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Daddy's got a new toy for christmas.
When my step-dad opened his Christmas presents last year, he was very surprised when he un-wrapped a Sony handycam. He has a very loving and generous wife, namely my mother. He previously had this prehistoric camcorder from the eighties and was about the size of a Hi Fi! He couldn't really carry it on his shoulder because he'd probably end up in hospital with a broken shoulder!
Bless him; he doesn't understand all that modern technology. So me, being the little angel that I am, offered to give him some lessons. It took a while but he's got the hang of it now. See, even he can learn how to use it. I also gained enough knowledge about the handycam to write a review about it.
The orders of contents in this review are: The history, Box contents, Features, Price range, Pros and Cons and "And finally.
And now for the history
The history of the handycam dates back to the year 1985, the same year that I was born. This was the start of the era of new camera systems and devices. Originally started by the popular household name Sony, Sony decided to try some new ideas which was; a new type of formatting and media. Sony had promised to produce the most compact and modern camcorders of the day, and boy did they keep their promise, even to this day they still go by that rule.
There have been 3 different types of handycam logo produced by Sony over the years. The present handycam logo that we know of today was produced back in 2003, and during the same year they released the Sony DCR DVD403 model which is the same as my step-dads model. This was Sony's first generation of DVD-format handycam camcorder. I never really understood why they have to have really long names for their products though. Sony had brought out a new easy to use camcorder to symbolise a new era.
In the box you get: One DCR-DVD handycam, 21 pin adaptor, AC Adaptor, stereo AV cable, Rechargeable battery pack, a shoulder strap, picture package software, 1 blank mini DV ( mini DVD, 8cm across, small isn't it?), USB cable, USB driver and a wireless remote control.
Now the boring box contents are over, I can move on to the more interesting features. The camcorder has amazing surround sound recording, and has a built in microphone, it has a touch screen menu which is really handy. The camcorder also has 16:9 widescreen recording which shows off the 3 mega pixel colours (1/3 3 mega pixel primary colour CCD). The camcorder has a 2.7 inch widescreen Hybrid LCD monitor, which my step dad's dead and buried camcorder never had so you don't end up getting red rings round your eye, I can just imagine it. Lol. It also has a built in flash for taking pictures as well as making videos. There's also a night shot function so you can film in dark places. The camcorder records in DVD-R, RW and R/RW, which makes it a lot easier and quicker to transfer onto full size DVD.
And now for the not so interesting features, but they're still features so I can't miss them out. It has a Carl Ziess Vario-Tessar Lens, which gives better pictures and reduces reflections. The 10x Optical or 480 digital zoom makes good use of the Carl Ziess lens and the super steady shot. The other features are: Battery information, start, stop and zoom button on the LCD frame, intelligent accessory shoe, USB terminal, DV-in, auto lens cover and the colour view finder.
And now onto one of the most important bits, the price range.
The lowest price that I could find online was £635.00 from www.pixmania.co.uk. Generally the prices can range from £635 - £900. If you were looking to buy one direct from a high street shop you'd probably be spending in the region of £700-£900. I wouldn't even dare to ask my mum where she got my step-dad's camcorder from in case she got ripped off for price. Note: Don't shop at Jessop's, my friend ended up paying an awful lot of money for one from there. The best bet is to shop on-line, but the price will come down over time.
~The Pros & Cons~
1. You can play back the recorded mini DV on computer or DVD players straight after you've finished recording.
2. Good night picture.
3. Don't need to rewind or fast forward for blank space as it can't happen with mini DVs.
4. Can't overwrite old recordings on mini DV so you don't loose any footage.
5. 16:9 widescreen recording
6. 5.1 Channel Dolby digital surround sound built in microphone.
7. Still pictures are the same as digital camera of 3 Mega pixels.
8. The software does the conversion from audio from 5.1 channel to stereo.
9. The mini DV can be copied directly to 12cm DVD without loosing any audio difference.
10. Don't get wind noise when recorded with microphone set microphone level as LOW when it's windy.
11. The camcorder doubles-up as DVD recorder for recording TV programs. It can be done by connecting the camcorder to the output jacks of the TV. The picture is still just as good even if the program is recorded in long-play mode (1 Hr with mini DV).
1. You might need to change mini DV's very often as it only has a recording time of 30 minutes or 1 hour long play.
2. On/off switch feels a bit flimsy.
~And Finally ~
I'm now nearing the end of the review, just a general summary.
I love this handycam it's brilliant, I just wish it was my Christmas present not my step-dads. Not really, I'm not that nasty. The handycam is very easy to use and gives great results. It's great for beginners and pros, so it ideal for all sorts of people. It's nice and small so you can take it almost anywhere. It has a basic setting for the beginners and lots of manual over ride function for the pros. My step-dad loves the fact that he doesn't get over bright pictures any more instead he gets pictures that are as good as the real thing, much better than the prehistoric hunk of junk! We were shocked when we first played back some the footage on our surround sound t.v. system because it really sounded as if you were actually there in the picture. You might be pleased to hear that my step-dad has just filmed a wedding for his sister on his new camcorder and he didn't have any problems at all, thanks to me. All in all it's an amazing product from Sony and I look forward to seeing many more quality products from them.
I hope it's been an interesting read and thank you for taking the time to read this review. Keep on the look out for more reviews from me.
Fazel x : )
You can also find my work on ciao.co.uk, ciao.com, comparedby.us and various other sites. Prices are correct from date of when this review was first created (2006).
Capture powerful sound and sharp images direct to DVD with the DCR-DVD403 Handycam camcorder. Built for serious recording, the DCR-DVD403 comes with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens for creating superior quality images. Featuring high-resolution imaging with an 3.3 Megapixel Advanced HAD CCD imager, you can take not only sharp digital video, but also detailed digital still photographs. Equipped with an optional surround sound microphone, you can record Dolby Digital 5.1 Channel surround sound to make watching your movies like a visit to the theater.
Other features include built-in flash and Super NightShot Infrared System to help record in low light situations. See the bigger picture with the 2.7" wide SwivelScreen LCD display with touch panel capabilities. Bets of all, you capture digital videos directly to DVD for the ultimate in recording convenience.