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Review: Sony NEX-FS700 Large-Sensor Camcorder

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?

Key Advantages of the FS700 for Webcast Producers

At this point I’ve reduced most of the FS700’s new features to small-value items that don’t combine to equal the added cost of the FS700 over the FS100 for many users but, more specifically, HD webcasters. At the outset and in my previous article in this series on the FS100, I stated that the FS700 is the best HD webcasting video camera. It isn’t for the above reasons. For me, the big difference between the FS100 and the FS700 is that the FS700 has three HD output options that can all be used simultaneously.

The FS100 is limited to either the component HD or HDMI output and the output from the HDMI is either 1080p60 or 1080i60, rather than a true 1080p30 or 1080 30PsF. If you try to connect devices on both the component and HDMI outputs on the FS100, only the HDMI output works. Additionally, the lack of 30p HDMI means that 60i is your most compatible external recording and webcasting format, and this can get confusing when you want to be webcasting in progressive, as that is the native format for computers and HDTVs.

The FS700 improves on both the number and type of output options over the FS100. 30p and 30PsF are now HDMI options, which mean you can pair the FS700 with an HDMI capture device like the Blackmagic Design Intensity, Intensity Shuttle for USB3.0, Intensity Shuttle for Thuderbolt, and Intensity Extreme, in native 30p, rather than 60i. The Intensity line does not support 1080p60, and even if it did, webcasting in 1080p60 might be too challenging for viewers to decode smoothly.

Having three live HD connections is the main reason I feel the FS700 is the best HD webcasting video camera. The HDMI connection can be used for the camera operator’s HD camera-mounted monitor, a necessity for tripod work because of the top placement of the LCD monitor unless the camera operator is on a riser or filming seated subjects.

The HD-SDI connection is what you use to feed the HD video switcher or connect straight into the webcast encoder. HD-SDI is a more secure connection because of its bayonet connection and because it doesn’t interconnect other connected devices like does HDMI. I explained in my previous article why you never want to split an HDMI feed to an external monitor and a video switcher or webcast encoder at the same time: If you lose one connection, they all fail.

The component connection is probably going to remain unused but I have scenarios where I’d prefer to run analog component HD cables with a balun to power a projector, so I could see myself using all three connections on the FS700 at the same time.

Sony NEX-FS700

The Sony FS700 allows simultaneous HD outputs from its HD-SDI, HDMI, and Component connections.

Best Camera for Producing Webcasts

If I had to sum up why I feel the FS700 is the best video camera for webcasting I would have to say that it combines the clean HD image that makes the FS100 so great and the HD-SDI connection (plus two simultaneous other HD outputs) that Sony has been reluctant to include on their entry-level professional video cameras--all features that webcasters need to ensure the highest-quality video and secure connections.

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