Friday, August 17, 2012

Sony's new NEX-EA50EH: A large-sensor, low-cost ENG camcorder

In the DSLR News Shooter blog, Dan Chung writes about Sony's new NEX-EA50EH, a hybrid of ENG-oriented camcorders and the FS100/FS700 style of interchangeable lens cameras with Super 35 sensors. The EA50 looks like a long, thin ENG camcorder with a FS100-style viewfinder stuck on the handle. It uses the same E-mount as all of Sony's NEX cameras and camcorders, and it accepts E-mount adapters to support Alpha lenses, as well as FD, PL, Canon, Nikon and Leica mounts.

The EA50 comes with a 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 power zoom ENG-style lens with auto focus, continuously variable iris and image stabilization. The camcorder records in 1080 at 60p, 30p, 24p and 60i, and at 50p, 25p and 50i using AVCHD 2.0 (one model handles both 60 and 50 Hz.) It also has stereo XLR inputs, time code and built-in GPS. The EA50 can record to SD cards and Memory Sticks, as well as to an optional docking flash memory unit, but it only outputs to HDMI, not HD-SDI.

Dan Chung notes some negatives for the EA50: It doesn't come with built-in neutral density filters, so the user will have to add them. Its shoulder pad design is similar to Canon's old XL camcorders, so it's likely to be tiring to hold the EA50 for long periods of time. In addition, some sites have written that the EA50 uses the same sensor as the one found in the consumer-oriented NEX-VG20, not the FS100. On the other hand, it has a form factor that doesn't require any additional hardware for field shooting, and the expected price for the EA50, including the lens, will be $4,000 $4,500 U.S. (per B&H). The EA50 is expected to ship in mid-October.

With the EA50, Sony is responding to shooters who like the flexibility and image quality of the FS100 and FS700--or, for that matter, DSLRs--but don't like all the hardware they have to add to the cameras in order to make them usable in "run & gun" situations. It should be possible to take the EA50 out of the box, charge it up and take it into the field immediately, without any additional hardware. Of course, at $4,000 $4,500, there have to be some compromises in the design--the lack of a SDI output is an obvious one, and the quality of the included zoom lens may be another. Nevertheless, even with compromises, the EA50 may be the right camcorder for a good number of users.

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