Friday, November 20, 2009

Sony kills Tape

For the past year it seemed that Sony was the lone tape supporter for pro-sumer, low-end professional cameras. JVC went tapeless and even embraced QuickTime with the GY-HM100U, while Panasonic has the AG-HMC150. And even though Canon is still selling the XH-A1s HDV camera, they’ve been so preoccupied with the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D you can almost overlook the fact that they seem to be overlooking this market segment. Only Sony was still selling tape and telling people that was the way to go.

Until the day before yesterday, when they announced the NXCAM, a camera based on the FX1/FX1000/Z5U body shape that replaces the HDV tape mechanism with AVCHD on Memory Stick recording.

This is big news. November 18, 2009 may go down as the day tape died. At least for video acquisition.

The camera also has an optional solid state recording module that -at least in the prototype- holds 128GB. According to Sony, the camera will automatically switch cards when one is full, and it can record to the memory card and the memory module simultaneously.

While it includes the expected – HDMI output, two XLR inputs, a new HD imager, support for a variety of frame sizes and rates, and AVCHD up to 24 Mbit/sec - it also includes a few unexpected features, including SD/HD-SDI output, timecode in, and “better” audio. It also outputs a true 10-bit signal, according to Sony

Unlike some other cameras, which output a live HD-SDI signal at 10-bit which has been derived from an 8-bit signal, NXCAM (as the EX1 and EX3) output a true 10-bit signal over HD-SDI when live.
-Allan T├ępper, TechnoTur

It also reportedly includes a built-in GPS.

The NXCAM is supposed to come out next year; at the moment the word is that details of availability and pricing will be announced in January. Figure that it will cost about the same as the Z5U ($4,000.) it also seems likely they’ll release at some point a “pro-sumer” version to replace the FX1000, lacking the XLR inputs, memory unit (and probably the SD/HD-SDI output) for around $3,000.

As well as the resources listed below, there’s a short Sony video at the online Sony HD tradeshow linked to yesterday. It doesn’t really tell you anything more than you can learn from the other links.

I'm kind of excited about this announcement, if only because my favorite camera is still my old FX1. If they'd brought this out last year I probably would have bought one, but I just bought a Canon 7D, and while I don't consider them competitors, I don't have the camera budget to get this one! Guess I'll have to wait until the FX1 packs up.

Chart of HD formats supported by NXCAM


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