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Forums Sony Cameras Any suggestions? Sony HVR-Z5U, Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM or Panasonic AG-AC160?

  • Any suggestions? Sony HVR-Z5U, Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM or Panasonic AG-AC160?

     Dean Fragola updated 7 years, 2 months ago 2 Members · 9 Posts
  • Dean Fragola

    November 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm


    I hope there is somebody out there who has the gift of patience and can help me with what is probably common sense knowledge and awareness to people in the video community (and I apologize for being so new & uneducated about all this) …

    But in short, I’m much more of a writer than a videographer … but I do want to shoot some shorts (and then maybe an indie feature) …

    And I don’t know where to begin as far as buying a pro-level consumer camera … as all I know is that I am looking for a true full 1080p (not interlace) camera that shoots at 24fps (for a film look) … and I need a camera that has rings for focus, zoom and iris …

    But it’s just some confusing as so many of these cameras out there (as I do my research) all seem to have like 40 different “shooting modes” … so I’m not sure what is a selling gimmick in the product description — vs — what is legitimate jargon that I need to understand.

    Does 1080/24p mean 1080 progressive (resolution) at 24 progressive frames (rate)? … or does it mean the resolution may be 1080i even though it shoots at 24 fps?

    Is there a difference between 24p … and 24p (native)? What about 1080p? … and 1080p (native)?

    And what’s the reason for all the various Mbs rates? … as, in other words, even if it’s true full HD at 24p, if it’s at a low bit rate, it’s not going to look all that great?

    And how about relatively older cameras (like 4 years old) that shoot 1080 HD but to a mini dv tape? … as those are very inexpensive now … are they still decent cameras (it’s just most people like the convenience of memory cards instead of DV tapes? … or are mini dv cameras basically just crap compared to the newer cameras?)

    For example …

    How about these three cameras? … what would you suggest? The Sony HVR-Z5U … or Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM … or the Panasonic AG-AV160?

    Thanks so much for any help.

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  • john lenihan

    November 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Welcome to the forum. I have four NX5Us and that support me and my family.

    I will answer some of your questions.
    1. Do not buy a tape camera!!! The tape has many problems. I used to have problems just going from an indoor air conditioned place to outdoor humid place would cause momentary dropouts in the recording which then I had to edit around. The switch to memory cards is a monumental step away from that type of headache.

    2. Full High Definition has a screen size of 1920 wide by 1080 vertical. 24p means that it captures the entire image 24 times per second. 60p means it captures the entire image 60 times per second. 60p takes just over 2 times more data rate than 24p because it is doing it 60/24 times per second more.

    3. 60i takes half the data rate of 60p because it records every other horizontal line as one image, then it records the opposite. The effect to the human eye is that it looks similar to 60p but at half the data rate of 60p.

    4. Some cameras started to simulate 30p by telling the 60i to record the same image, then getting the odd rows and the even rows to come out sequentially. A good marketing ploy, but not really worth anything.

    5. Some cameras started to simulate 24p by taking the 60i and simulating 30p, and then throwing away some of the frames. Often called pulldown. Thus it could be processed much as 60i, but during editing you would use the pulldown technique to get to 24p.

    6. So, 24p native, simply means no tricks, the circuitry simply records the entire 1920 x 1080 24 times per second.

    7. Now the next question is data rate in general. If the camera recorded every pixel times its pixel depth times 24 times per second, it would generate 1920 x 1080 x 36 ( number of bits to describe the color) x 24 frames per second = 1791 Megabits per second of data. That is so much data that every system uses a form of compression in order not to need an outrageous amount of storage.

    8. The first compression technique is to not record all the color information for all the pixels.

    9. In addition, the earliest compression technique was MPEG2 and is widely used.

    10. The next compression technique is MPEG4 or AVC which looks the same as MPEG2 with have the amount of data.

    11. The newest one is called AVC intra frame. This looks the same as AVC with the same data but is easier to edit with. I takes less computer power to decompress it.

    All of these compression techniques are imperfect and create a less than perfect image. All things being equal more data means less compression means less imperfections in the image.

    John Lenihan

    John Lenihan

    LeniCam Video Productions

  • Dean Fragola

    December 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Hi John,
    Thank you very much for such a detailed and informative reply as it is indeed very, very helpful.
    Sorry that I haven’t responded sooner, but I had a death in the family.
    At any rate …
    I think I now have a pretty good scope of what I need to look for in a camera based on how you broke down the various specs as well as then explained their various purposes and functionalities.
    And from here, hopefully you can now guide me to a final decision.
    I now realize that I definitely need to go with memory-card camera (and forget about a tape camera even though they have good specs).
    So now I just need to make sure that I get a camera that will shoot true full HD at 1920 X 1080 in native 24p at a decent data rate. Does the NX5U do all that?
    Oh and, is there any difference between the “Sony HXR-NX5U” and the “Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM” or are they the same camera?
    Thanks again so much for all your help as I really do appreciate it.

  • john lenihan

    December 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    You are welcome.

    1. Yes, those are synonym names for the nx5u.
    2. Yes, the camera shoots in 24p natively.


    John Lenihan

    LeniCam Video Productions


  • Dean Fragola

    December 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hey John,

    Thanks again for all your help as I just bought the NX5U …

    And I was wondering if you could help me with a few quick settings suggestions.

    How do I set the white balance to “auto” for now?

    And as far as the recording modes, I thought everything would be separate in the menu … for example, choice for HD or SD … then 1080 or 720 … then progressive or interlaced … then bit rate, etc (all separate selections) …. but it looks to me (unless I’m not getting into the part of the menu that I really need to be in), that the “settings” are clumped into an overall setting … so in other words, 1080 at 24fps in progressive at 24 Mbps is all just one setting?

    So basically I just want to select “HD” “1080/24p FX” … to then get the high definition resolution at film-like 24 progressive frames per second at the highest bit rate available on this particular camera?

    Does “FX” simply mean 24Mbps?

    Any other technical tips or suggestions you might have off the top of your head for someone who is just starting out with this particular camera?

    Thanks so much for all your help!

    Merry Christmas.


  • john lenihan

    December 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    If you have the auto/manual switch on the left side to auto, it is auto white balance.

    If you have the auto/manual switch set to manual, then press the white balance button to toggle auto white balance on or off.

    Sony has these goofy suffixes like FX and other ones to delineate the bit rate. It is in the booklet somewhere. I just set it to the highest and never change it, so I don’t remember which is which.

    After you play with the camera for a while, sit down and read every word in the booklet. Then go back to playing with the camera.


    John Lenihan

    LeniCam Video Productions

  • Dean Fragola

    December 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Hey John,
    Would you happen to know how to configure the deck settings in AVID MC 6.5 to capture from the Sony NX5U? … as there isn’t an “NX5U” option under the Sony drop down menu for selecting a Sony deck?
    I’m totally baffled here as I can’t get my AVID to recognize the deck when I have the camera plugged in.

  • john lenihan

    December 24, 2013 at 2:41 am

    I use Sony Vegas Pro and it is simple.

    I can’t help with avid or final cut

    John Lenihan

    LeniCam Video Productions

  • Dean Fragola

    December 24, 2013 at 2:46 am

    Ok, thanks.
    If you know anyone who uses AVID MC, please have them email me. As this should be real simply and take like 30 seconds … but I’m in no mans land here and totally stuck as I can’t get AVID to recognize the NX5U deck so I can then capture the footage.

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