Sony PXW X70–How the 60mbps codec performs compared with the 100mbps AX100 in 4K

I thought I’d share this post from the Sony PXW X70  Shooters Facebook page which contains a significant piece of information on the X70s 60mbps versus the 100mbps of other 4K cameras. The difference that hasn’t been covered until now is the difference between the XAVC-L professional codec (which is new) versus the XAVCS codec. Here’s the post in full:

Some may know that I did some tests comparing/contrasting the AX100 4K 100 mbps XAVC-S and the X70 4K 60 mbps XAVC-L. These tests were of virtually the same footage shot at the same time and projected in 4K onto a 15-foot screen in a high-end 4K color grading suite here in Los Angeles. In the opinion of two cameramen and two colorists present (one of them the senior colorist), while both cameras looked excellent, the X70 images looked slightly superior. They definitely graded better.

There have been various discussions about why Sony didn’t put 100 mbps in their professional camera but did so in the consumer version. Briefly, the two codecs are significantly different and the professional codec performs better.

I just received this word from Sony’s X70 product manager regarding possible future 100 mbps in the X70: “We are working on that, but have not clarified whether or not whether it is technically feasible to incorporate 100Mbps. It is different from those of consumer FDR-AX100 and other models.”

As a note, I’ve been so busy I haven’t yet upgraded my own X70 to either the latest firmware or the 4K upgrade–something I hope to get to in the next week or so. -Joe

Does the Sony PXW X70 4k upgrade import and work with FCPX?

I’m not going to get to this upgrade for another week or so, but just got this comment in on the Video Whisperer Blog, and I’m taking his advice:

Hi, my name is Hartmut writing from Berlin, Germany.
Dear “Whisperer”: You can call out loudely that it is very easy to import and edit 4Kmaterial recorded by the SONY PXW-X70 on an iMAC (latest edition) and FCPX (latest edition). It is working perfectly and the results are amazing if you consider how cheap and tiny this camera is!

Best Rechauds

Hartmut

SD Card Deals–“If it’s too good to be true…”

Counterfeit SD cards

(Originally published on the Run ‘n Gun Videography Blog.)

I’ve always used SanDisk cards and never, ever had a problem in the 5 or 6 years I’ve being using digital equipment.

Also, I generally get the highest rated cards in terms of speed and bit rate for the equipment I’m using.

One is tempted when making SD card purchases to find a really good deal.

BUT, if what you find seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Here’s a story about SD card counterfeiting

As you will see, the counterfeited cards look identical. And where you’ll find these great deals is on eBay, Amazon or similar sites.

Sony PXW X70 4K Firmware Update Available

Well, it’s here.

This is the link . Sony V2.00 Update

Here are the exact instruction on how to install the update: V2.00 update procedure

There are several reports that, in combination with FCPX’s last update, you can now natively import XAVCL into FCP.

This update does not automatically give you 4K.  There’s another step (purchase) which hasn’t been made very clear at this date, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon. However, if you want to record in XAVCL right now, you can.

18 June 2015

Ok, here’s the latest on the 4K update with a rebate available to the US market.

X70 4K Firmware Update

And here’s the link for obtaining and activating 4K. X70 4K Upgrade Key

And this comment from the FB X70 User Group regarding a rebate for early adopters of the X70:

 The 4K upgrade is here! It’s easy to install and Sony has the loyalty program. The box will have a sticker that tells users to visit a webpage where they get contact info for POSC…. gives you ‘inside’ access and can help you upgrade in 5 – 10 minutes. Sony wants to show their appreciation to early adopters of the PXW-X70 camcorder: End-user purchasers of PXW-X70 who took delivery of their product on or before March 31, 2015 and who purchase a CBKZ-X70FX 4K license key between June 15, 2015 and August 31, 2015 are eligible to receive a $300 mail-in rebate from Sony!

Sony PXW X70–AVCHD vs XAVC-L, Some Sobering Thoughts

4k-Ultra-HD1 Like everyone else I was intrigued by the possibility of shooting 4K when I bought the X70 (4K upgrading coming out in June at a cost).

I say intrigued. It’s not that I really needed to shoot in 4K. When the 4K upgrade does come out, I’ll be interested to know if it has any improving affect on the camera’s native 1080 HD resolution by reason of the software. Otherwise, I’m not very inclined to go that way.

Here are the sobering facts:

1. To shoot in 4K you will have to use the Sony SxS Pro+ cards (not the SxS-1 or SxS Pro cards) and for that you’ll need a reader/writer than can take them. Or, as one commenter said, get and use an Atmos Shogun  4K recorder/monitor or something similar for about £1500/$2200.

