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With all the pomp and circumstance around 4K cameras and large-sensor, interchangeable-lens cinema cameras, you would be forgiven if you thought traditional 3-chip ENG-style cameras had been forgotten by camera manufacturers. But fear not, ENG and event shooters, the new PXW-X180 from Sony aims to give the 1080p ENG market the attention it deserves.
The new PXW-X180 camera is centered around three 1/3" Full HD Exmor CMOS image sensors behind a new Sony G lens with an impressive 25x optical zoom. The 25x zoom lens goes from a 235mm equivalent focal length of 26mm at the wide end all the way to a 650mm equivalent on the telephoto end. This huge zoom range is a benefit of the 1/3" sensor size. To allow users to keep the aperture open even in bright situations, the PMW-X180 has a built-in ND filter with 4 positions and, to help with handheld shooting, the camera also includes optical image stabilization.
Sure, 1080p isn’t 4K, but don’t forget 1/3" chip cameras didn’t have full 1080p sensors in them until only a couple of years ago. If you are coming from an older HD camera, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how sharp a camera with three 2MP image sensors is. Plus, 1080p is still the standard for video distribution, and the PXW-X180 is designed to make shooting and editing in 1080p as seamless as possible.
The camera can record in a multitude of video codecs, from the newer XAVC Intra and XAVC Long GOP codecs, to the older XDCAM MPEG HD 422 50Mbps and 420 35Mbps codecs, as well as the more consumer AVCHD and DV codecs. This allows the PXW-X180 to fit into virtually any workflow. The camera records to reliable SxS cards and features dual SxS card slots. It also has the ability to simultaneously record low-bitrate H.264 proxy video onto SD cards for instant reviewing or sharing over mobile networks.
The PXW-X180 includes a number of new wireless features that are steadily gaining traction in the professional market. These include Wi-Fi and NFC, which allow the camera to be remotely controlled via a smartphone or tablet. Of course, a LANC control port is still there for traditional remote control. Wi-Fi also allows for wireless file transfer of low-bitrate recordings. Also, GPS is included for GPS metadata.
On top of the new features, the PXW-180 has all the traditional ENG-style features one would expect from a camera in its class, including XLR audio inputs, three separate rings on the lens barrel for zoom, iris, and focus. This camera offers easily adjustable on-body controls and a flip-out LCD screen, in addition to an OLED viewfinder, 3G-SDI and HDMI outputs, and more.