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HXR NX3 Review

I was given the privilege of review a yet to be released camera for Videographers and a chance to see if any of those previews reviews and suggestions had worked there way back into Sony.

Well I can tell some of those suggestions have made it and it is

nx3

On opening the box of the pre production model, it comes with an AC adapter, power lead, Remote control, lens hood, eye piece, additional cold shoe and the European model comes with an ECM-VG1 microphone.  It does not come with any battery , so you will need one of them if you want to take it out to film or perhaps you have a F950, F970 in your kit box already.  Personally I would have preferred the battery then the microphone, but not worth losing sleep over.a pleasure to see that.

So what’s special about this camera to previous models and is it the camera for me?
It is very similar in looks to the NEX 5 apart form no SDI output from the BNC, but has composite output in place of the SDI.  The sensor is also from the PMW 150, three full HD Exmor sensors with 2.07M effective pixels.

Being a pre-production model and with time constraints against me I just could not to go into everything about the NEX3 and its operation, so will concentrate on the things that stand out.

So what’s different  and new..  well for starters there is the Wi-Fi control, MP4 Simultaneous Record, S&Q Motion, Clear Image Zoom (CIZ) and the record trigger settings.

The MP4 Simultaneous Record function seems a bit odd when first looked at as they are not proxy files  as there is no time on them and the camera cannot play these clips back either. With this option enabled when you record your normal AVCHD files an MP4 file will be recorded as well on the same card (1208 X 720, 25p). With the Wi-Fi option, you can transfer them to your phone or tablet and view them on there to quickly show clients or on your way back home or lets image your out at a conference or a some live event and you have just filmed something spectacular or a great interview and want to get it on your blog or website, or with a bit of editing (wevideo, Imovie, Adobe Videobites) or no editing you can upload straight on to YouTube, all via your phone on site. To transfer the MP4 files, you just view the clips on the phone touch the ones you want and they will be transferred.


 The Wi-Fi option is a welcome addition, apart from the being able to control the Zoom & Iris, it also has live view with touch focus.  It will work on phones and tablets (Android & Apple ) just go to the relevant markets and stores to download. Installation is painless and so is the set up to connect the devices together, especially if you have NFC on your phone saves all that manual entry. Once that is done you can view the camera on the remote device, thought there is some latency in view. You have the option to adjust the Iris and the zoom remotely.

What you cannot do is monitor the image on the LCD viewer at the same time. Something I know I have needed on many occasions with a one man two camera shoot. You can also change the SSID but not the channel of the Wi-Fi.

remote record What you cannot do is monitor the image on the LCD viewer at the same time. Something I know I have needed on many occasions with a one man two camera shoot. You can also change the SSID but not the channel of the Wi-Fi.
Sony Warch One added bonus is you can use the Sony RM-LVR1, Live View remote control wrist watch.
 The camera has a Slow & Quick (motion) feature, which is not quite the same as time lapse but will allow you to capture events over a long period of time, be it the clouds passing overhead or  people entering a venue or conference.  The slow motion is 50% and the quick upto 2500%.
Clear zoom 1 CIZ or Clear Image zoom as Sony call it allows the lens to go from 28.8mm to 576mm in the optical section and then up to 1152mm using this new CIZ. This takes it form 20X to 40X, which in normal circumstance we we call a Digital Zoom, buts it’s not.  It uses all sorts of clever algorithms, look ups and databases to really bring out the image, you can see in the images below the results of the 40X zoom.  It’s not something I tend to use a lot but just sometimes when your in the back of a theatre you just need to get that little bit closer.
Clear zoom 20x Clear zoom 40x

 


Dula Record

Sony have seen sense and fitted two, that right two and not one SD card slots for your use, this at last gives you the option for relay record and dual record to

give you confidence that you will have a second copy if the first does decide to go belly up, also means you can pass the second copy to a client to take away with them.  Bt they have not stopped there, they have also given you the option to decide which record button will control which SD slot, so the Handle Record button can control either Slot A or Slot B and so can the handgrip record button.  This allows for options to record the important scenes on to say Slot A while continuously recording on Slot B.  This allows you to take selected shots to make a quick promo on the go without having to wade through all the main footage, You can use the new SDXC cards and they start from 64Gb right upto 2TB (will be some time before we see that large one I guess)

Dual slots

record options


Just in case it is pitch black or there is an surprise interview, then did I mention the built in LED Light, well there is one , not fantastic, but enough to get you out of a hole or use while packing you gear away in the evening in a dark room.

low light

The camera performs absolutely brilliantly in low light, you can get real natural looking shots after the sun has gone dark, I’m not talking pitch black here, just the normal street lights or the mood lighting at venues or theatres the Exmor chips pull this of well.  Even if you use the auto function to get a really clear image the noise is not really noticeable,.

In the menus, you can make your own presets for the camera and there quite a few options in there you can then save up to 99 Camera profiles and save camera settings for each scene, which can be imported  to other NX3 cameras, making setup easy

The camera has lots of little hidden away features that can come in handy on the odd occasion, including iAuto, which have probably seen on stills cameras where you get those images of the different modes you can set the camera to, eg, Sunset, Spotlight, macro etc.  It has in fact 90 possible options.


nx3 rearThere is not many output options, mainly the BNC composite with 2 audio phono-plugs, and a full size HDMI, which can have Time Code embedded.  There is the usual Headphone and a LNC socket on the hand grip

Audio , in a camera is often overlooked, but is essential in  a good production. The NX3 has a built in stereo microphone with the standard XLR connectors and the typical switches you would expect to find.

You can do the standard stuff and feed Input one into Input two, decide to mix the internal microphone with the external microphone.

Audio NX3

I tried my normal test of pulling the battery or the SD out of the camera while in record and this resulted in only a loss of the last five seconds of the recording.


All in all a good main or second camera with lots of new features, in fact just what the doctored ordered. Of course there are always some niggles,  having the live-view and being able to see it on the & of course cache recording is missing.  My hope that the buttons on the camera will one day be illuminated, so you can see then while you film in the dark is still some why of I fear.

Most affordable 3 chip camera with Wi-Fi, street price £2700

END

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