Sony PXW-X70

Just bought one.

Most of you know how much a fan I am of the HXR NX30 and the first question many will ask is: ‘Does it have the same stabilisation?’

In a word, yes. Except it’s even better.

That 1″ sensor is 4K ready, which means it’s not just any ole 1″ sensor.

You can record in AVCHD like the NX 30, but it’s default is XAVC which is better than HD.

Currently not supported by all NLEs, including FCPX, but I’m pretty sure they soon will all be able to handle it as it’s a codec designed for 4K.

Not to worry. There’s a workaround for transcoding to ProRes using Sony’s Catalyst Browse program. Bit of a pain in the butt, but I wouldn’t sweat it.

I’m absolutely stunned by this camera.

My wife and I each have a Land Rover Discovery 300TDI because we love them so much. The engine is immortal and pretty good fuel economy for a 6000 pound car (35 on the highway). Battle tank reliable.  I’d say the NX30 is the Land Rover 300 TDI. The X70 is the Range Rover. Cost a bit more (£1800) and about twice as big and twice as heavy, but it’s still on the small side, is easy to handle and carry and lightning fast to shoot with.

Lots of improvements over the NX30 (two card slots, ND filters, and lots of easy access buttons for various assignable modes, focus, exposure, shutter speed and more.

It’s the perfect run ‘n gun camera for all the reasons the NX30 is and more.

And yes, I’ll be doing a review in the next couple of weeks. Not just footage. This time I’m going to go through the camera’s layout and settings as well.

In fact, I think the book ‘Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide’ will be out around the same time.

Just wanted my subscribers to know I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth and there’s some good stuff coming.

 

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66 responses

  1. Awesome! I can’t wait to see what you come up with in regards to picture profiles. As always….. Thanks for all the great information! Ray

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    • Just bought the last one at Samy’s yesterday. Now for the learning curve.
      £2000 in UK $2000 USA I just hope they are reliable as this will be classed as a grey import.

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  2. I have a big problem concerning the audio – the XLR shoe is very noisy. I tried everything – switching CH2 to line, but it seems that the problem persists. Whenever I connect the unit and switch CH1 to +48db the noise is terrible. Do you know any solution with this? Thanks in advance!

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    • It’s either a fault with the camera or you’re giving phantom power to a powered mic. (does your mic already have a battery in it? If so, you can remove the battery and use the phantom power)

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      • Thank you for your answer!
        I’ve been through some tests and found out that the problem is a communication one between the camera and rode ntg2. It seems there is an incompatibility there – if I use phantom for rode, the camera generates a lot of noise. With other mikes, sennheiser 416 for example everything works fine.

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      • This is very bad news Vlad. I just bought a Rode NTG2. Can it be it’s your specific Rode that cause the noise and not all Rode NTG2?

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    • I just tried the Rode NTG2 with my Sony PXW-X70. The background noise is noticeably higher than the one generated by Sony mics (ECM-MS2, ECOm-NV1 and others) but still barely acceptable (although disturbing).
      In a silent environment, the display audio gauge shows 1.5-2 notches vs 1 stable notch of the Sony mics. It is unlikely that Sony will address this problem via firmware, therefore we will have to buy another shotgun mic! Always unpleasant surprises!.

      How many notches do you show with your Rode NTG2, anyway?

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  3. Love this camcorder… I’m looking forward to going through the menu, settings, picture profiles that you feel are essential. This would be such a great help for all of us learning this camcorder. Thank you so much for all your work. Ray

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    • Picture profiles is my next thing to tackle–thanks to those commenting here and on YouTube who have brought it to attention as a very useful feature. So, for the moment, we’re in the same boat.

