How does $1,399 for a pair of binoculars sound? When they also shoot 1080p HD video and 7.1 megapixel stills -- perhaps slightly less ridiculous. Sony's launching a new category of high-end binoculars with its new DEV-3 and DEV-5, which offer camera-like features and are priced at $1,399 and $1,999, respectively. Each pair includes two Exmor R CMOS sensors for native 3D video capture, dual f/1.8-3.4, 0.5-10x optical zoom lenses, and a pair of 1,227-dot viewfinders. While the pricier model adds a 10x digital zoom, GPS, and accessories like a carrying case and neck strap, those features don't really justify a $600 jump in price -- if you can live without GPS, it probably makes sense to skip the DEV-5. There's also Memory Stick Pro Duo and SDXC support, stereo microphones with an audio input jack, and HDMI out. Coined as the world's first binoculars with HD video recording, we wouldn't expect there to be a terribly huge market for these pricey specs at launch, but if you've been looking for a way to record while bird watching, catching close-ups of the action at a game, or whatever it is you look at through your apartment window, then look for these to hit stores in November.
Sony DEV-3 and DEV-5 HD binoculars
Share the Thrill of Discovery, Easy-to-Find, Never Lose the Subject; New Models Enable 2D and 3D Image Capture/Playback with Stunning Resolution, High-performance Features
SAN DIEGO, Aug. 19, 2011 – Life's "can't miss" moments are now easier to observe and capture with the world's first digital binoculars to record in AVCHD™ 2.0 format, from Sony. The new models, DEV-3 and DEV-5, are ideal for nature/bird watching, they can record Full HD video with stereo sound at the touch of a button, and even add a 3D mode that records scenes as thrilling stereoscopic video footage for playback on most 3D HDTVs.
"Now consumers can watch birds, wildlife, sports action and more in steady, sharply-focused close-up views, while capturing their subjects in crisp Full HD," said Andy Bubala, director of the camcorder business at Sony Electronics. "These new models add entirely new levels of flexibility and convenience to viewing, recording and enjoying your favorite images and scenes."
Users can select the variable zoom on both models to scan a wide area at low magnification before zooming in seamlessly to pinpoint a subject, such as birds in a field. Turning on the digital zoom at magnification settings over 10x boosts the DEV-5 model's total magnification range from 0.9x up to 20x digital (image quality is reduced when digital zoom is on and recording 2D video at magnifications higher than 10x), rivalling many high-powered conventional binoculars. The DEV-3 model pulls wildlife, sporting subjects and architectural details closer with a maximum magnification of 10x optical. In 3D mode, the binoculars' maximum magnification is 5.4x optical.
Unlike traditional binoculars, electronic autofocus keeps moving subjects sharply in focus at all times. A comfortably positioned dial allows fingertip adjustment of manual focus – ideal for focusing selectively on a subject, rather than overhanging branches or other obstructions in the field of view.
Electronic autofocus allows both binoculars to focus cleanly on subjects less than half an inch away when recording in 2D (minimum of 32 inches when recording in 3D).
Separate images for left and right eyes are captured by a matched pair of precision G Lens optics by Sony with "Exmor R" CMOS sensors and powerful BIONZ® processors. Independent electronic viewfinders provide clear, detailed images for left and right eyes, offering a stereoscopic viewing experience that's comfortable, natural and highly immersive.
The DEV-3 and DEV-5 digital binoculars feature Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization (Active mode), the optical stabilization system that's found on Sony Handycam® camcorders and Cyber-shot® cameras. Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization helps keep images clear and stable, even when viewing at high magnifications. The binoculars can be connected via HDMI® to a Sony BRAVIA® HDTV or any HD television with HDMI input for viewing images (cable sold separately). 3D videos can be enjoyed on virtually any 3D-compatible TV, including Sony BRAVIA® models. There's also a USB connection for transferring video clips to a PC for storing, editing and sharing.
The binoculars feature a "stealth" design that eliminates distracting buttons or external details that could reveal a user's position to wildlife.
Both binoculars feature an ergonomic grip area that's coated with an elastomer material for sure handling and stable operation. Top-mounted controls allow easy operation with gloved fingers, while dual buttons are provided to start recording instantly with either hand.
The DEV-5 model includes an on-board GPS receiver that automatically geo-tags video clips and photos. Tagged images can be viewed after shooting in online maps (requires compatible software).
Both binocular models come with a high-capacity rechargeable battery pack (NP-FV70) that allows up to approximately three hours of 2D recording on a single charge. Remaining battery time (minutes) is displayed in the electronic viewfinder.
The DEV-3 and DEV-5 models also include a battery charger/adaptor, A/V connecting cable and USB cable for PC connection. In addition, the DEV-5 binoculars are supplied with lens cover, finder cap, large eye cups, a carrying case and neck strap.
The new DEV-3 and DEV-5 digital recordable binoculars from Sony will be available in November 2011 for about $1400 and $2000, respectively, at http://store.sony.com, Sony retail stores and other authorized retailers nationwide. For images and information, please visit www.sony.com/news.