Sony Unleashes A Bundle Of New Imaging Products, Including A 4K Consumer Camcorder For $4,500
Just in time for IBC, today Sony has released a number of new products that will place cutting edge and professional imaging technology into the hands of consumers. Although many of the new products are geared for the web savvy, social networking filmmaker, their new 4K video camcorder will definitely excite the indie filmmaker too. There’s also a new lens-style camera that recently set the tech blogosphere on fire.
4K For Your Rich Kid’s Birthday Party
Sony has just unveiled its first 4K consumer camcorder – the FDR-AX1 Handycam. The FDR-AX1 camcorder records 4K and HD movies in the new XAVC S format, which uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Long GOP for video and Linear PCM for audio compression, while saving files in an MP4 wrapper. The XAVC S format can capture almost two hours of 4K video on a 64GB XQD memory card, making 4K recording easier and more convenient. When you switch to Full HD recording, you can store almost 3 hours of 1920×1080 60p footage on a single card.
Sony’s FDR-AX1 camcorder features a 4K image sensor ( 1/2.3-type Exmor R® CMOS sensor) that captures Quad 4K resolution (3840×2160) images, and has the output speed required by the massive 4K 60 fps data stream. An image processor, identical to those found in professional 4K camcorders, processes signals transmitted from the CMOS sensor and finalizes images in real time at 60p. (But with only a 1/2.3 sized sensor, it will be interesting to see how the camera performs in low light.)
The FDR-AX1 contains a fixed Sony’s G Lens™, which offers a broad zooming range from wide-angle to 20x optical (31.5-630mm 35mm equivalent). There’s also Optical SteadyShot to keep footage stable, even at telephoto mode.
Unlike a DSLR, the FDR-AX1 camcorder contains three ND filters for adjusting the amount of light entering the image sensor from the lens. Four filter settings – Off (Clear), ¼ filter, 1/16 filter and 1/64 filter – give users the ability to modify light conditions, while maintaining desired shutter angle and aperture even on bright sunny days. Five paint functions (white balance, gamma, detail, skin detail and matrix) can be combined and altered to create expressive movie styling and cinematic looks.
Matching its impressive 4K picture quality, the camcorder features two external pro-style XLR connectors to complement its high-performance internal microphone for premium sound. These XLR jacks allow the addition of stereo microphones to capture balanced audio synchronized to the video for clearer ambient sounds and dialogue, which can be mixed with recordings made using the internal mic.
For ease of use during filming, the FDR-AX1 camcorder was designed with two strategically placed start/stop buttons and a zoom lever on the handle for convenient access from low angles. While dedicated controls are also provided for auto/manual focus, seven custom buttons can be reassigned to a user’s preferred function. Assigned functions for adjustments on the fly include Marker, Zebra, Peaking, Focus Magnifier, Auto Exposure Level, Steadyshot, Color Bars, and Rec Lamp.
For capture, the camcorder uses an XQD memory card for smooth, high-speed reading and writing of 4K video and features two XQD media slots. As seen on Sony professional camcorders, relay shooting seamlessly switches recording between two media cards so there’s no need to worry about running out of storage mid-scene. Shooters can even ‘hot swap’ cards, removing a full card from one of the camcorder’s two slots and slipping in fresh storage while shooting continues uninterrupted.
Playing back 4K content captured on the FDR-AX1 camcorder is simple – just connect the camcorder to a compatible 4K TV with the single HDMI cable. For those without a 4K TV, the FDR-AX1 camcorder can output 1920×1080 images to a Full HD TV, by simply changing the output settings on the camcorder.
And a growing choice of 4K-capable editing software packages makes it easy to “trim” HD images from original footage with huge amounts of picture detail. (Not sure if all of the NLEs will be able to work with the native XAVC-S files yet, although I’m sure it will be compatible with Sony Vegas.)
Sony is prepared to support the HDMI 2.0 specification on its 4K Handycam camcorder with a firmware update. Just released by the HDMI Forum, the HDMI 2.0 industry standard offers an option to transmit 4K/60p signal using a single HDMI cable. With this HDMI 2.0 update, FDR-AX1 will be able to output 4K 60p images not only to 4K BRAVIA TVs, but to other HDMI 2.0 compatible TVs and devices.