2. The 64 GB SxS Pro + card costs over £600 or $900 and will get you 32 minutes of record time (or less by some reports).

3. The 128 GB SxS Pro+ card costs about £800 or about $1200 and will get you an hour of record time (or less).

4. There is now a free plug-in for FCPX that will allow you to import off an SxS card, but the expenses don’t end there…

5. You’ll need high-end graphics cards and a 4K monitor. Your MacBook Pros and iMacs won’t handle the image processing without making you go mad. You’ll need the Mac Pro which was built for 4K. PC users will have similar hardware issues, particularly for graphics cards.

So what about these SDXC cards we all bought? Well, they’re good and they’re fast and you CAN record XAVC-L on them if you want to, but why bother if your output is HD? Is there some small advantage? Apparently there is if you’re into minutiae, but in the scheme of things I don’t think there’s any discernible difference or advantage–except your files will be larger.

Unless you’ve got money to burn, stick with HD. It will be years before the prices on 4K equipment and media become affordable for most, and for that to happen, 4K will have to be all the rage. And that may never happen except in a small niche group of producers.

On the other hand, as another commenter pointed out, if you shoot in 4K for regular HD export, that gives you a host of advantages in post production (image cropping, stabilisation without image size loss, etc). Some blogs are suggesting that clients are requesting 4K shoots for HD export. It gives the option of later re-issuing the same video in 4K.

The question remains for X70 users, will we be able to record 4K at 60mbps on an affordable SDXC card and edit using proxy files? It remains to be seen.

As I said in the original X70 review, if you want a 4K camera, don’t get this one. Get one that’s already ready.

When it is ready, I hope I will have to eat my words–‘cuz I think I’ll want to start shooting in 4K for 1080 HD export.

 

The ‘Filmic Look’

Since uploading the review of the Sony PXW X70 (which moved from page 26 to the number one slot on page 1 Google search in two 1/2 months) I have gotten a lot of comments on the YouTube video as well as a number of comments on the blog and personal emails. They’ve all been truly great.

Confession: I’ve never been a geek. I admire those who are and those who understand all the ins and outs of codecs and all things electronically technical. I really do.

Some of those folks have commented now and then that I should look into some of the available pre-sets on the X70. More than a few have commented that with a proper setting my videos wouldn’t look so ‘video-like’.

Well, I really do want to look into those settings when I get a moment. In fact, I look forward to it.

And while I may eat my words after I’ve done so, I do want to mention something on the subject of the ‘filmic look’ that I didn’t mention in the book ‘Run ’n Gun Videography published recently.

I started off in cinematography. Film. First 16mm with a $50,000 camera/lens kit (in the early 80s), then 35mm with cameras costing between $50,000 and $250,000.

Funny thing. Even then I didn’t like the ‘filmic look’.

That, to me, meant GRAIN. And we were forever testing films and ASA (ISO) going for the least amount of grain as possible.

Anyway, in the early 90s I was assigned to a video documentary team. And at once, I loved the immediacy of video. You didn’t have to send it to the lab. You could play it back right then and there. And, of course, there was no grain. We had pretty good broadcast quality Sony cameras, so the picture quality was excellent. Crisp. Clear. Great color reproduction. I was in heaven.

Guess I was never really a film snob.

So my point is this: “What’s wrong with the ‘video look’? What’s this urge for people using video cameras to make them seem to be film cameras?

The chapter in the book that covers this subject was meant to clarify what is really meant by the ‘filmic look’. It’s a bit ironic actually how the filmic look came about—including how shallow depth of field came about. But as I said in the book, there hasn’t been a director or cinematographer in history that attributed any part of the success of a film at some awards ceremony to ‘depth of field’ or a particular film stock. It just never crossed their minds. Sure, they’d talk about their choice and manipulation of film stock for some particular look or mood they achieved, but that was in magazine articles. There’s something else far more intrinsic and important to the filmic look than all that stuff and that was the point of that chapter in ‘Run ‘n Gun Videography’.

But I also pointed out that I’m not ‘down on the filmic look’ either. I know what they’re talking about.

It’s just that I’m not down on the ‘video look’ either.

Maybe I’ll have to eat my words after I check into the X70s alternative pre-sets, but I can’t imagine that they won’t just be another version of the ‘video look’.

Pure Frickin’ Black Magic–Sony PXW X70

Pure Frickin’ Black Magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(UK videographers/photographers see note below the videos)

UK BUYERS:

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

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

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

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

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