IBC 2017: Sony unveils first camcorders with phase-detection AF
Sony’s (Stand 13.A10) newest camcorders are its first to feature phase-detection Auto Focus (AF) and expand its line of 4K and HDR-capable tools for shooting applications ranging from video enthusiasts to corporate and events to broadcast news and TV production.
The three new palm-style models are the XDCAM PXW-Z90, the NXCAM HXR-NX80, and the Handycam FDR-AX700. The camcorders’ Fast Hybrid AF system ensures highly accurate focusing and tracking -— especially useful during 4K shooting — delivered by 273 phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 84% of the shooting area, high-density placement of autofocus points, and a newly developed AF algorithm. In movie-recording mode, the appearance of phase-detection AF frames indicates the focused area and easily allows users to monitor a subject that is in focus.
Each camcorder combines fast and reliable AF adapted for video shooting with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor. The new camcorders support 4K HDR recording with hybrid log-gamma (HLG) offering an Instant HDR workflow to produce high-quality HDR content smoothly. The Instant HDR Workflow enables simple shooting, editing, and viewing of HDR content in HLG, without the need for color grading during postproduction.
The new camcorders feature a high-resolution OLED viewfinder (0.39-type OLED, 2,359k dots) and advanced touchscreen operation, on the 3.5-type large LCD screen (1,555k dots), to allow users to quickly switch focus from one subject to another. AF Drive Speed, Tracking Depth Range, and Subject Switching Sensitivity can all be configured as required for different subjects and content styles.
Simple multicamera live production
The PXW-Z90, HXR-NX80, and FDR-AX700 camcorders all work seamlessly with Sony’s MCX-500 Live Producer, a compact, cost-effective switcher that makes it easy for one operator to run a multicamera live production. With the switcher and Sony’s RM-30BP controller, a tally icon appears on each camera’s LCD panel and viewfinder. A red icon indicates when the shot is live (PGM); green indicates preview mode (NEXT).
The MCX-500 supports mixing between eight video sources, four stereo embedded audio channels plus two XLR inputs, and a dedicated Title Input, up to nine video inputs, and five stereo inputs including XLR. Internal recording and live streaming are also possible via Ustream, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live.
Users can synchronize timecode among multiple camcorders, using Sony’s free Content Browser Mobile 3.0 app with optional CBKZ-WTCL upgrade and devices running iOS (9.0-10.3) or Android (4.4-7.1) operating systems.
Versatile shooting capabilities
The new camcorders enable the following key technology and features to support versatile shooting:
- 4K full-pixel readout without pixel binning, using an enhanced BIONZ X image-processing engine
- Super-slow-motion recording up to 960 fps, which is industry leading among palm categories and Slow & Quick Motion Full HD recording up to 120 fps
- S-Log3/S-Gamut3 capabilities for users to create and work with images as they desire
- 29mm wide-angle ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T 12X optical zoom lens and 18X Clear Image Zoom
- Less image distortion (rolling-shutter phenomenon) than in conventional models when shooting moving subjects in motion
Workflow efficiency benefits — proxy recording, relay recording, simultaneous backup recording — are also delivered, thanks to the new camcorders’ dual-memory-card slots and multicamera-operation capabilities supported by TC (time code)/UB (user bit). The new camcorders also have REMOTE terminals, Multi-Interface Shoe, and HDMI Type A for enhanced operability.
The new models also feature dual XLR audio input, a detachable handle, and access to Content Browser Mobile, a SUPPORTING smartphone application to enable Wi-Fi monitoring, camcorder remote control, and wireless timecode sync between multiple cameras.
The PXW-Z90 also offers several features to suit broadcast-specific production requirements: XAVC L format recording, which provides high-quality images at 4:2:2 10-bit (HD) and 4:2:0 8-bit (QFHD) in addition to conventional broadcasting MPEG-2 HD format recording; 3G-SDI connectivity for compatibility with existing broadcasting equipment; and networking functions to support news reporting, such as compatibility with XDCAM air, Sony’s cloud-based ENG subscription service. The HXR-NX80 and FDR-AX700 adopt XAVC S, an extended format of XAVC for consumer use.
The following availability and suggested pricing are planned for the new models: FDR-AX700 – October, US$1,899; HXR-NX80 – December, US$2,299 USD, PXW-Z90 – December 2017, $2,799 USD.