news • reviews • features • articles • tutorials • techniques

news • reviews • features • articles • tutorials • techniques
Is s u e 1 4 • May 2010 • w w • £3.50
Sony Specialist Dealers.
A smooth journey guaranteed.
Sony Specialist Dealers do more than
just sell you a Sony product. With their
in-depth training, they have the expertise
and knowledge to advise you on your
purchase to ensure you get exactly
the best solution for your needs. This,
combined with competitive finance
schemes and the highest quality after
sales support, makes the Sony Specialist
Dealer network the obvious choice when
buying Sony.
London and South East
Calumet Photographic
Tel: 020 7380 1144
Creative Video
Tel: 01527 854222
G.V. Multi-Media Ltd
Tel: 020 8814 5950
GV Multi-Media Ltd
Tel: 01455 221587
Gearhouse Broadcast
Tel: 0845 820 0000
H Preston Professional Video
Tel: 01684 575486
H Preston Professional Video
Tel: 0208 979 9281
Jigsaw Systems Ltd
Tel: 0870 730 6868
HHB Communications Ltd.
Tel: 0208 962 5000
Tel: 020 8380 7400
PEC Video Ltd
Tel: 020 7437 4633
Proactive UK Ltd
Tel: 01442 292929
Tel: 0208 995 4664
Top-Teks Ltd
Tel: 01895 825 619
Visual Impact UK Ltd
Tel: 020 8977 1222
WTS Broadcast
Tel: 020 8594 3336
South West
G.V. Multi-Media Ltd
Tel: 01392 499 399
Visual Impact Bristol Ltd
Tel: 0117 939 3333
Canford Audio PLC
Tel: 0191 418 1122
D&P Multimedia Products Ltd
Tel: 0113 257 3005
G.V. Multi-Media Ltd
Tel: 01942 884 433
Tel: 01642 240 770
Tel: 01772 433 144
Visual Impact North Ltd
Tel: 01606 42225
Calumet Photographic
Tel: 0131 553 9979
Tel: 0141 564 2710
Visual Impact Scotland Ltd
Tel: 0141 4270434
Northern Ireland
Calumet Photographic
Tel: 02890 777770
Republic of Ireland
D&P Multimedia Products Ltd
Tel: 00353 149 24374
Tel: 00353 1295 7811
For more information please
call 0870 60 60 456 or visit
“SONY” and “make.believe” are trademarks of Sony Corporation.
Visual Impact Cardiff Ltd
Tel: 02920 464656
Calumet Photographic
Tel: 0161 274 4455
Opening Scene
4. TLS (True Lens Services) amazing new
products; read all on the news page.
6. Glidecam X-22 review by Simon
12. Ianiro LED 54 review by Nigel Cooper
17.Libec RS Series tripod review by
Nigel Cooper
24. Sony NX5 review by Nigel Cooper
32. HD Camcorders Buyer’s Guide (new)
34. Advertisements
ello DVuser subscribers and welcome to issue 14.
Well it’s time for me to have a moan about Apple.
I’m a big fan of Apple Mac computers and have been
for about 10 years now. I own a high end Mac Final Cut Pro
editing system and it has never let me down. But recently I’ve
found myself wishing that another company made an equally
good system that I could use instead; but they don’t. So, for
now, I’m stuck with this system because nobody else makes
hardware/software for editing that works as well as this for
the money. So, why do I suddenly have a dislike for Apple?
Well, it’s not about Apple products, it is the greed of the
company. Apple always were, and still are (for now anyway)
about innovation and good design and products that work to
perfection. But I see this changing as Apple become more
about annual turnover and profit, about iPhones, iTunes with
poor quality audio downloads (yes, AAC at the bit-rate they offer is poor compared to CD, which in
turn is even poorer compared to vinyl), and now the iPad.
It all started a week ago when I enquired with Vodafone (my mobile network supplier) about
buying an iPhone, only to find out that the iPhone tariff is £5 more per month than every other tariff.
Reading between the lines could this be because Apple has Vodafone (and the other networks)
by the short and curlies. Is it that Apple is forcing networks to pay them a monthly rental fee for
the privilege of using their iPhone product? Imagine how you would feel if you went to Comet and
bought a Bosch Fridge/Freezer, got it home, only to find out that you had to pay Bosch £5 per
month rent for life; Hmmm. It’s almost as if you have a leasehold on your phone and you are paying
a monthly ground rent. This is why I am sticking with my Samsung mobile. However, I am thinking
of writing a so-called ‘iApp’ for the iphone called ‘Medical Thermometer’, or ‘Anal Temperature
Reader’ to be exact, this way everyone can stick their iPhones where I won’t be able to hear the
ridiculous ring tones that some users see fit to download.*
On another note, I’d like to bring to your attention a little place called ‘Europe’. We Brits seem so
reluctant to drive anywhere further than the local corner shop in our cars. Our friends in America
on the other hand will think nothing of driving 5 hours in each direction just to go shopping. From
where I live near Cambridge I can be at the Eurotunnel in Folkstone in 90 minutes, drive onto
the train, sit in my car for the 25-minute crossing, then drive off the train into France. From here
I can be in Milan, Italy in less than 12 hours, via Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and
Switzerland. Places that can be driven to within two and a half hours are Western France, Belgium
taking in the beautiful Bruges and even Southern Holland. There are some incredibly picturesque
places to film and it only cost £50 return in your car via the Eurotunnel train. If you live in the South
of England, you can drive through 5 countries in less time than it takes to get to Scotland (not that
there is anything wrong with Scotland of course). I highly recommend Bruges, which is on the west
side of Belgium and can be reached in about an hour from the Eurotunnel entrance in France.
Bruges is known as the Venice of the North, it’s quite quaint and beautiful with some amazing
photogenic scenery and architecture. So if you want to add some real production value to your
next production; consider Europe.
~Nigel Cooper Founder/Editor DVuser magazine
*No offence meant to any iPhone owners – this is simply meant as a bit of light humor.
DVuser product review star ratings – how we star up our reviews.
Cover photo by Nigel Cooper
1 star = poor, pitiful, appalling, atrocious, inexcusable - 2 stars = mediocre, second-rate, just average
3 stars = good, decent, fine, above average - 4 stars = great, first-rate, excellent, amazing, brilliant
5 stars = outstanding, exceptional, sheer brilliance, perfection, pure genius
Our final ratings are based on a combination of: build quality - durability - ruggedness - features
controls - functionality - usability - cost of ownership i.e. tapes/media cards/servicing costs etc.
©2008-2010 DVuser. All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be copied, reproduced, or transmitted in
any form or by means of electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission
of the publishers. While every care has been taken in
the compilation of this publication, we cannot accept
responsibility for any publishing errors or inaccuracies,
or for any other loss, direct or consequential arising in
connection with any information contained within this
publication. The views herein are not necessarily those
of the publishers. Acceptance of advertisements does not
imply recommendation by the publisher.
Editor: Nigel Cooper - [email protected]
Sub Editor: Louise Wessman - [email protected]
Contributors: Simon Wyndham, Nigel Cooper.
Published by: DVuser UK. Tel: 01480 213229
Advertising: 01480 213229 or 020 7193 1955 Subscribe:
w w w. d v u s e r. c o . u k
The independent magazine for independent HD video producers & filmmakers • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 3
uring its ten year existence, True Lens Services (TLS) has become a renowned lens service
facility extending its customer base worldwide within the film and broadcast industries. The
in- house mechanical engineering facility which supports the lens service has, in the past,
developed a range of matte boxes and other ancillary equipment which is constantly being updated.
Given these capabilities TLS were delighted to be invited to produce a new matte box for use within
the rental department at Procam Television.
Using a detailed design outline, supplied by Procam, TLS were able to design and manufacture a
lightweight but rugged matte box capable of being fitted to a wide range of cameras and lenses.
Christened the ‘Kite’, this new model compliments and enhances the existing range of TLS matte
boxes and also enables Procam to offer their clients a single solution which is totally adaptable and configurable for use with equipment ranging from
the new Canon J14 x 4.3 to the Sony EX3.
Designed to hold up to 5.65” x 5.65” filters, one static and one fully rotational, the Kite is useable either as a clip-on unit via a lens adaptor
ring, or fully bar supported using standard
brackets from beneath the camera. The Kite
is fully manufactured at True Lens Services
in Leicestershire, England using aircraft grade
aluminium, industrial machinable plastic and
stainless steel fasteners. It was imperative
for Procam to be assured of a fast, reliable
after-sales service with spare or replacement
components being readily available.
The distinctive colouring of anodised parts
make the Kite easily identifiable as coming
from the Procam stable and with the sound
design and construction of the matte box
offering long term reliability and service,
Procam will be able to hire out the Kite with
complete confidence.
Follow focus systems have become
increasingly popular over the last couple of
years with both professional and amateur
camera operators looking for better and
more convenient control over the lens focus
movement available on DV and DSLR camera
rigs.Once again TLS were approached, this
time by Genus, to develop a cost effective
follow focus system that could be used to
control a variety of lenses and cameras.
To be incorporated in the design were:
1) A quick release 60mm x 15mm bars clamp
2) Backlash elimination system
3) Invertible drive to allow the direction of
some stills lenses to be reversed so enabling
focus from minimum object distance to infinity
in the normal direction.This is achieved by
inverting the follow focus gearbox which
houses a matched pair of left hand, cross cut
helical gears enabling the necessary direction
change to be achieved.
The follow focus system is supplied complete
with 1 off 0.8 MOD pitch gear which will drive
most film, stills and aftermarket lens gear
rings plus an Acrylic marking disc. Fujinon
video 0.6 MOD gears and Canon video 0.5
MOD gears are also available.
For further details of any of our products contact True Lens Services on 01455 848411 or visit
4 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
Since 1910 Vinten has grown to become one of the most
influential camera support brands in the world
A Vitec Group brand
TM • DVuser Magazine • July 2007 • 5
An addiction to movement
My name is Simon Wyndham, and I’m addicted to
camera movement. There, you have my confession.
A number of years ago when I moved up from DV
cameras to working with full sized 2/3” jobs there
was one element missing from my arsenal of imaging
capabilities. Movement.
Unfortunately, while a nice big shoulder mount
camera looks great and impresses clients, the
accompanying Steadicam or stabiliser unit becomes
correspondingly more expensive than it does for the
smaller cameras. An order of magnitude so.
Certainly I used dollies of various types, along with
jibs and cranes, but while those types of devices have
their place not one single one of them comes even
remotely close to the versatility and production value
enhancing nature of a Steadicam.
My schizophrenic purchasing decision
I have been procrastinating over the decision about
purchasing a camera stabiliser for some time now. I
eventually came to the conclusion that purchasing a full
sized rig which could take anything that could be thrown
at it (within reason) would be pointless. Such a rig would
require an entirely new business plan and career path, and
would be based upon a skill I simply don’t have. Yet.
Renting a large rig is always an option, but the trouble
with that is that as a new operator there is nothing to practice
with, and as a newbie you really do need to practice; all the
time. Instead I decided to purchase a smaller, affordable
rig that could still take a full size camera when required.
Then, if I practiced hard enough and gained enough skill
Photo: Nigel Cooper
then perhaps I could rent a beefier setup when required and
rated at
perhaps even purchase one.
36lbs capacity.
Originally I wanted to go for a Steadicam Flyer LE. It had
So why didn’t I go with the Flyer LE given Tiffens great
the Steadicam brand name - more important than you might think
reputation? The first reason was price. I was made an offer that I
in the fickle world of production - and the arm was legendary. It is
couldn’t refuse. Further I had a few jobs that required such a device
also known to be able to take a fair bit more weight than the official
fairly quickly. I was also convinced, given various murmuring that
figures suggest. Steadicam are a bit like the Apple of the stabiliser
an update to the Flyer would surface at this years NAB exhibition.
world; they are wonderful pieces of engineering.
