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Sony Z100 4K Camera Edit

The scope of this review is not so much to see the fine details of the operation of the camera.  This is to see how the work flow works within an edit suite (Sony Vegas 12) with a 4K camera and make a two camera edit from the one 4K image. I must thank kanta of Sony, who I badgered to get this camera so I could try out my curiosity.


The camera has the classic Sony look of a rectangular block with a lens attached at one end (non removable), with the nice flip out LCD on the handle. Having just done a review of the NX3  the buttons are in similar positions and within easy access and not much different to the other Sony cameras. It has seven assignable buttons available, which can be viewed on the
Status Check, Assignable Button Status Screen Default assigned functions 

      Z100 Side View Default assigned functionsButton 1 OffButton 2 OffButton 3 OffButton 4 ZebraButton 5 PeakingButton 6 OffButton 7 Focus Magnifier

There is a built in stereo microphone on the top front of the camera, which also has a cold shoe on top of it. There are two standard XLR inputs on the side.

          P1070502 Audio       Z100 F

Wi-Fi facility is built in, but you have to plug in the Wi-Fi adapter (supplied) on the neck below the eyepiece t o the back of the camera. This works in a different way to say the NX3 in that there is no live view of the camera,


 

    wiffi remote The options available are on the image on the right.  I never got round to testing this as it kept connecting and disconnecting on my tablet, (Samsung Tablet 10.1″ P5110) so cannot comment on how well it would have  worked had I managed to connect to it.  You can set up the SSIS and passwords as you require.   One thing I am certain off, it is easy to get the dongle into socket  but near on impossible to remove it as there is no finger room, I had to use a small screwdriver to get it out in the end. this should work on any Apple & Android devices.            P1070500

The options available are on the image on the right.  I never got round to testing this as it kept connecting and disconnecting on my tablet, (Samsung Tablet 10.1″ P5110) so cannot comment on how well it would have  worked had I managed to connect to it.  You can set up the SSIS and passwords as you require.   One thing I am certain off, it is easy to get the dongle into socket  but near on impossible to remove it as there is no finger room, I had to use a small screwdriver to get it out in the end. this should work on any Apple & Android devices.

The options available are on the image on the right.  I never got round to testing this as it kept connecting and disconnecting on my tablet, (Samsung Tablet 10.1″ P5110) so cannot comment on how well it would have  worked had I managed to connect to it.  You can set up the SSIS and passwords as you require.   One thing I am certain off, it is easy to get the dongle into socket  but near on impossible to remove it as there is no finger room, I had to use a small screwdriver to get it out in the end. this should work on any Apple & Android devices.


On the back of the camera is a multitude of sockets and connectors.

There are two XQD sockets, these are Sony’s own brand at present to get the bandwidth for the 4K recording, these cards are not cheap and at present are about £200 for a 32Gb card, 180MB/s. The 32Gb card will get you about 7 minutes at the highest recording setting, so no long form stuff here.

Format MSF AVC /H.264 @4:2:2 10bit (into Sony Vegas as MXF)
4096*2160 50p/25p  (500Mbps / 250Mbps)
3840*2160 50p/25p (500Mbps / 250Mbps )
1920*1080 25p/50p (112Mbps /223Mbps)

There is no INTERLACE recording on this camera.

There is also two standard SDHC sockets one for 1080 recording at sometime in the future as it was not active when I tried to use it the other for saving the profiles.  You will also find a mini USB & type A connector, which is for future use.

There are standard Phono sockets for SD video and audio, BNC SDI out, HDMI out, Time Code link in and out.

The Lens has a  72mm Filter diameter, with  F1.6 – F11, 20X  30mm to 600mm

The Image device is a 7.82mm (1/2 .3 type) CMOS Effective 16:9 = 8,300,00 pixels
17:9 8,800,000, total 18,900,00

There is a 2.5mm LANC connector for the remote operation of the zoom and the start stop recording.

You should get with a NP-F970 Battery (47.5Wh) on the 4K setting you should get 165 continuous minutes, but 75minutes typical  as you will start stop and use the zoom.  The on screen battery indicators just gives a bar and no minutes remaining, which seems a step backwards.

The other thing I noticed was that you get clip recording duration and remaining time in minutes but no total elapsed time, e.g. no running time code. You can turn on or off all 28 indicators on the viewfinder.

If you record in 25p and then set the camera to 50p (and vica versa) you cannot preview the 25p clips without setting the camera to same record settings as the clips.

