Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Nigel Cooper had a look at a working FS100 camcorder and did not miss the wall when it came to his conclusions…

Nigel “The cost of the FS100E will have a street price of approximately £5,000 for the body only. The FS100E is the model without a lens. The FS100EK (K standing for Kit) comes with a Sony E-mount 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 lens and will have an approximate street price of £5,500. The FS100E will be available to buy summer 2011 according to Sony UK. Sony are claiming that the target market for the FS100E is Education and Corporate, Event/Wedding and low-budget pop promo and documentary, but I’m sure it will find its way into other areas of video production too; especially the independent low budget filmmaker because of its large sensor and interchangeable lens offerings.”


“All-in-all, the FS100 feels like a very rushed camcorder. The ergonomics are terrible, the fixtures and fittings are pretty much the same, the switches, dials and knobs are too small and they feel horribly plasticky with a vague feel i.e. you don’t really know if you have actually pressed a button; you need LCD menu feedback to confirm. The hand-grip on the side wobbles, even when tightened up, so to does the top handle/mic holder, which feels like it is hanging on by its fingernails. Everything about this camcorder is just so awfully wrong. Sony had the perfect chance to give Panasonic a run for their money, but the FS100 is not the camcorder to do it, in my opinion. Panasonic’s AF101 is a clear winner over the Sony FS100 in terms of build quality, usability, functionality and features. Sure it lags slightly behind in raw resolution and there is a tad more aliasing, but the AF101 is about £1,500 cheaper and generally a much nicer camera to work with and it has none of the frustrations of the FS100. The Panasonic AF101 wins by a country mile and it would be my choice for any kind of work that required a large sensor and the ability to have a lot of control over depth-of-field.

There are just too many things missing from the FS100, no HD/SDI output, no ND filter wheel, only one card slot. Its like Sony have taken the F3 and stripped it of any worthwhile features and functions to keep it well away from the F3’s market. The FS100 is stripped of all the sensible functionality a cameraman actually needs. Sony’s old VX1000 even had a built in ND filter switch and that camera is from the dark ages in the grand scheme of video camcorder technology. I really wanted the FS100 to be a great little camcorder, but it is just not to be. For me, the FS100 is a huge let down. The only thing it has going for it is image quality, which is marginally better than the AF101, but still not as good as Sony’s own EX1/3.”

To read the full review by Nigel Cooper…

HDW :  Nigel was not impressed in fact it’s interesting that the Panasonic AF101 gets top marks over the FS100, but once again Sony were warned by me back at BVE when I got to see this camera that not having HD SDI was not going to go down well with the pro boys and if they were to compete with the AF101 the feature set as it stood did not “cut the mustard”.

The inclusion of the “E” mount was once again a bad move as most professionals would prefer to use Sony’s far better spec “A” lenses. Sony do claim to talk to “Professional cameramen” when producing new camcorders but I do not know one such cameraman so I can conclude they are taking advice from the wrong people…STOP PRESS…they spoke to 2 cameramen, Den Lennie and Zulqar Cheema.

Lets not kid ourselves by the time Den and Zulqar got involved the basic design template was on the drawing board and the camera could only be enhanced with their inputs as cameramen, I know nothing about Zulqar other than he won an award from the IOV and works on the Sony stand teaching Sony Vegas during trade shows. Den is an accomplished cameraman latterly starting F STOP academy, teaching students etc how to use DSLRs.

During the launch of the PMW-F3 we got to see an early FS100, Philip Bloom spoke to the Sony engineer telling him that if the camera did not shoot 25 and 24p it would be a non starter.

Not having ND filters forces you to buy Vari ND screw on filters or a Matte box, I had the cameras big sister the F3 and with only two filters 1/8th and 1/64th I was struggling to get a good balance between f5.6-f8 which is the sweet spot of any lens, without any ND this camera will struggle in sunlight. Cranking the lens down to f11 and bringing in shutter will look awful, forgetting the sheer sensitivity of the Super 35mm sensor…it eats light !

I was assured by Sony that I was to get an FS100 to produce a video review…time will tell !


