Maybe it’s time your video camera caught up with your television monitor. You could have been excused in the HD/1080p TV era if your camera was flat, rectangular, and capable of making phone calls. But if you want to take advantage of the contemporary 4K-display age, capturing landscapes or shooting in the absence of natural light, the hole-punch size lens on your smartphone will always pale in comparison to what you can do with a camcorder. Happily, the new age of user-friendly camcorders doesn’t entail carrying a huge box on your shoulder or any geek-like technical proficiency.
With its sleek appearance, you mightn’t recognize Sony’s FDR-AX700 4K HDR ($1,900) as a relative of the camera you owned before the smartphone revolution. Nor does it perform like it. Its 4K resolution upgrades the old gold standard of 1080p with twice the amount of pixels, making it easier than ever for amateurs to shoot professional-grade video. If you’re thinking your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel already shoots in 4K, remember that the Sony 4K HDR facilitates those pixels with a lens, professional-grade sensors and image processors that are simply too large to fit inside of cell phones and smaller cameras.
The 29mm Zeiss lens captures luminous high-dynamic-range video. It’s primarily a wide-angle lens, ideal for filming landscapes, but the 12x optical zoom adds versatility, allowing you to capture far away subjects without sacrificing quality. The image sensor, which captures light through the lens and transforms it into a digital image, is the same as the one-inch CMOS sensor that Sony uses in some of its professional-grade video cameras. The image processor, which converts raw data into a format that can be stored on a memory card, is the Bionz X borrowed from the company’s most expensive DSLR digital cameras.
But don’t let these professional-grade specs scare you. The operation of the Sony 4K HDR is essentially point and shoot. Choose between one of the four built-in neutral density filters, press record, and the camera will handle everything else. It even has a built-in HDMI port, so you can view your footage by plugging it directly into the television.
An ideal camera for travel, the Sony 4K HDR is compact and designed for handheld use. It also features two SD slots to record across two different memory cards without interruption.
Should shooting in true 4K inspire you to step up your filmmaking game, some advanced options will assist in your post-production and the camcorder also has a manual setting that provides an easy way of learning the ins and outs of aperture and shutter speed. What else could the budding Spielberg ask for?