Pure Frickin’ Black Magic–The Sony PXW X70

Pure Frickin’ Black Magic

Well, I had to title it that way so you know it’s me.

The Sony HXR NX30 review (Pure Frickin’ Magic) got 80,000 views between its two parts at this writing and became the top search result for that camera within a few months of it’s upload and has been ever since. Thanks to all of you who watched it, commented and shared.

This PXW X70 review is a bit long (24 minutes-yikes!). I hope it’s worth your time.

Many have asked if the stabilisation is as good as the NX30’s. In this review you’ll find a side by side comparison with both cameras on the same mount during long, sustained walking shots both from behind and from in front of the subject. The answer to that question will be obvious.

This is a 1″ sensor camera with a fixed lens. It’s ‘4K ready’ meaning Sony plans to release a future firmware upgrade (for a fee).

It’s slightly bigger and heavier than the NX30, but is still a small camera, perfect for run and gunners.

You will get nicer interview shots in terms of depth of field, but it won’t be as nice as some of the more expensive 1″ sensor cameras with interchangeable fast lenses or DSLRs. You’ll see samples of what your interview shots can look like in the review.

Personally I haven’t bought into the whole ‘cinematic’ look as being a vital commodity in corporate video production. Whether ‘cinematic’ or otherwise, if a video producer gets the message across with clarity and impact resulting in increased name recognition or sales or whatever the objective is,  he’s done his job and the client is happy. Technical rendition will never trump message and too many people are so into their technical rendition that they forget the main reason they’re producing a video in the first place. That said, for those pros who innately apply that principle (and many do), nothing wrong with ‘cinematic’.

This camera is ideal for the lone shooter for its size, ease of operation, intelligent auto systems, stabilisation, and now, more of an edge on shallow depth of field than smaller sensor cameras in this class. Not to mention its price at £1800/well under $2500.

Due to it’s larger size, it’s got a lot more easy access buttons for various aspects of manual control.

The menu is easy to access and is loaded with features.

It can shoot in AVCHD mode like the NX30, but also in XAVCHD which takes full advantage of the full HD information. It’s a format designed to handle 4K.

With shooting modes capable of 50mbps, the camera qualifies for broadcast quality. I can’t speak for the BBC, but I’ve already gotten a green light from another national station that may use some of my footage for a program being done on Belvoir Castle on which estate I live.

But as with the NX30, the reason I bought this camera is for the corporate videos I do as a lone shooter.

As I talk about in the ebook ‘Run ‘n Gun Videography–the Sole Shooters Survival Guide’, I like to travel light and fast.

Where some walk into a corporate video loaded down with a truck load of armaments,  I walk in with a 6 shooter and get the job done. A friend recently told me you have to impress them with your fancy cameras. In his case he brings along the fancy cameras along with his small ones. In the end, it’s the small ones that get used in his edits. Why go through all the trouble? I’ve never once had anyone comment on the size of my camera. No, I take that back…when I used to travel with the big ones, I got a lot more trouble from security and police. But that’s because I was alone and didn’t have an organisation working ahead to clear everything.

And when you’re alone, you need a camera that’s ‘got your back’.

It was uploaded in full 1080 HD, so be sure to select that in the YouTube drop down menu for best evaluation of the footage.

The second video below is simply a 2 minute excerpt of the first one and features the side by side comparison of the X70 to the NX30 in Active Mode stabilisation.

The third video there is Sony’s promo for the camera mentioned in my review. The detail shots of the artisan glass truly showcase the image quality the camera is capable of.

There are a few of points where the audio dropped low and/or I forgot to add a filter to a bit I added. Unfortunately it was late and I didn’t catch it before the 22 hour upload, so sorry about that!

(UK videographers/photographers see note below the videos)

UK BUYERS:

When I bought the NX30 I bought it from Jigsaw24.com out of Nottingham. I was so impressed with their courteous and helpful prompt replies to emails and lightning fast delivery (paid one afternoon and it was on my doorstep next morning), I added a link on the blog. I did note that many people clicked on it but have no idea if any sales resulted.

This time I contacted the Sales Manager Andy Crawford and asked him if were to do mention it on the blog again if he would offer any incentive. He said he would. How much, I don’t know. But these guys were so upbeat, knowledgable and service oriented, when I bought the X70 I didn’t even shop for prices. I just went back to Jigsaw 24, bought it, and received it next day again.

Check out their site for all they have to offer in professional video and audio equipment (and more).

But if you want to buy the X70, Andy says to contact him directly at:   andyc@jigsaw24.com

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5 responses

  1. Having been using a GH3 for the last couple of years and seeing all it’s limitations, when I watched the YT video on the X70, I realised this is a camera that suits my style in more ways than the GH3. So thanks for a great review…currently looking at one on eBay that has the 4k upgrade and seems to be a reasonable price.
    (I had been seriously thinking to replace my GH3 with the GH5, when it comes out, this review has put that thought to bed)

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  2. Thanks for your blog, I Haven’t read your book yet, I plan to buy it. As I am a sole shooter and from browsing the preview I’m ready to read it all. Today’s question, would you recommend I purchase Sony PXW X70 for the type of work you’re discussing here? or is there a newer or different option available or coming soon that you would prefer. in the same price range? Also, Did you upgrade to 4k? Does it import directly to FCPX 10.2? Thanks for your time…

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    • Hi Hans, Yes, I’d recommend the X70–easy to use, smart, light and excellent picture quality. I haven’t gone to 4K yet but only because I’ve been busy with lots of various things, editing and otherwise. If you check under the X70 navigation button on the blog you’ll see various articles. Note the last one there which gives an interesting bit of data on the X70s lower bit rate compared with higher bit rate 4K cameras. It seems the new codec (XAVC-L) produces better quality than the old one (XAVC-S) at a lower bit rate. It imports AVCHD into FCPX natively, but I can’t yet comment on XAVC-L, though it seems people are doing it ok. I’m not up-to-date with what’s coming up, but tend to hold onto a camera for a couple years before looking and I’m quite happy with the X70 for what I do and am looking forward to the 4K upgrade which will add facility to the editing process (cropping ability, more information in the picture for post-processing, etc.) even though I’ll continue outputting to HD.

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  3. Hello,

    Thank you for the great reviews. And extremely helpful blog.

    I’m still confused though. I’m a lone filmmaker and I have been using a Canon mark 3 for several years now and I am fed up with the DSLR.

    So I’m trying to find the best camera quality/price that can fit my needs.

    My main work is documentaries and now I’m working on a personal feature documentary. I need good quality image and I need the sound to be direct. I’m so lost because every day there’s a new camera and I don’t want to buy one now and regret later.

    Thank you for your time.

    Keep doing what you are doing. You are great.

    Like

    • I’m afraid you’re just going to have to do your due diligence and check out various camera reviews. There are plenty of good cameras. I’ve only reviewed 3 and only recommend 2 of them as is evident on this blog. I can say that tons of people have bought the NX30 because of my review and have written me often to tell me how much they love it and have no regrets. It might suit you. You’ll find the review (2 parts) and lots of footage examples on this blog.

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