Pure Frickin’ Magic–The 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

28 responses

    • I wouldn’t think you could add a filter to the NX30 because that small lens is gyro stabilised. Anything you put on it will render it inoperable (the lens). If you want it for non-stabilised mode (turned off) I’d just have to go with whatever Sony says the thread size is–if indeed there are any. Sorry can’t be more helpful.

      Like

  1. Trouble w my computer sorry if u have received several messages.

    I do not use mac so cannot use clipwrap. Still huge problems transferring avchd to editors any ideas

    Now my only solution is to create mpeg clip then use this as material for editing.

    Hope you can help me i have several sd cards on hold

    Like

    • Merrily, tell me what computer you use and what editing software you use, then maybe I can help. AVCHD is not new, so there is probably and easy solution (unless your system and software is very old, in which case you should upgrade) Let’s see what we can do.

      Like

      • Fantastic of you to offer to help. I attach my specs – I am using cyberklink powerdirector 8 and Pinnacle studio 18.

        From the sd card I can successfully import into power director to edit which at least gives me a way to store my videos and then I can use the mpeg clips to edit a final video. So I just stick all of my daily videos feet shots as well

        HOWEVER I cannot store any other way. I am used to filming and coming back and putting what I have shot on other media (external hard disk or dropbox or even simply in the computer) * and coming back later to work on it but this is when the sound disappears !! or the dropped frame effect happens.

        *I DONT TRUST technology and always back up in multi ways just to make sure I dont lose anything.

        Anyway any help or suggestions you can give me will be apprreciated

        Like

      • Yikes! I never heard of those things (cyberklink powerdirector…uh, well I’ve heard of Pinnacle). I think you’re probably under-powered with your system and software. I see this on Pinnacle 18 specs: “128 MB VGA VRAM; 256 MB or higher recommended, required for AVCHD” I’m guessing your computer doesn’t meet that spec. The thing about technology is that it advances so rapidly in both computers and video and it’s best to stay on top of it (upgrade your systems to be able to take advantage of the video technology). Rather than do endless, complicated and time-consuming ‘work-arounds’, if you want to use high-end video technology, it’s best to just bring up your hardware and software to the point where it can handle it easily. You probably know that I use Mac. Mine is a 4 year old iMac which has been totally stable and able to handle most anything, but even it is creaking a bit and I know its time to get modern again. It’s just one of those unavoidable aspects of working in the modern age. I suggest you start looking at upgrading. You’ll find that the newest technology is the most user-friendly and the most trustworthy–and most modern computers and editing software can handle ACHD without a hitch. Sorry to be the harbinger of bad tidings, but it’s time to upgrade.

        Like

  2. Hello I am an aspiring documentary film maker and your review of the Sony HXR NX30 has totally won me over. I plan on getting the camera soon and I was just wondering if you could provide me with the exact type of memory card you use. I don’t want to get swindled, buy the wrong thing, or get a bad/slow card. I feel like I’ve researched a ton and I can’t seem to make up my mind or feel confident as some cards are only 15$ for 32 gigs of storage and then others are 95$ for 4 gigs. It’s very confusing. Thanks for all the content and inspiration.

    -Nate

    Like

    • I use Sandisk Class X 45mb/s 32MB cards (in the NX30). It’s the Sandisk ‘Extreme’ card. Get them from a reputable dealer to avoid those selling cheap pirate versions. But yes, the prices have come way down so you can afford to get a few. Get at least 2 anyway. I rarely need more than one for any given shoot, but it’s nice to have a spare. And, of course, in a pinch you can always go to the 96 gb internal drive. (I don’t tend to use it because if you do something wrong on import (bump the cable, lose power, etc.,) you might corrupt the file. There is a repair mode in the camera, but that’s not something I really want to try unless a total emergency. I just think cards are all-around safer.

      Like

      • Excellent thank you for your time and for getting back to me so promptly. I really appreciate your help!

        Like

  3. this is the 3rd time I have started this reply Maybe you have already received it three times
    PURE f…g DISASTER
    concerning the HXR nx30

    I really hope you can give me suggestions or a real gun to shoot myself in the foot with

    I cannot export from the sd card with any success any of the video I did for the 4 days of the Grand Prix  I used 1080/50p

    Either no sound NONE or

    stuttering shuddering dropped frames. The sd card is OK but copying it onto hard disk, dropbox, one drive etc.

    I have pretty good processors I thought –
    SURFACE pro W 8.1 intel core i5 4300UCpu@1.90 2.50

    and

    Intel i5 2410 M CPU @ 2.30 on my toshiba w 7 ultimate
    (whatever that all means I copied it)

    !! By the way I have nothing to do with the race I am just with the red cross to document what happens anywhere on the track or the grandstands

    and this year we had some very important visitors to take around.

