a good brand(s)… or a certain wide-angle lens for this camera?

    Thanks a million for your help!!!!!!!!
    John 🙂

    Like

    • All I found was this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-HD-Wide-Angle-Lens-for-HDR-XR350V-HDR-XR550V-HXR-NX30U-HXR-NX70U-/310825156181?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item485e9f7e55 on the ebay UK site. All I can say is DON’T buy a cheap one. You’ll hate it. (focus problems, distortion, etc.). It’s a bit of a gamble. Even this pricey one might not be the greatest, but you never know. I bought a wide angle conversion (Century Precision Optics–a good brand) for my old Canon XHA1 for about $450 and it was practically unusable. I’d only use it in desperation. On the other hand, of all the camcorders in the NX30 class, it’s the widest and I can’t imagine you’ll have many circumstances where you need to go wider. A wide angle conversion lens will probably be too wide and then if it’s the type that allows you to zoom in, you might find optical distortion. So…it’s a gamble. Don’t buy cheap and buy from someone that allows returns because you might not like it.

      Like

  29. Wondering about the horrible audio artifacts, some serious phase issues going on it sounds like to me. But is that the camcorder doing that, was audio from more than one source used? or some kind of conversion fault?

    Like

    • Not sure. Just checked and sounds clean to me. That was a Rode lavalier plugged into the NX30 XLR input. As far as I recall, I didn’t even mix it, nor were there faults I was trying to handle (as there have been in other videos!). Also, it’s been viewed over 20,000 times and this is the first comment on audio quality, so it could be something local to your system or player. Now if you were referring to the review of the EA50 on this blog, that’s another story! Anyone else out there hearing this?

      Like

  30. Thanks for your reply,
    Another important question.
    Can i use ef mount lens on it? Do you have a link where to buy such an adapter?

    Best

    Like

    • No, the NX30 comes with a fixed zeiss 17X zoom which is very good. I did another review on the EA50 which will take e mount lenses and has a full sensor that will give you that nice DSLR-type depth of field. That’s a $4000 camera. You’ll find that review on this blog. I think it’s the most recent entry which you’ll find on the home page.

      Like

  31. hello,
    it is very comprehensive blog, thanks for that.

    i’m looking forward to buy nx30, i have discovered that there is 3 versions

    1) NX30 > http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/853433-REG/Sony_HXR_NX30_HD_Compact_Camcorder.html

    2) NX30E > http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/893998-REG/Sony_HXR_NX30E_NXCAM_Palm_Sized.html

    3) NX30U > http://www.adorama.com/SOHXRNX30U.html?utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=cj_3629892

    i can see that 30E is significantly higher in price.

    do you have any info about this

    thanks

    Like

  32. Hi, thanks for the highly informative view. Do the avchd files from the camera hold up well to color grading? Is it easy to match it to shots from other cameras (such as canon dslrs)? Hope to hear from you soon

    Like

    • Hi Mark, I would say yes, but since I happen to have a Canon DSLR and a Sony NX 30, I think I’ll do a short test for you (and for everyone else to see). It might be a few days before I get to it, but it should be informative. The first thing I’ll do (which usually works well) is use the FCPX “match colour” button from the Sony to the Canon and see what that does with one click. If necessary, I’ll see if I can tweak it better with the colour tools. So stay tuned. If you’re subscribed, you’ll automatically be informed by email. Otherwise, check back in a few days.

      Like

      • Thanks, I was planning to buy an nx 30 for documentary work, with the Canon dslrs serving mainly as b-roll. Will check your blog for updates

        Mark

        Like

  33. Thanks for your review. Can you tell me what the difference between this camera and the Sony HDR-PJ790V?
    The PJ790V does not have the external mic like the Sony HXR-NX30U, so I’m debating which is the one to go with. Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi again, (just answered this on the YouTube page)–Yes, that’s the only difference. I’m pretty sure it has all the same features minus the professional audio block. The audio block has two XLR inputs with individual controls and the ability to record one mic on one or two channels or two mics separately. The internal mic on the consumer version (PJ790) will record sound, but it is probably an AGC default (automatic gain control) like most internal mics, good for vacation footage, not so good for professional work.

      Like

      • Hey – just for clarification – I made the mistake of thinking the PJ790V was the same, and bought it with the hope of adding the audio block later (it’s sold separately too). One really minor but actually quite important difference is that there is no cold shoe on the top of the PJ90V, which means even though you can plug in the audio block, there’s nothing to mount it to. Ditto with a small light I bought, no cold shoe to mount it to, so I had to buy a separate arm, which makes the whole thing quite ungainly.

        I’ve ended up selling my PJ90V and buying this unit above. When I don’t need the audio block I can take it off, and mount my light on the shoe provided. Much better.

        There are a few other differences internally too – a wider range of settings for format, a few more manual options, it’s definitely set up more to be a pro camera in a small body.

        Like

      • Yes, the other differences between the two is the PJ790 records in MP4 and has a 5.1ch mic. Don’t really need MP4 if using Final Cut Pro. And the 5.1ch mic just seems like a consumer gimmick. Go with the NX30. Plus Sony offers a $100 rebate if purchased through a authorized retailer. Full Compass had the lowest price when I made my purchase. Plus no tax!

        Like

  34. Hi Joe, have you had a chance yet to check out the Fixed Mode image stabilization to see how it compares to Active mode when you try to hold the NX30 still with no panning or other intentional movement?

    Thanks,
    Dale

    Like

  35. Hello Joe,
    I’am also very surprised by the quality of the NX30 image stabilization. However, I also like to mention that I can see in this footage 35 years of experience as a cameraman. Conclusion: we will have to practice to get the same results!
    Now I’ve said this, I have also a few questions.
    1. Does the microphone needs a windjammer in windy weather?
    2. Is the connection of the audio block to the camera sufficiently reliable?
    3. Is the connection with the hot-shoe is not a weak link?
    4. In low light the camera is ok, but does the camera really performs as well in bright daylight?
    5. 5. Can I shoot in HDV? I have two other Sony (tape) cameras, the FX1000 and HC9. I’am using Edius and expect to have to upgrade my computer when working in AVCHD.
    I hope you will answer my questions.
    Greeting from the Netherlands.
    Wim van Velzel.

