Sony has capitalized on this trend with its HXR-NX5P camcorder, which has become a popular choice for educational institutions across Australia.
The HXR-NX5P is one of the biggest selling models in Sony’s NXCAM camcorder family, sitting between the weatherproof HXR-NX70P and the NEX-FS100P Digital Super 35mm models. It records 1920 x 1080 images at 24Mb/s using the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 codec, and features relay recording to dual memory slots.
Its three 1/3in Exmor CMOS sensors deliver the image quality required for industry acceptance, without the cost of higher-end technologies.
Among the institutions across Australia that have adopted the HXR-NX5P are Swinburne and Curtin Universities. The Faculty of Design at Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria recently added 38 HXR-NX5P cameras to its inventory of 80 cameras that service more than 300 students.
“We have more than 120 first year students, and I made the decision last year that it was time to move them up to high definition, tapeless cameras,” said Dennis Nicholson, Audio Visual Production Manager at Swinburne. “A film school is a great place for testing equipment, and our Sony HVR-Z1P cameras survived well in arduous conditions. But, as good as they were, tape has had its day.”
Working with Sony reseller Lemac Film & Digital, Nicholson did a comparison between five cameras offering card capture systems.
“Sony’s HXR-NX5P came out top of the list,” Nicholson said. “It offers a choice of SD or Sony’s memory cards, and also has the option of adding the 128GB HXR-FMU128 external drive. It’s a good quality prosumer camera, at a good price, so it’s perfect for our first-year students. It certainly had all the bells and whistles, so they can use manual iris and focus controls to learn the techniques, principles and operations of cinematography.
“Initially we also looked at a bigger-chip camera, but didn’t want to plunge students into that level of camera because it’s not all about technology in their first year; it’s about being very hands-on,” explained Nicholson.
Swinburne Film and Television students have recently won at the L.A. Movie Awards with Best Cinematography in the Student Category, following Best Foreign Short and Best Student Film wins at the California Film Awards. The school’s latest win was 15 awards at the 45th Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, 2012.
Howard Worth, Head of Department at Curtin University’s Film & Television and Screen Arts course, also moved his growing number of first-year and journalism students to the NXCAM HXR-NX5P camera.
“For the past five years, we have been using Sony DSR-PDX10 cameras,” Worth said. “But, they are limited to DV tape quality, and we decided to upgrade because we wanted to move to a tapeless environment and were starting to get a few failures.
“We have some DSLRs, and a lot of students wanted us to get more, but we resisted because they have a transitory role. They get a good image but chew through batteries and overheat so they can’t be used for documentaries. They are also not easy to handhold, so there are limited applications where they can be used.”
Curtin’s technical staff looked at a range of new camera options and liaised closely with WA Sony reseller Vizcom before ordering 25 HXR-NX5P cameras.
“We liked the cost of the 1/3in video format combined with the camera’s flexibility. Its memory options and ability to shoot SD and HD also makes it suitable for second-year students to experiment with,” said Worth. “It’s relatively easy to use, tapeless and has industry standard XLR connections.
“Many cameras have a lot of menus and students can get caught out whereas the NX5P offers good, simple options while still being flexible.
“Our students need to develop practical and technical skills so we wanted the right sort of camera that would give them enough to challenge them but not take over the creative process. Students will go on to work with higher-level video cameras, such as Sony’s PMW-F3, which have much more practical considerations. But, the NX5P provides most of what students want and need to start off with.”