Sony launches PXW-X70 palm-sized XDCAM camcorder

Pro camcorders

Sony PXW-X70
4K ready: the new Sony FDR-AX100. Image: Sony

Sony has announced its smallest, professional XDCAM camcorder, the PXW-X70.

The new camera is based around a single 1.0-inch chip and a 12x Carl Zeiss zoom lens. The new camcorder also complies with broadcast recording specifications, as it can capture footage at 50mpbs and 4:2:2 colour. The PXW-X70’s pro credentials are further boosted by an HD-SDI output, as well as XLR inputs for audio.

The new camcorder is based on the chassis used for the consumer CX900, reviewed here, and the 4K FDR-AX100. Although the PXW-X70 is an HD-only camcorder for now, Sony says it will offer a 4K upgrade in the future.

The sensor in the new camcorder positions it above single-chip “conventional” camcorders such as the Sony PMW-100 and the Canon XF105, in terms of low-light performance and depth of field control.

Pro settings

According to Sony, the 1-inch chip is larger than 16mm film, so the PXW-X70 should also outperform cameras such as the Digital Bolex, and the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera. However, the zoom lens on the PXW-X70 is relatively slow, at f2.8 at the wide end and narrowing to f4 at the telephoto end. For some shots, this could make it harder to achieve a shallow depth of field than with the ultra-wide aperture lenses available for the Pocket Cinema Camera.

Sony has, though, equipped the camera with a physical zoom/focus ring on the lens, as well as an aperture control ring. Audio inputs and levels are via a top handle, which detaches, making the PXW-X70 a small and unobtrusive option for a range of documentary and news filming tasks. In keeping with its consumer siblings, the PXW-X70 retains a separate viewfinder as well as flip out LCD.

The camera’s built in controls are supplemented by the ability to use a smartphone or tablet app to operate the PXW-X70; it will also pair automatically with a phone or tablet equipped with near-field communication (NFC). Users of the camera can transfer MP4 footage directly to their tablets.

The main benefits for professional users, though, lie in the PXW-X70’s range of recording formats. Other palm-sized camcorders from Sony have only offered consumer-grade AVCHD recording.

The PXW-X70 also offers AVCHD, but adds to this with XAVC recording. This gives the camera a 10-bit, 4:2:2 recording capability at 50mbps, 35mbps or 25mbps. The camera can also record in file-based DV format, for standard definition work. The PXW-X70 records to SD cards, rather than to XQD or XDCAM EX media, however.

Sony says it will also offer a 4K upgrade to the PXW-X70 in the future, bringing its recording capabilities in line with the FDR-AX100. As yet, the company has not revealed the price or release date for the upgrade. However, the basic model will go on sale in September, for around £1900.