September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Samsung Reveals 4K-Recording NX1 (Hands-on Preview)

NX1_002_Front-Lens-Out_Black

Samsung is making a concerted push at hybrid still and video shooters with its new flagship, the NX1, introduced at Photokina 2014. It’s one of the first cameras capable of recording 4K in the new HEVC codec, which promises more efficient compression than its H.264 predecessor.

We had a little hands-on time with the unit ahead of its Photokina debut and we think it will definitely pique the interest of video and still photographers alike.

New Sensor

The NX1 is built around a 28-megapixel backside illuminated, APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor (23.5 x 15.7mm). It’s a sensor of Samsung’s own design and is the first of its size to feature backside illumination. While it offers roughly 8 million more pixels than the NX30, the photo diodes are the same size (a space-saving consequence of the BSI sensor). This endows the NX1 with better low light performance, up to ISO 51200 (from a native 100). The sensor construction was also changed from polysilicate to copper, which Samsung says makes it faster and more energy efficient.

Video
One of the highlights of the NX1 is its 4K and Ultra HD video capture. The NX1 will record compressed 4K (4096 x 2160) direct to an SD memory card at 24 frames per second (fps) and compressed Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) footage at 24 or 30fps. It employs the new, more efficient H.265 or HEVC codec, which is what enables the NX1 to store 4K video to a Class 10 SD card rather than rely on an external recorder. The HEVC codec is used on many new 2014 4K televisions as well, so the NX1′s video can be played directly from a memory card on a compatible TV without prior transcoding.

You can also record uncompressed footage to an external recorder via the NX1′s HDMI 1.4 output. The NX1 can also record 4K to a memory card and output 1080p footage to an external recorder. What it can’t do is simultaneously record 4K to a memory card and an external recorder. There are mic and headphone jacks as well for audio recording and monitoring.

If 4K isn’t your thing, the NX1 also supports 1920 x 1080 HD recording at 60, 50, 30, 25 and 24fps.

Autofocus IMGP3443
Another highlight of the NX1 is its new autofocus system. It employs 205 phase detection points, of which 153 are cross type sensors, for 90 percent frame coverage. This phase system is combined with 209 contrast AF sensors enabling the NX1 to track focus on moving objects even while bursting at the NX1’s rapid 15fps.

The phase detection AF will also come as a boon to videographers since the NX1 will be able to lock focus faster and smoother than a purely contrast AF system could.

From our brief dalliance with the NX1, it was immediately obvious that the camera is fast. We aimed it outdoors at cars streaming down a busy New York Street and it locked focus quickly and burst rapidly. Reviewing the results in camera and we were impressed with how crisp (and reckless) the cabs appeared.

Rounding out the new AF features is its patterned AF assist beam which stretches out up to an 15m to help establish focus in very low light.

The DRiM processor has also been supped up from the NX30’s 64-bit chip to the NX1’s 128-bit engine. In terms of performance, the processing power delivers in-camera RAW image processing that’s three times faster than the NX30, in addition to a host of ultra-specific new scene modes such as Auto Shot. In this mode, designed for shooting baseball games, you highlight the batter and the path you suspect the pitcher’s ball will travel. The camera scans the scene at 240fps for the ball and Samsung promises the NXi will be able to reliably capture the moment the bat makes contact with the ball and snap a photo.

The new processor also powers a new multi-shot HDR mode that snaps two images in rapid succession so that even if objects are in motion in the frame, it wouldn’t scuttle your HDR composition. There’s a standard three image HDR mode in the camera too.

The NX1 offers a new, dust and weather-resistant magnesium alloy build. It feels sturdy in the hand, something professional shooters will feel right at home with. Samsung added a top LCD display for camera settings, another feature pros should appreciate. The pronounced hand grip gives you a firm hold on the NX1′s body. There will also be a battery grip for the NX1 that provides an extra 500 shots worth of life.

New EVF
The NX1 is outfitted with a new electronic viewfinder that Samsung says has a 5-10ms recycle time that is “imperceptible” to the human eye. In our time with the camera, the scene flashing by on the viewfinder’s OLED panel appeared extremely crisp. The main LCD display on the camera flips out between 45 and 90 degrees and has a resolution of 1,036k dots.

Connectivity
For connectivity with mobile devices, or for wireless 4K streaming, the NX1 uses the fastest possible Wi-Fi (802.11ac). It also uses Bluetooth for Wi-Fi authentication with a mobile device and for pulling metadata, like GPS coordinates, into image files.

The NX1 will ship in the middle of October for $1,499 (body only). There will also be a “pro kit” bundle that includes a 16-50mm S lens, the battery grip and an extra battery and charger for $2,799.

New Lens

Joining the new camera is another S series lens: the 50-150mm f.2.8 lens (77-231mm equivalent). It will offer four axis image stabilization good for four stops of correction and a nine bladed circular diaphragm. New for the S series is a custom focusing range button that, once pressed, will let you set focusing parameters on the NX1. According to Samsung, the custom focus button will only work on other NX series cameras with a firmware update and no upgrade is scheduled as of this writing.

The lens will be dust and splash resistant and will set you back $1,599. Availability hasn’t been finalized.

 

50-150MM_006_Left_Black

February 6th, 2014

Panasonic Unveils 4K-Shooting Lumix GH4 Mirrorless, Interchangeable Lens Camera

Panasonic-GH4_H_HS12035_slant_LED1_BGGH3Photographers who also aspire to be cutting edge cinematographers can get the best of both worlds with the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, which is the world’s first mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera with 4K video capture.

Panasonic just introduced the Lumix GH4 ahead of the big CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2014 in Japan next week, where it will join several intriguing new cameras. (Yesterday, Pentax announced that its newest 645D medium format camera with a CMOS sensor will also be on display at CP+)

Panasonic first teased the 16-megapixel GH4 at the CES show in Las Vegas last month, showing off a prototype of the 4K-shooting camera under glass. We were able to snap a stealthy photo of the camera during the show.

The new Panasonic Lumix GH4 looks similar to its predecessor, the GH3, which was introduced at photokina 2014 and also used a 16MP sensor.

Under the hood though, the GH4 is a whole new animal, with a newly developed 16.05MP “Digital Live MOS sensor” designed to not only capture 4K video, but reduce the wobbly “rolling shutter” effect you can get when you pan too aggressively with a CMOS-based camera. This is key because rolling shutter can be even more pronounced in ultra-crisp 4K video, which features 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution, making it approximately four times the resolution of HD video.

We actually predicted this trend of 4K video shooting coming to more digital cameras in our piece “5 Tech Trends That Are Changing the Photo Industry Today” from last year.

Read more of this story about the new Panasonic Lumix GH4 here.

September 4th, 2013

Sony Adds $4,500 4K Handycam to Its Line-up

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

www.sonystyle.com

http://blog.sony.com

Related articles
6 Cameras to Ease Your Way into 4K Video