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Looking for my first camcorder last week, I was presented with a wealth of options from traditional Digital 8 Video cameras to the new modern Digital Video camcorders. After some preliminary research on the Internet, I found that the general concensus was that Sony offered both superior picture quality and sound. I can whole heartly agree with this assessment, the picture is cystal clear in comparision to other camcorders, and while the microphone is placed on the top of the camcorder, it is remarkable how is manages to pick up sound (although on occasion a little too much background sound). I opted to the PC6E, an evolution from the highly acclaimed PC5, which was the first in the new generation of micro camcorders. The camera itself is compact and can truely fit in a handbag (that is if you don't put it in a case), however, it is...well I little chubby if you want to call it that, weighing about 500g it isn't as light as you may expect from such a small piece of equipment, but it is ten times easier that the old style camcorder. For those who are into gadgets like me, then it does hold the wow factor, with a touch screen menu and 2.5 LCD, it has the capablitlies to impress. However, if you are feeling rich, then the PC9 offers the same high quality picture, with some added toys such as taking picture (although only .0.5 megapixel), Mpegs and a DV in and out. The next generation of Sony cameras also have the fuction to email as well (according to the Dixons salesman). This petite camera is great if you just want something to film your holidays and capture your memories. If you don't want to carry around something which needs its own suitcase and use the camera as an accessory not a main feature, then this is one of the best cameras you can buy. Especially since the new models are coming out which means lower prices all round. Other features include 10x optical 120x digital zoom, night vision, 90 min bat
tery (takes about 90 min to charge) and touch screen menu. I purchased an accessory kit from amazon which included a spare battery, bag and tape for around 50 pounds, when the battery alone would normally cost about the same. The bag is snug and not too oversized, but it does mean that you can't fit the camera in your handbag (if you have one - and I dont! :-)) There is also the ability to use a DV lead to connect the camera to a computer for editing (not tried this yet), the standard SVideo and other wires are of course possible. To conclude, good value, good quality, slightly chubby, lacks some of the toys in the later and more expensive models. A recommended buy. Mine cost 730 pounds from Dixons, but I will use my Barclaycard price match to reduce this to 630 pounds from the Dixons web site. Have fun filming Jonathan
I bought this camera after trawling around the Internet and various shops for opinions and advice. I wanted a decent quality camera but it needed to be small - the theory being that I would far more be likely to carry around a small camera than a big one. I am happy to say my choice has been excellent. Although the zoom doesn't match up to some of the bigger cameras, it is plenty good enough and can do really close up work. The output quality is brilliant, whether it is straight to TV/video or to a PC. The zoom is slightly fiddly, but easy enough to use even with my banana fingers. The still photos are only 640x480 so not brilliant but okay for web shots. I get about 1 hour out of the standard battery, which is not fantastic, but how many times do you film something for an hour? I mostly shoot 5-10 minute shots anyway and then lose interest. I'm not making the Blair Witch so don't need hours of battery life - although I must admit that I have bought a second battery just in case. Check out the following sites for camera prices: unbeatable, sdb-electronics, empire-direct or try the comparison sites such as pricerunner and shopsmart.
Update: I can now say that I made the right choice. The camera is a delight to use. Digital stills taken on the memory stick are brill. Video quality is excellent even in max zoom and as good as anything else on the market. The humming noise I refer to below cannot really be heard on playback at all. The only drawback is battery life with the standard battery. Use it with the screen open and you'll be lucky to get 30mins usage. However, the small size pays off time and time again. I've even dropped it onto a (thinly carpetted) floor from two feet up and it works no problem. Great! **************************************** I bought our Sony PC-5 only last Saturday. By my reckoning that means I've had it 4 days. However, I've mastered the controls and played around with it enough to be able to give any prospective buyer what I hope is a fairly good opinion of this machine. First things first. I have never owned a camcorder before although I have used several larger models quite a lot. My opinion of them has always been "nice but terribly big". Now that we're having a baby in July I thought it would be an ideal excuse, sorry, opportunity to splash out on something that would capture our family life for posterity (the merits of doing so is another topic for conversation altogether!). On to the camcorder itself. Price: Ouch! Ouch! I paid £1050 from Jessops. You can get better featured cameras for less money, make no mistake, but they will be bigger. The bottom line is you must really want one of these things. Size: About as small as you can get. The remote control isn't that much bigger than the camera! Canon have released their MV3MC (called an Elura 2 in the USA) which is slightly taller but also slightly slimmer when looking down on top of it. It was a toss up between the two, especially when the Canon had £250 knocked off it - down to £1000. However, I still
