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September 4, 2013

Sony Announces Two 4K 60FPS Cameras Under $7K

[Update: Looks like there will be a professional version of this camera as well, the PXW-Z100, with higher data rates.] We saw a sneak preview of this camera all the way back in January at CES, but it wasn't clear what the final specs would be or when we might actually see the thing. Details were scarce at the time, but today Sony finally pulled the wraps off of their first consumer/prosumer 4K camera, the FDR-AX1. Check out one of the first samples below:

[Update]: Here is a little more about the PXW-Z100, which should run you $6,500, and also includes variable frame rate and a 3G-HD-SDI output:

XAVC Recording Format at 4K 50p/60p, 4:2:2 10-bit at 500/600Mbps, HD at up to 223Mbps

The PXW-Z100 uses Sony's XAVC™* recording format first employed in the PMW-F55 CineAlta® 4K camera. MPEG-4 AVC/ H.264 compression is used for HD (1920x1080), QFHD (3840x2016) and 4K (4096×2160) content. Image sampling is 4:2:2 10-bit, with an intra-frame system that compresses each frame individually at a maximum bit rate of 500Mbps or 600Mbps during 4K 50fps or 60fps recording respectively and 223Mbps during HD 50fps or 60fps recording. The XAVC format is ideal for those looking to implement a high-quality, secure and worry-free workflow.

Here are the specs:

  • Record 4K 3840 x 2160p Video at 24/25/30/50/60 fps
  • 1920 x 1080p at 24/25/30/50/60 fps (50 Mbps)
  • 1/2.3" Exmor R 8.3MP CMOS Image Sensor
  • 4.1 - 82 mm f/1.6 - f/3.4 Lens
  • Built-In Microphone & Dual Pro XLR Jacks
  • Dual XQD Card Slots for 4K Recording
  • Recording Time: 50 min. with 64GB XQD card (XAVC-S 3840 x 2160/60p, 150 Mbps)
  • 1/4, 1/16/ 1/64 ND Filters
  • 3.5" 1.2 MP LCD
  • Independent Zoom, Focus & Iris Rings
  • Availability: October
  • Price: $4,500

With a sensor slightly smaller than 1/2", you're not going to be getting very shallow depth of field with this one (though it's not really meant to be that kind of camera). This isn't a Super 35mm Blackmagic 4K camera to be used with interchangeable lenses, it's more suited for documentary or live event work. If you do want that shallow DOF look, you could certainly try and throw a Super 35mm adapter on it like a Letus, Redrock, or Brevis (I know I kept those for a reason). I'm sure you can get them practically free at this point, though whether you'll be able to resolve anywhere near 4K is a whole other question.

Sony once again is going to make you buy new cards if you want to shoot 4K with the FDR-AX1. CF doesn't quite have the speed yet, so you'll have to spring for the newer XQD card format which Nikon has actually featured in the D4 (but right now a 32GB card will come with purchase of the FDR-AX1). You'll be shooting in 4K with the newly developed XAVC-S codec, which will be wrapped in the MP4 format. For lower quality formats, however, they do have a Memory Stick and SD card slots.

If you want to actually display that 4K 60fps on a TV, Sony is planning on upgrading the HDMI firmware to the 2.0 spec at some point in the future. You would, of course, need a 4K TV/Monitor that has this hardware built-in or can be upgraded at a later date.

You'll have to wait until October to get your hands on one, but at $4,500 it's likely going to be a solid system for those looking to future-proof their work doc 0r live work. The pro version at $6,500 will give much higher data rates, 3G-HD-SDI, and variable frame rates at a bit more cost.

Link: Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder -- B&H

[via B&H & Engadget]

Your Comment

57 Comments

I keep reading 50/60p for this and the pro version (PXW-Z100) so I'm guessing no 24p/25p as a frame rate?

September 4, 2013

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Sean Woods

"Record 4K 3840 x 2160p Video at 24/25/30/50/60 fps
1920 x 1080p at 24/25/30/50/60 fps (50 Mbps)"

First two lines of the camera specs in the article...

September 5, 2013

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Pat

What I don't understand, and it's the difference between me serious contemplating this camera or not even looking at it twice is the 1080p frame rate. Give it can process 4096x2160 @60fps which is over half a billions pixels per second then it would be capable of 1920x1080 @256fps, so why no full HD at 240fps mode?

1/2.3″ sensor seems awfully small for a $6500 camera?

September 6, 2013

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Oberoth

PXW-Z100 seems to be offering a major leap forward.
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http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-xdcam/resource.latest.bbsccms-assets-...?

September 4, 2013

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DLD

Shooting 4K and editing in 1080 timeline = tons of possibilities!!!

September 4, 2013

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E.D

The PXW-Z100 is 4:2:2 10 bit 600mbs, the only question is the small sensor chip, but it looks like a real winner if the sensor is good.

September 4, 2013

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Philip Lipetz

Sony hurting finacially is pushing 4k so they can sell alot of TV's thats all this is.

