A very quick review: Sony HDR FX-1


The day has finally come.

I've waited for 3 years to update my camcorder..and finally done it with Sony's new HD camcorder..the HDR FX-1!

For me, I didn't see the sense in buying an SD camcorder, when HD is available.

Sony is the first one that actually produced a REAL HD camcorder for the prosumers. Yeah...I know JVC took a stab at it..but that thing was TERRIBLE! A single chip unit with 720 lines of resolution...BAHHH!

This camcorder is a three-chip unit with REAL 16:9 chips that records to mini-dv tape using MPEG-2 decoding with 1,080 interlaced lines of resolution. Wow! Its a big camera..even bigger than the VX-2100! Its a bit heavy as well, but not too bad. Hey, you're going to tripod it anyways...right?

I can hear folks say..."Ya, Tim...that's great..but I don't have an HD TV yet!! Very true...for now. You will in the future. The image quality is simply astounding. If you haven't seen HDTV at the store...you must see it. Looking at standard SD (Standard NTSC stuff) TV...it simply appears fuzzy now. Software is coming out to actually downconvert HD to SD for viewing on a regular TV. I am always interested in capturing the highest possible resolution when I chase.

Did you know that EACH FRAME of video that comes off the FX-1 is equivalent to more than a megapixel picture? This means that you can actually PRINT a SINGLE frame of video 5'x7"..and it looks like a photograph. Same as snapping your digital camera 30 times a second. Now you know one of the big reasons that turned me on to this camera.

"Thats great, Tim..but what about the video/picture quality coming out of that thing?"

One word: Fantastic!

Picture quality is superb, and nearly every bit as good as watching HD programming on TV. I actually had to see it to believe it. My son and I went up to the school and shot some video just before sunset..and I can see the individual hairs on his head! The colors are beautiful, the sensitivity was great, and no dropouts or any MPEG-2 compression artifacts found.

As soon as I get my HD software for editing, I'll post a few single frames here for your review.

This camera will be the VX-1000 for HD camcorders, and as always..Sony is leading the pack.

More later as I continue to play with it...

That's awesome Tim. Congrats! How good is the low light level? I have heard it is not as good as the VX-2100.

Bill Hark
Yeah, we also upgraded to HD TV. My parents got the sony 65" widescreen HDTV, which have come down in price considerably over the past few years. I also notice that most "standard" televisions that are for sale in the stores are now HD capable as well. As for me, I will stick with the 27" standard TV (which I found in the garbage, along side the road, in perfect working condition) :lol:
Thanks! I'll try to post a few frame grabs/movies when I get the software.

Bill, you wrote:

How good is the low light level? I have heard it is not as good as the VX-2100.

Yep..you are correct, but I think its only a difference of a couple of LUX. I find it hard to believe that this difference of values will really make a _big_ noticable difference in the field. It does have an "integration" mode, however. This is when one sets the shutter speed down to 1/4 (about .250th of a second integration on the chips...summing all those photons!), and can see in near darkness...basicly running your camera about 4 frames/second. I tried this in my basement..and was amazed.


I was wondering what sort of computer setup you were planning on using for editing the HDV footage. I know you have to move a lot of data (read: fast hard drives) to efficiently edit the footage given the data-rate.

Yep..you are correct. The data rate of 1080i HDV down a firewire is about 25 MB/second, but still WELL within the grasp of computer technology within, say the last year or so (3 GHz, HT). HDs shouldn't have a problem at all streaming in/out data. I worried about the compression they used...but after actually seeing the video...not worried about it at all!

At the moment, I have a 3.06 GHz HT machine with 1 GB of RAM...and a "bunch" of 100-200 GB drives..

Only thing the computer may choke on, is software rendering of your finished HD product. It might take a while depending on your machine. Once its done, then you can stream it back out on firewire in real time. I'm looking into a hardware codec solution at the moment.

I can run my video through the firewire straight to my Sony HDTV..and it plays it directly off the firewire with no component cables!

Leave it up to Sony to get it all figured out. :)

....and Canon "bobbled the ball" when they came out with the XL-2.

(Sorry...had to take another jab at 'em)

I can run my video through the firewire straight to my Sony HDTV..and it plays it directly off the firewire with no component cables!

Now that is impressive. Sometimes, I've found, Sony really does know what they're doing.

I haven't even seen an HDTV yet, but the camera definitely sounds exciting. I wonder if this will become the new standard in the coming years?
I've got a 2.4 GHz machine and have had no problems capturing HDTV transport streams off firewire from my TV or DVHS. Never had a dropped frame that I can think of. The highest bitrate for our local stations is only 18 MB/s from the WB, still well short of the 25 the camera will provide. I'm guessing this means the cam's image would out-do broadcast HDTV.
Do you know if the transport stream on the firewire is mpeg2? If so you could use the same tool I am to capture to your PC to get some frame grabs and such. The software is CapDVHS. Give it a try.
Well, not sure that it will out-do broadcast..sounds like the bitrate for 720P or I. At least that is what that POS JVC camcorder does. ---probably pissing somebody off that has that camera on this list..my apologies!

Yes, the stream is MPEG-2..and does a very good job. Certainly, the over the air 1080i broadcast is better than the FX-1...but NOT much at all!

Premier PRO 1.5 should release their HD plug-in any day now...and I'll give it a try..and get some frame grabs up!


Thanks for the link...Certainly, I watched "Stormchasers"...but NO tornado! :(

The day is coming...when we will ALL think that SD television is a bunch of fuzzy garbage. I already do. Its very hard for me to watch standard definitian (SD) television anymore. We're lucky that all of our Denver stations are broadcasting HD now.

Out of this world!


Oh, I'm checking with Roger on the projector we're getting for the Denver convention. If it has the capability to play HD/component video, I'll bring my camcorder out and I'll sneak in a few minutes of video after my talk Saturday afternoon if people are interested.
I was very disapppointed not to see more in the "Stormchaser" video but yes it's coming. Can just imagine how the Mulvane tornado would have looked....

Most station's seem to go with the 720p .CBS sticks more with the 1080i which they suffered during the 2003 footbal season with having more pixelation than the 720p games. Seems this year they added more banwidth, at least in Tulsa.
Should we complain for the stations to give up their 2-3 MB/s all weather sub-channels to have more bandwidth available for HDTV?
Should we complain for the stations to give up their 2-3 MB/s all weather sub-channels to have more bandwidth available for HDTV?

Are they really needed? I havn't experiancecd them since I still get mine through Cox here in Tulsa. Not sure any Tulsa station are doing like the OKC channels.

There have been some people complaining about them on this forum http://www.hdtvok.com/ at times
HD broadcasts

We run VIPIR and Fastrac on two of our digital broadcast channels and still have excellent quality on or HD signal... I'm not a huge Leno fan, but his set looks fantastic and crisp regardless of what we broadcast on the other channels.
that link was nice. but did you notice how large those freaking files are. some were close to 100 MB for only about a 1 minute of air time. high quality but memory savages.