I wasn’t prepared to put down the money for a Flyer only for them
The main competitor that figured into in my decision-making
to release an all singing and dancing fully adjustable bottom stage
was Glidecam. Now Glidecam has been around for a good while
version not long afterwards.
now and their Gold system is very well respected. Unfortunately
Of course equipment will always be updated, but the current
their older lower priced rigs were far from ideal. They went a long
Flyer system doesn’t offer many options for achieving dynamic
way to rectifying this with the V-25, which is now discontinued,
balance. The Glidecam X-22 on the other hand allows forward and
although it can be bought in updated form with the new X-45 arm.
aft adjustment of both the monitor and batteries, so it would be
The V-25 also has a very good reputation and can carry around
easier to achieve dynamic balance with.
30lbs of payload.
Additionally the X-22 can carry, officially, 6lbs more in weight
The latest addition to the Glidecam lineup is the X-22, a rig that
than the LE. That’s one and a half PMW-350 bodies to you and
builds on the success of the V-25. The X-22 offers a brand new arm
me. Quite a bit of extra leeway if extra accessories need to be
and sled, although it carries a few Pounds less in weight. This appears
to be a limitation of the sled rather than the arm, since the latter is
Weight capacity alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor when
6 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
purchasing a rig, but on balance (pardon the pun) the
X-22 seemed like the better option for me to go for at
this particular point in time.
Build quality and setup
What struck me when I first set eyes on the X-22
at the initial demo that was set up for me at CVP
Mitcorp was the build quality. Everything is nicely
machined, and is clearly very robust. The camera
dovetail plate is beautifully anodised in red, and the
no tools trim adjustment allows smooth adjustments
of the top stage. It is all a far cry from the rather
crude set up of previous Glidecams such as the
The gimbal has a really nice knurled grip, and the
gimbal itself is, from what I can tell, totally friction
free with absolutely zero play. An engineer I was
with on my first shoot with the rig commented in
disbelief at how smooth it was.
The gimbal arm handle is padded, which is a
nice aesthetic touch, although makes it a bit
more of a pain to securely attach accessories
such as zoom controls to.
The post is a two stage telescopic
construction, which is standard for this price of
rig. Helpfully Glidecam have provided accurate
numbered markings so that it is easy to note
down extension settings for various setups.
There is also a guide-line to ensure that the
bottom stage is always perfectly aligned with
the top.
Assembly of the sled was a straightforward
affair. If I had one gripe about the sled in
general it would be that Glidecam only
provide a single BNC video cable through
the post. It would have been nicer to have
a power cable too. This is something I will
need to add myself.
The provided 500nit monitor is fairly basic.
It is standard definition, but will accept an HD signal via SDI and
doesn’t have frame-line capability. The single screw-mount for the
monitor is a weak spot, especially with a battery mount attached
to the back of the monitor, I will be modifying this with a central
pivoting bracket. This mod will also allow the viewing angle to be
changed without affecting the rigs balance. Lets face it, I don’t
really know of any stabiliser owner who hasn’t modified their rig in
some way or another. It is all par for the course.
Overall the build quality of the sled is exceptional, and should
last for a good many years with proper care.
The X-22 arm
The arm is the heart of the system. A great sled is no good without
an arm that can do the business. As I mentioned earlier the X-22
arm is rated to be able to carry 36lbs of weight. That’s quite a bit
of heft, and gives the X-22 some rather interesting mod/extension
possibilities for budding home builders.
The arm on the X-22 is a dual section construction, and consists
of two titanium springs in each, with a separate tension adjustment
for each one. This adjustment is made by using allen screws
situated at the ends of each of the sprung sections. This is one of
the differences between the X-22 and the Steadicam Flyer. On the
Flyer these adjustments are made using a single tools-free knob,
and can be made while the camera is being flown.
note that Steadicam operators have for years
had to use the allen screw method on arms such as the 3A. It does
make set up time slightly slower because you have to dismount
the rig and detach the arm before testing to see if the tension is
correct. If you have to make several adjustments it does become
slightly irritating. But as one becomes used to the arm and the way
that it behaves it becomes easier to gauge at which tension point
the springs should be placed for any given setup.
Because the arm section that is connected to the vest has to
take both the weight of the sled and the gimbal arm section, the
tension needs to be higher here. I found that the vest arm section
needed to be set to around one mark higher in tension than the
gimbal section.
The arm action is very smooth, and doesn’t require much force
to boom up and down. Operationally the arm movement is pretty
much silent. Quite often inexpensive arms can be noisy, but not
the X-22. It’s as smooth as butter.
Setup and balancing
Setting up and balancing the rig is fairly straightforward. As I
mentioned previously the fact that both the monitor and battery
section can be adjusted fore and aft means that there are a lot of
options for dynamic balance adjustment.
This proved crucial when I was adjusting for an EX3. The EX3 is • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 7
bit of an odd
design, and I found that I had to have the monitor
section moved much further forward than the batteries in order to
achieve dynamic balance. My PDW-510 was much easier to adjust
With regard to the act of actually adjusting the sled, the tools
free adjustment of the gimbal placement along the arm, and the
lower telescopic section made some adjustments easy. Likewise
the worm screw based trim adjustment on the top stage (where the
camera attaches to the sled) were also easy to make, and allowed
for very fine adjustments.
Where the X-22 falls down slightly is on the lower section. The
monitor and battery plate sections are easy to adjust, but can be
slightly cumbersome and difficult to make fine adjustments with. I
would much prefer the monitor and battery to be mounted on rodbased brackets.
The design of the rig is such that this is a modification that
I may well make in addition to adding a J and D box for better
connectivity. The X-22 is a budget rig however, so I would be
foolish to expect all these features as standard. One of the things
I like about the X-22 is that such modifications are made easy
because the various screw points are all conveniently placed and
solid enough for such things to be done. Lets face it, who doesn’t
modify their rig?
When setting it up for dynamic balance - ensuring that the camera
can freely spin 360 degrees without tilting in any direction - I did find
that the docking bracket did not allow enough distance from the stand
8 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
Photo: Nigel Cooper
t o
allow a full spin
when the monitor section was moved forward. I could
get a pretty good idea of dynamic balance, but needed to wear the
rig in order to spin it fully.
The vest
The X-22 vest is a fairly simple affair but it is very well constructed,
and for my body type (slim) perfectly comfortable. I could perhaps
do with slightly more adjustment on the shoulders, but once broken
in and with the weight of the rig loaded on it performed very well.
Like most budget vests the X-22 uses buckles and pull through
strapping to adjust tightness. This means that putting on the vest
when tightened properly can require some muscle, especially on
the lower back connector. This is in contrast to the direction that
pricier models are now taking with ratchets and sprung loaded clips.
With those you can put on the vest and attach the connectors, and
use the sprung loaded clip to ‘snap’ the vest back to the proper
Once again this type of mod can be made, and many have done
such a thing to other makes of vest. This isn’t Glidecam specific. It
is a budget vest, what do I expect?
It is important to make sure that the vest is properly aligned.
When I first started using it I felt fatigued in my lower back muscle
as I expected, not being used to the weight of the rig. It takes time
to build up endurance. However after a while of use I looked down
at the vest and noticed that it wasn’t quite aligned straight with the
chest plate directly on my centre.
Once I corrected this I could fly the X-22 for extended periods
with a lighter camera such as the EX3 without feeling anything
in ‘that’ muscle; nice. A clear demonstration that, when properly
adjusted, the X-22 vest is doing exactly what it should.
Flying the rig
Now before I start commenting on what the X-22 feels like to fly
I feel that I must reiterate that I am only just starting out in this
field. I have however used, albeit very briefly, the entire Steadicam
range all the way up to the Ultra 2, as well as other makes. So I am
able to compare the feel of the X-22 somewhat with those rigs.
One of the first tests I did with the X-22 was to try out the booming
action of the arm. As per recommendations on various forums I
set the tension so that it hung very slightly downwards in neutral
position (no force with the arm hand). Apparently most 3A style
arms perform better this way.
Booming was easy and smooth. There was no judder or friction
as the arm reached its extremities. The force needed to move the
arm up and down was fairly light, although at the extreme ends of
movement more force was needed, but still fairly light compared to
the weight on the sled!
As I mentioned previously the arm is silent
in movement. With the latest version of the arm
(see notes at the end of this article) there is
minimal flapping around when moving at high
paces. This is a trait that bugs a lot of budget
arms, so it is good to see that Glidecam have
this under control.
Movement away from and towards the body
was also very smooth with absolutely no play
or friction apparent in the bearings in the arm
connecting sections.
The gimbal on the sled was similarly smooth.
By setting the camera into a free spin it would
keep on going, even at slow speeds, until I
stopped it. I haven’t noticed any play, stiction,
or friction at all.
In the ideal position in relation to the body,
assuming the operator is walking forward,
the monitor can often be obscured by the
gimbal handle, especially with a heavier
camera where the post may be extended to
certain positions. For this reason I believe
it to be important to have the monitor on a
bracket that can be slid further up the post
when required.
This is a minor niggle and it is absolutely
by no means specific to the X-22. But as
a general observation I think that a height
adjustable monitor bracket may well
be essential, especially when trying to
keep good skeletal form while operating,
especially as a newcomer when it is
tempting to hunch the head forward to
see it.
The gimbal bearings are sealed at
the top, but not the bottom, so if you
were in a dusty environment it would
be advisable to purchase a cover of
some kind. This also goes for the arm
too, but this is the case for any type of
video equipment if you wish it to last!
with the Glidecam X-22. However I will not oblige (you think I’m
going to post up my wobbly efforts?!) You simply cannot tell a thing
about how good a stabiliser is by watching somebody’s footage.
A rubbish operator will make even a Pro GPI rig look bad, while
an exceptional operator such as Charles Papert or the late, great
Ted Churchill could take a brick with a camera mounted on it and
make it look good!
Using a camera stabilisation device takes dedication and practice
in equal measure. Not only that but it takes correct practice. We
have a saying in martial arts, “practice makes permanent”. That is
to say incorrect practice will lead to bad pictures, and to habits that
will be very hard to unlearn.
Before planning to purchase a rig of any make, especially
body-mounted rigs, go on a course of some kind that is run by
experienced operators. You will get to try out different rigs, and
you will also find out if operating such a thing is for you. Some
people are naturals, while others discover that they never want to
wear one again as long as they live!
Expect it to take a year of constant, daily practice before
you are remotely
Photo: Nigel Cooper
A lot of people will want to see the sort of footage that can be shot • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 9
competent. Yes, really, that long! When you purchase and dedicate
yourself to a rig you are not only investing in your gear, but also
your skill. You need to take it seriously.
Okay, so I have gone off on a tangent, but I felt it important that
I mentioned all of that before I gave you my conclusion on the
As a budget rig the X-22 is a fantastic piece of equipment. It lacks
some of the bells and whistles of its main competitor, the Steadicam
Flyer LE, such as the tools free lift adjustment, but as I mentioned
it is you who is the most important part of the equation.
The X-22 is exceptionally well built and robust, it looks fantastic,
and it can carry more weight than the Flyer. At 25lbs pure camera
gear capacity (in addition to sled weight) there is plenty of playing
room for a Red with a couple of accessories on it. You don’t have
to strip it down quite as much as you might have to with the Flyer.
I am predicting that the Flyer will be upgraded at the 2010 NAB
event, perhaps with increased capacity and a redesigned bottom
stage. But as a perfectly capable budget rig the X-22 is certainly
up there and comes very highly recommended by me.
When I first purchased the X-22 the arm initially had a slight
problem in that it was far too springy. The arm tended to move far
too much, and after halting a movement it kept bobbing up and
down a bit. This resonated into the image slightly. A better operator
than I would be able to compensate, but I am not yet at that level.
The arm also tended to flap around a lot during fast walking and
Apparently on the first batch of arms this was the case, and it
appears that I had an early one. I was told that Glidecam have
now modified and tuned this out of the newer batches. So my arm
went back to Glidecam for the mod to be performed free of charge.
