Sony presents the PXW-Z100 4K pro camcorder

Somewhat hidden amidst the flurry of new product announcements from Sony yesterday, was the Z100 XDCAM pro 4K camcorder. Capable of shooting 4K at both 50p and 60p with 4:2:2 Intraframe 10-bit recording in an MXF format. Like the consumer AX-1, the camera records on XQD cards.

Press release

PXW-Z100 Press Release:

Camcorder uses Sony’s XAVC recording format and XQD media cards

Basingstoke, UK, Sept. 4, 2013: Sony today announced the PXW-Z100, a professional 4K handheld XDCAM camcorder featuring a 1/2.33” Exmor R CMOS sensor. The sensor has total of 16 million pixels and is able to acquire stunning 4K content (4096x2160) at 50p or 60p. The camcorder marks Sony’s latest step in expanding the 4K world to everyone, from high-end cinema to corporate and event productions.

The PXW-Z100, together with the fixed 4K-compatible high-performance G Lens, weighs less than 3kg. It uses the XAVC recording format first used in the PMW-F55 CineAlta camera. As with the F55, 4K (4096 x 2160, 50p or 60p, 4:2:2, Intra-frame, 10-bit recording in MXF file format) is possible at a high-bit rate of 500Mbps or 600Mbps. QFHD (3840x2160) and HD (1920x1080) resolutions can also be selected, both of which are compatible with most 4K TV’s.

Since the PXW-Z100 is based on the same shooting ergonomics as a conventional handheld professional camcorder, it is possible to record 4K content without extra equipment. In addition, during editing, downscaling from 4K to HD provides new possibilities for HD content production. “This incredible new camcorder is capable of capturing stunning 4K content, making 4K acquisition accessible to a wider range of professional users than ever before,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager Entry Level Production. “Corporate and Event camera operators can deliver 4K today for distribution via an emerging number of 4K platforms including online, digital signage and large venue projection applications, and will be able take advantage of the greater flexibility in post-production that 4K acquisition offers when delivering in HD”. The PXW-Z100 will be available from November and comes packaged with a two year PrimeSupport contract via authorised Sony Professional Solutions Specialist dealers.

Sony has also announced the new FDR-AX1 Handycam at IFA 2013. The FDR-AX1 has a similar specification to the PXW-Z100 but is only capable of QFHD (3840 x 2160) recording with the XAVC S format. The FDR-AX1 uses 4:2:0, Long GOP and MP4 file format.

Key features:

1. 4K (4096x2160) 50p or 60p shooting

The camcorder provides extremely high sensitivity due to the back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor. With 8 million effective pixels, the 1/2.33” sensor captures 4K images at 50p or 60p. The inbuilt high-performance G Lens offers maximum shooting flexibility, including a wide angle of 29.5mm (equivalent to 35mm) and 20x powerful optical zoom.

2. XAVC recording format at 4K 50p/60p, 4:2:2 10-bit at 500/600Mbps, HD at up to 223Mbps

The PXW-Z100 uses Sony’s XAVC recording format first employed in the PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K camera. MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression is used for HD (1920x1080), QFHD (3840x2016) and 4K (4096×2160) content. Image sampling is 4:2:2 10-bit, with an intra-frame system that compresses each frame individually at a maximum bit rate of 500Mbps or 600Mbps during 4K 50p or 60p recording respectively and 223Mbps during HD 50p or 60p recording. The XAVC format is ideal for those looking to implement a high-quality, secure and worry-free workflow.

A non-chargeable firmware update is planned for the middle of 2014 to support the Long GOP mode for extended 4K recording time and to add support for AVCHD recording.

3. XQD Memory Card recording

The XQD Memory Card is a new standard of solid state memory, which was recently defined by several industry leading companies. XQD uses the ultra-fast PCI Express interface and Sony’s unique camera processor to enable stable video recording at 500Mbps or 600Mbps. The PXW-Z100 features two XQD Memory Card slots. Multiple cards can be used in various ways, such as for relay recording. When the first card becomes full, recording continues on the second card without a break. *The use of new S Series XQD cards (QD-S32E or QD-S64E which supports 180MB/s transfer speed) is recommended.

4. HDMI interface for 4K output and 3G HD-SDI interface for HD output

The HDMI interface on the PXW-Z100 can output 4K as a 50p/60p signal. When the PXW-Z100 is connected to a Sony 4K-compatible BRAVIA TV, the recorded 4K image can be displayed in 4K 50p/60p quality. A future firmware upgrade is planned to provide compatibility with the new HDMI 2.0 standard and enable 4K 50p/60p output to a wider range of devices. Other features include a 3G HD-SDI interface that supports output up to HD 60p. It also supports HD output during 4K recording.

5. Paint function for more creative freedom

The PXW-Z100’s paint function enables multiple image parameters to be adjusted including gamma curve, black level, skin detail and colour. The range of settings is similar to those available in the PMW-F55. Together with other setting options, parameter settings can be recorded as a camera profile onto a memory card. The recorded camera profile can then be used to set the same parameters in another PXW-Z100 to enable the matching of quality and image tones when using a multi-camera setup.

6. Remote control with WiFi

Focus, zoom, aperture settings and ‘record start/stop’ can be remote controlled using the browser function of a smartphone or tablet.