New Sony NEX-EA50EH shoulder mount 35mm camcorder. Power Zoom lens for FS100 and FS700

New Sony NEX-EA50EH

Sony kept this one very quite. The first I heard about this was yesterday. It’s based on the NEX-VG20 which is in turn based on the NEX-5N APS-C stills camera. It is a shoulder mount camcorder with a really rather nice form factor that includes an adjustable shoulder mount. The sensor is an APS-C sized sensor, so slightly smaller than the super 35mm sized sensor in the Sony F3 or FS100/700 camcorders. It records on to SD cards or Memory Sticks using AVCHD. It is a world camera so will record in both PAL and NTSC modes, frame rates include 23.98p, 25p, 30p, 25i, 30i, 50p and 60p. As well as the camcorder Sony also have some new memory sticks that have built in raid storage. So a 64GB card provides 2 separate 32GB memory areas so recordings are recorded twice. If one half of the memory were to fail, your recordings will still be safe on the other mirrored half. Clever stuff, but it won’t help you if you loose the card!

Getting back to the camera, because the sensor is a 16.1MP APS-C sensor designed originally for still photos, there will be more moire and aliasing than you would see from a dedicated video camera sensor because the optical low pass filter is designed for still photo resolutions as opposed to HD video. Although based on the NEX5N stills camera the video image processing has been tailored for video so the video image quality should be better than that from the stills cameras. As well as video the camera will also take still photos and has the ability to store raw still images. The camcorder has XLR audio connections, but no timecode and no HDSDI out, only HDMI. The LCD viewfinder uses the same LCD as the FS100/FS700 and a very similar looking loupe/eyepiece. This is a budget entry level camcorder, so sadly no ND filters. Probably just as well because if it did it would really annoy any FS100 owners. Ergonomically it looks really good.

NEX-EA50EH with shoulder pad extended.

The shoulder pad can be adjusted and slides out from under the rear of the camera on built in rails. The top of the extending shoulder mount has mounting points for accessories such as external recorders or radio mice so no need to use 3rd party rods and rails. Perhaps the most significant feature though is that the NEX-EA50EH is supplied with a servo zoom lens! This 11x zoom lens (SEL18200PZ18-200) uses Sony’s now familiar E-Mount so it will also fit on any other E-Mount camera. On the side of the lens there is a small zoom control rocker (three fixed speeds, low-mid-high), so even if your E-Mount camera doesn’t have a zoom control (FS100, NEX5N etc) you can still use the power zoom. Apparently the lens is based on the 18-200mm kit lens that comes with the FS100/FS700 but now with a zoom servo and updated firmware, so it will almost certainly telescope and extend in length as you zoom. It has optical stabilisation and auto focus. Manual focus is of the round and round, non calibrated servo variety. I’ve been told that the NEX-EA50EH will cost around£3k including the lens. The lens itself will be available separately from photo stores some time around the end of the year.

You can find the full tech specs here.

16 thoughts on “New Sony NEX-EA50EH shoulder mount 35mm camcorder. Power Zoom lens for FS100 and FS700”

  1. A 16mp photo camera sensor mounted in an ENG-style video camera?

    I own several Sony cameras, one of which is a NEX VG20. I can understand a sensor like this in a consumer “Handycam”. It DOES take great pictures and it’s in a somewhat “practical” photography friendly hand-held body. However, video resolution is very “soft” even when compared to a Handycam CX760. Low light performance is great with a fast prime but moire artifacts badly hurt this camera sometimes. I use it for photos allot but I use it carefully for video and only for certain types of shots.

    Why would Sony uses this sensor in a true video camera? This camera would have been PERFECT with the FS100’s super35mm.

    So very close,…yet so far!

    I’m beside myself.


  2. Agreed, Sony product development have totally lost their marbles. Hire some product managers that have ears!

    1. But the EA50 is the result of customer requests. A professional looking camera that can shoot shallow DoF while being easy to use for those on a small budget. For many wedding/event videographers, schools, colleges etc the VG10 and VG20 are too small, too fiddly, don’t look professional, don’t have servo zooms and lack decent audio inputs. This is the camera for those people. It’s actually a very big market sector, the EA50 is aimed at those that might have a VG10, VG20 or HD1000 shoulder mount HDV camcorder (which sells in incredibly large numbers in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East), but desire something more “filmic”.

      The EA50 doesn’t mean we won’t also see a shoulder mount FS700 or F3 with similar form factor. If anything it is a very encouraging sign that Sony are listening. It takes between 3 and 4 years to bring a camcorder to market, so these things don’t happen overnight.

