Product Type: Sony digital camcorders
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A Bloggie that leaves you feeling Groggy!
Sony bloggie MHS-PM5
Member Name: Lools_24
Sony bloggie MHS-PM5
Advantages: Smart looking, lots of features, easy to operate and view footage, clear footage
Disadvantages: Expensive, rotating lens difficult to operate, no flash
My parents are very enthusiastic grandparents especially as my boys are there first and only grandchildren. From the day my boys were born I was taking photos as were my parents and my parents would always ask me to ensure on days I out I took lots of photos of my boys to share with them. As my boys got older and we started to head towards milestones I started using video footage on my camera or my phone and my dad suggested he buys a video camera specifically for capturing moments like first steps, first Christmas and first birthdays that we could share between our two house with living so close. My parents are notorious for going out and buying something spur of the moment even large electrical purchases without doing research so I was not surprised when we went round to visit and my dad was waving the new video camera gadget around telling me he had bought "a good brand" and also the product was reduced to half price as he proudly showed off the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5.
*** Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 ***
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is a handheld pocket camcorder which Sony describes you to "share your life in HD".
The Bloggie MHS-PM5 includes
- Full HD video and 5MP photos on memory card- this includes detailed 1920x1080/30p HD clips. Also shoots clips at 1280x720/60p and 5MP still photos.
-270 degree swivel lens- A high quality lens for easy shooting from any angle due to the 270 degree range including self-portraits. With 4x digital zoom.
- Simple shooting operation- easy operation with dedicated movie and photo buttons- no fiddly switching between record modes.
- Quick and easy web uploading- connects to any PC or MAC with built in PMB Portable software
- In built USB Connector- no cables needed as you can connect the Bloggie to any PC and charge battery while connected via USB.
-Steady Shot- stabilises against camera shake during handheld shooting.
- Face Detection- to optimise exposure and focus for clear natural looking portraits
-TV Output- Bloggie can be connected to TV to view video footage and stills.
-6.1cm/2.4" LCD Screen-to display and playback video clips and stills. Image flips automatically for comfortable horizontal viewing.
- Works with iMovie- to use on MAC operating systems.
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is compatible with Memory Stick PRO DUO/ High Speed Mark II, Memory Stick PRO- HG Duo, SD/SDHD Memory Card (Class 2 or higher).
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is available in four different colours which are white, blue, deep purple and pink. We own and use the white version so my review will be based on this version of the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5.
***Price and Availability***
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is available from Argos, Curry's, Sainsbury's, Asda and M&S and a number of online electrical retailers including Amazon and Play.com.
Prices for the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 vary quite dramatically between retailers so it is definitely worth shopping around for. The high street retailers tend to sell the product for around £150 with Argos currently selling for £189.99 so compared with other brands of pocket camcorders with a similar spec this is a reasonably expensive product; mostly due to the Sony brand name. However online the product is much more reasonable and at time of writing Amazon are currently selling for £69.99 and Play.com for £79.99. My dad bought this camera in M&S during a half price sale for £89.99 in November 2010.
My dad's first reaction to this camcorder was he could not believe how small the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is which I do agree it is especially compared to the previous camcorder he owned back in the mid 1990's which was less pocket sized and more the size of a large breeze block. The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is definitely pocket sized at 54mm wide, 108mm high and 19mm thick. Aesthetically the camcorder is very smart looking and does look very expensive. The camcorder is a rectangular shape and on the front it is covered in the white plastic casing. At the top of the camcorder is the swivel lens which when not in use the lens faces downwards so the lens sits flush and is protected from dirt and dust. On the back of the camcorder this section is black. Towards the bottom of the camcorder is the large LCD screen to view footage and stills on.
The camcorder comes in a box along with a user guide, Lithium K Battery, AC Charger, USB cable, A/V connecting cable, wrist strap and CD Rom with Sony software on. The user guide is easy to follow and clearly explains how you set up the camcorder initially. My dad was actually able to do this on his own which usually he has to ask for help with. The battery slots in the side of the camcorder as does the memory card (which we bought an SD card separately to use with this). The memory card slot is secure so does not accidentally fall open but not too difficult for those with limited dexterity to get into.
To charge up the camcorder initially a full charge takes around 2 hours which will give 95 minutes of battery life. I would say that this is probably true. Using the camcorder over Christmas we took quite a lot of footage probably 20 minutes worth on Christmas Eve and around one hour on Christmas Day and replayed it and needed to charge the camcorder up to use on Boxing Day. On the screen when the camera is turned on is a battery indicator to inform you how much charge is left.