    Like

    • Hi Wim, I’m sure any mic would benefit with a windjammer (dead cat) in windy weather. This does have a wind setting which might help. I usually don’t count on that camera mic for sound I want to keep. Yes, the audio block is a very clever and solid connection–not a weak link at all. It’s a bit more than the usual hot shoe fitting. On bright sunlight, if you saw that second video (part 2) a lot of it was shot on a bright clear day in Paris and I was very pleased with how it handled all lighting conditions that day. It’s definitely better than my older Canon XHA1 which, despite NDs, suffered in bright conditions. So with no NDs, this Sony handled it all. Mind you, I was on auto settings, so the camera selected aperture and shutter to deal with it when it had to. No, this one only outputs AVCHD. I think it was in this article that you’re responding to that I mentioned a great free tool that rapidly transcodes AVCHD if you need it. Greetings from the UK. Joe

      Like

      • Hi Joe,
        I finale purchased the NX 70, but I can’t export the images to an external harddisk drive with originally was formatted in NTFS. I can’t format it in FAT32 as needed. Do you recognitie this problem and do you know a solution for it?
        The NX70 has a active mode, but no floating system as in the NX 30. It seems to me that the stabilization of the NX 30 is a little bit beter. But I read somewhere that the NX 70 does not need this floating system because of it’s heavier weight.
        Thans for your comment!

        Like

      • Hi Wim, You didn’t mention what system you’re using. Mac? My external drives are formatted Max OS extended. Must be default because I never selected another format system. No problems with exporting to those drives. If you’re on a PC, I’m afraid I don’t know much about them.

        Like

  36. I just discovered your youtube channel and your blog’s review of the NX30. Thanks for an excellent review.

    I have the Sony CX-760V which also has the BOSS moving optical block stabilization. It does an excellent job with high-frequency small movements caused by hand-shake (which I have).

    However, I find it hard to hold my arms perfectly still when shooting hand-held (separate issue from the hand-shake). This results in small but noticeable movement in the video as the camera drifts slightly left to right and back, and perhaps a little up and down. Of course, it is exaggerated when zoomed in, but still shows up a little when shooting full wide. The 760V’s active stabilization does not remove that type of movement as well as I would like.

    Here’s my theory on what happens. The Sony designers of the stabilization algorithms had to deal with trying to determine which movement is intentional (panning for example) and which is unintentional. When movement begins, in the first fraction of a second there’s no way for the algorithm to know whether it is intentional. By the time it figures out that it is a brief movement and thus unintentional (not a pan), it is too late to stabilize it since the camera has already moved a little by the time the camcorder figures it out.

    What would be great would be a way to tell the camcorder that you intend to hold the camera as steady as possible, and do not intend to do any panning, tilting etc. Thus all movement will be unintentional and should be corrected immediately, rather than waiting to try to determine whether the movement is intentional or not.

    The NX30 has a stabilization mode that the 760V does not have: “Fixed Mode”. There is a button to activate it. The Sony website doesn’t provide much of an explanation of how that stabilization mode differs from Active Mode. I am wondering if it is exactly what I described above, such that in that mode the camcorder considers any movement unintentional and tries to correct it immediately. Is that what Fixed Mode does? Have you tried it to see if stabilizes better than Active Mode in shooting situations when you are shooting with no intended camcorder movement (i.e. no panning etc.)?

    That feature would be worth upgrading to the NX30 if that is what Fixed Mode is, and if it works well.

    I apologize for the long post, but wanted to explain my question as clearly as possible. Thanks.

    Like

  37. Trying to decide between the HXR-NX30U or the newer HDR-PJ790V. Differences I see is the PJ790V has a projector in capability, has Dolby 5.1 and also shoots in MP4. Is this enough to sway in favor of the PJ790V? Do you know of any other differences? Please help. Your input is greatly appreciated.

    Like

    • It’s basically a consumer version of the NX30 (which has been around since I reviewed the NX30). Primary difference is that it lacks the professional audio block which allows the plug-in of XLR cables for external mice and sound feeds. I’m sure it has the basic phone-type jack for external audio, so it really depends on your audio requirements.

      Like

      • Recording with internal mic produces result almost unwatchable due to high treble sounds and echoing effect. Settings in Audio are: Linear PCM, Blt-in Zoom Mic (off), Wind Nr (off), Mic level (Normal), Audio Output Timing (normal). Am I missing something on the adjustments? Or is this just the nature of these camcorders; mic picks up every noise around? Did a test with Nikon D7000. The Nikon did a 100% better job in the audio. I must be missing something. Please help Whisperer

        Like

      • Try Dolby digital instead of linear pcm. That’s what mine is on along with all the same settings you otherwise mentioned. Frankly the difference shouldn’t be that much. That said, one would hardly ever use that little internal mic (in ANY camera) for anything but emergencies or just recording “scratch audio” sometimes called “guide track”. The echo you hear in many on-line videos is simply the automatic gain control (AGC is the usual default for internal camera mics) cranking up to be able to get a level on someone talking too far away from that little mic–and that of course cranks up the entire room ambience as well. You’d be better off using the quite capable and supplied direction mic that plugs into the XLR connectors and has manually controllable levels. Your internal mic is AGC (automatic gain control) so it’s going to be seeking to maintain a constant level even while the level in the room are varied. Also, the further away the mic is the less bass it will pick up (lower frequencies) leaving mainly the mid to highs to register. The only way to get quality sound is by getting a quality mic into close proximity of the sound source plugged into a camera or other recorder that allows you to manually set the level. Then you’ll get all the frequencies from low to high. I use an AT 8031 (reporters mic) for interviews in noisy environments (such as a factory) with the mic held right up close, and I use a Rode lapel in quieter environments. I can’t think of a time I ever used either the internal mic or the supplied short directional mic for anything but guide track or low level sound effects.
        I’m shooting kind of broad here and a bit blind. Hope there’s something there that is helpful.

        Like

      • Hi Whisperer, you wrote: “I use an AT 8031 (reporters mic) for interviews in noisy environments (such as a factory) with the mic held right up close, and I use a Rode lapel in quieter environments.” Please elaborate, who is the manufacture the AT 8031 and the Rode lapel. What is the pricing of these mics? Also, have you compered the supplied external mic with the Rode lapel?

        Like

      • Audio Technica makes the AT 8031. Rode makes the Rode lapel. No I haven’t done comparisons with the supplied external. (while adequate, the microphones that cameras come with won’t be the best quality as that would jack up the camera price). As to prices and technical specs and all, google it for your area. Both mentioned may not be the high end, but they’re highly rated as to quality vs. price. I think they cost me £150 each, to give you an idea, but don’t take that as the price as I just don’t remember exactly.

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    • The NX30 does have the projector and does record in “Dolby Digital” (no other clarification on the Dolby type). However, if it is audio quality you are concerned with, it doesn’t appear that the PJ790V has professional sound recording capability (the audio block that allows XLR connections from Pro mics). It appears to only have a built-in mic. It looks like it’s just the upgrade of the consumer version of the NX30 which existed at the time I tested the NX30. Shooing MP4 might only be advantage if your editing system can’t take the AVCHD files. With FCPX, it’s no problem. Hope that helps a bit.