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      • Thank you for your reply. I find out something new and interesting everytime I visit your site. Can’t wait to see how you and others tweak their PP with this camcorder. You are a wealth of information and I for one, sincerely appreciate your help and expertise. Ray

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    • It seems there is an incompatibility between PXW X70 and Rode ntg2. I’ve tested phantom with other recorders and it seems my rode is doing fine. At this moment i am using this microphone with pxw set on mic (not 48v) and i plan to buy another microphone to use it with phantom. You should do some tests and listen to the results b

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      • Interesting. I might suggest–since you’re planning to get another mic–to get the Audio Technia 8071 (cardiode) or 875R (super cardiode), both great mics priced similar to Rode (and much less than the Sennheisers). I have both with no issues and great sound. I used the rifle one (875R on the recent review of the Flexlite

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  4. Another important feature is light sensitivity but Sony specs are not that clear:
    60i]*2 3lux (1/60 Shutter Speed, iris/gain AUTO [50i]*3 3lux (1/50 Shutter Speed, iris/gain AUTO)
    [60i]*2 1.7lux (1/30 Shutter Speed, iris/gain AUTO) [50i]*3 1.7lux (1/25 Shutter Speed, iris/gain AUTO)
    If AUTO gain is set at 30dB this means a lot of noise, and this is where the X70’s main competitor, the Panasonic HC-X1000, falls short even if it has better characteristics: http://www.trustedreviews.com/panasonic-hc-x1000-review.
    Whisperer, how would you rate the X70’s light sensitivity? I found the NX30’s sensitivity just acceptable.
    Also, did you update the X70’s firmware to the new version 1.02?

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    • Love this camcorder… I’m looking forward to going through the menu, settings, picture profiles that you feel are essential. This would be such a great help for all of us learning this camcorder. Thank you so much for all your work. Ray

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    • Scheduled to finish up the main shooting tomorrow which means I’ll probably have the review done early next week. I can tell you there will be some interesting footage though. Tagged along with the Belvoir shoot yesterday, the first part of which was in the pouring rain. (for you Americans, a ‘shoot’ is a traditional English pheasant, grouse and duck shoot, typically done on a large estate–in this case, the Belvoir Castle estate.

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      • Sounds interesting. As an American – the first thing I think of is a skeet shoot with someone screeching PULL!!! Obviously not a focus puller. Was hopeful to hear some love it-hate it first impressions – but time is on our side – so I shall patiently await your take.

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  5. Hi, I’m really interested in this camera. I was thinking about the NX30 but then found this one. Can I ask you if this one has the same continuous focus as the NX30? Sorry, I don’t know how is it called, is that feature that allows you to pick something in the touch screen and it keeps that object in focus all the time. Something like face recognition but with objects instead of faces.
    Thanks in advance!

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      • Thanks for the answer, but I was wondering if it keeps that object in focus when it moves or when you move away/closer from it. Not just that it focus the object when you tap the screen but that it keeps focussing so that object stays focused.
        I can’t wait for your review!

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  6. about the stabilization: I use the active mode (that will crop on the wide end of the zoom)

    audio channels : if you are used to set one channel to the shotgun and the other channel to the internal then know that the X70 won’t allow that, so you need another omni to the other XLR channel for ambient. I use a small sony CX3 on phantom and the VXLR adapter, with 20db attenuation, and I clip it to the cord of the shotgun
    here’s a pic : http://www.4shared.com/download/4WWNYNlWba/cs3-x70.jpg?lgfp=1000

    about the lanc the X70 responds to all the functions (zoom, zoom speed, focus, rec/stop) with the USB adapter to av/r VMC-AVM1 and a vivitar 8-button controller. Sadly doesn’t work for a manfrotto 521 and a libec 3dv (no idea why). But the vivitar works fine

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    • The lack of full Lanc compatibility is a huge drag. The Vivitar 8 Button Remote Control is NOT usable option because it is very noisy. Equally, the Sony RM-VPR1 Remote Control is not performing decently. Most likely, the reason why the Manfrotto 521 and the Libec ZC-3DV are not working is that the X70 is no longer supporting the Lanc protocol via the Multi-terminal connector. Please Whisperer let us know if you have further information.

