It looks as though 2014 really will be the year that 4K video comes of age and Sony is certainly doing its best to make the ultra-HD dream come true.
Hot on the heels of its recently-announced semi-pro 4K camcorders, the PXW-Z100 and FDR-AX1, is the entry-level albeit quite costly (£1939 GBP) Handycam AX100E. Sony says it’s the world’s smallest and lightest 4K camcorder.
Recording in the new XAVC-S format using H.264 at up to 60Mbps it’s got a unexpectedly large 1-inch sensor which should capture lots of light despite the pixel density – 20Mpx – although the quoted minimum illumination of 6 lux is high compared to many modern HD camcorders. It’s teamed with a 12x optical zoom Zeiss lens which goes to 29mm wide angle (35mm equivalent). The actual on-screen resolution of the recorded image is 3840×2160.
Unusually for Sony’s handcams, although less surprising on an enthusiast camcorder like this, it has a manual focusing ring at the front which can be switched to control zoom; there’s also a smaller control dial to adjust gain, shutter and iris.
Three ND filters, selectable by a switch on the back, and a focus magnifier button on the right hand side next to the lens, are also welcome features for easier shooting.
The cam also has a nod to “old-fashioned” HD with an option for AVCHD or MP4 recording at the same time as the 4K version. A copy of the rather excellent Vegas Pro editing software comes with the cam so you can edit all the formats straight away, presuming your PC is powerful enough to cope with the complexity.
Frame rates are 25p at 4K, 50p in AVCHD and 25p in MP4 (the latter being 720p)
We don’t normally get excited and drooling about camcorders but there’s a distinct hint of pant-wetting anticipation at Tubeshooter towers about this one…