10 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
My hat goes off to David Stevens at Glidecam for dealing with my
enquiry about this matter on a Sunday after he had just had a very
long trip back from Amsterdam! I can’t fault Glidecams service or
dedication to their customers at all!
The mod involved replacing the bushes at the spring pivot points.
When I first received the arm back I was a little disappointed
because I could hear a lot of noise in the springs. David Stevens
at Glidecam helpfully suggested that I adjust the arm sections to
full tension and boom it up and down to its limits a few times. This
did the trick and the springs became seated nicely.
I could also feel some friction in the arm, so I lubricated the
spring pivots with teflon based lubricant. This seemed to work
somewhat, although I could still hear and feel a lot of resonance
that “sang” through the springs at slow boom speeds. I was told
that this was most likely due to the new bushings breaking in.
However I am rather impatient so I took the advice from a
few other operators to get hold of some ACF-50, a different kind
of lubricant that is often used on motorcycles. This stuff has the
added benefit that it protects all metal surfaces from corrosion.
Quite an issue apparently as sweat lands on the steel parts of
these types of devices. So I received my order of ACF-50 and gave
the arm a good spray, and as advised by one operator tried to get
it where there was any possibility of something rubbing, such as on
the spring plugs where the springs can sometimes resonate.
At first there wasn’t much effect, but I took the rig out for a long
practise session, and low and behold at the end of it most of the
noise was gone. There was ever such a slight trace left, but not
enough to be bothersome. So now my X-22 arm is as smooth as
butter again.
That is not all however, with the arm now up to the latest
specification the springiness is gone and it is now possible to move
very quickly with the rig, even running, without the arm flapping
around. As far as I am concerned the arm now performs every bit
as well as any competitor in the market.
For those purchasing new rigs, your X-22 arms should be the
latest specification. However if you can I would try the rig out at
your dealer, or get an assurance that they will replace it at no
charge if you happen to receive an earlier version. How will you
know what arm you have? Simple. Set up the rig, put it on, and
make some large jiggling moves. You’ll look really silly, but if after
a few large pelvic thrusts (!) the arm keeps moving a few solid
bounces after you have stopped you will know that you have an
early arm. Alternatively, as long as you can do it safely, try a short
run to see how much the arm flaps around. If it moves a lot you
have an early arm.
As I mentioned, most new purchasers shouldn’t have this
problem, but be aware none the less. • DVuser Magazine • December 2009 • 11
t’s been a while since I reviewed any lighting kit so when Nick at Ianiro
UK offered to loan me some of their latest LED lights to use on an
SIV (Special Interest Video) I was shooting, I was excited, and a little
sceptical and nervous at the same time; after all, these are LED lights I’m
talking about. Why so nervous you might ask. Well, the only experience
with LED lights I’ve had over the past few years were the ‘on-camera’
type. I won’t mention any brands here, but I’ve tried three from the wellknown manufacturers and they were all total mince. The issue with LED
lights is that they have absolutely no ‘throw’ whatsoever, and 95% of the
time, the colour temperature is way off the spectrum causing all kinds
of vomit-green spikes or horrible blue-cold casts etc, all of which cause
major issues with white-balancing; something I try to avoid personally as
I like to get the colour temperature to match that of the cameras pre-sets;
sometimes with the aid of colour correction gels. With LED lights that are
just not ‘cricket’ when it comes to what their so-called colour temperature
should be, even if you hit the white-balance control on your camera, you
can be left with some ‘awkward’ looking colours that are difficult to fix in
post, and unless you are shooting on high-end kit like HDCAM that can
handle being pushed and pulled all over the place in post-production,
you are in for trouble; especially with low-end formats such as HDV and
AVCHD, both of which can’t be pulled anywhere in post.
So, full of scepticism and a large helping of ‘s**t scared’ thrown in, I
agreed to use these latest generation Ianiro LED lights to light my latest
training DVD production. The said production is for an SIV entitled “Bead
Skills”, a training DVD on how to make jewellery etc from, erm, beads.
LED 54 kit consisting of three heads.
All photos: Nigel Cooper
12 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
Anyway, the lighting
set up was a fairly
lighting affair; key
light, fill light, back
(hair) light and a
small spot light,
which put a small
pool of light on the
table in front of the
illuminate the 12inch area that she
was working in with
her hands. The
background was a
black velvet floor
length curtain with
light on it at all as I
wanted it to be ‘crushed’ into total black.
Ianiro LED Models Used:
The models I used in this set up were the ‘Ianiro LED 54’, which is a 3-head
kit consisting of an 18, 36 and a 54 LED light; the numbers standing for
LED 54 kit is ideal for confined spaces like this low-budget living room set.
in each head. Each head can be used separately on three
one V-lock battery; yeah
separate stands, or they can all be connected together to make one
powerful bank of LEDs. The small spot light I used was a ‘6600’ model, right, we shall see. More in this later, but let’s just say I was
totally blown away by how little power these lights actually consume.
which is a small 6 LED light about the size of a pack of smokes. The
I decided to use the V-lock batteries to power the lights; for two of
LED 54 kit cost £1,850 plus vat and it comes with three yoke mounts
them anyway, the other two were powered by mains. I wanted to test
enabling mounting onto a standard light stand, three lenses, all of which
both methods to give a more valuable review; after all, I had four lights
are ‘medium’ flood, erm, that’s it I’m afraid. No, it doesn’t come with
so why not.
power supplies for either mains or battery, it doesn’t come with any light
The lights themselves come with three medium flood lens attachments.
stands and it doesn’t even come with a padded lighting case. This is
However, different attachments for medium flood, wide flood and narrow
disappointing considering the price. I would have liked Ianiro to have
spot are available also. It’s simply a case of attaching them via the two
bundled three budget (Manfrotto type) stands, after all they only cost a
knurled screws on each edge. Personally I would have liked to have
few quid each to manufacture in China. Also, a cheap £20 padded gig
seen a more ‘quick release’ way of attaching/detaching them; speed is
bag would have been handy also. Ianiro leave you the choice of how
of the essence at the end of a days shoot; you just want to get home for
to power them. The mains leads with transformers cost around £125
your tea. A magnetic device would have been much better, and probably
each. I’d imagine the V-lock battery adaptors and leads cost about the
cheaper to manufacture too. However, this is a small point and I would
same. The small spot (model 6600) is also optional for a cost of £542.
not let it put you off in any way.
Remember, if you go for the V-lock system, you’ll have to spend a grand
Hooking them up to the mains, or battery is simply a case of plugging
or so on three V-lock batteries and a charger, which suddenly makes this
in the 2-pin plug onto the back of the light unit, at the other end is a
system cost over £3,600 with add-ons.
transformer, which then goes off to the mains outlet. Or in the case of
Other accessories available are a ‘Frosted Filter’ and a ‘Clear Gel Filter
Holder’ priced at £55 and £45 plus vat respectively. The Ianiro Cordura V-lock batteries, at the other end of the 2-pin plug is a V-lock plate to
attach the V-lock battery; simple.
Softbag cost £300, but it does look great.
Setting up:
Setting up the lights was fairly quick and painless. The four lights came in
a relatively small padded ‘gig bag’. The lights themselves are quite small
and very lightweight. They actually fit inside each other like Russian Dolls.
The idea is that you can have one very powerful light, or three separate
ones. As the diameter of each is about 2 inches smaller than the next, the
LED lights form three rings inside each other. The largest is about 12-inches
in diameter, and the smallest about 8-inches. The fourth light is simply a
small spot light about 3-inches across. Also included with my demo kit
(though not included in the price of the kit) where three V-lock professional
batteries. These Ianiro LED lights can be powered off V-lock batteries or
the mains. Nick at Ianiro told me that you can run these lights all day off
So, once the lights are plugged in and on stands, it was time to position
them. As they are small, moving them around is easy and there is plenty
of scope for pan and tilt of the head to almost any angle. However, I’d
like to see Ianiro introduce a device that enables you to clamp the V-lock
battery to the light stand, this way, when you pick up the stand to move
it across the floor, the V-lock battery and it’s holder don’t unplug and get
left behind; this happened to me several times and I had to keep plugging
it back in again. I know, I shouldn’t have dragged it across the floor like
that, but who likes to actually bend down to pick things up; lighting sets
should be made easier, not harder.
Once I had all the lights in a standard 3-point configuration I found the • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 13
Base of LED light with various control
settings. These are inconveniently placed on
the bottom, which means you have to flip the
head downwards to make adjustments.
‘quality’ of light to be pretty
good. I didn’t have any soft diffusion on them at all, just straight off
the LED via the wide and medium attachments. It was not too hard and
harsh, yet it was not overly soft either; it was about what I like personally.
As I expected the light fall off was very sudden and the throw was very
short. But this did not matter in this instance as the lady demonstrator in
this production only had to be lit from a short range. She was sitting at a
small table with beading products on it. All three lights were approximately
5-feet away from her; key to the front left, fill to the front right and backlight
at the back opposite the key. The throw was so short that the key light
did not even hit the black velvet curtain that was only 4-feet behind the
demonstrator; nothing significant anyway. Personally, for this type of shoot
Power connector. Polarity can’t be mixed up
as the two pins are different sizes; smart.
14 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
interview) they are perfect as you don’t want Jurassic style
Redheads or Blondes spilling light all over the set uncontrollably; oh my
god, I can’t believe I just said that word, here it is again “REDHEAD” Yuk!
Thank goodness lighting technology has moved on.
The Ianiro LED lights have a couple of colour temperature settings; I
set them to the warm setting, which was close enough for this production.
Flicking the setting to ‘daylight’ gives off a nice 6400K (or thereabouts)
daylight colour temperature, but I didn’t bother putting a colour meter up
to them as I was somewhat hurried; I was on an ‘actual’ production shoot
after all. The guys at Ianiro UK assure me that the colour temperature is
bang on; but if you are ultra fussy I’d check this with your own equipment
to be 100% sure.
As you can see by the frame grabs that I yanked out of Final Cut
Pro, the light is nice and even with no
real ‘hot spots’ to worry about. If you
are non-skilled in the art of light and
you simply like to throw up a few lights
and switch them on; these Ianiro LED
lights will work wonders for you. Even
a novice lighting guy (or girl) will
not be able to screw things up with
these; they are very forgiving lights
indeed. However, just remember that
the throw is not that great so don’t
expect to be able to light something
that is more than 10-feet away as
it simply won’t happen. Personally,
I think LED lights have some way
to go before they can be taken
seriously; about 2 years perhaps.
Also, I feel that the Ianiro LEDs
are a bit expensive at £1,800 for a
basic 3-head kit with no batteries,
stands or accessories. I’m told
that LED technology is expensive to produce, this might be so;
in the meantime, personally I’d rather buy Dedolights as they are more
versatile, just as portable and lightweight and they are cheaper too. But,
you can’t really compare Dedolights to Ianiro LED lights as they are a
different technology, one (the Dedo) uses filament tungsten bulbs, a
somewhat old technology, whilst the other (the Ianiro LED) is a state-ofthe-art LED system that has advantages in abundance when compared
to filament tungsten affairs such as Redheads; read on.
The Ianiro LED lights do have a few advantages. If you can live with
the short throw and the price of course they are excellent for several
Narrow Spot lens attachment.
I personally think that
the days of the antiquated ‘filament’ tungsten light such as the
Redhead are numbered. I would suspect that 5 years from now the
‘Health & Safety’ guys found on professional productions sets across
Europe and the US will be banning such equipment. Instead I suspect
production companies will be forced to move over to LED lights, which
are totally safe with no heat or fire hazards, not to mention burned fingers
when us Lighting Cameramen can’t be bothered to put on our ‘riggers’
gloves before making fine adjustments to the lights.
