Production

New 4K UHD camcorders from Canon & Sony: Let’s compare

Canon and Sony just launched 4K UHD camcorder models, 3 each. Let’s see how some important —yet difficult to find— specs compare.

Canon just launched the 4K UHD XF405/XF400/GX10. This is the first time Canon has chosen a 1-inch type sensor, something done previously with Sony models. Sony has announced its PXW-Z90, HXR-NX80 and FDR-AX700. Both companies have begun to address my cry for 5GHz WiFi, and there are improvements in the live outputs. Some are worldcams, while others are segregated. The zoom lenses are still not as “fast” as we’d like (i.e. the don’t have such a widest aperture), although autofocus and stabilization have greatly improved. Ahead you’ll find a unique spreadsheet/comparison chart which covers the 4K UHD, 1080p, 720p and several other specs of each model and other information that is not readily available in standard specs.

Comparison chart

We’ll start with the comparison chart and then add comments below it:

Worldcam or segregated?

For a refresher of the advantages of worldcam vs segregated cameras, check out my 2015 article (illustrated above) Why we should only use worldcams.

Maximum bitrates in 1080p and 4K UHD

With these new cameras, Canon is offering 150Mb/s (150 megabits per second) for the least compression/maximum quality in 4K UHD. On the other hand, Canon is surprisingly offering only 35Mb/s for 1080p. If you purchase one of the new Canon models and plan to record internally, they are indeed optimized for 4K UHD internal recording, not so much for 1080p internal recording (especially with movement). The new Sony models offer up to 100Mb/s for 4K UHD, and up to 50Mb/s 4:2:2 10-bit for 1080p.

I am glad that Canon offers 150Mb/s for 4K UHD, although I wish it also added (via a firmware update) the option for a lower amount for those times when there isn’t so much movement, and when shooting a lower framerate. I also wish Canon would add a 50Mb/s option for 1080p.

Optics

Both Canon and Sony are offering much better performance in autofocus and stabilization than in prior models. Here are some videos to demonstrate that.

 

The aperture of both brands are the same, and we’d all like them to be “faster”, meaning have a larger maximum opening. Fortunately, a 1-inch type sensor can be substantially more sensitive than smaller sensors.

We seem to have a battle between the number of blades in the iris, which indirectly affects the bokeh, or look of blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. In this range of camcorders, Canon now offers 9, rather Sony now offers 7.

Are the 1080p outputs “shy” or “outgoing”?

In this recent article (illustrated above), I documented the difference between a camera’s 1080p live output being either “shy” or “outgoing”. Prior models from both Canon and Sony have unfortunately been “shy” (at least at certain framerates), which has required extra work (evasive maneuvers) outside of the camera, as detailed in that article. I am hoping that these new models will be “outgoing”, and I am awaiting an answer from each manufacture in order to clarify and update the chart article accordingly.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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Caleb Barrett

I’m cracking up at these fantastic visuals.

Isaac
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Is SDI really the only difference between the z90 and the HXRNX80?