HD Webcasting with the Sony NEX-FS100
Part 2 of this series on webcast video production focuses on Sony's NEX-FS100 large-sensor camcorder and new capabilities added via a firmware upgrade that (among other things) makes it compatible with Sony's LA-EA2 lens adapter. While it's not as strong a webcast camera as the FS700 (review coming soon), it still has much to recommend it.
In my previous article in this series on HD webcast video production, I discussed the different types of video cameras and what is important when choosing a video camera for HD webcasting. While I do encourage you to re-read that article, let me summarize that piece with what, in my opinion, are the two most important factors when selecting a video camera for HD webcasting: Low noise, and the type and number of clean and simultaneously live video outputs.
With that in mind, let me present to you what I feel is the best HD webcasting video camera available today: the Sony NEX-FS700. When I originally planned this series, my top selection was going to be the Sony NEX-FS100, but its outputs are limited and after working with an FS700 production model (my previous experience was limited to a pre-production model at NAB 2012 that wasn't as refined as the production model), I no longer felt the FS100 was the best camera for webcasting because the FS700 simply has fewer trade-offs that are important in a webcast workflow.
In order for me to properly explain and review the FS700, I'm going to start by reviewing the FS100 anew, since it received a recent firmware update that I have yet to cover in any previous articles. It still has several important shortcomings for webcasting applications so this article will set up my next article, a review of the FS700 (Figure 1, below), which I feel adds so much more value, albeit at a heftier price-tag. At the time of this writing, the FS100 body (sans lens) is selling for $4,999 and the FS700 for $7,999 at popular New York retailers like the family-owned Armatos, who are celebrating 44 years in business.
Figure 1. The Sony NEX-FS700
Large Image Sensors and Capturing Low-Noise Video
When it comes to low noise, a single large sensor like the Sony Super35mm CMOS sensor found in both the FS100 and FS700 is unmatched in any camera with a lower price point. Some DSLRs like the new Canon 5D Mark III have larger full-frame sensors, but their photography sensors are prone to aliasing and moiré. Their HDMI output is not clean, and the active area is only 1620x910, once you crop-out the red Record light and the black border that surrounds the entire image.
In some respects, the FS100 has no direct competitors, as the next closest large-sensor video camera is Panasonic AF100, which has a smaller and noisier 4/3" sensor, although it does have both HD-SDI and HDMI output options. As I will discuss later, having HD-SDI outputs is important in a webcast workflow, and I wish the FS100 had at least a single HD-SDI output instead of the HDMI one that limits it.
This article will be the first in a series of articles on webcasting and will cover a wide range of topics including video cameras, video switchers, converters, computer inputs, audio, reference monitors, webcast hardware, webcast software, live streaming services providers, and some additional hardware that is important in order to produce a professional live webcast.
The Sony NEX-FS700 has much to recommend it as a top-flight large-sensor, interchangeable-lens camcorder and as a worth-the-upgrade successor to the Sony FS100. And it's 4k support and 10x slo-mo are nothing to sneeze at. But what makes it the best camera in the market for webcast producers?
This article is the fourth in a series on webcast video production and discusses video switchers, including the cost and features that differentiate several popular models.
Shawn Lam compares key models in Sony's large-sensor camcorder line--the new shouldermount NEX-EA50, and the comparatively venerable handheld FS100 and FS700--with an eye to light sensitivity, image quality, and effectiveness with power zoom lenses, and reports on his epic, ongoing search for a viable parfocal 3x+ servo zoom lens.
Now featuring a new interview from NAB 2013 on the Sound Devices Pix240i, this article looks at a handful of portable and rackmount external video recorders for live HD production, specifically in the role of recording the master program feed from a live switch.
In this ongoing Streaming Media Producer series on webcast video production, Shawn Lam covers the video format converters he uses in his own HD webcast workflows, and one new converter that just might be the video converter, scaler, and distribution amplifier to rule them all.
Almost Live with Streaming Media reports from NAB 2014 with the latest on the Sony NEX-FS700R and new developments in the E-Mount lens ecosystem.