      Like

  38. Check out the BEST Sony NX30 video I’ve ever seen (or maybe any camcorder’s) on You Tube under Flood manila 7 August, 2012… near the end there are two unbelievable shots: one of a black umbrella against black water with the person holding the umbrellas in shadow. I’ve never seen black against black like that! Following immediately, I believe,is a shot of someone walking with a red umbrella against the gray floodwaters and background. Fantastic contrast. If this camera performs as well in bright light I’ll buy it straight up over the Canon XA20 (note, some cameras with great low light can’t handle bright sunlight – like my Android cell phone. I’d like to know what others think of this video.

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  39. What a great review of the Sony NX30! The speaker chooses his thoughts and words carefully and convincingly, and backs them up with real-time examples. I’ve browsed hundreds of reviews in the last 6 months, all types, all cameras. This is the first time I’ve been shown the real importance of good image stabilization above all else, and I’ll take that over a lot more bells and whistles available on other cameras. I want to point and shoot and not look like I was drunk. Thanks for caring about all us newbies out here.

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  40. Thanks for Your in-depth review! I was about to buy Canon XA20, but Sony had pop up. So, I’m confused which to chooce. Deffenetly need pro-sound. And I will be glad to save 500$. What is Your opinion about XA20? Is it worth an extra 500$? Did You consider the option of buying XA10, that is equal in price? For what specifications you have chosen Sony?
    I would appreciate an answer.
    Pavlo. Ukraine. Odessa.

    Like

    • Hi Pavlo, There are three similar cameras in this class including the Canon AX10 you mentioned. I forget off-hand what the third was. Of the three, the Sony had the largest image sensor which enabled it to have a wider aperture the widest angle lens of the three which presumably also is why it is so good in low-light conditions. I haven’t done any personal comparisons between them as I don’t own or have access to one. So to answer your question, it was the things mentioned above along with its stabilization that sold me on the Sony. When I then got it, I was further impressed, if not amazed, with its intelligent auto systems. Perhaps the others have them too, but it does seem the Sony has some leading edge innovations with the NX30 and 70.The Canon AX20 gives you an option of recording codecs–either MP4 or AVCHD. I don’t have any problems with the AVCDH in FCPX, so I would have no need for the MP4. The AX20 has a large zoom range, but again, depends on your needs. I prefer having a wider option and rarely need a long telephoto. You probably can’t go wrong whichever way you choose, but I must say that several subscribers to this blog and my YouTube channel have told me how much they love the Sony after having bought it based on this review. Do some research on your specific questions and needs in regards to these cameras on Google and I’m sure. As an additional note, the NX30’s bigger sister (NX70) has the same features but is also weather-proof (rain, dust, etc.) with otherwise the same features. Costs a bit more, but again, depends on your production requirements. Come back and let me know what you decide in the end! Good luck!

      Like

      • Pavlo, I was just looking at the specs of the AX20 and it would appear that it basically has everything the Sony NX30 has in terms of features, including some version of the “lens shift” stabilization in addition to the usual image stabilization and it’s version of intelligent auto. It has the same sensor size, and it appears that it goes as wide as the NX30 but more telephoto. It MAY also be more sensitive in low light but that would take a subjective test in my opinion to confirm. Of course it’s more expensive and a bit bigger, so it’s really the next class of camera. The AX10 (same class) does have a smaller sensor than the NX30 and otherwise has the Canon version of most of the same features, though not all. The AX10 does have two card slots instead of one which is a definite plus. I would guess the NX30 outperforms the AX10, but when you get into the next class (AX20…) it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

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  41. I’ve been looking at different cameras to invest in around the two thousand dollar range. I narrowed it down to the Canon XA20 and the Sony NX30.

    I really like the Sony’s features, like stablization and the already included mic, but am iffy on some of the manual control features. I’ve read that you can only change one aspect at a time manually, and it changes everything else back to auto when you do this. Or are there some more controls in the menus?

    The XA20 has a better build with buttons and a great sensor, but not the cool stabilizing feature the Sony has. I’ve been finding all the cameras at this price range are missing a few things here and there unfortunately.

    So how do all the controls work menu or button wise to adjust everything manually?

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    • Well, one additional important difference is that the Sony has a larger image sensor. There are two other cameras in this class, including the Canon you mention, and the Sony has the largest sensor. It therefore shoots slightly wider (and probably even better at low light), also a generally important consideration. I believe the others, conversely, have more at the telephoto end, but in most applications, that’s not what you’re looking for. As to your questions on controls, you can set various controls to manual, but if you want to vary one (say aperture), the manual control has to be set to what you want to manually adjust (focus, aperture, shutter, colour temp, etc.) one by one. Normally there’s only one of that lot that you’re going to be wanting to fiddle with (exception being focus), but the auto focus is dead accurate and fast. At any rate, as I mentioned in one of the reviews, that’s the compromise for this class of small, high quality camera. A lot of controls go into the menu. I’m not familiar with the difference of controls with the other camera’s so can only make this general comment. I qualify it however with this: I used to ALWAYS use manual controls for all aspects. The intelligent auto features on this camera are so good I have now almost totally swung over to intelligent auto (which has various options in the exposure area, for example. It does great on auto-colour, for example. Probably better than manual white balancing on some other cameras I’ve used. But then, if you want, you can turn on manual colour balance and tweak it infinitely to bring in the exact facial tones you want; something I’ve never seen before and which seems so obviously desirable. By that I mean I haven’t seen it before–not that it doesn’t exist elsewhere)

      Like

  42. love your review and im thinking about buying this camer though i have noticed that there a two versions Sony HXR-NX30U and Sony HXR-NX30P, sorry if it has been mentioned i have tried reading the post but couldnt find information on whats the difference.

    thanks,

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  43. Really enjoyed your reviews of Sony nx30. Online reports that XLR unit with mic causes problems with some kind of hum. Have you had chance to use external mic?

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  44. Hi V.W.,

    Thank you for putting together this site – I find it informative and interesting. The videos on the Sony HXR NX30 are excellent.

    I just bought the Sony HXR NX30 and started playing with it. I wonder what is the difference between recording 1080/50i and 1080/50ps. What are, if any, the consequences once working with the material in FCP X. Also, how many hours did the supplied battery work in a production situation?

    Like

    • “i” stands for “inter-laced” which is a picture created by lines being scanned across the screen at a certain frequency. “p” stands for “progressive scan” which basically gives you the full picture for whatever your frame rate is set for. So you’ll want the “p” settings for best quality, especially for internet. FCPX will work with either. I haven’t timed the batteries, but they last really long. I should say I bought the larger sized batteries. One lasted for the entire day on that shoot I did in France which is the second video in the review series. Best battery life I’ve experienced yet for a video camera.

