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


Using the Camera in the Real World
As mentioned previously, the weight of the camera is such that you probably wonít get tired using it, but it is not quite massive enough to prevent the shakes that are inherent with lightweight cameras. It does have Sonyís Super SteadyShot feature, and it is customizable with four different types of stabilization. Because Super SteadyShot stabilization is done optically rather than digitally, it actually works quite well.

Battery life is quite good, but not as good as previous Sony same-class cameras. It uses standard Sony InfoLithium "L" series batteries, so if you have another Sony camera you may already have batteries that can be used with this camera, though it consumes them a little faster than what you are used to. You will most definitely want to purchase a larger battery than the one that comes with the camera, as the provided battery provides a maximum of about 75 minutes of run time.

Audio
The audio on the camera seems to be good, though not spectacular. When recording in HDV the audio is compressed using MPEG 1 Layer 2 compression at 384 kbps, which is good, but not quite CD quality. Noise is lower than previous Sony cameras, but still audible when turned up loud enough. I do wish that the microphone was more sensitive to sounds coming from directly in front of the camera, but serious video enthusiasts will certainly have their own microphone setup.

This camera does not have XLR microphone inputs, though its bigger brother, due out next spring, will.

Conclusions
This camera is a very exciting new entry into the world of video. Good quality high definition has been unavailable to the consumer until now, and the Sony HDR-FX1 represents a very good starting point for inexpensive HD. It seems as though Sony has taken their experience from the DCR-VX1000 and its newer siblings and incorporated everything they have learned into this camera, as well as adding additional refinements as well. If you have liked Sonyís previous offerings, you will love this camera.

Though the HDR-FX1 is very good, I canít recommend it for everyone. This camera is too expensive, heavy, and complex for casual consumers. It is really aimed at a semi-pro market, and it does this job very well. But if you want something simple, or the full flexibility of a truly professional camera, this probably isnít for you. If you want high definition video relatively inexpensively, the HDR-FX1 is an excellent choice!

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