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Sony Launches HD Camcorder For Advanced Amateurs

San Diego, Calif. — Sony fired its HD volley today, introducing its first 1080i HD “consumer” camcorder, the HDR-FX1 Handycam.

The FX1 will ship in November for about $3,700.

According to Sony, the HDR-FX1 records 1080i HD video at a frame rate of 60 fields, using the same MPEG-2 compression employed in digital broadcasts and DVD discs. It uses the company’s new three-chip, 1-megapixel Super HAD CCDs measuring 1/3 of an inch. The CCDs feature an on-chip micro-lens to increase the light focusing rate.

To store the high-definition video, Sony will offer new form of MiniDV tape optimized for HD. Called the HD DVC, the videotape utilizes a second generation Advanced Metal Evaporated (AME II) technology for an improved drop-out rate and a lower carrier-to-noise ratio for lower error rates, greater output and less noise during recording.

The HD DVC tape will be offered in the 63-minute professional tape length, which allows for three minutes for recording tests. The tape will ship in October for about $18 per cassette.

The camcorder features a newly developed 16:9 widescreen recording mode, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* optics with a 12x optical zoom, a 14-bit A/D converter and a 3.5-inch SwivelScreen LCD monitor with a 250,000-pixel resolution.

The camcorder also features a wide-range stereo microphone and an external audio level switch for making sound adjustments.

The FX1 sports a non-perpetual zoom ring along with the option to switch between the zoom ring, two zoom levers and a variable zoom control on the handle.

The camcorder’s Cinematone Gamma and Cineframe functions enable picture processing to create video with “the warmth, softness and richness similar to a big screen movie,” Sony said.

A Picture Profile function allows users to define their own default settings from six different customizable profiles. The iris, gain, white balance, shutter speed and focus can be manually adjusted.

It uses Sony’s InfoLithium Battery with AccuPower System and offers i.LINK (IEEE 1394) connectivity.