      Like

      • Thank you for your reply. I’m shooting for broadcast, thus I’ll go with the ‘p’ choice. The camera user manual recommends to choose dolby surround sound when shooting ‘p’ – do you have any experience with such a set-up? What is your experience with the sound recording quality of the camera? All in all it’s an amazing little camera.

        Like

      • I’m not an audio expert, but the Dolby Surround is the industry standard. In the FCPX Audio menus you can set your final sound for stereo, mono, or all the way up to full Dolby surround.
        Further on battery life–and in response to Benny, it depends, of course mainly on how long the screen is on, as that is the main culprit for shortening battery life. You can set it so it goes off automatically after so many seconds or minutes. I think I have mine set for one or two minutes–which is unnecessarily long, but depends on the type of shooting you’re doing. If battery life is essential–such as for a live gig, you can set it to go off in a few seconds after use. It will turn back on automatically when you touch any button. As a symptom this internet age when we’re impatient when it takes 5 seconds to load a page, I set mine for a minute or two so I’m not having to constantly turn it back on.

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      • If you are shooting for BROADCAST then you most certainly DO NOT want to shoot and/or edit or output progressive! The only time you’ll want to shoot progressive is if the final product is definitely NOT going to see a TV (i.e. interlaced) screen!

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      • I’m somewhat confused now: In your first answer you said ‘p’ is for “best quality” material. Now you’re telling me that for broadcast I SHOULD NOT shoot ‘p’. In any case, I’ve the following questions:
        • Can I change the material from ‘p’ to ‘i’ or vis-versa in FCP X?
        • Where can I find the setting for the camera’s LCD switching off time?

        Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

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      • Wrong again. The same goes for DVDs since they are obviously ALSO encoded interlaced. There is no such thing as a progressive DVD since they were obviously meant to be played on your TV. SD formats are ALL interlaced. Progressive only became “the thing” with the advent of web video and HD.

        And if you shot at 25p then you’re out of luck. If you shot at 50p then you can edit in a project set to interlaced (25i or 50i) and FCP will use half of each successive frame to create one interlaced frame. That being PAL. The same goes for 27.97p/60p in NTSC.

        You’re way off with your interlace explanation, but before I go into some extensive explanation I’ll let Wikipedia speak for me:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlaced_video

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      • Watch this video: 8.24 Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. http://vimeo.com/73051661

        I shot this today. Sony HXR-NX30. Total run and gun. 100% handheld walking around, all shot Live, no post stabilization or post processing. Raw video and audio. Just used FCPX to cut it together.

        Amazing work these pet rescue people do.

        Believe in the NX30. It’s really good.

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      • Thank you for your swift reply. Yes, by broadcast I meant television. I did scroll through all the camera’s settings, alas I couldn’t find any that regulates the LCD’s switching off time.

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      • Hmm. I might have been thinking about my Canon 600 which I also use a lot. Just checked the manual on-line and don’t see the auto-time-out feature on the Sony. You can control it’s brightness (also a factor in battery usage). Now that I have that straight, I recall what I do with the Sony is simply close the screen when I’m not using it or between shots. That powers it down. Opening the screen powers it up in seconds. Sorry for being misleading. If you’re plugged into power, it doesn’t matter and you can just leave it on. To help make up for my silliness this morning, here’s a link to the larger batteries I use which are great and at a great price: http://www.amazon.com/Wasabi-Power-DCR-SR15-HDR-CX105-HXR-MC50U/dp/B0049WDMG4

        Like

      • The batteries you’re using indeed have a great price tag and you get two of them including a charger and car adapter. But, they are 2500 mAh compared to 3900 mAh of the equivalent Sony NP-FV100. The question is how many recharge cycles one can get from this ‘Wasabi Power Battery’ before it dies? In any case, thanks for the tip.

        Like

      • Yes, 2500 is advertised, but 3900mAh is what I got. Could be old image and text. I noted in reviews that someone else was happy to receive better than what was advertised. From what I can tell, the Wasabi’s are the most highly rated of all non-OEM batteries, most people saying stuff like “used for years, never any problems”. And the odd horror story as you can get with any battery. But there are lots of other non-OEMs that are POORLY rated, so avoid those. I’ve been using Wasabi’s for a couple years for my Canon XHA1, Canon 650 and, more recently, my GoPro Hero 3 and Sony NX30. No idea how many recharge cycles, but as I said, I’ve been using them for a couple of years–even more on my XHA1) and they still have a long charge. Funny thing is that the OEMs that come with the cameras when new are usually the smaller size, so I hardly even use the OEMs (except for the 650 where they are the same size). That’s just my take on them. Best to do a thorough study of on-line reviews and decide for yourself.

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      • 3900mAh are indeed good news. I did order yesterday the Wasabi’s. BTW, I too have a Canon XHA1 and wonder if there is a market out there for it. I live in The Netherlands where the second hand market for prosumer tape cameras is almost nonexistence.

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      • Hi there,

        Please share your workflow of ingesting material from the NX30 into FCP X, i.e., how was the camera connected to your Mac, in which mode it was and etc.

        Thanks.

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      • I mostly use the SD card (32 gb Sandisc Class 10). I power down the camera manually by pushing the off button after I open the screen, then remove and shove the card into my iMac. In FCPX simply click “IMPORT MEDIA” and the import window will show you the card and it’s contents. You can select all to import (and how) or select clips. As to how, I usually let it make optimized files and deselect all the automatic checks for color and sound. I’d rather do that manually as needed. If you need proxy files for multi-cam or multi-screen effects, you can make the proxy files later.
        Now, if you use the INTERNAL drive on the Sony for your media, it’s a bit different. You MUST plug the camera into power and use the provided cord to connect the camera with an external drive and then follow menu instructions. As soon as that cable is attached to the camera (in a jack inside the SD sliding door) and an external drive, the camera will recognize what you want to do and give you the menu which tells you what to do. Wait until it’s all done! Doesn’t take long but I don’t want to find out what happens if you unplug the camera or the cable before it’s done! It’s pretty simple, but not as simple as just using an SD card. When done you will have a single AVCHD file on your external drive. When you select IMPORT MEDIA now, that AVCHD file will show up in your window as all the separate video clips as usual and you import the usual way.

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      • Thank you for your swift reply. Yes, I’m using the internal drive. I just connected my NX30 to my Mac Pro via the built-in USB cable. The camera asked if I want to start USB connect, upon initiating USB connect the camera’s internal drive appeared on the desktop as a NO NAME drive. Then FCPX Import Media function saw the NO NAME drive and I could import the AVCHD material. It’s a slightly different workflow than you described but it seems to work as well. Do you think there is a difference in connecting via the USB jack or the built-in USB cable when importing from the internal drive?