Turning the camcorder on/ off is done by pressing a small button on the side of the camcorder. When turned on the camcorder displays what the lens is focusing on. To start recording footage you press a button on the back of the camcorder with an icon of a film roll on. To stop recording you press this button again. To take a still image you press a button with an icon of a camera on and this makes a shutter noise and the image is taken.
To start recording you need to turn the lens to focus on what footage or image you want to capture. The lens points downwards when not in use but easily can be rotated 270 degrees to point forwards and can even be fully rotated to 270 degrees so you can hold the camera and actually point it at yourself towards the back of the camcorder.
To view both still images and video footage you press the play button which is also on the back of the camcorder. Also on the back of the camcorder there are 4 scrolling keys to scroll through the files and options on the camcorder and a select button in the centre of the scrolling keys to select options. There is also a menu button on the back of the camcorder to view the different settings and programs. Using the menu button you can scroll through the different formats and options for recording. The buttons on the camcorder are easy to press and also because there are so few buttons on the back of the camcorder it is easy to operate.
On the side of the camcorder there is a button to zoom in and out.
The Bloggie MHS-PM5 is a reasonably easy to use camcorder for the basic record features. Both my dad and I who are not the best with technology were able to pick up the camcorder without reading the manual and start shooting footage and taking basic still images. Even with some explaining my mum who struggles to turn a PC on can use the Bloggie to record footage and understands how to playback this footage on the camcorder LCD screen.
However I do feel that I do not use all of the camcorder features and settings to their full potential and to truly understand and use these functions and settings you do need to refer to the user guide as simply scrolling through the menus it is not obvious where these settings can be changed or the features accessed.
Both my Dad and I tend to shoot video footage on the 1920x1080 setting. The picture quality on this setting tends to be very good and extremely clear providing there is adequate light. In daylight and indoor light I find that the footage shot is excellent it is only when it starts getting dark the quality of the footage and images suffer. Unfortunately there is no flash with the camcorder therefore if you do have to shoot footage in the dark this camcorder is not suitable and the footage is extremely dark. We have taken footage at dusk during last summer and although the footage was of a lot poorer quality than when we have shot during the day you could still make out my boys toddling around in the garden. My only criticism was when I tried to use in the garden at night to take footage of when we had fireworks and it was very difficult to make out faces of people in the video footage as the footage was so dark.
Audio quality is also very good with video footage on the Bloggie MHS-PM5. When taking footage of my boys the camcorder can pick up my boys talking from around 3-4m away. On the playback mode on the camcorder itself the audio footage does not sound so good however when you playback on your PC it is very clear. The only two issues I have had with audio footage is with wind and on blustery days the noise of the wind often takes over from other sound. The second issue is if you get too close to someone with the camcorder and they are speaking loudly or shouting. For example I find if one of my boys screams or takes a loud tantrum within a metre or so of the camcorder this takes over every other sound and you get quite a crackly booming type sound.
The camcorder can also be used to take still images with the 5MP digital camera. When my dad bought this camcorder his idea was that on days out when he or I used the camcorder would mean that we could just take the Bloggie and take still images too rather than taking our separate digital cameras. However if I am honest I find myself taking my digital camera out with me and use the video function on there if I want footage as the quality of still images on my 10MP camera is far superior to what I have taken on the Bloggie. To take a still image on the Bloggie it is very simple you point the lens at your subject, press the still image button on the back of the camcorder and the image is taken! You can then press the play button and the image is there to be reviewed alongside video footage. On the review setting on the LCD screen of the camcorder you can distinguish between video footage and stills as footage has a play icon next to it. The image quality of still images taken on the Bloggie is not bad and I would say of a similar standard to what you can take on a mobile phone camera. However personally I find the images taken can be a little dark especially on dull days whereas if I use my iPhone to take still images they are a lot better. The quality of the images becomes apparent if you upload your photos to Facebook or order digital prints and I find the Bloggie still images are very slightly grainy in appearance compared to what I have taken on my iPhone or digital camera.
The main reason I dislike the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 and why I find it quite difficult to operate is the 270 swivel lens. In theory I think this is a fantastic idea and great for those that take video blogs or want to take footage of themselves (whilst holding the camera). However for general family use and to take footage of toddlers and young children I still find after 18 months of practice our footage is very Blair Witch project and despite having a "Steady Shot" feature I feel a little dizzy and disorientated as the videos we take often can be a little unsteady. My dad has mastered holding the camera and pointing the lens at subjects a little better than I have but because of the way the lens swivels and the design of the camera when it is held in your hand I still struggle and find especially if my sons are moving around quickly I cut them out of shots or shake the camera a lot.
