Sony launched the world first HDV 108i consumer camcorder, dubbed HDR-FX1.
The $3,600 camcorder features Sony's new three-chip, one-megapixel Super HAD CCDs, which include an on-chip micro-lens on top of the CCD sensor that increases the light focusing rate for focusing on the fly and a newly developed 16:9 aspect mode for recording in widescreen. Each of the camcorder's three 1/3-inch, 16:9 CCDs utilize Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* optics, minimizing warping while maximizing sharpness and contrast. A 14-bit A/D converter processes four times more digital information than converters used in traditional television cameras, producing sharper, richer and more true-to-life images.
Other features include a 12x optical zoom, a 3.5-inch SwivelScreen LCD that can be magnified up to four times without any loss of resolution, a wide-range stereo microphone that minimizes window noise, and new Cinematone Gamma and Cineframe functions that enable high quality picture processing to create video with the warmth, softness, and richness similar to a big screen movie.
To accommodate the four-fold increase in digital information while maintaining compatibility with standard DV tapes, the camera employs an MPEG-2 compression scheme. Higher quality Sony HD DVC tapes will also debut with the camcorder's release and will sell for $18 a piece. The tapes are said to be optimized to meet the demanding requirements of 1080i high-definition recording and playback.