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bumsted

z450 vs FS7+eng buildup: seeking real-world advice

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Posted (edited)

Hi all -- posting for the first time here, hoping for some advice choosing between two great cameras.

I'll start by saying I've spent my career shooting on 2/3" ENG-style cameras, and I'm currently using a Panasonic PX5000 with a wide angle 4.5-60 canon lens. It's been a great tool for general news shooting (pressers/features/protests/natural disasters) as well as high-end documentary-style work. 

My shop is in the middle of a transition from Panasonic to Sony, and I've been given the option between the FS7ii with the ENG buildup kit (w/v-mount battery/wireless pack/shoulder mount/B4 lens adapter), and the z450 with the HDVFEL20 viewfinder. Both would make use of the same 4.5-60mm Canon HJ14Ex 4.3b IRSE lens that I already know and love.

The FS7 kit sounds attractive to me because I'd be able to retain the same flexibility of an ENG camera while having the bigger Super35 sensor and the ability to shoot up to 180fps. On the other hand, the z450 seems like a much more robust unit, with nearly identical ergonomics to the PX5000.

Does anybody have experience shooting with these two cameras day-to-day? I like the idea of the FS7 kit, but I'm just concerned it won't hold up or be as convenient in some of the more run-and-gun situations I'm faced with.

 

Thanks!

Edited by bumsted

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Welcome to the forum!

I've owned the FS7 since 2015, and have used it for pretty much everything. I've used the Panasonic HPX3100 for a number of years, and in 2018 I shot ENG for Eurosport in the Winter Olympics with the Z450.

I think the choice of camera is an interesting one, as both cameras are pretty capable. 

Personally, I would choose to own an FS7 over an ENG-style camcorder like the Z450 any day of the week. It's just more flexible and more attractive to own. In the commercial and corporate world the FS7 is well regarded and camcorders like the Z450 doesn't give you the "cinematic" look like the FS7.

In your position though, if you aren't shooting things demanding the S35 sensor more than 60-70% of the time, I would stick to an ENG-style camera. The Z450 delivers very good IQ, and you can even shot LOG to get extra dynamic range and better options in grading. It shoots to more robust (in my opinion) SXS cards, and is all round a much more solid piece of kit. 

The FS7 is a workhorse, sure, but with the build up kit I feel it gets somewhat tedious. Adding on the B4-adapter also means you need to go into S16 mode on the camera, losing the full S35 sensor. A lot of add-ons makes for more points of failure. I've shoot ENG with the FS7 before, and it's never as convenient as shooting with a ENG-camcorder style camera. 

The Z450 is just solid, and the new EVF is killer. Same EVF as on the Venice and it's really brilliant. 

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Posted (edited)

My .02, as someone that’s probably in a similar position as you, with widespread shooting scenarios like that, and yours look heavily weighted towards ENG/Doc, I would lean towards the 450.  The ENG build-up looks like a nightmare on the 7.  The only real advantages I see to the 7 are the s35 sensor for sit-downs(but if you’ll be using only an adapted ENG lens, that goes out the window, because your DoF will stay the same and you’ll lose light if using an optical adapter) and the awesome built-in, as I call it, VeND(variable electronic ND).  The Fs7 will NEVER be a true ENG camera, nor function like one in actual practice.

My two main cameras are the P2 VariCam and F55 and even with the excellent 17-120 on my 55, it still pales in comparison to the shooting experience and conveniences I get with my Vari.  Even when I’ve used my 13x4.5 Fuji on my 55(I have the IBE optical adapter), it still wasn’t the same.

Just thoughts from an old ENG guy who shoots with 2/3” and s35.

Also, I’d seriously look at/convince them to get you the EL30 VF, instead.

Edited by Run&Gun

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Posted (edited)

Thanks a ton to both of you @Run&Gun & @Martin Håndlykken -- all good points, and I think you sort of confirmed a lot of what I was already feeling. I'm also wondering, though, what specific things become cumbersome when you're using an FS7 to shoot ENG/doc-style stuff? Are there things buried in the menu that I'd otherwise have quick access to in a straight ENG cam?

