After Panasonic’s announcement of the AF-100 4/3rds interchangeable lens video camera at NAB and Sony’s own 35mm sized camcorder prototype it came as a bit of a surprise to me to see this new development from Sony today.
In Sony’s words “Sony Corporation announced today that it is developing a new type of AVCHD high definition camcorder which features key technologies powering the newly announced interchangeable lens digital camera, “NEX-5” and “NEX-3” and plans to commercialize the new HD camcorder in fall 2010. The new camcorder will be equipped with the same “Exmor” APS HD CMOS sensor to be used in “NEX-5” and “NEX-3.” In addition, the camcorder will be compatible with “E-mount” interchangeable lenses developed for “NEX-5” and “NEX-3”, and also the wealth of “A-mount” interchangeable lenses from the existing “α” DSLR camera lineup via a mount adaptor. By combining these features, Sony aims to market a camcorder capable of generating a variety of creative expressions in full HD quality.”
For me the interesting thing about this announcement is that they seem to have an optical adapter for 35mm lenses designed for the Alpha range of SLRs. These lenses include some fantastic optics by Zeiss that have not been available for DSLR video up till now, they include the 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70 f2.8 and 135mm f1.8. Not only are they Zeiss quality they have very smooth focus and great build quality. If the optical adapter reduces the image circle to fit the NEX APS size sensor – instead of just a straight crop, then things get very interesting. True there will shortly be DSLR’s and NEX series cameras from Sony itself that will use these lenses, but I would hope that this true video camera offers a better range of controls and especially audio functions. The prototype certainly looks to be around the right weight and size for videojournalism – only time will tell.
There are a few other questions about cameras like this – I’m not a big fan of the AVCHD codec but then by the time this camera hits the streets there should be better solutions for editing it. Also Sony sensor has yet to be tested for line skipping etc…
All that said this is an interesting development and one that I’m sure the likes of Canon and Nikon will be following closely.
Update – On closer inspection the Zeiss lens adapter may just be the Sony LA-EA1 for the LEX cameras which would have no optics and basically just offer a straight crop http://www.sony.net/Products/ilc/E-series/nex5nex3/features03.html