      Sony are currently the ONLY manufacturer to have a shoulder mount near super35mm camcorder for less than £45K. You also have to consider that if there was a FS700 for £5.5K and a FS750 for £7K how many people would actually pay the extra £1.5K just for shoulder mount convenience? Certainly many would, but would it be enough to make it worth having a further product line?

      1. I know Alister but I can’t help being a little cynical about Sony’s product lines. It’s the things they don’t do…
        Take the F3 for example – I have two of them and they have a fantastic sensor but ergonomically they are a basket case.
        Why couldn’t they have put a proper Viewfinder Port on it somewhere – and at least 50MBit/sec 4:2:2 recording onboard?
        They could have done that – they already had 4:4:2 recording and a low cost viewfinder on the PMW-500 so why not the F3?
        I’d like to know who Sony were listening to when they designed that camera 🙂

  3. Because this is an “NXCAM” we must ask the pre-release standard questions:

    1.) Will you be able to control GAIN, IRIS and SHUTTER SPEED at the same time (Some Handycams allow this but not all NXCAMS today do)

    2.) Will this camera have standard audio level meters with “db” values or the non-decrypt “pyramid” type that have no values. (Some Handycams have level meters, some NXCAMs have pyramid type.)

    3.) Will the camera display “gain” values on the screen when shooting or only displayed during playback? (Some NXCAMS today do this)


    1. Good questions to which I do not have definitive answers. But the pictures of the camera show separate switches for gain, white balance, shutter and iris. the gain switch is a high/mid/low switch just like those on most of the Sony pro rangeand you can choose between gain and ISO. The white balance switch is another pro camcorder style A/B or preset switch. The iris control is an on/off push button with an adjacent iris wheel, much like the FS700/FS100 and the shutter button is close to the select/set wheel. So I think the signs are encouraging that full manual control of all four will be separate. It also has 6 assignable buttons plus a focus manual/auto switch and one push focus hold button.
      Gain can be displayed as gain or ISO, so even if it does not show db of gain by using ISO you will know exactly how your sensitivity is changing. I also suspect you will have proper audio meters.

  4. These are questions that you would expect have “obvious” or “safely assumable” answers. However, unfortunately the NXCAM NX30 and NX3D1 have recently been crippled with odd tactics like these. (NXCAMS with less control than even some “Handycams”…ever older Handycams!)

    It’s getting to the point where I have no idea anymore what common functions that Sony will allow or not. (especially odd when you expect an “NXCAM” to be a semi-pro brand)

  5. ‘but no timecode’

    Huh? It doesn’t record TC?

    Also, any guesses on the low light vs a ex3 – better or worse – larger sensor with 3.xf with the stock lens (im sure the 1.8 e mount lens would ne better but not for run and gun) to the ex3s 3x smaller chips with 1.9f

  6. If it truly is the VG20 sensor, that would make the photosites at about 4.75 microns. (DXO site specs.) So, that’s a pretty good size. Alister can state the pixel size of the EX3 but I “think” they are smaller than 4.75 microns.

    With a fast lens, you can expect pretty good low light performance. As with most newer Sony cameras, gain amplification and noise control is out of this world. Sony cameras made in the last two years have great post processing. Sony seems to have made a huge leap in noise reduction around 2010. Not sure what “secret sauce” they found but it’s some kind of post processing magic.

    I was told at NAB 2011 that Sony has made recently huge improvements in “Correlated Double Sampling”. I was told that they sample photosites in their “off” state in between read cycles. Sony then captures a “noise fingerprint”. That fingerprint is then inverted and applied back to the “on” state of the photosite readout for the image prep. (phase canceled noise on a per pixel level) This all happens in between read cycles and helps allot with noise reduction. Anyway,..this is not a new thing but supposedly Sony has developed something very powerful related to this technique. (some kind of major break thru)

    This 16mp sensor is nice, it’s good in low light but unfortunately produces a very soft image for video. (It’s cleaner than an EX3 but MUCH softer and of course you get nasty moire too at times)

    You CAN get some very nice looking video with this sensor, no doubt at all. With a, f1.4 lens at 18db, the VG20 sees in the dark nice and is clean! But it does get slammed on “cartain” kinds of scenes. The EX3 is a far more versatile, sharper and all around better all around performer without question.

    I don’t understand what application this EA50 is geared for. (ENG style camera with a photo camera sensor?…who will use this camera for photos?) It NEEDS the FS100 sensor badly. If Sony used that sensor and raised the price? They would sell a TON of them.

