New 4K camcorders from Sony

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CES 2015 news

Sony has announced a new compact 4K Handycam that builds on last year’s AX100 model but is smaller (30%), lighter (20%) and packs in more features. There’s also a new 4K action cam.

The FDR-AXP33 offers¬†a 100Mbps recording rate (a feature which will come as a firmware update to the AX100 this year) to help maintain image quality and it now boasts Sony’s excellent “Balanced Optical Steady Shot” (BOSS) system for smoothing out filming when handheld. This uses a floating platform to stabilise the lens and sensor and has an superb¬†reputation.

That top spec recording rate demands an SDXC memory card with UHS-3 rating.

Other features are a 50 lumens built-in 4K projector, thus avoiding any issue with people who’ve bought the camcorder but don’t have a 4K TV; it can live stream in HD; and – weirdly but interestingly – with the help of a “VCT-CSM1”¬†accessory you can attach another – lightweight! – camcorder to the top of the first one so that, as Sony suggests, one cam can take a wide shot while the other zooms in a bit giving you ultimate flexibility when editing.

Sony FDR-AX33 projector
Sony FDR-AX33 projector

A “multi camera control” option enables simultaneous control of up to 5 camcorders

Unlike Sony’s Pro model the PXW-X70, files are stored in XAVC-S format which should mean easy compatibility with most modern editing software.¬†Enthusiasts rejoice (slightly) as the camcorder still apparently boasts a degree of manual control via a ring and a button,¬†with the button toggling through the functions that the ring then controls (eg focus, zoom, exposure etc)

Sony FDR-AX33
Sony FDR-AX33

The sensor is a 1/2.3″ BSI Exmor jobbie with a 10x optical zoom lens from Zeiss (more zoom via Sony’s Clear Image Zoom digital enhancement which we’re not fans of). The lens has a not-too-wide but entirely typical field of view of 29.8mm in 35mm terms.¬†Recording is 25p in 4K mode, 50p in HD (30 and 60 in the USA)

Frustratingly, whilst the camcorder is priced at $999 USD (albeit without the inbuilt projector which for some reason we Europeans get), it’s¬†¬£1,079 over here in the UK on – once again, the British consumer gets a very raw deal!

Also new from Sony is a 4K action cam. The¬†FDR X1000VR has an improved (“three times better”) steadyshot function and again 10Mbps¬†recording in 4K. There’s also slow-mo filming at up to 240fps in HD. It has a Zeiss Tessar lens with 170 degree field of view.

Sony X1000VR
Sony X1000VR

Usefully there’s a cache recording function which keeps recording in a loop until you press “rec” and that way means you never miss a shot (unless you’re pointing in the wrong direction of course…)

The action cam costs £359 GBP. Availability of both cams should be from February.

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