New consumer cams from Sony

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016, Sony has unveiled a new 4K handycam plus a couple of HD units, as well as a new model of its “action” camcorders.

Sony AX53 camcorder

Sony AX53 camcorder

Let’s start with the UHD model. Labelled the AX53, it’s the successor to the popular AX33 and its variants but boasts a collection of new features, the first of which is a new sensor. Now 1/2.5 inches across it now has pixels that are 1.6 times bigger than the prior model which bodes well for sensitivity in low light situations.

The Zeiss lens is also new and offers 20x optical zoom, and a wide angle of 26.8mm (35mm equivalent) at f2.8, ramping to f4 as you zoom.

An enhanced microphone is claimed to “collect sound from five different directions to produce about 40% less noise and clearer (audio)”

Finally, autofocus has been sped up by 40%, says Sony.

As with the AX33 you still get the superb Balanced Optical Steady Shot, 100Mbps 4K recording in XAVC-S format, and a lens ring with limited assignability.

Interestingly, as well as 120fps HD video the camcorder can also be set to do 4K timelapses which could be stunning, we think.

The first of the HD cams (model CX675) has a useful-sounding enhancement to BOSS, namely motion analysis.   In this 5-axis “Intelligent Active mode”, the camera supposedly optimises the image stabilisation based on the level of external motion to give stable footage from wide-angle to telephoto, even if the person filming is running or jogging after a subject. We quite look forward to testing this claim! It seems that this motion analysis feature is not also present in the new AX53, sadly.

The AX53 should cost around $1,000 USD, the CX675 around $600 USD and the CX455 – also new but there’s little to say about it – at $400 USD, available from February.

Sony AS50 in ice

Sony AS50 in ice

On the action camera front, the HDR-AS50 offers SteadyShot stabilisation, zoom and field angle adjustability, XAVC-S recording and 4K timelapse.  There is also a smaller, lighter remote to complement the cam, offered together with the camera in a kit, model HDR-AS50R.

The AS50R has an 11.1 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor paired with a Zeiss lens and SteadyShot image stabilisation. Sony says it’s tailored to reduce “low amplitude vibration typically caused by radio-controlled helicopters or drones”.

Sony AS50 remote unit

Sony AS50 remote unit

A new feature is the ability to adjust the field angle of a shot with wide and narrow options. The camera also features an enhanced 3x smooth zoom.

Based on customer feedback, the AS50’s interface has larger icons and button operability, presumably so that when you’re prodding it with a ski-gloved hand it can still be operated.

 

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4 Responses

  1. Charles says:

    I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your comprehensive and well presented reviews of camcorders, as well as your Rode videomicro microphone review, and I’m hoping you might manage to get your hands on the new AX53 soon. I’d be interested to see whether Sony’s claims that the new sensor really does improve low light image quality in comparison to its predecessor. Looking through the specs I can’t find any mention of the ability to individually adjust colour, sharpness or contrast. It’s a bit of a surprise as I would assume any reasonably interested and competent amateur videographer, even just operating a mainstream consumer camcorder, would appreciate the ability to adjust the image without reverting to crude basic image settings. Perhaps Sony thinks this is beyond the average punter. Anyway, good luck if you do get hold of the AX53 and look forward to the review if successful. Cheers.

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