Today Sony announced a new camera in their NEX line, the NEX-EA50. The EA50 is essentially a shoulder-mounted version of the popular FS100. The ‘EA’ stands for Event APS-C, which clues you into what this intro level NEX camera is all about. The camera comes with a 18-200mm power zoom lens (F3.5-6.3) with optical image stabilization. While the lens won’t win any awards for speed (in F-stops that is), the power zoom feature is a must for many filmmakers. A motorized still zoom has never really been seen in this world, and it also features auto focus and face recognition. The same lens will also work on the FS700, so look for a stand-alone version in the future. With a built-in shoulder pad, which pulls back to fit over your shoulder, plus a properly-placed LCD, the EA50 becomes a great camera for run-and-gun (or event) type work. The LCD flips out, and you can attach a loupe to it for close-up viewing.
The camera features a 16 Megapixel APS-C-size sensor, which can be used for motion or stills. Motion capture is in standard 1920×1080 resolution at the usual frame rates, including 23.98, 29.97, and even 59.94p. Stills capture comes in at full resolution, and the camera even has a mechanical shutter inside that triggers when photos are taken (not active in movie mode).
Like the other NEX cameras, the EA50 is an E-mount camera, which means that many different lenses can be used with it. The LA-EA2 Alpha lens adapter allows for use with Sony Alpha lenses, and the Metabones adapter allows Canon EF lenses to be used. Mechanical adapters for Nikon lenses and others are also available.
The camera features all the standard inputs and outputs of the FS100 including: two XLR inputs, HDMI output, Component output, Headphone output, and a LANC connector. It also has those standard features that we expect from a Sony camera like peaking, zebras, histograms, markers, white balance (Preset/A/B), gain switches, and ISO adjustments. The left side of the camera features a hand-grip with a rocker for controlling the servo zoom, expanded focus button, and of course, the record button to trigger the camera. The top of the camera has two shoes, one hot and one cold. A photo flash can be added to the hot shoe for flash photography. The EA50 still has some of the same limitations as the FS100 though, with lack of ND filters and no SDI output.
The camera records in AVCHD on SDHC cards (single slot), or you can record to an optional SSD (FMU drive) that attaches to the back of the camera. The camera uses the standard Sony L-series batteries.
The EA50 is a unique mix, combining a Super-35mm video camera with a shoulder mount system and a high resolution still camera. It’s nice to see cameras moving to a shoulder mount design again, instead of the odd box shapes we often see today. The price point is also nice, at under $4000 for both the camera and servo lens. Look for the EA50 to ship in October of this year.