Coming as soon as tomorrow will be the leaked FX6, a 10 megapixel, ~$5,000 camcorder with dual gain and Sony’s new attempt to challenge professional video shooter’s assumption that manual focus is necessary. [Update: Indeed, the camera was released today. YouTube is full of folksy videographer reviews.]
In addition to having video goodies like S-log 3 and 4K 120p, Sony is stressing a “4D” autofocus system, which is interesting particularly when coupled with the expected launch of a T3.1 16-35mm toothed zoom that comes with its own external focus control motor.
In some ways the combination of a world-class autofocus system, external focus gears, and a lens with a motorized follow focus (especially with a focus-by-wire motor) appears silly. It would be like providing a manual light meter to be read by a human to input into the metering system of the camera. Perhaps we are at the inflection point where some video industry contrivances may be on the way out, replaced by trained autofocus algorithms in most use cases. If that were to be so, it would likely start to happen at the low end of the professional video line, such as with the FX6.
The camera will sport an SD card slot and one of the new CFexpress Type A card slots, giving a boost to potential throughput, but not the sort of capacity that would be capable of digesting the densest video formats currently offered by other systems.
The servo zoom feature is not something otherwise controlled by normal camera controls, however, and allows for systems to program repeatable dynamic scene takes.
Where the highest-end video cameras once differed significantly from the high-end stills cameras in form factor, interface, and – most significantly – features such as sensor size and basic functionality, the two types of cameras appear to be converging in all but form factor and interface. The introduction of 8K video that requires stills-class resolution and the slow adoption of much-improved video autofocus appears to be making the camera guts more similar.