CES 2014: Sony releases FDR-AX100 $2000, 4K Handycam

Sony FDR-AX100E
Handheld 4K: the Sony FDR-AX100E. Picture: Sony.
CES 2014: Sony has released its first 4K palm-sized camcorder, and the first fully-featured 4K camcorder to sell for under US$2000.

The new camcorder, the Sony FDR-AX100, will weigh just 915g with its battery fitted and is, Sony say, a quarter of the size of its previous, smallest 4K camcorder.

The Sony FDR-AX100 is based around a single, 1-inch backlight illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and a 12x Zeiss lens, with optical stabilization. This delivers video at up to Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160, via XAVC S recording), at up to 30fps.

The camcorder also features a range of HD recording modes, including 60p, and an overcrank mode that delivers up to 120fps at 720p, for slow-motion effects.

As well as XAVC S for 4K, on SD or Memory Stick cards, the camera supports AVCHD2.0 and MP4 recording in conventional, HD formats.

The camcorder features both an LCD screen and an OLED optical viewfinder, as well as HDMI out, and built-in WiFi, as well as NFC (near-field communications) for compatible smartphones.

The camera also features pro-style controls, including a multi-function dial, similar to that on Sony’s smaller professional camcorders such as the PMW-100, which can be used to control the aperture, and a wide focus ring.

Unusually for a consumer camcorder, the FDR-AX100 features built-in neutral density (ND) filters at 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64 to control light. The camcorder’s sensor is also larger than on even many professional models, giving, Sony says, greater low-light sensitivity and more creative control over the background image. The camcorder kit includes a lens hood, as well as an IR remote control.

The camcorder is likely to appeal to producers and directors looking for a low-cost way to test out 4K, as well as video journalists and film makers looking for a small and unobtrusive camera with a larger than standard sensor.

The FDR-AX100 is available for pre-order in the USA, at a price of $1999, and will go on sale in Europe in May.

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