Sony AX33 Review: Is It Worth It? – Here’s the Complete Guide

sony ax33 product review

If you have a 4K TV or are considering getting one, you're probably not getting everything you can out of your old 1080p camcorder. If that's the case, or you're simply looking to upgrade, you could be considering buying the Sony AX33. You are going to want your videos to be as clear as your televisions, and the AX33 can give you that.

Even if you're not interested in a 4K TV right now, having a 4K-capable video camera ensures that your home videos are (at least temporarily) future-proof. With so many options out there, and more hitting the market every month, is the Sony AX33 the best choice for you? Let's take a look at what things you should consider before committing to a purchase.

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The Sony FDR-AX33 4K HDR Camcorder was meant to be the cheaper alternative to the Japanese company's immensely popular FDR-AX100 4K camcorder released in 2014. This video camera is the company's answer to people who wanted the AX100 but found the price tag too steep. It has a lower price, but it still delivers a great set of features and boasts particularly enviable specifications.

Of course, there are concessions. The more affordable camcorder uses a less powerful sensor than the one you see on the AX100. Plus, some minor features are missing on the Sony AX33. What can you expect from the Sony FDR-AX33?

Specifications and features


Measuring only 2.8 by 3.1 by 6.1 inches, the Sony FDR-AX33 can easily fit your palm. It is also very light, weighing only 1.3 pounds. As a result, the Sony AX33 is very easy to handle and to hold. It does not need a shoulder mount to shoot with this camcorder.

This Handycam features 4K video recording that is made even better with the balanced optical SteadyShot. The SteadyShot is an image stabilization technology that helps you avoid shaky videos. This camera also records videos in 24 to 30 frames per second (FPS) with 20.6-megapixel images. Taken together, all of these mean that you get high-resolution videos and images even when the subject is moving.

There is also the Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens that the Sony AX33 uses. The wide-angle lens delivers up to 10x optical zoom, as well as a 20x Clear Image zoom. Further, this camera uses an Exmor R CMOS sensor, which is considered as a game changer because it uses backside illumination. This sensor was the first CMOS model that delivered the same quality as the charged coupled device, which, until then, proved superior to CMOS.

The camera also uses Bionz X image processing technology, which converts the image from raw to whatever file format is for storage. All of these technologies allows the Sony FDR-AX33 to record Ultra HD videos with resolutions of 3840 by 2160 pixels and frame rates of 24 or 30FPS. If you are looking to save on storage, you can also 1080p videos with up to 60FPS.

Storage, connectivity, and display

The Sony FDR-AX33 uses a memory stick duo or SD cards to store your videos and images. There is an onboard LCD touchscreen that measures three inches diagonally and comes with 921,000 dots. You can use this to watch your videos, or you can use the 0.24-inch electronic viewfinder that has a higher resolution at 1,555,000 dots.

Alternatively, you can connect the Sony FDR-AX33 to your TV using the HDMI output port. You can watch your recorded videos on a bigger screen together with friends and family. On top of that, the Sony FDR-AX33 will be able to connect to your Wi-Fi network. The Wi-Fi connection enables you to control your camera using your smartphone. You can also stream your video live via Ustream, or transfer image and video files to your phone. What's more, you can use the AX33's embedded near-field communication chip to make these connections a whole lot easier to do.

Direct pixel readout

readout

The Sony FDR-AX33 has the direct pixel readout technology that uses the entire width of the sensor without pixel binning or skipping lines. The use of this technology results in smooth edges and improved colors, allowing the camera to give you the best videos even with the AX33's small size.

File formats

The FDR-AX33 converts your movies and videos to the XAVC S format. XAVC S utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 for compressing videos and linear PCM for processing audio. These videos usually have lower file sizes compared to videos encoded using other codecs. Additionally, editing XAVC S videos is more straightforward. Aside from XAVC S, you can also use AVCHD to record your videos. The AVCHD format is great if you plan to use your videos for HDTV or Bluray. Lastly, you can also use MP4 encoding that makes your videos readily shareable on social media and other online sites.

Multi-camera control

You can connect up to five Sony cameras to your Sony FDR-AX33, allowing you to see a variety of points of view on just one screen. Aside from that, you can use the PlayMemories Home software to edit multi-view videos. This software is free to download from the Japanese manufacturer's website.

See the highlights of your videos

The Sony FDR-AX33 uses an advanced algorithm to choose the best scenes from your recorded video to create a highlight movie. These movies are saved in MP4 format, allowing you to share it quickly on your social media accounts or YouTube.

Other features

The FDR-AX33 also uses Dolby Digital 5.1 channel recording. This technology allows the camera to capture sounds from all directions. Aside from that, the camera also reduces wind noise automatically and has an Auto Gain Control Limit feature, which helps you get better pictures in low light conditions. This camera also uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Ratings and Reviews

On Amazon, the Sony AX33 has a rating of 4.1 stars out of 5.0. Verified buyers loved its small size and portability, which allows you to bring the camera everywhere you go. Without the weight and the bulk of the AX100, you will be able to carry this camera more often. They also praised the outstanding image and video quality that the Sony AX33 delivers, along with the image stabilization feature.

Further, they like the idea of being able to shoot and store longer videos than typical. On the other hand, some critical reviews talked about how some of the settings are not fully automatic. For instance, setting the iris to manual will set the shutter speed to auto, and vice versa. You cannot set both to manual. Others complained about the quality and durability of the Sony AX33, and how expensive it is to repair the camera or replace some of its parts.

On Sony's Web site, the Sony FDR-AX33 has a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5.0. The camera gets perfect marks for picture quality, while also having good marks for features, ease of use, sound quality, and design. Further, this camera garners a rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.0 on ABT.com.

