Sony has remarkable design sense when it comes to evolving its camcorders. From SD to HD and now to 4K, its prosumer
line carries forth a design that makes it easy
to transition from one generation to the next.
Similar button placement, design ergonomics,
battery specs, in-camera menus, etc., make new
cameras in the line feel familiar to the longtime
Sony sent me a PXW-Z150 4K XDCAM camcorder (Figure 1) to check out for a few weeks.
I was excited to investigate this model. Sony’s
earlier 4K prosumer camcorder, the AX1, featured a 20x optical zoom that the company was
able to build affordably into that low-cost camera because of the small 8. 3 MP sensor.
The Z150 features a larger 1", 20 MP sensor,
and only a 12x optical zoom. But with the extra
resolution on the sensor, and some internal processing, Sony offers 18x “Clear Image Zoom”
in 4K and 24x in HD.
This camera felt a bit like the prosumer-ization of the AX100 4K consumer camcorder,
which featured an XLR adapter. It has the same
1" sensor, 20 MP, 12x optical zoom, Wi-Fi cam-
era control, etc. But everything around that
starting point has been made more profession-
al: The Z150 has a larger lens setup with three
dedicated rings, a lot more direct user control
of features, built-in XLR and handle, dual me-
dia, and more.
There’s nothing wrong with this evolutionary
approach; every camera manufacturer does it.
But it can lead to unexpected limitations when
approaching this camcorder as you would any
other professional camcorder. In this case, one
result of taking this approach is the inability to
have video on both the viewfinder and the LCD
screen. Or, if you have an external monitor or
recorder connected and you hit Record, you
can have video only on the built-in screen or the
external screen. You can have only one screen
with video on it, wherever that screen may be.
If you planned on using the Z150 in a studio
and need to give the operator a feed, and then
send the video off to a video mixer in the control room, you’ll have to rely on monitors that
can pass through the video signal. The camera
settings can still be seen on the Z150’s built-in
LCD, but not the active video signal if you are
sending it externally and recording at the same
time. If you are not recording, then you can
have video on the camera’s internal screen,
and one external connection.
Compare this with the currently less expensive, larger-sensor, interchangeable-lens
JVC GY-LS300, which can record 4K and feed
the image out to the viewfinder, the LCD, the
SDI, and the HDMI, all at
the same time. That’s pro-fessional-level connectivity.
The Z150 has a lot going for it beyond its compact construction. It shoots
4K and HD, and it has XLR
jacks, dual media slots, and
many different video outputs
including SDI and HDMI. It
even offers two composite
(SD) video outputs (one requires an adapter).
The 12x zoom is about
the minimum you’d want to
Sony PXW-Z150 4K XDCAM Camcorder By Anthony Burokas