The big surprise came at the end of Juan Martinez’s Sony PMW-F3 presentation this evening in New York. Delivered deadpan, Juan announced, “And here’s a little something we’re working on.” The work-in-progress name is Sony NXCAM 35.
It’s a tiny E-mount interchangeable lens digital motion picture camera with a Super 35mm format CMOS sensor. The new addition to Sony’s professional NXCAM line will be available in the middle of 2011, presumably after a big splash at NAB. The collective gasp of awe drowned out the rumors of price, but I though I heard under $6,000. The pictures here are concept CAD drawings; the actual product will definitely look different. I assume a handgrip, viewfinder, battery and microphone will be appended somewhere.
While the Sony PMW-F3 has an EX style mount (with a PL adaptor), the NXCAM 35 uses a Sony E-mount. This is the same mount used on Sony’s new digital still cameras, NEX-5, and NEX-3, and the consumer/prosumer “Handycam” NEX-VG10.
Here’s what we know about Sony’s NEX-5, since we bought one last week, along with a Leica M and PL adaptor. They make wonderful directors’ finders with PL to E-mount adaptors. Stay with me here, because similar design philosophies may be at work that could hint at what’s to come. The NEX-5 and -3 digital still cameras are the world’s first interchangeable lens cameras with an APS-C (23.4 x 15.6mm) sensor. They continuously adjust focus and exposure while recording video. The NEX-5 camera does full HD video capture (1080i AVCHD and 720p MP4) with full HD 60i recording.
The “mirrorless” construction and 18 mm flange focal depth (same as the NEX-VG10) reduces the thickness of the camera body to about an inch. They use a newly developed 14.2 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. About 60 percent larger than the sensor in micro four-thirds cameras, this sensor has exceptional image quality and extremely low image noise with the familiar depth of field of 35mm APS-C format.
Three new E-mount lenses have been introduced: 16mm f/2.8 wide angle prime lens, 18mm-55mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom, and an 18-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 long zoom lens. The E-mount lenses are extremely compact and run quietly even during continuous auto focus and auto exposure HD video capture. (That looks like the 18-200 mm in the concept picture (above).
The NEX cameras accept both Memory Stick PRO Duo (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media (all sold separately).
The NXCAm 35 will have the same 18 mm flange focal depth. You should be able to mount almost any 35mm format still or cine lens on the planet by using adaptors. Next year could be a good one if you happen to make lens adaptors.
The new camera will record AVCHD: the same format used in the HXR-NX5 NXCAM camcorder. On the table are plans to do 1080p (60p / 30p / 24p or 50p / 25p). MPEG4-AVC/H.264 compression will be used.