Sony FDR-AX33 (Prototype) Review

*** Please note. Footage shown in this review, were taken with a prototype model camera. The final version may (or may not) behave differently and produce a different picture quality ****

0J8K9970We at cinema5D will usually test and review large sensor cameras but when the opportunity arise to check Sony’s new entry level 4K handycam the FDR-AX33 (AXP33 in Europe),  I was not hesitating twice.  The curiosity to see what $999 can buy, drove me to try and test the new camera in “real life documentary situation”.

Well,  let me get strait to the point. It never happened. This camera is NOT aimed for the serious shooter. My attempt to shoot with it “a real life story” ended up after couple of hours. The reason is simple. You can not be fully creative and control every (basic) aspect of the camera functions. Instead, the camera will “control you”. There is absolutely no way of dialling Iris, shutter and gain to manual position at the same time. Just when you got one right, the other will automatically “jump” into “auto mode”.

Before I get to hear “what can you expect from an under $1000 product?”, let me explain… If it is an entry level product, then don’t include features which are there for what seems to be marketing purposes only. “Zebra” (besides living happily in protected safaris), is a feature which aimed to help the advanced shooter to properly expose his/her video. What sense there is to include such a feature if you simply can not control your exposure manually anyway? While iris CAN be controlled manually, Sony’s “exposure” feature kicks in automatically, blocking you from achieving proper accurate results. (“Exposure” is Sony’s feature that enables you to control the total EV. The camera may change gain, F No. or shutter speed automatically).

Not being able to conduct my original shooting idea, I ended up taking few sample shots which were all done in 4K 100Mbps 25p,  “intelligent auto” mode . I was also testing the “Balanced Optical SteadyShot” (working very nice) and “lowlight capability” (less then satisfactory), but those shots did not make it to the final video above.

Despite of all the written above, there are some positive points in favour of Sony’s FDR AX33. (which led me to think that if Sony wanted, they could have given us a totally different level of productivity from this little camera).

Here is a short list of what I liked:

-Good autofocus in video mode
-Good Balanced Optical SteadyShot
-Nice smooth “change focus” possibility by pressing the accurate touch screen
-The ability to achieve smooth slow in/out zoom while using the variable rocker
-Long lasting battery
-Clever hidden USB cable for external charging
-Sony’s professional XLR attachment (XLR-K2M) can be attached and be used for greater audio flexibility
-XAVC-S codec
-24/25p switchable
-Mic in and manual audio control
-Headphone jack
-“Quick camera start-up” by pulling the EVF out
-“Build in” projector which guaranty to fascinate your little kids

0J8K9972 0J8K9973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above, Sony’s clever USB external charging solution

What could be (much) improved:

-Less the satisfactory lowlight video quality
-“In camera” charging
-Low quality EVF
-EVF diopter is poorly placed on the right hand side. Almost after very time of pulling the the EVF out, new eye focusing adjustment need to be done.
-Limited dynamic range
-Severe rolling shutter
-Very strong chromatic aberration
-No total manual control
-Information will disappear very quickly from the LCD screen.
-Confusing menu structure

Summery: 

For the occasional parents who just bought a new shiny 4K TV and wants to have the latest modestly priced 4K handycam, this camcorder might be the solution. When doing so, please take in account that this camcorder is capable of producing decent picture quality only in properly lit locations.

Edited on Adobe Premiere CC 2014. No colour correction or sharpness were added in post just a slight brightness change was done. 

Export settings for 4K playback in Vimeo:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 02.29.36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music: (The musicbed) “For You – Instrumental” by LUKE & LAURA

Watch it on Vimeo

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Philip Lipetz Reply
Philip Lipetz January 7, 2015

Ouch!

Guillaume Juin Reply
Guillaume Juin January 7, 2015

It produces an ugly, amateurish image. Not interesting at all. And VERY expensive when you compare it to the BMPCC, a6000…

Riccardo Molinari Reply
Riccardo Molinari January 7, 2015

Hi, here you can find this video http://www.colsub.it/sito/?p=1139 about this new camcorder Sony FDR-AXP33/35 Handycam in 4K quality !
It’s amazing.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri January 7, 2015

Hi Riccardo.

If you look closely at the footage captured with the FDR-AXP33 in the link you provided (Not all was shot with this camera), you will notice similar shortcomings as mentioned in my article.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Anonymous January 7, 2015

Oh absolutely brilliant image quality. Possibly Sony will address the issues you mentioned. I’ve seen no rolling skew in your video. I think this is going to be my dream camera. The footage including panning looked so smooth. I am thrilled. Thank you for the video. After I saw your video of Sony A5100, and ran and bought one, and I enjoy since. Miklos

Don Hsi Reply
Don Hsi January 8, 2015

4k for under $1k with small footprint, I will get one for fun and C cam.

O'Neill Keegan Reply
O'Neill Keegan January 9, 2015

Purple chromatic aberration fest

Claire McHardy Reply
Claire McHardy January 12, 2015

Wow its a purple world out there…

Reply
ferruccio February 11, 2015

the specifications on SONY site writes there is EXPOSURE control, therefore this will regulate ecording lighter or darker, I suppose, or not, and if not what it is for?
Ferruccio Guerra