June 20, 2014

Preorder Sony's PXW-X180 & PXW-X160 Which Feature World's First Electronic Variable ND Filter

Sony stunned us all when they introduced their ultra-sensitive 4K a7s camera to the world at NAB, proving that innovation is still one of their priorities. Not quite as stunning, though still impressive, are Sony's two new additions to their XDCAM line, the PXW-X160 and PXW-X180 cameras, both equipped with a the world's first electronic variable ND filter that allows users to more precisely choose their density range from 1/4ND to 1/128ND. Though these cameras aren't outfitted with large sensors (three 1/3″ sensors), they do pack a pretty powerful prosumer punch with other features that might appeal to those shooting documentaries, news, and event filmmakers.

Here's a video from Sony to get you acquainted with the X180's features (which are also essentially the X160's features).

First of all, what makes the X160 different from the X180? Not much. In fact, they're the exactly same camera, except that the X180 comes with GPS and WiFi -- which also means that the X160 is significantly cheaper. (More on that later.) They both feature three 1/3" Full-HD Exmor CMOS sensors (full HD 1920 x 1080 shooting without pixel interpolation), fixed 25x pro HD zoom G series lens with independent hard stopped focus and iris rings, and supports a number of codecs, including XAVC Intra, Long GOP, MPEG HD 422 50 Mbps, MPEG HD 420 35 Mbps, AVCHD and DV.

As for the new electronic variable ND filter. The dual mechanism allows users to control settings both through traditional filter presets and gradually through a linear dial.

The PXW-X160 is equipped with a variable ND Filter function, allowing you to choose either four conventional mechanical ND filter positions or the linear control dial. The optical filter changes the density electrically, allowing the light amount to be reduced more conveniently. The density can be changed gradually and fluidly. Different from conventional optical ND filters, the ND filter on the PXW-X160 can be controlled from 1/4ND to 1/128ND linearly. By choosing the density value properly, the iris control has more flexibility.

Here are a few key features from both cameras:

  • Three 1/3" Exmor CMOS Sensors
  • XAVC Intra and Long GOP Codecs
  • MPEG HD 422, AVCHD, & DV Codecs
  • G Lens with 25x Optical Zoom
  • Electronic Variable ND Filter
  • Dual SxS Memory Card Slots
  • 3G/HD-SDI & HDMI Output
  • MP4 Proxy Recording to SD Card
  • 0.5" OLED Viewfinder
  • Wi-Fi Remote Control via Included Module (for the X180 only)

Check out this video from News Shooter to hear more about what you can expect from these cameras.

According to Sony, the X180 and X160 are ideal for documentary, news, and event projects -- so, it's doubtful that you'll see many indie narrative feature productions utilizing them, especially when large sensor cameras are so accessible.

Sony will be shipping in August, and you can preorder the X180 on B&H for $5995 --the X160 isn't listed yet (though News Shooter reported its price to be $5100).

Links:

[via cinema5D & News Shooter]

Your Comment

42 Comments

A nice camera, but there aren't enough buttons on it.

June 20, 2014 at 5:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcelo

I concur. Everyone knows pro cameras come with a wide range of buttons ranging from round to square in shape.

June 20, 2014 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jared

Well, something has to justify the price.

June 21, 2014 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

You'd rather have the functions buried in a menu and miss that one important shot because you had to click through 5 menu items to bump the gain up?

June 22, 2014 at 12:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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adam

For that price would just get fs700

June 20, 2014 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

why pay more for a camera with no autofocus that comes with a lense 2/5ths the focal length....that costs more?

July 22, 2014 at 4:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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brian

im sorry I was wrong about it only being manual focus however I do believe putting a lens equivalent to the x180/x160's on the fs700 would make it cost twice the price

July 22, 2014 at 5:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

XLR input?

June 20, 2014 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ok, found datasheet: http://www.sony.co.uk/res/attachment/file/25/1237492945225.pdf
Both have 2 XLR inputs, another difference between the X160 & X180 besides NFC/WiFi/GPS is the proxy. The X180 can record an H.264 proxy onto the SD card simultaneously, and has an extra slot for that.

June 20, 2014 at 6:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hang on, "worlds first Variable Electronic ND"? If Im not mistaken, RED did this a while back with their Motion Mount. http://www.red.com/store/products/dsmc-red-motion-ti-pl-mount

June 20, 2014 at 6:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sean

First prosumer I'm assuming they meant.

June 20, 2014 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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avatar
V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

You shouldn't call it prosumer camera just because it isn't aimed for filmmakers or doesn't have large sensor. This is just an assumption you've made based on something. It has all the features professional people in certain areas need and even more than many earlier models. This is professional camera. People who buy this camera will most likely be able to pay it back very quickly and they buy it just because it is right tool for their jobs. It is probably going to be one of the new workhorses on news, docs and events (like EX1 was before)... anything rated XDCAM is far from being just prosumer.

