Out and about with the PXW-Z280.

DSC_0037-1024x576 Out and about with the PXW-Z280.
Sony’s 4K PXW-Z280 handycam.

I have recently returned from a trip around Canada. While I was there I spent some more time shooting with Sony’s new PXW-Z280 handycam camcorder. This neat little camera continues to surprise me. I used a pre-production sample to shoot parts of an airshow in the summer and it worked really well. It was so easy to use, I had forgotten how much quicker it is to work with a camera with a 17x zoom lens compared to a large sensor camera with a very limited zoom range or prime lenses.

The Z280 uses 3x state of the art EMOR Stacked multi layer sensors. Each is full 4K, so you have full RGB 4K, unlike a single chip camera where the chroma resolution is much reduced by the bayer layout of the pixels. The 3 chip, full resolution design also means no aliasing in the color channels as is often typical of single chip designs.

The color splitting prism is more efficient than the absorption color filters on a single chip design, so more light gets to the pixels. The multi layer sensors have very good on-sensor processing so even though the pixels are rather small you get good sensitivity, low noise and good DR. The Z280 is approx  650-700 ISO with the base gammas so very close to an FS7 with it’s standard gammas and the colors match an FS7  extremely well. The picture look really nice.
DSC_0046-1024x576 Out and about with the PXW-Z280.
3x 4K sensors, 17x zoom and variable ND filter is a great combination on the PXW-Z280

From the testing I have done in the cameras dedicated HDR mode, where you can choose between HLG and S-Log3, with S-Log3 the DR of the Z280 appears to be around 13 stops, which is really quite remarkable for this type of camcorder. The sensor readout is very fast so rolling shutter is minimal.

When you factor in the Z280’s f1.9 lens, compared to an FS7 with the Sony F4 zoom or many other zooms that are typically around F4 the Z280 with it’s f1.9 lens does better in low light and offers similar DoF when both are wide open. Of course you can change the lens on an FS7 and use a faster lens, but then you won’t have anywhere near the zoom range of the Z280.

Like any small compact camera, it isn’t 100% perfect. Overall the lens is pretty good for a low cost 4K zoom, but like many 17x zooms it does have a touch of barrel distortion when fully wide. As well as the LCD It has an excellent OLED viewfinder that is much, much better than those typically found on Sony’s smaller cameras. It has Timecode in/out and genlock, all the XAVC-I and L codecs as well as MpegHD. There is a full suite of wifi, LAN and network functions for streaming, ftp and remote control as well as the ability to offload files from the cards to a USB drive or memory stick without a computer. It’s a modern camera designed for the modern news or documentary shooter and a big step up in terms of image quality from the PXW-X200 IMHO.

A full review and sample video will be coming in the very near future with lot’s more information.

460x150_xdcam_150dpi Out and about with the PXW-Z280.

17 thoughts on “Out and about with the PXW-Z280.”

  1. Thanks for this review Alister. I’ve been looking at this camera for a while. Unfortunately they are not possible to rent here in NY, so I will have to wait
    until I need one for a longer shoot to make it worthwhile to purchase.

  2. ” A full review and sample video will be coming in the very near future with lot’s more information.”

    OK, thanks
    as soon as possible
    With examples of your favorite presets

    (I bought this Z280 after 3 years of use of the PXW X200)

    Like those proposed for the PXW X200 that I used

    Many Thanks

    1. Why not work out your own presets? After all – you’re the operator, therefore you should be in charge of the look from your own camera. Otherwise you’re just copying Alister Chapman and that look might suit him but not you.

      1. MondoTV, you are right if you talk to a DP. Some camera users also mainly directors, focused on their story telling and not so much in the technique. It is their right to look for a good picture that will suit their story. If Alister’s profiles suits them, then that’s great for everybody as well as the viewers who will enjoy nice photography while learning more about our world.

  3. I am a hobbyist.
    My FDR-AX1 failed recently
    I am looking at a replacement – PXW-Z280
    Waiting for your review.

    When a review is indicated
    but does not appear
    I think
    You are busy
    Camera has problems.

    Any idea if a review will come ?

  4. Thanks for the info Alistair, would you treat this the same as Fs7 when using slog3? I.e. would you overexpose by a stop or two?

    1. Oh yes. The Z280 is much more noisy than an FS7, so it needs a really bright exposure. While you can shoot log with the Z280, it isn’t really the right tool for Log and shooting S-Log with a Z280 isn’t going to deliver anywhere near the kind of image quality that a large sensor camera will.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.