The 4K Camera for the Rest of Us

mj-618_348_the-4k-camera-for-the-rest-of-us
 Courtesy Sony

The barricades are still being built for the impending 4K revolution, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from turning out new ultra-HD screens and cameras for early-bird adopters. The 4K format adds another 8 million pixels, about four times the power of your standard 1080p set. But what is there to watch? Sony’s new FDR-AX100 camcorder is one way to go while you wait for cable TV and streaming services to offer more programming.

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At $2,000, this new entry in the company’s Handycam line puts you on par with pro lensmen, assuming you want to also invest in a 4K screen to watch Junior’s first base-hit-to-the-opposite-field in all of its crystalline, HD glory. In our tests, we took the camera out on a round of golf recently, putting its 1-inch sensor and Zeiss lens to work. It captured 20-megapixel stills and 4K video, and we were impressed both by its uncanny sharpness and ability to stabilize images shot while jostling over rough terrain in an electric cart.

If your cinematographic ambitions are grander than capturing quotidian moments better left to your smartphone, the AX100 could be your entry-point camera as a legitimate documentarian or videographer. It weighs 1.5 pounds and has an impressive 18X zoom and 5.1 channel surround audio capability. But the true beauty of this rig is that it’s every bit as easy and intuitive to use as the cameras we grew up using — the 3.5-inch touchscreen viewfinder is plenty big and bright; controls of ISO and shutter speed are all in a thumb’s reach; and showing your handiwork on a flatscreen is a short HDMI-cable away. Even without a proper 4K display, you will see a considerable difference in resolution and vividness, albeit down-converted to 2K. And, you can even shoot video, wirelessly upload it to your phone, and share the classic footage without dropping a frame. To top it off, a voice-cancelling feature reduces the sound of your voice and focuses on the subject. Because even though your inner Hitchcock might have the sense to quietly cameo in a scene, sometimes one just gets swept up in the moment. [$2,000; store.sony.com]