June 20, 2014 at 10:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ts

Word

June 21, 2014 at 3:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I can't see this being prosumer either. The price is too high for the con-sumer. There's way too many choices for far less money, with 4K to boot in some, for consumers to seriously consider this one.

June 21, 2014 at 1:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

in no way, shape or form these cameras are geared for consumers. Too many buttons

June 21, 2014 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anthony Marino

Yeah. And besides, it looks like some on this blog don't know what the word "prosumer" means.

June 22, 2014 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

4K means nothing when its so terrible in low light. 4K is just part of a spec war in this price range. it is terrible unless you have absolutely perfect lighting conditions.

July 22, 2014 at 4:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Exactly ts, This is not a prosumer camera and it's funny now with inexpensive large sensor cameras with interchangable lenses within everyone reach, anything 3-chip is thought to be "lowly" consumer. We shoot a ton of sports and live run and gun shoots. You'll be kicked off the job if you bring anything but the "right tool for the job." Even a FS700, as someone eluded to you could by for the price of one of these XDCAM.

June 23, 2014 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mo

how much are you going to pay for a lens for the fs700 that is equal to what comes with the x180/x160.

July 22, 2014 at 5:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Just another world first bullshit from Sony as usual.

June 20, 2014 at 9:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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kuk

If Sony have said its a world first then you can bank on that being true. They have never been the type of company to exaggerate or make stuff up.

They've probably also had more firsts than half the competition put together.

June 21, 2014 at 3:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Very true.

June 21, 2014 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rich

Yep...Sony are one of the biggest bullshit artists in the World.

You really need to be very careful with Sony marketing. Often imply one thing regarding specs/performance...only to find out later that it's misleading bullshit. Case in point: Sony's so called 4K TV claiming to have HDMI2 upgrade (to allow 4K @ 30p, etc). This proved untrue since the firmware "upgrade" only provided a Sony variant of HDMI2...which DID NOT allow 4K @ 30p.

Very devious company...with a minimalist approach to giving new technology to consumers.

...and stop calling the Sony A7s a 4K camera...it's not, despite what Sony call it. The Panasonic GH4 is a true 4K camera!

June 22, 2014 at 8:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Skeptikal

No, it did not turn out to be untrue. You must be careful of internet bullshitting too.

June 24, 2014 at 6:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mikko Löppönen

The motion mount is several things at once .. and priced accordingly ... still, this cam has no pixel binning/3chip sensor and a variable electronic ND ... looks like a jump on Panasonic PX 270.

June 20, 2014 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Nice, but this isnt a "world first electronic ND".

June 20, 2014 at 9:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is a good new bit of innovation, but I'd love to see a pro version of the AX100 with a fast 10:1 zoom lens fixed to it.

The 1" sensor size (aka Super16) is the sweet spot for documentary video that has not really been explored.

June 21, 2014 at 12:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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eric

I think they heard you Eric, meet the "Mystery Cam"

http://www.redsharknews.com/technology/item/1774-we-think-we-know-what-t...

June 21, 2014 at 4:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GlenAZ

We use the Canon XF300 at my work and it's decent. But I could see us upgrading to this type of camera for the wireless remote control and microphone.

Personally for the price I still prefer the C100 for my private business. I'm sure the zoom on this cam is great but still rather have switchable lenses.

June 21, 2014 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PayDro

Hi! Could please someone explain me what is the advantage of this cameras over DSLRs and Canon C100?
Why the manufacturer put Full frame sensor in a cheap prosumer cameras like 6d, a7 and put tiny sensor on the professional video equipment?

June 21, 2014 at 3:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Einar

Apples and Oranges my friend

June 21, 2014 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Coming from a local news background, the needs are completely different. When you have 25 minutes to shoot interviews, b-roll, etc. alone, there's no time for switching lenses or carrying extra gear beyond a camera, tripod, microphones, on-cam light, cables, and extra batteries. Trying to switch lenses at a structure fire, blizzard, or downpour would be a nightmare. And super-shallow depth of field is less of an advantage when you're shooting a standup of yourself, or doing an interview while also trying to frame a shot. Add in ergonomics without a finicky aftermarket rig, and the ability to zoom smoothly with a servo motor, and you've got a completely different setup.

I love the video I get out of a DSLR, but sometimes having a convenient, all in one package is the best option.

