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SonyFDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder
 
3.8

(based on 11 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

80%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Professional quality (7)
  • Easy to use (6)
  • Improves performance (3)
  • Lightweight (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Independent films (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Business owner (4)
      • Was this a gift?:
      • No (6)

    Most Liked Positive Review

     

    Excellent Successor to NX5/AX2000

    We just got one of these in a few days ago as a replacement for a Sony NX5. If you're familiar with the NX5/AX2000, this camera is a natural upgrade to 4K. ...Read complete review

    We just got one of these in a few days ago as a replacement for a Sony NX5. If you're familiar with the NX5/AX2000, this camera is a natural upgrade to 4K. While we aren't shooting in 4K yet, we went with the AX1 as a more future-proof option than purchasing another NX5.

    Physically, it is a bit larger, around 15-25%, than the NX5. The weight seems about the same, but the camera is wider throughout and the lens hood is significantly bigger. I'm not sure why Sony made the lens hood so much larger - the lens hood from the NX5 fit perfectly on the AX1 and didn't vignette or cause any noticeable differences.

    The buttons are better laid out than on the NX5/AX2000 - Sony moved some of the buttons up to a new row, so there are less buttons per row, which makes it easier to remember where things are. One nice addition - you can now set both audio channels to Input 2. Before, you could only set both channels to Input 1 or one to Input 1 and one to Input 2.

    The biggest change is the LCD - it is larger, and sharper than that of the NX5. This is a nice improvement. This one isn't a touchscreen - but we never used the touchscreen on the NX5 as it was easier to control through the buttons. The on-screen stats have been nicely re-arranged to the corners of the LCD, so they are no longer in the way of seeing the shot. The new LCD does seem to be a bit more reflective than the older models, though this may not be an issue as the older models weren't great with that either.

    The low-light on this camera is the sacrifice of a 4K chip - it is about the same sensitivity as the older Sony V1u, while the NX5 has better low-light capabilities. For our purposes, this wasn't an issue, but it may be for your scenario. Consider the NX5 or PMW160/200 if low-light is important for your work.

    A few other changes are the addition of a fan - it is exceptionally quiet and should not pick up even with an on-board mic. Also, the new XQD cards are very nice to use - they are the best cards I've used that aren't SXS/P2 cost level. Much nicer than SD and even Compact Flash, though for the time being, they are more expensive. I hope to see these cards make their way into more cameras in the future.

    Overall, I think this is a very nice camera that accomplishes what it intends to be. There are some sacrifices going to a 4K sensor, but if those don't interfere with your work, this is a good future-proof option to consider.

    VS

    Most Liked Negative Review

     

    Low light not good.

    I saw this Sony FDR-AX1 4K camcorder as a demo unit side-by-side with Sony HXR-NX5U in a local Sony store, so that I could play both models and compare. Here are what I...Read complete review

    I saw this Sony FDR-AX1 4K camcorder as a demo unit side-by-side with Sony HXR-NX5U in a local Sony store, so that I could play both models and compare. Here are what I found:

    - FDR-AX1 has a bigger lens hood and lens barrel than HXR-NX5U, about the same weight, with similar controls and buttons.

    - FDR-AX1 belongs to HandyCam series, marked as "Consumer Camcorder", while HXR-NX5U belongs to NXCAM series, marked as "Professional Camcorder".

    - FDR-AX1 has 1/2.3" single CMOS sensor with smaller pixels to support 4K resolution, while HXR-NX5U has three 1/3" CMOS sensors, that may be one of the reasons that FDR-AX1 has worse low-light performance. Zooming all the way in (smallest iris/aperture), pointing to a person in a dark area, FDR-AX1 shows obvious video noise on his/her face, while HXR-NX5U doesn't. To support 4K resolution and get decent low-light performance, a bigger sensor is needed.

    - FDR-AX1 has wider and better LCD design.

    - FDR-AX1 has two XQD card slots and one SD card slot at back, HXR-NX5U has two SD card slots and a Flash Memory Unit bay. 32GB XQD card is more expensive comparing to SD card, even comparing to HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit, when thinking of their sizes.

    - FDR-AX1 and HXR-NX5U can use the same NP-F970 or NP-F770 battery.

    - They have about the same listing price in the store, actually HXR-NX5U has cheaper online price.

    Since I'm looking at a camcorder with decent low-light performance, I'll skip FDR-AX1. But if you don't care low-light that much and would like 4K resolution for landscape or other similar subjects, FDR-AX1 is not bad.

