Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sony gives its Super 35MM NXCAM a name: NEX-FS100

Sony has given its modular Super 35MM NXCAM a name: NEX-FS100. It's designed to compete with Panasonic's AG-AF101, but it's got an interesting mix of professional and prosumer features: It uses the same sensor as Sony's new F3 camcorder, which is approximately 10% larger than the 4/3" sensor Panasonic uses. The FS100 uses Sony's E-mount lenses, but can support other mounts with adapters. It's got dual XLR connectors like the AF101, but it doesn't have the AF101's HD-SDI outputs; its outputs are HDMI (4:2:2 uncompressed), component and composite. And, it uses the same AVCHD codec as the AF101. So, with the exception of HD-SDI outputs, the FS100 and AF101 are very similar.

Digital Photography Review is quoting a list price of $5,850 (U.S.) for the FS100 with a 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 lens. That would make the body-only price of the FS100 roughly comparable to Panasonic's $4,995 list price for the AF101. However, Slashgear is reporting a price of $6,550 and availability in July 2011, so there's clearly some confusion about the final price. Also, given the Japanese disaster, it's likely that final availability will be delayed, or the quantity of units initially available may be very small.

Update: is reporting prices for the U.S. models of the FS100 to be $5,850 for the FS100U model without lens, and $6,550 for the FS100UK model with lens. That would explain the multiple prices reported by different sites, but it also means that the FS100 will be about $1,000 more than the AF101 for comparably-equipped models.

The  physical design of the FS100 is where it diverges widely from the AF101. Its viewfinder is hinged on the top of the camcorder, and can be augmented with an eyepiece or folded down if the cinematographer wants to use an external monitor. The FS100 is considerably smaller and looks more like a consumer camcorder than the AF101, which may make it less noticeable for news and documentary-style shooting.

The first videos shot with the FS100 are available for viewing, and the quality is very good. A video on the same site explains the camcorder's features and capabilities, and leads into a music video that was shot with the FS100. More footage and reviews are likely to appear between now and NAB.
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