June 23, 2014 at 1:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lando

C100 seems like a deal of the day : B&H (there may be better deals elsewhere but this is off their site) is offering the updated Dual-Pixel Auto Focus C100 with a $1,149 MSRP EF 24-105mm F4.0 lens and a $599 Edius Pro7 editing suit for $5,999. The original MSRP of August, 2012 on the unit was $7,999. Now it can be purchased for $5,500 (body only) or in the aforementioned package.
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Sounds like a closeout to me. The camera itself, of course, has top rep and should be a functional 1080p unit for a long time to come. Canon refuses to reveal its 4K replacement but me thinks it doth protest too much.
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As to Sony, 4K Z100 isn't selling all that well - fixed lens, small sensor - so Sony shouldn't be too afraid to see something new and different there. Mitch Gross mentioned in the Newsshooter CineGear interview of a couple of weeks ago that Sony is offering (or planning to offer?) an FS700 + CD Q7 + SSD + software license package for ~ $13K-$14K but I can't seem to find it at any retailer sites as of now. Sony's motivation to move FS-700's - a very popular model over its run - also hints at new arrivals in the near future.

June 21, 2014 at 11:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Just to add - the original (thanks, SkimWords for the reminder) - C100 without the Dual Pixel Auto Focus can be had at B&H for $4,999 (body only). The stand-alone price of the Dual Pixel AF is $500 but the upgrade has to be performed at a Canon service center in NJ or LA, so buying a new piece with the AF already on it seems like a no-brainer, if that's the camera you want.

June 21, 2014 at 11:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

perfectly good camera for low end news shooting EXCEPT for the stupid SxS slots. SD please, panasonic at least figured that out. there is no hand holdable 20x or 25x zoom for S35. S35 is a completely different market / need / use than what this camera is aimed at.

June 21, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I saw the title fixed but now it is back to PROSUMER.

NFS / Renee, Seriously???

So lets take a look of our average prosumer who likes cameras and can now record family holidays and school plays with these new toys:
-They have robust codec, around 4 times more bit rate that AVCHD which ain’t that bad to begin with. Cause daddy always needs more room in colour correction!
-They have two XLR-inputs, which most of the prosumer market stuff lacks totally. Cause daddy got tired of possible interference on unbalanced mini plugs… and they fall of easily too you know when you run around middle of riots with your family.
-Integrated wireless mic input on hot-shoe. Cause every daddy wants to put one on their son when he is doing the school play.
-They have GENLOCK inputs so that they can work as your B-cam or even do multi cam on their own with TC-generator. Cause every daddy has a bigger camera already or at least a multi cam studio in the garage.
-The bigger one has internet connectivity. Cause every daddy wants to live stream their beach vacation over the satellite.
-SxS media. Cause every daddy gets to be beaten by wife after spending thousands on just on media.

Just because it has 1/3" sensor, it doesn't make it "prosumer". Just because it ain't aimed for filmmaking, TV drama or commercials doesn't make it prosumer. It would be fairer to say that anyone shooting video with DSLR is more prosumer than someone shooting video on a camera built solely for that purpose. This camera has professional features. The camera is small, easy to carry around and with 1/3" sensor relatively easy to keep in focus even in hardest situations. Specs wise this camera would pass almost all major broadcasting companies standards (expect BBC who may bit hypocritically require 1/2" sensor since i'm sure they would broadcast nevertheless if the images show the news rather than not show the news at all)

Any one holding a professional camera can be called prosumer, if the person is not a professional but a hobbyist. Hobbyist with Alexa is prosumer but that doesn't make Alexa prosumer camera.

Camera pointed at prosumer market have some professional features, but they are still cost efficient. In photo cameras it simply meant giving users the same control over exposure that professionals required. In video it is the same. Give them proper controls over exposure, zoom, focus, maybe throw in something like zebra and audio levels... that's pretty much it. That's prosumer. These are XDCAMs and as my over the top examples above state, they still have many things prosumer market doesn't need or CAN'T AFFORD to buy.

So again... seriously?

June 22, 2014 at 12:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ts

seriously?

ya like for sure

totally man

ya seriously?

whohoo im with you so rad seriously!

seriously!!

June 22, 2014 at 2:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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james

My opinion is that both are incredible cameras.
I'm using the sony ex1r as well as the canon C300 and arri Alexa for different works and I never though using the ex1r was less professional than using one of the other cameras.

When I shot events, backstages, industrials and (why not) videoclip in very hard and variable light situations, the EX1r was the best camera I could choose. Le image and the lens, the sensor and the codec was very good and please to work with.

I hope this two new cameras give back the same good feature and they will be something I really want to buy (one of them of course).

Nothing is perfect, neither Alexa nor Epic (or Canon and Panasonic), but I think this cameras from sony has more pros than cons.

June 22, 2014 at 10:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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andrea

I'll need to see the image before I make final judgement on this camera. It would make a heck a live stream camera if the image is worth the price. But it probably won't be much better for live streaming than a $1000.00 Panasonic x920. This Sony looks like a pro level camera all the way.

June 22, 2014 at 2:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Please stop calling the Sony A7s a 4K camera. It isn't.

June 22, 2014 at 7:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Skeptikal

I've been away from this site for awhile. Is she brand new? Worked in the industry?

June 23, 2014 at 10:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mo

Any option for CCU operation like the hpx255?

August 10, 2014 at 12:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Baxter