In the past couple of years, Sony has made it a priority to bring to market a high-quality camcorder that looks and feels like a regular, compact camcorder. The Sony HDR-AX33 makes this a reality, and although 4K technology will continue to get smaller and more affordable over time, the AX33 marks the first time this level of 4K quality makes it into consumer hands in a form that they are well familiar with:the handycam.
There are many things to like about the Sony AX33, but some features have caught my attention. First, the camcorder has a 20.6M image sensor from with a full read-out, which means that the image processor reads data from the whole sensor instead of skipping some pixels to avoid extra processing. This contributes to the higher image quality since more information is used to put together the final frames.
The Zeiss lens is controlled by a manual ring, and the whole lens setup is optically stabilized with Sony’s B.O.SS system (which means Balanced Optical SteadyShot). This helps videos to stay steady within reason, and it could work particularly well to get rid of small vibration shakes, and of course, regular hand shaking.
Sony claims that the AX33 is particularly good at low-light shooting, and on paper, the EXMOR sensor, the relatively large lens and the image stabilization would suggest that it is true, but the independent reviews will confirm this when the unit ships.
The presence of an electronic viewfinder (EVF) is an appreciable plus if you happen to shoot during a sunny day, or in a bright environment where the built-in LCD may not be the best option to see what’s going on.
Finally, there’s the possibility to directly connect to UStream, which makes it possible to upload top-notch video quality in real-time. Having this integrated directly in the camcorder makes things much easier since you don’t have to deal with an computer, and this reduces the number of potential issues. Of course, you’re giving up a little bit of control for the sake of simplicity, but this is not a bad trade off at all.