Pricing for the Sony AX33 Camcorder


How much you should you expect to pay for all of these features? Believe it or not, you can buy the Sony AX33 for around $650 to $750. The Sony FDR-AX33 is available on Sony's online store, as well as other online retailer sites such as Amazon, Walmart, ABT Electronics, or Crutchfield.

How We Reviewed

To come up with this review, we checked the marketing page for the Sony AX33 for product information. Then we looked at customer satisfaction. We also considered the articles and reviews written by credible tech review sites such as CNET.com, and B & H Photo Video. We conducted a similar check for the Sony AX33's competitors.

How it Compares to Competitors

The Sony FDR-AX33 is a 4K video recorder that uses its low price to attract buyers, while also having features that will it appeal to a wide swath of people. The broad appeal of the Sony AX33 puts it squarely against an assortment of "prosumer" camcorders or those video cameras for both professionals and video enthusiasts.

How does the Sony AX33 compare with the Panasonic HC-X1, the H3 -- RainbowDay 4K Camcorder, and the Canon XF405 Professional Camcorder?

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The Panasonic HC-X1 is a 4K camcorder that is marketed more to professionals. It uses a Leica Dicomar lens that has a 20x optical zoom and apertures ranging from f2.8 to f4.5. This professional camcorder gives you a wired and wireless remote control, manual rings, ND filter, and super slow motion.

The Panasonic HC-X1 is another "prosumer" camera. Beginners will love the full auto mode that allows them to record amazing videos without worrying about settings. Professionals, however, will like the manual buttons that will enable them to tweak the settings to get the shot they want. Prices for the Panasonic HC-X1 range from $2,900 to $3,300. You can buy it directly from Panasonic. You can also find the HC-X1 on Amazon, Adorama, Adorama or any other online retailer.

The Panasonic HC-X1 received a rating of 3.1 stars out of 5.0. Verified buyers on Amazon love its long battery life, the wide angle lens, the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60FPS, and the dual SD card slots. The 5900 mAh battery is rated to last between two to four hours. However, some complaints from Amazon customers talk about how the touchscreen is so dim that it is sometimes hard to see when you under bright lights. Additionally, the exposure will slightly decrease the exposure.

It does get a better rating of 9.0 out of 10 rating on TrustedReviews.com. The HC-X1 it got higher marks for image quality and performance, among its other attributes. TrustedReviews.com recommended this camera for its reliability, comprehensive set of features, and justified pricing. But the praise is tempered by the fact that this video camera does not have high-speed shooting options and you will have to work with a fixed lens.

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The RainbowDay 4K Camcorder might be an off-brand device, but it delivers excellent image and video quality. It looks great as well, with an intuitive design that makes it very easy to use and hold. The small 5.5 by 2.6 by 2.2-inches camcorder is also very light, weighing only 0.75 pounds.

The RainbowDay 4K Camcorder has a 13-megapixel CMOS sensor that delivers images with resolutions of up to 48 megapixels. It comes with a three-inch LCD that is very responsive to your touch. On top of that, it has 16x digital zoom, night vision, and a built-in speaker and microphone. It also has a wide-angle lens included in the package and can record 4K videos. The best piece of news about the RainbowDay 4K Camcorder is that you get all that for less than $200!

Prices for the RainbowDay 4K Camcorder range from $145 to $175. This budget camcorder has a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5.0. It has great image quality, and it makes great videos as well. You will also enjoy the infrared feature that allows you to film things in total darkness. You will also like that the camera saves in JPEG and MPEG formats, making your photos and videos instantly shareable.

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The Canon XF405 Professional Camcorder features a one-inch 4K CMOS image sensor and a zoom lens that delivers 15x optical zoom with a five-axis optical image stabilizer. This camera also uses Canon's DIGIC DV 6 image processors. Further, it also features dual pixel CMOS AF.

The Canon XF405 Professional Camcorder is available from 42nd Street Photo, Amazon, Abe's of Maine, Adorama, and other online retailers. You can also buy it from the Canon store. It has an MSRP of $3,499, but you can buy it anywhere from $2,800 to $3,500 elsewhere. This Canon camcorder has a rating of 3.7 out of 5.0 stars.

Comparing the Sony FDR-AX33


The Sony FDR-AX33's main selling point is that it sells for around $700, but with features that you can find on more expensive models. If you are looking for a 4K camera with a more affordable price tag, then the RainbowDay 4K Camcorder is a good option. That is if you don't mind giving up on some of the features you see on the AX33. Meanwhile, the Canon XF405 and the Panasonic HC-X1 have somewhat better specs, but with prices that are significantly higher than the Sony AX33.

Comparison Table

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Sony FDR-AX33 Pros and Cons

The Sony AX33 will appeal to a wide variety of users. Beginners will like the automatic setting for audio, video, and image. All they need to do is to press a single button to get the perfect images or the best videos. Professionals and more advanced users will like the manual controls that help them become more creative with their photos and videos. The camera also has an assignable ring that you can set to control the zoom, iris, shutter speed, white balance or other settings. This feature allows you to get easy access to the settings that you use the most.

With its prices and features, it is a challenge to find something wrong with the Sony AX33. Perhaps, if you want to nitpick a little, you can mention the limited optical zoom it offers

Is the Sony AX33 Worth the Buy?

Going back to our second question of whether you should buy the Sony AX33, the answer is probably yes. As a video camera, the AX33 is pretty similar to Sony's other camcorders. It uses the same features and technologies that make the Japanese company a worthy competitor to such companies as Nikon, Panasonic, or Canon.

What's more, the Sony AX33 sells for a lot less money than its competitors. The good news is that Sony did not make it an excuse to cut corners when it comes to features and functionality. Overall, if you're looking for a good 4K camcorder, there's no reason the Sony AX33 won't suit your needs.

Do you own a 4K camcorder? How is it? Let us know!

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