Here’s a little insight into what some of the Sony product prefixes might mean. These may not be 100% correct but this is what I understand them to mean. There are also many exceptions to the standard naming convention, so use this as a guide only.
First letter: P = Professional, B = Broadcast, U = Utility, D = Digital, H = Studio/OB, L = LCD, O = Optical
Second letter: V = Video (means video tape if camera), M = SxS Memory, D = Optical Disc, X = XQD/SD/SxS(solid state media or digital workflow), S = System, D = Multi format, P = Projector or Printer, R = Remote Control, W = wireless
Third letter: (or 3 + 4th): W = Writer( deck or camera that can also record/camcorder), M = Monitor, C = Camera(no recording capability) CU = Camera Control Unit, CP = Compact camera(no recording), X = HD, Z = 4K, D = Digital (HDSDI?), A = Archive
Then after the 3/4 letter prefix: F = Film (digital cinema, 16 bit raw when raw included), FS = Film Style (large sensor, 12 bit raw when raw included), X = HD from factory (often but not always upgradable to 4K) , Z is 4K from factory. NX = AVCHD
The number of digits after the letters used to be significant. 2 digits was a product without an imager (PMW-50, PMW-EX30) 3 digits was a camera (PMW-200, PMW-500) and 4 digits was a deck (PMW-HD1500, F1600). However recently cameras have any number of digits.
For example PXW-X200:
P = Professional X = Solid state media W = Writer – X = HD camcorder.
Example BVW-400 (Betacam SP camcorder – remember those!)
B = Broadcast V = Video Tape W = Writer
P = Professional X = Solid State Media W = Writer – FS = Film Style.
Example PMW-F55 (Slight odd-ball this one as it was the very first XAVC camera, perhaps should really have been a PXW-F55 although as it’s SxS and has the XDCAM codec PMW works too).
P = Professional M = SxS Memory W = Writer – F = Film (Digital Cinema).
Example PDW-700 (Optical disc camcorder)
P = Professional D = Disk W = Writer.
P = Professional M = SxS Memory W = Writer.
F65 = F65 Ultimate digital cinema camera, no prefix and a 35mm sensor, not 65mm as the name suggests. Other “F” only cameras used the sensor size for the name. The F35 had a super 35mm sensor and F23 which had a 2/3″ sensor.
CBKZ = Software upgrade option.
CBK = Camera build kit
HDW = HDCAM Writer.
SRW = HDCAM SR Writer.
DSR = Digital DVCAM camera/camcorder/deck.
I don’t know what the HXR prefix stands for, this line of normally AVCHD solid state camcorders used to come from a different group within Sony to the broadcast group. These two groups now work together so the product numbering is now more consistent, but there are still many product names that don’t follow the convention.
It’s interesting to note that there are very few “Broadcast” B** products these days except for BVM (Broadcast Video Monitor) monitors. Most camcorders are now P** even if they are most definitely broadcast cameras, for example the PXW-X500.
If anyone would like to add to this list or correct any errors please let me know by adding a comment. Any input/additions are most welcome!