Large and obvious buttons; decent feature set for a reasonable price; choice of SD or Memory Stick storage; bright lights
Plasticky construction, though many will appreciate the larger controls; detail could be sharper
Recording to Sony Memory Stick Pro card or all varieties of SD for relative convenience, this near entry-level model in Sony’s HD camcorder range incorporates a sensitive 1/4in Exmor R CMOS sensor for better results shooting in dim light and with a price tag of $699. Furthermore, a Sony G series lens is said to boost performance, particularly at wide angle (here 29.8mm), where focus can drop off towards the edges of frame.
Under the bonnet is a SteadyShot image-stabilised 30x optical zoom with 42x extended zoom option plus bright maximum f/1.8 lens aperture. There’s also the option of shooting 3.3-megapixel still photos or AVCHD format, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel Full HD video, with 50p (progressive) output. The flip-out LCD is once again of the 3in, 230k-dot resolution touch-screen variety, with the Sony powering up in a couple of seconds when it’s folded outwards from the body. Stereo microphones are located beneath the lens, with tracking focus, quick AF and built-in wind noise reduction additionally indicating that this mid-priced HD camcorder is an exercise in box ticking.
The plasticky build is disguised by its glossy finish, and size-wise it’s a near match for the Panasonic, yet is still dwarfed by the Canon HF M406. Main controls are large and obvious. Falling under the thumb at the back of the Sony we once again have the record button, while chunky zoom rocker switch, shutter release for stills and mode button sit up top for forefinger operation. We were able to achieve a commendably steady image even when shooting at maximum zoom, with colours erring towards the warm. Once again the battery clips onto the rear of the Sony where it sits inelegantly on full view, and is charged in-camera too.
HDMI and USB output are hidden behind the screen when it’s folded, while mains power input and AV output are under a separate flap on the opposite side. An interesting feature is that the USB cable is always connected to the camera – a bit like the late lamented Flip Video – but slots into a pouch in the hand strap when not in use.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
Available in red or black, this is a good mid-price option, even if detail isn’t as sharp as footage from the Canon or Panasonic.