Introducing the Sony NEX-EA50

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The HDSLR revolution will be fondly remembered some day as the tool of new filmmakers, much like the old Bolex 16mm film cameras were a staple of film school. The EOS 5D Mark II introduced the big sensor to video, with all its attendant “film-like” qualities of shallow depth-of-field. It was only a matter of time before those sensors were put in big camcorders. Sony, Canon and even newcomers like BlackMagic have rolled out their big-sensor cameras, but at a price point multiples beyond HDSLRs. The next effort, it seems, is now narrowing the gap in price.

Sony’s NEX-EA50 goes a long way toward that end. The $4,500 camcorder actually beats the price of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III if you consider it comes with a 18-200 zoom, and doesn’t require HDSLR add-ons such as a separate audio recorder and microphone and ND filters to control light outdoors, and more-typical controls that don’t require add-in firmware such as Magic Lantern.

This is likely the early stages of a return to a more ergonomic (or at least familiar) mode of video shooting, and will begin to phase out the odd artifact of the middle phase of development, namely the super-tricked-out DSLR, using such high-priced aftermarket gear as produced by Zacuto, Cinevate and other small suppliers.

In some respects, the love affair with the large sensor has narrowed in on a “look” as everyone overcompensated for the aesthetic that older small-sensor camcorders couldn’t provide, and I wonder if filmmakers will build back out of it. I can imagine certain filmmakers using a larger-sensor camera such as the EA50 for interviews and detail shots, while having a nearly identical-looking smaller-sensor camcorder such as Sony’s PMW-EX3 for fast moving action that requires deeper focus.

The specs for the EA50 include full HD and 24p, something some lower-priced efforts such as the NEX VG10 lacked. It’s another example of how filmmaking is becoming an ever-more democratic art, not as limited to the trust-funded or the credit-card-maxed.

Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.
  • John W

    The NEX-EA50 doesn’t have ND filters. But yes, it’s a step in the right direction.

  • Paul

    If you want to get better acquainted with this family of Sony NEX products, here are the respective User Groups (where people share news, tips, and most importantly video samples):

  • Daniel Epstein

    I agree with John W. Also the sensor is not as big as the Canon 5D Mark III so some images may not have the same look. The ergonomics look like someone was paying attention. 

  • Charlie Kaye

    Nice post Edward.  Like others I only wish the $4500 price tag included ND filters.  I hope Sony is sensitive to the postings on social media sites and blogs about this issue and goes back to the drawing board before the ship date.

    • Charlie Kaye

      B&H Photo, which had listed its pre-order price as $4500, then $4200, has lowered it again.  It’s now $3599.

  • Anonymous