April 03, 2012

Tiny Sony HXR-NX30 HD camcorder

The new Sony HXR-NX30 is its smallest, lightest handheld professional camcorder. It uses Sony’s Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation to make it more usable for handheld shooting. It can also take care of playout, as it has a built-in projector.

Conventional image stabilisation systems typically float an individual lens element with a motor drive to compensate for camera shake. The Balanced Optical SteadyShot combines the entire lens and image sensor assembly into one floating element that moves as a unit, which it claims considerably reduces the shaking effect caused by normal motion during shooting (watch the promo video below for a good explanation).

“This high-quality yet easy-to-use camcorder is an extremely versatile field production tool,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe. “It’s perfect for videographers, journalists, educational establishments or corporate users, for shooting in many different situations where other stabilisation equipment is not practical, such as on-board a vehicle or in a crowd”.

The NXCAM camcorder should be available in June for about £1,900/€2,300/$2,500, and records AVCHD 1920x1080 images using a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens (going from a reasonably wide 26mm to 260mm - 35mm equivalent) and a single 1/2.88-inch Exmor CMOS image sensor. It outputs 1080/50p, 25p, 50i and 720/50p (or 60p, 30p, 24p, 60i and 720/60p for the 60Hz version).

It has 96GB of internal memory (about 8.75 hours at the highest HD recording quality – 28Mbps), with a dual slot that accepts either SD or Memory Stick PRO Duo media cards for additional capacity.

The built-in video projector allows playback on any flat surface, producing an image of 100 inches at a 5m distance, useful for reviewing rushes in the field or on set, if a monitor is not available. It also has a built-in video light (just above the lens) and an infra-red (Night Shot) mode.

For audio, the HXR-NX30E has a detachable XLR unit (which also acts as a handle), record level control, the option of Linear PCM audio recording, time code and the ability to set time code on multiple cameras via an infrared remote control.

By David Fox


In response to comments - some setting is currently preventing us from adding a comment below - so we're adding this comment here:


The HXR-NX30 is certainly light (under 2lb/800g with battery), and it looks like the stabiliser is as good as they get on a small camcorder.

However, it doesn’t appear to have any built-in ND filters, never mind automatic ones (it will probably adjust the shutter for you – although that is rarely a good thing for your image quality…).

Very few small camcorders have any sort of built-in ND filters. Some, such as our Canon XF100 offer negative gain (which they call an ND filter), which at least means it doesn’t mess with the shutter speed. You could add a variable ND filter.

If the main attraction of this camera is the stabiliser, and you don’t need the XLR audio inputs and some pro features like timecode, then save some money and have a look at the consumer version, the Sony HDR-PJ760 (see www.cnet.com.au/sony-handycam-hdr-pj760-339335621.htm for a review with video showing the stabiliser in action).

The camera set up we use when we need to travel light (whether on vacation or doing interviews) is our little Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder (superseded by the slightly upgraded 900 series), which is a three-chip camcorder and delivers very good pictures.

It does have a built-in stabiliser, but not as advanced as the Sony, but for extra stability we use a very lightweight Manfrotto 560B monopod (which has three little feet and the ability to pan the camera smoothly, with a tilt head), which should cost under $150. When we need XLR audio we use a small add-on BeachTek box with two inputs (which sits beneath the camcorder on the monopod).

Hope this helps.


  1. I'm selling my Z1 to buy it for several reasons. The first is to go from an 8.8 lb. camera to about 4.0 lb. seeing as how I'm 80 carrying around a brick is no longer appealing, second up-market to solid state. With age comes shaking so that stabilizer is a big plus too.

    Most of my work is taking videos of my European trips. I live in Scottsdale AZ. and feel that by making DVDs of my trips and sending to my American friends I'm both educating them and giving them a laugh. I'll tell if they don't like them they can use them as Frisbees.

    Now the big question which only you can answer, does the camera have built-in AUTOMATIC ND FILTERS? I know at least one other Sony camera had them. If so, it just means one less thing to worry about.

  2. Hi, I use tm900 now, is it worth upgrading? I only shoot hand held on climbing and hiking trips.

  3. Great post! The fact that you means someone is reading and liking it! Congrats!That’s great advice.

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