It’s definitely a Sony day here at Tubeshooter. Hot on the heels of their QX10 / QX100 smartphone cameras comes what they’re calling a consumer-oriented 4K video camera – that is, one that shoots at four times the resolution of standard HD. Gosh.
At around $4,500 USD, labelling the FDR-AX1 “consumer-oriented” might be a bit much but prosumers and perhaps the the very enthusiastic might be keen to snap one up. In time-honoured Sony tradition there’s also a new, “professional” version, the PXW-Z100.
Geek alert – here’s the spec list of the consumer model: it shoots QFHD at 50p (that’s 3840 x 2160 pixels) via a single 1/2.3-inch Exmor-R CMOS sensor. The lens is a Sony G-type with 20x optical zoom (31.5-630mm). There’s a built-in mic with two XLR jacks for proper sound.
Recording is to the XAVC-S format at up to 150Mbps; it uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 for video and linear PCM (uncompressed) for audio, all wrapped up into an MP4 wrapper. Storage is onto Sony’s XQD media with two card slots. One card is provided in the box. So that’s nice.
Three ND (neutral density) filters are provided and you can tweak the look of the camera via six paint functions (white, offset white, gamma, detail, skin detail and matrix).
Usefully, there are 7 assignable buttons and the cam does have three control rings (focus, zoom, exposure). In effect, this is a Z5 for the 4K generation. It even continues to use the NP-F type batteries, which is handy for the many videographers who’ve built up a library of this type.
The spec sheet says the camera comes with a voucher for Sony’s Vegas Pro 12 editing software, which is a nice touch too. It’s set to start shipping in October. You can watch Sony’s own promo video here (best to scroll past the nauseating and entirely unnecessary introductions for the first 15 seconds):
Should you prefer the pro model, it’s called PXW-Z100 and shoots at the splendid 4K 4096×2160 resolution, with a price of around £5,300 inc VAT. Staggeringly, it shoots 4:2:2 10-bit with intra-frame compression at up to 500 Mbps. Yes, you read that right. You can also have standard HD at 223Mbps. The lens and storage media are the same as the consumer model, and it should be on sale by the end of the year.