After using the Azden 250s for the past few weeks, I would say it is on par with the performance of the Rode NTG-2 in terms of audio quality. With a few added features like being able to turn the battery power off (saves battery power without removing it), the 250s really offers up a lot of value. It even comes with a cold shoe mount adapter which is a nice little extra.
The Azden 250s mount adapter is a nice touch but it isn’t perfect. The adapter doesn’t include a ¼ 20 thread at the base of the cold shoe adapter which is a little disappointing, however it’s still a nice addon to see, especially since most mics in this price point only include a standard ⅝” mic stand cradle. Honestly, for an extra $12 or so, you might want to consider something like the Movo SMM1 shockmount. A mount like that will provide you a little better suspension as well as more mounting options.
Here are some quick audio samples
First the Azden:
Now the Sennheiser:
Comparing the Azden 250s to a much higher priced boom mic like the Sennheiser MKH416, you can hear that the 250s is a little muddy in contrast to the MKH416. That said, the Azden 250s is a $250 mic, while the Sennheiser MKH416 will set you back close to $1000.
As far as build quality goes, after using the Azden 250s for a few weeks you can see that I’ve already chipped some paint. I am a bit rough with my gear, which means I sometimes end up throwing it around when I’m trying to maximize time between shots. Most gear i’ve used in the past seems to hold up a little bit better. It doesn’t affect performance but it is something to be aware of if you are ruff on your kit. While it’s not as tough as some of the other mics I use, the Azden 250s build quality is about what I would expect for the price.
The Azden 250s includes a windscreen and a mic bag. The windscreen is your standard affair, but you might want to consider upgrading for better wind protection if that’s the type of environment you are going to be working in. I’m putting the Azden 250s in my main bag of gear, and it’ll be traveling with me on future shoots.
There are a lot of reviews floating around complaining about the Panasonic LX100’s video mode. Out of the box with factory defaults, I would agree, the video features on the LX100 are pretty clunky and poorly setup. However with a little bit of tweaking and the use of the custom setup menu, you can easily switch between a very comfortable film setup and a more traditional photography setup.
Before we start diving into all of the random setting menus there are two things I would like you to do first. Number one, look between the shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, right behind the shutter button. You should see a little button that says iA. If iA is turned on you should see a iA label or dancing flower on screen somewhere. When this feature is turned on you can not get to all of the menu settings on the Panasonic LX100, so make sure it’s off. Number two, if your current setup or settings are something you want to keep, go to the custom menu on page 1/9 and click on “Cust.Set Mem.”, pick one of the custom settings slots and save it there so you know where it’s at.
Now that you’ve got that done, let’s dive into the menu system and turn the Panasonic LX100 into a proper 4k shooting film tool. First thing you’ll want to do is navigate to the Motion Picture menu and scroll to page 1/4, then find “4k Photo” and set it to “ON”. This does two things for you. First it allows you to start video capture with a full press of the shutter button. Second, it places the camera into 4k crop mode so that your screen doesn’t resize when you start recording video. That resizing issue is the likely one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen from reviewers about the Panasonic LX100 and it’s such an easy thing to fix.
The other big complaint about the Panasonic LX100 is focus hunting in video mode. It’s annoying to see the focus hunting as your subject remains the same distance from the camera. You can find this setting in the “Motion Picture” menu on page 2/4 under the label “Continuous AF”. But turning this off, whatever focus point you set will be maintained by the camera until you half press the shutter button again.
Taking care of the things listed above will eliminate most people’s complaints about video mode on the Panasonic LX100. Once you’ve got these things changed in the menu go to the custom menu on page 1/9 and click on “Cust.Set Mem.”, then save these features in another slot.
The things above are the main changes to the LX100, but I’ve actually gone through and made a few more changes to my camera. While I could continue to bombard you with screenshots like the ones above, I think you are all capable of finding and changing things in the menu system so I’m going to give you a nice list of each change I’ve made and where you can find it in the menu system.
Under the Custom Menu:
- 2/9 Eye Sensor AF set to off
- 3/9 Focus release set to release
- 5/9 Constant preview turn to on
- 7/9 Fn Button Set fn3 set to C (This allows you to use the Fn3 button to select photo or video mode)
Under the Rec Menu:
- 5/7 ISO Increments set to 1/3EV
Under the Motion Picture Menu:
- 3/4 Mic Level Disp. set to on
While the Panasonic LX100 has a rather convoluted menu system, once you’ve made and saved all of these changes to a custom spot on the camera, the LX100 is a pretty decent video tool. While it’s priced at around $700+ on Amazon, you can find it for as low as $599 new on ebay.