    Like

    • Sorry–I’ve been away and without internet for a week.
      Sounds to me like your editing program is not opening up the AVCHD package. Try ‘Clipwrap’ which is referenced in this article that your comment is under.

      Like

  4. Got the book and reading the blog. I don’t know what is the better thing that happened to me lately either the HXR NX30 or finding a GURU.

    ANYWAY back in Calamity Jane mode again.

    All of my previous videos are 4.3 which is standard shooting
    but what a waste?? to shoot in standard for the 4.3 instead of 16.9 HD !! (I think)

    But I use old clips all the time

    and some of the computers at the Red Cross are ‘square’

    HELP

    CJ (I like that a lot and more appropriate than Merrily often when I dont feel like grinning all the time)

    Like

  5. oK I have the HXR NX30 ordered amazon from Germany and I am very happy – I am getting used to it. I used it without the mike but with the handle for the mike.

    I do have a question for you though. WHERE can I find music to use for my videos. When I just send them around on dropbox and one drive I dont pay much attention

    BUT I have been asked to put some of my videos on the official website and dont dare use commercial music. AND of course music is the most important part of my videos

    Any ideas would be very helpful.

    Thanks again for your encouragement and help.

    Merrily

    Like

  6. Again thanks for that. I guess we are on the same side of the pond so that’s ok
    I am know laughingly as

    Calamity Jane

    So I appreciate your calming influence

    Like

      • Any idea for a strap for the hxr nx30.

        Agree a chest harness would be counterproductive.

        I spend the day walking to do the video I do for the Monaco Grand Prix

        Like

      • I walked around with the camera in my hand all day till after midnight for that part 2 of the review I did for the NX30 in Paris. It’s so light. I hate things dangling around my neck so wouldn’t even consider a strap. However, you could get or re-purpose an old DSLR case to slip it into and carry that on your shoulder.

        Like

  7. not a reply but another question !!

    Sorry not too good on forums – confusing – anyway I have been looking for the sony HXR NX30 and no success but I have found the 4K Have you had the chance to check that out.??

    Thanks

    Like

    • Not sure what you mean by ‘the 4K’ as there are a lot of them. I did a review on the Sony PXW X70 (which I also own) which is currently ‘4K ready’ with the software upgrade coming in June/July.Very similar to the NX30 and has a 1″sensor. Check out the review I did for that on this blog. But anyway, there’s a lot of 4K stuff out there. Also, I’m sure you can find the NX30 because it’s so popular and tons of people write me after having bought it. It’s no longer new, but you’ll find it on eBay or Amazon and large camera stores all new in box.

      Like

      • Greetings I am sure I am starting to tax your patience. I live in Monaco and want to buy at the local FNAC store for several reasons. I cannot find the NX 30 here I copy below the specs of the camera I found here it does not have the mike nor the lighting but is 4G.

        My video chores consist of filming the activities of the local red cross teams I spend days running around after them which is why I am so intrigued with the sony floating lense !!

        I google translated from French so I hope it makes sense? sensor: Exmor R CMOS, Zoom: 10x optical, 120x digital, LCD touch screen 7.5 inch 921,600 pixels, 4K Ultra HD recording (3840 x 2160), integrated WiFi CMOS sensor Exmor R backlit Sensor size (in inches) 1 / 2.33 Pixels Approx actual video. 8.29-megapixel (16: 9) Effective Pixels Approx picture. 10.3 megapixel (16: 9) Approx. 7.74-megapixel (4: 3) X BIONZ image processor Image stabilizer Optical stabilization Lens focal length f = 3.8 to 38 mm Optical Zoom 10 120x Digital Zoom Maximum aperture F1.8 – F3.4 Other optical characteristics Vario-Sonnar Lens ZEISS T, Opening 6 blades Closest focusing distance: approx. 1 cm (wide angle), approx. 80 cm (Telephoto) Zoom High resolution: 15x (4K), 20x (HD). Filter diameter 52 mm Focus Automatic contrast. Modes: Auto, Manual (Touch Screen / ring). Areas: Spot on the entire range. Exposure Modes: Auto, Flexible Spot (touch screen), Manual (Menu / ring). Compensation: AE AE Button (Touch Screen / ring). Compensation against the light. White Balance Auto, Outdoor, Indoor, setting Push Face detector Yes Smile Timer Yes Yes Viewfinder LCD (diagonal cm) 7.5cm Screen Resolution 921,600 pixels Photo Mode Yes Photo Other features Dimensions: H: 10.3 megapixel 16: 9 (4288 x 2408), S: 16/9 2.1 megapixels (1920 x 1080). Recording Format: DCF ver. 2.0; Exif Ver. 2.3; basis consistent format MPF. Flash Yes USB output Yes HDMI Output Yes Additional characteristics balanced SteadyShot with Active Mode. Self-timer: Approx. 10 s (Still / Golf Shot). Intelligent Auto Mode, Idle Mode “Smooth Slow” NightShot Infrared System, suppressing the voice functionality. Pre-flash TTL Modes: Auto / On / Off, 3 levels of compensation. Compatible storage media: Memory Stick PRO Duo (Mark 2), Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD Memory Card / SDHC / SDXC (4 or more class). Wifi IEEE 802.11b / g / n, NFC. Other features Overhead: up to 50 lumens, 854 x 480 resolution, range: approx. 0.5 m or more. Wind noise reduction. Interface: 4K output (HDMI output), accessory shoe, DC input terminal Multi / Micro USB, composite video output, stereo minijack. Video resolution: AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 / 50p (PS), 24p (FX, FH), 50i (FX, FH), 1440 x 1080 / 50i (HQ, LP), mp4: 1280 x 720, 25p XAVC S: 4K: 3840 x 2160 / 25p, 24p, HD: 1920 x 1080 / 50p, 25p, 24p. Dimensions (W x D x H) in mm 75 x 155 x 78.5 Weight (with battery and cassette) in g 725 g Google Translate Biznes uchunGoogle Kit du traducteur Gadget