LED lights don’t get hot, they remain cold even after 8-hours of
continuous use; because they are LED. So, at the end of a days shoot,
you can pack your lights up immediately; unlike Redheads (oh no, I said
it again) or Dedolights, where you have to sit around for an hour and wait
for them to cool down, or you’ll melt the inside of your lighting case. Also,
something like 70% of the power from regular tungsten lights is dissipated
as heat; not light. With LED lights such as these approximately 98% of
it’s power goes directly into actual light. If you are into the whole ‘Carbon
Footprint’ nonsense you’ll be wetting your pants with excitement.
Another advantage is the fact that the Ianiro LED lights run off V-Lock
batteries as well as mains. I had my key and fill lights powered by
medium sized IDX batteries and after 7 hours of continuous use, the
battery indicator on the side of the IDX batteries was still 80% full. At
the end of the second days shoot, they were still over 50% full; wow! I
suspect I could have run a single light off a single IDX V-lock battery for
about 2-days. This is incredible; crazy in fact. So if you are shooting on
location away from power, this is a huge benefit.
As I’ve already mentioned, if you are a novice lighting guy, you simply
can’t screw this up if you tried. It is so easy to achieve a nice evenly lit
set with no hot-spots and virtually zero light flooding all over the set. They
are also tough. I took the liberty of accidently (on purpose) knocking one
over. As I watched it ‘slam’ down on the floor from a height of 6’, it didn’t
even blink; a Redhead would have gone bang.
If you are considering going the LED route, I would advise you to take a
look at these. I suspect you’ll either love or hate LED lights. For me, there
are pros and cons and I think LED technology has a little way to go yet;
but they are getting there.
Full details can be found at:
UK distributor is: • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 15
JVC GY-HM700 on Libec RS-350
The Libec RS series are the latest professional
tripods from Libec. What’s different about the
RS series is that they have a ‘continuous
balance’ system; and unlike lesser tripods,
it works as it should and to perfection. I’ll
be talking more about ‘balance’ and how it
works later in this review as it would appear
that there is a lot of misunderstanding of
what ‘perfect balance’ actually does; even
some dealers either don’t understand it, or
are misinformed.
There are three RS models in the series;
all of which are 75mm ball diameter.
Libec UK were kind enough to loan me
all three of them for a month; I like to
spend time actually using equipment on
productions whenever possible, which
allow me to really test the products. For
me, this is the only way find any little
annoyances. The primary difference
between models is the payload they
can carry, but there are a few other tiny differences
The three models are as follows:
RS-250 with a balance range of 1.8 to 5kg and costing £699 plus VAT.
RS-350 with a balance range of 3 to 7.5 kg and costing £899 plus VAT.
RS-450 with a balance range of 4.5 to 10.5kg and costing £1,099 plus
The actual payload for each tripod is as follows:
RS-250 = 6kg / 13lb
RS-350 = 9kg / 20lb
RS-450 = 12kg / 26.5lb
The actual physical height/weight of these tripods is as follows (based
on mid-level spreader versions, which are slightly heavier than the floorspreader versions):
RS-250 = Weight 5.6kg / 12.3lb. Height 80 to 164.5cm / 31.5 to 65”
RS-350 = Weight 5.8kg / 12.8lb. Height 81 to 165.5cm / 32 to 65”
RS-450 = Weight 6.8kg / 14.9lb. Height 81 to 166cm / 32 to 65.5”
Starting with the top of the range RS-450 working down the series, the
differences are as follows:
The RS-450 has 3 step of drag control for both pan and tilt, plus a zero
setting with no drag at all. It also has a button for illuminating the spiritlevel bubble. The RS-450’s balancing range is from 4.5 to 10.5 KG.
The RS-350 also has 3 settings for drag control for both pan and tilt, with a
zero setting for no drag whatsoever. However, although the 350 has a spiritlevel bubble, there is no button next to it so it cannot be illuminated; shame
a s
I’m sure this is only a
cheap commodity at the manufacturing stage. The RS-350’s
balancing range is from 3 to 7.5 KG.
The RS-250 has just 2 settings for drag control for both pan and tilt.
There is no zero setting for no drag on the 250 at all, so there will always
be drag on this model, either setting 1 or setting 2. The 250 also has
the spirit-level bubble, but like the 350, it also has no button to allow
illumination of it when shooting in dim conditions; again, a shame, but not
the end of the world. The RS-250’s balancing range is from 1.8 to 5 KG
All three models are available in Mid-Level spreader or Floor spreader
versions. The Mid-Level versions simply have the letter ‘M’ at the end i.e.
RS-350M. The Mid-Level version comes with a neat Mid-Level spreader
as well as three additional rubber shoes that clamp tightly and securely
onto the bottom spikes via the usual industry standard thick industrial
strength rubber lever. The mid-level spreader version is my personal
preferred option. I can’t see the point in having to get down on your hands
and knees in the dirt while you fanny around with floor spreaders; it’s
beneath me ;)
The RS-450 is the top of the range model and is aimed squarely at the
professional ENG cameraman with a typical shoulder-mount camcorder
weighting between 4.5 and 10.5 KG; to give you an idea think Sony
PDW-700 or DSR450 and the like. If you are familiar with the Vinten
line-up, the Libec RS-450 is equivalent to the Vinten Vision 8; only the
Libec cost over a grand less The RS-350 is also aimed at the ENG
cameraman, as well as the corporate and independent filmmaker who
still has a shoulder-mount camcorder, or a larger semi-shoulder mount
model such as the Sony EX3, Canon XL H1 or JVC GY-HM700 (though
this model is actually shoulder-mount, it is quite small and lightweight), • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 17
maxed out with large batteries, matte box etc. The
RS-250 is aimed squarely at those using smaller
camcorders such as the Sony NX5/Z5, Panasonic
AG-HPX171 for example. What is unique and
special about the RS range is that they have a
‘continuous’ counter-balance system. Unlike
the very twitchy ‘step’ balance systems that
have a dial that simply switches in the counterbalance in ‘steps’ be it 4, 6, 8 or 10 steps, all are
inaccurate and somewhat twitchy at best and
you will never achieve ‘perfect counter balance’
with these step systems. This is one reason I’m
a massive fan of Vinten’s Vision 6 and 8 tripods
and more recently their 5, 8 and 10AS systems;
and now the Libec RS series are on my list of
favourite ‘continuous’ counter-balance tripods
that work as they should. You really do have to
be aware of cheap imitations claiming to have
a counter-balance system; many do, but most
just don’t work properly.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Vinten,
Sachtler and Libec tripods, and for good
reason too. I like my tripods to be build like
the proverbial brick house, with little if no leg
twist or ‘torsional rigidity’ issues, beautifully
engineered heads with a silky smooth
action, total reliability year-in-year-out, no
flimsy plastic parts to fall off, well laid out
levers and dials for pan/tilt drag controls
and a nice balancing system that does
what it is supposed to do. It is for this
very reason that my professional tripod of
choice has always been the Vinten Vision
8 single-stage carbon model; not cheap
at £2,400, but it is a beautiful piece of
engineering with ‘‘continuous’ counterbalance’ that really is perfect, that just
continues to work after many years of
JVC GY-HM700 on Libec RS-350
So, with my usual high expectations
I asked Libec UK if I could hold onto
these three RS models for a month. I
scientifically as
don’t like to just play around with a tripod for 5 minutes. To make a valid
possible; the results of which are
evaluation of a tripod it has to be used in anger on an actual production,
later on in this review.
unless of course the tripod is so cheap and nasty that you can tell from
Out of the box my first impressions of the RS series tripods were very
across the room, which has been the case with some of the truly ‘mince’
indeed. The overall build quality is as absolutely excellent. All the
examples I’ve looked at in the past; usually very low budget irrelevant
and fittings are precise and well engineered, while the aluminium
Chinese brands that simply don’t count. Quality engineering doesn’t
solid and workhorse like.
come cheap, and yes, I’m afraid it ‘is’ rocket science; something certain
settings for both pan and work to perfection. When in use,
manufacturers simply don’t get. You can’t take a beautifully engineered
of pure Japanese fastidious engineering. All RS models
design and ‘cheaply’ copy it and expect it to work the same; especially
for both pan and tilt. Some other budget brands
when they only cost a few Renminbi each to manufacture and produce.
‘friction’ system for the tilt, which is absolutely
So, as a Lighting Cameraman with over 15 years experience of using
tilting up/down while panning left/right at the
most cameras and tripods from mid-level to high-end and an avid fan of
and causes a ‘stepping’ effect during the
the Vinten Vision 8, would this new Libec RS series tripods coming in at
is the final result. On the RS-450 and 350
less than half the price of their Vinten equivalents measure up to my high
and silky smooth in operation
with no ‘dead spots’ at all. It is one hell of a tricky process vacuuming
out any tiny air bubble in the fluid. Using these RS series there is no
evidence of air bubbles whatsoever; Libec have really pushed the
The three camcorders I used to test these tripods were a Sony DSR450
envelope with these heads. The drag settings are ‘tight’ with absolutely
(with RS-450) a JVC GY-HM700 (with RS-350) and a Sony NX5 (used with
zero take-up ‘slack’ at the beginning of a pan or tilt movement. To be
RS-250). I also borrowed an engineering weight/balance system to test the
honest, 3 settings plus zero is more than enough for anyone (RS-450 and
weight range of the counter balance on these three tripods as accurately and
350 models only). Some manufacturers might be quick to say you need
18 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
6 or 8 settings, but this is rubbish. I’ve never known any
‘professional’ Lighting Cameraman who required such
an infinite number of adjustments for pan and tilt drag.
What is usually required is a zero (off) position for quick
‘whip’ pans, a ‘light’ position for fast motion work, a ‘stiff’
position for those smooth Hollywood movie ‘block and
stage’ type moves, and a ‘medium’ setting for general
work such as your average corporate or ENG affair;
the RS-450 and 350 both have all these settings, and
above all, they work absolutely precisely with fastidious
engineering of the highest Japanese standards. Note,
the RS-250 only has the two settings for drag over pan
and tilt with no zero. Oh yes, all three RS models are
‘Made in Japan’, which should inspire total confidence
in build quality, usability and total reliability. For me,
these three RS tripods are the ‘Lexus’ of the Tripod
world, the ‘RS’ part of the series even sounds like a
flash Japanese car.
There is a spirit level bubble built right into the head
with all three models, with a decent (easy to find in
dim conditions) button to press for a temporary light
to allow you to level the head in dimly lit conditions
(RS-450 only). This temporary light remains on for
exactly 11 seconds; I tested it 3 times in a row;
total accuracy from the internal Japanese quartz
timing electrode. The RS-350 and 250 have the
bubble, but no light. Levelling the heads on all
three models is very smooth and easy, just as
smooth as the Vinten Vision 8 in fact. The pan
bar is just the right length; none of that silly
telescopic nonsense, which simply adds take-up
‘slack’ to any serious pan due to the typical tiny
movement that one usually finds at the joint of
the telescopic pan handle. It is for this reason
that I prefer single-stage legs as apposed to
2-stage, the latter simply adds another joint
in the legs, which makes torsional rigidity less
effective. Why bother screwing up the perfect ‘torsional rigidity’ just for
the sake of saving 6-inches of space for your tripod case in the boot of
your car; does ever Lighting Cameraman in the UK drive a Mini Cooper?
Unfortunately, the RS range only come in 2-stage leg versions; so Mini
Cooper owners will be pleased, but the professionals amongst us are
‘ever so slightly’ disappointed about this quality reducing factor. Please
please please Mr Libec, bring out single-stage versions of these beautiful
RS series tripods.
Apart from shooting a stack of ‘stock footage’ over the course of a week
with these tripods, I also have some other methods of testing, some
scientific, some rather unorthodox. Either way, my methods for testing
tripods are the only ones that ‘really’ work. As I’ve already explained,
shooting an actual production or other ‘real’ footage is paramount to
testing, it’s the only way to find any shortcomings. During the week of
‘stock footage’ shooting I found myself in safari parks filming Cheetah’s,
an indoor tropical butterfly house, in the country filming windmills and
lots more.