went for the marginally bigger PC-5 for reasons explained below. The PC-5 can be tucked away in my fleece or jacket no problem which was a reason why I went for such a small machine - what's the point of buying a camcorder which you leave at home? To me the point of camcorders is to catch life's rich tapestry and that's kind of difficult with some of the bigger offerings around. Build Quality: In my opinion Sony take the medal. I have seen several battered Sony camcorders in my time – they still work fine and that is good enough for me. I have already read reports of slightly dicky LCD screens on equally small camcorders by other makers although these seem to be isolated cases. Nevertheless, I have never read anything about Sony build quality problems on the PC-5. In fact, the only complaint I have heard about the Sony is the fact that it doesn't have true progressive scan - a techy term which I understand means that stills captured off moving film aren't so good. Picture Quality: The zoom is 10x optical and 40x digital. At full zoom the picture quality is not THAT good but quite acceptable. However, that is a fairly close up shot and I am happy with it. A problem I have found is that most Sony's apparently need quite a lot of light to get really good shots. This means that I have had to tinker a bit with the settings to optimise indoor footage. It's still early days to decide whether it will cut the mustard but for my amateur purposes I seem to be getting it to work fairly well. Sound Quality: Probably the biggest drawback. If someone is not speaking directly to the camera (say 3m away) the sound is very faint and you have to crank the volume right up to hear what is being said when playing back. Going back to the fact that I have never owned a camcorder before this could, of course, be par for the course - bare it in mind. PC Interface: The PC-5 has a memory stick which makes it
very easy to capture stills and download them. Beware though - stills caught on tape and transferred to the stick are poorer in quality than if you had caught them on to the stick directly. Stills caught on the stick are great. I am still working out what I can and can’t do on this one. In conclusion: Pros: This is a very small and feature packed camera (the special effects are great). It will wow anyone. The on-LCD-screen touch sensitive menu system is totally ace and a technological triumph. The night-shot is great too. Cons: The motor makes a surprisingly loud high frequency noise when filming. This really gutted me when I got home and started using it. However, in playback it is not really discernible although really fussy people would notice it. I don't know how the Canon fairs in this respect. Conclusion: This may sound more negative than I intended it to be but these are my first thoughts in the context of spending a grand on something I have never owned before so don't really know what the benchmark is! I will revisit them in a month's time once I have got some real filming minutes under my belt. My gut feeling is that I have made the right choice and I think I will grow to love the beast.
We bought this camcorder especially for our holiday in Florida, we needed one that was small so that we could take it on rollercoasters etc. and be able to hold onto it! The Sony DCRPC5 was the smallest we could find. For £1000 (from www.unbeatable.co.uk) this camcorder has everything. Great zoom, clear picture, stills capable and of course it’s really tiny. My favourite part of the camcorder is the still picture facility. You can store digital photos (like a normal digital camera) on a memory stick which is supplied with the camera. They can then be downloaded to a PC from the camcorder. All of the leads and software are supplied with the camcorder to be able to link to a PC so you won’t have to spend hours looking for compatible software. Bigger memory sticks can be bought but I haven’t looked into the price of them. You can choose the quality of the photos as well, the higher quality the photo the less you can store. After transferring the images from the DV tape to a normal video tape the picture quality is excellent, can’t find any faults there. There is a cleaver feature on the camcorder allowing you to put a frame around the film/photos. There are quite a few to choose from including Christmasy ones and funny ones. You can also set the camera to film like an old western film etc. The ‘Blair Witch’ filming is easily accomplished by turning the viewing screen round to face you. It cleverly flips the image so that you looking at yourself the right way up when filming. Carrying the camcorder around with us we had a number of people comment and ask us about it – just like being famous. Talking to people who had the PC100 and comparing them I’m glad we bought the PC5. There isn’t a great deal of difference that I could see but the PC5 is still smaller. The camcorder uses mini DV tapes. These are available with or without memory. The ones without memory
are considerably cheaper. The only reason you will need a tape with memory is if you want to store the date and time on the tape when you are filming – I find it cheaper to write it on. Also you can take still pictures on the tape so you will need memory for that but as you can store stills on the memory stick that isn’t vital either. Don’t let them sell you the expensive memory tapes, get tapes without memory. The only bad thing about the camcorder is the price of accessories. It comes with a battery but obviously you have to have a spare and they are £70 each for a small one. Small batteries only last an hour, if you want a battery that lasts longer you have to buy a big one which sticks a mile out of the side defeating the object of buying a small camcorder. I have found other batteries which claim to fit the camera which are not Sony but every time we have tried one the camcorder rejects them. This has happened to a friend with a PC5 as well so it’s not just our camcorder! A very cleaver idea by Sony there. The battery lasts longer if you don’t use the viewing screen when filming but who can be bothered to look through that tiny hole? Overall if you want a small camcorder I would definitely recommend this one. It lives up to it’s Sony label!
The Chanel little black dress of the camcorder world, the DCR-PC5 is seriously small, sexy and gossamer-light at 450g. it’s so small, in fact, that you can’t hold it in the usual way, but master the drop down handle and his is a joy to use. It’s LCD viewer doubles as a touch-screen menu, allowing you to access a huge range of plush editing and playback features with ease. The 800k pixel CCD also makes it good for still images. The Carl Zeiss lens is top notch, too, offering 10x optical and 200x optical zoom. The only thing that’s less than great is the audio quality, which has clearly been compromised to achieve the device’s compact dimensions – but hey, something’s got to give, and you can always add an external microphone. In a word, gorgeous. This is the perfect home package: light, usable and feature-packed.