New Camcorder Designed for Documentary Filmmakers: the Dust and Rain-Proof Sony HXR-NX70
In addition to the baby brother to the F3, the NEX-FS100, Sony has also officially announced the HXR-NX70, a rain- and dust-proof camera with 1080p/60p capabilities, a built-in GPS, and 96 gigabytes of built-in flash memory. In conjunction with the weatherproofing and long recording times (up to 40 hours to internal memory), a 26mm-equivalent wide-angle 10X zoom lens should make this camera great for shooting documentaries. Here's an overview of the $3,200 (list) camcorder:
This is not a large-sensor DSLR-class camcorder; its sensor is 1/2.88", which makes it a "traditional," deep depth-of-field video camera (of course, for documentaries, sometimes a shallow DOF can be difficult to deal with). As for the rain- and dust-proof claims, I have Sony's DSC-TX5 waterproof point-and-shoot, and I've been very pleasantly surprised at Sony's ability to make a weatherproofed camera that is the same size and weight as an unprotected camera -- which looks to be the case with the NX70. More details on the HXR-NX70 can be found in the PDF brochure (this is for the HXR-NV70E, which is the European counterpart to the North American HXR-NX70U. Here are some images of the camcorder, followed by a feature list:
Sony HXR-NX70 Features
Rain and Dust Proof Performance
You can be confident rainy or dusty shooting environments will not affect the reliable operation of the HXR-NX70E thanks to its IEC60529 IP54 rating. The camcorder’s sealed body design makes sure that harmful sand and large dust particles do not get inside. A waterproof performance rating of IPx4 means that the main camera body is protected against rain showers and water splashes.
A waterproof performance rating of IPx4 means that the main camera body is protected against rain showers and water splashes. However, it should not be submerged underwater or sprayed with pressurised water from a tap or hose. When used with accessories such as an external microphone, a rain cover should be used to protect the accessory and connection. IP5x rating does not guarantee 100% protection against exposure to extremely fine particles.
Ultra-wide Angle 26.3mm G lens
Engineered for superior optical performance, Sony G lenses deliver brilliant, accurate colour reproduction and sharp, amazingly detailed images. In addition, the 26.3mm focal length offers a broader perspective than previous lenses for enhanced wide angle shooting so you can capture more of the scene when close in.
Assignable Lens Ring (Focus/Zoom/Iris)
Get the most out of your camcorder with enhanced manual controls. The assignable lens ring allows for manual adjustment of focus, iris, and zoom settings so you have complete creative control.
Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode
Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode provides superior compensation for camera shake to deliver stunningly smooth video from wide angle to full telephoto shooting. In addition, the innovative 3-Way Shake-Cancelling feature adds electronic roll stability for even smoother video capture.
Back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor for superb low-light video
Journalists rarely shoot under studio lighting conditions and Sony’s back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS sensor delivers stunning low-light sensitivity with improved image clarity and drastically reduced grain. Designed for compact cameras and camcorders, the Exmor R™ sensor relocates the photo diodes above the support circuitry, maximising the light gathering area per pixel so you can shoot with better results in low-light conditions. The sensitivity is roughly double that of conventional CMOS sensors of the same size and pixel size.
1920 x 1080 Full HD 50p Recording with 12.3 Mega pixels still image capture
The compact HXR-NX70E shoots in Full High Definition quality (1920 x 1080) with a choice of 50p, 50i and 25p frame rates. It can also simultaneously shoot 12.3 Mega Pixel (4672 x 2628) still images (Note: Dual Rec is not active when recording mode is set to FX or PS.) It also supports playback via HDMI and compatible HDTV, for complete flexibility in reviewing your footage.
96GB* embedded Flash Memory for up to 40 hours of HD recording
Built-in Flash memory provides extra capacity, ideal when working remotely, as well as providing additional workflow options for back-up and sharing content. 96GB embedded Flash memory can record and store up to 40 hours of high definition video footage in HD LP mode.
* 96GB equals 96 billion bytes. A portion of the total storage is used for system management and/or application files.
3.5” touch-screen XtraFine™ LCD display (921K)
The large 3.5” (16:9) XtraFine LCD screen (921K) displays sharp, bright, vivid images, letting you compose a shot more easily and alter setting to best represent the scene, even when outdoors in bright lighting conditions.
XLR adaptor with selectable phantom power and shotgun microphone
The detachable handle has a compact, ergonomic design. Two balanced XLR audio inputs are built in with phantom power and attenuation options that professional shooters require for clean sound quality. Default audio settings for XLR recording are highlighted in green for easy reference in the field in order to reduce operator error under difficult lighting conditions.
The ECM-XM1 shotgun microphone mounted on top of the handle provides audio recording performance similar to larger shoulder-mounted ENG style cameras.
Geotagging with built-in GPS receiver
A built-in GPS receiver makes the HXR-NX70 an ideal choice for professional videographers. The receiver gives you the ability to “geo-tag” shooting locations - making it easy if you need to return to the same location or to create a log when surveying remote locations. Your locations can be tracked on Google maps and all GPS data can be extracted with a PC.
Additionally, the receiver automatically adjusts your camcorder’s clock to the proper time zone when international travel is part of your assignment.
Documentary shooters -- thoughts?