During all this, I spent most of my time with the RS-350 with a JVC
GY-HM700 perched on top. This camera and tripod are a marriage made
in heaven. The JVC sits perfectly at the RS-350’s mid-balance point. After
finding the camcorders ‘mid balance point’ setting up and balancing the
RS-350 is very quick and easy. I like my footage to look very smooth so I
chose the drag settings of 3 for both pan and tilt to give me a very stiff setting;
which is the kind of setting I am used to working in. Executing a move that
Libec RS-450
tilting down while panning
across is a breeze due to the superbly engineered fluid head; it really
is smooooooth.
I also did some filming with drag settings 1 and 2 for comparison
purposes; all work equally as well. Whatever the drag setting, there is
virtually zero ‘drift back’. Drift Back is what can happen with certain tripod
heads when you get to the end of a slow (or fast) pan, stop, and then
remove your hand from the pan bar. At this stage, the head will ‘drift back’
a millimeter or so, which shows in the footage and ruins the shot. The
Manfrotto 503HDV525 is notorious for having this flaw. The ‘drift back’
on the RS series is simply non-existent from what I could tell, in fact I’d
even go as far as saying it’s on a level with the Vinten Vision series in this
regard. These RS heads are quite remarkable considering the low retail
price; you simply won’t find better at this price; not even close so don’t
even bother looking.
As for the sticks (legs), they are almost as awesome as the heads. They
are made from tough lightweight aluminum that is finished in a very
dark brown/grey colour. All RS models are 2-stage i.e. three sections to
each leg with two locking levers. When fully extended with the mid-level
spreader extended to maximum, the ‘tortional ridigity’ is very minimal.
Let me explain. A little known attribute of tripods is “torsional rigidity.”
The best way to explain this is to imagine your tripod legs were made
of rubber. Now, consider setting the feet of this rubber tripod into the • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 19
earth, locking the head off and then applying panning pressure to the pan
handle. The twisting force against the pan handle would be absorbed by
the rubber legs of the tripod, which would twist, storing up that energy
until you let go of the handle. The result would be a powerful “snap back”
action as the stored energy in the legs is released. The twisting motion
is called, “torsion.” Tripod designers, employing new, lightweight alloys
and carbon fibers, which are flexible by nature, attempt to engineer as
much torsional rigidity into a tripod as possible, in order to eliminate
the ‘snap back’ effect. Torsional snap back can be seen, quite clearly
in most tripod legs, even though they are obviously not made of rubber.
To test your equipment, examine the image of a camera equipped with
a telephoto lens, mounted on your tripod. Using a moderate amount
of pan drag, execute a long pan to a specific target and then release
the pan handle. Most tripods will exhibit a small degree of snap back,
such that your image will not center on the target, but will settle a few
degrees back along the pan path. This is because your tripod’s legs have
stored up torsional energy, which is released when you let go of the pan
handle. These Libec RS series tripods exhibit virtually no snap back; at
least none that I could see. I always do the ‘lorry driver’ test on tripod
legs, which involves removing the head, then extending the tripod to its
maximum height and then grabbing the bowl with a tight grip and then
turning it as if you are turning a lorry’s steering wheel. If the legs twist and
creak under this test, there is something seriously wrong. Even under
this unorthodox tripod torture (something you would never encounter in
It’s amazing how many people don’t understand what a ‘counter-balance’
feature on a head is supposed to actually do. Vinten have their ‘perfect
balance’ system, now Libec have their ‘counter balance’ system; both are
different names for the same thing. Counterbalancing a tripod head has
nothing to do with drag settings; it also has nothing to do with preventing
the camera from tilting forward under gravity and banging into one of
the tripod legs; though it does prevent this. It also has nothing to do with
the camera sitting perfectly horizontal on the tripod. It is something else
entirely. If you know what it is, please forgive me, if you don’t, prepare to
be educated.
Basically, you find your camcorders centre of gravity by holding it
with just one or two fingers by its handle. You move your finger back/
forth along the handle until the camera hangs from your finger perfectly
horizontally; your finger is now at the cameras central balancing point.
Next you draw an imaginary line from this ‘finger’ point down the side
and to the bottom of the camera. Then mount the tripod plate so the
middle of the plate is in the middle of your centre of gravity line. You
then fit the camera to the tripod and set the drag settings for tilt to zero
(or the minimal setting available) and make sure the counter-balance
dial is turned down to minimal (anti-clockwise on the RS series). Next
you move the camera back/forth within the tripod head by fine-tuning the
sliding plate a few millimeters until the camcorder sits perfectly horizontal
without falling back/forth. With this done, you then tilt the camera down
any shooting conditions) the RS series show only very minimal (and I do
mean minimal) twisting, and I was really ‘leaning’ into it. Many budget
tripods would have simply broken at the joints under the pressure I was
exerting onto the RS. This superb tortional rigidity is virtually on a par
with the Vinten Vision series, but it is so close many won’t be able to tell
the difference; I’m very fussy about these things and I felt that if the Libec
RS series had a slightly better (more ridged) mid-spreader, they would be
100% equal to the Vinten Vision series.
about 45-degrees and hold it there to prevent it falling, and with the other
hand you dial in the counter-balance spring until there is just enough
spring tension to prevent the camera falling. When you tilt the camera
down forwards, or up towards the sky and remove your hand from the
pan handle, the camera will stay in that exact position without falling or
‘creeping’ up or down. Now you can set your drag for pan and tilt. With
the counterbalance set this way, you can tilt up or down into a shot (like
those establishing shots on the TV news) and remove your hand from the
pan handle and the shot will hold by itself. Tripods that don’t have this
feature require you to hold on for grim death as steady as you can for the
duration of ‘handle’ that the clip requires; very hard indeed. The RS series
of tripods balance to perfection and work just as well as any Vinten or
Sachtler I’ve ever tried, which makes the Libec RS series about as good
as you can buy in the counter-balance sector.
Libec RS-450
Comparing the Libec RS series to Vinten’s and Sachtler’s is a real
compliment. For me, the latter two are the best tripod makers in the world
so anything that comes close deserves to be commended highly, which
is what I’m doing with the Libec RS series. They beat the Manfrotto range
by a mile, the are better built and work so much better than the Cartoni
models and the heads and legs are ahead of Miller; by light-years. If you
are in the market for a new tripod, or if you want to be introduced into the
wonderful world of counter-balance (from which there will be no turning
back), look no further. The Libec RS range is a world-beater. Incredible
state-of-the-art innovation and engineering. They are lightweight, tougher
than Ray Winston and smoother than Pierce Brosnan. What’s more, they
are incredibly affordable with a surprisingly low retail price and they are
Made in Japan and not some cheap labour saving country where quality
usually takes a nose-dive.
There is also a range of accessories for the RS series tripods including
two superb wheeled dollies, a LANC controller, cases and floor or mid
level spreaders and feet.
I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to give all three of these
amazing RS series tripods 10 out of 10; this is a first for me and DVuser.
The price/quality ratio is spot on..
UK distributor:
20 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
• 12kg capacity
• Continuous
counter balance
• Free plus 3 step
drag mode
• Weight 6.3kg
• 9kg capacity
• Continuous
counter balance
• Free plus 3 step
drag mode
• Weight 5.8kg
Libec Europe
Unit 19, Walkers Road,
Manorside Industrial
Estate, Redditch B98 9HE
Tel. 01527 596955
Fax. 01527 596788
[email protected]
Upto 3 years interest free on
selected items. Ask for details.
*Terms & Conditions apply.
M A LV E R N S H O W R O O M O P E N M O N - S AT. L O N D O N S H O W R O O M ( C A L L F O R A P P O I N T M E N T )
anycast station
HD & SD mixer
Call for Lowest
Price or visit
Full range of: video & still
camera kits and zoom
focus lens kits
Full range of
installations &
HD/SD systems
£ Lowest Prices
HD/SD video
£ Lowest
Full range of
Chroma Key
Call now for
£Best Prices
or visit us at:
HD/SD video
£ Lowest
£ Lowest Prices
SxS player/
Full range of
Audio equipment
£ Lowest Prices
Full range of
lighting kits at the
£ Lowest Prices
£ Lowest Prices
Full range of
studio systems
Full range of
remote control studio systems
£ Lowest Prices
or call: Malvern: 01684 575 486 . London: 0208 979 9281
Full range of Radio mic systems and
audio systems £ Lowest Prices
Full range of
blank media
Lowest Prices
Call us NOW for
£ Lowest Prices or
Portable and studio lighting
Full range of soft,
hard cases, rain covers
£ Lowest Prices
If you see an identical product
advertised cheaper elsewhere
within the UK, upon verification, we
will try to match or beat the price!
Full range
of bags,
cases and
rain covers
£ Lowest Prices .
£ Lowest Prices
or call: Malvern: 01684 575 486 . London: 0208 979 9281
22 • May 2010
• DVuser Magazine
RD . MALVERN . WORC WR14 1EP . Email: [email protected]
NEW Sony
£ Lowest
Call or visit
1/2 inch semi
shoulder mount
£ Lowest Prices
Call Malvern: 01684 575 486
or London on: 0208 979 9281
Full range of:
video & still camera
kits, monopod kits
and zoom focus
£ Lowest Prices
Sony PMW-350 SxS 2/3” camcorder
£ Lowest Prices Call or visit
First* fully integrated
HD3D Camcorder
with SD Media card recording media
1/2 inch handheld
SxS HD cam
£ Lowest Prices
NEW Sony
1/3” interchangeable
lens HDV camcorder
£ Lowest Prices
1/3” HDV
£ Lowest Prices
Upto 24
0% Credit
on selected
Sony Products please call
£ Lowest Prices
* As an integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder
capable of recording Full HD3D video to Memory
Cards. As January 2010.
SxS storage systems £ Lowest Prices
Call NOW! Or visit
Sony SD/flash
PXU-MS240 mem reader
Nano flash
Full range of
tripod & jib arm kits,
zoom and focus
solid state
£ Lowest
£ Lowest Prices
Call NOW! Or visit
Sony HVRHD1000E
mount HDV
£ Lowest Prices
Call or visit
Full range of camera Full range of Dedo
& jib arms kits & accessories.
Check on-line for more!
upto 30
mini camcorder
£ Lowest
Call or visit
Pre-Booking orders now accepted
£ Lowest Prices .
or call: Malvern: 01684 575 486 . London: 0208 979 9281
Panasonic AG-HPX371
£ Lowest Prices
Buy a Panasonic AG-HMC151EU,
AVCCAM camcorder or AG-HMR10EU
recorder and get the new EDIUS
Neo 2 Booster editing software
The promotion is valid from Jan 2010 until Sept 30th 2010
• DVuser Magazine
• May 2010 • 23
LONDON SHOWROOM . 74 MILTON RD . HAMPTON TW12 2LJ . Fax: 01684 575 594 . Email:
[email protected]
ack on 10th November 2009 Sony Professional UK invited me
over to their HQ to see their new prototype of the first NXCAM
branded solid-state camcorder. They allowed me to take the only
prototype in the UK away with me so I could evaluate it and try it out for
a few days.
Since then I’ve spent a few more weeks with the HXR-NX5E NXCAM
camcorder. Actually I’ve been in the USA for 3 months so Sony were kind
enough to FedEx an NX5 over to me in Hays, Kansas, where I have been
shooting with the camera. After spending more time using the NX5, I’m
now in the position to give you a more comprehensive review in full;
so here goes.
NXCAM is brand new so I’m going to give you a brief low-down on what
it is. NXCAM is Sony’s all-new product name for their entirely new Sony
digital video production system. It’s not DV or HDV, it’s not XDCAM EX,
it’s something else entirely. NXCAM is Sony’s AVCHD (Advanced Video
Codec High Definition) camcorder system, but there’s a difference: this is
Sony’s ‘Professional’ AVCHD camcorder system. Until now Sony haven’t
had any serious-level AVCHD products; quite surprising considering Sony
jointly invented the AVCHD codec with Panasonic. But all that is about
to change with their first professional hand-held AVCHD camcorder; the
HXR-NX5E, under the all-new NXCAM brand.