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      • Sounds like you did exactly what I was describing except your “external drive” (external to the Sony) was your MacPro. I put my media on an external thunderbolt drive rather on the iMac’s drive. The editing program can then access the media faster. So, if I understand you, you’re doing exactly what you need to do to import form the Sony’s internal drive. By the way, you can give “no name” a name by “right clicking” on “No Name” which will give you a drop down menu with an option to re-name “No Name”. (I put “right clicking” in quotes because I use a track pad, not a mouse, so a two-finger tap gives me the drop-down menu).

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      • Yes, I did almost the same of what you described beside using the built-in USB cable (plugged into the grip belt) rather than the USb jack to connect the camera to the computer. I guess using a SD card will simplify matters. Thanks for the tip for changing the camera’s internal drive name – elementary 🙂

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  45. Mr. Whisperer,

    Enjoy your articles and the videos – you also have a ‘voice for radio’ – ever do any broadcasting in a past life?

    My questions: How do you like the electronic viewfinder on the little Sony? How is the Sony’s led screen for framing and composition when you’re outdoors? I’m considering a camera purchase between the NX30 and one of the new Canons like the XA20 or it’s sibling the Vixia 30, the latter not having the XLR inputs. I find that when outdoors the led screens can get washed out and you have to do the ‘sunshade with the hand’ thing. Having the evf can be helpful but looks like the Sony’s is kind of small. Does it pull out? Articulate up or down? I know the Canons do.

    Thanks again for the great contributions and encouragement you provide.

    Mark in Cleveland OH

    Like

    • Hi Mark, Well I find it to be quite bright and perfectly usable outdoors. Of course when the sun is shining on it it’s like any other–you’ve got to shield it, but I don’t often shoot with the sun behind me anyway. Even so, it can be brightened from its default setting which is all I’ve ever used. Yes, it pulls out and articulates like the Canon.

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      • Thanks for the reply. So the electronic view finder – the aperture on the back of the camera you hold your eye up to – does pull out and articulate on the Sony? Want to distinguish this from the large LED touchscreen on the side Thx!

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      • Oh that! Yes, it pulls out and up, but I can’t imagine ever using it. I think I looked through it once out of curiosity. I’d consider it the next thing up from useless.

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      • Many years ago I used to be a freelance local news cameraman for Harlech Television (HTV) shooting mono using a Bell & Howell 70DR with a set of Taylor Hobson & Lens, so that makes me a pensioner.

        I have dabbled with domestic camcorders but nothing that serious, I was given a set of Sony Vegas Pro 12 software so started to look around for a good camcorder and read you review, a NX30E is now on its way.

        One of the main things I will be using it for is videoing gundog competitions involving dogs running at all angles in and out of different cover therefore different lighting conditions, I have managed to get some good photos using spot metering and continues focus tracking with my Nikon DXLR but it’s a challenge so any tips are welcome.

        I will be editing then rendering to Blu-ray as well as DVD and to a website, what would be the best format to use and why, I’m thinking of 1080i or 1080p but not certain of the pros and cons? I’m looking forward to your comments.

        John

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      • Hi John, You’ll want to shoot and edit in 1080p at 50p. That’s your frame size (1080) and your frame rate (50). “i” means “interlaced” like your old Bell & Howell for TV and “p” means progressive scan which means every single one of your frames will be full resolution.
        As to any other advice on shooting a small moving target that constantly changes directions…uh, good luck!!
        But seriously, the camera’s the best of any video camera I’ve ever used on focus tracking, but under those conditions it could fail you now and then just like your DSLR. You should practice and try different focal lengths. Staying a bit looser may make it easier for you to follow the dog and then you have the option to crop the shot closer in editing. Don’t forget, even at 50p, you’ll have a certain degree of blur from the movement (less than at 24p). You can also experiment with different shutter speeds which you can also adjust. And finally, Google it. You might get some better advice from those who have a lot more experience shooting dog shows or similar with video. Cheers!

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  46. Hi Joe,

    I have to film a company conference coming up but I have no experience in filming events or anything at all!

    I was wondering if this camera would be decent and if you had any tips? Thanks mate.

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    • Hi David, Of course it would, but if this is a one-off, it’s probably more than you need if you’re not then going to get into the video business. Filming an event is normally a multi-camera affair and normally you’d be taking sound from the mix board which requires a pro-sumer camera with audio XLR inputs (like this one), but I gather you’ll be doing it alone. If the company is going to finance the equipment, you can’t go wrong with this for the various reasons covered in the video. But if not, get a cheaper consumer HD camera and a tripod, point and shoot. About the best I can advise based on what you’ve told me.

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  47. Mr. Video Whisperer, I find your posts very informational and inspiring. I’ve been in the biz as an Internet talk show host producer editor for 18+ months using my iMac camera and iMovie. (http://makesomethinghappen.tv) I’ve since been asked to shoot workshops and company intros (I borrowed a JVC consumer for these). Now I have my first major event and have been reading as much as I can and took a video editing course as I am investigating which software to use. Bottom line I need a camera or two and find it daunting as to where to start. I have been researching like crazy. I like what you with the live gig as a one-man shoot. My event is a 1.5 day conference with a main event and breakout workshops. Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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    • First of all, good for you Audrey for jumping in there and making something happen. I watched a bit of your show on the home page.

      In terms of the show itself, the first thing to improve it would be sound. That requires lapel microphones for you and your guest and a camera that will accept a mic input. That on-camera microphone makes the sound too distant (lack presence) and echoey. But mainly, it’s a strain to hear clearly what’s being said.

      Next up (as you asked me) would be a camera for your show and your events. I’d recommend the one in that post you read (Sony HXR NX30) or the Canon XA10. They’re comparably priced at a bit under 2000 USD. Now you don’t really need the stabilization features of the Sony, but I’m so impressed with its intelligent auto features that I think you’d love it. Both cameras have professional audio capability–which means they have “XLR” audio inputs which is the professional input you see at the end of audio cables that your mic will attach to.
      Of course I don’t know what your budget is, but I’d recommend two of either of those cameras. Then your set for both fantastic image quality and good sound.

      As to editing software, since you’re familiar with iMovie (and can probably get along with that for a bit), you should upgrade to FCPX which is inexpensive and (besides a lot of other things) and, in the case of your event, allows you to do “Multi-cam” editing. You need to have at least two cameras on that event. If you go this route I STRONGLY suggest you go to izzyvideo.com and watch his FCPX basic tutorial (free). That will get you up and running real quick (faster than you think). You then have to option to do his advanced series of tutorial for about 49 bucks. Well worth it. After that, you’re set. If you ever get stuck, you just google your question and you’ll have enough basic knowledge to understand the answer to your bug and fix it (and so learn from it).

