Digital Home Thoughts: Sony HDR-FX1: High Definition Without Breaking the Bank

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Sony HDR-FX1: High Definition Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by Doug Johnson in "HARDWARE" @ 11:00 AM


Image Enhancement Modes
The HDR-FX1 supports a feature that Sony calls "Picture Profile" which allows five groups of customizable image enhancement settings to be stored and recalled at any time. It is these picture profiles that allow for an image to be adjusted for color, sharpness, white balance, exposure settings, and more. The camera comes with 5 presets, which are designed to provide various looks, from video, to color film, to black and white. Each can be customized individually.

I've had numerous filmmakers ask me if the camera supports 24p, a mode where a camera records 24 full non-interlaced images per second, as part of the Picture Profiles, just as 35mm motion pictures cameras do. The short answers is, sort of, but not really. The camera has a feature called CineMotion24, which attempts to simulate a 24 fps look, but I found it to be too choppy to be usable in a real-world scenario: it looks more like 15 fps, even though it is 24 images per second. A similar mode, CineMotion30, is much better, and while it is not 24 frames per second, it does have a similar look.

Another feature of Picture Profiles that budding filmmakers will be interested in is called CinemaTone Gamma. This feature changes the visual response of the camera to give it a much more film-like look, and I found that this feature works quite well. I do wish it had more options than just "on" and "off" – adjusting the intensity of the effect, or selecting color channels individually, for example.

Sony also provides a skin complexion enhancement feature, though I found the effect was hardly noticeable. Perhaps with some more time I can better identify what it is doing, but its effect was subtle, even at its strongest setting.

As far as special effects, such as strobe, mosaic, etc, this camera just doesn’t have them. It does have a black & white mode and a fader, but most of the consumer-ish effects have been left out. Since these are not used by professionals, they will probably not be missed. These types of effects, if used at all, are better added in editing software.

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