If you’re not familiar with the new AVCHD codec I’ve outlined some of its
24 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
with some direct
comparisons to the
HDV codec.
Announced in 2006 by Sony and Panasonic,
this new industry-standard format is now supported by more than 30
companies and implemented in numerous camcorders, NLE systems,
and consumer HD playback devices.
The AVCHD codec is considerably more modern than the older HDV
codec. It uses a variety of techniques to achieve greater efficiency than
MPEG-2, especially at low bitrates and when dealing with difficult
material. AVCHD should be
capable of delivering
Filming on the NX5 in Colorado, USA.
really amazing results
but we’ll get into real
world performance later
What’s beyond
debate is that HDV has a
resolution of 1440x1080
and uses the MPEG2 compression codec,
while NXCAM on the other
hand uses full 1920x1080
HD with the more modern
MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec
(H.264 is what Blu-ray and
Sky HD broadcasts use).
And of course AVCHD’s
efficiency makes it ideal for
tapeless operation: it uses
SD (Secure Digital) and SD/
HC (High Capacity) cards,
Sony Memory Sticks and
other solid-state flash drives
such as Sony’s dedicated
HXR-FMU128 128GB flash
AVCHD has twice the
compression efficiency and
considerably improved video performance, especially at lower bitrates,
over the older MPEG-2 compression algorithm used in the HDV codec.
HDV uses a “constant” bit rate of 25 Mb/s whereas AVCHD camcorders
such as the NX5 use a more efficient “variable” bit rate, with a maximum
quality setting of 24 Mb/s.
In contrast with MPEG-2 (HDV), in which inter-frame compression based
on the correlation between adjacent frames uses fixed blocks of 16x16
pixels, AVCHD divides the blocks into multi-sizes as small as 4x4 pixels
along with 4x8, 8x8 and 8x16 also, and every variation in-between using
these block structures. With this method, it is able to use large blocks to
process images that show only slight changes on the screen, and smaller
blocks to process images that have considerable change. This raises the
All Photos: Nigel Cooper
of motion compensation,
which in turn, boosts the quality of fast-motion images while
increasing compression efficiency.
The recording capacity using the Sony HXR-NX5E onto a single
32GB Memory Stick or SD/HC card is as follows:
HD/FX (24Mbps) 1920x1080 HD = 170 minutes.
HD/FH (17Mbps) 1920x1080 HD = 255 minutes.
HD/HQ (9Mbps) 1920x1080 HD = 385 minutes.
HD/LP (5Mbps) 1920x1080 HD = 605 minutes.
So who is NXCAM aimed at and where will it fit into the current
marketplace? Having got up to speed with NXCAM and the new NX5
camcorder I would say that it is aimed at a somewhat varied marketplace
including those who are currently using cameras such as Sony’s own Z5
or Canon’s XH G1s for example, but who want to move over from tape to
an affordable solid-state system, DVCAM users looking to move over to
HD, those stepping up from consumer camcorders, event and wedding
videographers, corporate video producers, SIV (Special Interest Videos)
producers, independent low-budget filmmakers, and even TV ENG work
and various documentary productions. With regard to image quality, the
new NX5 has a very high quality Sony G-lens, superb Exmor ClearVid
CMOS sensors, and of course the more advanced AVCHD codec, this
trio of factors adds up to a very impressive image at this price range;
more on this later.
In a nutshell the NX5 is basically a Z5, but solid-state only. The cost is
similar too; the NX5 cost £3,450 inc. There are three key differences. The
body is slightly shorter and stockier at the back end due to the fact that the
NX5 has no tape-drive mechanism. On the back of the NX5 there are two
card slots for Memory Stick cards (these slots also accept SD/HC cards
too: nice). Also, on the side of the NX5 there is an area that accepts the bolton HXR-FMU128 flash drive. The FMU28 is a solid-state flash drive with a
capacity of 128GB. This drive is an optional extra. Without it, the camcorder
simply comes with a heavy-duty plastic cover that locks securely into place
Clear design layout of buttons, dials and switches.
covering the socketry from
the elements.
Other differences include an HD/SDI output and a GPS (Global
Positioning System). From what I can gather, all the little buttons and dials
are slightly larger and less fiddly than on the tape-based Z5. I suspect this
is because there is no tape mechanism so there is more room on the
body for a ‘neater’ and more ‘logical’ layout of switches. I’m glad to see
that Sony has used slightly larger switches and buttons on the NX5. Lowlight shooters will be glad to know that the NX5 is approximately 1.5 stops
better (minimum illumination 1.5-lux) than the older tape-based Z1. Even
though the physical ‘form-factor’ of the NX5 is only slightly different from
the Z5, overall, the lines of the NX5 just look sexier with sleeker lines and
nicer curves; she’s a modern girl; oh baby!
The NX5 is the very latest in camcorder technology; it’s bang up to date
with some superb state-of-the-art technologies and features.
Depending on who you speak to, different people have different views
on what makes a decent image. Some will say it’s all about the bit-rate,
others say it’s all in the glass, while some might even tell you it’s all in
the sensors. Well, they are all wrong. It’s actually an amalgamation of
all three - and other things. Sony recognises this fact and this is why
the NX5 is so darn good; especially at this price range. It has a brand
new lens, Sony’s own in-house designed G-lens. This lens first hit the
market with the Z5. Then it has the very latest Exmor CMOS Sensors
with ClearVid technology. Then finally the very latest AVCHD MPEG-4
AVC/H.264 codec, which has the job of processing the images taken from
the G-lens and onto the Exmor sensors. Add to this Sony’s fastidious
circuitry and it all adds up to a great image that is simply untouchable by
the competition at this price level.
Just to clear up the confusion with the two models on the Sony web
site. There is an NX5E and an NX5M; the latter need not concern you as
it is not available in the UK or USA. The only difference is that the NX5M
has no ‘GPS’ system built in. The reason is simple, in certain countries
like Syria and North Korea any device with GPS built in is banned; after
all it is used in the military; think about it! • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 25
The HXR-NX5 is ok with regard to build quality. Overall it feels lightweight
– possibly because it doesn’t have the bulk factor of a tape transport
mechanism - and a bit on the ‘plastic’ side. I’ve always said if I’m
spending £3,500 on a camcorder I expect it to feel a bit more substantial
than this. I feel that JVC are slightly ahead of Sony in build quality with
their more budget priced camcorders. However, I feel that the NX5 is
marginally tougher than the EX series; even though it is actually cheaper.
But don’t worry; I’m just a fussy bugger when it comes to build quality.
The NX5 won’t fall apart anytime soon and the plastics it is made out of
are the tough polycarbonate type, which is designed to ‘flex’ as apposed
to ‘crack’ when it takes a knock. It is in fact slightly better built than the Z1
and its replacement, the Z5; in my opinion. If you are used to using a Z1/
Z5 you won’t be disappointed. As a comparison, the NX5 is far superior
in build quality over Panasonic’s HMC151. Just to inspire confidence, I
personally would buy an NX5 tomorrow and have no serious concerns
with its build quality. Oh, the NX5 is ‘Made in Japan’; so expect reliability
to be of the highest order.
The NX5 features the very latest 1/3rd inch Exmor CMOS sensors with
ClearVid technology. What is ClearVid I hear you ask? The ClearVid
system optimises both resolution and low light sensitivity versus more
traditional pixel-shift CCD’s. It does this by interpolating additional
resolution from diagonally-set pixels, on each individual R, G and B
sensor, rather than interpolating horizontally and vertically across the
three sensors. This ensures maximum resolution, in a smaller sensor,
whilst the larger rotated pixels give you that all-important sensitivity. The
NX5 also utilises the revolutionary Exmor noise reduction processing,
which is a highly advanced noise reduction system that gives a much
cleaner image.
The new NX5 has the same Sony G-lens 20x Zoom, offering an amazing
wide angle of view from 29.5mm (great for filming in tight spots) right
through to a whopping 590mm (great for wildlife filming). The 20x zoom
G-lens is a recently developed piece of glass coming from the Sonyacquired Minolta lens division; so it is developed and built in the house of
Sony; and what a cracking lens it is too. The optics are super sharp with
amazing colour reproduction.
Sony’s superb G Lens.
26 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
Dual card slots.
This new G-lens boasts not only a focus and zoom ring, but an aperture
ring too. However, all three are of the ‘servo’ type, which have no end
stops. They feel a bit vague when focusing and zooming. I found it easier
to focus by hitting the ‘PUSH AUTO’ focus button. This lets the camera
automatically focus as long as you hold the button down (though the
camera is rather slow to do this), then when you release it, it retains that
focus spot. The servo aperture ring is slightly more accurate in its ‘feel’
and I found it to be perfectly usable in full manual mode, which is the only
mode to work with for any serious applications. If you want the camera
to take a ‘best guess’ at the exposure for you, simply hit the ‘IRIS’ button
and let the camera set the exposure, then hit it again to revert to manual
and tweak with the aperture ring and the use of zebras (I set zebras at
95% and watch for blown-out highlights). The zoom ring (again, vague)
works well enough for setting a new focal length, which (again in my
opinion) is all it should be used for. I tend to treat a zoom lens as a set of
primes and not for horrible nauseating so-called zoom shots.
The lens hood is Sony’s usual nice design with built in lens cap that
is opened and closed via a little lever on the side of the hood. This is far
better than the competition’s affairs that have to be physically removed
from the camera and stuck in your back pocket. I also particularly like the
Playback controls neatly hidden away under foldaway LCD screen.
fancy ‘Gold’ line painted around the lens, but then I do go a lot by nifty
appearances like this. That’s about it for the lens, apart from it’s superb
built-in optical image stabiliser; more on that later.
The NX5 uses the AVCHD codec, which is an efficient long-GOP codec
using the MPEG-4 H.264 compression algorithm (as used on Blu-ray HD
DVDs and Sky HD broadcasts), albeit at a much higher maximum bit rate
of 24 Mb/s (variable) with Linear PCM audio ensuring great images and
This AVCHD compression does end up offering better all-round picture
performance over the older HDV codec, although there is an impact in
the editing process as it requires a higher level of processing power and
therefore you may need to upgrade your editing system! Also, as the
AVCHD codec is so new, some editing systems don’t yet support it so we
will have to wait for the software companies to catch up with the AVCHD
technology. So far Sony’s Vegas Pro 9, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 (for
Mac and PC) and Edius Pro all support AVCHD natively. Apple’s Final
Cut Pro and AVID MC do not. Final Cut Pro uses, don’t despair. Simply
import using the log and transfer and transcode into Apple ProRes 422.
Hopefully Apple will support AVCHD natively with a future upgrade.
The NX5 has more recording modes than you can shake a stick at.
There’s plenty for everyone in both HD and SD; those shooting in the
past, the present and the future, those who are hanging onto ‘interlace’
like grim death and those who are shooting their way ‘progressively’ into
the future; that would be me then.
Recording options and frame-rates include:
AVCHD FX (24Mbps) 1920x1080/50i, AVCHD FH (17Mbps)
1920x1080/50i, AVCHD HQ (9Mbps) 1440x1080/50i, AVCHD LP (5Mbps)
1440x1080/50i, AVCHD FX (24Mbps) 1920x1080/25p, AVCHD FH
(17Mbps) 1920x1080/25p, AVCHD FX (24Mbps) 1280x720/50p, AVCHD
FH (17Mbps) 1280x720/50p, MPEG SD HQ (9Mbps) 720x576/50i, MPEG
SD HQ (9Mbps) 720x576/50i (25p Scan)
So there you have it, virtually every recording mode and frame-rate you
could wish for.
