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Camcorder Offerings Narrow, As Ultra HD Appears

LAS VEGAS — The camcorder field continues to evolve at the 2014 International CES with leading manufacturers stepping into consumer-level Ultra HD models, Wi-Fi and new flavors of action video cameras, a.k.a. point-of-view (POV) cameras.

According to Chris Chute, IDC worldwide digital imaging research director, the 2013 camcorder market saw the continued rise of the POV action camcorder, with GoPro maintaining its leadership as other vendors like iON and Sony helped expand the market beyond the U.S.

“This segment saw continued strong growth as the traditional segment continued to shrink, and the ‘flip’-style pocket models all but finished their market presence in 2013,” he said.

For 2014, IDC is forecasting a further focus on the prosumer shooter while vendors cut back their SKU offerings, as 4K/Ultra HD models become “a critical value proposition for the traditional camcorder vendors.”

The following is what some of camcorder vendors have planned for CES and beyond this year:

Canon is unveiling the Vixia Mini X compact camcorder ($399 suggested retail) featuring the same high image quality of the previous Vixia Mini while adding built-in Wi- Fi sharing. It includes electronic image stabilization in close-up mode, HDMI output, linear PCM audio recording (supported in AVCHD/24Mbps), and a built-in microphone that is 2.5x larger than the microphone in the Vixia Mini. The camcorder’s Live Streaming feature allows users to view and record on their compatible iOS or Android OS device when they download the free Canon CameraAccess plus app.

Other features include a Canon F/2.8 fisheye lens, 12.8-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor and Canon’s DIGIC DV 4 image processor.

Canon is also releasing an optional Camera Pan Table (CT-V1), which allows a 200-degree horizontal pan that can be controlled from a compatible smartphone via the Internet. The Camera Pan Table also has a 20-degree vertical tilt that can be manually adjusted.

Also being introduced are three R-series models in the Canon Vixia HF R52 ($449), R50 ($399) and R500 ($299)

All three feature a 57x advanced zoom and new SuperRange optical image stabilization, a 3.28-megapixel FullHD CMOS image sensor, and 3-inch capacitive touchpanel LCD.

With built-in Wi-Fi, the Vixia HF R52 and Vixia R50 camcorders offer remote monitoring and remote control via Android or iOS apps, and compatibility with the new pan-and-tilt table.

All three new R-series models allow shooters to customize videos by selecting from seven Cinema Look Filter effects.

Hewlett-Packard is jumping into the active video camera space with the introduction of its HP AC200W camera offering a 5-megapixel sensor, up to FullHD 1080/30 fps video capture, built-in mic, Wi-Fi connectivity, 170-degree ultra-wide-angle lens, wrist-band remote, waterproof case and 0.83-inch OLED screen.

JVC is using CES to unveil three new members to its go-anywhere Adixxion action video camera lineup.

All three models feature “quad-proof” protection — waterproof to 16.4 feet deep, shock-proof from 4.9 feet, dust-proof and freeze-proof to 14 degrees F — go-anywhere bodies; internal batteries with 4.5 hours of continuous recording time; compatibility with thirdparty portable USB batteries; 2.5-megapixel backilluminated CMOS image sensors; 40x optical zoom lenses (60x dynamic zooms); and SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots.

The RZ-R70 will include 32GB of internal flash memory; the RZ-R30 with offer 8GB of flash memory while the RZ-R10 will not have internal memory.

Pricing and availability will be announced later.

The camcorders will all include Konica Minolta optics, a Falconbrid image-processing engine, 2-megapixel native/10-megapixel “Ultra Resolution” still pictures, a 3-inch touch panel; advanced image stabilizer; Intelligent Auto; face detection/Touch AE/AF; and special effects recording.

Sony Electronics is unveiling the industry’s first less-than-$2,000 Ultra HD consumer camcorder as the highlight of 10 new models for its camcorder lineup in 2014, including four projector/camcorder offerings, and five action video cameras with additional mounting and underwater camera housing options.

The flagship FDR-AX100 ($1,999 suggested retail) 4K Ultra HD camcorder uses Sony’s XAVC-S high-bitrate (60Mbps) recording system to capture 4K/30 fps as well as FullHD 1080/120 fps video, dual video recording in AVCHD and MPEG4, a 1-inch 20-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS imager, Bionz X image processor, a 15x/12x optical Steady Shot Carl Zeiss T* lens, and built-in Wi-Fi functionality with nearfield communications (NFC) technology.

The CX900 ($1,499) drops 4K capability but offers the same basic feature set as the AX100.

Sony will continue to offer four projector camcorder combo models in 2014, highlighted by the PJ810 ($1,099) with built-in Wi-Fi/NFC capability and 32GB of internal storage. The entry projector/camcorder model PJ275 ($399) has 8GB of internal storage and built-in Wi-Fi/NFC.

In action video cameras, Sony will have five models, including the AS100VR ($449), AS100V, ($299), AS30V ($299), AS30VW ($349) and the AS15 ($199).

Sony said the new flagship Sony action cam model AS100VR offers “the best image quality in action cam history.”

It will be sold as the stand-alone AS100V ($299) and as the kit AS100VR ($449) with a live-view remote that allows control of up to five cameras at once and enables monitoring five different cameras on the remote screen.

Other features include a Bionz X image processor with the high-bit rate XAVC-S system, Zeiss optics with 30 percent higher resolution, up to 18-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, lighter splash-proof body, advanced image stabilization, high-speed recording, and GPS with PlayMemories Home.