The Handycam FDR-AX1 will be available in October for a suggested retail price of $4,499.99. In order to ensure the 4K experience, VEGAS™ PRO 12 EDIT software and a 32GB XQD memory card will be included in the box as a free offer.
Rock N Roll Star
Sony has announced a new camcorder concept designed and engineered specifically for musicians – the HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder. From stage to web, the video camera lets artists shoot and share every performance with superb Full HD image quality and dynamic studio-quality sound. The sound is what really sets this camcorder apart from typical pocket camcorders or smart phones.
Ideal for band rehearsals, practice sessions and live gigs, Sony’s new camcorder records CD-quality audio in uncompressed Linear PCM or internet-ready AAC. The slim, portable MV1 music video recorder captures every detail of musical performances – from soloists and groups, to orchestras and bands – in rich audio with its 120-degree X-Y stereo microphone that can be tuned for clear, undistorted recordings. Adding versatility, external microphones or instruments can be directly connected to the device and there’s also a convenient speaker on-board so users can check their recordings instantly.
The Music Video Recorder lets you shoot full 1920×1080/30p HD video and contains a back-illuminated Exmor R® CMOS sensor. And the wide-angle 120-degree Carl Zeiss lens takes in the whole scene so no one in the band gets left out of the action, perfect for cramped rehearsal spaces as well as expansive stages.
The HDR-MV1 camcorder features Audio Lip Sync to ensure that music stays precisely matched to the video playback, with no lag, and a vibrant 2.7” color LCD to allow frame checking or adjusting. The camera also offers manual or auto audio level control with an on-screen meter to monitor the input levels and modify for diverse environments.
Built-in Wi-Fi® works with Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile™ application that allows users to instantly share their Music Video Recorder content to a smartphone or tablet for easy upload. The Wi-Fi connection also allows control of the camera with any compatible device, for start/stop recording as well as to select movie/audio modes. And with NFC support, it’s even easier to make a one-touch connection to phones, tablets and other compatible Android devices.
The new HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder from Sony will be available in December for a suggested retail price of $299.99.
New Action Cam
Sony is also adding a new Action Cam model to its current line of wearable point-of-view video cameras designed for filming adventures in HD. From muddy bike treks to surfing the pipeline, Action Cam HDR-AS30V captures once-in-a-lifetime experiences with crisp movie clips and detailed still photos.
The new Action Cam weighs in at approximately three ounces (with battery) and ships with a ruggedized, waterproof housing that is 35% lighter and 25% smaller than its predecessor. The slim design relieves wind and water pressure when you’re cycling, jet-skiing or barrelling downhill and offers an ultra-compact point-of-view shooting solution.
For the first time, Action Cam has GPS on board and can capture sharp 11.9-megapixel still photos in addition to its Interval Still Recording mode for impressive time-lapse photography. And now the back-illuminated Exmor R® CMOS sensor grabs even more light for beautiful images and Full HD footage. There’s also a choice of recording modes: Full HD (1920×1080 60p/50p and 1920×1080 30p/25p) for fast-moving action, STD HD (1280×720 30p/25p), SD VGA (640×480 30p/25p) and two slow-motion modes for tracking a golf swing or BMX flip – HD SLOW 2x (1280×720 60p) and HD SLOW 4x (1280×720 120p). And now the camera can capture images upside-down*, which is useful when the Action Cam is inversely mounted.
Built-in Wi-Fi® allows users to instantly share their Action Cam content to a smartphone or tablet (using Sony’s free PlayMemories MobileTM) for easy upload and also allows control of the camera with any compatible device, including the new Live-View Remote (RM-LVR1). This optional wristwatch-style controller is waterproof and synchs wirelessly to the video camera, for hands-free operation when Action Cam is mounted in hard-to-reach places like helmets, kayaks or surfboards. Monitoring the Action Cam to ensure optimal shot framing is simple on the remote’s color LCD screen. The start/stop recording function and photo/movie modes are accessible from the remote as well.And with NFC one-touch connection support, it’s even easier to synch with Xperia® phones, tablets and other compatible Android devices to operate the camera.