      On an event, you lock one camera down on a tripod with a shot of the speaker (close enough to see facial expressions and gestures, but not a full close-up (face shot). It needs to be loose enough for him to move around in the frame. If you can get another camera operator, then you’re fine because he or she can follow the speaker as needed. Not a bunch of zooming in and out. Just keep the guy in frame and adjust the frame size subtly as needed.

      With your second camera you get a different angle on the speaker, part of the time, and the rest of the time, as appropriate, get a bunch of shots of the audience, faces, reactions, different images sizes from close to long shot, applause, etc. That stuff will come in handy when you’re editing. You can seamlessly cut out mistakes, erroneous stuff, or simply just condense the speech to it’s essence. You use your audience shots to cover the cuts.

      With that Sony it’s quite easy to run around and do all this hand-held while making it look like it’s on a tripod. That means you have the freedom to move quickly around the venue getting different interesting angles to cut in with the main camera shot. There are tricks to the trade I can tell you about and it does require an ability to hold the camera steady, but it makes all the difference in the world to be able to have that freedom to move around without dragging a tripod around and having to set it up all the time. In fact, you’d hate that so much you’d probably never move it and therefore your footage will be a bit monotonous.

      The other reason you need this camera with professional audio capability is that at an event you want to be plugged into the main mix board on your main camera to get the sound right off the mic. You don’t want to be trying to pick up the ambient sound from the speaker system as it will sound awful. So you either run a cable from the mix board right into your camera or you run a cable from your camera to your own microphone on stage.
      That’s a whole new world of stuff (microphones) so you’ll probably have further questions.
      Hope that helps.

      Like

      • Joe, thank you so much for your honest feedback. And thank you for watching my show. Your professional opinion is well received. I once recorded my show in a church through their audio video system and I absolutely LOVED what I heard. I’m taking a month off from the show to upgrade, so I will definitely take your advice of the audio. I remember struggling with the audio with this guest. At first he was too low, then he was real loud. It was awful trying to balance in iMovie.

        I look forward to getting some new gear and plugging into the FCPX training.

        Thanks for offering to answer more questions. I’ve got my work cut out for me. I want to have everything down 30 days or more out from the event date.

        Blessings

        Like

      • Just remember. No matter how good the videography is, if the audio is poor its almost useless.

        Like

  48. I just purchased the NX30 and notice there is no shoulder strap for carrying around while “vacationing”. Do you use a carry case that will accommodate the XLR block while attached. Any recommendations?

    Thanks

    Like

    • I just grabbed an old unused camera bag. It’ll fit in practically any small padded SLR case. But if you’re vacationing, why not ditch the XLR block. Then it’s a featherweight palm camera. You’ll still get sound. That’s what I did for a whole day and wound up never even using the bag.

      Like

  49. Hi,

    I’m very excited for having found your blog… especially for the NX 30 review (but not only).
    Could you please give some more details about the 24p capability of NX 30? I find that listed in the User manual (me too, I read instructions, when everything goes wrong), but when I visited some Sony stores recently, I asked them to allow me playing a little bit with the camera, and surprisingly – there is no 24p option!
    Of course, I’m talking about the NX30 E version, standing for Europe.
    Does the one you own have this option?

    And, if you please allow me a second question, what do you think about the 25p option? As a curious guy, I just switched it on and was confused because moving the camera makes the picture quite… choppy / jerky… sorry if that’s not the right term.
    Obviously, I tested only inside the store at artificial lights.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Hi Mike, No, mine also has just the European standards. You can probably get firmware done by Sony to have it do both PAL and NTSC, but you’d have to ask Sony. I had a US Canon XHA1 and when I came to England I had Canon make it switchable to PAL as well though I don’t know if I asked for 24 fps as well. Personally I’ve never understood this desire to have video look like “film” by shooting at 24fps. As far as 25p goes, here in UK and Europe all your mains (and therefore the frequency of interior lighting) is 50hz, so by shooting at either 25 or 50p, you don’t wind up with phasing whereby the frequency of lights are out-of-sync with your camera. I actually keep mine at 50p because that gives a lot more information (twice as many frames for the same unit of time) to work with and makes slow motion effects a breeze. As far as the choppy/jerky problem you had, most likely it had something to do with the frequency of the fouro lighting in the store. You can always vary the shutter speed to handle or minimize that.

      Like

      • Many, many thanks for your explanations…
        You work at 50p, OK, but does your work involves shootings for the TV broadcast or just for the web and PC, because I think (correct me if I’m wrong) that for broadcasting it would be essentially better/obligatory to have it recording at 50 interlaced (rendered in a 25.00 fps PAL timeline). What’s your advice, as a pro?

        As far as I understand, you are a FCP guy. So, do you have any issues importing AVCHD clips with DolbyDigital stereo sound, produced by the camera, directly on the timeline, or you have to convert/decompress at least the sound. I think most of the NLEs can’t handle the DD sound directly? I have in mind Premiere Pro…

        Like

      • No I don’t shoot for broadcast. Broadcast specs (for example the BBC) may require a higher specced camera. In the Prosumer class, Canon, for example, has one that qualifies, but usually you have to have a qualifying professional camera. I guess it depends on who you’re working for. But honestly, I’m not an expert in that field.
        As to importing AVCHD files, FCPX has no problem importing the files with Dolby Digital, but honestly I don’t know if it compresses the audio. I rather think it doesn’t. I do know you can set up surround sound and all that, but as I produce mainly for web, it’s not an area I’ve had much to do with.
        I’m sure you can’t go wrong with Premier if you’re headed in that direction.
        Wish I could be of more help, but I know there are plenty of people out there that will be able to directly answer those questions.

        Like

  50. What a brilliant review and I’m looking forward the seeing your comments on its low light performance. I take a lot of photos of gundog training and working tests and would like to start making some HD videos as well, the NX30 with its auto tracking of focus and exposure along with the stabilisation should give me a fighting chance of some good footage along with some good stills as well, I only get one shot at it there is no take two. Now how can I get my wife to let me have one, anybody got a clip of Brad Pitt taken with a NX30.

    Like

  51. How does this camera connect with Avid Media Composer 6.5?
    The Avid system says it does not support this camera’s picture format for import…… How come?????

    Kari

    Like

    • You’ll find there are free or cheap and very good programs that will take the ACVHD file and convert them to whatever your Avid system wants. For example, I tried one that converts AVCHD to .Mov called ClipWrap and was astounded at how fast it did it and the quality of the result (essentially a fully uncompressed original file). ClipWrap may also convert to other formats.

