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Sony Announces Three 4K HDR Camcorders

Sony leads the 4K market and bolsters its position with the introduction of the NXCAM HXR-NX80, XDCAM PXW-Z90 and Handycam FDR-AX700, its first camcorders with Phase Detection AF
video camcorders

In the electronic news-gathering cycle, the journalism video space, lots of people use their still cameras, and that’s why they’ve remained popular. But there’s still a need for camcorders with additional full-fledged video features for multi-camera setups and producing HDR. Those features give photographers and videographers a better range, while still keeping the bodies compact with a 1-inch sensor—Sony’s enhanced BIONZ X with front-end LSI.

The main advantages are picture profiles (S-Log2 and S-Log3), HDR workflow and a sub-$3,000 price point. After the RX10 Mark IV launch in New York this week, Sony also showed us their first camcorders featuring a phase-detection AF sensor with fast AF performance, excellent image quality and professional-style functions.

video camcorders

The new Handycam FDR-AX700, NXCAM HXR-NX80 and XDCAM PXW-Z90 all film in 4K with the same tech as the alpha series of cameras. The first of the three-camcoder lineup, the AX700, ships in October for $1,899, while the NX80 and Z90 ship in December, costing $2,299 and $2,799, respectively. All offer wide 273-point autofocus, faster, improved tracking and detailed AF settings with a touch screen for smooth transitions. 

The NX80 and Z90 connect to Sony’s CBM app and stream at 5G or to the cloud with another app, XDCam air. The simple live solution was the most intriguing aspect of this launch because, for under $10K, you can purchase two cameras that will fit in a Pelican carry-on and then live-broadcast via YouTube or Facebook with Tally. A red PGM and green NEXT indicate on the screen who’s live using the MCX-500 switcher and the RM-30BP remote control.

Palm-sized cameras with Tally sure seems like a feature YouTubers want. In a very busy day with Sony, I spent some time with the Z90 at a jazz club and will share my hands-on take with you once it’s edited.

video camcorders
Shooting at a NYC jazz club with the new Sony XDCAM PXW-Z90. Look for an upcoming hands-on review.

Learn more at

The press release is below. And, don’t miss Canon’s compact UHD cameras, also announced this week.

Sony Unveils First Camcorders with Phase-detection AF

by Sony Pro Team 09/15/2017

New 4K HDR Palm-style Models Combine Fast Hybrid AF, 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS image sensor, Creative Features and Multi-cam System Capabilities

Sony’s newest camcorders are its first to feature phase detection Auto Focus (AF), and expand its line of 4K and HDR-capable tools for shooting applications ranging from video enthusiasts to corporate and events to broadcast news and TV production.

The three new palm-style models are the XDCAM PXW-Z90, the NXCAM HXR-NX80 and the Handycam FDR-AX700. The camcorders’ Fast Hybrid AF system ensures highly accurate focusing and tracking — especially useful during 4K shooting — delivered by 273 phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 84% of the shooting area, high-density placement of autofocus points and a newly developed AF algorithm. In movie recording mode, the appearance of phase-detection AF frames indicates the focused area and easily allows users to monitor a subject that is in focus.

Each camcorder combines fast and reliable AF adapted for video shooting with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor. The new camcorders support 4K HDR recording with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) offering an Instant HDR workflow to produce high-quality HDR content smoothly. The Instant HDR Workflow enables simple shooting, editing and viewing of HDR content in HLG, without the need for color grading during post production.

The new camcorders feature a high-resolution OLED viewfinder (0.39-type OLED, 2,359k dots) and advanced touch screen operation, on the 3.5-type large LCD screen (1,555k dots), to allow users to quickly switch focus from one subject to another, while the AF Drive Speed, Tracking Depth Range and Subject Switching Sensitivity can all be configured as required for different subjects and content styles.

Simple, multi-camera live production

The PXW-Z90, HXR-NX80 and FDR-AX700 camcorders all work seamlessly with Sony’s MCX-500 live producer, a compact, cost-effective switcher that makes it easy for one operator to run a multi-camera live event. With the switcher and Sony’s RM-30BP controller, a Tally icon appears on each camera’s LCD panel and viewfinder. A red icon indicates when the shot is live (PGM) while Green indicates preview mode (NEXT).

The MCX-500 supports mixing between eight video sources, four stereo embedded audio channels plus two XLR Inputs, and a dedicated Title Input, up to nine video inputs, and five stereo inputs including XLR. Internal recording and live streaming is also possible via Ustream, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Users can also synchronize timecode among multiple camcorders using Sony’s free Content Browser Mobile 3.0 app with optional CBKZ-WTCL upgrade and devices running iOS® (9.0 – 10.3) or Android® (4.4 – 7.1) operating systems.

Versatile Shooting Capabilities

The new camcorders enable the following key technology and features to support versatile shooting, including:

  • 4K full-pixel readout without pixel binning using an enhanced BIONZ X™ image processing engine
  • Super Slow Motion recording up to 960fps, which is industry leading among palm categories and Slow & Quick Motion Full HD recording up to 120fps
  • S-Log3/S-Gamut3 capabilities for users to create and work with images as they desire.
  • 29mm wide-angle ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 12x optical zoom lens and 18x Clear Image Zoom
  • Less image distortion (rolling shutter phenomenon), in comparison to conventional models, when shooting moving subjects in motion

Workflow efficiency benefits such as proxy recording, relay recording and simultaneous backup recording are also delivered thanks to the new camcorders’ dual memory card slots and multi-camera operation capabilities supported by TC (time code)/UB (user bit).  The new camcorders also have REMOTE terminals, Multi-Interface Shoe™, and HDMI Type A for enhanced operability.

The new models also feature dual XLR audio input, a detachable handle, and access to Content Browser Mobile a supporting smartphone application to enable Wi-Fi® monitoring, Camcorder remote control and wireless timecode sync between multiple cameras.

The PXW-Z90 also includes several features to suit broadcast-specific production requirements: XAVC L format recording, which provides high-quality images at 4:2:2 10 bit (HD) and 4:2:0 8 bit (QFHD) in addition to conventional broadcasting MPEG2HD format recording; 3G SDI connectivity for compatibility with existing broadcasting equipment; and networking functions to support news reporting, such as compatibility with XDCAM® air, Sony’s cloud-based ENG subscription service. The HXR-NX80 and FDR-AX700 adopt XAVC S, an extended format of XAVC for consumer use.

The following is planned availability and suggested list pricing for the new models:

·         FDR-AX700 – October 2017, $1,899 USD

·         HXR-NX80 – December 2017, $2,299 USD

·         PXW-Z90 – December 2017, $2,799 USD

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