        2015-04-24 13:01 GMT+02:00 The Video Whisperer :

        > Video Whisperer commented: “Not sure what you mean by ‘the 4K’ as there > are a lot of them. I did a review on the Sony PXW X70 (which I also own) > which is currently ‘4K ready’ with the software upgrade coming in > June/July.Very similar to the NX30 and has a 1″sensor. Check out the rev” >

        Like

      • I’ve decided not to settle for second best I’m going to take my chances in order from what seems to be a very reputable company in Germany via Amazon.

        I will make sure its original l boxed new.

        The one I saw yesterday his no flash no light no microphone no projector.

        Merrily

        Like

      • I purchased the HXR NX30 e from a very responsibly acting shop in Germany through Amazon France.

        My only concern is the NX30 ‘E’

        I have heard from you of the NX 30 no initial but also there have come across my path the NX30U as well as the E so I hope I did the right thing

        Also when I went originally to the site they had 5 then only 2 by the time I purchased this afternoon .

        Merrily

        2015-04-25 9:50 GMT+02:00 Merrily :

        > I’ve decided not to settle for second best I’m going to take my chances in > order from what seems to be a very reputable company in Germany via Amazon. > > I will make sure its original l boxed new. > > The one I saw yesterday his no flash no light no microphone no projector. > > Merrily >

        Like

      • It probably means ‘europe’, so you’ll be fine assuming you’re on this side of the pond. If it give you the options of 25i, 25p, 50i and 50p, then you’ve got a PAL version (Europe and UK). The US version would be 29.97 (rounded off to 30), and 60 fps accordingly.

        Like

  8. Hi I have fallen in love with this camera –

    I ‘met” one yesterday and almost ran off with it;

    Anyway two questions I have heard that it is not easy to ‘unload’ the memory – That even one person said he used cards to make it easier but he uses mac and I do not. I am an amateur but film the local red cross for training videos and events recordings and what ever I can do to make life easier but also ANY EXCUSE TO GET MY HAND ON THIS;

    Another very general question – I felt the weight and it is not heavy – however I was thinking of a chest harness to help – I weigh around 100 pounds any ideas on that.

    I note that most of the mails on this page are from 2014 and wonder if anything has been invented to better the HXR NX30?

    Like

    • I wouldn’t bother with a chest harness. It would make it harder to use and you won’t be able to take advantage of its stabilisation. Better to hold it out in front of you in your hands when walking or doing moving shots. Otherwise hand-hold it steady. It doesn’t weigh much. As to a newer version, someone commented somewhere recently that there seemed to be one that was 4K, but I haven’t had a chance to track it down. I plan to shortly, but just back from a long trip and lots of other stuff to do first. Let me know if you find out in the meantime.

      Like

      • Hello and thanks a lot for the answer it’s nice to have feedback so soon. I was wondering again about discharging the takes. I mean I heard that transferring the media is complicated from the camcorder and that it’s easier to just use card instead of downloading from the memory. I use either powerdirector or pinnacle.

        One other question I have is battery life !! the camera has so many features that it must go through power fast?

        Merrily

        Like

      • True. Use cards and use the internal memory as backup if you ever run out of cards or whatever. Transferring from internal memory requires that you be plugged into AC and that you don’t breath on the camera while it’s doing it or unplug the cable in the wrong sequence…Get the larger batteries from Wasabi on ebay or amazon. No, it’s really good on power. Depending on how you use it it will last hours or even all day. Constant running (which I rarely do) probably a couple hours on the larger battery. Even the battery that comes with it you’ll find will last longer than you think it might.

        Like

Don't just sit there...say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s