October 14, 2010

Shoulder-mounted AVCHD cameras

The upcoming Sony HXR-MC2000 is claimed to be "the first affordable, shoulder-mounted full HD camcorder". It is aimed at entry-level professional use and will cost less than £1,500.

A lot of users prefer shoulder-mounted camcorders, because they are easier to use if you are doing a lot of hand-held work, where actually hand holding the camera makes it harder to keep stable and tires you out pretty quickly.

The MC2000 will record AVCHD 24Mbps to 64GB of internal memory as well as memory stick Pro Duo or SD/SDHC cards.

Features include: a 12x (29.8mm-357.6mm) G-Lens; single 1/4-inch Exmor CMOS sensor with reasonable low light performance (3lux); Optical SteadyShot; a 2.7-inch 230k touch panel; an external microphone (stereo mini jack); and weighs 2.9kg including battery.

“The release of the HXR-MC2000E is further evidence of Sony’s desire to provide professional equipment suitable for every level of the market. This new camcorder comes complete with a great feature set and as well as being lightweight, is also highly affordable. Ideal for a range of customers from event videography though to corporate communications and educational training use, the MC2000E is bound to offer existing tape-based customers a clear migration path to solid-state acquisition,” said Bill Drummond, European Product Manager, Sony Professional.

Its main competitor will probably be Panasonic's new AG-HMC80/AG-HMC81. It lists at €2,550 excluding VAT (so should cost about £2,000), and records both HD at 24Mbps and SD (in the 25Mbps DV format) to SD cards.

It uses three 3-megapixel MOS sensors, and can also take 10.6-megapixel still images - storing them as standard JPEGs on the SDHC card.

The shoulder-mounted camera includes: user-assignable manual focus ring functions (Focus/Iris/Zoom); time code/UB recording; time/date stamp; and two wired remote control terminals (for zoom, focus, iris, REC start/stop controls). It has a 12x zoom lens with a  40.8mm (35mm lens equivalent) wide-angle setting. It has an Optical Image Stabilizer, Dynamic Range Stretch and a Cine-Like Gamma mode to give recordings a more film-like look – it can record 1080/24p (as well as 25/30p, 50/60i and 720 24p, 25/30p. 50/60p).

Outputs include: HDMI (AVCHD only), USB 2.0, composite (BNC), analogue component (BNC x 3) and FireWire (DV). For audio it has a built-in stereo microphone, a 3.5mm mini jack, and two XLR inputs (something the MC2000 doesn't have).

[UPDATE: There are very few low-cost shoulder-mounted camcorders about, but Sony has introduced the NEX-EA50 NXCAM camcorder, which is designed to sit well on the shoulder without any accessories.]

[March 2013 UPDATE: JVC has now introduced a new shoulder-mounted AVCHD Progressive (28Mbps 50p or 60p) camera, the GY-HM70 (pictured), with dual hot-swappable batteries for longer shooting times and dual SD memory cards, for under $2,000.]

By David Fox

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