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

09.4.13 @ 7:21PM Tags : , , , , ,

Sony Consumer 4K FDR-AX1[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 (1920×1080), QFHD (3840×2016) 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

Sony Consumer 4K FDR-AX1

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]


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Description image 86 COMMENTS

  • Sean Woods on 09.4.13 @ 7:35PM

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

    • “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…

      • 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 4096×2160 @60fps which is over half a billions pixels per second then it would be capable of 1920×1080 @256fps, so why no full HD at 240fps mode?

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

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

  • Philip Lipetz on 09.4.13 @ 7:51PM

    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.

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

  • Sean Woods on 09.4.13 @ 8:11PM

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
    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?
    Well, if I screwed something up, here’s the direct link.

    • You do still need the interface, the upgrade just includes the firmware update that cost the old fs700 users $400 to get serviced from Sony. That cam still has advantages over these new models in that you can use interchangeable lenses and shoot up to 240 fps. I do wish there was 10 bit straight up on the fs700 though…

  • 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.

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

    • trackofalljades on 09.5.13 @ 5:43PM

      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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

  • 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! :-)

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

      :-) :-)

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

        • 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.

  • Anthony Marino on 09.4.13 @ 9:18PM

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

    • 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.

      • Anthony Marino on 09.5.13 @ 5:55PM

        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.

  • 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?

  • John Terendy on 09.4.13 @ 10:45PM

    Any word on interval record?

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

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

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

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

  • The skateboard industry just got a new camera!

    • trackofalljades on 09.5.13 @ 5:46PM

      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.”

    • 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.

  • trackofalljades on 09.5.13 @ 5:45PM

    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?

    • 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.

      • 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… :)

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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 ….

  • 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????

    • 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.

    • …filters

  • 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.

  • Does anyone know if there will be an Interval Record / Time Lapse option?

    Matt Davis’ review of the pre-production Z100 on Sony’s UK site.

  • Jere Sumell on 11.25.13 @ 4:34AM

    Thanks for information about new Sony 4K -cameras! I’m still studying this technique, but it seems like a future of home video making?

    My local video equipment dealer got no these 4K cameras yet for sale, but perhaps I’ll wait for other manufactures coming to business and prices coming down before buying decision.

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