Sony HDR-FX1: one year later

Sony HDR FX1Sony’s first HDV cam, the HDR-FX1, stirred the HD video production world with its introduction an year ago. In that time several new HDV camcorders came on the market (Sony Z1 and JVC GY-HD100U). Sony’s main competitors in the DV field both have announced their HD cams: Canon XL H1 and Panasonic HVX200.

So where does the Sony FX1 stand right now? Is it still a good buy or it’s worth to wait a little longer? I’ll answer these below.

Different shooters have different needs. In my recent post about HD cameras for guerilla filmmaking, the FX1 wins fair and square. What about other uses though?

Let’s look at FX1’s advantages:

  • Affordable (Canon XL H1’s price is almost 3 times higher)
  • 1080i support (actual chip is 1440×1080)
  • Vibrant video with some low light capabilities (3 lux)
  • Long battery life
  • Standard HDV (using MiniDV cassettes)

On the negative side we’ve got:

  • Fixed lens (albeit a good Carl Zeiss one)
  • No XLR inputs for audio
  • No true 24p

If your end-product stays on video (DVD) and you don’t need balanced audio, Sony FX1 offers the best value. Wedding and corporate videographers will have an easy time selling their services as well. The FX1 is black and sexy and although it’s not a shoulder cam (like JVC GY-HD100U or Canon XL H1), it does look professional.

On the other hand, if you need balanced audio and you hope to be able to transfer to film, it’s best to wait a bit. Here’s why:

Canon XL H1 has interchangeable lenses and supports Canon XL mount and full range of lenses. This will allow you the flexibility to simulate a “filmlook” more easily. For example, shooting with a tele lens to create a narrow depth of field.

Panasonic HVX200 is the only cam under $10,000 that supports variable speeds (including true 24p). If you’d like to create filmlike video with real slo-mo effects, this is the cam to get.

In short, the FX1 is best suited for videographers who acquire, edit, and distribute on video. Aspiring filmmakers will find the features limiting, but hey, you only pay a fraction of what others are paying so you can’t complain. If $3,000 is still too much for you, you could get Sony HC1 for less than $1,500 – it’s a more affordable, entry-level HDV camcorder.

Update: Sony released Sony FX7, a three-CMOS sensor camcorder that provides a “horizontal” alternative to the Sony FX1.

21 thoughts on “Sony HDR-FX1: one year later

  1. Raina

    My boyfriend’s daydreaming about this one. Since we’re based in Europe though we’re evaluating Sony Z1 because it’s both PAL/NTSC. Are you writing a review on the Z1?

  2. Chris


    I was hoping you could steer me to some information and contacts concerning adapting prime lenses (Nikon) for use on the HDR-FX1 camcorder. Are there converters, adapters for this application?


  3. Patrick Anyanwu


    Glad to visit your blog. This is an open question and also hoping you may have a personal insight on this. I have a sony hdr fx1 which I have used for a couple of months. Recently I ran into a friend who suggested that I needed to calibrate the camera. Do sony hdr fx1s need that?

    You may reply directly to my box. Thank you.

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  8. Arci Fadillah

    XLR input adapter can be bought for around $140, I think it is a very good camera

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  11. Pat Higgins

    The FX1E is still the best value for money. Its Features are sufficient for good quality productions with careful editing. Its controls are very fluid to use. Its a nicer machine that the FX7 to use.

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  13. jerry k

    these are a great camera except,,,,,,, when they get dust/particles inside the supposedly sealed lens unit. it isn’t even foreign matter it is something that flaked off from inside the camera.
    what a joke,, they try and get out of not covering this on warranty,, not even 7 months old.. in perfect condition,, they say $2000aud for fix.

  14. Kicap

    May I know what is the recommended tripod for this camera. I just bought one but I have also looked into buying one of the Sony’s low range tripod such as VCT-50AV/80AV. However, there is no LANC connection can be used with this Tripod. So, any of you got any suggestion for cheap and reliable tripod?

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  17. Andrew

    The price of the equipment is very good. As can also not as expensive productions are realized.

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