FX1 vs DVX100A

    First of all I am writing this review because recently I was interested in upgrading to the best camera I could afford for my films (under $4k) and after searching I found a lot of contradictory information regarding the new Sony HD cams.  Unfortunately I couldnít find anyone who shot wakeboarding who owned a FX1.  (If you go to www.wakefilms.com and download the trailer you will get an idea on what I typically shoot)   So I ended up purchasing a FX1 and after using it for a couple of shoots I realized that it wasnít everything Sony claimed it should be.  I then purchased a DVX100A and built a fixture to hold both cams on a tripod and took it out in ideal conditions to compare the two and these are the results:

(6:00am sunny morning with the rider in full sun, my back to the sun)

 

    While looking through both viewfinders on each cam the images seemed to be quite similar but the DVX appeared to have more color depth than the FX1.  I set up both cams at 1000 shutter speed and noticed that the DVX need much less light (lower iris setting) than the Sony.  Both cameras were set at 30P mode for this test.  These are the frame grabs from DVX image and Sony image.  These images are unaltered straight from the video full resolution and no post modifications. 

 

Here is a combined image of the unaltered DVX image and sized down the FX1 image so you could see a direct comparison.

    Notice how the FX1 has a strong contrast in the image but the viewfinder showed a much less contrasted image.  For those of you who have an external monitor this might not be a problem but I shoot a lot of footage in an underwater housing, sitting in a tube dragged behind the boat, standing or floating in water or of a moving Jet Ski or boat, external monitors aren't practical. 

    I was quite disappointed in the FX1's ability to represent color detail, look at the sky, trees and water in the combined image.  The DVX has a very realistic representation of actually what I saw with my eye.

    Here is where resolution gets interesting, I fully expected the FX1 image to have superior clarity.  In some areas of the picture the FX1 has razor sharp clarity, (graphics on the bottom of the board & riders hair) but look at the water droplets under the rider, the riders face and the shoreline behind the rider.  Full HD quality not quite, if you look at the dvx image most of the pixels are clear, but the sony image at full res is quite blurry.  If you could have the clarity of the DVX pixels at 1080 then you would have a nice image.  But who cares 1080, even 720 would be fine given that the DVD's that I sell only have the resolution of 720 and then the editing would be easier on the CPU.  So just for kicks I created a different image,  this image uses a full res FX1 image and the DVX image is blown up to double the size (stretching the image to compare).  I was surprised that the riders face is almost as clear in the DVX 2x image as the FX1, not to mention the trees have about the same clarity.

    Here is the actual video clip, I sized down the FX1 and unaltered the DVX, basically the same thing that your SD TV would do if you played the two next to each other on a standard TV.  I believe that in some areas of this video the FX1 does show some advantage in resolution but overall the FX1 video doesn't represent what I would have seen with my eyes.  I believe it mostly has to due with the poor color depth and the over contrasting of the images.

 

    The bottom line, I am selling the FX1 and keeping the DVX because for my applications it suits my needs better.  I have shown here only one example of these two cams but I also shot with these two cams on six or seven other occasions and have had similar results. 

 

    I also listed below a few pro's and con's to the FX1 that also had an influence on my decision.

 

 

Proís FX1:

Lens cover built in to lens hood

Comfortable feel shoulder mount or hand held

Perfect location for the view finder

Multiple settings for camera shake compensation

Native 16x9 recording

 

Conís FX1:

Overly contrasted images, or very dark

View finder doesnít match TV display with little control over adjusting

Software is supportive (kind of)

Editing requires expensive CPU

Not Full res with action

Low color depth

Poor auto zoom (is a fast auto zoom but often searches for the focus object)

 

    (This review is based on what I shoot, wakeboarding, uncontrolled lighting conditions, and my industry does not care if the video looks like a film camera.  I didnít have an interest in shooting indoors in set lighting conditions trying to achieve the film look.  I also have no monetary interest or book to sell, no offense Barry Green :), with the results I found, simply what worked best for my conditions.  The majority of my work is outdoors action shots where much of the footage is going to be in displayed in slow motion and distributed on DVD)