Sony HDR-FX1: High Definition Video Has Arrived!

Pre-Set Your Manual Adjustments

As you'd expect from a camcorder in this price range, there are many manual adjustments. The shutter can be set manually from 1/4 to 1/10,000 second, gain is variable, up to +18 dB, and the left and right audio levels are adjustable separately.

However, the real "plus" the FX1 offers is its ability to store six personalized Picture Profiles (PPs), each of which includes the following parameters:

  • Color level
  • Color phase
  • Sharpening
  • Skintone level
  • Exposure adjustment
  • Limitation of automatic gain control
  • Limitation of automatic aperture control
  • White balance
  • Cinematone mode
  • Cineframe mode (progressive mode for a "film-like" texture)

You can memorize adjustments on PP1 for filming, say, the interior of a house (with the gain turned up), use PP2 for an auto race (fast shutter speed for following fast-moving subjects), and finally, dedicate PP3 for exterior shooting (with lower exposures).

The six profiles on the menu store your manual adjustments for each shooting situation.

Editing: Serious Computer Power Required

Shooting in HD implies being able to edit in HD; the arrival of a new format always means problems with updates of editing software packages. The major publishers of these editing packages have announced that their software is compatible with HDV signals:

  • Adobe Premier Pro 1.5
  • Ulead Media Studio Pro 7
  • Liquid Edition 6
  • Final Cut Pro HD
  • Avid Xpress DV

We weren't able to capture HDV with Premier Pro 1.5 and Liquid Edition 6, however. Even though Pinnacle supplied us with the latest update patch, the camcorder still wasn't recognized. As we write this test, we're still waiting for the plug-ins for managing HDV streams. Canopus has just announced its new Edius NX editing solution for HDV (card + software) at $1,269 and it has no problem with the HDR-FX1. Ulead has also announced the availability of an HD 2.0 plug-in for its Media Studio Pro 7 software.

In any case, editing HDV requires a powerful computer with at least a 3 GHz Pentium 4 processor. Since HDV is compressed in MPEG-2 with a 6-frame GOP (Group Of Images), manipulating high-definition video clips requires a lot of RAM (at least 1 GB).

You can, however, export your HDV video to DV format for editing. The FX1 offers DV conversion through an i.Link interface. Naturally, your clips won't be in high definition anymore, but rather in 720x576 SD format.