Sony FDR-AX100 4K

CES is in full swing right now and Sony just announced a 4k prosumer camera. At a list price of $2000, the Sony FDR-AX100 is currently one of the lowest priced 4k cameras to be announced to date. The FDR-AX100 appears to be based around the same 20.2MP 1″ Exmor R CMOS Sensor used in the Sony RX10 and uses H.264 level 5.2 video encoding under the label XAVC S to record 3840 x 2160p to SDXC cards.

This camera brings good news and bad news. The good news is that compression technology is getting to the price point where 4k can be offered in a prosumer camera that records to SDXC cards. The bad news is that XAVC like AVCHD was in the early days, isn’t widely supported yet. Infact direct codec support for XAVC isn’t currently supported by most NLE. XAVC editing is likely to be very processor intensive. Sony doesn’t actually give any specific requirements for real time playback but does offer up this statement.

the increased complexity of modern coding schemes do demand more computational power, which could be a major challenge when migrating the production infrastructure and associated workflow from one generation to the next. The amount of processing power requirements to decode a certain compressed bit stream is extremely critical when multiple files are simultaneously used in an edit session.

Without coming right out and saying it, it seems Sony is implying that you’ll need one hell of a machine in order to edit XAVC natively. While the Sony FDR-AX100 offers the ability to record 4k, it seems it could be awhile before a standard desktop is up to the challenge of editing it.

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