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I bought this camcorder a while ago because I trusted the brand name and because it was fitted with a Carl Zeiss lens. My grandfather used to be an amatuer photographer and always told me that Carl Zeiss cameras were awesome!
This camcorder is manufactured by Sony and can record video and take picture stills to mini discs and to a memory stick. It uses 8cm sized mini discs. I find that transferring video to another format for posterity is quite difficult and a lengthly process. I use a disc drive that can manage 8cm sized discs then burn the video onto my computer and then to a larger disc. If you want to view your footage on a TV then you will either need a DVD machine that can play these small discs or you will need to be prepared to spend a bit of time transferring the footage onto your computer. I have Nero software which makes assembling discs an easier process. You can also hook the camcorder up to your TV set through an AV cable or an S-video cable.
One thing that slightly annoys me about the camera is that the discs can take a long time to eject as the camcorder writes information to them after you press the access button. Discs will record around 30 minutes worth of footage so I tend to go through them quickly. Details of which format is marked both on the camcorder and printed in the instructions booklet.
To turn the camcorder on you have to depress a tiny green piece plastic latch which is encased in a larger metal button and pull the button to the right. This might be difficult for people with chunky fingers however, as the depression is marked by a skinny ridge which is hard to get your fingers into. The camcorder alerts you to its ON status by bleeping and the LCD screen lights up. The camcorder automatically starts in video mode. You can change the mode by pulling again to the right on the main switch on button.
The LCD screen operates by touchscreen. Once again, for people with large fingers this might be more difficult to operate - my dad certainly has trouble pressing the right part of the screen as his hands are beefy! I personally find it easy to use though and the computerised screen responds immediately to touch instructions.
What I like about the camcorder is that you can quickly and easily begin recording by pressing a large button where your thumb naturally rests when holding the machine. Camcording is fairly instant so if there is something you don't want to miss you can begin recording straight away.
There is an 800x digital zoom which is quite impressive although footage looks best when focused on something only a few metres away. The smaller the object and the further away the more out of focus it becomes.
There is also a Nightshot feature which means you can record in the dark -footage tends to look illuminated and neon blue and looks rather like material from those ghost-hunting shows!
There is also a photo taking fucntion on this camcorder although it is dissapointing. The resolution is pretty bad. When you take any photos and play the disc back they are shown as a slideshow at the end of any video footage. Using the photo function for some reason uses more battery time than the video function. The battery life is displayed in the corner of the screen. If you switch between video/photo modes you can see that you get less battery time if you remain on the photo function.
There are some great features to the camcorder. For instance you can review all of the footage you have taken. The footage appears in mini screens on the LCD panel. You can touch one of these screens to view in full size or simply watch as a preview of each segment of filming is played. When recording you are able to delete the last footage you take but nothing before that. This is a bit of a bind as you can end up with a lot of stuff you would really want to delete but can't. You can erase all footage on the disc by re-formatting the disc. Formatting is something you need to do when a new disc is inserted. It determines what modes you personally wish to apply to the disc for recording.
The camcorders LCD panel is able to twist around 180 degrees so you can show footage to another person as you film. The strap through which your right hand must go is adjusable and comfortable. The lenscap is also attached to the hand strap and is secure.
To charge the battery you need to attach a cable to the DC-IN hole in the back of the camcorder. This cable attaches to a charger and to the mains. A light on the camcorder shines orange until charging is complete. This usually takes a couple of hours.
Overall I'm very happy with the footage I've taken on this camera. I've actually taken some great footage of wildlife as well as the common footage of family occaisons! However, when it comes to needing to re-use the mini discs and transfer footage it feels like a chore and is not something I enjoy doing!
The Sony website provides support and information on the product:
Found this camcorder very easy to use the controls are very user friendly. Single record stop button and zoom in and out toggle switch. You have the option to use the viewer or the pull out the LCD screen whilst recording.
The LCD screen can be flip around 180 degrees to allow playback and editing of the stored clips.
Video quality is not bad for the 800k pixel sensor, it does struggle in poor light though. The photo snap feature is poor resolution.
All video is stored on mini dvd disk, they are 1.5Gb and hold about 30mins of footage, you can get double sided ones which helps a bit.
I had big problem trying to get the video on to my PC to back up and I lost full dvds with the disks going faulty and being unable to read. Very unreliable I don't use it any more going to get a hard drive base camera.