If an HD model camcorder is on your list, take a good look at the Sony’s HDR-AX2000. It’s a very impressive prosumer-level AVCHD camcorder. The Sony HDR-AX2000 is cutting-edge, top of the line.
The camera captures either High Def and Standard Def video in AVCHD and MPEG-2 formats. This is one of the new tapeless cameras. It records onto either a Memory Stick PRO duo or SD/SDHC cards. SDHC stands for Secure Digital High-Capacity. SDHC cards are flash memory cards with a minimum capacity of 4GB gigabytes.
The Sony HDR-AX2000 shoots full 1920 x 1080 HD video, which can be recorded at 60i, 30p and 24p for a variety of looks.
This camera is ideal for recording on to Blu-ray media since the AVCHD2 codec is highly compatible with the Blu-ray format.
If you are going to edit this footage, be forewarned that many video editing programs still can not adequately handle AVCHD2 or Blu-ray.
Like all the cameras in this category, the HDR-AX2000 is a three chip camera for better color and clarity. It has three 1/3″ CMOS Exmor sensors, which are a less expensive alternative to CCD chips. CCD (Charged Coupled Device), a CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor). Each type has its pros and cons. CCD gets a slightly higher quality picture but CMOS is still good and so much less expensive.
The pros for the CMOS are that they are much less expensive to manufacture and use WAY less battery power. The cons include more noise, less clarity and less light sensitivity.
The lens on this camera has quite a long telephoto, with a 20x optical zoom and a built in digital extender to increase that to a 30x zoom. (29.5mm – 590mm). The lens is not very wide however, so a handy accessory would be a wide angle lens adapter. This will let you shoot in the smallest of rooms.
From a practical standpoint, most videographers use a wide angle more often than a telephoto.
The lens has an OIS, Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization w/Active Mode, which Sony swears will drastically reduce camera shake. (Pssst. You still need to use a tripod whenever possible. 🙂
Audio recording is professional quality with dual XLR ports. This means you can plug in two XLR microphones at the same time. That’s very handy in pro shooting situations. For instance you could have a shotgun microphone on for general ambient sound plus a wireless microphone on the main person speaking.
These XLR inputs are phantom powered, which means the microphones run off the camera’s power and do not need their own battery. This is very handy and basically lets you largely forget about your microphone power needs.
CONTROLS ON THE LENS
Cameras in the prosumer (low-grade professional) camera category like this one have much more complex lenses to allow for greater operator control. Automatic controls are nice for the casual user, but pros get more precise control through manual adjustments.
The Sony HDR-AX 2000 has three control rings around the lens–for iris, focus and zoom. With experience, a videographer will know intuitively which ring contains the image adjustment he needs.
For additional shooting options and image analysis, the HDR-AX2000 gives you four built-in neutral density filters, SMPTE color bars, a zebra display, and a live histogram. The zebra and histogram can be real handy tools.
While you are shooting, you can add a striped pattern to bright areas of the video image, and display it in the LCD and viewfinder. You can use this as a rough guide for adjusting brightness, helping to prevent hot spots.
When the histogram feature is turned on, a graph of the image’s brightness distribution appears. This gives you an objective determination of whether the video image as a whole is bright or dim. You can adjust the camera’s brightness and AE shift while checking this display.
Sony rates this camera in a low-light reading of 1.5 lux with auto gain kicked in. That will be a fairly grainy picture, but 1.5 lux is exceedingly low.
The HDR-AX 2000 gives you the ability to manually adjust gain, shutter speed, and white balance if you wish or they can all be set to automatic.
This video camera takes still images too. Still images are recorded directly onto one of the two dual media slots which you can select between. (Memory Stick PRO Duo media or SD/SDHC media slots.)
The digital output for this camera is an HDMI Connection. With an HDMI cable you can transfer your data to a compatible HDTVs. It has a USB2 to transfer to your computer. There is no firewire.
If you are seeking a camera that gives you lots of control and options as a photographer, the Sony HDR-AX 2000 won’t disappoint.
Click here to see the Sony HDR-AX2000 AVCHD Camcorder at the B&H Photo website.