Documentary maker August Sandberg of Fet Film in Norway travels the world with his ever-present HXR-NX70 camcorder, purchased from his local dealer Video 4. Find out why August won’t leave home without it.
Every now and then you discover a tool that totally changes your everyday habits. A personal paradigm shift that satisfies needs that you had no idea you even had, and opens up new magnificent possibilities. Things like a bread baking machine… and Sony’s HXR-NX70.
I see myself as one of the world’s leading experts on this camera. Since I invested in the NX70 in early 2012, it’s followed me through 25 different countries and together sailed over 14,000 nautical miles. Everything from filming stock shots in the fjords outside my hometown Bergen to crossing big oceans. It’s filmed hundreds of hours of footage – from lions in Kenya to humpback whales in the Caribbean – and it’s become a trusted companion.
The Sony HXR-NX70 is a handheld AVCHD camera, perfect for any serious documentary creator when you’re in extreme conditions. The camera is very well designed, with an arsenal of smart features that make it easy to capture your shots wherever you find yourself.
It´s got GPS, 96GB internal memory, an SD card slot, and it can backup directly to an external hard drive. The batteries are well protected within the camera housing and last for days.
While the camera is small and light, thanks to the optical stabiliser it still gives stable pictures. Give me a NX70 on a light GlideCam and a steady hand and you’ll easily match a jib, even when zoomed in. It’s also a superb camera for a light ENG setup. In the hands of the semi-professional photographer, the auto operation mode and very easy user interface make it easy to concentrate on getting the framing right.
The camera is the world’s first camcorder with IPX54 certification. That means that it’s it relatively water and dust proof. That is something that I (mostly unwillingly) have put to the test on several occasions.
I had the camera with me for 11 months sailing the seas. After all those months in a raw and moist environment I´ve never had any issues. The camera and I have filmed storms on the middle of north Atlantic sea, been taken by giant waves, tumble down sandy beaches. Even made a documentary in Mathare, most likely the dustiest place on earth! A quick sprinkle of water in the sink and the camera is clean again and ready for action. The manual says the camera is capable of operating from 0-40 degrees Celsius, but trust me: I have pushed the limits in both directions and never had any issues!
There’s no limit to the amount of punishment the camera has taken – and it’s not only survived, but delivered fantastic footage in those situations. It’s even survived boat bottom paint, varnish and explosive fires (while trying to make Banana Flambé with Tobago rum).
This is a camera that really does the job when you need to travel light and be able to quickly react to situations and improvise. The optical image stabiliser and fast auto functions make it a perfect ‘run-and-gun’ companion.
The XLR module on the top of the camera doubles as a carrying handle and gives two balanced XLR inputs with very good level control. The module and the supplied microphone are not IPX-certified and can be removed from the camera. But, that being said, they’re quite tough as well. I´ve had them with me on several salty occasions at sea. The microphone windshield has even shrunk a little after all the times it’s been washed free of salt and dirt. But that´s OK, it just resulted in a tighter fit.
I must admit that there are a few little things that I miss. The camera does not have built in ND filters. You can of course buy these relatively cheaply, but they’re a hassle to get them on and off. I’d also prefer more physical controls. I like to be able to push buttons and turn dials without the need to look away from the viewfinder. Some of the manual controls on the NX70 are only available in menus on the touchscreen display. But, given all the positive sides of this camera, I have no problem accepting these compromises given the size and relatively cheap camera.
This camcorder takes really nice pictures. It has a backlit Exmor R CMOS censor that gives beautiful colours, good contrast and a surprisingly good sensitivity. But, the AVCHD format has its limitations and the camera lacks a bit in its dynamic range. For my normal usage of the camera, this is not a big issue – but when you are at a lonely beach in the Caribbean and the sun is setting in the sea you wish for more. Here there are pocket sized cameras that might help the situation next time around!
I am as you’ve probably gathered, I am very fond of this camera – and that makes it pretty hard for me to write about it objectively. We´ve been through so much together, me and my NX70, and it has really grown on me.
It was there for me when the wind was blowing 50 knots in Biscay and I was certain I would die. It was there when my partner came on a surprise visit to the Canaries. And it was there when my dad came home from hospital. The camera has helped me document all these situations and more.
I have never worked with any device that has impressed me like the NX70, and it’s changed my professional life so dramatically. I can only recommend every action-seeking documentary maker to get one. But mine isn’t for sale at any price!
Special thanks to Video 4 for sharing this story with us, find them on our dealer locator.