Sony changed the consumer video market with the launch of the FDR-AX100 4K UHD camcorder at CES in 2014. This camera was capable of shooting 25/30 frames a second with a data rate of 60MBPS and pros and consumers were bowled over by the detailed images that were also very sharp. The AX100 was a fair size though and gave lots of manual controls to the user. In 2015 at CES Sony launched the AX33 a smaller consumer camcorder that gave data rates of 100MBPS while shooting 4K, this lacked the manual buttons but gained the much sought after Balanced Optical Steadyshot image stabilisation (BOSS). Then in 2016 an improved sensor gave larger pixels and a true 16:9 ratio.
So the FDR-AX53 has better dynamic range, better low light and has balanced optical steadyshot or BOSS as it is known.
The front of the camera has a multifunction ring, which can be used to control the settings while shooting in manual mode, so you can control, zoom, focus, exposure, iris, shutter speed, AE shift and white balance shift. The Zeiss lens has 20x optical zoom which goes to 30x with Clear Image Zoom in 4K and 40x Clear Image Zoom in HD. A 5.1 surround microphone sits next to the ring on top of the camera and below the lens on the right hand side is the headphone socket, which is next to the infra red light/receiver (you can buy a Sony remote separately). The hand strap no longer has the USB cable attached to it and instead a separate cable is supplied.
This was shot at 100fps and slowed to 25fps.
The accessory shoe is now a much better standard shoe shape and size with a longer slot to allow the use of microphones by third parties such as Rode. Also on top are the zoom rocker and the photo button. At the rear on the right side is the socket for that USB cable and the microphone socket which has a sliding cover. The hand grip is not a soft rubber affair and this is also where you can pair up your smart phone to use as a remote.
Don’t forget to change the quality settings in the lower right hand corner of each clip.
Inside the 3 inch screen is a small cluster of buttons for power, my voice cancellation (cancels the camera operator’s voice by making mics forward centric) this is not as effective as a directional microphone would be like the Rode VideoMicro (which I use) the SDXC card slots sits under a sliding flap there is a small LED light that flickers when the camera is recording (there is also a lamp at the front of the camera so everyone knows you are recording and this can be turned off in the setup menu). The IR lamp on/off button is also here along with the mini HDMI socket. On the back of the camera is the battery slot for the NP-FV series battery and the record start/stop button. The mains socket for the charger sits below. A pull out and tilt EVF sits above the battery.
In use the camera is chunky but fits the hands very nicely and has a nice amount of weight to it without being too heavy.
Other than the often mentioned 4K shooting, you can also do slow motion video at full 1920×1080 HD resolution. You need to go into the quality menu then change XAVCS 4K to XAVCS HD, then go to the shooting menu and select High Speed Rec. the camera will now shoot images at 100fps then you can slow this to 25fps (uk) US frames rates are 120fps slowed to 30fps.
The camera has an Intelligent Auto Mode, where everything is done automatically by the camera and exposure will change with the conditions, it should be noted that macro shooting can be much closer to the front element of the lens in this mode over any other.
In low light this camera performs very nicely and in the menu you can select how much gain is used in the AGC setting. This goes from zero to twenty four dB and honestly It seems to me you can use the entire range with only minimal noise creeping in.
What is supplied in the box?
1x mini HDMI to full size HDMI cable.
1x Sony USB to full size USB cable.
1x regional mains cable (depending on where you live this will be for your countries socket).
1x AC to DC converter which connects the camera to the mains cable.
1x NP-FV70 1960 Mah battery which should give a couple of hours recording.
You will need to purchase a suitable SDXC card to use with the camera and I bought Lexar 150MB/S 1000x cards at 256GB and 128GB. According to the screen I should get 5hrs and 30mins from the 256GB card.
I also bought a Hoya Pro 1 Circular Polariser and Pro 1 NDx8 ND filter. Bother are more useful than a UV filter which in effect will not protect your lens or make it easier to clean. UV filters also are worse for your image quality and I recommend you do not use one ever as they also increase the risk of ghosting and flare. What does a polariser do? Well it will increase your contrast and when correctly rotated it will help give rich blue skies and white fluffy clouds will look good. It will also increase or decrease reflections depending on what you need to do. An ND filter is more basic but will reduce light depending on the rating of the filter an ND8 reduces light by 3 stops.
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