When a Camcorder beats a Gopro

Twenty years ago before GoPro cameras, in the day of standard Definition (ATSC 640 x 480) video, I taped everything with a DV camcorder. There was something very versatile about palming a big video camera that could zoom and pan on a monopod fast enough to keep up with comp soccer and lacrosse. I loved getting those zoomed glory shots where you shoot the ball close as it goes in the goal and then quickly zoom out wide to the celebration. Those camcorders would let you rack focus and track focus moving targets with accuracy.

Recently I became interested in small Sony Camcorders. With Fly Fishing Videos getting better and better with advanced cinematography, Film makers like Todd Moen are raising the bar with truely epic focus, zoom and drone moves. I have enojoyed shooting DSLR micro 4/3s for pro video. I especially like the Lumix GH5 and the Lumix GX8. I own the latest GOPRO 4k cameras as well -the Session5, the GoPro 5 and GoPro 6.

I considered four of Sony’s top compact 4k camcorders

FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder
AX53 4K Handycam® with Exmor R® CMOS sensor
AX33 4K Handycam® with Exmor R® CMOS sensor
AX100 4K Expert Handycam®

After studying the latest crop of 4k Compact Camcorders, I decided to buy a Sony AX53 4K Handycam® with Exmor R® CMOS sensor. The AX53 had some major advantages over the other Sony Cameras for fishing. It has a small form factor which make it easy to carry in a small backpack. Although the sensor is smaller than the slightly larger AX700 and AX100, the pixels are larger to compensate for its size and gives the AX53 the ability to shoot 16.6 megapixel stills. The ZEISS™ Vario-Sonnar® T* lens has a great 20x optical zoom. But the best feature in my opinion is the Balanced Optical SteadyShot that is basically a gimble within the camera making it the best steady cam compact camcorder of the bunch. It also shoots in Full HD at 120fps for epic slow motion. It takes a bit of getting use to, but I think its best camera yet to get those B roll non action shots and close-ups. I managed to buy and Open Box unit form Best Buy for $720. It works perfectly. I think the stills look better than 4k screen grabs and you can shoot still while videoing. Employing the XAVC S format, which was developed from the XAVC format for professional use, 4K resolutions record at a bitrate of 100 Mbp. THe codec works seamlessly in Final Cut X and is as clean as ProRes at 4k. With an Xtra large battery I can get 4 hours of 4k video and Stills. The camera has a 55mm filter ring on it as well so I can also use ND and Polarizing filters fro great sunny water shots.