September 4, 2013

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mikeP

Sounds good to me... Where do I sign?

September 5, 2013

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Kraig

Actually nevermind, B&H specs show 24, 25, 30p frame rates.

September 4, 2013

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Sean Woods

I know small sensors are sort of cursed around here, but jeez the imagery in that videos is stunning. I keep seeing some sort of future where multiple cameras are used cinema making... small sensor 4k for wide shots, large sensor for CUs, action cams to get get shots where no other cams can be physically placed.

September 4, 2013

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I agree!!!

September 5, 2013

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Miles

Must be a pretty incredible lens to resolve 4k on such a small sensor over such a large range. I'm gonna guess that there's gonna be some softness as soon as you're past f5, and really tough to imagine it'll be sharp through it's range. If it is, it'll be a pretty useful unit.

September 4, 2013

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Paul Watt

BTW, I am not sure where I read it but IIRC, Sony is using the processor from their high end/pro F-55/65 series rather than the low end BIONZ chip.
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And, hey, while we're at it, their updated FS-700U and UK models seem to include that digital interface that previously was sold separately for $5K. With the upgrade, this camera (quote from Sony) - "The NEX-FS700U now features an upgrade that enables full 2K RAW up to 240fps or 4K RAW up to 60fps recording to Sony’s AXS-R5 RAW recorder. This “open architecture” update also enables 2K & 4K recordings onto compatible third party recorders. Upgraded NEX-FS700UK camcorders now record Linear RAW with 12-bit precision to the HXR-IFR5 RAW interface plus AXS-R5 memory recorder (sold separately)". The updated camera lists for $9,137 (huh, you ask) and the total with R5 is ~ $14K. Or does one need that interface still?
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Well, if I screwed something up, here's the direct link.
http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-NEXFS700UK/

September 4, 2013

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DLD

Sony has done a very good job with this sample video to clearly show the resolving power of this chip/processor combination. The rich colours and intricate detail of the pagoda are vibrantly displayed, yet the subtle grey tones of the cloud shrouded mountains are cleanly defined. In the night time street scene we see the low light capability and dynamic range. And the restaurant exterior scene shows absolutely no sign of moire. Select "Original Quality" to get the full impact.

September 4, 2013

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How would something like this do in low-light compared to say a Mark-II?

September 4, 2013

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Clay

My guess would be "that depends" a lot on motion (either camera or subject or both). Beyond all the magic of technological advancement, sometimes a small imager is just a small imager and there are always going to be limitations.

September 5, 2013

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trackofalljades

This seems kind of groundbreaking. It seems like an obvious choice for me to start saving for THIS instead of the 5D Mark III now for indie filmmaking.

September 4, 2013

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There's a Panasonic 4K coming out in November too. It has the sensor form the GH3 in it. The GH already has a better picture than a 5Diii. I have some high hopes in that 4K Panasonic coming out soon.

September 4, 2013

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Gene

Thanks Gene, I didn't know about the new Panasonic 4K. Was wondering which camera to buy, but will now wait to see what it is like - and how much it will cost!

September 5, 2013

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WillTECH

I haven't heard the price. I've just heard it will be 4K and using the GH3 sensor. It's projected for November. But that's a projection. I would imagine Panasonic is fairly good at making and keeping projections, they've been around a while. But we're all human.

September 5, 2013

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Gene

4K in p, no i involved, 60fps in p, no i involved, with lens, @ $4500.00. This looks like the 4K camera I have been waiting for. But I'm going to keep my powder dry until November when the Panasonic 4K camcorder comes out. I like the Panasonic color palette and video technology more than Sony. But this is exciting! I am excited at how quickly 4K is becoming affordable! :-)

Now I'm waiting for H265 and gigabit internet to become part of the mainstream. What beautiful video we will see then on our computers! :-)

September 4, 2013

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Gene

should have also said waiting for low priced 4K tvs/monitors and 4K resolution video cards

:-) :-)

September 4, 2013

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Gene

We have that already. The Seiki 39" 4K monitor can be had for less than $700 on Amazon, the 50" around $1200.

September 5, 2013

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Miles

Thanks. I did know about those. And that is a low price. Honestly, I'm waiting for a little lower price, and for a 4K resolution video card.

September 5, 2013

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Gene

You'd think they would've at least given the fs700 10-bit with upgrade. Bastards! #stillsour

September 4, 2013

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Anthony Marino

It's 12 bit into a 16 bit wrapper ... you need a $2.5K (a major price drop) interface and a $5K outboard Sony recorder. Plus, some sort of recording media. ~ $16K-$18K total, depending on a kit lens. Not a bad deal for the 4K Raw.

September 4, 2013

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DLD

Agree not a bad deal for the odyssey Q if that ever ships before the camera is obsolete? Not even a frame grab, so who knows? The Sony solution in my opinion is a joke, the thing is just too cumbersome. It just would've been nice if they released 10-bit 4:2:2 with the upgrade minus all the 4k baloney.

