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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old January 10th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #1
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New Sonys with Iris/shutter!!

I know the AX2000 is getting most of the attention (pretty much what I was hoping to see in a new "big" camera, if a little less "big" physically), but along with all the excitement about that camera, some of the other new releases might have been missed... and have some interesting features if the specs on the website are to be believed!

In what "looks" like an otherwise minor incremental upgrade, the XR550V (240G HDD) gets a bigger (and apparently new) 3.5" "trublack" LCD, a different lens range (more "wide", less "tele"), and the control knob button now lists IRIS and SHUTTER options, meaning manual control has once again returned to the small Sonys!!! Also see that up to 24Mbps data rate has been added!

The CX550V (64G flash memory) lists the same identical new feature set, just with flash instead of HDD. AND it sports a viewfinder in the small form factor!

Still no alternate frame rates or progressive (24p, 30p) from what I can tell, but these other upgrades make these two cameras quite interesting - appear to use the same EXMOR-R sensors as "last years" cameras (nothing wrong with that!), but the upgrade choices should make these two new top of the line cams a lot more competitive (Canon's new HF-S21 looks nice TOO!).

I see that they mention a new "FV" battery, making me wonder if these will be backward compatible with the FH series - Sony has this nasty habit of changing the bettery technology, then locking out the older batteries - when FH was released, the FP series were incompatible, hope that's not the case!


Sony also announced a bunch of "lower end" HD cams at lower price points too, but no "R" sensors (and lowere rez) among them, so I'd expect less than exciting low light performance.


Sony also announced two EXMOR-R based 10.2 Mpixel pocket cameras, the TX7 and HX5 that will shoot full 1920x1080 30p video. Having played with a TX1 (current line, shoots 720/30p) and HX1 (current line, non-"R" sensor, shoots 1080/30p) I would expect these new pocket cams to be VERY capable of producing some good images in small packages. I know the DSC-TX1 has been turning out to be a handy item for family use (now if I can just figure out how to propery import the mpeg4 into Vegas!).
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Old January 10th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #2
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At first I too looked at the CX550V as being just great for my ski trips to complement the VholdR Contour1080P headcam but I now think the HX5 is the better choice. Pity it will not be in time for my ski trip beginning of February !!! The TX7 may be but I think the HX5 is a better travel and video substitute camera than the TX7. Again if the specs are correct !!! They shoot 1920x1080 60i by the way at the same rate as the SR11 does but with the R sensor.

The NXCAM will definitely replace my FX1 though. Will wait until the full specs are verified but I expect the NXCAM will be a better fit for me than the AX2000.

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Old January 10th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #3
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Great for my modest needs

I'm really excited about the CX550v. I've been using the CX520v for travel video work and a little more control along with SD card support will be welcome. I also use an HF-S100 and will interested to see how much the HF-S21 stabilization has improved as well, since stabilization is one of the most important functions for my job.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 12:24 PM   #4
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This is terrific news.
I have been so pleased with the XR 520 for a travel/casual cam- now they are giving us 24 mbs, shutter control, AND native wide angle.
The CX version, without the need for a WA adaptor anymore, really makes it a near pro level cam (in terms of image quality) that can be literally stuffed in a pocket.
Not to mention SDHC compatibility (I have a ton of those).
What a deal!!
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Last edited by Robert Young; January 11th, 2010 at 01:15 PM.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 02:50 PM   #5
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That new CX550V looks pretty nice to me too, now they added a viewfinder to a CX series. I'm a bit skeptical about the SDHC compatibility, although I've seen an adapter for those mini/micro SDHC cards to the MS Pro Duo slot for a long time on eBay...


Ron - the HX5 does look like pretty good bang for the buck, it's an oddball IMO as it's supposedly replacing the HX1, which is a very different sort of camera (superzoom, like a mini SLR). But could be nice - I used a TX1 on holiday, and there's something to be said for a slim little cam like this!

The 720P from the TX1 is quite good (and I think you're right, these new ones DO shoot 60i at full HD rez), I just haven't figured out why it won't import into Vegas... I get a "still", got to suss that out sometime! One thing to be aware of with these "still" cameras is they aren't going to match the low light performance of the XR/CX - not that they aren't good, but if you're shooting a lot "on the edge" of "too dark", it's something to be aware of. Still, for a "does it all" camera, hard to beat these things!
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Old January 11th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #6
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I think I will get the HX5 for a few reasons. The battery will be the same as my wife's still camera ( W170) for which we have a spare and travel charger, it will fit in my ski jacket pocket rather than carrying a chest bag for the camera, it has Active OIS , and the GPS will be handy too for travel. The sensor is an Exmor R sensor of about the same size as in the video cameras ( 1/2.4 maybe a little bigger than the 1/2.88 of the camcorders !!!) so it will be interesting to see how it performs against the XR500. I don't think they will be available in Canada until March so I will have to wait !!!!!!

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Old January 11th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #7
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Good sound reasoning - drives me nuts trying to keep track of what batteries are the current flavor!

I know the TX1 has proven to be a great little camera - my others never came out of the bag on the recent holiday trip. Sort of a surprise, but the TX1 was just handier! Considering the video is only 1280x720, it isn't bad at all.

Both the TX1 and the WX1 (current line) have EXMOR R sensors, look to be the same ones as will be in the TX7 and HX5 size wise. The WX has about 2 stops on the TX due to the lens size/design difference, so the HX5 should be about the same I would expect. Neither can reach into XR range, and the CX500 is set up with more gain, so it digs even deeper into dark conditions, but then again neither fits in a pocket!