The NX5 uses a brand new ‘Active Steady Shot’ system. This offers an
extremely stable picture without blur. More powerful stabilisation is made
possible by increased coverage of the optical lens and the improved
motion detection with state of the art compensation algorithms. The new
Super Steady Shot takes it to the next level. Sony claims that this new
system removes the need for a body-mounted stabilizing system; I don’t
know if I’d go that far, but it is pretty darn good and way better than
anything else up to this point in technology.
Sony seems to have increased the coverage of the floating optical lens,
which gives better hand-held stabilization; the optically damped lens
compensates for hand movements. However, there is more. When you
switch the feature in via the menus you also have the option to improve
things further by switching in even more settings. With the second option
switched in at the same time you’ll notice that the image on the LCD
screen zooms in ever so slightly (by aprox. 5% or 6% as per my best
guess). It then uses these spare pixels outside the recorded frame area
to allow the system’s software to cleverly hold the central pixels still. It
then ‘trims’ the wobbly bits off the edges. A very simple idea, but one that
works very effectively with virtually zero loss of detail or image quality. Ok,
if I have to nit-pick, this system might lose you 5% or 6% of picture quality;
on paper at least, as I could not see any notable difference whatsoever.
Having tried the Active Steady Shot system, I found it to be more effective
than the lens damped version alone, but this isn’t going to be putting
Steadicam operators out of a job anytime soon. You still need to hold the
camera steady because it will only compensate for minor nudges and
knocks and general wavy hand-held work. Any more than that and it will
still show up on in your footage. It’s designed as an aid, not a replacement
for a body harness stabilising system; a good move by Sony in the right
direction none-the-less and one that produces far superior results to any
other system built into any other camcorder currently on the market.
Being a classical pianist at heart and a very keen audiophile I’m kind of
fussy about audio. In fact I prioritise audio over the images. To me quality
sound is more beneficial than quality images. Your eyes are a lot more
forgiving than your ears. The NX5 uses Linear PCM 2 channel, 16bit,
48kHz top quality audio recording as well as Dolby Digital 2 channel,
16bit, 48kHz. This is superior to the HDV audio standard, which uses the
heavily compressed MPEG 1 Audio layer II and has a bitrate of just 384 • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 27
The GPS system records time, latitude and longitude in local time or
UTC (universal time coordinated) time. This data is recorded directly to
the AVCHD stream for approx. 0.5 seconds. Other great benefits to this
all-new built-in GPS system include: Location reconnaissance, Estimate
travel time after reconnaissance, Identify location easily for re-shoots,
Natural History shoots - animal sightings, Police & Intelligence Gathering reconnaissance etc. I feel like nicknaming the NX5 the ‘CSI Camcorder’.
It also has Sony’s superb SLS (slow shutter) function, like that found
on the higher end XDCAM HD camcorders. Frame accumulation is
also known as Slow-Shutter, or SLS. SLS is a variable setting on the
NX5 that lets you decide how many frames worth of light you want to
accumulate before it is laid down to the disc. 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/25 sec.
can be accumulated using the SLS function. What effect will this have
and what advantages are there? When shooting in low-light levels, SLS
produces sharp and clear images with no picture noise whatsoever. For
scenes with minimum movement this is a great alternative to switching in
the gain. When shooting video with any sort of motion it provides a very
artsy and out of this world ghostlike image that simply has to be seen
to be believed. This is an amazing effect for music videos or haunting
images. It’s quite hard to explain, and is easier to understand if you see it
in action, but once you’ve used it and seen it you will find yourself looking
for scenes or even writing scenes just for this effect. SLS at 1/4 produces
the most dramatic effect. If you know anything about stills photography,
think of a photo of a waterfall taken at ½ a second exposure from a tripod.
The water has a neat soft blur to it. Well this effect is also produced with
the SLS function when shooting waterfalls.
Detachable 128GB HXR-FMU128 ‘Flash Memory’ recorder.
Kbps, not ideal for postproduction sound editing such as EQ adjustments
and the like. The NXCAM’s audio format of Linear PCM 16bit, 48kHz is the
equivalent in quality to DAT, which is what professionals are accustomed
to. Recording rock or classical concerts no longer require a dedicated
DAT recorder; yeah!
The NX5 has the usual small built-in stereo mic, which is only good for
picking up iffy ‘wild track’, but the included ECM-XM1 XLR mic is another
story. Don’t underestimate this mic. Sometimes videographers are all too
keen to rush out and buy a Sennheiser K6/ME66 combo as it has the
reputation as being the weapon of choice for low-budget filmmakers. But
before you do, try the included Sony ECM-XM1 mic, it’s a budget mic for
sure, but it packs a punch for the money. Personally, I think you will have
to spend more than £350 for any serious worthwhile upgrade. I always
find with mics like this, and the aforementioned Sennheiser that I always
have to do post work on the sound using Apple’s Logic or Soundtrack Pro
anyway; with the ECM-XM1 it’s possible to tweak and modify the sound
in post resulting in excellent sound; considering the cost.
The NX5 is the first camcorder in its class to bring to market the all-new
GPS (Global Positioning System). That’s right, I’m talking the same GPS
as that you use in your cars Sat-Nav system. Why would you want this
in a camcorder you might ask? I’m sure people will be discussing the
endless possibilities on the forums, but to name a few, you could for
example be shooting documentary footage all over Europe or the USA,
or just plain England perhaps, with the exact geographical location being
essential to the programme. With the NX5’s built-in GPS system you
will have extra metadata within the file that you can simply convert into
Google Earth KML format, then type into Google maps; this will find the
exact location to within approximately 25 feet of where you are standing
with the camcorder at the time you shot the clip. This feature can be
switched on/off via the switch at the back of the camera.
28 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
We’ve established that the NX5 is a solid-state HD camcorder, but what
are the options? The answer to that is “many”. You can record to a wide
range of media. On the back of the NX5 you will find two card slots: A
and B. In these slots you can put Sony’s own Memory Stick Pro Duo,
Pro-HG Duo, Pro-HG Duo HX, any brand of SD/HC (Secure Digital High
Definition) - class 4 or 6 are recommended, or even Sony’s dedicated
128GB flash drive (HXR-FMU128). This has been made specifically for
the NX5, fitting flush to the side of the camera perfectly with no dangling
FireWire cables either. This 128GB unit is about the size/weight of a
compact mobile phone. It has two female sockets on the side, one to
connect it to the camera, the other, a small USB receptacle, is to connect
to a computer. Both are bus-powered so no battery is required.
If you chose to use SD/HC cards, I’d recommend the Class 6 type. They
come in class 2, 4 or 6, which simply stands for MB/s per second transfer
speed. Class 2 (i.e. 2 MB/s) simply can’t keep up with the camcorders
data stream to the card. As class 6 are the same price as class 4, you
might as well buy class 6 SD/HC cards as they will perform best and I’ve
even heard that they don’t get warm as they have so much headroom in
the data-stream capacity.
If you want full-on gigabyte capacity then Sony’s own HXR-FMU128
dedicated flash drive will give you a whopping 700 minutes in full FX
24Mbs 1920x1080 HD quality. The HXR-FMU128 costs £750 inc VAT.
A 32GB card on the other hand will give you 170 minutes recording time
in full FX 24Mbs 1920x1080 HD quality and as there are two card slots
on the NX5 two 32GB cards, this equates to 340 minutes of continuous
recording time.
Cards are hot-swappable and when one card fills up, recording
continues un-interrupted on the second card. However, once the second
card is full you will need to change cards; the camera won’t go back
to card slot A and start recording over your footage again. Remaining
recording time is ever-present on the LCD screen and in the viewfinder.
There are some clever recording options on the NX5. For example, the
camera has the capability of recording to both card and the Sony Flash
Drive simultaneously; this means you can give your client the low cost
memory cards at the end of the day’s shoot, then return to your edit suite
with the flash drive to get on with your edit.
Another great option is that you can set the camera up to record
to one or the other storage formats in numerous ways. For example,
pressing the record button on the side grip will record to the card slots,
while pressing the record button on the top handle will record to the flash
drive: great! And you can set it up to record HD to one and SD to the
other. I love it!
The NX5 has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Unlike other similarly priced
AVCHD camcorders the NX5 has an ‘Slow Motion’ feature; admittedly, it’s
limited to 12 seconds maximum in any one take, but a slow-mo feature
none-the-less. It shoots 200 fields per second with improved Smooth
Slow Record (picture resolution is reduced during slow-mo recording).
You can select 3, 6 or 12 seconds for slow-motion recording. During
slow-motion recording the camera automatically sets the shutter speed
to 1/215th of a second. The final footage is stretched 4 times. As for a
Time-Lapse feature; there isn’t one, disappointingly, as this is something
I personally use a lot.
There are the usual Sony Picture Profiles settings, which can be
selected in the menus after pressing the ‘PICTURE PROFILE’ button on
the side of the camera. There are six customizable settings with seven
preset Gammas including STANDARD, CINEMA TONE1, CINEMA
TONE2 etc. In each setting you can customize the GAMMA, BLACK
are lots of options. If you are not happy with one of the six presets, simply
go into any one and modify the various parameters; either way it should
be easy to achieve the ‘look’ you want from the NX5.
The addition of a HD/SDI output can only mean that Sony is aiming the
NX5 at professionals as well as prosumers. The HD/SDI outputs 4:2:2
colour space so if you wanted you could potentially attached a separate
recording device like the Flash-Nano for example, and record 4:2:2 at
50Mbps variable bitrate for even more possibilities.
The NX5 also has a HDMI output, which means you can buy any regular
Inputs/Outputs, including professional HD/SD SDI output.
HDMI LCD monitor or TV and use that for low-cost monitoring options.
The built-in LCD screen is nice and sharp and is certainly good enough
for composition purposes and checking white-balance. It is ok for focusing
2 x professional XLR outputs. • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 29
Expanded focus button conveniently positioned.
‘EXPANDED FOCUS’ option, which is a pre-set assign button
(assign button 7) next to the zoom rocker on the side grip. The LCD is
also a touch screen for making selections and changes. But don’t worry;
if, like me, you don’t like getting greasy fingerprints all over the LCD,
simply use the menu select buttons instead, which are neatly laid out
under the LCD screen.
The HXR-NX5E is equipped with three built-in ND (Neutral Density)
filters – 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 – which help to vary the depth of field with iris
control as well as achieving perfect exposure in bright sunlight.
Now for a bad bit; a very bad bit. The NX5 cannot be set up to use one
of its ‘Assign’ buttons to ‘last clip delete’ like you can on the EX1/3 and
XDCAM HD cameras. This is a major pain in the butt as it really slows up
productions, and the whole point of solid-state is to make things faster.
People often think that solid-state only speeds things up in post. Not true.
I shoot lots of corporate and SIV videos where the presenters are often
not professionals and they often need several takes. With an EX1 I can
set up one of the assign buttons to ‘delete last clip’. This means when the
said presenter screws up his/her lines I can simply hit that button and the
bad take is gone. Then when it comes to editing, I simply import ‘every’
clip, knowing that they are all good; no marking in/out points for hours on
end like with tape. But as the NX5 does not do this, to delete a last clip
you have to change ‘modes’ and go into the menus and mess about with
several clicks of the menu wheel/button etc. This takes approximately 1
minute out of your production shooting time. If this has to be done 100
times during the course of a days shoot, well, you work out the maths:
very slow and time-consuming and annoying. Sony seriously needs to fix
this with a ‘fast’ firmware update.
Having now spent a good few weeks with the NX5 I can report my findings:
they are everything that I expected. I did some brief filming in England,
then some more in the USA. Overall, the image quality is pretty much
identical to the tape-based Z5, only the NX5 shows ever so slightly better
control over compression artifacts, which is due to the more advanced
AVCHD codec I suspect. Moving shots over foliage also looked slightly
smoother; but the difference is very small and you have to look really
hard to see it.