    Reviewed by 11 customers

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    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Amazing quality but beware the lens

    By Jonathan

    from Boston, MA

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Great Picture Quality

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

        I am amazed by the quality of this camera and I have shot some simply stunning stuff with it but BEWARE this camera does NOT have a par focal lens. What I mean by this is the following: if you zoom in on a subject, then manually focus to get it nice and sharp, it will go soft as you zoom out. This means that you cannot use the tried-and-true method of focusing where you zoom tight, focus, then re-compose. At 4K, the slightest softness is not sharp. So you can't get away with what you can get away with in HD. With this camera, yo get it sharp you either have to trust the autofocus (either momentary or continuous) or you have to turn on the peaking and use that to focus. I cannot stress this enough: if you are in manual focus mode, EVERY time you change the zoom setting you must refocus. PERIOD! The lens is NOT par focal. If you don't know what that means, google it. I hope this helps you. I had to send two different cameras back to Sony to be "fixed" before I came to this realization.

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        (9 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

         
        1.0

        Not happy with the SONY FDR-AX1

        By Cinema Guy

        from Elk Grove, CA

        About Me Pro Videographer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Great Sound
        • It's 4k

        Cons

        • Inferior Image
        • Noisy
        • Poor Image Quality
        • Poor In Low Light

        Best Uses

          Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

          I purchased the SONY AX1 in January mostly for nature and scenery. I was a TV photojournalist for 23 years for ABC and FOX NEWS and shot for high-end independent films. I have always used SONY's broadcast line of equipment and been very pleased.To say I am disappointed with this camera would be an understatement. First of all; it's very noisy, especially in the greys. The right side of the frame is soft; anything shot below F/5.6 causes the right side of the frame to go out of focus. I have tried to contact SONY since March 2014, but their customer service people transfer me in circles or give me excuses why they are "unable to help me at this time." The hold times are absolutely unacceptable.I get intermittent data errors when writing files to the XQD card. This appears as typical macro-block squares or tearing in the video. It happens at any data rate and with S or N series cards.The camera is almost useless in low-light.The gain settings cause so much noise, the image is almost unusable.This is the second [defective] or poor quality SONY product I have purchased in the last 9 months, both were 4K or UHDTV products. SONY's customer service is virtually unusable.I love SONY, but I would not recommend this product to anyone.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          amazing camera

          By Bryce

          from Dallas, TX

          About Me Video Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • 4k Video
          • Easy to Use
          • Good Image Stabilization
          • Great Battery Life
          • Great Picture Quality
          • Great Sound
          • Great Zoom
          • Large Clear LCD
          • Zoom range/performance

          Cons

          • Poor In Low Light
          • Poor Still Image

          Best Uses

          • Documentaries
          • HD Shooting
          • Movies/Short Films
          • Travel
          • Weddings/Events

          Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

          I have just received this camera (the sony FDR-AX1) and I love it. The camera is a lot bigger than I expected but not a problem for me. I have not used this camera very much but I can already tell that the FDR-AX1 has trouble in low light situations. It is an easy fix, all you need to do is set up some lights. Over all this camera is great and not a bad price for the 4k quality it is giving.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • Yes

          Share this review

          (2 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          it's ok i guess

          By Beltsasar

          from Austin Tx

          About Me Business Owner

          Pros

          • Easy To Use
          • Highly Compatible
          • Professional Quality

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Independent Films

            Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

            this camera uses the batteries too fast and cards are only 64 gig
            the sdcard slot is useless cuz u need to wait till sony releases some kind of update
            not very good in low light
            however i had no choice i needed a new camera but hdv cameras are on the way out
            i just wish sony made as good cameras as their former dsr-pd170

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (5 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            4K is the Future

            By Videobill

            from Edina MN

            About Me Business Owner

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Easy To Use
            • Highly Compatible
            • Improves Performance
            • Professional Quality

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Travel Video

              Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

              I will use this camera primarily for travel and nature video. I may have some corporate applications as well. The AX1 captures stunning images. Video from the AX1 is easily edited on FCP X just like any 1080p video. I hope to sell stock video and UHD videos produced with the AX1. Stored 4K files will also future proof me for future projects.
              As a deliverable, the 4K video, when downconverter to a Blu-ray disc looks great especially when upscaled on a UHD monitor.
              Obviously, the 4K format requires a lot of data storage and consumes battery power beyond what we are all used too. I am glad the AX1 uses the same Sony batteries I have used for years.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

               
              3.0

              4K files

              By Filmtrail

              from Lubbock, TX

              About Me Business Owner, Documentary producer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                    I was most concerned about being able to save the 4K files for future use, while still being able to use a 2K or Hi-Def file for current editing projects. It turns out that it's as simple as dragging the camera files from the XQD card on to any hard drive for archiving. Once there you can use Borosoft's Video Converter to transcode the files into ProRes 422 for editing, which works in several NLE programs. (I use FCP, where ProRes is almost a necessity.) Once that's done the original 4K files remain as captured. Files are large, so takes a lot of storage. I wish I there was an option to use an external zoom control...my only serious negative at this point. (Currently documenting agricultural practices on the High Plains of Texas.)

