Sony kept this one very quite. The first I heard about this was yesterday. It’s based on the NEX-VG20 which is in turn based on the NEX-5N APS-C stills camera. It is a shoulder mount camcorder with a really rather nice form factor that includes an adjustable shoulder mount. The sensor is an APS-C sized sensor, so slightly smaller than the super 35mm sized sensor in the Sony F3 or FS100/700 camcorders. It records on to SD cards or Memory Sticks using AVCHD. It is a world camera so will record in both PAL and NTSC modes, frame rates include 23.98p, 25p, 30p, 25i, 30i, 50p and 60p. As well as the camcorder Sony also have some new memory sticks that have built in raid storage. So a 64GB card provides 2 separate 32GB memory areas so recordings are recorded twice. If one half of the memory were to fail, your recordings will still be safe on the other mirrored half. Clever stuff, but it won’t help you if you loose the card!
Getting back to the camera, because the sensor is a 16.1MP APS-C sensor designed originally for still photos, there will be more moire and aliasing than you would see from a dedicated video camera sensor because the optical low pass filter is designed for still photo resolutions as opposed to HD video. Although based on the NEX5N stills camera the video image processing has been tailored for video so the video image quality should be better than that from the stills cameras. As well as video the camera will also take still photos and has the ability to store raw still images. The camcorder has XLR audio connections, but no timecode and no HDSDI out, only HDMI. The LCD viewfinder uses the same LCD as the FS100/FS700 and a very similar looking loupe/eyepiece. This is a budget entry level camcorder, so sadly no ND filters. Probably just as well because if it did it would really annoy any FS100 owners. Ergonomically it looks really good.
The shoulder pad can be adjusted and slides out from under the rear of the camera on built in rails. The top of the extending shoulder mount has mounting points for accessories such as external recorders or radio mice so no need to use 3rd party rods and rails. Perhaps the most significant feature though is that the NEX-EA50EH is supplied with a servo zoom lens! This 11x zoom lens (SEL18200PZ18-200) uses Sony’s now familiar E-Mount so it will also fit on any other E-Mount camera. On the side of the lens there is a small zoom control rocker (three fixed speeds, low-mid-high), so even if your E-Mount camera doesn’t have a zoom control (FS100, NEX5N etc) you can still use the power zoom. Apparently the lens is based on the 18-200mm kit lens that comes with the FS100/FS700 but now with a zoom servo and updated firmware, so it will almost certainly telescope and extend in length as you zoom. It has optical stabilisation and auto focus. Manual focus is of the round and round, non calibrated servo variety. I’ve been told that the NEX-EA50EH will cost around£3k including the lens. The lens itself will be available separately from photo stores some time around the end of the year.