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      • No further information. But I don’t use these cameras the same way (tripods, remote zooms) so it’s not an issue for me. I generally shoot everything hand-held and then sit-down interviews on a tripod. I also rarely use zoom. I understand for a wedding or something you’ll really want that facility, but I’m not familiar enough with all those things to be able to be of much help. As a note, the little hand-held remote that comes with it is nice for doing controlled zooms and you can set the zoom speed to variable or various fixed speed settings. So that facility is there. Also good for remote start and stop if you set it up as a locked off camera.

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      • the vivitar 8 button works fine, and actually is one of the best that I have. The loud click of the rocker is fixable : 3 screws in the back, open , locate the switch of the rocker, put a piece of paper on it, then seal with a gaffer tape, close, screws back and voila’: silent rocker and soft too!!! : functions that work on both AX100 and X70 : zoom speed (8 constant speeds plus a variable on pressure via a dial right on top of the remote). Info on screen on/off. Focus +/-, camera on/off , start/stop recording. The Varizoom VZrock should work as well (not tested by me but somebody has it and said that works). So the camera does read all the serial (RS232) commands from the remote. It depends on the remote. The vivitar (or ebenk) is complete (has it all). The vivitar comes with the female 2.5mm to sony av/r cable. What I like about the vivitar is that is cheap, reliable (I use it for more than a year) and the zoom rocker is vertical (which I like way more than the horizontal ones because is more intuitive). Now for what I do having a constant zoom speed selectable on the fly is priceless: a variable rocker on pressure can be a disaster if I push it too much by mistake while panning (I shoot sports , twice a week). So the vivitar stays in glory. No problem whatsoever on AX100 and X70.

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      • more about the vivitar (ebenk) : in studio or posed/staged interviews I use 2 remotes (on a tripod with two handles). A simple adapter /splitter for 2.5mm allows the connection of two lanc remotes in chain: so I have the zoom on my left handle and the focus on my right handle (again using 2 remotes). so I stay on the focus with my right hand all the time and on the zoom rocker with my left. (I am left handed) . As it should be in studio, actually. The cost of a setup like that is ridiculous using two vivitar, considering what it offers.

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      • Thank you Mark for you information about the Lanc remote.
        How would you rate the X70′s light sensitivity? I found the NX30′s sensitivity just acceptable. Se my November 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm post.
        Also, did you update the X70′s firmware to the new version 1.02?

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      • @PAC Studio – Re: low light with the X70
        it’s good, but the lens is not as good as the sensor. Anyway I can’t compare with the NX30 but I can compare with EX1 and canon XA20 at least for the work that I do. One of the major problems shooting sports (often at night under artificial lights) is the shutter speed that needs to be as high as possible (trying to keep it under the 180 degree rule if possible). with the X70 (and AX100 in HD) I was able to shoot at 1/100 what other cameras couldn’t go past 1/60. Simple like that. This blog/forum is “different” than others , and I am with Joe (the owner) 100% about discussing within “cameramen” in a one man band scenario. We have the tool and we make it work, then we may scream and complain but our goal is to make it work, regardless. This X70 gives tremendous tools , tremendous. Never seen before with cameras costing 20 times more.

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      • Whoops! sorry ’bout that. I downloaded it but don’t think I’ll get back to it for a couple days. That link doesn’t seem to inform us what the update does. Where’d you get that info?

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      • Wow! great link! I notice there’s a plug-in for FCPX importing on the list. Have you tried it? Does it work?!! I don’t have time at the moment to check all that stuff out, but I will.

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      • Hey Mark and Joe, did you try to push the X70’s lens beyond its optical X12 limit? If yes, how are the results?