I find the WX1 to be too small to handle (HX5 looks slightly bigger), but my wife likes it - the TX1 seems to fit better in my hand, and I really like the touch screen interface. Both were good upgrades on some older 5 Mpixel Cybershots!
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Old January 11th, 2010, 08:12 PM   #8
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Are we sure the CX550V has a viewfinder? - a "well known camcorder review site" says not ....

EDIT: Ignore me (and that site - sheesh!) ... yes it does. But more moulded into the body, with no upward rotation, apparently.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 09:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
...Neither can reach into XR range, and the CX500 is set up with more gain, so it digs even deeper into dark conditions, but then again neither fits in a pocket!
...
I have actually slipped a CX500V into a regular shirt pocket but it was a tight fit and I was afraid it would rip the pocket off due to weight at some point. I've also tried it in a back jeans pocket (OK there) and a front jeans pocket (too small). While it technically could be slid into the rear pocket, again, it was just a bit too big for that.

I did find that I could slip it into the side pocket of two outdoors jackets - one a windbreaker and the other an insulated winter jacket. This was in cold, windy weather while standing on a footbridge overlooking railroad tracks, waiting for the Capitol Limited to show up. It fit in those pockets with room to spare - I would have zipped them up if I were moving around.

So the CX500V is borderline carryable in a large pocket - nothing like carrying one of those 3x digital cameras or a true pocket-sized cam. But the cam is small enough to go in the average outdoors coat pocket, I suspect. Not that I'd generally want to carry a semi-expensive cam anywhere but in a case!

Anyway, just thought I'd report that the CX500V is borderline that small. The CX550V is bigger in all three dimensions, though only a little in one or two. But the two cams do not have the exact same footprint - the newer one is bigger.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 09:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Hickling View Post
Are we sure the CX550V has a viewfinder? - a "well known camcorder review site" says not ....

EDIT: Ignore me (and that site - sheesh!) ... yes it does. But more moulded into the body, with no upward rotation, apparently.
Weeeeell... we all know how accurate that site is, most of the time <wink>. The CX550 and XR550 appear to be pretty similar aside from recording media options. 64G is plenty for me... lighter, smaller, absolutely no HDD crash worries (still lurking in the shadows despite not seeing any problems in practice).

If I had to venture a guess, the VF will pull out as an alternate switching mechanism (opening LCD turns cam on), ala the XR500 - once extended, it can be tilted up a bit. It did appear there might be a power switch though, so this could prove incorrect, guess we'll have to wait and see!
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Old January 11th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #11
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Tom -
I consider the CX series to be "pocketable" in the sense of a big jacket pocket, where these new still cams would fit in just about anything short of tight jeans! The TX1 is thinner than my cell phone and only slightly larger in the other two directions...

Either way, you can get small cases that protect reasonably well that are very small and discrete! I rig a neck lanyard to the "D" ring on the handstrap for easy access shooting, since they really don't have room for a traditional neck strap, that's a handy trick.

What's really is hard to believe is how good an image you can get in these small packages - I see the shortcomings, yet it's incredible how good the image quality is, considering the price point and size. The TX1 is the least expensive cam I've got (not counting cell phone, which actually does "shoot video"... yuck), and almost the smallest, yet it captures pretty high quality that I'm pretty sure would beat most if not all of the SD cameras in a "consumer" price range from just a few short years ago.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #12
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I'll definitely be looking into that AX2000 over the HC40 now...
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Old January 11th, 2010, 11:36 PM   #13
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Since it hasn't been mentioned .. these new Sonys' 35mm equivalent zoom range appears to be 29.8mm-298mm vs. 43mm-516mm on the previous models. And I think the new HFS Canons still start at ~43mm, right?

EdIT: Sorry Dave, I just meant the numerical values for the focal lengths hadn't been mentioned.

Last edited by Graham Hickling; January 12th, 2010 at 01:02 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 02:26 AM   #14
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That's the different lens range I mentioned, starts quite a bit wider and not as much on the tele end.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 07:53 AM   #15
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Tom -
I consider the CX series to be "pocketable" in the sense of a big jacket pocket, where these new still cams would fit in just about anything short of tight jeans! The TX1 is thinner than my cell phone and only slightly larger in the other two directions...

Either way, you can get small cases that protect reasonably well that are very small and discrete! I rig a neck lanyard to the "D" ring on the handstrap for easy access shooting, since they really don't have room for a traditional neck strap, that's a handy trick.

What's really is hard to believe is how good an image you can get in these small packages - I see the shortcomings, yet it's incredible how good the image quality is, considering the price point and size. The TX1 is the least expensive cam I've got (not counting cell phone, which actually does "shoot video"... yuck), and almost the smallest, yet it captures pretty high quality that I'm pretty sure would beat most if not all of the SD cameras in a "consumer" price range from just a few short years ago.
The still cams are definitely unobtrusive and meant to slip in pockets. The CX500V isn't designed for that, it's too big still. But I think part of what you've identified is that the cams can get smaller and the vendors are miniaturizing effectively - probably soon up to the point where the quality of output is completely there and issues of handling and user interface keep the cams from getting smaller. Kind of like the uncomfortable attempts to use a keyboard with a tiny phone - it can be done but it has limits based on people instead of technology (they could make a functioning keyboard a LOT smaller than they do, but no one could use it!).

The way scientists and engineers have packed enormous amounts of memory and computing power into smaller, cooler, more efficient, and cheaper designs is just revolutionary.
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