...And an update on the lens: looks like the kit would also be coming with the 18-110mm Sony e-mount, so that takes care of the sensor cropping issue... Anybody worked with that lens?

Two things on the z450: How is the low light performance? I've always been really disappointed with the noise above 0db on my PX5000, and super impressed with what the new larger-sensor cine and DLSRs have been able to do in the dark. 

Also, does the location of the flip-out LCD on the z450 bother anybody? Being in the back like that, it seems like it would be pretty difficult for me to see when, say, holding it above my head trying to shoot a scrum on the sidewalk here in NYC. The placement of the LCD on my Panasonic is further forward, so I can just flip it down and look straight up. 

Am I overthinking this? 

Edited by bumsted

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@bumsted The 18-110 is a great lens, for what it is. A cheap ENG-style-ish lens. If you're used to working with proper Canon or Fuji B4-lenses it's pretty trash in comparison. 

I really miss the front audio can controller when shooting ENG on anything other than an ENG-camera. Small thing, but makes a massive difference when you need to quickly adjust your input.

Ergonomics sure is important, and the Z450 was when I used it very, very good. Pretty much my favorite ENG-camera to-date. I did not mind the placement of the screen, even though I'm used to the Panasonic which sits in the middle more. 

The Z450 also just feels more solid and compact. It makes a big difference when lugging around the camera all day in harsh environments. 

The Z450 did pretty well in low light my opinion. I shoot with it for only a month, and I shot a lot of winter sports indoors and out where there is a lot of lighting, but I did shoot in instances where we were I gained 6db or 9db. It's a very modern backlit sensor that in my opinion performs very good.

The Z450 also had excellent battery consumption. I'm used to hauling around 6 150wh batteries for the HPX3100 to get through a full shooting day. With the Z450 we actually were delivered brand new IDX ENDURA E-HL9s. We were only given four batteries and a quad charger. I said it might be too little considering we would usually shoot all day. I was pleasantly surprised that I could usually get through a day with only using two batteries. That's shooting with the on-camera light (Litepanels LED Brick) a lot as well. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @Martin Håndlykken -- makes a lot of sense. I see the list price of that lens is less than $4,000... My Canon B4 lens was about $34,000, so the difference must be felt somewhere, right?

Also great to hear about the batteries -- They'll be giving me the exact same ones with the same BRICK light and I was worried about that, too.

Sounds like that addresses basically all my concerns... unless of course someone else has a gigantic "BUT!" to add...

Edited by bumsted

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3 hours ago, bumsted said:

I see the list price of that lens is less than $4,000... My Canon B4 lens was about $34,000, so the difference must be felt somewhere, right?

Well, it's only f4 whereas your Canon is probably f2.8 or even f1.8 right? Also, you Canon probably has a doubler built in, plus a macro diopter... right? The Canon will also be true parfocal, whereas the Sony 18-110 isn't, but uses micro auto-focus adjustments to correct this. Also, the Sony only has fly-by-wire focus, and the zoom is pretty slow (so you can't do snappy crash zooms). Also the Canon has a proper servo hand-grip, and will work with broadcast standard zoom and focus demands.

Also consider whether the lenses are designed for single-chip CMOS or 3-chip CCD prisms. Though I think the z450 has some clever electronic correction for this.

If you're doing the heavier ENG stuff (natural disasters, war-zones, etc, then IMO the z450 is definitely the better option (unless a much smaller camera is better suited): more robust and tailored for this style of work. The FS7 build up kit is, in my opinion (I've only played with it at a trade show) clunky and bulky. Just more moving parts, a more lumpy camera build.

