New semi-pro camcorder from Sony

Sony has announced the snappily-named HXR-NX3 camcorder, a baby brother to the longstanding NX5 (which is essentially a Z5 that records to AVCHD instead of HDV)

Sony NX3 camcorder
Sony NX3 camcorder

New abilities over its older sibling include a WiFi capability for connecting to smartphones and tablets, 50p recording (60p for the US version), low-bitrate simultaneous mp4 recording, and a DV format for anyone still needing to shoot in standard-definition.

It looks as though Sony’s been taking lessons from Canon in how to spoil a camcorder though (cf the latter’s XA20). First, the camcorder can’t actually do any file transfer itself other than to a smartphone using their App. So, uploading files remotely is a bothersome two-stage process (camcorder to phone, then phone to remote server). Yet the camcorder will only send the low quality mp4 files, not the full-quality AVCHD ones. Oh, and you can’t shoot even the mp4 version at all if you have the camcorder set to 50p mode.

So if you’re a video journalist trying to shoot in top quality (50p AVCHD) for your final edit but want a file to send back to base quickly (3Mbps mp4), you’re out of luck. Way to go, Sony!

It’s most peculiar but the only people who seem to have got this workflow right are JVC with their HM650. Not only can this record to dual codecs, it has built in FTP which – with the latest firmware – even enables you to send the files whilst you keep on filming! This is exactly the functionality that the modern TV VJ needs. Sony, Canon – take a look, and learn.

One nice touch on the new cam is the inclusion of a 6-LED light atop the inbuilt front microphone; that may save the hard-pressed cameraperson from having to tout around a Litepanels micro or similar, along with the accompanying need for a decent handful of AA batteries. We’ll have to wait until we see it to decide if the light is bright enough to be any use though.

Sony NX3 camcorder from the front
Sony NX3 camcorder from the front

Elsewhere on the NX3 it’s quoted as having three 1/2.8” sensors which provide “1920×1080 Full HD effective pixel count”. Effective, you say? Is that real 1920 x 1080 photosites or interpolated pixels then? It’s unclear.

As with several other of Sony’s related camcorders, this one has the tried and trusted “G Lens” that offers 20x optical zoom and a wide angle of 28.8mm (35mm equivalent). It’s fixed and servo-controlled but it does a decent job on the Z5 so should be the same here.

The company claims a mystical “clear image zoom” will give you 40x zoom with “virtually” the same quality as if it were a proper optical zoom but we always take such claims with a massive pinch of salt. It can interpolate the image all it likes but there’s no getting away from the fact that the camcorder is inventing the extra detail, not actually seeing it.

2x slow motion and 50x quick motion is possible, as it simultaneous recording to two memory cards (for a backup) or in relay mode (one card fills up then the camcorder switches to the next). Again, unhelpfully, these recording modes are not available if you’re using the mp4 recording function, for no readily apparent reason.

Sony NX3 camcorder from the back
Sony NX3 camcorder from the back

Despite what it says in large letters on at least one version of Sony’s own promotional video, the company’s press release states it will include the ECM-VG1 shotgun monaural microphone in Europe.

The HXR-NX3/VG1 will be available in Europe from end of January. More details at

Here’s their video:

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