Review: Sony FDR-AX100/B

Marketed as “4K for $2K”, is the first affordable 4K camera suitable for anyone other than bleeding edge early adaptors like myself?

Bottom: FDR-AX100/B, HDR-CX560V, HDR-HC9 Top: SPKCXB for HDR-CX560V

Bottom: FDR-AX100/B, HDR-CX560V, HDR-HC9
Top: SPKCXB for HDR-CX560V

A quick aside: buying a few generations of Sony camcorders has given me extra power adapters, which is cool, even though they also charge over USB. The proprietary connection to use the controls on the sports bubble is also less proprietary when it fits all your cameras. Just like having a house full of MagSafe adapters and Lightning cables…

A few little annoyances:

Rolling Shutter

For that jiggly, “Shot with an iPhone” look…

American trains aren't THAT fast

American trains aren’t THAT fast

In this shot, I'm panning with the slower commuter train. The effect is visible on the viaduct.

In this shot, I’m panning with the slower commuter train. The effect is visible on the viaduct.

No Onboard Storage / only one SD slot

Particularly annoying given that you need a 90MB/s card to not go insane waiting on this camera to start recording. My last camera had 96GB built in. Both of these have noticeable consequences. First, since there’s only one slot, you can’t start shooting until the camera finishes saving the still you just took. Even with the fastest card I could buy this is still a noticeable limitation. The camera does have some method of taking multiple shots while it’s still writing out to the memory card, but you can’t hit Record until it’s done.

The other reason this is frustrating should solve itself over time, and that is that as of right now you can only get a 64GB 90MB/s write SDXC card.


I wouldn’t mind this if my previous camera, the Sony HDR-CX560V, didn’t have it.

What’s great about it

  • Excellent Manual Controls
  • Auto controls don’t over expose (white sky) as much as my previous cameras.
  • MinimalĀ chromatic aberration
  • Good low light performance
  • Great 20MB stills
  • Shoots in .MP4; no “Importing” step in your workflow.

One final thought

Unless you have a 3-CCD camera (this isn’t), the frame size you get isn’t really “real” because of the (usually Bayer) filter used to get RGB out of a single CCD. This is why when you look at pixels 1:1 on cameras it looks like they’re a median blur. This has only a 20MP sensor, with a frame size of 5964×3352, which is only about 2984×1676 “real” pixels. A 4K frame would need 33,177,600 pixels (33MP) on a single CCD. So whether you can call it “real” 4K is up for debate, just like whether or not 1440×1080 wide pixel interlaced miniDV frames counted as “HD”… it never ends