Sony unleashes a 4K Handycam


September 4, 2013

Sony's new 4K Handycam at IFA 2013

Sony's new 4K Handycam at IFA 2013

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The ability to shoot Ultra HD 4K video is no longer limited just to cinema- or broadcast-specific video cameras – or to the GoPro HERO3 Black edition, for that matter. Today at IFA 2013, Sony unveiled the FDR-AX1E, which is the first of the company’s 4K-capable Handycams.

The camera’s 1/2.3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor captures full 4K (3840p) video at 60 or 30 fps, which is recorded in the XAVC S format using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Long GOP for video and Linear PCM for audio compression. Files are ultimately saved as MP4s. This setup allows almost two hours of 4K video to be stored on one of Sony’s 64GB XQD memory cards – which were also announced just today. If shooting regular 1080p HD (which the camera can also do, at 60 or 30 fps), that figure jumps up to three hours.

A firmware update that will allow for compatibility with the AVCHD format is planned for the middle of next year.

Up front is an F1.6 - F3.4 Sony G Lens with a 20x optical zoom, and an integrated stereo mic. Sony’s Optical SteadyShot technology helps minimize the operator-induced shakes, and images are viewed through a 3.5-inch LCD screen.

Several of the FDR-AX1E’s features indicate that it’s aimed at more than just people who want really sharp-looking home movies. Some of these features include dual stereo XLR external mic jacks, dual memory card slots that allow users to change one card while the other is recording, four neutral density filter settings, and the ability to manually control a number of key shooting parameters.

Footage can be viewed on a TV using an HDMI cable, that footage appearing in 4K on Ultra HD TVs. For regular HD televisions, a setting on the camera can be adjusted in order to change its output to 1080p. Support for HDMI 2.0 is also planned, via another firmware update.

There’s no word yet on when the FDR-AX1E will be commercially available, although we do know that it will be priced at a home-movie-unfriendly US$4,500.

Source: Sony

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This is a big wait-and-see. Just like in DSLRs megapixels doesn't always mean great quality - low light performance and noise are just as important.


I agree sircaptainobvious, but I am interested to know if Ben thinks it is value for money.


No! 4K is not 3840p. Get it right or don't write about subjects you don't understand.

4K is more likely to be 2160p or 4 times the number of pixels of a regular HD video of 1080p

Video quality comes down to one important number: Bitrate

4k video at 60 fps produces 4 times the data of a 1080p at the same quality. It be actually slightly less depending on the video content.

Ok video is produced at around 20mbit per second for HD movies so we are looking at 80mbit/sec data rates for an equivalent quality 2160p video. Go from 30 to 60 fps and you are doubling that yet again to a blistering 160mbit/sec

This requires some serious image processing. The Gopro hero can get to bitrates of 38mbit/sec. At 4k the frame rate is limited to 15 fps for good reason. It's processor simply is overloaded.

Paul van Dinther
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