I did notice, pressing stop while playing a clip takes the mode back to the camera and not to the clips for some strange reason. You have to press the Thumbnail button to get back to the thumbnails, but while in that mode pressing it again takes you back to the camera.

WORKFLOW

On to the bit I was really wanting to get the grips with this camera, and I must say was extremely easy once I had got sorted the workflow.

I was using Sony Vegas 12 pro, but it will work on earlier versions, assuming it thy take 4K files.

My train of thought was to record in wide and then crop in after the event, to give me flexibility for the end product. I should have no lose of quality image as I am recording in 4K, which is basically 4 X 1920 x 1080 screens, so I can crop into a standard HD image and still be quids in.  There is the benefit of only one camera, no camera movement, just the adjustment of the aperture/gain/audio if and when required. The challenge was going to be to make it easy and not adding to much on the overhead of time during post. This had to be a quick way of getting the different shots and not to be confusing so errors could be spotted as well.

As we were still in the Christmas section of the year I organised with a local theatre group to record a couple of numbers from their Pantomime, as this is a stage event and so would be a good test of the workflow.  I will add that Phoenix Theatre do produce a fantastically professionally pantomime.

I managed to get two numbers in the can, I would have done more but as I noted above, I only had seven minutes on the 32gb card at full resolution quality (4096*2160 50p/25p, 500Mbps / 250Mbps) so my time was limited.

Back in the edit suite  I then opened a fresh copy of Vegas 12 project and imported the clips from the  XQD cards to the local drive,  and then made a backup on to a second drive.

Dropped one number form the Pantomime on the time line and  accepted the NLEs request to make the project the same as the clips about to be dropped onto the timeline.

I then added three additional video tracks above the main wide clip, I marked these as Wide for the main clip, then Centre , Left & Right stage.

Then on the TRACK MOTION of on of the track headers, I set the Width to 8192, as this is 4096 X 2 to get the correct zoom . The track motion allows you to set the screen position for that track, you could use the pan crop for each individual clip, but this proved tedious and prone to the odd error.


 

   Track motion - Left I also set the image position Left, Right & Centre for the appropriate track.I then played the track hitting the S button to split the main track for where I wanted to change the camera crop, then quickly moved to the clip to the relevant track above it.

After finishing the whole clip and then went back to each clip and if required reframed the image to the correct position, this quite easy to do , by pressing the Pan/Crop button and then sliding the image as you want.

Track headers 1

 

 

 

 

 

After completing the edit, I rendered out the project as progressive HD MP4 25Mb/s.

All in all fairly easy process, it would add time to the project as the reframing would have technical been done during the recording on the day, but you do not miss any shots because you are zoomed in at stage left and something happens stage right or the typical singing duo at opposite ends of the stage.

1920 Render

4K render (change your settings to view in 4K)

Conclusion

This camera does open a new window on a different way of working, but there are still some items to iron out before it can become a reality.

The main one being the recording time, 7minutes on a 32gb card and the cost of the cards themselves and  the inability to record standard HD at present.  There has been a firmware version two released, but I have read that the audio channels are swapped.

It needs better compression to get more out of the cards as well as the prices coming down to be more affordable.

As this is a 4K camera and resolutions seems to be on the up, it would be nice to have at least 4 audio channels now, this camera has a built in stereo microphone built in and it would be nice if the two XLRs had their own audio channels.  The MXF format allows upto8 channels.

As a videographer I constantly need more then two audio cannels when recording, radio microphones , on board microphones, means at present i have to use an external audio recorder. Filming stage events always require more then the standard two tracks as a good feed from the mixer makes all the difference to the final audio on the finished product. having said all that the microphones on the Z100 built in microphones handled the stage recording I did very well.

When I come to replace my camera this 4K option is a serious contender as a replacement as is the NX3.

Technical Details.
Mains lead X 2, HDMI cable,  battery Charger (AC-VL1), Battery NP-F970,  Camera Power unit (2.5Amp AC-NB12A), AV Phono Lead, Microphone & Windshield (EXM-XM1), extra cold shoe, USB lead, USB Wireless Dongle, Disk with PDG manual (printed one also supplied, a shock to me as well), Sony Vegas? 32GB 180MB/s XQD card, Content broser Serial Number (download) wi-fi Dongle IFU-WLM3

Mass with microphone and battery, 2.9kg, Lens Hood, Eyepiece , Power used 30Watts

Z Cheema (copyright 2014)

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