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      • Joe, yes I tried the Sony Camera Import Plug-In for FCPX, which is limited. It seems Sony considers them already obsolete as other apps like Content Browser and Content Manager. In fact, following the new converting/compositing/color grading browser trend, they launched Catalyst Browse (free) and Prepare ($199). There are many other new integrated browsers such as the new Telestream Switch (FFmpeg based, $299) and the Red Giant Shooter Suite.
        If you know what you are doing, there is also the new version of HandBrake, https://handbrake.fr, an open source video transcoder.
        My opinion is that with the FFmpeg libraries engine (open source) and a good GUI interface (such as iFFmpeg, http://www.iffmpeg.com, $20, if you use the Mac OS) to manage it, you can convert, transcode, de-interlace, conform and edit the largest variety of formats and codings (including XAVC and AVCHD and the upcoming H.265) achieving outstanding results.

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      • Thanks PAC Studio. You’re a wealth of good information. What I think I’ll do when I get a chance in a day or two (if you don’t mind) it post a separate ‘resources’ page on the blog for the X70 and put in useful information such as this and the other things you sent along with any other gems that show up in the comments so it can all be found in one place.
        Listen up Sony: You’ve got a store in a nearby large mall just a few steps from the Apple Store. I noticed you laid yours out like the Apple store. Only difference was the Apple store was packed with over 100 people (and always is) and yours had one or two people outnumbered by idle staff. You miss the point on what Apple does. You think to make money you need to charge a couple hundred bucks for a program someone needs so they can use your stuff that’s apparently often issued in ‘almost ready’ state. That’s bad business bordering on extortion. Apple gives us a completely new operating system and doesn’t charge a penny. For $50 you can buy a program you could create ‘Star Wars’ on. Their hardware is pricey, but doesn’t have problems. When there are problems the support is fantastic. With a couple hundred bucks for Apple Care, it’s free and unlimited for 3 years by which time you’ll want to upgrade anyway. You make some good stuff, including cameras. If you want to stay in the fastest growing market for video cameras (prosumer) then quit treating them like a bunch of amateurs that can be gouged. If you’re trying to be like Apple then just do it. They don’t do things half-assed. They make a ton of money making stuff people love, is easy to use and by giving superlative service. Because of that and the loyalty it brings about, there are a ton of 3rd party vendors who consistently make good, useful and easy-to-use stuff in support of their products and programs. And when there are problems, they don’t let them lie long. That’s bad for business.

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      • More about the Varizoom VZrock Lanc remote

        Hey Mark,
        Are you sure that someone you know can actually use a Varizoom VZrock with the X70? I asked Varizoom and they told me that the VZrock is not currently compatible and that “they are working on a solution”.

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      • @pac studio about the varizoom lanc
        yes I’m sure. And I believe that the problem may be the 2.5mm to av/r cable. well that’s what I’d guess … not like I care since I’m ok with my remotes and I don’t need another remote with just a variable rocker and a start/stop. I’d get the sony for that, at least goes to the usb(ish) port without any patch, no?

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      • @pac re varizoom
        look I don’t have much of… confidence in varizoom (great rocker don’t get me wrong) but their price list is stuck in the old times , when cameras for pro-sumers used to cost an arm and a leg . Today they build remotes for JVC , pricing what? 400 bucks? sure it’s a dedicated production (of a cord and a connector). So for sony usb(ish) how much it will be? 700bucks? look at the prices for panasonic, if you want iris and zoom then you have to spend a fortune, or zoom only for still lots of money. and bebob? and all the others… L O L no no.. I’m fine with two vivitar . anyway the only controller (lanc) with a speed limiter (like the vivitar) is the manfrotto (521 and the new one that I don’t remember). but still no focus. For that there is only one choice: ebenk or vivitar. and they both work right now.

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      • Mark, you wrote: “audio channels : if you are used to set one channel to the shotgun and the other channel to the internal then know that the X70 won’t allow that, so you need another omni to the other […]” Can I use one channel with the shotgun and the other channel with a wireless mic?

