Sony Handycam® FDR-AX1 4K Camcorder (3)Priced at less than $5,000, Sony’s new FDR-AX1 4K Handycam will appeal to indie filmmakers and videographers on a budget who want to move into 4K video without breaking the bank. Built around a BSI 1/2.3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor, the FDR-AX1 can record 4K as well as HD video.

Movies are recorded in the XAVC S format using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Long GOP for extended recording time of almost two hours of 4K/60p or 3 hours of full HD when storing footage on a 64GB XQD card. The camcorder features dual, hot-swappable XQD card slots so you can continue to record while replacing a full card.

Equipped with a 20x, image-stabilized G lens, the AX1 has an optical zoom range of 31.5-630mm (35mm-equivalent). The camcorder also features dual XLR connectors and an HDMI out. The latter will be upgradeable to the new HDMI 2.0 standard via a firmware update. Since 4K TVs are expensive and haven’t become as ubiquitous as HDTVs, the AX1 can easily output full HD by changing the camera’s output settings.

Although there are a few 4K cameras that are smaller than the 7 7/16 x 7 19/32 x 14 ¼ inches, 86.1 ounce FDR-AX1 and less expensive (see Greg Scoblete’s roundup of a half-dozen 4K cameras on PDNOnline) but, at first glance, the FDR-AX1 seems to provide entrée to 4K video without too much compromise in terms of pro features and functionality. It’s likely that the competition for prosumer-type 4K video cameras will increase in the coming year. We’ll have to wait and see what happens but our money’s on a very interesting NAB show in April 2014.

The FDR-AX1 ships in October and comes with Vegas Pro 12 Edit software and a 32GB XQD memory card.

Price: $4,500

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