    I’ll keep my EX1r for the serious stuff and my VG20 for my vacation photos and video. (btw,…that 16mp sensor takes AWESOME pix)


  7. I think Cliff you are too focussed on your own personal needs and camera requirements.
    There are all kinds of applications for video cameras all over the world and different countries and different regions often have very different needs. One of Sony’s biggest selling cameras is the HD1000. Frankly, I think it’s a dreadful camera, it’s a cheap single chip HDV camcorder in a full size shoulder mount body. But in the Middle East, Africa and many Asian countries this camera sells in volume. It gets used for TV news, documentary production, wedding and event videos and is used by a great many schools and universities. It’s popular because it is a shoulder mount camera and this differentiates it from conventional consumer handy cams, but costs little more than a high end consumer camera. I suspect the EA50 will do very well in this sector. In many countries price is everything.

    CDS is not a new technology. It’s been around for years. The EXMOR sensors (as used in the EX series) use two stage CDS. CDS is performed once at the photo site while the signals are still analogue and then a second CDS is performed immediately after the A to D converter on the sensor chip in the digital domain. In addition EXMOR sensors use extra masked pixels at the end of each row/column of photosites to sample the black level to help reduce fixed pattern noise. Part of the reason cameras like the CX series appear to have less noise than expected is due to the use of a 45 degree tilted pixel array and ClearVid. This means that fewer (and thus larger) pixels can be used to interpolate picture information, but this does come with the heavy penalty of increased artefacts and chroma resolution that is 1/4 of the luma resolution. This is most noticeable of faces and natural textures.

  8. It’s funny,…I dont know of anyone that has a HD1000. In fact, I dont think I have ever even seen a real one in the field either. I see the usual, Z1, Z5, Z7, EX1&3 and the usual NXCAMS everywhere. I guess you are right, the market expectations and requirements vary drastically.

    Speaking of market requirements,…if Sony made this exact same shoulder camera but with 4:2:2 SDI out and using the FS100 sensor, would you see a camera like this being accepeted by the BBC for “long form” boradcast work? (using pro res/AVID DNxHD external recorder) Let’s call this camera a Sony “FS300”. I know they require at least three 1/2 inchers today.

    1. In Asia and MEA, the HD1000 is one of Sony’s biggest selling cameras. Panasonic have a similar camera the AG-AC7. You don’t won’t see them in Western broadcast markets, they are not deemed to be good enough, but I’ve attended trade shows in those regions and seen big crowds around these cheap cameras with no interest in what you or I would regard as much better cameras.

      Yes a FS100 in a shoulder mount with 50Mb/s 422 would almost certainly be broadcast approved, but it would almost certainly cost $15k or more. IBC is just around the corner, who knows what we might see launched then.

  9. This sensor is “OK” but I think recording 4:2:2 to Pro Res or Avid DNxHD might be a waste of time. This sensor is heavily oversampled, has a soft video output and lot’s of Moire. I’m not knocking it because I do like the VG20 as a fun walk around hybrid camera but 4:2:2 wont fix any of those problems. (Maybe less motion artifacts or mosquito noise?….maybe?)

    In other words, the AVCHD on board codec is plenty enough to reveal ALL that sensors flaws. Keying video would not be a good idea either with that camera. If I can see all those artifacts with the onboard codec, imagine what a better one would reveal.

    I’d say that 4:2:2 is made really for 3 sensor cameras that don’t need to deal with Bayer or line skipping.


    1. Bayer uses a lot of very valuable tricks to perform much better than it should. For example the colour filters are deliberately leaky so that there is colour leakage from red to green, green to red etc. This is then taken into account in the debayer algorithm and allows you to extrapolate much higher color resolution than the pixel count alone would suggest. Yes, the colour resolution is lower than luma, but it with a good algorithm it’s better than 4:2:2.

  10. Cliff, you obviously have some experience with this sensor in the VG20 but I would disagree with your assumptions made from that experience about Bayer sensors in general.

    I work with the Red one, Epic and Arri Alexa almost every day and can certainly say that Bayer done right can very very clean, sharp and nice and every bit deserving of a 4:4:4 recording let alone 4:2:2. The oversampling is an important part of making it sharp and avoiding moire in most situations, if every pixel is processed and scaled to the desired resolution without compromise it looks great. More naturally sharp looking (organic) than some pro HD cameras which can look a little over sharpened and, well video-ey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony were hobbling this camera with line skipping and underpowered processing electronics but there should be no reason they couldn’t get something fantastic out of the sensor itself.
    For the price it is pretty great – if only it had Timecode in & out and dual SDI outputs to allow recording to external recorders with a reliable connecting cable and maybe even provide a RAW feed.

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