Sony, seemingly out of nowhere, has announced a new consumer large sensor video camera called the NEX-EA50 (as usual the name just rolls off the tongue). Don't be fooled by its outdated looks, as this camera is mostly new technology under the hood, utilizing a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor to record 1080p AVCHD 28mbps video at up to 60fps. The camera comes standard with an 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 lens that features both auto-focus and image stabilization. The shoulder-mount design of the camera is an interesting choice (I'm certainly not complaining), but it will finally allow proper handheld for a camera in this class. Check out the introduction video below from Sony.
These are some of the main specs:
- 16 megapixel APS-C sensor (can take still images)
- 1080p at 24/25/30/50/60 fps (1280 and 480 also available)
- 24mbps with a max of 28mbps AVCHD
- E-mount interchangeable lenses, Comes with 18-200mm F3.5-6.3
- 3.5" 16:9 XtraFine (1920 x 480) LCD
- Recording Media: Memory Stick - SD/SDHC/SDXC - HXR-FMU128
- 2 XLR Inputs with Phantom Power
- No ND filters
- Weight: 3.79 lbs.
- Available October 15th
- Price: $4500 (Price keeps changing, previously $3,600, then $4,000)
The introduction video is interesting, to say the least. So where does this camera fit into the mix? We've got so many new cameras coming out, it's tough to get a grip on who a particular camera is actually designed for. Judging by the video, this will be a wedding cinematographer's dream camera. It's going to have good low-light performance and it's got a servo zoom lens with a rocker on the side. Being able to put this camera on your shoulder at a moment's notice is much faster than dealing with a rig and a DSLR (I know this because I've dealt with both for years). I've talked about my preference for camera design before, and it's obvious Sony is listening to me. I would still like to see one of these Sony cameras put ISO and white balance in an easy to use scroll wheel on the side -- you know, since you'd be changing those the most in a run and gun situation -- but design-wise there is a lot to like.
As for the sensor in the camera, it's most likely taken from Sony's mirrorless line (it probably uses the same sensor as the NEX-5N), so while it's not going to have the video resolution of the FS100 or FS700, it's still nice to be able to get the positives of the Sony mirrorless cameras with the design of a proper video camera. Sony is also introducing a new mirroring memory stick that is designed to record a redundant backup right on the same card. I guess I'm not really sure there is much benefit to that (since if the card is corrupt it doesn't matter if you've got two copies), but it's still an interesting concept.
The fact that it doesn't have ND filters is a bit of a letdown, but it makes up for that by having a real zoom lens, something that has been sorely missed on DSLRs since their inception. The camera also features something that I will need to see to believe, and that is a digital zoom that crops the sensor in real-time so that you can zoom with prime lenses. From B&H:
To accommodate Sony's first E-mount lens with servo zoom, the NEX-EA50UH sports a rocker-style zoom lever. The rocker zoom is a familiar feature for long-time camcorder users, but those who are familiar with interchangeable lens systems may wonder, what good is a zoom lever if you are using a prime lens or a manual zoom? Sony's answer to that question is a lossless digital zoom. The effect is achieved by cropping the image sensor in real-time, which changes the angle-of-view with no sacrifice in resolution.
It will be interesting to see if other manufacturers go back to the shoulder-mount design. Being able to pull out the shoulder pad when you need it and make the camera more compact when you don't is the best of both worlds. Compact cameras are great for certain instances, but they require all sorts of rigging to really get the most out of them, especially in a professional situation.
If you're interested, you can pre-order the camera using the link below.
What do you guys think? Are you interested in a $3600 NEX-5N that has all the features of a regular video camera?