New Sony Camcorders Make 4K Affordable [Hands on]

The oft-repeated problem with 4k TVs, up until now, was that there was a decided lack of actual 4k content to make owning those 4k TVs worth the exorbitant cost. Well, at CES this year, Sony has a solution – you can make your own 4k content!

Sony is showing off the 4k Handycam FDR-AX100, a high-powered camcorder capable of taking 4k video in as fast as 24P or 30P. It does this by way of a 14.2 MP 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS sensor, Sony’s top-line BIONZ X image processor, and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens. That last one is a 29mm wide-angle lens with 12x optical zoom, with 24x HD and 18x 4k Clear Image zoom – a digital zoom that isn’t as muddy as the usual digital zoom. 4k recording is done in the XAVC S format, which saves 4k content in a format that is readable by most mainstream media players. Files are simultaneously saved in AVCHD format if you use Dual Video Recording – good if you’re planning on burning the content to a Blu-ray disc later.

There are tons of little extra features you’ll be able to play with thanks to the power of the AX-100. The optics make bokeh effects possible, which defocus the background. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization prevents blurry video even while you’re shooting on the move, while My Voice Cancelling silences sound coming from the person behind the camcorder, without affecting the audio from the action. You can also adjust aperture and shutter speed settings to achieve different effects in both well-lit and low-light conditions.

Up top, there’s a shoe for external peripherals like lighting or a microphone and a .39” OLED electronic viewfinder. Below that, you”ll see a 3.5” LCD display, where you can review video and stills. There’s also NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, and the AX-100 works with Sony’s PlayMemories app, which connects the camcorder to a smartphone. Using the app, you can also use a smartphone to control the camcorder. You can also use a Wi-Fi connection to stream video to a DLNA-certified television wirelessly. There’s an HDMI port on the AX-100, and any 4k content you take can be converted down into 1080p playback automatically.

The AX100 will be coming in March at $2,000.