Sony AX100 Hands-On Field Test

  By Jordan Drake

With Chris out of town, Jordan Drake steps up like an outnumbered Jim Kelly and takes a look at the Sony’s new consumer 4K camera, the AX100! Did Sony have to make too many compromises to make 4K quality available for this affordable?

Music Provided by Beatsuite.com
Shot by Nicole Santerre on the Sony FS700
Edited by Jordan Drake

 

When Chris is on vacation, that’s usually my cue to get caught up on editing, rebuild self esteem and take a smidgen of me-time. That’s been the case until last week, when Sony dropped off the AX100 I’d been anxiously waiting for. In the recent ‘Are Camcorders Dead’ episode, I mentioned the AX100 (and its HD sister model, the CX900) as the only consumer camcorders that looked interesting. It had been a long time since we’ve done a camcorder review, and I’d gotten a hair more comfortable on camera in our recent episodes, so I figured I’d give it a try being on-camera.

I had two potential issues with this shoot. The first was who would film the episode. Chris and I shoot on our mutual day off, but I couldn’t find anyone available to film me. Fortunately, my co-worker Nicole Santerre was able to switch her days off, and she did such a great job shooting my segments for the GH4 review that my stress was quickly alleviated. The second issue was a very limited shoot time. I had a lot of tests I wanted to run, and only three hours to do the entire video. I got as much as I could, but I ran out of time before properly testing slow motion, low light performance and rolling shutter. Sony Canada was good enough to let me have the camera for a days longer, so I could run some tests in the store. I think this resulted in a much more fleshed out video.

The episode was filmed on our FS700, with a Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC on a Metabones Speed Booster. I had to travel light and move quick, so I just brought a Manfrotto video monopod for the FS700, and filmed all the AX100 footage hand-held. Audio was captured on a Sony UWP-130 wireless kit. I had a lot of video samples to show, so I was grateful for my friends at BeatSuite.com providing us with some great, varied music.

I think this video is different from most of our others in that I went through a few stages with the AX100. I was initially very excited by the specs, feel of the focus ring and selectable ND filters. However as the shoot went on, I was frustrated by the button placement, lack of exposure information, and rolling shutter. However, upon seeing the footage while editing, especially the low light test, I became excited again. The AX100 does provide a very impressive image for the price. The Panasonic GH4 does put up some strong competition though, so I’d try both of them out before deciding on either compact, affordable powerhouse.