Sony announces E-mount pro camcorder, power zoom lens, mirroring Memory Sticks


posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM EDT

The Sony NEX-EA50UH camcorder. Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc.Filling the gap between its VG-series and FS-series E-mount interchangeable-lens camcorders, Sony Electronics Inc. has introduced a new model that adds a new feature not present in either existing line: support for power zoom lens control from the camera body. (Edit: Thanks to 'M' in the comments for pointing out that the NES-FS700 does have a physical zoom control; it just hasn't had a function until now. The EA50 marks the first time it's been added to an APS-C model.)

Like the earlier NEX-VG20 model, the Sony NEX-EA50 is based around an APS-C sized, Exmor APS HD-branded CMOS image sensor with 16 megapixel resolution. The Sony EA50 also retains the high-res still image capture and built-in mechanical shutter from the VG-series cameras. That's where the resemblance ends, though.

The NEX-EA50 has a much more pro-friendly body, with details such as a built-in retractable shoulder mount and many more external controls. It further offers an extra choice of Full HD framerate not found on the VG-series cameras: 30 frames per second. It also incorporates features you'd expect on an NXCAM-branded model, such as a built-in GPS receiver, support for both user bit and timecode encoding, linear PCM audio, and two-channel XLR audio inputs. (Sony bundles its ECM-XM1 shotgun microphone in the NEX-EA50UH package.)

The Sony NEX-EA50UH camcorder ships with a new power-zoom lens. Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc. Click for a bigger picture!
The Sony NEX-EA50UH camcorder ships with a new power-zoom lens.
Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc.

The big news, though, is the power zoom support. That's catered for with a brand-new E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Power Zoom lens, part number SELP18200. It's not clear if this will be available separately for users of other E-mount cameras, but we'd guess it will probably be compatible with other models, as there's a zoom rocker on the lens barrel itself. The NEX-EA50 is unique among E-mount cameras, though, in providing zoom rockers on both the camcorder grip and handle, and it also allows remote zoom control via LANC remotes.

The new lens also offers a continuously variable iris for smooth aperture changes, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active mode support, for greater corrective ability--enough to stabilize motion from walking, for example. With other lenses that don't support power zoom, the EA50's zoom controls will instead control a digital zoom function, presumably stepless since this is a pro-oriented model. The lens is, again, included in the US-market NEX-EA50UH product bundle.

Top-down view of the Sony NEX-EA50. Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc. Click for a bigger picture!
Top-down view of the Sony NEX-EA50.
Photo provided by Sony Electronics Inc.

Another interesting feature of the NEX-EA50 is its support for a new type of Sony's proprietary Memory Stick media. The Sony Mirroring Memory Sticks will be offered in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants initially, although the actual capacity is half that in mirroring mode. As the name would suggest, this simply mirrors the captured data on the card, presumably on separately-controlled flash chips, as Sony claims enhanced reliability and data security for the new cards. You can, alternatively, switch back to non-mirrored mode if you need additional storage space, but it isn't clear if this can be achieved on a partially-full card without first formatting it. Alternatively, Sony's HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit attaches directly to the camera for immediate backup.

Sony describes the NEX-EA50 as being an entry-level model, although clearly it will be out of the reach of many consumers and enthusiasts. What the company means is that it's entry-level from the point of view of a professional videographer. Pricing for the NEX-EA50UH bundle is set at around US$4,500 with power zoom lens and external mic, which slots it in midway between the NEX-VG20 (US$1,600 body-only) and the NEX-FS100 (US$5,850 body-only). In some markets, the camera appears to go by the name of NEX-EA50EH instead; in the absence of detailed specifications, it isn't immediately clear what the differences are.

Sony's promotional video for the NEX-EA50UH camcorder.


Press Release

Sony Expands Professional Camcorder Line With Its Most Versatile And Affordable NXCAM Interchangeable Lens Model

New NEX-EA50UH Adds Servo-Controlled Zoom Lens Capability and an APS-C Sensor to Its Line of 35mm Large Sensor Professional Camcorders

PARK RIDGE, N.J., Aug. 17, 2012 – Sony’s newest entry in the NXCAM line – the NEX-EA50UH -- is its first 35mm large sensor professional camcorder to feature both servo-controlled zoom lens capability and an APS-C image sensor. The result is a versatile camcorder offering professional shooters an array of creative options and a high level of flexibility in lens selection.

The new camera marks a significant extension of the NXCAM family: the new “NEX-EA” series of entry-level APS-C 35mm professional camcorders. The camcorder’s large-format Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor gives users creative freedom when shooting Full HD video and high-quality still photos.

Sony’s new NEX-EA50UH NXCAM camcorder
“This all-in-one camcorder will bring enhanced creativity to a wider range of professional users than ever before,” said Chiyoko Yannette, senior marketing manager at Sony Electronics’ Professional Solutions of America group. “It combines affordability and high performance with versatile, professional features for nearly any type of production applications.”

The camcorder’s Exmor APS-C HD CMOS sensor produces high-quality images with low noise and high sensitivity in low light conditions. It enables 1080 progressive and interlace recording with 60/50Hz selection (50p/25p/50i or 60p/30p/24p/60i). 60p/i means 59.94p/i. 30p and 24p mean 29.97p and 23.98p, respectively.

Users can also capture 16.1 megapixel still pictures, and the new camcorder has a built-in mechanical shutter for high-speed performance while capturing still pictures.

The NEX-EA50UH incorporates Sony’s E-mount interchangeable lens system, which enables auto focus, auto exposure and stabilization during video shooting. With its short flange back distance, users can attach not only established A-mount lenses via the LA-EA2 lens mount adapter, but also an unrivalled choice of other brand lenses using third-party adapters.

The NEX-EA50UH camcorder comes with a newly developed Power Zoom E-mount lens E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS SELP18200. It features auto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot™ image stabilization with Active Mode, making it ideal for shooting moving images. It is electronically controlled by both the zoom rocker lever on the camcorder grip and the camera handle, as well as by the rocker on the lens itself and also via LANC remote controllers.

Film-makers can achieve a constant zoom speed and smooth slow zoom, both of which can be difficult to accomplish with manual zoom lenses. In addition, the use of fixed focal length lenses can simulate a zoom effect by using the smart 2x digital zoom function, ensuring users never miss a shot in fast-paced environments.

A new design lets users shoot in a way that best suits their style, allowing them to quickly switch between handheld and shoulder configuration without the need for additional accessories.

The unique design of the NEX-EA50UH further increases its versatility. When the shoulder pad is extended, users can balance the camcorder on their shoulder for added stability during longer shooting times. Alternatively, when the shoulder pad is returned to the original position, the camcorder becomes compact enough to use in various handheld styles.

The NEX-EA50UH includes a range of professional functions such as 2-channel XLR audio (the ECM-XM1 Shotgun microphone is included with the NEX-EA50UH), Linear PCM audio, time code, user bit and built-in GPS. In Addition, Sony’s HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit can dock directly to the camcorder for simultaneous back-up recording.

Sony’s new Mirroring Memory Stick™ (16, 32, and 64 GB capacities), which has professional dual-recording back-up features, can also be used. The new cards are designed to deliver high reliability and data security through a dual recording (mirroring) function, and are recommended for use with Sony NXCAM camcorders, including the new NEX-EA50UH model.

The NEX-EA50UH is planned to be available in October 2012 at a suggested list price less than $4,500.