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

11 thoughts on “Sony NEX FS100 a day later…”The Aftermath”

  1. So SONY fs100 Sensor is only 10% bigger then AF100 one.
    Does Nigel shoot 4:3?? It should be 40% bigger in real world.
    Very SAD post…sad indeed.

    jiri vrozina

  2. I think your are spot on Phillip.I was a tad excited about the release of this camera and after the initial release i was torn between the option of working towards the F3,or with that budget,buying this camera and building it into a great kit(new Gemini 4:4:4,matte box w/follow focus etc).I was going mad to hear of no HD-SDI(i’m nearly sure HDMI aint the same quality and only 8bit) but as you said Phillip,a 35mm sensor will eat light and for the camera not to have any ND filters is a shocker!
    I think i’ll keep the bank manager happy and continue towards the F3.

  3. The good thing about this debate is that many of you were torn between the cheaper FS100 and the dearer F3 and it seems to be pushing a few of you the F3 route so Sony can’t complain at that.

  4. I don’t understand why you so complaint about the ND filter, this is as simple as to put a vari nd filter in front of the lens and it’s not expensive at all ! ok it’s less easy.

  5. Den Lennie was interviewed on a webchat on Planet5D today, and he seems to feel that Sony had taken into account what the Focus Group he participated in had told them. He said they’d got about 90% of what they wanted, and that you can’t have everything.

    Alister Chapman at XDCAM-User was also part of the group, and has written about it and the camera.

    It seems clear from what Den Lennie was saying, that they wanted something small and modular like a DSLR.

  6. Thats my problem with this whole debate we are compromising to suit the DSLR which is nonsense. The DSLR is a frig, people have only taken up on it because its cheap.
    From a video standpoint the DSLR is in my opinion a non starter…Canon or Nikon have now had 2 years to correct MOIRE and all the other nasties…every new camera since the 5D2 has the same problems…WHY…they will not correct the problems because it would affect the photographic quality and thats it in a nutshell.
    One point that stands out with Nigel’s review is his comment about small fiddly switches in other words Sony have compromised the camera to try and make it smaller…like a DSLR.

  7. I’am surprised Sony listened to me at all, not used the big boys asking me, a lowly Videographer.

    With the quick use I had with the camera, it felt really good and fairly easy to use.
    Trouble is you cannot please all the people, my requirements are different to yours, my essentials are not yours and this is always going to cause some conflicts in the design.

    Do pop over next time I am at a show would be a pleasure to meet you.

    PS..the hand grip was fine.

    (your site found via the Sony Vegas forums)

  8. This is all rather reactionary based upon rough categorization. Whether or not a product resembles a D-SLR or not shall become increasingly pointless at this time of technology convergence.

    All of my attention is on moire/aliasing. Sony will have either licked that on this product, or not. Theoretically, it shall have, given its use of the PMW-F3 sensor. But I really want to see meticulous testing of aliasing/moire on the NEX-FS100.

  9. ufff, ND filter in camera? I only use it for non profetional videos; even with cameras with ND filters on it I use a mattebox with a real ND cristal on it to eliminate any color problems or distortion, because buildin NDs are not very good. In other hand the Super 35mm sensor is about 40% bigger than Micro 4/3, the sensor is more dense, I mean the pixels are bigger in number, the flange is so short that you can use almost any lens like c-mount with out a glass, you find some bignneting but you can correct that in post without loosing sharpness. The HDMI out put is 444 8bit or 422 8bit, the ergonomics are good; is the first camera that you can stand in the left or right side and you can steel use the monitor without problems. No moire, no aliasing, no noise in hi gain (af101 is useless in hi iso), 1080p 60pfps and 240fps in sd resolution; dual recording, you said no doble slot, did you use the camera for real??? you can use sd card at the same time with big 128gb memory in right side of the camera, so you can record in both at the same time or start with the SD card then with the memory unit, you can’t do that with a dslr or the af101 you simply don’t have dual recording. In the latitud is a winner too, the fs100 have 11.5 in latitud; some says that the af101 have abou 10.2 but after see the results I must say that is around 9 not 10.2. OK, not HDSDI, I want that too, that is a mistake, but anyway is a US$5000 not a UK5000. In sensibility the FS100 is about 0.24 lux, the af101 is about 2 lux; so please, we need real information to take good desitions. (sorry for my bad English, is not my native language)

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