Saturday 7 September 2013

New Sony FDR- AX1 Announced

While the IBC show video opens in Amsterdam; Sony has announced a new camera FDR- AX1, which will be available in late October. This is the first mainstream 4K camera from Sony; it can shoot images with a resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels (QFHD). The design of the FDR- AX1 is not new: it is similar to that of the Sony HDR- AX200. It is equipped with a "home" CMOS sensor Exmor R “back-lit” 1/2, 3 inch 12MP, including 8.3 effective. Its goal G Lens 29.5 to 590 mm (20x, f / 1.63 to 3.4) is stabilized and has 3 ND filters. 3 rings to make settings for zoom, focus and iris and are independent to each other. In addition to a microphone, the FDR- AX1 has two audio connectors XLR professional format. 4K videos are saved on expensive XQD cards, a recent XQD format provides efficient transfer rate and was previously used by the Nikon D4. The FDR- AX1 has two locations in this format. Sony want to sell like hotcakes its 4K screens , rather aggressively positioned in terms of quality and price against their Chinese and Korean competitors , it must justify its use until the 4K TV broadcasts becoming widespread.

 All Sony ecosystems are called upon to promote 4K, as there was little 3D, from cloud services PlayMemories until the PS4. Some choices Sony for its FDR- AX1 are sometimes a bit surprising for a camera that still costs 4 € 499.01. For example it uses the codec XAVC S placed in a MPEG4- AVC / H.264 container. It is a variant of the more compressed the XAVC/H264 Level version 5.2 codec. More bad news for users who want to go further than holiday movies on YouTube, the colors are sampled 4:2:0. Without going to a 4:4:4 coding or even RAW images, 4:2:2 would have left a significant latitude for color correction, calibration, clipping paths and masks, and other special effects and overlays on " green funds".

The FDR- AX1 is equipped with a single sensor of small size. In the same price range or less, many Full HD models competing not only have 3 sensors, and their size is larger. They record their video with 4:2:2 colors sampling, better than 4:2:0 solution. Sony seems to recommend a minimum of 4 lux for 4K images is more light than most HD cameras require ( the AX200 , very close to the AX1 requires only 1.5 Lux) and that the risk of require users to frequently use other extra light source. Sony has announced an update to make it compatible with the latest HDMI version 2.0 HDMI. The HDMI 2.0 will see a 4K video on a TV at 60 frames / s with a single HDMI cable. In addition, this update adds compatibility with the AVCHD codec and will also use SD cards for 1080p video.

The FDR- AX1 seems quite clear heat, after initial tests published on the Net. The XQD cards would be hot when removed from the camera. Similarly, AX1 which manages large data flows, processes and compresses, heat up quickly despite the internal fan which it is equipped. This also may be a concern for the sound by the internal microphone of the camera emits noise. This should not pose any problems to professional users, resorting instead to external microphones for their shots, but for the general public or semi pro users, high heat and fan trying to remedy it may hinder the sound made with the built-in microphone on the camera.

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