[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.