Both Canon and Sony recently introduced advanced-level 4K Ultra HD camcorders with fast auto focus systems desirable for advanced amateur, prosumer and news gathering applications.

Canon introduced three 4K camcorder models in the VIXIA GX10 ($2,499 suggested retail), XF400 ($2,999 suggested retail) and XF405 ($3,499), all of which will be available in November.

Each camcorder features 4K recording at up to 60fps or up to 120fps in Full HD for smooth motion and even slow-motion images. Canon said the models would capture up to 12 stops of dynamic range in Wide DR mode, but HDR shooters will not find Canon Log featured.

The Canon camcorders include 1-inch, 1.0-type 13-2MP CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC DV6 image processing and the company’s Dual Pixel AF.

Meanwhile, Sony introduced three 4K Ultra HD camcorders with HDR capture capability and including phase detection AF systems targeted at advanced enthusiasts, prosumers and professional news gathering operations.

The three new palm-style models include the (pictured at top) XDCAM PXW-Z90 (shipping in December at a $2,799 suggested retail price), the NXCAM HXR-NX80 (shipping in December at $2,299) and the Handycam FDR-AX700 (shipping in October at $1,899).

All three models incorporate a Fast Hybrid AF system designed to produce rapid and accurate focusing and tracking for sharp 4K images. The AF system features 273 phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 84 percent of the shooting area, high-density placement of autofocus points and a newly developed AF algorithm, Sony said.

Read more on Canon’s and Sony’s advanced level 4K camcorders after the jump:

The Phase-Detection AF points in Sony’s models are visible over the focus area of the movie frame and give the videographer a reference to ensure the subject remains focus while shooting.

The AF system in each camcorder is adapted for video shooting with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor. The new camcorders support 4K HDR recording with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) that captures HDR on the fly. Sony said the camcorders enable an Instant HDR workflow for smooth, high-quality HDR results. The workflow simplifies shooting, editing, and viewing of HDR content in HLG, without the need for post-production color grading.

Each of the new Sony models include a high-resolution OLED viewfinder (0.39-type OLED, 2,359k dots) and advanced 3.5-type LCD touchscreen (1,555k dots) that help users easily switch focus from one subject to another. The AF Drive Speed, Tracking Depth Range and Subject Switching Sensitivity are configurable for different subjects and content styles.

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Time coding can be synchronized between multiple camcorders using Sony’s free Content Browser Mobile 3.0 app with optional CBKZ-WTCL upgrade and devices running iOS (9.0 – 10.3) or Android (4.4 – 7.1) operating systems.

Other common features in the Sony models include: dual-card slots; 4K full-pixel readout without pixel binning through the BIONZ X image processing engine; Super Slow Motion recording of up to 960fps; S-Log3/S-Gamut3 capabilities; 29mm wide-angle Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 12x optical zoom lens and 18x Clear Image Zoom; less image distortion (rolling shutter phenomenon), in comparison to conventional models, when shooting moving subjects in motion.

The new camcorders also have remote terminals, Multi-Interface Shoe, and HDMI Type A for enhanced operability, Sony said. Dual XLR audio input terminals are also included.

The PXW-Z90 adds a handful of features optimized for broadcast-specific production requirements. Among these are: XAVC L format recording, which provides high-quality images at 4:2:2 10 bit (HD) and 4:2:0 8-bit (QFHD) in addition to conventional broadcasting MPEG2HD format recording; and 3G SDI connectivity for compatibility with existing broadcasting equipment.

Sony models HXR-NX80 and FDR-AX700 adopt XAVC S, an extended format of XAVC for consumer use.

Meanwhile, the Canon camcorder models include: Face Priority AF and Face Only AF modes to ensure faces of interview subjects remain sharp, while Dual Pixel CMOS AF yields sharp, fast AF. All three also feature a 15x optical zoom lens (25.5mm–382.5mm, 35mm equivalent) Wide DR Gamma capable of an 800 percent dynamic range; a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD monitor and 0.24-inch electronic viewfinder.

The primary difference between the XF400 and XF405 is that the later adds a 3G-SDI video connection.

The Canon VIXIA GX10

The more consumer-facing GX10 has many of the same features as the XF models but substitutes a lighter and more compact body design that omits the camera handle (with associated audio level controls), dual XLR inputs and shotgun microphone holder.

Connectivity options on the Canon models include an HDMI 2.0 terminal with 4K UHD output support, two XLR terminals with independent audio level control (XF models) and a 3G-SDI output (XF405 only).

The hard body handle featured in the two XF models includes audio-level controls and stereo microphone input.


By Greg Tarr


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