Sony announces the DEV-3 and DEV-5 binoculars today, blazing a trail into a brand new product category. These binoculars are capable of still image and video recording in 1080 HD in either 2D or 3D. The DCR staff spent some time with a pair of these new binoculars; we've got all the specs and some hands-on impressions for you.
When I was invited to New York to preview some of the new products that Sony is releasing in the coming months, I was expecting to get some hands-on time with the usual line-up of digital cameras and camcorders. I think that's why I was a little confused when the company's senior product manager, Phil Bouchillon, began talking to us about binoculars.
"Carrying multiple pieces of equipment can be a hassle," Bouchillon said during our briefing. "Combining them into one package eases the load a bit."
Enter the DEV-3 and the DEV-5 digital camera binoculars from Sony.
"Previously, binoculars only had optical zoom, no optical image stabilization [OIS], and only manual focus," said Bouchillon. "Every time you wanted to take a picture of something, you had to reframe the subject after your equipment change from binoculars to camera or camcorder."
But this is no longer the case. Sporting optical and digital zoom, advanced OIS, and autofocus, the DEV-3 and the DEV-5 are the first binoculars that can record HD video, be it in either 2D or 3D 1920 x 1080 AVCHD. And what's under the hood is some of the newest, most state-of-the art technology Sony has available.
The DEV binoculars, like many of the new cameras from Sony, feature the new BIONZ image processor, as well as dual wide-angle G-lenses (f/1.8-3.4 aperture) and 1/4-inch 4.2 megapixel, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensors, also allowing for the capture of 7.1-megapixel stills. Other features include an eye distance adjustment dial, manual focus controls, a cold accessory shoe, and an NP-FV7 battery back, which should provide you with up to 2 hours and 35 minutes of 2D recording on a single charge.
As mentioned, the binoculars also have 2D (50i, 60i, or 60p) and 3D HD video capabilities, with direct playback to external sources made possible via an HDMI port. For those of you who aren't equipped with 3D ready televisions or viewing sources, the 3D videos can be played back in either 2D or 3D. I initially perceived the 3D capabilities as nothing more than an attempt to jump on the 3D bandwagon, but Bouchillon made a good point defending the decision.
"Binoculars, being stereoscopic in nature, really lend themselves to 3D technology," he explained. Indeed, with separate sensors and lenses in each eye of the device, Sony would have been remiss to pass up on 3D video recording capabilities here.
The differences between the low-end DEV-3 and the high-end DEV-5 aren't all that vast. Both the DEV-3 and DEV-5 feature 10x optical zooms, but the DEV-5 can go up to 20x via digital zoom. Also, the DEV-5 features a built-in GPS receiver so the binoculars can automatically geo-tag videos and photos on the fly. Beyond that, it's just a matter of accessories; the DEV-5 comes bundled with a carrying case, a strap, and the large eye cups that are seen in the pictures here.
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