With regular shooting i.e. on the streets, inside museums, in the park
and in varying lighting conditions, the NX5 produces beautifully sharp
(yet smooth) images with plenty of deep saturation in the colours. It’s
a pleasing image and one that I am more than happy with at this price
range. I did some brief filming of some Amateur Dramatics rehearsals in
what can only be described as ‘just adequate’ lighting conditions hence
30 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
I had to switch the gain in to 9db, even then I was working
at full aperture. However, the final results were surprisingly
smooth and virtually noise-free. Anyone looking to shoot
event or wedding videography will be thrilled with the low-light
capabilities of the NX5.
Shooting in low light with the gain switched in at 9db
produced perfectly usable images with little noticeable noise.
Even at 18db the noise was acceptable; not as smooth as
9db, but it could certainly be cut in with regular footage.
Overall the image quality produced by the NX5 is a
‘trifle’ better than the tape-based Z5, but it is not quite at
EX series image quality; the latter producing nearly 1000
lines of resolution. The NX5 produces just over 800 lines:
outstanding at this price.
Comparing the NX5 to the competition. It is way ahead
of the Panasonic HMC151, which produces around 600
lines, and the JVC GY-HM 700, which produces around
700 lines. The NX5 also beats the Canon XL H1 in the
resolution stakes, though only just. Image ‘feel’ is a personal
thing. I personally like the ‘look’ of higher end Panasonic models such
as the AJ-HPX3700 for example, as well as Sony’s own DigiBeta and
HDCAM range. However, with more modestly priced cameras I have
mixed feelings. Years ago I preferred the look of JVCs over Canons
and Sonys, but these days Sony have really come into there own with
their ‘PICTURE PROFILE’ settings. Sony has not only caught up with
the competition with regard to picture ‘feel’, but they have overtaken.
Considering the price of the NX5, it is incredible how you can fine-tune
the ‘feel’ of the picture, and even the preset picture profiles are absolutely
outstanding. Comparing the NX5 to the Panasonic HMC151 is chalk and
cheese. I owned a 151 for a few years and I had some clips I shot from
outside my house. I shot the same clips on the NX5. I know they were
both shot at different times, but nonetheless, the difference is obvious.
The said shot was a ‘wide’ landscape shot with a small cottage in the
distance with some surrounding treas. On the 151 you cannot even see
that the small window in the cottage has a large cross pattern as part of
the frame. This cross is clear as daylight when viewing the NX5 footage.
Also, the surrounding trees in the distance look like the entire trees were
dabbed on with a thick paintbrush with the 151, whereas with the NX5
you can make out the leaves and individual branches. Overall, the 151 is
soft, with no definition or detail at all. The NX5 on the other hand is sharp
with plenty of punch and resolution.
Comparing the NX5 to the JVC GY-HM700 (though the JVC does
have interchangeable lenses), the difference is not quite as obvious, but
it is clear. The JVC suffers from lots of noise and serious compression
artefacts. The JVC’s resolution is also notable with the same ‘landscape’
shot. The trees have no detail via the JVC and the foliage has way too
much artefacting and ‘marching ants’. The NX5 is by no way free of
artefacts, but it is way ahead of anything else at this price range.
There is also something else about the picture quality and ‘feel’ of
the image of the NX5 that I can’t quite put my finger on. I just appears
to have that extra “Je ne sais quoi”. Somehow, the images produced by
the NX5 don’t appear to be quite so ‘digital’ in ‘look’, which I really prefer.
Independent low-budget filmmakers will love this.
For simple playback on many consumer devices and players (from
computers and video game consoles like the Sony PS3 to Blu-ray players
and flat panel displays with SD card slots), with AVCHD it is easier and
quicker to view your footage on other devices without having to edit, burn,
or plug your camcorder into the HDMI socket of your TV. Sony’s PS3 for
example has a USB slot right on the front. Simply remove the card from your
camcorder and pop it into a USB card reader, then into the PS3. Once the
card is in the USB slot via USB/SD card reader on the PS3, you simply select
Bright LCD is clear to see outdoors in daylight.
Slot’ from the PS3’s menu
and hit play. You can then flick through clips and play them as you
would a DVD. In this instance, the PS3 is acting like a regular solid-state
playback deck. You can play back AVCHD footage off SD/HC cards or
Memory Sticks on many other regular games consoles and domestic BluRay players that have the SD or MS card slot.
I’m an Apple Final Cut Pro user, which means it is time to complain.
Really complain. Apple’s Final Cut Pro does not support the NX5’s native
AVCHD codec. FCP has to transcode the AVCHD codec into Apple’s own
ProRres format, which takes a long time. Did I say a long time? Sorry, I
meant to say a bloody long time. It’s long. Painfully long.
I took the opportunity to shoot my latest SIV (Special Interest Video)
with two cameras; one NX5 and an EX3. Importing the AVCHD clips from
the NX5 involves using FCPs Log & Transfer window. I had 76 minutes
of clips, 30 clips in total ranging from 20 seconds to 14 minutes and
everything in-between. Well, 6 hours later FCP was still importing clip
11; Hmm. It took over 12 hours to import just 76 minutes worth of clips.
That’s about 10 times slower than real time tape. 20 years ago I could
have got 8mm Cine Film sent off and processed and delivered back to
me via courier bike in less time than that. This is a backward step, a very
backward one indeed - and it is for this reason that I personally would not
buy an NX5. It’s not Sony’s fault of course - this is an Apple issue, but I
edit with Apple, which means the NX5 is out of the question for me as I
refuse to pay ‘Adobe’ prices for the Mac version of Premiere Pro, which
does support AVCHD on the Mac. Sony’s Vegas and Canopos Edius also
supports AVCHD natively, but as I don’t have any of these Windowsbased editors I could not comment on how long importing would take.
I have to admit I’m quite enthused by this new NXCAM hand-held
camcorder: it’s the hand-held camcorder that I’ve been waiting for! (Apple
FCP update support for AVCHD permitting) Reasonably priced at £3,450
inc., with low-cost media cards, and outstanding picture quality for the
money. It’s a real world-beater!
On a final note, the NX5 is not a replacement for the HDV tape-based
Z5, it’s an entirely new system (the NXCAM System) designed to fit into
a solid-state marketplace. There are still thousands of videographers out
there who are committed to tape for various reasons and Sony fully intend
to support the HDV tape-based system for as long as there is a market for
it, as well as augmenting it with the new Hybrid system for recording to
tape and/or CompactFlash. Having said that, I personally think, wait, let
me rephrase, I personally ‘know’ that tape is dead. Once you’ve worked
in a tapeless environment you’ll never turn back.
I believe that this is the best camcorder available for under £4,000.
Nothing else compares. Sony has produced the perfect balance with the
NX5. It has a superb G-lens, great ClearVid CMOS Exmor sensors, and
the cracking AVCHD codec. These three ingredients all add up to one
amazing piece of kit. The quality of the NX5’s images suggest a more
expensive camcorder. Add to that the multitude of recording formats and
options and the low-cost solid-state recording media and we have a real
world-beater for just £3,500 inc.
I’d like to give the cute little NX5 top marks, but the lack of ‘last clip
delete’ as an assignable button and poor native support for AVCHD from
the likes of Apple (athough this is no really fault of Sony’s) I’ll give the
NX5 8 out of 10. • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 31
* Up-sampled from 1280x720
SD/HC Cards
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
JPEG 2000
JVC GY-HD110 / 111
HDV Tape
JVC GY-HD 200 / 201
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
SD/HC Cards
SD/HC Cards
SD/HC Cards
SD/HC Cards
P2 Cards
P2 Cards
P2 Cards
P2 Cards
P2 Cards
P2 Cards
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
HDV Tape
Sony MS Pro
SxS Pro Cards
SxS Pro Cards
SxS Pro Cards
Professional Disc
Professional Disc
Professional Disc
Professional Disc
32 • May 2010 • DVuser Magazine •
Note: The prices below are including vat and are street prices i.e. the price that known UK professional video
retailers would sell them for. These prices were obtained via the usual UK shops (regular advertisers in DVuser),
however, prices can change on a regular basis so be sure to call your regular dealer for a firm price.
Thank you, Nigel Cooper - Founder/Editor DVuser magazine.
1920x1080 Full HD (24Mbps), Dual Flash Memory – 32Gb internal plus memory card
1080i, Custom presets, Cine gamma, XLR audio outputs
1080i, HD/SDI output, Custom presets, Cine gamma, XLR audio outputs
1080i, 50i/25f, HD/SDI output, Genlock input, Timecode I/O, XLR audio outputs
1080i, 50i/25f, HD/SDI output, Genlock input, Timecode I/O, XLR audio outputs
£4,200 - £5,200
720/60p - 1080/60i, records to REV PRO media & CF cards
720/24p, 720/25p, 720/30p, XLR audio outputs
£3,800 - £3,995
720/24p, 720/25p, 720/30p, 720/50p, 720/60p, XLR audio outputs
£4,350 - £4,550
720/24p, 720/25p, 720/30p, 720/50p, 720/60p, XLR audio outputs
35Mbps QuickTime recording in full 1920x1080 to SD/HC cards
£4,600 (body only)
AVCHD recording to SD/HC cards, 6/9/13Mbps, Leica Dicomar Lens
AVCHD budget shoulder type, Leica lens, XLR audio outputs
AVCHD semi-pro hand-held, solid-state AVCHD replacement for DVX100b
1080i/720p, Leica Dicomar wide-angle lens, DV to tape or HD to P2 card
50/60 Hz selectable, variable frame-rate function, P2 only
10-bit, 4:2:2, 2.2MP Imagers, 3-MOS, AVC-Intra 100 & AVC-Intra 50
1080/50i, 25p, 1080/60i, 24p, 30p, 720/60p, 24p, 30p, 720/50p
£13,500 (body only)
1080i/50, 720/50p, records to P2 only
£26,000 (body only)
2/3rd-inch native HD resolution, 1080 & 720 with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling in AVC-Intra 100
£25,500 (body only)
Native 1080p HD recording to AVC-Intra with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling in AVC-Intra 100
£32,500 (body only)
Single 3 mega-pixel chip, Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens with 10x zoon, Cine mode
1080/50i with 1080/25p progressive shooting mode, Carl Zeiss lens
Budget shoulder-mount camcorder with Z7 type interchangable lenses
Replacement for the Z1, new G-lens, better chips and more up-to-date technology
1080i/50, 1080/25p, DVCAM SD mode, Zeiss lens, Audio XLR inputs
Solid-state Z5, AVCHD, Memory Stick Pro, semi-pro hand-held, variable framerate, 1080p
1080i/50, 1080/25p, 720/50p, 35Mbps variable frame-rate, timelapse, pre-record, Cine gamma
1080i/50, 1080/25p, 720/50p, 35Mbps frame-rate dial, interchangable EX-mount lenses
Professional shoulder-mount version of EX3, 2/3rd inch, 1080/25p, 35Mbps, lens included
1080/50i, 1080/25p, 18/25/35Mbps rates, records to 23GB or 50GB dual-layer Optical Discs
£9,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25p, 18/25/35Mbps rates, 23GB or 50GB XDC AM discs, HD/SDI output
£16,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25p, 720/25p, 4:2:2 sampling, 2/3rd-inch, 14-bit AD records to 23GB or 50GB
£21,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25/24p, 720/25p, 4:2:2 sampling, 2/3rd-inch PowerHAD, 14-bit AD
£29,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25PsF, 14-bit A/D converter, Power HAD FX CCDs
£27,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25p, 12-bit AD, picture cache, upgrade to the HDW 750 range
£28,500 (body only)
1080/50i, 1080/25p, 12-bit AD, Gamma curves, frame-rates up to 30p, replacement for F900
£36,500 (body only) • DVuser Magazine • May 2010 • 33
Email: [email protected]
We’re offering 24 months 0% finance on
virtually all of Sony’s XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD
and HDCAM SR products and accessories, as
well as selected monitors until 31st July 2010*
*Subject to status. Terms & conditions apply. Call us for further information.
Call CVP Group for local service on a national level
020 8380 7400
01527 854 222
01772 433144
0141 564 2710
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF