The Sony PXW-Z150, Sony’s latest fixed lens video camera, was released at BVE last week. Aimed at END news-gathering, documentary, and video productions, this new HD and 4k camera sits in the “mid-range”—just below the FS5. It boasts some impressive features for a camera around the $3,500 mark which made me very keen to take a look! A Quick Look at the Sony PXW-Z150 When Sony visited Cinema5D HQ in Vienna, Sebastian got a chance to check out the Z150. Meanwhile, at BVE, there was quite a wait in store for those wanting to take a look at the camera. In essence, the Z150 bears similarities to the Z1, with a familiar layout and menu. It has an 18x servo-zoom, 3 stop ND filters and the standard audio interface. From the short time I spent framing up shots around the expo show floor, I felt that its ergonomics and wide zoom range would make it the ideal camera for a variety of productions. Predominantly designed for HD productions, with 4:2:2 10 bit up to 120 FPS slow motion which finally brings an affordable slow motion solution to camera operators. It does capture in 4K QFHD, but only in 4:2:0 8 bit and up to 30p, which does help with an increasing number of clients that are looking to future-proof any footage captured. I was extremely pleased to see that Sony chose to use SD cards for the recording media of the Z150; it is inexpensive and popular among many users that would potentially make the switch from DSLR. Having to invest in new recording media is always an unwanted, and often unnecessary, expense. The sensitivity of the 1″ sensor, combined with a variable aperture of F/2.8 – F/4.5 makes the Sony PXW-Z150 ideal for run and gun productions without adding the requirement of additional light sources. Though it wouldn’t match the capability of the A7S in low light, the resulting image and depth of field were definitely pleasing. The Sony PXW-Z150’s Shortcomings All cameras have downsides and the Sony PXW-Z150 is no different. A lack of picture profiles, such as S-Log, as well as no timecode or genlock are the main ones in my eyes. However, maybe the omittance of these features is by design, rather than an oversight—it seems to me that the Sony PXW-Z150 has been built for use in the field, filming fast turnaround projects rather than in a live studio or higher end production. Overall, I can definitely see the Z150 being a camera of choice for single operators and small crews looking to streamline their productions by moving away from interchangeable lenses. The Sony PXW-Z150 will certainly come in handy during events and for run and gun filming on the frontline of news and documentary production, where a compact kit is key. However, labelling it an all-rounder just wouldn’t feel right since it punches well above its weight in terms of the new sensor, 120fps slow motion, 4:2:2 10 bit and that ubiquitous buzzword (4K).Read more
Sony has just introduced yet another camera. The Sony Z150 is a 4K camcorder with a 1-inch sensor and the unique feature that it can shoot up to 120fps slow motion. We had a chance to try a prototype, and here are our first hands-on impressions. The Sony Z150 is not the typical kind of camera we report about on cinema5D, but there are some unique features that we think make this one newsworthy. Its 1-inch sensor gives you a similar shallow depth-of-field look from what you would get from an MFT sensor camera (think a bit smaller than a Panasonic GH4). The sensor itself, which Sony have used in other cameras like the Sony RX 10 mark II, apparently has some much improved processing behind it. This gives you 120fps at Full HD resolution, which is also new in a camcorder like this. It is a potentially interesting feature for those who require the ergonomics and ease of use of a handy camera, like documentary shooters who need to move compact and quickly. It is interesting to see a camera that combines slow motion and a more shallow depth of field, yet gives you the flexibility of a camcorder. We are certainly starting to observe a trend, especially after last year’s introduction of the Panasonic DVX200, clearly targeted at a similar audience. In a similar fashion, the JVC GY-LS300 4K camcorder received a 120fps update just this week. Sony Z150 Hands-On Impressions Coming from large sensor cameras, I’m used to dealing with unergonomic tools that have to be adapted to different shooting scenarios and need care in terms of setup and control. This camera, however, seems to be a perfect compact camcorder when it comes to ergonomics. If you have used these before, you will immediately find all the buttons and controls in exactly the right places. I thought handling was really good. The same goes for actual shooting. The camera was set to autofocus and I was impressed how quickly and precise it adjusted. Both the integrated OLED viewfinder as well as the on-camera LCD are nice and well positioned, and it just feels like the camera isn’t ever in the way of the actual action you’re recording. The images in the viewfinder looked very clean and sharp, but one thing to criticise is that the built-in low resolution monitoring solution might not be sufficient to actually judge the 4K recordings you’re making. In terms of negative points, I noticed that the Sony Z150 lens does not have a constant aperture (f/2.8-4.5), so the images might get darker when you zoom in. Another point is that the menu is still “Sony style”: it is still the same old menu structure we’ve come to know, and it took a while to make adjustments. However, the buttons reacted much quicker than on some other large sensor cameras by Sony. All in all, I found the camera to work really well out-of-the box. It has all the connectivity you need, like XLR, HDMI and SDI, but you should know that like on other recent Sony cameras, the internal video displays are disabled during 4K output. Talking about actual footage, there is not much we can claim at this point. But looking at Sony’s own promo video, it seems to me that the footage you get is very sharp when viewed on a 4K screen. And yet, the quality exhibits the typical low dynamic range broadcast look many of us left behind when we moved to large sensor cameras. A proper filmic recording look, like an Slog2 or Slog3 Gamma Curve would have helped, but unfortunately this camera doesn’t offer it at the moment. This is certainly one feature where the Panasonic DVX200 has the advantage. Otherwise, if you just need 4K broadcast quality with a bit more shallow depth of field, and the 120fps slow motion is of use to you, then this camera might be a good choice. The specs: 1-inch Exmore RS sensor UHD 4K up to 30fps (100mbit) HD up to 120 fps (50mbit) Integrated Sony G Lens with 12x Optical Zoom Discrete Manual Focus, Zoom, Iris Rings XAVC, AVC/H.264, AVCHD 2.0, MPEG-4 Two SD Memory Card Slots (can record dual slot for backup) Wi-Fi Connectivity 2 XLR Audio Inputs SDI output 4:2:2 10-bit in HD 4:2:0 8-bit in UHD The Sony Z150 will arrive mid-April and cost $3,595 more info on the Sony websiteRead more
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