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      • @ Benny Brunner : Video Whisperer already gave you the answer. Here’s the thing about mixing the internal mics with the XLR: on other cameras (like the EX1 for example) you can select the source for each channel. for example left to xlr1 and right to internal. That’s useful to mix the sound from the ambient with the shotgun (that supposed to pickup only from a particular direction). That gives to the audio a better balance (and also a backup in case the shotgun goes crazy or vice-versa). Anyway the X70 doesn’t have the selection for each channel , but for both and you must choose between internal OR XLR. one or the other. Since I’m used to produce with some ambient and a shotgun then I had to figure out a way to adapt a small microphone to the second XLR. And the CS3 came out to fix that. Note that the CS3 needs power (not exactly 48v LOL) but it works.. then I don’t really care if it will melt in the long run because it’s only 10bucks or so and picks-up nicely (with some hiss here and there but again I just need “some” ambient so it’s fine once I put the volume down. by the way the VXLR adapter will cost more than the CS3 LOL but I want the ambient (because I’m used to.. that’s all)

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  7. coming from the EX1 I’d like to post my experience in terms of stabilization : I was able to close-up on a speaker at a conference for the whole speech, shooting from 100ft at least , camera on a shoulder mount, and the stability was impressive (couldn’t do that with the EX1, positive!. I had to put the EX1 on a tripod to do that). Also considering the increased definition (that makes even the smallest movement more visible. The NX30 is great walking, no questions, but I don’t do that (often if not ever). Now the camera is small but not so light, still as we all know heavier may be better for stability when on your shoulder, and this X70 has it all.
    This is by far the best handycam I never had the pleasure to work with. Note: I do use a shoulder mount (the cheap one, the ebay one) and works fine on it. I also put a macro rail ($20 at adorama) to adjust the distance of the LCD when on the mount, because I find the eyecup uncomfortable . I hear that the eyecup of the panny ac90 fits so I’m gonna try that one instead of the sony’s. anyway all minor things (like having to use catalyst browse to convert one by one) : in the end what counts are the pictures, and this little camera is nothing less than spectacular (and I’m not used to be THAT enthusiastic about anything…)

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  8. Enjoy your the new camera Joe. I wonder what “4K ready” mean and what is the XAVC codec good for if FCPX can’t handle it? When can we expect your video review? Thank you for doing it. Cheerio, Benny

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  9. Unfortunately it seems that the new PXW-X70 does NOT have the same “Balanced Optical Steady Shot” (BOSS) as does have e.g. the NX30. “BOSS” keeps the entire barrel of lens PLUS sensor floating inside the camcorder using gyros to compensate for camera shake. As opposed to this system Optical Steady Shot moves either a single lens or the sensor only.

    Sony’s PXW-X70 spec sheet says: “image stabilizer: on/off selectable, shift lens” Elsewhere you can find: “Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode”. “Active” means it is done
    via software! It is a combination of hardware (optical) and software (active) elements for shake compensation.

    If the X70 has the dedicated “BOSS” system Sony would have highlighted this feature particularly. (see other brochures e.g of NX30, PJ530, PJ810 etc.) And, looking at the X70, it suggests that the bulky ZEISS lens may not work as floating lens+sensor unit.

    It might be that the optical+active shake compensation is more powerful than BOSS. Therefore I am looking forward to your X70 review. How well does the X70 compensate camera shake
    in comparison to the BOSS of your NX30?

    Aside this, the X70 is quite an innovative cam. But it’s a pricy thing.

