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.