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?

Link: Sony HXR-NX70U Official Page

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Your Comment


I'd really need to see some footage from this guy. Its not gonna change the game in any way or take over a shoot but alas, would be a nice work horse for certain situations or to have running around at all times. It will in the end come down to quality and how the footage compares to that of a number of DSLRs. Thats what will make or break it in the end. At this point for that amount of money you could do a pretty fancy job of becoming fancier.

March 24, 2011 at 8:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Working on a documentary currently I don't think you can compare this to DSLRs which are most often not appropriate for docs due to short clip lengths and handheld/ergonomic issues. This camera seems far superior to most DSLRs for doc work (footage quality aside) just in ergonomics and the shoot time you get. The Panasonics are currently the only still/vid cams that shoot great video without the clip length and overheating issues of the canon DSLRs. I had all but ruled out the DSLR for anything but narrative work (or docs without interviews over 12-14 mins long). This looks to fill a specific need and for the kind of doc footage it is ideal for you would not compare it to DSLR or even narrative footage by the same standard. Seeing some pretty fabulous docs shot on older/lesser cameras than this really changed my mind on what you can shoot on if your story is compelling.

August 26, 2011 at 11:01PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Sweet. Could've used this on the fishing shows. EX1 does not like heavy fog.

March 24, 2011 at 9:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I hope the HDMI out is 4:2:2 and has timecode, otherwise this is a great idea stuck with a con/prosumer codec again (AVCHD).

March 24, 2011 at 10:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Wow. This camera looks fantastic - I've been using my HFs20 for shooting lately, if I need to do something more interview based I have an SGblade I use with it, but this camera would quickly replace my Canon. Great design.

March 24, 2011 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The waterproofing is a fun/neat idea, but this line is a bummer "When used with accessories such as an external microphone, a rain cover should be used to protect the accessory and connection." Why not just use a rain cover from Portabrace or someone and choose the camera you want? I've used raincovers/slickers on all sorts of cameras in all sorts of terrible weather. So that feature's not a gamechanger for me.

But I'll be interested in seeing how this Sony camera and the FS100 compare to the Canon XF100 and its 50Mbit 4:2:2 MPEG codec.

I'm on a quest to find a HD version of the PD150/DVX100...No, the HVX200 and EX1, while both fine cameras that I've used a lot, don't quite get there for me... Hope to find something at NAB next month...

March 24, 2011 at 3:14PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Jim Feeley

50p, 50i and 25p frame rates? What am I missing? I know that in the old days, 25p was a safe acquisition framerate to convert to 24p or 60i as necessary, but I thought we were moving toward more, not fewer choices.

March 24, 2011 at 10:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think the PAL version is 25/50 and the NTSC 24/60... I must've gotten the Euro press release (it came out first).

March 25, 2011 at 1:00AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

Which brings up a point that I find fairly annoying nowadays: why don't camera manufactures ship their cameras (at least the "pro" ones like this one) with both US and Euro framerates? I've seen the effect of US cameras shooting video under European fluorescent lights and it looked horrendous. At least that's what I think I was seeing - nasty light strobing effect. I know the AF100 does all common framerates, and I think I recall reading that the Canon XF100 will allow adding the Euro rates if you ship it back to the factory (huh? why?), but it still seems to be pretty rare.

Plus if they did that, they would not have to design, manufacture, market, and support two models instead of one.

March 25, 2011 at 3:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM



March 25, 2011 at 4:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

yeah its absurd, but you gotta give credit to the old Sony Z1 for having that ability...

March 25, 2011 at 6:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Looks like a winner. I think a lot of shooters are spending too much time worrying about bokeh and codecs and too little time getting work done that is illuminated, audible and infocus. I would like to point out that DLRS don't have a headphone jack-ANY of them! wtf. This little sony looks like a great tool for a multitude of jobs that will never see the big screen...and that is almost all of them.

March 28, 2011 at 1:42PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


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March 18, 2014 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I was considering using this camera(HXR-NX70) to shoot a single-cam sitcom pilot. For one, bc I'm a member of the local access network it seemed like the best camera I had access too without renting(the other choice is sony hdr cx 580). Is this a bad Idea? How would using a "documentary" camera affect the look of my project?

January 13, 2015 at 9:08AM

Michael Pam