The Sony NEX-EA50EH – A surprising new ENG style large sensor camcorder

By site editor Dan Chung:

Sony today took the wraps off their newest shallow depth of field camcorder – the NEX-EA50EH with Super35 sensor. Marketed as a more affordable than the company’s previous interchangeable lens offerings the new camera has some interesting advantages for the news shooter. Most obviously the camera has a shoulder mounted design, XLR audio and a power zoom lens option.

The lens system is Sony’s own E-mount which is used on all NEX cameras including the FS100 and FS700. There is a growing range of compatible lenses as well as adapters to mount Sony Alpha lenses and also other brands such as Canon EOS, Nikon, FD, Leica or PL mounts.

The new PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS power zoom lens offers auto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot (image stabilisation) – a true first. It should satisfy a lot of run and gun shooters who were used to regular camcorders like the Sony EX-1. Hopefully this lens will work on the Sony FS700 as well but it’s not clear if it will.

A shoulder mounted design is something I have wanted to see in an large sensor camcorder for a long time (I know that Ikegami were first but that camera wasn’t exactly cheap). The design means that to work in a run and gun style you don’t need to invest in extra support rigs to get out and shooting.

The two XLR sockets are a huge plus for camera at this price point – adding XLR audio to a DSLR has always been one of the biggest troubles for many shooters.

It is also a ‘world camera’ from the outset with both PAL and NTSC frame rates up to 60P. The 50 and 60P modes should allow for some nice slow motion too.

The camera records internally using AVCHD 2.0 which should mean it has bitrates around the 28Mb/s mark. There is a HDMI out on the camera but it is not clear what this outputs – hopefully it will be capable of 4:2:2 output.

The camera can also shoot 16 megapixel stills with a built in mechanical shutter – a true multimedia camera.

It records to Sony’s HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit or the new the new Mirroring Memory Stick. It is not clear if older memory sticks will work. This is cost that needs to factored in when considering purchasing the camera. I would have preferred to see either SDHC or CF cards instead Edit – According to the Guardian’s Elliot Smith there is a SDXC logo on the side of the product images of the camera – I assume therefore that is does also have an SDXC slot.

On the negative side there are question marks over the camera’s sensor – some claiming it is not the same quality as the one in the NEX-FS100, rather more similar to the consumer NEX VG-20. There are no built-in ND filters which is going to necessitate either screw on filters or a mattebox – the same as a DSLR.

The design of the shoulder pad and placement of the LCD magnifying loupe/EVF also places the camera quite far forward on the shoulder without any counterweight behind – a bit like Canon’s old XL series of cameras. For extended shooting this may become tiring and I can see accessory manufacturers making add ons to counterbalance this.

The camera at an expected price of under £3000 should provide stiff competition to HDDSLRs like the Canon 5DmkII and Nikon D800. For newspaper web video where lower bitrates are not a problem it should be a compelling proposition. For broadcast work this camera will probably not replace higher models like the FS700, F3 or Canon’s C300. Of course time will tell and we’ll be keen to test this camera out as soon as possible.

Présentation du Sony NEX-EA50 from Focus Numerique on Vimeo.

Preliminary Information from the Sony website:

The NEX-EA50EH is a professional NXCAM Camcorder with a large format Exmor™ APS-C HD CMOS sensor and interchangeable E-mount lens system providing exceptional creative freedom when shooting both Full HD movies and high-quality still photos. It is supplied with the newly developedSEL18200PZ18-200mm Power Zoom E-mount lens providingauto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot™ image stabilization with Active Mode, making it ideal for shooting moving images. Film-makerscan achieve a constant zoom speed and smooth slow zoom, both of which can bedifficult to accomplish with manual zoom lenses.

An innovative design with an extendible shoulder-pad allows you to switch between handheld and shoulder-mount operation as required, with no need for additional accessories.

This product comes with the full PrimeSupport package. That’s fast, hassle-free repairs, a helpline offering expert technical advice, and a free loan unit while yours is repaired. Plus the peace of mind that Sony is looking after your equipment – and your business.

The NEX-EA50EH is planned to be available from Sony Professional Solutions Specialists in October.

Full HD recording

Full 1920 x 1080 AVCHD 2.0 Recording with 60/50Hz selection (50p/25p/50i or 60p/30p/24p/60i) 
NOTE: * *60p/i means 59.94p/i. 30p and 24p mean 29.97p and 23.98p, respectively.

Large Format Sensor for creative expression

Large Format APS-C HD CMOS Sensor for high quality, creative moving images and shallow depth of field control. The large format Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor gives the user creative freedom when shooting Full HD movies and high-quality still photos.

Unique design for versatile shooting options

The unique design of the NEX-EA50EH further adds to the camcorder’s versatility. When the shoulder pad is extended, the camcorder can be balanced on the shoulder giving added stability for longer shooting times. Alternatively, when the shoulder pad is returned to its original position, the camcorder becomes compact enough to use in various handheld styles, allowing users to capture a wide variety of shots.

Interchangeable E-mount lens System

The NEX-EA50EH incorporates the Sony E-mount interchangeable lens system, which enables auto focus, auto exposure and stabilisation during shooting. With its short flange back distance, it is possible to attach both established A-mount lenses via the LA-EA2 lens mount adapter, and an unrivalled choice of other brands lenses using third-party adapters.

Newly developed powered zoom lens

The NEX-EA50EH camcorder comes with the newly developed Power Zoom E-mount lens E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS SELP18200. It features auto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot image stabilisation with Active Mode, making it ideal for shooting moving images. It is electronically controlled by both the zoom rocker lever on the camcorder grip and top handle. Film-makers can achieve a constant zoom speed and smooth, slow zoom, both of which can be difficult to accomplish with manual zoom lenses. In addition, using fixed focal length lenses users can simulate a zoom effect using the smart digital zoom function, ensuring fast-paced shots are never missed.

Part of the professional NXCAM camcorder range

The NEX-EA50EH features a range of professional functions usually associated with NXCAM camcorders, such as 2-channel XLR audio, Linear PCM audio, time code, user bit and built-in GPS.

16.1 megapixel still image capture

By capturing 16.1 megapixel still pictures with RAW format support, the camcorder offers higher picture quality and rich post-processing capabilities. In addition, the NEX-EA50EH has a built-in mechanical shutter to eliminate shutter-induced blur during long exposures while capturing still pictures.

A variety of recording media options

Sony’s HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit can dock directly to the camcorder for recording an immediate backup. The camcorder is compatible with the new Mirroring Memory Stick (MS-PX64/32/16) which is the world’s first memory card featuring a “Mirroring” function. This enables the card to deliver high reliability and data security through a dual recording (mirroring) function. This new professional memory card will be available in 3 different capacities: 16GB; 32GB and 64GB.

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