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Sony 4K Video Camera: FDR-AX1

by | Apr 8, 2014 | Blog, MAARTECH

I highly recommend you watch this video in 4K, if at all possible. In lower resolutions you’ll miss the snowflakes and be subjected to moire in many of the complex scenes – such as inside the Eaton Centre.


However, youtube’s 4K format (as output by FCP 10.1) is more compressed than I’d like and the youtube playback seems even lower quality than the output file created by FCP. I’m limited to comparing on a 2560×1440 screen, but the ProRes file (62GB) or the H.264 output (7.2GB) clearly have more detail than the youtube file (2.36GB), which seems soft and suffers from compression artifacts in comparison. Particularly the rain scene comparison at the beginning. Not sure how to improve the youtube quality for this.

 Thanks to all who assisted me in this project. First to Elaine, Christina, Karol, Daniel and Rob at Sony Canada, who provide great support for reviewers. Sony lent me the FDR-AX1 for a month, but did not compensate me in any way, nor review this video before posting.

 The footage was shot in February and March 2014. I shot in Toronto, Niagara on the Lake and in Cancun Mexico. And in the Playmobil town of Heilbronn. Lots of fun taking the Toronto Island ferry across a frozen harbour, walking around downtown and in Distillery District in what has been a pretty bleak winter in Toronto. In Cancun we stayed at The Excellence Playa Mujeres. If you’d just like to look at the pretty pictures, I posted a video of the footage without narration.

 My thanks to all those who appear in the video. I don’t have the names of the performers at The Excellence – but live music and great shows are just one of the reasons we’ll be going back. Juice (Tom Hanley, who composed the music for the video is Juice’s singer/songwriter/guitarist) provided me the opportunity to shoot at a recording session; Stacey Y Band allowed me to record their performance at 3030 Dundas; Concord Choir let me record a rehearsal – all to help illustrate the camera’s audio capabilities. Thanks also to Mark Rynkun and Morta, who I recorded but who don’t appear in the video.

 Alexandra Heilbron of Tribute Magazine organized  the interview with Rob Minkoff, director of Mr Peabody and Sherman; my wife Kim appears as Ms. Worobec reading Sky Color by Peter Reynolds.

 The 4K footage is all shot with the FDR-AX1, mostly at 30p 100Mb. Screens from the AX1 are recorded from the HDMI out through an elgato game capture HD capture device. Camera closeups are shot with my NEX VG20 using the SEL30mm macro lens. Kim took a few shots of me with the camera using the NEX5n. The captures of the peaking and zebra (which don’t appear on the HDMI output) are recorded using an iPhone suspended on a goby rig.

 Thanks to Cliff Lavallee, who helped me understand the paint menu’s pro settings.

 Thanks also to Tara and Jennifer at Apple Canada who loaned me a well-equipped MacPro to edit this video. In the absence of a 4K display, I used the screen of a 27” (2560×1440) iMac connected using target display mode with mini-display port to mini-display port cable (which are hard to get now). I’ve added the MacPro to my wish list. And the Sharp 4K monitor.

 As for the FDR-AX1, I’m waiting to see the AX100 and the a7S.

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