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Sony intros "smallest" AVCHD cam

updated 02:00 pm EDT, Wed April 25, 2007

Sony CX7 AVCHD Camera

Sony this afternoon launched a full-scale update of its HD-capable Handycams with three new models. By far the most groundbreaking is the HDR-CX7 (pictured), Sony says. The camera is the smallest ever to record video in AVCHD (H.264) format, and weighs just 15 ounces with a battery. It achieves this by relying on Memory Stick Pro instead of larger DVDs, hard drives, or tapes; despite the smaller capacity, the CX7 can still fit as much as three hours of 1080-line HD video on an 8GB card in an economic long-play mode. The sensor can also capture 6-megapixel still shots.

The CX7 and the other cameras released today also support HDMI 1.3 output and the accompanying xvYCC "deep color" format: the combination captures a far wider range of colors than earlier cameras, and will display a live feed at full quality on HDTVs equipped to handle the new standard. A 10X optical zoom is similarly universal for the line.

Beyond the flash-based camera will be two hard disk-based models for videographers who need more footage, Sony notes. At the peak of the range is the HDR-SR7, which shares the same sensor as the CX7 but swaps in a 60GB hard drive for recording up to 22 hours of 1080 HD video. The starter HDR-SR5 model ships with a reduced sensor that captures 2-megapixel video and 4-megapixel for photography.

All three cameras are due to ship in June. Prices start at $1,100 for the SR5 and jump to $1,200 and $1,400 for the CX7 and SR7 respectively.




by MacNN Staff




  1. bluelemons

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple support AVCHD?

    Nothing I've read pertaining to the updates to Final Cut Studio 2 tell me that Apple has any intention of supporting this format. I'd love to have an HDD based camcorder but not at the expense of losing my editing capabilities on my mac.

    Anybody know anything different then what I'm thinking here?

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    AVC Cameral?

    That sounds like another headache for gullible customers, like their "DVD camcorders" last generation. AVC (H.264) and MPEG2 (DVD) are not editing grade formats, in that they do not have frame level accuracy. You can't just cut an AVC or MPEG2 stream at any point like you can with DV or HDV formats. The benefits in compression do not make up for the lack of ability to edit the footage properly. Do not get fooled into buying these products simply because they're HD. If you're going to dump a grand or so on a camcorder, make sure you get one that allows you to edit the footage properly.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Use firewire

    You can always pretend it's a MiniDV tape inside and transfer your footage to your Mac via FireWire. The material will arrive in HD and will be captured as usual.

    Obviously, you will lose a bit of quality in the decoding/encoding process, but it will at least be editable.

    Other option would be to move the files onto your Mac, open them in QT Pro and export them to something like DV Stream that can be easily edited in iMovie HD / Final Cut Express/Pro.

    Of course, if you don't mind an extra ounce or two, get Canon HV20 and capture on MiniDV tape in 1080 with 24p frames.

  1. mitchcohen

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No firewire, editing

    Vasic: These camcorders don't have firewire. They have USB, and the hard drives mount like any other hard drive. They don't and never come across like a DV or HDV stream - they're nothing like it. There are no AVCHD editors or transcoders for the Mac, save a few very messy hacks. This will eventually happen, but nothing yet.

    wiseweasel: HDV is not a frame-level editing format. It's a variant of MPEG2, not DV. HDV is "Long-GOP MPEG2" meaning there's only a true frame every half-second (for 1080i). iMovie transcodes HDV to the Apple Intermediate Format, which is frame-level (but much larger in file size). FCP can edit HDV directly but it's dog slow, or you can transcode to Intermediate Format for better editing.

    I really like HDV, but it's important to know what to expect. AVCHD is lower quality than HDV, but still decent. Once editing is available it'll be a nice format. Although I still prefer the archivability of tapes.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    my mistake...

    Didn't look at the specs... No firewire..?? This looks like a tectonic shift in concept. Ever since digital video (in the form of MiniDV or digital 8) appeared, firewire was there for capturing the video stream. In fact, it was DV that helped firewire survive the attempt to be pushed out by USB2.

    It is certain that solid-state memory will continue to push tape out of these camcorders. Getting cheaper all the time, we'll soon have 40GB flash memory. Let's hope that by then, manufacturers will let us choose between MPEG-compressed HD video (for 20 hours on 40GB), or raw HD (for 90 minutes on 40GB).

    If Apple (or Sony, or anybody else) writes a plug-in for QT to play back this AVCHD format, we could then live with this camcorder, with a bit less flexibility (instead of capture - edit - export, we'll do copy to HD - transcode to Apple Intermediate Format - import into FCP/iMovie HD - edit - export), but at least it would work.

    In the end, it all depends on how good the hardware codec for this AVCHD is. If my fast-motion footage looks pixelated and/or blurred, then this camcorder won't really do. The above-mentioned Canon weights more but costs less and captures in greater video fidelity.

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