I think this is because the camera is a long rectangular shape so when you hold this in your hand you have to bear in mind the lens is on the top of the camera and you have to manually move the swivel lens to point at the subject. For landscape shots this is fine because you do not need to move the lens or camera to different angles but for taking footage of toddlers that move around I find it is easy to move the camera in your hand rather than attempt to swivel the lens as it is super sensitive and you end up with the lens pointing towards the ceiling or the floor by swivelling the lens by only a few degrees. The zoom on the lens is useful and effective (great for slow moving footage or landscapes) but when using it on moving footage this adds another complexity and keeping up with your subject and zooming in and out can produce some interesting footage.
I feel one of the strong points of the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is that it is easy to upload footage to your TV to view or directly to your PC and then upload to different sources. The images and footage upload in JPEG format which makes the images produced compatible with a variety of sources (i.e. Facebook and You Tube). Although I am confident using technology I did have to read the manual and my dad did find it a little more complex to understand at first how to upload so I would say this is not a camcorder you could buy for someone with no IT knowledge and expect them to connect and upload footage at the click of the button however the manuals are easy to follow. Connecting to the TV via the A/V cable to view footage takes less than 1 minute and the footage both sound and image quality is fantastic.
I tend to upload to my PC (which runs on Windows Vista) via the USB arm. You do get a USB cable in the box however the USB arm of the camcorder is more convenient as it means you do not need to carry the cable around with you. For those that upload to the same PC using a cable may not be such an issue but when uploading between my house and my parent's house means the USB arm is very convenient.
Durability wise the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 has been quite robust over the last 18 months however it is not a product I would recommend dropping because of its cost. The casing of the camcorder has no scratches or marks on despite the camcorder being put in pockets without a cover or case on and it has also been put in my handbag alongside my car keys without suffering any scratches. There has also been one incident this Christmas which my dad managed to knock the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 off the arm of the sofa onto hard wooden flooring without the camcorder suffering damage. What I do like about the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is that after 18 months of regular use the battery life has not decreased. One criticism I have of my digital camera is that the battery life after a years' worth of use is probably 20 minutes less than when it was bought however the Bloggie still delivers about 95 minutes of use from a full charge.
In short if asked would I recommend the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 the short answer would be no. In theory I think it's a great idea and a good looking camera that takes reasonable video clips however even after 18 months' worth of use and getting used to using it, both myself and my dad find it difficult to operate and I end up with videos that I could have just used my phone or my ordinary digital camera to take. Using as an all in one for still images I also feel my actual digital camera takes better shots which is why on days out I tend to not take the Bloggie with me and use my ordinary digital camera to take video clips or I use my iPhone.
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is not a bad pocket camcorder and is packed with features and the footage its shoots is of good quality I just personally do not think the camera is suited to our needs and the purposes that we bought it to take footage of. The rotating swivel lens makes this quite a tricky camera to simply point a shoot and the swivel is very sensitive so if knocked you usually get footage of the camera shooting upwards or downwards very quickly. I think for someone like myself and my dad who has young toddlers or young children it's quite hard to focus on fast moving objects or scenes and as a result we have 18 months' worth of shaky footage, people cut out and running in and out of scenes.
Uploading and viewing footage is relatively easy once you have read through manuals and used the product a number of times. I'm reasonably confident with different technology and at first it did take some getting used to, whereas my dad did think the upload process was quite confusing in comparison to his digital camera therefore I probably would not recommend for someone with very basic IT skills or knowledge. The footage is shot in JPEG format and can be connected to view on a TV screen or can be uploaded to PC including Mac. I have only ever used on Windows operating systems but I know when I once attempted to upload to my friends Mac there were issues and error messages saying the format was not recognised were displayed.
I think for travel footage for example the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is probably better suited and for someone wanting to capture footage of landscapes and slower moving sightseeing footage the experience of using the camera would be more positive and I would probably recommend this style of pocket camcorder for that. Although I do feel that the price of the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is an issue and a reason as to why the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is because of the Sony brand name especially as the majority of high street retailers sell this for £150. It is definitely worth shopping around for and I would not pay more than £80 for this camera but it is worth noting that other similar pocket sized cameras from other brands with similar specifications are priced more reasonably.
Not a bad product but a bad purchase for us in my opinion!
Summary: A reasonable pocket camcorder from Sony
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