Sony unveils smaller, cheaper 4K Handycam
By Paul Ridden
January 13, 2014
Sony has followed the launch of its first 4K Handycam at IFA 2013, with a much handier UHD Handycam, the compact FDR-AX100 camcorder. Reported to be 74 percent smaller and 66 percent lighter than the now available FDR-AX1, and a good deal cheaper to boot, the AX100 features a bigger sensor than many similarly-sized cams, a new 29 mm wide-angle Zeiss lens, a high resolution touch panel, built-in wireless capabilities and NFC.
The FDR-AX100 Handycam has dimensions of 196.5 x 83.5 x 81 mm (7.7 x 3.3 x 3.2 in) and an empty weight of 790 g (28 oz), and features a back-illuminated 1-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor capable of capturing 20 megapixel stills and 3840 x 2160 resolution videos. It records the latter in a consumer version of the XAVC codec, which wraps MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video and Linear PCM audio in an MP4 skin. Dual video recording simultaneously captures footage in XAVC S (or AVCHD) and MP4 HD formats, allowing users more choice on where to play or store the output.
The sensor works alongside the zippy BIONZ X image processor to deliver claimed vivid, lifelike movie footage with what's described as area-specific noise reduction and detail reproduction technology. Users can create a warm, rich texture to recordings with the help of the unit's Cinematone Gamma/Color function, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization can help to capture handheld memories without the blur. The Handycam is capable of recording full resolution videos at 24 or 30 frames per second, and has 120 frames per second slow motion capabilities.
The AX100 sports a new Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* F2.8-F4.5 lens with 17 elements in 11 groups, including advanced aspherical and extra-low dispersion elements, and offers 12x optical zoom, with the UHD resolution zoom getting ramped up to 18x via Clear Image Zoom. The seven-bladed lens aperture helps produce bokeh defocusing effect, and a lens ring offers control of focus or zoom.
Videographers can select from four filter settings to control how much light gets through the lens, there's a dial at the side which can be assigned useful functions, and the NightShot infrared mode could be just what you need while filming ghost-hunting escapades. There's also an intriguing feature called My Voice Canceling that reduces vocals from behind the camera without touching the subject's voice.
Framing up the action can be undertaken with the 0.39-inch OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder, which includes a new optical design that promises crisp edge-to-edge visibility, or the 3.5-inch WhiteMagic LCD touch panel at 921K resolution to the left (that can be opened to 90 degrees and has a turning angle of 270 degrees).
Built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi allows for wireless connection with iOS or Android smartphones for remote operation and content playback via Sony's free PlayMemories Mobile app or cable-free playback on a networked TV (though the XAVC S format does not support the latter), though the included HDMI cable can provide a wired bridge between 4K TV and the AX100. NFC caters for tap-to-touch connection to Android devices.
The Sony FDR-AX100 is up for pre-order now at US$1,999.99, with shipping expected to start in March.
Sony's SGNL team walk through the main features in the video below.
Product page: 4K Handycam