Sensor
SENSOR TYPE
1/2.5 type (0.28 in) back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS Sensor
EFFECTIVE PIXELS (VIDEO)
approx. 8.29 Megapixels (16:9)2
EFFECTIVE PIXELS (STILL IMAGE)
approx. 8.29 Megapixels (16:9)/approx. 6.22 Megapixels (4:3)
Processor
IMAGE PROCESSOR
BIONZ X™ image processor
Lens
LENS TYPE
ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar® T*
FILTER DIAMETER
55 mm
LENS COVER
Auto
APERTURE
F 2.0-3.8
FOCAL DISTANCE
f=4.4-88 mm
FOCAL LENGTH (35 MM EQUIVALENT) (VIDEO)
f=26.8-536.0 mm (16:9)2
FOCAL LENGTH (35MM EQUIVALENT) (STILL IMAGE)
f=26.8-536.0 mm (16:9) f=32.8-656.0 mm (4:3)
MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE
approx. 13/32″ (Wide), approx. 31 1/2″ (Tele), approx. 1 cm (Wide), approx. 80 cm (Tele)
IRIS DIAPHRAGM
6 blades
Zoom
OPTICAL ZOOM
20x
CLEAR IMAGE ZOOM
4K: 30x HD: 40×3
DIGITAL ZOOM
250×4
Viewfinder
VIEWFINDER TYPE
0.24 type (0.6 cm)/Color 1,555,200 dots equivalent
FIELD OF VIEW
100%
DIOPTER ADJUSTMENT
Yes (-4.0 to +3.0 mstyle name=”sup”-1/style)
LCD
SCREEN TYPE
3.0 type (3.0″) Xtra Fine LCD™ display (921 x 600 dots) Wide (16:9)
TOUCH PANEL
Yes
BRIGHTNESS CONTROL
Yes (Menu)5
MARKER/GRID DISPLAY
Grid Line6
ANGLE ADJUSTMENT
Opening Angle: max. 90 deg., Turning Angle: max. 270 deg.
Image Stabilization
IMAGE STABILIZATION TYPE
Balanced Optical SteadyShot w/ Intelligent Active mode (5-axis)7
Focus
FOCUS TYPE
Contrast AF
FOCUS MODE
Auto/Manual (Touch Panel/Ring)
FOCUS AREA
Full range Focus/Spot Focus
FAST INTELLIGENT AF
Yes
LOCK-ON AF
Yes8
MANUAL FOCUS ASSIST
Magnified display for precise manual focus, Peaking Display
Exposure
MODE
Auto, Flexible Spot (Touch Panel), Manual (Menu/Ring)
METERING MODES
Multi-segment/Spot
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION
AE Shift (Touch Panel/Ring)
LOW LUX MODE
Yes
AUTO IRIS CONTROL
F2.0-F11
MANUAL IRIS CONTROL
F2.0-F11
MANUAL EXPOSURE ASSIST
Zebra Pattern Display
BACKLIGHT COMPENSATION
Yes (Auto)
GAIN CONTROL
Auto
AGC LIMIT
Yes
MINIMUM ILLUMINATION
4K: Standard: 9 lux (1/60 Shutter Speed) HD: Standard: 6 lux (1/60 Shutter Speed), 4K: Low Lux 1.8 lux (1/30 Shutter Speed) HD: Low Lux 1.2 lux (1/30 Shutter Speed), NightShot: 0 lux (1/60 Shutter Speed)
Shutter Speed
AUTO CONTROL RANGE
1/8–1/10000
STANDARD
1/60–1/10000
MANUAL IRIS CONTROL (PHOTO MODE)
1/30–1/10000
MANUAL SHUTTER
1/8–1/10000
SMOOTH SLOW
1/250–1/10000
White Balance
WHITE BALANCE MODES
Auto/Onepush/Outdoor/Indoor
WHITE BALANCE SHIFT
Yes
Flash
FLASH METERING SYSTEM
Pre-flash TTL9
FLASH COMPENSATION
Yes (3 steps)9
FLASH MODE
Auto/On/OFF9
Storage Media
MEDIA TYPE
XAVC S 4K (100 Mbps): SDHC Memory Card (4 GB or over, UHS-I U3 or Higher)/SDXC Memory Card (UHS-I U3 or Higher), XAVC S 4K (60 Mbps): SDHC Memory Card (4 GB or over, Class 10 or Higher)/SDXC Memory Card (Class 10 or Higher), XAVC S HD: SDHC Memory Card (4 GB or over, Class 10 or Higher)/SDXC Memory Card (Class 10 or Higher), AVCHD, Still: Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (Mark 2), Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo™, SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card (Class 4 or Higher)
Recording
RECORDING FORMAT (VIDEO)
XAVC S format:MPEG4-AVC/H.264, AVCHD format ver. 2.0 compatible:MPEG4-AVC/H.264, MP4: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
VIDEO RESOLUTION
XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160/30p, 24p, XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080/60p, 30p, 24p, AVCHD: 1920 x 1080/60p (PS), 24p (FX, FH), 60i (FX, FH), 1440 x 1080/60i (HQ, LP), MP4: 1280 x 720 30p
VIDEO RECORDING RATE (ABR / VBR)
XAVC S 4K: approx. 100 Mbps10, XAVC S 4K: approx. 60 Mbps10, XAVC S HD: approx. 50 Mbps10, AVCHD PS: approx. 28 Mbps/FX: approx. 24 Mbps/FH: approx. 17 Mbps/HQ: approx. 9 Mbps/LP: approx. 5 Mbps1011, MP4: approx. 3 Mbps10
RECORDING FORMAT (STILL IMAGE)
JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.3, MPF Baseline-compliant)
