TOKYO: Sony previewed a twin-lens 3D NXCAM in Japan
this week along with several other pieces of gear it plans to showcase at the
2011 NAB Show in April. DV Editor
David Williams was on site for Sony’s pre-NAB tour and filed the following
In a series of briefs, I’ll break down some of the most interesting new
developments, all of which will be on display at the upcoming 2011 NAB Show in
Las Vegas, April 11-14.
Perhaps of most interest to the
is a trio of new camcorders that greatly expand Sony’s NXCAM line, one
featuring a Super 35mm sensor, the second a twin-lens 3D configuration, and the
third a compact, water/dust-resistant body.
While journalists were allowed to photograph the three new cameras--all of
which were represented by working models--Sony asked that images be embargoed
until March 23. So the following will concentrate on the specs and general
impressions made by the demonstrations of each unit.
Since Sony’s announcement of the PMW-F3 with the Super 35mm-sized Exmor CMOS
sensor, it’s been clear that the company is serious about addressing the
mid-range, large-sensor market exploding around the DSLR craze. The compact
form factor, shallow depth of field, low-light sensitivity and overall
cinema-like images that are hallmarks of this scene. (Not to mention the
relatively modest entry-point prices.) The F3 instantly became an interesting
counterpart to Sony’s flagship SRW-900PL and F35 cameras, capable of using the
same PL-mount cine lenses. The obvious competitors are Panasonic’s new
AG-AF100, as well as the many RED One cams out there that have yet to undergo
an MX transplant.
There’s plenty of NAB news to be had about the F3 as well, including the
interesting announcement of two new Sony lenses--a wide-angle T3 11-16mm and a
to-be-determined T3.8 (wide) high-power optic in the 10-to-14x range. These
zooms would join the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime “kit” lenses available as part
of the F3 bundle package.
During Sony’s afternoon presentation at the Atsugi Technology Center, a
conspicuous lump hidden under a white cloth was dramatically revealed to be a
new camera that’s clearly going to make waves: The forthcoming NXCAM Super 35mm
camera featuring the same 23.6mm x 13.3mm F11/ISO800 Exmor Super35 CMOS sensor
found in the F3. The Super 35mm is an
extension of Sony’s positioning in this mid-range marketplace, and primarily
intended for low-budget features, music videos and commercials.
Priced at under $7,000, the modular AVCHD S-35mm unit features a boxy body,
large top-mounted screen/viewfinder, sturdy mike extension that doubles as a
carry handle, and a right-side hand-hold grip--the latter two components being
easily removed to convert it into a compact, studio-type camera.
One journalist taking pictures of the unit noted that the look-down orientation
of the screen/viewfinder reminded him of a Hassleblad film camera. The company
executives and engineers seemed happy by this comparison to one of the
best-designed and engineered pro cameras of all time. I’m wondering, however,
how comfortable the camera's unique configuration will be during handheld
The overall first impression of the S-35mm were very good, due in part to an
expertly shot clip that clearly illustrated the camera’s image-making
attributes, which include off-speed shooting with a very effective slow-mo
Next up in the NXCAM family was the new Compact Size Camcorder, priced at under
$3,500, featuring 96 GBs of internal& memory and a water/dust
Superficially, the Compact Size Camcorder is similar-looking to JVC’s popular
HM100, featuring a detachable audio module with shotgun mike, viewfinder and
lens shade. But the Sony unit looks to be even smaller, breaking down into a unobtrusive
camcorder that would create a tiny footprint even in the most challenging
We were cautioned that the Compact Size Camcorder is water resistant,
not waterproof, and should not be totally submerged. But knowing
that even a strong downpour or surf conditions won’t create a shooting disaster
for this cam will be a tremendous relief to some potential customers prone to
adventure-style production. Also, salt water will adversely affect the unit, so
it was suggested that the camcorder be rinsed with fresh water after any such
Finally, we were introduced to the twin-lens NXCAM Compact Size 3D Camcorder,
which is priced at under $3,500 and features a bright, very effective 3.5”
glasses-less 3D screen.
During dinner that evening, we were able to shoot with the Compact Size 3D
Camcorder in a casual setting, and I found it to be very easy to use, with the
3D screen allowing the operator to easily set up effective stereo compositions
sans glasses. The screen is bright and sharp and the stereo effect is quite remarkable.
The screen can be reconfigured for 2D with the press of a button, and a switch
on the back panel above its very small battery pack quickly reverts the camera
itself into a capable 2D unit (using only the left lens/sensor). It also has a
still-shot capability with flash.
One could easily see how this 3D cam could easily be used in conjunction with
Sony’s other two interesting 3D camera solutions that will be at the NAB
Photos of all three NXCAM cameras will be made available after the March 23
See more of David’s reporting at DV.com.)