Meet Sony’s new FDR-AX53 4K ultra HD Handycam from CES 2016

by on January 12, 2016

Stephan Jukic – January 12, 2016

Coming out mainly as the 2016 successor to the excellent previous year’s 4K handycam the FDR-AX33, the AX53 features a number of new technologies while sticking to the same compact form factor and some powerful core specs like the older 4K camcorder model did.

The Sony AX53 is in other words definitely something to be excited about if you want an extremely compact and portable 4K shooter with great video recording capacity.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at its specs: The FDR-AX53 features a new version of Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor, 1.6x more pixel size than its predecessor, a newly redesigned ZEISS lens which can also manage a wide angle of 26.8mm and as a result it offers up a 20x optical zoom and a 30x 4K Clear Image electronic zoom. This Clear Image zoom extends to 40x when being used at Full HD settings.

Additionally, with the ZEISS lens, we get features like Advanced Aspherical and Extra-low Dispersion, which augment the ZX53’s capacity for accurate color reproduction and some great visual precision. There’s also a ZEISS T coating on the lens for some apparently much better reduction in unwanted ghosting and flare from reflections on the AX53’s lens.

As for some of the other internal specs, the AX53 seems to wonderfully represent Sony’s habit of packing in some premium technology features. Thus, this tiny handycam comes with the manufacturer’s enhanced version of Balance Optical Steadyshot technology, which offers up a rock solid 5-axis image stabilization system for some truly superb blur-free footage during mobile and handheld shooting.


If the performance of the inferior but still great stabilization system on the ZX33 is anything to go by, this enhance version will truly be an ass kicker. Furthermore, the Optical Steadyshot can be set to activate automatically for even easier quality on the fly shooting and Sony itself is even claiming that the new Optical Steadyshot can deliver clear footage in Full HD while a person is running with the camcorder! If true, this is impressive indeed given that the AX53 delivers Full HD video at 100fps.

4K UHD video shot on the FDR-AX53 is offered up at 100Mbps through Sony’s XAVC S recording compression format and also includes a new AF algorithm and a Fast Intelligent AF such as that found in the Sony a7S II 4K UHD mirrorless camera, which is designed to maximize communication between lens and processor for AF speeds that are 40% superior to those of older handycam models.

Finally, the AX53 offers up its 4K UHD video at 24/30p speeds and can also manage some excellent, crisp 16.6 megapixel still shots. It’s currently available on pre-order for just $998.00.

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  • joms
    January 13, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    I just found out that the AX53 BOSS system with 5-axis stabilization does not work if shooting in 4k. This is such a deal breaker…

    (if you wish to verify, check the #6 footnote under the specification page – Sony Website)

    I wish they fix this in an update or something… SIGH


    • Stephen
      January 14, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      Yes joms, unfortunately this is the case. The same thing applies in the AX33 for its own Balanced Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization. From what we recall of our review, the camcorder doesn’t use the technology when shooting in 4K.


      • Art
        January 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

        The Sony AX33 Gives you Balanced optical steady shot in 4k mode. The Sony AX53 also gives you the fantastic Balanced optical steady shot in 4k. There is new feature 5-axis Intelligent Active stabization on the AX53 that give you smooth shooting when running. That feature only works in HD mode. The Balanced optical steady shot works so well with AX33 even when walking the shots are very smooth. The AX53 will be exactly the same.


      • Joe
        January 18, 2016 at 9:32 am

        Does the camera have 40x zoom when you are making hd movies?


    • Art
      January 17, 2016 at 12:52 am

      This is not a deal breaker as the BOSS Balanced optical steady shot works in 4k mode. Same as the AX33. The 5 axis stablization is a new feature for running shots on the AX53. The BOSS Balanced optical steady shot works so well on the AX33 you will not need anything more. The AX53 is going to be a fantastic camera I can’t wait to get one as i love my AX33.


  • Robert
    January 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Anyone know if this will be better in low light or at least as good as the AX100? I need to film indoor events as well as outdoor.
    Will check out the AX53 on release and may purchase if it works well in low light.


    • Stephen
      January 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Hello Robert, we’re in the process of lining up a review of the AX53 and hope to have one up within the next week. We’ll definitely be sure to cover the low light performance of the camcorder along with some other issues previous commentators have asked about. That said, in my personal experience with a number of Sony cameras and camcorders, low light quality has always been a strong feature of the brand. I speculate to doubt the AX53 disappoints on this front.


  • Remy
    January 28, 2016 at 2:22 am

    I am desperately waiting for Sony to support an external monitor output while recording in 4K.
    AX100 and Ax33 can not do this.


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