      Like

      • What does my point about IMPORTING have to do with question about IMPORTING (that I was replying to)??!! LOL… denial without rhyme nor reason? 😀

        You clearly didn’t grasp that the point was that *FCPX* is the one that is the NLE for *this* century and not the *last*, as Avid clearly is, and I think everyone knows that APPLE certainly isn’t the one with their financial arms flailing. Avid hasn’t turned a profit since 2005! (gee, wonder why??) But I admit the wording could have been better. My bad. 🙂

        I’m just intrigued that people still like to throw around the “pro” moniker gratuitously as a weak excuse for an NLE that isn’t even capable of importing material from a camera like this (and many others) without constant futzing around.

        Like

    • Try using an NLE geared for this century from a company that isn’t on its last financial legs, such as FCP X, and you won’t have to futz around for something so ridiculously basic as importing footage natively from a camera like this. You even get the side-effect of editing twice as fast as before to go with it.

      Like

      • The above reply was of course meant to land down here, but this reply system is a useless mess.

        Like

      • Oh, so it’s my bad. One could easily interpret your first post as the opposite of what you meant (as I did).
        Well I happen to agree with you, but I got kinda tired of the whole FCPX debate a while back. So maybe it’s not the best for broadcast work, but so what? Most of those complaining aren’t doing broadcast work anyway. Personally I think the most ardent attackers aren’t really pro anyway as pros don’t act like that. So they get stuck with their pronunciamentos and now would look silly if they came back. On the other hand, there are some real pros who came back and have said basically what you said, “hey, this FCPX is actually pretty damn good…and fun…and fast”.
        Sorry for the misunderstanding. And for the reply system! Oh well.

        Like

      • How is it not the best for broadcast of all things? If anything, that’s what it’s best at due to the database driven underpinnings. You may want to check out FCP’s “In Action” page for starters. 😉

        http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/in-action/
        In particular the bottom three.
        Or http://www.fcp.co

        I also just finished an HBO pilot on X. Pure brilliance.

        But yes, the discussion is a nonsensical one. Driven by last century editors that are unwilling and incapable of leaving their hard trodden path of familiarity and comfort. Scared shitless of technical evolution and of becoming irrelevant (for which they themselves are the biggest catalyst’s of by that fact alone). They desperately cling to the age old adage of “Pro is when something is frighteningly expensive and even more complicated”, both of which FCPX isn’t, so it is a clear threat to their world. Their feeble solution is to trash talk and ignore it in the desperate hope it will go away, whilst not grasping that exactly for that reason no one even cares what they think and they merely make utter fools of themselves.

        History repeats itself, since it was the exact same drivel when FCP 1.0 came out. And Apple has in fact already sold a multiple of X licenses than it ever did of FCP 7, so I’m hardly worried that I could have made the wrong decision. 😀

        But bottom line is that everyone needs to choose the tool(s) that suit his/her needs best. My original point being that AVID clearly isn’t it, at least in this context. 😉

        Like

      • I stand corrected! You see? I fell for one of those “Pro” pronunciamentos about its unsuitability for broadcast work!

        You have to give Avid some credit though. That’s what started the NLE revolution back in–what was it? 1985? We had, at the time, one of the biggest Avid editing bays in the world. I remember we had a (then) staggering 12 terrabytes of storage. (I have half that sitting on my little desk right now).

        It’s just that Apple has a way of simplifying things and making them work sensibly. Little things and big things alike. (OK, you’ve got me going)

        1. Of course you want that last edit saved. Duhh. (automatically saves constantly and allows infinite undos since the project was opened up)
        2. You want that NTSC shot on the PAL timeline? Ok, here it is. You work with it and I’ll transcode it in the background. And make it look nice too.
        3. Plug in any card, just about any camera. Obviously you want it transcoded without any quality loss as needed. Duh. No dumb questions.
        4. Drag something off your desktop or another drive in to the program? Obviously you don’t want to see “media offline” later when you trash your desktop or disconnect that drive or card, so it’ll be automatically copied into your event folder. (Ugh–the number of times I forgot to manually put the stuff in the right folder in FCP7! and then had to go and find it all again)
        5. Hmm. That last edit could throw all your audio tracks out of sync. Obviously you didn’t want that. No worries. I’ll keep it all in sync. (and the number of hours I spend trying to mend audio tracks in FCP7 that I hadn’t realized I knocked out of sync until 50 edits later!)
        6. Fantastically simple, fast and intuitive media management system for organizing your stuff prior to editing.
        7. And so on.

        But mainly, it just makes editing so much more fast and fun, doesn’t it?

        (and now, seamlessly switching back to the main topic of this post) …and that’s also why I like this little Sony HXR NX30. It’s smart in a way that makes shooting so much more fast and fun. Really smart.

        Like

      • Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to say “Avid sucks!” or even Premiere or Vegas or whatever. Because unlike all the polemic FCP X pundits, I know I don’t know them well enough (anymore) to act like I have the slightest clue what I’m talking about or dare judge their “professionalism” when it comes down to it. Yes, Avid can take full credit as THE pioneer of desktop editing, no question. Only their first and foremost biggest problem was and IS to this day: ARROGANCE. Not wanting to taint their oh-so-pro reputation by giving in to TODAY’S production environment. Not letting off the proprietary hardware soon enough (because they know so much better). Not dropping prices to a COMPETITIVE level and embracing the up-and-coming editors (yes, BEGINNERS) as, yes, X does and there is ZERO shame in that (especially economically), but they rather cater to their existing and quickly dwindling(!) user base.

        And to your point #5… oh-em-gee… YES!! It just boggles my mind that ANYONE could actually consider the magnetic timeline a HINDRANCE or DISADVANTAGE!! I took one look at it at honestly wondered: WHY THE **** hasn’t always been that way??! It seems so obvious that it should! Exactly for the reason that you mention.

        Anyone that makes that claim is clearly either not even an editor with experience worth mentioning OR just plain hasn’t used and/or grasped it OR… both. Anyone listing the MT as anything but one of the biggest godsends of FCP X (next to its incredible overall speed) has ZERO credibility in my book and doesn’t even deserve my attention. 😉

        Cheers.

        Like

  52. Bonjour Video Whisperer, je suis sur le point d’acheter cette magnifique camera et j’ai visionné pas mal de “tutorials”. je dois dire que votre approche est l’une des plus intéressante car elle rencontre parfaitement l’idée suivante : filmer demande un oeil, une envie, une fantaisie, et une impulsion, … la technique quelle qu’elle soit ne doit QUE servir à libérer l’artiste et non le rendre esclave. vous m’avez donné la dernière impulsion… I’m sure now I’ll do the best choice for myself and the way I like doing videos from around the world and others, … capturing the moment with my sensitivity.

