The PXW-Z100 is a solid, and capable camera, built to Sony’s usual high standards. It is also one that will be instantly familiar to anyone who uses Sony’s other camcorders.
For a professional, 4K camera system, it is also fairly priced at around £4000, given that other 4K cameras will need adapters, recorders or, at the very least, lenses to bring them up to the PXW-Z100’s specifications. The Sony also has the advantage of being readily available.
The challenge facing Sony is how the market for 4K cameras has developed, since the first prototype PXW-Z100s were shown just over a year ago. Since then, Panasonic has launched the GH4, which in many ways makes more sense as a first step into 4K, especially given that a basic camera and lens combination comes in at around £1500, or $2000.
Panasonic also offers the HC-X1000, which has a similar technical specification to the PXW-Z100, albeit without the advantages of XAVC and cine 4K, and a significantly lower price tag of around £2300.
But the toughest competition of all is likely to come from Sony itself, and especially the FS-7. This is now shipping, with QFHD recording built in, and will be updated to support cine 4K in the new year. At just over £5000, or £6500 with lens, the FS-7 is more expensive than the PXW-Z100, but creatively and technically, it is a far more advanced camera.
Anyone aiming to shoot 4K for archival and future proofing, rather to crop down to HD, would be well advised to consider the FS-7, purely because of its larger sensor.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, capable though the PXW-Z100 is, it has been overtaken by events. If Sony could bring forward the promised Long GOP and AVCHD upgrade it would become a more versatile camera, and a better long-term purchase overall.