Sony used 2016 CES to launch new camcorders, including a new action camera and three Handycam-series models.
The matte-black HDR-AS50 Action Cam has the familiar form-factor of previous models, and includes image stabilization (SteadyShot) and support for Sony’s XAVC S high-bitrate video recording. A new setting lets you adjust the field angle between wide and narrow fields of view, while the 3x digital zoom promises smooth close-ups.
If you’ve watched any action cam footage, you know they’re typically bouncy. SteadyShot stabilization is handy for those moments. It’s not perfect, but it helps compensate. Sony says it is “specially tailore to reduce low amplitude vibration typically caused by radio-controlled helicopters or drones,” which suggest the type of buyer Sony is targeting this camera toward.
Sony incorporated an improved LCD user interface and button navigation. The AS50 also comes with a new wrist-worn Live-View Remote that lets you see what the camera sees, as well as control it. If you don’t like it around your wrist, it can be mounted to other accessories, such as a handlebar mount. Like previous models, built-in Wi-Fi lets you pair the camera with a phone or tablet. Using Bluetooth Low Energy, you can turn the camera on and off quickly via the remote or app.
The AS50 shoots standard videos at Full HD, but it has the ability to shoot time-lapse movies in 4K. This is done by shooting stills at intervals, which is then turned into a 4K time-lapse movie via the Action Cam Movie Creator desktop software. There’s also 120p and 100p high-speed recording. A stereo mic captures high-quality audio; in our experience, the mic in Sony’s newer Action Cams work very well.
The camera with Live-View Remote will sell for $350, and will be available in February. A standalone camera option will be available for $200. New accessories include an improved underwater housing (supplied), and optional grips for handholding the camera or baseball cap.
FDR-AX53 4K Handycam
As in the previous two CES, Sony introduced a new 4K Handycam, which the company says is the most advanced yet. Available in March, the AX53 will sell for $1,000.
The AX53 introduction follows the AX100 and AX33. Like the AX33, the AX53 has retained the compact size, but uses a new 20x Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens and large-pixel sensor designed for 4K. The camcorder also has faster autofocusing and high-speed Full HD recording at 120 frames per second.
The Balanced Optical SteadyShot (BOSS) stabilization system helps keep things steady. In HD shooting, a five-axis mode is available that uses software and hardware to further compensate for shakes.
With larger pixel sizes, the AX53 is able to capture images with less noise and higher quality, especially in low-light situations. The 1/2.5-inch sensor has this advantage over previous sensors, despite having the same megapixel count.
An electronic viewfinder, manual focus ring, and customizable button puts pro-like touches into this camcorder. The AX53 also supports high bitrate 4K recording at 100Mbps via XAVC S format. The camcorder can also output a 4K feed or up-converted Full HD feed to a TV using HDMI. A “trim” mode lets you crop a 4K image to Full HD, to zoom in on a part of the picture, and extract 8-megapixel stills from a 4K frame. The microphone has also improved, with the ability to capture sound from five directions while reducing unwanted noise.
Full HD camcorders
Sony also announced two new Full HD camcorders: the HDR-CX675 and HDR-CX455. The CX675 has an enhanced BOSS system with five-axis mode that uses “motion analysis” to determine level of stabilization required. Both new models support XAVC S high bitrate recording, and have a 5.1-channel mic and My Voice Cancelling that softens the user’s voice during recording. The CX455 also has BOSS with five-axis mode, but this model doesn’t include motion analysis.
The CX675 and CX455 will sell for $600 and $400, respectively. Both are available in February.