While that’s a bit spendy for a point and shoot, it’s a pretty impressive camera for the price. For those looking for an affordable B-Roll camera to use in conjunction with something like a GH4, or people looking for a feature rich camera in the price range of a Hero 4 black edition, the LX100 is perfect.
The downsides to be considered are the lack of live HDMI output and the missing mic jack. The Panasonic app makes up for the lack of HDMI output for the most part and Vloggers will find that feature handy for self recording. The lack of mic jack isn’t the end of the world, but you’ll definitely need a field recorder of some kind to get quality audio when shooting with this guy. I’ll dig in deeper once the full review is finished, but hopefully this will help those of you using this camera get things setup for good 4k shooting.
Above is a bag from J.B. Camera Design. They make “hand crafted” wooden base plates and handles for small cameras. While that sort of thing is usually something I poke fun at, my recent purchase of a Panasonic LX100 has forced me to start looking at that sort of thing. Other than hand crafted wood handles, there aren’t a lot of rig options for such small cameras.
The main reason I was looking for some kind of rig for the LX100 is to shift the QR plate away from the battery door. With a QR plate placed in the standard location, you have to unscrew the plate anytime you need to get to the battery or change SD cards. With the J.B. Camera Design grip attached, the 1/4 20 threads are shifted over to the center of the lens. This gives you room to open the battery door and centers the lens under the QR plate.
Build quality is what you would expect out of a milled piece of bamboo. Nice and solid across the board with an IKEA style 1/4 20 mount embedded in the base. There are cutout outs for both the battery door and speaker and the lip around the edge of the frame is a nice snug fit around the Panasonic LX100 base.
Looking the J.B. Camera Design grip from the bottom, you can see the nice metal 1/4 20 mount as well as an etched logo. They’ve done a good job milling the unit and all of the edges are nice and smooth.
Included in the J.B. Camera Design grip packaging is an extra 1/4 20 screw and a worn out old penny. Kind of a classy move for a package that already screams hipster. Can’t be bothered with a flat head screwdriver, here’s a penny kid.
While the J.B. Camera Design grip isn’t normally the sort of thing I would spend much time writing about, there aren’t really a lot of options out there for the Panasonic LX100. $85 is a bit on the spendy side when it comes to a$700 camera body and I would have prefered machined aluminium, but the grip looks fine and it solves a problem.
I’m currently working on a quick video guide that explains how to best setup and use the Panasonic LX100 for 4k shooting. More on that to follow in coming posts.
Even though I turn over 1080p footage for the vast majority of the work that I do, I’ve started to shoot 4k whenever available. It’s not that I really “need” to shoot 4k, but the data penalty and workflow aren’t really that bad and I’ve kind of falling into the philosophy “If you have it you may as well use it.”
In the past i’ve used my Hero 4 black edition as the camera for tight shots, but that wide angle isn’t always very attractive and even with protune, grading footage can be a little tricky. For that reason I’ve been searching for a Hero 4 replacement that fits into roughly the same form factor but allows for a little more flexibility in terms of controls and focal range.
It’s actually the reason I got in on the E1 M43 Camera kickstarter 4 or 5 months back. While the E1 looks good, development of a kickstarter project can take some time so I recently started glancing around on craigslist for something like the Sony RX100 IV or Panasonic LX100. Both of these cameras are slim, have full manual controls, a decent focal range, and relatively good lenses.
After glancing around at the specs, I was leaning towards the LX100 which ended up popping up on craigslist for $475. At that price it’s actually a bit cheaper than a Hero 4 and a lot more flexible as a video and photography tool.
The LX100 is a nice looking camera and the 24-75mm f1.7 to f2.8 lens is very impressive for a point and shoot. The (almost) 4/3 sensor used in the LX100 is also very good in low light, I’d put this in the same class as the original Canon 7d.
To get this thing to work as a video tool there are a lot of adjustments that need to be made in the menu system. Once you’ve set it up, you have to make the same changes to convert back to stills. A custom user setup will probably be pretty important.
I haven’t done something as in depth as a camera review for quite awhile so i’m gathering up ideas.
Currently on the list are the normal suspects:
- High ISO
- AF system
- Built in mic
- HDMI output
- GH4, LX100 comparison samples
- Best video settings
Feel free to leave a comment with anything else you’d like to see added. More on the Panasonic LX100 to follow.