New camcorder from Sony

If you’re tempted by the compact size, full feature set and excellent ergonomics of Canon’s XF200 or Xf205 camcorders – and we can attest that they are indeed all that – but you’re put off by the widespread reputation those camcorders have for being spoiled by a rather noisy image – something we also can, sadly, attest to – then Sony may have the answer.

They’ve just announced a new compact camcorder that takes elements from the tiny PXW-X70 including its 1″ sensor but puts them into a more traditional¬†design. Since we liked the X70 very much, this bodes well.

The HXR-NX100 comes under the company’s NXCAM brand which makes it more of a semi-pro / entry-level piece of kit but that said it’ll certainly find favour with a whole hoard of videographers if it lives up to spec.

The good news, apart from that sensor, is that the cam has three control rings so no faffing about with little dials to change exposure. The lens, as usual on their camcorders of this type, is a “G” lens (what on earth this stands for we have no ¬†idea) with a 12x optical zoom as the usual claim of “visually lossless” doubling through a sensor crop though we’ve never been satisfied with this in any products boasting it to date.

Sony HXR-NX100
Sony HXR-NX100

Wide angle is a mere 29mm (35mm equivalent) so it’s not terrifically wide.¬†The lens ramps from f2.8 to f4.5 too.

A 4-step ND (clear plus three levels of darkness) should prove useful for keeping the iris in its optimum spot, and it has HDMI out, XLR audio in, Sony’s “MultiInterface Shoe” for certain compatible accessories, and some degree of LANC ¬†controllability.

Shooting is onto dual SD memory cards at up to 50Mbps using the¬†AVCHD, DV and XAVC-S formats; bizarrely the cam specifically is NOT being offered with an upgrade path to 4K so consider carefully whether this is relevant to you before purchase. That said, much¬†corporate video is still being delivered on DVDs in our experience with HD something for master copies or the web, so we wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you can’t make this camera pay for itself in jobs by the time that 4K actually becomes ubiquitous, then you haven’t been doing enough work…

The viewfinder has 1.5 megapixels so should be nice and sharp for focusing, with the tiny 3.5″ LCD screen also having that same resolution. Availability is scheduled for October and¬†it’s expected to be relatively inexpensive.

Would you want one? If it can deliver a decent¬†image, it’ll make a handy compact tote-anywhere corporate or news cam. Film-makers will probably wish to look elsewhere.

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