DNP Sony's $4,500 FDRAX1 Handycam puts 4K recording in prosumers' grasps

We assure you, the camera above is not Sony's HDR-AX200. While it shares a similar body, this is the new FDR-AX1 that leaked this morning -- a fixed lens 4K videocamera for prosumers, priced at a cool $4,500. Although JVC beat Sony to the market with its $5,000 kit, Sony's vying to have the upper hand with the tech inside its take, namely by using its XAVC S format. It works by capturing video in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Long GOP and audio in linear PCM, which all gets saved in an "MP4 wrapper." To handle the massive amount of data throughput from its 4k/60p stream, the camcorder records to QXD cards (two slots are onboard) which, until now, haven't had much use outside of Nikon's D4. A 64GB card will net you two hours of 4K video, while downscaling to 1080/60p adds an extra hour on top of that.

Video gets captured by a 1/2.3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor and a 20x optical zoom (31.5-630mm) G lens, which comes equipped with a trio of ND filters and Optical SteadyShot. As you'd expect, there are a plethora of manual controls, powered stereo XLR inputs, a 3.2-inch display and a viewfinder on back. It's worth noting that while the AX1 won't be HDMI 2.0 compliant at first, Sony's planning a firmware update down the line to enable it. Until that occurs, it'll only be able to transfer HDMI video over to Sony's existing 4K TVs. We're also told that the camcorder will work with SD cards for shooting in HD.

If you don't care for the flexibility of interchangeable lenses or need something more affordable than the likes of a RED Scarlet, the FDR-AX1 can be yours this October. Sweetening the deal just a little more, Sony will also throw in a 32GB XQD card and a full copy of Vegas Pro 12 to ensure you can get started out of the box. Check out our eyes-on gallery with the prototype seen above in the meantime.

Sony FDR-AX1 4K Handycam (eyes-on)

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Sony Handycam FDR-AX1 4K camcorder (press images)

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SONY ADDS MUCH-ANTICIPATED 4K CONSUMER CAMCORDER TO ITS HANDYCAM® PORTFOLIO
New 4K Video Camera Allows Creative Expression in Four Times the Resolution of Full HD

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 4, 2013 – Today Sony Electronics unveiled its first 4K consumer camcorder - the new FDR-AX1 4K Handycam. Now video enthusiasts can capture 4K content for expressive, powerful imaging with incomparable levels of clarity and exquisite color in every scene.
"Introducing a consumer level 4K camcorder offers budding filmmakers cutting-edge technology and imaging quality from Sony they haven't been able to experience until now," said Hidenori Toyoda, director of the camcorder business at Sony Electronics. "The FDR-AX1 camcorder is an exciting addition to our 4K ecosystem as we're bringing personal content creation to the masses, dramatically expanding Ultra HD viewing."

BRILLIANCE, TIMES FOUR
The FDR-AX1 camcorder records 4K and HD movies in the XAVC S format, which uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Long GOP for video and Linear PCM for audio compression, while saving files in an MP4 wrapper. The XAVC S format allows longer recording times, storing almost two hours of 4K video on a 64GB XQD memory card, making 4K recording easier and more convenient. Switching to Full HD recording can store almost 3 hours of 1920x1080 60p footage on a single card.

Sony's FDR-AX1 camcorder features a 4K image sensor that is essential to the stunning image quality it can achieve. The 1/2.3-type Exmor R® CMOS sensor captures true 4K resolution (3840x2160) images, containing four times the picture detail of Full HD, and has the output speed required by the massive 4K 60 fps data stream. An extraordinary image processor, identical to those found in professional 4K camcorders, rapidly processes signals transmitted from the CMOS sensor and finalizes images in real time at 60p.

Pristine imagery is also assured by Sony's quality G Lens™ which redefines what an aspheric lens and special low-dispersion glass combination can reproduce. The G Lens is specially tuned to capture qualities of definition and color that put this ground-breaking Handycam® camcorder in a class of its own. In addition, the lens offers a broad zooming range from wide-angle to 20x optical (31.5-630mm 35mm equivalent) while Optical SteadyShot keeps footage crisp and stable, even at telephoto mode.

CREATIVE CONTROL & ERGONOMICS
The FDR-AX1 camcorder can achieve beautiful, film-like results with three ND filters for adjusting the amount of light entering the image sensor from the lens. Four filter settings - Off (Clear), ¼ filter, 1/16 filter and 1/64 filter - give users the ability to modify light conditions, while maintaining desired shutter angle and aperture even on bright sunny days. Five paint functions (white balance, gamma, detail, skin detail and matrix) can be combined and altered to create expressive movie styling and cinematic looks.

Matching its impressive 4K picture quality, the camcorder features two external pro-style XLR connectors to complement its high-performance internal microphone for premium sound. These XLR jacks allow the addition of stereo microphones to capture balanced audio synchronized to the video for clearer ambient sounds and dialogue, which can be mixed with recordings made using the internal mic.

For ease of use during filming, the FDR-AX1 camcorder was designed with two strategically placed start/stop buttons and a zoom lever on the handle for convenient access from low angles. While dedicated controls are also provided for auto/manual focus, seven custom buttons can be reassigned to a user's preferred function. Assigned functions for adjustments on the fly include Marker, Zebra, Peaking, Focus Magnifier, Auto Exposure Level, Steadyshot, Color Bars, and Rec Lamp.

AMPLE STORAGE
The FDR-AX1camcorder uses an XQD memory card for smooth, high-speed reading and writing of 4K video and features two XQD media slots. As seen on Sony professional camcorders, relay shooting seamlessly switches recording between two media cards so there's no need to worry about running out of storage mid-scene. Videomakers can even 'hot swap' cards, removing a full card from one of the camcorder's two slots and slipping in fresh storage while shooting continues uninterrupted.

ULTIMATE VIEWING EXPERIENCE
Playing back 4K content captured on the FDR-AX1 camcorder is simple - just connect the camcorder to a compatible 4K TV with the single HDMI cable. Sony BRAVIA® TVs especially bring out the full quality of 4K/60p recordings, with TRILUMINOS Display™ to deliver an even more vibrant palette of rich colors that are closer than ever to real life. For those without a 4K TV, the FDR-AX1 camcorder can output 1920x1080 images to a Full HD TV, by simply changing the output settings on the camcorder.
And a growing choice of 4K-capable editing software packages makes it easy to "trim" HD images from original footage with huge amounts of picture detail.

HDMI 2.0 INDUSTRY STANDARD
Sony is prepared to support the HDMI 2.0 specification on its 4K Handycam camcorder with an easy firmware update to be available over the Internet. Just released by the HDMI Forum, the HDMI 2.0 industry standard offers an option to transmit 4K/60p signal using a single HDMI cable. With this HDMI 2.0 update, FDR-AX1 will be able to output 4K 60p images not only to 4K BRAVIA TVs, but to other HDMI 2.0 compatible TVs and devices.

AVAILABILITY
The Handycam FDR-AX1 will be available in October for a suggested retail price of $4,499.99. In order to ensure the 4K experience, VEGAS™ PRO 12 EDIT software and a 32GB XQD memory card will be included in the box as a free offer. The camcorder and its accessories will be sold at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) as well as other authorized retailers throughout the Sony dealer network. For images and information, please visit www.sony.com/news. Find out more through http://blog.sony.com and make sure to catch what people are saying about #Sony4K online.
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Sony's $4,500 FDR-AX1 Handycam puts 4K recording in the grasp of prosumers (eyes-on)