I occasionally do the odd day of work for one of the major UK news stations. Usually I use their Panasonics, but occasionally they book me with my own kit. I was taking my F5 with Fujinon XK6... it's my main and favourite setup, but it was just a bit much to carry around for ENG work. I recently bought myself a z280 (as they've been booking me with my own kit more recently), and it's (relatively) such a joy to carry something that compact around, whilst still well tailored to that style of work.

I've only ever used the z450 once (just on sticks filming a West End musical), but it was a pleasure to use. Great image quality, I thought.

If I was doing ENG work full time and I could choose my camera (and for the sake of this discussion, was sticking with Sony) I'd want either a z450 or z280 as my main camera, but if budget allowed I'd consider a A7SIII as a "side arm",

There's also the new z750 just to over complicate things! 3-chip global shutter!

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Posted (edited)

@Nezih Ugh, that lens sounds like a complete nightmare then... I'd probably never, ever use it! Yeah my Canon is a 1.8 with a 2x... it's a real-deal broadcast beast. Crossing my fingers on the chromatic aberration situation with the single chip though...

 

 

Edited by bumsted

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Despite the 18-110 being quite irritating to work with, the image quality is good. It's bigger brother is supposed to be excellent on the FX9 with the new auto-focus.

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Most Sony and Panasonic broadcast cameras have had built-in CAC type correction for at least the last decade and they usually automatically recognize lenses.  At worst, you'd probably have to load a lens file in(usually provided by Sony or Panasonic), but then the cam should recognize the lens when it's connected.

Regarding the flip out, that's why I suggested the EL30 VF.  It has a flip-out LCD panel on top of the main OLED body, so you can use it for the quick low walking hero shot or holding the cam over your head, etc.  The images on the OLED VF's on my F55 and C300(Graticle) kill the image of my Panasonic color LCD, BUT the Panasonic is a 3.5" panel with a double action flip away Diopter for when you need to see the image and can't be in the VF.

Modern s35 cameras are insane in low-light, because you can crank the ISO fairly high with little noise introduced, but they are not built to do true ENG under the demanding, unforgiving conditions that we are subjected to, so often when doing it.

And the 750 looks sick...  And about right back up there with what ENG cams used to cost us.  I can't find a US list price, but a direct translation from an Australian list price that I did find puts it around $40K US, which lines up with a review I read that said they were upwards of $80K for one with a lens and some basic support.  I think my first VariCam was sitting at at least $75K in a ready store shoot state.

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@Run&Gun I hear you on the viewfinder, I do really want the 30 for that flip-out screen... unfortunately, I work for a giant organization so it’s more of a “this is what we’re ordering, like it or get out” situation...

Yeah, and it would be nice to Have the 120 FPS that the 750 has as well.

ah well, maybe one day I’ll strike it rich and just buy all my own equipment...

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3 hours ago, bumsted said:

@Run&Gun I hear you on the viewfinder, I do really want the 30 for that flip-out screen... unfortunately, I work for a giant organization so it’s more of a “this is what we’re ordering, like it or get out” situation...

Yeah, and it would be nice to Have the 120 FPS that the 750 has as well.

ah well, maybe one day I’ll strike it rich and just buy all my own equipment...

Oh yeah, I get that.  But at least they are consulting with you and giving you a choice and not just forcing something on you.

If only I had taken the money I spent on my first camera package and put it all in Apple stock then instead...  But it's probably all for the best.  If I'm a lazy AH, now, I can only imagine how bad I would be.  Lol.

  • Haha 1

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I own the FS7, and use the 450 when I’m back filling at a Canadian news network.   As needed I use my FS7 and it works well in the Networks environment and workflow, same XQD cards.   But there are some short comings and fragile parts to the FS7.   There is flexibility in the FS7 for the network magazine shows, and I’ve had no problems using it for US news clients and the commercial/production work.    It’s a still asked for camera.  

Having said that, if it’s shared gear, or little need for production value an FS7 brings to the table I’d pick the 450.   It’s good in low light, great on power and it’s got everything thing where you need it.   Just my opinion, others will have there own. 
 

Barry
 

 

 

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