Sony led the market for high definition camcorders, with the first semi-pro HDV model to hit the UK at the end of 2004, the HDR-FX1E. Less than a year later, the technology had been brought down to the consumer level with the HDR-HC1E. But as high definition has become cheaper for the everyday videomaker with models like the HDR-CX105E, Sony's semi-professional models have remained similarly priced. Although the latest model in the line, the HDR-FX1000E, doesn't buck this trend, it does provide professional performance at a much more tempting cost than Sony's fully professional models.
Sony is somewhat different to other camcorder manufacturers. Although it has distinct HDR consumer and HVR professional high definition camcorder ranges, most HVR models have HDR equivalents, with the same core chassis but fewer professional options. The seminal HDR-FX1E was sibling to the HVR-Z1E, the HDR-HC1E had the HVR-A1E, and the HDR-FX7E was a consumerised version of the HVR-V1E. The HDR-FX1000E is next in line, with its pro equivalent being the HVR-Z5E, which costs around a grand more.
What you lose in the transition from HVR to HDR is primarily the XLR audio inputs and some important professional features. The XLR ports provide balanced audio connectivity, so cables don't pick up electrical interference. The FX1000E just has a single stereo minijack input, making connecting multiple audio sources more difficult. However, unlike previous FX models there is still a progressive shooting mode available, so you have 50i and 25p HDV options as well as DV. The HDV modes are still recorded in 1080i format so will both be entirely compatible with editing software.
The most important feature you don't lose between HVR and HDR is the core video hardware. Like the FX7E, the FX1000E uses ClearVid CMOS sensors. But instead of using smaller 1/4in units, which gave the FX7E no better performance than the FX1E, the FX1000E sports 1/3in units with Exmor derived technology. They still only have 1.1-megapixels each, though, which is lower than the 1.55-megapixels required by the HDV recording format. The Sony G lens is fixed, but offers a healthy 20x optical zoom. The downside of the meatier sensors is that the FX1000E is back up to 2.1kg, where the FX7E weighed in at a svelte 1.4kg.