Sony AX53 review: 4K filmmaking on a budget

The Sony AX53 is a compact camcorder with surprising quality

A front view of a photographer holding the Sony FDR-AX53 camcorder
(Image: © Lauren Scott)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Sony AX53 is a great camcorder for family moments and filmmaking on a budget. It balances portability with modest but welcome features, including 4K shooting, Wi-Fi connectivity for quick content sharing, and microphone and headphone sockets if you want to get serious about audio. I wasn't impressed with its autofocus, but the AX53 is easy to handle and – despite its age – still one of the best all-around budget 4K camcorders.


  • +

    Lightweight and easy to handle

  • +

    Auto mode gives pro results

  • +

    Stable handheld video at full zoom


  • -

    Menus look and feel outdated

  • -

    Clumsy to switch lens ring functions

  • -

    Screen is hard to see in sunshine

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The best camcorders are something of an anachronism in today's market. Yet, their barrel-shaped handheld format, built-in zoom lenses, and ability to get going with minimal setup see them continuing to be popular with a certain type of buyer. If you're an enthusiast looking for something that can shoot decent, stable 4K video out of the box then the Sony FDR-AX53 makes some sense. 

It makes even more sense if you're looking for good value, want to upgrade from a smartphone, and don't need or understand the features, codecs, and interchangeable lenses offered by the best cinema cameras.

Canon HF G70

Canon HF G70

If you're after a camcorder for semi-professional use, the Canon HF G70 is more advanced and costs a couple hundred more than the XA53. You get the same 20x optical zoom, but an additional SD card slot, more customizable buttons, a larger 3.5-inch LCD, and built-in ND filters.

Sony ZV-E10

Sony ZV-E10

If you're flexible on the camcorder format, the 4K Sony ZV-E10 is more modern and lightweight than the FDR-AX53. It's ideal for vlogging and better if you enjoy stills photography too, similarly priced with the 16-50mm kit lens. Of course, you lose the 20x built-in optical zoom.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.