Sony's CES 4K push expands to consumer camcorders

January 6, 2014 5:00 PM PST / Updated: January 6, 2014 5:00 PM PST

In its first real prosumer 4K camcorder offering, Sony's Handycam FDR-AX100 incorporates the 1-inch BSI sensor technology that debuted with the Cyber-shot RX100 II and then appeared in the the RX10, along with its image-processing complement, the Bionz X (the identical-but-HD CX900 uses the 1-inch Exmor R as well). While one of Sony's primary target audiences for the Handycam FDR-AX1 is (as usual) folks who've taken the UltraHD TV plunge and want more 4K content, but this looks like a great, relatively inexpensive model for indie videographers who haven't fully defected to dSLR to take the plunge.

Though it uses a larger sensor than the higher-end AX1's 1/2.3-inch version, Sony crams the AX100's sensor with 20 megapixels, compared to 8.3 megapixels for the AX1's, so the cheaper model likely has smaller pixels. While the lens is a T* version -- those are the better class of Sony lenses -- and has a 7-blade iris, it's relatively slow compared to Sony's other enthusiast-level models. The 12x lens starts at 29mm, which is reasonably wide. It's also missing Sony's Balanced Optical Steadyshot, and could probably benefit from dual card slots rather than single. And if any camera needs USB 3.0, it's this one.

Like the AX1, the AX100 uses the XAVC-S codec for 60MB/sec 4K recording; it can handle 4K/30p and 24p, or you can record at 1080/60p.

The camcorder has all the usual features that Sony puts in its prosumer models, including a built-in neutral density filter, a broad set of audio controls, its traditional front manual-control wheel, an OLED EVF, and a 3.5-inch LCD. It also offers NFC and Wi-Fi.

Sony plans to ship the Handycam FDR-AX100 in March for $1999.99.

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About The Author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.