Pro makeover for Sony handcam

*** Update, November 2014: we have now done some testing on the PXW-X70 and you can see the results here www.tubeshooter.co.uk/2014/12/02/test-videos-sony-pxw-x70/. We’ve also decided the X70 is the best “entry level pro camcorder” – see why at this link: www.tubeshooter.co.uk/2014/10/17/best-entry-level-pro-camcorder-2/ ***

Much as it did with the NX30, which was a beefed-up version of a PJ-somethingorother consumer camcorder, Sony has now unleashed its PXW-X70 which is a beefed-up version of the HDR-CX900

The revised and relabelled cam now boasts a handful of pro-oriented changes such as: XLR inputs on a handle for quality audio (the handle also providing both a shoe and a screw-thread mount for accessories as well as the traditional extra record and zoom controls), 3G-SDI output as well as what appears to be a full-size HDMI connection, 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and, helpfully, dual SDXC card slots for backups or relay recording.

Some of the rest of it remains much the same, spec-wise so some of the comments and criticisms in our review of the CX900 should stand for the X70, we think – see our review here: www.tubeshooter.co.uk/2014/05/14/review-sonys-hdr-cx900-hd-camcorder/ – although there are some notable exceptions.

Specifically, we note the appearance of 5 physical buttons on the unit with numbers marked against them, hinting at the likelihood of them being assignable to different functions; contrast that with the CX900 and AX100 where the button functions are fixed and you can only have assigned operations on the touchscreen.

There’s huge blessed relief too in the re-placement of the focus magnifier button from its entirely un-ergonomic siting  on the right of the lens in the CX900/AX100 to just behind the main room rocker on the X70. In one fell stroke this removes the oddity that left us most baffled in our consumer cam review. Whilst we’re peering, we note also Button 5 just ahead of the zoom rocker, labelled as Auto Iris (handy, on occasion but also handily placed to be reassigned)

Meanwhile, there’s a one-inch sensor chip, up to 50Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit XAVC long-GOP recording (as well as lower bitrate AVCHD and DV modes) in MXF format files; and a sprinkling of manual control buttons on the side for exposure and administrative functions.

Sony PXW-X70

Sony PXW-X70

At the moment the cam is HD only but Sony is promising to release a firmware upgrade to make it 4K capable, like the CX900’s sister cam, the AX100 (we wonder if this may also hint that, for the bold hacker, something could be done to turn a CX900 into a 4K unit without shelling out the extra for the AX100 since otherwise they’re identical)

Whilst we were a bit underwhelmed at the CX900/AX100, we think this redesign could make the X70 a much more attractive proposition, not just because of the handle and XLR audio but because of the other design tweaks that should turn it from ergonomic awkwardness to handheld happiness – we hope.

Get the lowdown from Sony at www.sony.co.uk/pro/press/pr-sony-broadcast-pxw-x70. It costs just under two grand which is quite a bargain over what a CX900 plus Sony’s previous XLR handle adapter would set you back and this one’s badged XDCAM so it looks cooler.

Buy it now via our Amazon UK link and we get a bit of commission to keep the lights on over winter: http://amzn.to/1vGrtHE

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2 Responses

  1. Jamie says:

    So i tried, figured what the hell. I tried, with no luck to put the AX100 firmware on to my CX900. It would not take it. If you have a hack I’m just crazy enough to try it.

    • admin says:

      Haha, I wondered if anyone would try that! Interesting to hear. Unfortunately we are no hackers here at Tubeshooter, sorry. I assume you’d have to use a code-level debugger to go through the firmware line by line and work out where it detects which model it’s been installed into.

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