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    • However they do it, it’s the outcome that matters. My understanding was that ‘active’ mode engaged the lens gyro in the NX30. The only other stabilisation choice is ‘standard’, which I assume to be standard image processing that most modern video and still cameras have to one degree or another. You have the same two choices on the X70–active and standard. As you note, they are a bit vague about what all this means. I do know that active mode instantly crops the picture a few degrees, but it doesn’t make sense to me that this means it’s just employing a more powerful version of the image processing software. At any rate, as mentioned, my cursory tests (walking the camera around the house) indicated that it was a technical improvement over the NX30s BOSS. Specifically I noted that the hard-to-get-rid-of ‘up and down motion’ caused by walking was practically eradicated with the X70 and virtually unnoticeable when following a moving person. It also doesn’t seem to do that occasional ‘clunk’ that the NX30 gyro does when you tax it too much! At any rate, as mentioned, I’ll soon put it to the test and that should settle it. We might just have to chalk it up to magic again.
      Incidentally, just got a call from a TV cameraman who will be shooting a show on Belvoir Castle here over the next several months–which reminded me of another important little detail: it has the ability to record High Definition in XAVC Long GOP, enabling 422 10-bit sampling at 50 Mbit/s. That, I believe, qualifies it for BBC.

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  10. Weather sealing, you live in the UK now, I see that Sony touts this camera as a journalism tool, any thoughts of using it in less than perfect weather?

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    • The only one I know of off-hand that is specifically sealed against dust and moisture is the NX70 (NX30’s big sister). That said, I’ve never had a sealed camera and have never been bothered by or damaged by weather. Well…I’d stay out of dust storms. None of those early news cameras (like the Betacam 70is that I used) were ‘sealed’. A little rain never hurt it and a lot of rain brought out the rain cover. Sand storms and dust would be more of a worry to me and, so far, the UK doesn’t have much of a problem with that.

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    • That’s right. Sony Marketing UK was of no help. Said they didn’t have one and they’d let me know. The guy went on holiday and never answered 2 further emails on his return. But who knows, maybe he went to Africa or Syria and never came back.

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      • If he came here, he would fit right in, Sony South Africa are no help, as a Nikon user I could probably get better support from Canon for any Sony related questions. Mails I wrote in the past have NEVER been answered.

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      • hi,
        I and many many others ?:-) bought the nx 30 because of your nice review ans Sony should pay you for your marketing activities !!!

        ( may be they do ?? ;-)))))

        I also was thinking about the x70 , and I am sure you can make the same results in the net, if you post your review.

        I m a little concernrd about the format and fcpx, because fpcx still has problems with avchd.
        But if I use a field recorder ( Samurei ) I could record a pro res direct out if the hdmi ??? but thats only a plan.

        btw. My nx 30 just returned to Sony, cause if I record, the small wheel dont let me change the iris. only in stand by.
        In my memory this worked ( and should work ) also in rec mode???

        regards

        burkhard

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      • Hi, no they don’t pay me. FCPX shouldn’t have any problems with AVCHD. I just stick in the card, go to ‘import’ and the file contents show up just like any other import. FCPX automatically opens up the AVCHD package. It’s the XAVC it’s not set up for yet. Not sure what you mean by the iris problem on your NX30. Good luck with that.

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  11. Many of us will wonder, how can the stabilisation be better if the x70 doesn’t feature the floating lens technology…. 🙂 – and keeping with car anologies – I once had a Honda Prelude that had four wheel steering. All four wheels turned. It often felt like the car would smoothly rotate instead of turn as if the car would release a central pole into a slot in the road and slide like a fried egg on a teflon pan. Passengers in the back seat would be slightly spooked when I turned. Deciding between the 30 and the 70 as my next camera, I’m hoping to get a stabilization with four wheel steering.

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    • In trying to figure this out before I bought it, I noticed the term ‘shift lens’ was used in technical descriptions of both cameras. Also, they were both described as having ‘active mode’ stabilisation (which is the mode in the NX30 that employs that floating lens). It’s interesting to me that they don’t really talk about it much for either camera. The image processing side is probably better with the X70 due to the availability of more information from the sensor coupled with the XAVC aspect. But it seems to be just as good in AVCHD mode. But these are just cursory tests. I’ll put it through the mill in the next week or so when I have time.

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