All Action Cam models offer Sony’s hallmark SteadyShot™ image stabilization to deliver stunningly smooth video and an ultra-wide angle Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar lens to capture all the action in a 170-degree field of view (120° with SteadyShot on), perfect for panoramic landscapes, dramatic ski slopes and more. The camera also features expandable memory with a Memory Stick Micro™ and Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot, a built-in stereo microphone to capture all the exciting sounds of your adventure, and an HDMI® output (HDMI not included).
In addition to the adhesive mounts supplied with Action Cam, Sony offers a wide range of mounting attachments to suit all types of activities, everything from a surfboard mount to the popular dog harness. Fresh additions to help adrenalin-junkies get even more enjoyment from the Action Cam include a new Chest Mount Harness (AKA-CMH1), Roll Bar Mount (VCT-RBM1), Universal Head Mount Kit (BLT-UHM1), Action Monopod (VCT-AMP1), Underwater Housing (MPK-AS3), Float Mount (AKA-FL2), and Accessory Kit (ACC-DCBX).
The new HDR-AS30V point-of-view video camera from Sony will be available in late September for a suggested retail price of $299.99, while the current HDR-AS15 model will be offered at a reduced price of $199.99.
It’s A Lens! It’s A Camera! No It’s The QX!
Merging the creative power of a premium compact camera with the convenience and connectivity of today’s smartphones, Sony today introduced two “lens-style” QX series cameras that bring new levels of fun and creativity to the mobile photography experience.
The innovative Cyber-shot® DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 models utilize Wi-Fi® connectivity to instantly transform a connected smartphone into a versatile, powerful photographic tool, allowing it to shoot high-quality images and HD videos to rival a premium compact camera. It’s an entirely new and different way for consumers to capture and share memories with friends and family.
With a distinct lens-style shape, the new cameras utilize the latest version of Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application (available for iOS™ and Android™ devices, version 3.1 or higher required) to connect wirelessly to a smartphone, converting the bright, large LCD screen of the phone into a real-time viewfinder with the ability to release the shutter, start/stop movie recordings, and adjust common photographic settings like shooting mode, zoom, Auto Focus area and more.
For added convenience, the app can be activated using NFC one-touch with compatible devices. Once pictures are taken, they are saved directly on both the phone and the camera*, and can be shared instantly via social media or other common mobile applications.
The new compact, ultra-portable cameras can be attached to a connected phone with a supplied mechanically adjustable adapter, or can be held separately in hand or even mounted to a tripod while still maintaining all functionality and connectivity with the smartphone. They can also be operated as completely independent cameras if desired, as both the DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 cameras have a shutter release, memory card slot and come with a rechargeable battery.
The Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 camera features a premium, high-quality 1.0 inch, 20.2 MP Exmor® RCMOS sensor. Identical to the sensor found in the acclaimed Cyber-shot RX100 II camera, it allows for exceptionally detailed, ultra-low noise images in all types of lighting conditions, including dimly lit indoor and night scenes.
The sensor is paired with a fast, wide-aperture Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 3.6x optical zoom and a powerful BIONZ® image processor, ensuring beautifully natural, detail-packed still images and HD videos. As an extra refinement, the DSC-QX100 sports a dedicated control ring for camera-like adjustment of manual focus and zoom.
Boasting a powerful 18.2 megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor and 10x optical zoom Sony G Lens, the Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 camera allows mobile photographers to bring distant subjects closer without sacrificing image quality or resolution, a common problem in smartphones. It’s also extremely portable and lightweight – weighing less than 4 oz and measuring about 2.5”X2.5”x1.3”.
The new Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 lens-style cameras will available later this month for about $500 and $250, respectively.
For more information please visit www.sony.com.
Can’t wait to try out these new products. Look for hands-on reviews in upcoming issues.