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Sony alters point of view with new-concept video cameras

Jackie Dove | Sept. 5, 2013
Sony unveils special editions of its compact cameras with the new RX100 II and the RX1R.

It's been a while since the camcorder broke out of the narrow confines of family celebrations to embrace extreme photography, GoPro style. But Sony's newest videocams now target a mélange of specific shooting situations and styles to capture shooters' creative aspirations.

With a variety of discrete users in mind, Sony is re-enivisioning the camcorder in a quest to infuse fresh life into this category and make it attractive to people who "grew up" shooting video with their smartphones or got comfortable shooting video with their DSLRs. With consumer HD camcorders under pressure, Sony has come up with several high-concept models that it hopes will fulfill unmet needs and inspire new kinds of creativity. All were announced at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin.

Musician special

Ever tried to record a musical performance with a consumer camcorder? Sometimes it's not too bad, but the audio almost always seems to be missing that magic. Sony is keying into a solution for that problem with the new HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder, a new concept in the camcorder space. Sony believes it's in a unique position to address these issues based on its expertise in both audio and imaging technologies. But in this case, the company takes the concept a step further by fusing that technology into the social media realm.

Sony envisions musicians using this 6-ounce, 4.6 x 2.9 x 1.1-inch camcorder to record themselves in practice, rehearsal, and live performance, and then upload and share the results online in CD audio quality. Built-in Wi-Fi works with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app to let users control the camera with compatible devices for start/stop recording and movie/audio mode selection and then to share their work to smartphones or tablets. NFC support offers one-touch connection with compatible Android devices.

This HD camcorder, which has a 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor, records at an image-stabilized 1080/30p. It features uncompressed Linear PCM recording technology (as well as internet-oriented AAC) and a high-performance stereo mic recording at 16 bit, 48 KHz. This is the first time Linear PCM has appeared in a consumer product, according to Sony—it's generally used for pro broadcast capture. You can connect external microphones or instruments to the camcorder and a built-in speaker lets users check recordings.

Sony has packaged this model with a 120-degree Carl Zeiss wide-angle lens and thrown in Wi-Fi and NFC networking, allowing both remote control by a smartphone (there's no viewfinder) and sharing with an audience via Sony's PlayMemories mobile app for both iOS and Android. Other musical niceties include audio lip sync for matching music-video playback, a 2.7-inch color LCD, and audio level controls.

The HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder will be available in November for $300.

4K in consumer hands
It wasn't so long ago that 4K video was the exclusive preserve of professional motion picture videographers with a product designed to be viewed on the big screen. But after three years of development, Sony is introducing the FDR-AX1 4K Handycam for TV-oriented personal content, at a price tag about half the going rate of Sony 4K pro models.


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