    Thank you for having testified, in a such simple way direct through your pro-eyes, …

    If needed I could translate my bloody french into english as well 🙂

    JP @ Namur city Belgium

    Like

  53. I am a new videographer covering my new local government. I got into this to simply create a video record of the formation of the new city and give the citizens a forum to which they could see it all – as they rarely attend the public meetings.

    I’ve enjoyed watching your videos and am very inspired to get better at what I do. To date, I show up, plug in and go. I am shooting with a consumer grade Sony camcorder outfitted with a Rode VideoMicPro, a ZOOM Q2hd for Live Streaming and a Nikon V1 DSLR. I am seriously thinking about the HXR-NX30 as it has the XLR input etc., etc, and the fantastic image stabilization and lowlight features.

    At some point I do plan on documentary filmmaking and have learned an awful lot in my 6 months doing this.

    What I am curious about is outfitting the HXR with a secondary lavalier wireless mic which I will place beside the sound reinforcement system, have the shotgun mic stationed alongside the receiver for the lavalier going into the 2nd XLR input. Have you ever done this and what lavaliers are you fond of?
    Thank you very much.

    Julius Benton thebrookhavenpost.com

    Like

    • Hi Julius, Yes, you can attach a wireless receiver to the hot shoe on top of the audio block and plug it into one of the two XLR imputs. It comes with a nice Sony directional mic, so that’s a good choice for the 2nd XLR input which makes you cableless with two mics. You can also get adapters so that your wireless receiver goes directly into the Zoom H2. It’s pretty flexible.
      As to choice of wireless systems. Of course Sennheiser has top-of-the-line and it’s pretty pricey. I use an Azden 105UPR wireless receiver and transmitter with a Rode lavaliere. The Azden wireless has never given me any problems, but it’s better to upgrade the lapel mic as the one provided with the Azden is not the best.

      I just got back from a trip to Paris and shot all day and night (till 1am) with the HXR-NX30 in both video and still mode. In a week or so I hope to do another video showing the results which, to me, were positively amazing–especially at night (without even going into “Nightshot” mode). Very sensitive, very smart in balancing colour temperature automatically, and pretty darn grainless even in very dark conditions.

      Like

  54. I’m probably going to update the video review on this soon with more moving shots, night time shooting and STILLS.

    Just took some friends on a trip to Paris and used this camera exclusively as both a video camera and still camera–shooting all day as we toured the city till 1am with the camera in its compact mode. It continues to blow me away at how it intelligently manages exposure, focus and colour temperature automatically and how easy it is to switch between video and stills–

    Like

      • Thanks Jean-Paul. I use the XLR inputs for pro work. If you take off the XLR handle (as I showed in the video) the built-in mic is really only good for recording “guide track”. When the XLR bock is on, the mic that Sony provides with the camera is a good quality directional mic. You can either use that alone, in combination with another external mic, or take it off and provide two external mics of your choosing. Also, there is an additional hot shoe on top of the XLR block to which you could attach a radio mic receiver.

        Like

  55. Charlie–it’s got a zoom rocker on the top rear in the opposite orientation you’re used to, but it still makes sense as it’s a small camera and works with how you would hand-hold it. You can also use the touch screen arrows to zoom. No, I’m not familiar with those other cameras.

    Like

  56. You have the best review on the web and I really appreciate it — you’ve piqued my interest in this nifty ground breaking camera. Thank you. But the nut I can’t seem to crack is how the manual capabilities work. As someone who has shot several documentaries and more, is this something that will drive a pro crazy or will I be able to keep everything on manual while adjust only what I care about? In other words — will I need another manual-friendly camera to shoot interviews and run & gun stuff? Is this camera just for auto settings while skateboarding?

    Like

    • Thanks Charlie, You can put everything in manual. There’s a knob on the front you can press to select focus or exposure, color temp or whatever to activate manual which is then controlled by turning the knob. You might find it a pain in the butt for focus as you’re not actually turning a lens barrel, so it’s not ideal, but you can turn off any automatic feature. On the other hand, there are many variations of its auto features also. For example, on face recognition you can set it both for focus and exposure of a face–or just focus. It may drive the pro crazy, but it’s a different sort of tool that’s actually perfect for certain types of usage. You might suddenly find value in its auto capabilities that you never considered beneficial before, just because they are pretty intelligent features.

      Like

      • That’s what I was hoping — that there are some intelligent settings that make a lot of sense. The face recognition in combination with auto exposure sounds like it has incredible potential with existing light/exposure changing interviews (and keeping everything consistent for editing). Yes – the knob rather than turning a lens or rings on say a Panasonic AC90 is a bit unsettling but I can imagine getting used to it. Are you familiar with the AC90 (or anything else in this price range)? If one is willing to put up with minor gremlins in this ground breaking Sony, in your opinion would you think that it has any major problems in comparison to those other cameras? I hear there is no zoom switch (rocker?) on the top for example. Although I could get used to that as I’m trained as a still photographer.

        Like

  57. I didn’t read your intro about four different cameras being used before I viewed it ( hey…I don’t read instruction manuals first either). After the third view I still think that the 30 is as good or better than my trusty XHA1 (I use two XHA1s) and probably better in autofocus (xha1’s autofocus has some intelligence problems). Yea the xha1 is a 1440 camera and the nex30 is 1920 and that could explain the sharper picture in the 30 but at $2K the 30 seems like a contender for the entry level pro-sumer camera of the year. I want to see it stacked up against the VG-900… just for giggles of course.

    Like

      • Hi. I’m a run and gun reporter and ran into some of the same stabilization issues. That is the main reason most reporters still have shoulder mounted cameras in an interview situation. I was experiencing the “drifting” too when panning but after I got used to it, I figured out the speed in which to pan, mostly caused by abrupt starts and stops from a stationary position. I shoot with an NX30 and find it great for ENG once stabilized.

        What I did purchase is an ikan Flyweight DSLR Camera Stabilizer shoulder mounted rig that has an integrated tripod mount. So when I am at an event, I mount the camera on top of the ikan, then place that on top of the tripod. When I am ready to walk around or do interviews, a quick release and I am off.

        Perhaps this is not the same application in which you use your camera, but for reporters, this is a great accessory and provides great stabilization.

        Cheers.

        Like

      • Good point. I used to use the old Sony 70is betacam shoulder mount for reporter-type situations and it was well designed for steady hand-held work (though it weight 17 or 18 pounds!). To use that little NX30 for that type of work, you’d definitely need some sort of shoulder mount to get it up to the right level. I can’t imagine trying to hold it with one hand up at shoulder level. I tend to hold it with two hands in front of me for most of my “steadicam” type shots, whether of people or backgrounds. I use a tripod for interviews which are usually sitting down. But reporters would well take your advice on a good shoulder-mount rig.

        Like

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