After six years of heavy use, I figured it was time to upgrade my trusty old Sony HDR-CX190 camcorder. I bought it to document our RV adventures and share via this blog, YouTube, and other social media channels. The video in this post will be number 378 on the Love Your RV! Youtube channel. Whew!
The little HDR-CX190 Sony Handycam is still chugging along pumping out decent enough footage but is starting to show some wear and tear. The battery is beginning not to hold a charge well, there is quite a bit of dust inside the lens, and some of the plastic casing is falling apart. Camcorders have come along way in 6 years, and I’ve been eager to invest in a new one.
When deciding on a brand, there was no question. I was going to go with another Sony. I’ve had great luck with both the HDR-CX190 camcorder and my NEX5R still camera. I have to admit to being a little rough with my electronics, and both cameras have held up well to it. I don’t want gear I need to baby.
Why I Bought the Sony Model FDR-AX53
I’m glad I had narrowed my choice down to one brand. The number of camera specs, jargon, and features to wade through is already daunting enough. There were five main things I was looking for in a new camcorder, and the Sony FDR-AX53 met them all plus the bonus of 4K capability.
1) External Microphone
The number one new feature I was shopping for was the option of attaching an external microphone. The audio on my old camcorder is good until the wind blows then it sucks big time. It has a stereo mics built into the plastic casing at the front of the camera, and when a breeze hits from the side, the noise is awful.
I’ve tried covering the mics, but nothing helped much. The new AX53 has a hotshoe and external mic port allowing me to buy a quality addon mic and windscreen for it. Will be a massive improvement to my videos shot on windy days.
2) Extended Zoom
One of my favorite features of camcorders, in general, is the zoom capability. My old HDR-CX190 has an incredible 30X optical zoom. I love it for wildlife and landscapes shots. The Sony AX53 has a 20X optical zoom but also because of its higher bit rate boasts 30X zoom in 4K mode and 40X zoom in HD mode. It’s called “Clear Image Zoom.” I’ve done a few quick tests, and the AX53 zoom outperforms my old camcorder by a significant margin.
3) Image Stabilization
When using the zoom feature image stabilization become extremely important, especially when recording handheld. The old camcorder did a pretty good job. However, the new Sony AX53 takes it to another level with BOSS (Balanced Optical SteadyShot). The BOSS feature incorporates a 5 axis floating lens which acts as a gimbal and keeps the image steady. Should be excellent for hiking footage.
4) 16.6 Megapixel Stills
The old camcorder had 5.3 megapixels still image capability which quite frankly sucked. Images were grainy, washed out and lacked color vibrancy. I’m so looking forward to the new camcorders 16.6 megapixels! Being a 4K camcorder, it has a high-quality image sensor able to produce terrific stills in photo mode.
Another thing I like to do to save time when putting together a blog post is cut out a single frame from a video and use it as a photo. The quality of those is going to rise dramatically with the new camcorders much higher resolution.
5) Wide Angle Lens
The larger lens of the new FDR-AX53 has a much broader field of view. Often when filming objects with the old camcorder, I had to back up a fair distance to get everything in the frame. The new camcorder gives almost twice the coverage up close. Useful for showing the inside of the RV, selfies, group shots or detailing a project I’m working on in cramped spaces.
One feature that I went back and forth on over and over was 4K. 4K resolution is fantastic looking and all but I don’t see myself using it too much, at least in the short term. The files sizes are so massive they are currently quite unwieldy to manage, process and upload.
My primary use for the camcorder is for YouTube videos. Here the extra boost in resolution is most often not seen due to viewing devices and the bandwidth restrictions of the average viewer. For instance, I’m currently on premium campground WiFi and can on stream HD content.
I had my sights set on the cheaper model HDR-CX675 an HD camcorder with most of the same features. It wasn’t until Sony cut the price on the AX53 recently by a few hundred dollars that I decided to bite the bullet and get the 4K model. With the FDR-AX53 I get top-end HD camcorder for the bulk of my recording needs plus a decent enough 4K camcorder to future proof me. Also if I come across something spectacular to shoot. The option to record in 4K will be nice to have.
Close up View of my New Sony FDR-AX53 Camcorder
I’m looking forward to getting to know the new camcorder and hopefully serving up some better looking and sounding Love Your RV! videos for everyone to enjoy. I plan to have a full review out after a few months of use. There is a mountain of other features packed into this Sony camcorder other than the few I mentioned above. Stay tuned for that. Cheers! Ray