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (8 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Sony Does It Again!

                    By Jonathan

                    from Boston, MA

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Professional Quality

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Independent Films

                      Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                      This camera is astonishing for the price! 4K/60p is the most realistic image you will ever get on a monitor...like looking through a window into the world. For nature/documentary work, wow. The 150 Mbps bit rate is more than enough for a beautiful clean image even on challenging subject matter (consider that this is equivalent to a 37.5 Mbps 1080/60p AVC codec, which doesn't exist. They all top out at 28 Mbps). I know a lot of people are thinking of holding out for the Z100 with the 600 Mbps data rate, but consider that a 64 Gig card is only going to hold 12 minutes on that camera. However it runs 48 minutes on this one, with PLENTY of image quality.The lens is sharp. The cards are still a tad expensive, but coming down, and way cheaper than SxS. The camera uses a standard Sony battery type that you might already own and are half as expensive as the batteries in the EX1/PMW.The only thing I don't like is the "spin forever" focus ring with no hard stops. I'll miss that from my PMW-200.Another cool feature...this camera will output 1080/60i or 60p from the HDMI port while at the same time recording 4K/60p to the card slots. You can hook a Ninja or some other HDMI recorder to the output to get uncompressed files in HD for immediate editing, and stash the 4K files for later. Of course the camera also shoots in 24p and 30p, plus very high bit rates in HD for projects that don't require 4K.My tests show it about the same in low light as the HVR-V1 from a few years back. You definitely will have worse low light performance in a 4K camera because it needs 8 megapixels to get the job done, whereas an HD camera only need 2 Mp.It's a great camera with an amazing picture at an astonishing price! I love mine!

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (5 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Worked Well for Us

                      By Light Brothers

                      from Northern California

                      About Me professional

                      Verified Reviewer

                      Pros

                      • Lightweight
                      • Professional Quality
                      • very easy to use

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Films
                        • NEWS
                        • Reality tv
                        • Run Gun

                        Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                        I was chosen to participate in a short film contest at the Napa Valley Film Festival designed to work out the Sony 4k camera. Each filmmaker was given a Sony AX1 and had 55 hours to write and produce a short film using Sony gear. None of us had seen the camera before we were given it at the start of the contest.

                        I absolutely loved this camera. Beautiful footage. Very easy to use, forgiving for us, even in low light. The richness and saturation we achieved was beautiful, and I saw much the same in the other projects.
                        In my opinion, this is a great Ultra HD starter camera, reality show camera, a film school camera, a documentary camera - anywhere ease of use and set up time is critical, or following quickly unfolding action. With the fixed lens, light weight and simple operation, it can just be grabbed from the bag, turned on, and away you go. Certainly it can be applied to more "cinematic" projects, such as we did, but most experienced filmmakers will like to alter their lenses as part of their aesthetic. I'm sure this is not something SONY doesn't know. The trade off, you have a camera that is ready to go 'as is' and very, very simple to use.
                        For the type of camera it is and it's position in the market, I think it's excellent. It should do very well, and is a nice compliment to the 4K monitors and projectors.

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                        (27 of 37 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        3.0

                        Low light not good.

                        By Johnny Yang

                        from San Jose, CA

                        About Me Semi-Pro, Semi-professional

                        Verified Reviewer

                        Pros

                        • Good Controls
                        • Good Lcd Screen
                        • Professional Quality

                        Cons

                        • Low light
                        • Low Light Not Good
                        • Memory Card Is Expensive

                        Best Uses

                        • Landscape
                        • Nature

                        Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                        I saw this Sony FDR-AX1 4K camcorder as a demo unit side-by-side with Sony HXR-NX5U in a local Sony store, so that I could play both models and compare. Here are what I found:

                        - FDR-AX1 has a bigger lens hood and lens barrel than HXR-NX5U, about the same weight, with similar controls and buttons.

                        - FDR-AX1 belongs to HandyCam series, marked as "Consumer Camcorder", while HXR-NX5U belongs to NXCAM series, marked as "Professional Camcorder".

                        - FDR-AX1 has 1/2.3" single CMOS sensor with smaller pixels to support 4K resolution, while HXR-NX5U has three 1/3" CMOS sensors, that may be one of the reasons that FDR-AX1 has worse low-light performance. Zooming all the way in (smallest iris/aperture), pointing to a person in a dark area, FDR-AX1 shows obvious video noise on his/her face, while HXR-NX5U doesn't. To support 4K resolution and get decent low-light performance, a bigger sensor is needed.

