Hands on preview: Sony’s PXW-Z100 4K camcorder

4K cameras

4K, for more options?

But that is not the only reason to opt for a camera such as the PXW-Z100. There is 4K’s higher framerates (50fps) and better colour space; the PXW-Z100 has 4:4:2 colour sampling at 10 bit. This allows for two applications for the PXW-Z100 now: the ability to record 4K images, for archiving for future use, and to allow recomposing of the shot in post. Already, 4K is being used in fields such as natural history, where footage has a fairly long editorial shelf life. Certainly, the PXW-Z100’s images look impressive on a large, Ultra HD screen.

Sony PXW-Z100 being put through its paces
Close up 4K: the Sony PXW-Z100 being put through its paces. Picture courtesy of Visual Impact

The main downsides to this camera, aside from the lack of current viewing options for 4K, is its low-light performance and sensor side. The sensor is 1/2.33 inch, slightly smaller than the sensor on the PMW-200. It is also a single plane design, against the three in the PMW-200 and PMW-300. Recording is also to XAVC, a relatively new format. There is no raw option.

This does place the camera in a different category to, say, the modular FS-700. The Super35mm FS-700 will produce a better image, all things being equal, than a camcorder such as the PXW-Z100. But the FS-700 does not produce 4K out of the box. Sony’s suggestion is that the PXW-Z100 is a way for production companies to test out 4K. Seen in that light, the camera seems well-positioned, for assignments that don’t depend on low-light filming or need the creative options of Super35mm.

  • We hope to bring a full review of the PXW-Z100, when sample units are available. Meanwhile, Sony has published some sample footage from the camera, below: