I'm one of those parents every child hates. If there's a special event or occasion the camera comes out and Im snapping away, imagine then how much worse I am with a Handy cam! When I found out I was expecting my 2nd child I decided to invest in a decent camcorder, one of the DVD types so I wouldn't have to keep transferring footage from one tape to the next, I spotted the Sony DCR DVD92E in my local Dixons and fell for it straight away, I didn't really care about the special features at the time, all I knew was that it would be able to capture all my kids special moments straight to DVD, perfect!
Sony DCR DVD92E
The Sony handy cam is quite compact but not necessarily lightweight, it fits nicely into the palm of my hand and has a good hand strap for extra support and security. It has an lcd style screen which flips out from the side of the camera and can be turned 180 degrees so you could film yourself and be able to see you were aiming correctly or the person you are filming can see what's being captured, the screen has independent record and zoom buttons so you do not have to use the ones on the main body of the camera.
You are able to capture both moving images as well as still photographs on the camera which are accessible via the mode switch on the side of the camera, you can also select to view images you have already captured by selecting the 3rd option on the mode switch.
The 2.5 inch camera screen is touch sensitive. In both the capture modes you can access menus by touching the icons on the screen, these allow you to view the last image captured, delete or enter the program menu where you can do such things as alter the camera set up, exposure etc, as well as finalize the disc. In the viewing mode you use the touch screen feature to select video or photo, then you are taken to the appropriate images where you can scroll up or down to view each individual section filmed/photographed, play, re-wind, fast forward, stop and delete as well as access the program menu mentioned earlier.
In set up there are many options to play around with for example you can have a clear screen or add a time and date, you can change the picture effect to black & white, sepia or pastel. You can alter the focus, set timers, select between 4:3 or 16:9 screen, apply a fader in between shots and even give the overall disc a title. There are lots of options that will keep you busy all accessable via the program menu on the touch screen.
The camera has a 20x optical zoom lens allowing you to capture images from far away, the zoom is controlled either via the buttons on the flip screen or a button on top of the camera which tilts right for zoom and left to draw back. To capture moving images you press the record button on the back of the camera by the mode switch, to capture still images there is a separate button on top the camera by the zoom switch. The camera also comes with a Nightshot Plus feature which you simply slide to on or off, this allows you to get clear night vision style shots when it's dark.
The camera records in 5.1 channel surround sound which is ideal for users with a home theatre system. It comes with a stereo AV cable.
The camera comes with a charger (AC adaptor) and InfoLithium battery. The battery can last up to 130 minutes (at least my one does) it can be separated from the camera by using the switch on the underside of the camera, however there is a socket on the side of the camera where you can directly plug in the charger meaning you do not have to take the battery out, obviously if you are out and not near a plug socket than having a spare charged battery is a good idea (hence the ability to remove the battery from the camera)
The viewfinder on the camera is quite small and shows you the image in black and white, the flip screen however shows the image in full colour and is larger than the view finder making it easier to see what you are filming, it does drain the battery quicker though.
The handy cam takes mini DVDs (DVD-R or DVD-RW) they slot into a disc section on the side of the camera which opens automatically with the press of a button. You have to format the disc to begin with which is automatically advised and done via the touch sensitive flip screen, you will receive a series of prompts before the disc will format, finalizing works in the same way and has to be done before you can watch the DVD in a normal player. Despite the mini DVD size they can go straight into a standard DVD player and you are able to watch the disc.
Price and availability-
The DCR DVD92E is available from many electronics stores including Dixons, it is also available widely online. It retails from £375 depending on where you shop and if you buy new or used.
Discs are widely available, Sony have their own discs which are £24.99 for a pack of 5 which come with their own cases and inserts. Other brands also do suitable discs, these work fine within the camera however the screen will tell you every time you switch the camera on that Sony discs are recommended.
Accessories include batteries, carry case and shoulder strap as well as a separate microphone for surround sound recording.
I have had the camera for just over a year and must use it at least every week, I have more than 20 45 minute discs in my collection featuring footage of my children and family. When I purchased it originally it was £500 with accessories. I was more than happy with the price I paid, while it is a lot of money the memories it has captured are priceless. The fact that you can capture moving images as well as still photos is a major bonus. I have found that even when using up all 45 minutes of moving image space on a disc that I can still capture well over 100 still images.
The zoom is impressive and can capture great images at a distance, occasionally it will loose focus if you zoom in too quickly but it soon focuses again and you're back to getting great shots. The images captured on the camera are very clear, although in certain light the still images may be a bit blurry and not as crisp as if a standard camera had captured them. The sound quality on the camera is excellent and I have learned to turn down any background noise when filming my children playing otherwise when I watch it back I can hear everything that was said on Jeremy Kyle that episode!
The Nightshot Plus is a great little feature allowing you to get clear images in the dark. I managed to get some really cute footage of my son falling asleep for the first time in his big boys bed as well as footage of my baby girl talking in her sleep, my other half however likes to pretend hes a Most Haunted investigator doing a ghost hunt in my living room.
The camera is very durable and has withstood many active days out with my family in all sorts of weather. The silver tone surface is prone to scratching though so if you want to keep it looking as new then I recommend keeping it in a case. While it has survived many a run in with my 2 adventurous toddlers I would recommend keeping it away from grubby little hands, I cant say how it would cope getting too up close and personal with baby drool or jam sandwiches.
It is a really easy to use camera, with all the buttons for the separate modes and features within easy finger reach. I like the fact that the still image button is positioned like it would be on a normal camera. I also like that the buttons are so well spaced so you dont press the wrong one by accident and film something you dont want to or equally delete something you dont want to. Ok i'll hold my hands up and admit that I never bothered reading the hand book, I'm one of those naughty people who jump right in and then use the book if there are any problems, I've not yet had any problems with the camera, it's that easy to use, so I have had no need to go to the hand book. The hand book does look incredibly detailed though and will no doubt tell you all you need to know on operating the camera.
The camera has a great battery life and can fill 3 discs before running out (obviously that depends on if you use the view finder or screen and how much viewing/deleting you do in between) when it finally does run out it is quick to get to full charge again.
It is a great small camera with the fact that it takes DVDs rather than cartridges adding to its small size. The discs are little enough that you can carry several spare ones with you and they take up barely any space. I love that you can record to the DVD and once the camera finalizes the disc you can pop it straight into a player and watch what you've recorded, theres no fussing about with transferring the footage or playing around with big bulky cassettes. You can capture endless footage and it barely take up any space in your home. It's an ideal camera for busy parents or people on the go.