                        - FDR-AX1 has wider and better LCD design.

                        - FDR-AX1 has two XQD card slots and one SD card slot at back, HXR-NX5U has two SD card slots and a Flash Memory Unit bay. 32GB XQD card is more expensive comparing to SD card, even comparing to HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit, when thinking of their sizes.

                        - FDR-AX1 and HXR-NX5U can use the same NP-F970 or NP-F770 battery.

                        - They have about the same listing price in the store, actually HXR-NX5U has cheaper online price.

                        Since I'm looking at a camcorder with decent low-light performance, I'll skip FDR-AX1. But if you don't care low-light that much and would like 4K resolution for landscape or other similar subjects, FDR-AX1 is not bad.

                        Share this review

                        (8 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Excellent Successor to NX5/AX2000

                        By Nick

                        from Omaha, NE

                        About Me Business Owner

                        Verified Reviewer

                        Pros

                        • Easy To Use
                        • Improves Performance
                        • Lightweight
                        • Professional Quality

                        Cons

                        • Limited Compatibility

                        Best Uses

                        • Complex Projects
                        • In The Studio

                        Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                        We just got one of these in a few days ago as a replacement for a Sony NX5. If you're familiar with the NX5/AX2000, this camera is a natural upgrade to 4K. While we aren't shooting in 4K yet, we went with the AX1 as a more future-proof option than purchasing another NX5.

                        Physically, it is a bit larger, around 15-25%, than the NX5. The weight seems about the same, but the camera is wider throughout and the lens hood is significantly bigger. I'm not sure why Sony made the lens hood so much larger - the lens hood from the NX5 fit perfectly on the AX1 and didn't vignette or cause any noticeable differences.

                        The buttons are better laid out than on the NX5/AX2000 - Sony moved some of the buttons up to a new row, so there are less buttons per row, which makes it easier to remember where things are. One nice addition - you can now set both audio channels to Input 2. Before, you could only set both channels to Input 1 or one to Input 1 and one to Input 2.

                        The biggest change is the LCD - it is larger, and sharper than that of the NX5. This is a nice improvement. This one isn't a touchscreen - but we never used the touchscreen on the NX5 as it was easier to control through the buttons. The on-screen stats have been nicely re-arranged to the corners of the LCD, so they are no longer in the way of seeing the shot. The new LCD does seem to be a bit more reflective than the older models, though this may not be an issue as the older models weren't great with that either.

                        The low-light on this camera is the sacrifice of a 4K chip - it is about the same sensitivity as the older Sony V1u, while the NX5 has better low-light capabilities. For our purposes, this wasn't an issue, but it may be for your scenario. Consider the NX5 or PMW160/200 if low-light is important for your work.

                        A few other changes are the addition of a fan - it is exceptionally quiet and should not pick up even with an on-board mic. Also, the new XQD cards are very nice to use - they are the best cards I've used that aren't SXS/P2 cost level. Much nicer than SD and even Compact Flash, though for the time being, they are more expensive. I hope to see these cards make their way into more cameras in the future.

                        Overall, I think this is a very nice camera that accomplishes what it intends to be. There are some sacrifices going to a 4K sensor, but if those don't interfere with your work, this is a good future-proof option to consider.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (13 of 17 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        awesome camera

                        By johnmont250

                        from petaluma ca

                        About Me Professional Artist

                        Verified Reviewer

                        Pros

                        • Easy To Use
                        • Improves Performance
                        • Lightweight
                        • Professional Quality

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Complex Projects
                          • Independent Films
                          • In The Studio

                          Comments about Sony FDR-AX1 Digital 4K Video Camera Recorder:

                          I am a one man band freelancer. I have been wanting a "real" video camera for a few months now, I have a c100 and 5dmk3, but wanted something to grab and go, for jobs where i cant spend time setting up gear, and clients dont care about dof. I was having a hard time spending money on 3yr old technology that seemed available.
                          the files dropped right into pprocs6, win7pro without a hicup. the files worked right away, and i could see amazing detail.
                          It is very well balanced, when you load it up with shotgun mic and lav box, it is perfectly balanced. its way easier to hold than a shoulder rig with dslr. my small hd monitor worked right away, with no overlays. i dont use an outboard recorder, so i dont know about the output compression.
                          Great lcd, nice sound, and everything you would expect from a sony camcorder.
                          I was not expecting great leaps in low light performance, and I think its about like most other sony cams like it. decent, but not stellar in low light. lots of recording formats, like 60p in all of them. i love it all, the picture looks awesome even downscaled to 1080. Im keeping mine.

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