Sony gives 4K content creation to the people with new FDR-AX1 Handycam

sony gives 4k content creation to the people with new fdr ax1 handycam  camcorder

Update: The story has been updated with new info and more about our experience.

Like many TV manufacturers, Sony is making a big push into 4K resolution. It announced it’s releasing more than 70 movie and TV titles in 4K, and it’s even offering lower-priced 4K TVs. It’s clear 4K is where it wants to dominate – from the cinema to the home – so it’s appropriate that it also announced the FDR-AX1 4K Handycam, the “world’s first consumer 4K capture device” designed for creating 4K content at home. So, instead of just watching 4K, Sony wants consumers to make it, too.

Unlike cinema 4K camcorders designed for creating 17:9 format for movie theaters, the AX1 shoots in the 16:9 format for 4K TVs, at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 – four-times larger than Full HD at 1920 x 1080. Sony says that because the pixels are smaller, it’s a much more engaging viewer experience with more details. While 4K image capture has been around, Sony feels now is the right time to introduce 4K content creation to the general consumer. The target buyers would be early adopters, prosumers (wedding videographers, indie filmmakers, etc.), and those flushed with cash.

Sony Handycam® FDR-AX1 4K Camcorder (4)

The AX1 uses a 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, however it uses an image processor found in Sony’s professional models, not the BIONZ processor you’d see in its consumer camcorders. Sony says the amount of data captured has been the challenge, and it requires a strong sensor, lens, and processor. The AX1’s design is based off of Sony’s pro camcorders, and features a Sony G lens (20x, f/1.8-3.4, optical image stabilization) compatible for 4K – the same lens found in the pro AX4000 model.  There are also XLR terminals for high-quality audio capture. It can be held with one hand (although that gets very heavy and very quickly, because we’ve tried).

The camcorder can capture 4K at up to 60p (150 Mbps), although it can also shoot in Full HD 1080 at 60p (50 Mbps). The 4K content can also be downsized to Full HD resolution or re-rendered to 30p, etc. The AX1 records in the new XAVC S format, which allows for a long recording time – a 64GB card provides one hour at full 4K resolution. For 4K, only XQD flash memory cards will be supported; there are two slots, and the camcorder can switch from one card to the other automatically when one is full. Sony says this is the first time 4K content could be recorded onto a card. SD cards are also supported for Full HD capture. The AX1 can deliver 4K signal to a 4K TV through a standard HDMI cable, at 60p. Sony says the AX1 is HDMI 2.0-ready via a firmware update later this year.

A few weeks back, Sony showed us some footage shot with a prototype AX1, displayed on a Sony 4K TV. For most people’s eyes it’s difficult to tell if something is shot in 4K when you’re far away, but we can say that the picture quality was sharp, colors looked accurate, and overall it looked nice and bright. At the official unveiling today, we had another opportunity to see new footage up close, and we were blown away by how spectacular the content looked. We did notice some noise when the camcorder was shooting in the dark – nothing detrimental, but noticeable.

Footage with the 4K AX1 Handycam was displayed on a 4K TV at Sony's new product launch event in New York City on September 4.
Footage with the 4K AX1 Handycam was displayed on a 4K TV at Sony’s new product launch event in New York City on September 4.

If you want to be among the first consumers to shoot in 4K, it’ll cost you. Sony is listing the AX1 at $4,499, and it’ll come bundled with Sony Vegas Pro 12 Edit software to support XAVC S editing, and a 32GB XQD card. Yes, it’s much cheaper than many of the pro 4K equipment out there from Sony, RED, Canon, Blackmagic (Blackmagic’s 4K camera is technically less expensive, but a pricey lens is not included), but for the general consumer it’s a bit of a luxury product. Whether or not the AX1 will spur 4K content creation remains to be seen, but like 4K TVs, it’s definitely early-adopter territory.

Product Review

Hisense’s new H8E 4K TV serves up a pretty picture at a very nice price

Budget TVs continue to get more attractive and that includes the latest from Chinese TV maker Hisense. The company’s new H8E offers 4K resolution, HDR, and a slick design for well under $500.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Deals

Here are the best 4K TV deals for November 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

From game consoles to 4K UHD spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet. To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and these are the best Blu-ray players you can buy.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Mobile

How to choose the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

If you need some extra storage space and your device supports it, then a MicroSD card is an obvious place to start. Here, we look at what to consider and suggest some of the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone.
Photography

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer trades in his gear for a toy camera

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Oden Balilty recently rose to the challenge of shooting for an entire day using nothing but a toy camera, and at the end of it even found a few reasons to praise it over his pricey DSLR.
Social Media

Instagram purges fake followers, likes, and comments generated from other apps

Instagram looking a little more authentic? You can thank machine learning. A new tool is helping Instagram spot followers, likes and comments generated from third-party apps -- and this is just the start.
Product Review

Nikkor 105mm f/1.4 may be a beast in size, but its images are absolute beauty

There’s no such thing as a perfect lens, but the Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED comes incredibly close. The original 105mm f/1.4 delivers exceptional quality, albeit in a bulky package.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Photography

Deluxe D-Lux: New Leica compact camera adds quality and luxury

Essentially a rehoused Panasonic Lumix LX100 II, the D-Lux 7 adds Leica styling -- and price -- to Panasonic tech. The camera retains much from its predecessor, but brings some needed updates and refinements.