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REVIEW THE SONY NEX-EA50 A SURPRISINGLY VERSATILE CAMCORDER by Zulqar Cheema, M.M.Inst.V. O nce 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. Still image from the NEX-EA50 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. 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. Actual camera image 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. 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. 68 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 78 JUNE 2013 TV-BAY078JUN13.indd 68 10/06/2013 17:05