STILL IMAGE SIZE (PHOTO MODE)
L: 16.6 Megapixels 16:9 (5440 x 3056), 12.5 Megapixels 4:3 (4080 x 3056), M: 8.3 Megapixels 16:9 (3840 x 2160), 6.2 Megapixels 4:3 (2880 x 2160), S: 2.1 Megapixels 16:9 (1920 x 1080), 0.3 Megapixels 4:3 (640 x 480)
STILL IMAGE SIZE (MOVIE MODE)
M: 8.3 Megapixels 16:9 (3840 x 2160), S: 2.1 Megapixels 16:9 (1920 x 1080)
STILL IMAGE SIZE (PHOTO CAPTURE)
XAVC S 4K: 8.3 Megapixels 16:9 (3840 x 2160), XAVC S HD: 2.1 Megapixels 16:9 (1920 x 1080), AVCHD: 2.1 Megapixels 16:9 (1920 x 1080)
STILL IMAGE SIZE (TIME-LAPSE CAPTURE)
4K: L (8.3 M, 3840 x 2160)/HD: S (2.1 M, 1920 x 1080)
STILL IMAGE SIZE (DUAL RECORD)
M: 8.3 Megapixels 16:9 (3840 x 2160)12, S: 2.1 Megapixels 16:9 (1920 x 1080)81312
Audio
MICROPHONE
Built-in Zoom Microphone
AUDIO RECORDING FORMAT
MPEG-4 Linear PCM 2ch (48 kHz/16 bit)14, Dolby Digital 5.1ch, Dolby Digital 5.1Creator15, Dolby Digital 2ch Stereo, Dolby Digital Stereo Creator15, MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2ch16
MIC LEVEL CONTROL
Yes (31 steps)
AUTO WIND NOISE REDUCTION
Yes (On/Off)
MY VOICE CANCELING
Yes
SPEAKER
Monaural Speaker
Advanced Feature
HIGH SPEED REC
Yes (120p/1920 x 1080, 100/60 Mbps)
TIME-LAPSE CAPTURE
Yes, Shooting Interval (1/2/5/10/30/60sec), Shot Number (1-999), Capture Image Size (4K:L(8.3M, 3840 x 2160)/HD: S (2.1 M, 1920 x 1080)), AE Mode (AE Lock/AE Tracking)
SCENE SELECTION
Auto/Night Scene/Sunrise & Sunset/Fireworks/Landscape/Portrait/Spotlight/Beach/Snow
NIGHTSHOT INFRARED SYSTEM
Yes
TIME CODE/USER BIT
Yes
OTHER FEATURES
Face Detection8, Cinematone, Golf Shot15, Smooth Slow Rec15, Fader Effect(s) (White/Black)17, Intelligent Auto (Portrait/Baby/Walk/Tripod/Backlight/Landscape/Spotlight/Twilight/Macro/Low light/Auto wind noise reduction), Smile Shutter (Off/Dual Capture/Always On)81312, Red Eye Reduction (Yes9), Direct Copy
Playback
FAST PLAYBACK
About 5 times/10 times/30 times/60 times
SLOW PLAYBACK
Forward: 1/5 speed, Reverse: 1/2 speed
TRIMMING PLAYBACK
Yes
HIGHLIGHT MOVIE MAKER
Yes15, Highlight background music (Preinstalled 6 music files, Music transfer compatible18
MOTION SHOT VIDEO
Yes19
SLIDE SHOW (STILL IMAGE)
Slideshow
Wireless Function
WI-FI®
Yes (Wi-Fi Compatible, IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz band))20
NFC™
Yes (NFC forum Type 3 Tag compatible)
LIVE STREAMING
yes21
MULTI CAMERA CONTROL
yes
Terminal / Shoe
ACCESSORY SHOE
Yes (Multi Interface Shoe)
HDMI TERMINAL
Yes (HDMI micro)22
MULTI/MICRO USB TERMINAL
Yes23
REMOTE TERMINAL
integrated into Multi/Micro USB Terminal23
STD OUTPUT
Composite Video Out (AV CABLE (sold separately))
MICROPHONE INPUT
Stereo minijack
HEADPHONE JACK
Stereo minijack
MEMORY CARD SLOT
Memory Stick PRO Duo™ and SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible
DC IN
Yes
Power
BATTERY TYPE
InfoLITHIUM with AccuPower Meter System (V Series)24
POWER CONSUMPTION (LCD)
4 K: 4.9 W25
POWER CONSUMPTION (VIEWFINDER)
4 K: 4.9 W25
POWER REQUIREMENTS
6.8 V/7.3 V (battery pack), 8.4 V (AC Adapter)
CHARGE ON CAMCORDER (CHARGING TIME WITH SUPPLIED BATTERY)
Yes (approx. 3h 25min)26
USB CHARGING
DC 5 V 1500 mA
Size & Weight
DIMENSIONS (W X H X D) (INCLUDING SUPPLIED BATTERY)
Approx. 2 7/8″ x 3 1/4″ x 6 3/8″ (Approx. 2 7/8″ x 3 1/4″ x 6 5/8″ (NP-FV70)/Approx. 2 7/8″ x 3 1/4″ x 6 7/8″ (NP-FV70A) (including supplied battery))2728, Approx. 73 mm x 80.5 mm x 161 mm (Approx. 73 mm x 80.5 mm x 166.5 mm (NP-FV70)/Approx. 73 mm x 80.5 mm x 173 mm (NP-FV70A) (including supplied battery))2728
WEIGHT (MAIN UNIT ONLY)
Approx. 1 lb 2.9 oz, Approx. 535 g
WEIGHT (INCLUDING SUPPLIED BATTERY)
Approx. 1 lb 4.6 oz (NP-FV50A)29, Approx. 1 lb 6.4 oz (NP-FV70)/Approx. 1 lb 6 oz (NP-FV70A) (supplied battery)29, Approx.1 lb 8.0 oz (NP-FV100A)29, Approx. 585 g (NP-FV50A)29, Approx. 635 g (NP-FV70)/Approx. 625 g (NP-FV70A) (supplied battery)29, Approx. 680 g (NP-FV100A)29

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