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The Sony HDR-UX1

Sony's DVD based AVCHD camcorder By David Hague

At the domestic level, Sony is somewhat betting the farm on the new AVCHD format camcorders they have recently released. There are two models at present one hard disk based and one DVD based.

The HDR-UX1 is the DVD based member of the family and weighs in at 660g. The Dual Layer compatible DVD mechanism (DVD-R, -RW and +RW are also supported) is on the right hand side of the main body and the hinged door swings backward to allow access. A small design fault here is that if you have tiny hands and have set the handstrap accordingly small to fit, then this gets in the way of the door opening. That aside, once your hand is snugged into the handstrap, all of the major controls easily fall to forefinger and thumb such as on/off, mode and zoom. These controls are also duplicated on the bezel of the 3.5 flip out LCD screen.

Speaking of which, Sony has decided to stick with their touch screen model with the UX1, a design feature that still eludes me (although I admit some like it). I fail to see why they insist on forcing users into a power draining mode and secondly, why the (now) prime viewing area has the potential to be covered in sticky fingerprints and who knows what else? The LCD supports 211,200 pixels and the surface seems tough enough, but I am willing to bet there will be a fair share that go back for repair with holes punched in them from all sorts of oddities that dont bear thinking about ?.


In fact, the subject of power drain leads to another design lets be gentle ?quirk. If you opt for a larger battery than the standard 1oo min one supplied, then the viewfinder becomes mostly useless as although it tilts, it does not extend and therefore you cant get your eye close enough as your nose/battery combination is blocking the way! This is especially true of left eye dominant people.

Optics are up to the expected Sony high standard with a single ?ClearVid 1/3 CMOS Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with an 10x optical zoom (well ignore the silly digital numbers shall we) and F 1.8-2.9. Focal distance is 5.1-51mm and of course 16:9 is supported. For filter buffs, thread size is 30mm. An automatic lens hood is part of the lens mechanism a design all manufacturers should follow methinks.

In terms of functionality, the UX1 is a standard auto/manual animal; you can be as automatic as you like simply turn it on and point and shoot, or turn all of the aids off and be as manual as you like. As is becoming common these days, the appropriate mode is set and the values required set by the combo focus ring. These include of course focus, exposure, and AE shift. An exception to this is iris / gain control which is auto only. Zebra patterning is supported.

Minimum light for the UX1 is not that flash being a hi-def camera that needs light 5 lux is the minimal value here and although super night shot is included, in practice it is only suitably really for non-moving objects a baby sleeping or some such thing.

For still images, Memory Stick Duo is supported in Pro and High Speed forms with resolution up to 2304 * 1728 pixels in 4:3 resolution (equating to 1.9 megapixels maximum).

Connectivity for the HDR-UX1 includes multi-AV out, component video out, S-video and hurray! Both headphone and external mic jacks. To enable immediate playback of hi-def imagery, there is also an HDMI out connection allowing a suitable plasma or LCD to be directly connected. Computer connectivity is USB.

Of course the major drawback of this camera, and others of the same AVCHD ilk is that you simply at this point cannot reliably edit the footage at this stage I understand that solutions will be appearing within the next 2 3 months, and this could very well be the reason the uptake of this camera, its SR1 sibling and their Panasonic ?cousins will be slow off the retailer shelves for a while yet. Its a shame, its a very nice camera, ignoring my penchant for not being over thrilled at the DVD media.

The retail price of the Sony HDR-UX1 is A$2299 (approx US$1699)

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David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via

Related Keywords:sony HDR-UX1, dvd camcorder, AVCHD

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