Sony NEX-EA50 reviewed


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Once in a while you get the chance to review a camera that brings back memories of years gone by - Sony's NEX-EA50 camera is one of those cameras. Some may say I am stretching things a bit too far, but as I looked at it I felt at home with it because it reminded me of my old Sony VX9000E (also known as the DSR200). This was my first DV camera and a change in look from the previous S-VHS machines I was using.
Obviously things have moved on from then and we are into a whole new ball game with affordable, high-definition, large sensor cameras with interchangeable lenses, and the demise of the tape mechanism.
First Thoughts...
The lightness of the camera hits you as you lift it up, as it’s only about 3Kg, even with all the items attached. As you look through the view finder you get a chance to see how the new E-mount lens with a 18-200mm power zoom and auto focus performs.
The image looked a bit dark at first, but by adjusting the gain and iris I had it looking as I thought it should. This could have been an issue for me, as I tend to film in some fairly dim churches and theatres, but with a growing range of compatible lenses and adapters which enable you to use your own lenses this shouldn’t really be a problem.
The EA50 surprised me, as it’s a shoulder mount camera as well as a standard hand-held camera. I’ve always preferred shoulder mounted cameras as I find I get steadier shots with less strain on my wrist, but as I tried it in shoulder mount mode there was no weight on the back of the camera, putting all the weight on my arm. What it needs is weight on the back, like the DSR200’s large battery pack. But don't let that put you off as you can get a weight attachment plate for the camera.
This is also a multi-standard camera, with both PAL and NTSC frame rates up to 50P/60P, and the 50P modes should allow for some nice slow motion. The recording is H.264 AVCHD Ver. 2.0, which means you can now have bit rates up to 28Mb/s in PS mode.
You have the ability to store six different camera profiles, which can be saved to the card to be copied and kept or passed to other users. This allows you to set up the camera exactly how you want, so you can get that perfect image. Last but by no means least, the NEX-EA50 shoots 16 megapixel stills and good ones at that. With the addition of a multi-interface hot shoe, you can even use a flash. You cannot, however, take a still while filming - the unit is either in movie mode or photo mode.
Nitty Gritty
So what's it like to use? The good news is that it’s fairly easy to set up and get going. The shoulder mount really doesn’t work without some weight on it, but then it really does help to stabilise the camera while filming, and the steady shot option is always useful for taking care of slight movement when taking still images.
Having the most frequent controls under your fingers makes it a breeze to get on with once you’re familiar with the layout. I did keep putting my hand on the lens to find the hand grip, forgetting that it’s on the camera body. I found the lens slow to focus, which is not normally an issue with me as I tend to mainly use the manual setting. Focusing manually proved to be a challenge, as the lens has a unit at the base to house the motors, so you can’t use the familiar C shape of your hand to hold the top and bottom of the focus ring.
The Image on the viewfinder is excellent and easy to focus, with an expanded focus button and face detection, and you can touch the monitor to focus if that’s your preference.
A nifty little feature in the menu lets you set position A and B for the focus and then by pressing an assign button the focus will move smoothly between the two. You can even set the duration of the focus between A & B in the menu.
Overall I would say it handled the images well, hanging on to the detail in the sky shots as well as normal surroundings. They’re pleasing to the eye when viewed on a normal TV, with no noticeable noise or any moire patterning. I was shooting by a lock near a mill and I was more than happy with the images I came back with.
Cheema's round up
A great little camera that’s easy to use and avoids too many menus, essential when working fast. The lack of Cache recording was a disappointment, as I do a lot of theatre work and have no idea when the curtains will go up. This would help to save on media, but perhaps a firmware upgrade will allow this.
I know it's a small thing but I loved the audio beep - when running around that beep is a sign of confidence that the camera has started or stopped; handy, as when you’re busy you might not notice you’ve accidently knocked the record switch. Having the separate charger is also good news as so many cameras just come with a mains lead to charge the battery in the camera.
All in all, thumbs up on this surprisingly versatile camera!

Tags: iss078 | sony | review | hands on | nexea50 | camcorder | lightness | capacity | frame rate | ea50 | Zulqar Cheema
Contributing Author Zulqar Cheema

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Contributing Author Ruth Matos Click to read or download PDF
Live audio contribution over wireless networks
Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Wireless “live” contribution from anywhere at any time, this is the ultimate goal for most news reporters. The old favorite of using ISDN is becoming harder and much more expensive to access easily. Today most of us use wireless daily, in particular Wifi and HSPA/LTE 4G networks. These are now mature technologies and widely used for many applications in the home and whilst out and about. However there are still some professionals who prefer to persevere with the traditional, costly and limited ISDN communication technology before jumping into the wireless era.
Tags: iss133 | adrl | wireless audio | isdn | cellular audio | Pablo Rodrigues Altmann
Contributing Author Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Click to read or download PDF
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
DJI Ronin-S Review
Tim Bearder

If you read my review of the GH5 in Issue 129 at the beginning of the year, you know I’m a filmmaker that is all about small form factor. My basic setup combines the tiny yet powerful mirrorless Panasonic GH5 with the wonderfully compact Sennheiser AVX wireless mic system. Together you’ve got a run and gun set up to die for.

Unless you actually run!

Tags: iss 133 | dji | ronin-s | gh5 | Tim Bearder
Contributing Author Tim Bearder Click to read or download PDF
IBC in a post Brexit world
Peter Savage 2 Cast your mind forward and we are not in 2018 but next year and, yes, it’s you and me walking to the departure lounge to catch the plane to IBC just as I, and perhaps also you, have done for the last 25 years. (By the way, where is my long service award – and perhaps a new pair of shoes as I must, surely, have walked the equivalent of five Caminos covering the 12 halls in the Rai). We are at the gate and my imagination kicks in as I hypothesize on what the trip might look like next year. I leave it to you to decide which is closest to what might be to come.
Tags: iss133 | azule | brexit | ibc | finance | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF