It’s hard to keep up with SONY’s new cams for one very good reason – they are skipping numbers! I thought the successor to the very successful Sony FX1 will be called FX2. Or, perhaps, FX3.
When it comes to the product name, Sony isn’t content with incremental improvements. We’re now straight to number 7. Not so when it comes to the product itself. Maybe, Sony felt that neither Canon XL H1 nor Panasonic HVX200 changed anything in the market, so why bother.
Many reviewers have likened the FX7 release to the release of the VX2100 model, hot on the steps of VX2000 (I’m a proud owner of the latter). The VX2100 offered some minor improvements in light sensitivity and a variety of interface features that made things a bit easier for the prosumer shooter.
Let’s look at Sony FX7 and see what advantages it offers.
- Affordable (Canon XL H1’s price is almost 3 times higher)
- Real HD 1080 support (unlike FX1‘s 1440×1080 chip)
- Good video with low light capabilities (though admittedly worse than FX1 because of the CMOS)
- Long battery life
- Standard HDV (using MiniDV cassettes)
On the negative side we’ve got:
- Fixed lens (though it has been bumped to 20x zoom)
- No XLR inputs for audio
- No true 24p
If you look at Sony FX1′s advantages from last year, you’ll see the camera has the same things going for it with a few notable differences.
To me, the biggest difference is the sensor. In the last year, SONY has introduced a several of his low-end HD cams with CMOS sensors (e.g. Sony HC1 and Sony HC3). Is CMOS good enough for $3,000 cam though?
Harry Haruna, Manager of Camcorder Product Planning for Sony USA, had this to say:
As for resolution, because you have the CMOS technology the FX7, resolution is much higher than the FX1 in decent light conditions. On the contrary, under low light conditions the FX1 is better than the FX7, since the FX1 has a larger CCD sensor.
Hmm, I thought FX7 was an upgrade. It looks like it’s something of a sidegrade: if you have an FX1, keep it. If you don’t, you can either get the FX1 if you need a cam with a better sensor and bigger lens or go for the new FX7 with its smaller form factor and “full” HD 1080.
Then again, Canon has recently introduced more affordable versions of its $9,000 monster, the Canon XL H1. At just $500 more than the FX7, it introduces some much needed competition. If I can get FX1 for less than $2000 (Apple store had an offer like that), I’d be the happiest person … for the next 6 months or so.