Sony Launches New HDV Camcorder

Sony has added a new camcorder to its HDV product lineup, with 24p capture and a new hybrid-recording feature.

Unveiled to the press in New York this week, the HVR-V1U features 24p progressive screen capture, and uses three of Sony's ClearVid CMOS Sensor chips combined with Sony's Enhanced Image Processor technology that uses a unique diamond-shaped design to provide greater sensitivity, higher resolution, lower noise and a wider dynamic range.

"We have pushed the limits of sensitivity and resolution by using a very clever diamond CMOS design," said Hugo Gaggioni, chief technology officer for the Broadcast and Production Systems Division of Sony Electronics.

The design consists of three 1/4-inch ClearVid CMOS sensor chips that capture images at native 24p, 30p or 60p at full 1080p resolution at reduced power consumption. According to Bob Ott, vice president of marketing for Sony Electronics' optical and network systems group, combining the ClearVid CMOS chip with Sony's Enhanced Image Processor technology achieves wide dynamic range by using a unique algorithm that separates image data into its texture patterns and brightness component, allowing the camera's sensor to produce natural and rich tones for both light and dark areas of an image.

Another feature that results from combining these technologies is "smooth slow rec." (recording) that uses the speed of the camcorder's signal processing to capture video images at very high speeds (up to 240 fields per second), allowing quick movements to be recorded in precise detail with on artifacts or signal degradation.

The camera also introduces hard-disk recording to Sony's HDV camcorder line-up, using a recording unit that uses a 1.8-inch drive with a 60 GB capacity and offering up to 4.5 hours of recording time in either HDV or DVCAM/DV mode. The unit features "Smart Protection," which, when combined with a built-in "shock absorber," automatically protects the camcorder at a force of up to three Gs. If the sensor detects that the unit is being dropped, it immediately turns the power off and retracts the head to help prevent damage to the media.

The camcorder uses a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with extra low dispersion glass and a 20x optical zoom lens with F2.8 at the telephoto end for greater light sensitivity and long-range image acquisition for maximum shooting flexibility.

Sony expects to begin shipping the HVR-V1U camcorder and an accompanying HVR-DR60 hard-disk recording unit in December at suggested list prices of $4,800 and $1,800 respectively.