September 5, 2013

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Anthony Marino

Wait, doesn't the Canon 1D C shoot at like 500 Mb/s (VBR) to CF cards? Why wouldn't the XAVC-S codec at 150 Mb/s work just fine?

September 4, 2013

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Mr Blah

Any word on interval record?

September 4, 2013

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John Terendy

Maybe I've missed this, but what is the base sensitivity of these cameras? 500 ISO? 800 ISO? Something higher?

September 5, 2013

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Anon

It's a little different the way they do these cameras, but equivalent is probably 500 or below at best. These aren't going to be all that sensitive with so many pixels in such a small space.

September 5, 2013

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avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Are these good for weddings? Will heating be an issue on these cameras for long shooting?

September 5, 2013

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Saied

Hey man, I've shot on the Sony NX5-U before, which is pretty similar to this camera in regards to form factor, most of the features, etc. I've used it for very long shooting sessions (Over an hour continuously) and while the camera is definitely warm to the touch when done, I've never had one stop recording.

September 5, 2013

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Rick

Have you done any live streaming with it? If yes how is the picture for the end user?

September 5, 2013

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Gene

Nice camera! Damn those cards are pricey though! Blimey!

September 5, 2013

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Kraig

Color question: So the FDR-AX1 = 4:2:0 8-bit, and the PXW-Z100 = 4:2:2 10-bit... is that correct?

September 5, 2013

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Razor

The skateboard industry just got a new camera!

September 5, 2013

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That's pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I look at this and think "okay so you do docs with movement, you buy this and a Hero 3 Black and you're done."

September 5, 2013

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trackofalljades

Skateboarders will just start buying up HVX200s when people move to something 4k. At least...I hope. I kind of cringe when I see them using VX2000s or 2100s still, but the footage is always fun.

September 6, 2013

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Pat

Setting aside the resolution, which is already being discussed, I'm pretty impressed with the body design too...I mean seriously how many other decent camcorder bodies can you get with a zoom lens already attached and three rings plus internal ND for under $5000?

I'm not sure the answer is any...unless you include used gear. Someone remind me of one I'm forgetting?

September 5, 2013

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trackofalljades

The Panasonic AG/AF 100 body, w/o lens, is $2000.00 now. But it goes to 1080p only, not 4K. I imagine that price will go down to a clearance price when the Panasonic 4K comes out in November. That's one that comes to mind immediately.

I'm agreeing with you, this looks like a good deal. I don't know of a 4K camera with those things you bring up at this cost. There's supposed to be a total of approx. twenty one new 4K cameras coming out in this next year. I'm actually looking forward to 8K----and some day out in the future, 16K.

September 5, 2013

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Gene

Yep.... I guess we can all look forward to a new mega pixel war similar to the one we've witnessed over the last 5-10 years with still cameras... :)

September 5, 2013

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David

and I like it. The consumer has the scales tipped toward his benefit in times like that.

September 5, 2013

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Gene

I know this is a small sensor and won't look as good as a BM 4K, or Red, but still, it looks great in that demo video. Higher resolution is king.

September 5, 2013

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Gene

It's not a matter of as good or not. It's a completely different look than BMD or RED. I'd try not to compare them since they're totally different applications of cameras.

September 6, 2013

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Pat

Convergent Design just released the footage of FS-700 + Odyssey 7. It's capable of 2K Raw @240 fps and of 4K ProRes 10 Bit. The 2 min clip is on YouTube (in 1080p) or it can be downloaded in original res from the company web site. Those who did download it say it looks spectacular. To my untrained eye, the downscaled YouTube 1080p looks great as well. The whole package (~ $8K for FS 700 and $4K for the Odyssey Q7 + media card + Sony codec combo) will run about $12K. Ah, another small step for mankind ....

September 6, 2013

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DLD

this looks just tooo detailed,,its starting to look fake,,the human eyes cant see like this in real life,,,this is starting to look like CG,,,all the 4k stuff is going to far,,i still think film is perfect at 16mm and 35mm,,this is just to detailed,,i like a little softness,,i just am starting to not like this 2k 4k stuff,,,getting out of hand,,,and red is coming out with 8k???why are you people supporting this look,,it looks just unreal,,,does life on the streets look like this????

September 6, 2013

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steven

Of course everyone deserves their opinion, but I'd have to respectfully disagree. I happen to love sharpness. I remember shooting 16mm in film school, and when you would watch it I'd say, "what...that's it?" Now, I'll admit I have always been a fan of the video look (Collateral, Miami Vice, Zodiac, Speed Racer), and I think this 4k camera is gonna help me make imagery that is more like what I see in my head.

September 6, 2013

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...filters

October 7, 2013

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james

Since this is a pro-sumer camera and the specs. for UHD haven't even been finalized, I would not want to jump on these 1st gen products unless the entire camera system can be firmware upgraded to support the ratified UHD specs.

That should come later this year or early next.

September 7, 2013

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Dan H

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