Review: Sony PXW-Z100 4K camcorder

4K camcorders

Connections, power and media

Rear view of the PXW-Z100
The rear view of the PXW-Z100 shows the connections and card slots.

But there are some other design decisions, which will be either positive or negative, depending on a production company or channel’s workflow and other equipment.

The PXW-Z100, for example, uses Sony NPF series batteries. These were used on the Z1, are used on the FS-100 and FS-700 and NX5, and are used on dozens of accessories, from external video recorders to lights. On the other hand, they are not the same as Sony’s powering options for its XDCAM cameras (the BP-U battery), so a production running both won’t be able to swap power units or adapters.

For recording, the Z100 uses XQD cards. This is a relatively new format and the cards – especially the high-speed ones needed for 4K filming – are still relatively expensive. Again, these are not the same cards as Sony’s SxS system deployed in its XDCAM camcorders, from the PMW-100 up to the ENG-focused PMW-500. Producers can use XQD cards in XDCAM camcorders via adapters, but not the other way round.

The PXW-Z100 is meant to have the option to record on to SD cards (or Memory Sticks), as a “backup”, in the lower-quality AVCHD format, as well as an option Long GOP recording in 4K. This, though, requires a firmware update that was not installed on our review model, and it is not clear when Sony plans to release the update.

It should, though, be a useful option for anyone who is also filming on an SD-card based FS-700 or NX5, and goes some way to offset the cost of XQD media.

One slight niggle on setting the camera up, though, for a multi-camera shoot, is Sony’s choice of connections. Following the design lead of its NX-series cameras, connections such as timecode are on phonos, rather than the more common BNC or XLRs.

The choice of a non-locking connection on a pro-spec camcorder is a strange one, and it hindered our testing of timecode sync of the PXW-Z100 alongside the PMW-200, on a multi-camera shoot in the field. Of course, adapters are cheap, but it is something else to add to the kit bag.

It is worth noting, though, that the PXW-Z100 has a built in WiFi connection, which can also be used to set up and control the camera.

Next: Lens, sensor and recording formats