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Sony has just announced several new Handycam camcorders, as well as a new 4K prosumer camcorder. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the new features and upgrades Sony has made over their previous versions of these models.
The Handycam camcorders range from the entry-level HDR-CX240 to the more advanced HDR-CX900. For those looking to enter the realm of 4K video, the FDR-AX100 is a 4K Ultra HD (QFHD) version of the HDR-CX900. One of the most notable features across the line, with the exception of the HDR-CX240, is the addition of built-in Wi-Fi with NFC support. NFC, or Near Field Communication, lets you connect your FC-compatible mobile device to the camcorder, wirelessly, with one touch. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to use your mobile phone or tablet to control camera settings, monitor and play back footage, or transfer files to your device for instant sharing.
Another notable upgrade is the ability to record high-quality AVCHD video while simultaneously recording web-optimized MP4 video. This allows you to have both higher-quality videos for editing and burning to Blu-ray Discs and videos with smaller file sizes that are better suited for sharing on the Web. Sony has also added the ability to add Picture Effects to stills and videos.
Now let’s take a closer look at the new models, beginning with the entry-level model and working our way to the more advanced ones.
The entry-level model in the line, the HDR-CX240, offers Full HD 1080/60p recording, SteadyShot image stabilization with active mode for smoother video, and the previously mentioned dual AVCHD and MP4 recording feature. The camera features a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens, which has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 29.8mm at the wide end, and provides a 27x optical zoom and 54x Clear Image Zoom. Clear Image Zoom works in conjunction with the optical zoom to get you even closer to the action while maintaining HD quality.
The camcorder is built around a 9.2-megapixel, 1/5.8” Exmor R CMOS sensor. Sony’s Exmor R technology uses Back Side Illumination for improved low-light performance. In addition to recording 1920 x 1080-resolution video, the CX240 can also capture 9.2MP still images. You can monitor your footage on the 2.7” Clear Photo LCD with 230K-dot resolution.
Another useful feature includes face detection with voice enhancement and noise reduction. This powerful feature can detect up to eight individual faces and adjusts camera settings to get properly exposed images. Face detection even distinguishes between children and adults. A built-in USB 2.0 cable provides convenient charging and data transfer, and tucks away in the hand strap so it’s out of the way when shooting.
The HDR-PJ275 is nearly identical to the HDR-CX240 but adds a built-in projector and Wi-Fi/NFC support. Positioned on the front of the articulated LCD panel, the projector has a brightness of 13 lumens, allowing you to project images up to 100” diagonally. An HDMI multi-terminal input lets you connect and display images from external devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, or any device with an HDMI output.
As previously mentioned, built-in Wi-Fi with NFC support is one of the key upgrades in this new line of Handycam camcorders. The ability to quickly connect your mobile device to your camcorder not only lets you control cameras settings and monitor footage but also transfer files to your mobile device for instant sharing on social media networks, no matter where you are.
The HDR-CX330 is another similar model to the HDR-CX240, but it uses a Sony G lens, which offers a wider 35mm equivalent focal length of 26.8mm, and a more powerful zoom range, with 30x optical zoom and 60x Clear Image Zoom. Like the HDR-PJ275, it also adds Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity. All subsequent camcorders listed below have built-in Wi-Fi.
The HDR-PJ340 takes these same features and adds the built-in 13-lumen projector we saw on the HDR-PJ275, which can project images up to 100” diagonally. It also provides 16GB of embedded flash memory for storing up to 3 hours and 55 minutes of HD video.
Moving up with product line, the HDR-PJ540 offers several advantages over the HDR-PJ340. The PJ340 utilizes Balanced Optical SteadyShot, which, unlike the standard Optical SteadyShot of the previous mentioned models, moves the entire lens block to compensate for camera shake. Not only is this method more effective, but it also helps reduce vignetting and lower distortion in videos and still photos.
At 3” diagonally, the LCD screen is larger than the PJ340’s, providing 460K-dot resolution. It is a touchscreen, for convenient setting control and menu navigation. The built-in projector on the PJ540 is rated at 25 lumens, providing brighter images than the PJ340. 32GB of embedded flash memory lets you store up to 8 hours of footage.
Another advantage to this camcorder is the built-in 5.1 channel surround sound microphone. Dolby Digital 5.1-channel recording captures active sounds coming from all directions, so when played back on 5.1-channel systems, you can experience your movies the way you experienced them while recording. Enhanced audio controls such as Auto Wind Noise Reduction and Premium Closer Voice make it even easier to get clear audio in a variety of environments.
Of the new Handycam models, the HDR-PJ810 is the top-of-the-line of those featuring built-in projectors. Its 1/3.95” 24.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor is larger than the previously mentioned models and allows you to capture 20MP still images. The camcorder also opens up more creative possibilities with a cinematic 24p mode and manual control over camera settings such as iris, shutter, exposure, and white balance.
Its Sony G lens provides a wide 35mm equivalent focal length of 26.8mm, with 12x optical zoom and 24x Clear Image zoom. Another useful addition is a 0.27” color electronic viewfinder for eye-level framing. Like the PJ540, the camcorder features 32GB of embedded flash memory and a 5.1-channel surround sound microphone. However, what makes the PJ810 really stand out is its built-in projector, which boosts maximum brightness up to 50 lumens, capable of projecting images up to an impressive 200” diagonally.
For those seeking broadcast-quality video and professional camcorder features in a compact consumer product, the HDR-CX900 is definitely worth your consideration. Using the world’s first 1” CMOS sensor to feature Sony’s Exmor R CMOS technology, the camcorder offers improved low-light sensitivity, while combining with Sony’s Column A/D Conversion to reduce noise by up to 50%. At approximately 8x larger than that of typical camcorders, the 1” CMOS sensor makes it possible to capture cinematic images with shallow depth-of-field for defocused backgrounds.
The HDR-CX900 captures 1920 x 1080p video at 60, 30, or 24fps, and still images up to 20MP. It also introduces the XAVC-S format to the Handycam line. The format uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 for video compression and linear PCM for audio compression, and saves files in the MP42 wrapper. The highly compressed files allow for extended record times while maintaining video quality. AVCHD and MP4 recording is also available.
The CX900 features a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 29mm at the wide end. It provides 12x optical zoom and 24x Clear Image Zoom. Monitor your footage on the large 3.5” Xtra Fine LCD touchscreen with 921K dot resolution, or choose the high-contrast 0.39” OLED EVF. A Multi Interface accessory shoe lets you expand your creative possibilities by attaching optional accessories such as external flashes, LED lights, microphones, etc.
Other notable features include built-in 4-stage ND filters, a high-speed 120 fps mode for slow-motion playback, and an assignable dial for manual control of exposure and white balance functions.
Finally, we have the FDR-AX100. While physically identical to the HDR-CX900, the AX100 utilizes a full readout of the 14MP sensor (in video mode) to capture 4K Ultra HD (QFHD) video. With resolution of 3840 x 2160, the camcorder produces vibrant and realistic images with four times the resolution of Full HD. 4K video is recording at 30 fps using the XAVC-S format. Like the HDR-CX900, 1080p video is also possible at 60, 30, and 24 fps in XAVC-S, and AVCHD and MP4 are still available options. The FDR-AX100 is an extremely versatile camcorder, and is a great option for those looking to join the 4K revolution.