updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed September 10, 2008
Sony FX1000 and Z5U
In an unusual move, Sony this morning announced a pair of full-size HD video cameras that includes a model specifically built for home users truly serious about making videos. The Handycam HDR-FX1000 is built like a professional's camera with a separate microphone boom and manual controls normally left off of camcorders, including the iris opening, gain and white balance; it brings the price down chiefly by trimming features unlikely to be used at home, such as XLR mic inputs and DVCAM support.
The FX1000 is also Sony's first Handycam to natively support 4:3 1080p video and will capture its progressive-scan HDV footage either at the usual 30 frames per second suited to TV or the 24 frames per second used for most movies. Pulldown conversion to 1080i is also present for home video editing tools that don't normally recognize the higher resolutions. Video quality should also be better than most compact cameras through a CMOS sensor with dual DAC and noise reduction that produces usable footage in light as dark as 1.5 lux.
Sony uses miniDV tapes for storage and i.Link (four-pin FireWire) for transferring video from the FX1000, which will sell for a comparatively low-cost $3,200 when it goes on sale in November. Pre-orders start on October 10th.
More clearly targeted at professionals, the HVR-Z5U has all the features of the FX1000 but adds features considered necessary for a small-scale movie crew, reporters and similar teams. This includes two XLR inputs for microphones as well as DVCAM and timecode support; an optional HVR-MRC1K back adds CompactFlash support and lets the videographer either extend recording time to the flash medium or record simultaneously and in sync as a backup.
The Z5U ships last of all the announcements and appears in December for $4,950; the MR1CK arrives in October for $940 and will already work with Sony's higher-end Z7U and S270U.