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Picture this if you will: you’re on an expedition funded by the National Geographic Society to confirm recent sightings of the supposedly extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker along the Choctawhatchee River in Florida’s panhandle. Some rustling high up in a tree catches your attention, so you whip out your binoculars and zoom in. And there it is… a mature Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, busily pecking away at the tree trunk. Anticipating your imminent fame and fortune, you put down the binoculars and reach for your HD camcorder. Alas, startled by your sudden movement, the bird flies off, along with the proof of your sighting.
Fame and fortune could still be yours if only you were using Sony’s new Digital Recording Binoculars. The binoculars can record video and still images, so you’ll never have to reach for a camera.
Two models of the Digital Recording Binoculars are available, the DEV-3 and DEV-5, and both offer the same basic specifications. To begin with, both models shoot high-definition 3D video that can be played back on a 3DTV via the HDMI output, or even a 2D HDTV if that’s all you have. They feature dual ¼-inch 4.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensors and BIONZ image processors, along with twin f/1.8–f/3.4 lenses.
The binoculars can capture 1920 x 1080 60p HD video and 3D AVCHD video, along with 7.1-megapixel JPG stills in the 4:3 format, or 5.3-megapixel stills in the 16:9 format. Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization shows you a steady image while viewing and captures a steady image while recording. The binoculars’ 10x optical zoom draws subjects closer to you while dual electronic viewfinders put forth a stereoscopic image with 852 x 480 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio.
A rechargeable battery provides the binoculars with up to 3.5 hours of record time; footage is stored on Memory Stick Pro Duo or SD/SDHC/SDXC media. A USB output lets you copy your recorded material to a computer while an HDMI output enables viewing on a high-definition TV.
All of the features mentioned so far are common to both, but the DEV-5 adds a 2x digital zoom and a GPS receiver that automatically geo-tags photos and videos. It also comes with a carrying case, neck strap and large eye cups.
Carrying binoculars and camera gear at the same time is unnecessarily cumbersome, and you have to reframe the subject with your camera gear once you’ve spotted it with the binoculars. All that gives you is ample opportunity to miss out on capturing the subject. Conventional binoculars offer optical zoom only, while Digital Recording Binoculars can enhance the optical zoom with digital zoom. Plus, conventional binoculars don’t offer image stabilization, which is nice to have even if you’re not recording the subject. Autofocus and GPS are other convenient features not found on conventional binoculars. So, the next time you’re out to capture an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, on film that is, consider bringing along Sony’s Digital Recording Binoculars—and you can leave the camcorder at home.