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I am now having this video camera for the last 4 years. I got it from London under £150 when suddenly walking past one of the camera shop I noticed a discount on this piece. It was an impulsive purchase though I had been planning to buy one for long but was unable to find one of my specifications at an affordable price. Though I bought it for the right price alone, I have no regrets and would highly recommend it as the piece to own.
As it is in my possession for around 4 years and has had its share of exhaustive travel and usage, it is still as fresh as new and has given me no trouble whatsoever. So you have to agree that this is a robust and durable video camera and there has been no need for it to be sent to a camera hospital for repairs.
I believe that recordings made from this video are of extremely high quality. This Sony camera incorporates a compact lens assembly going by the fancy name of Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® Lens and a high-performance 800,000-pixel HAD CCD image sensor to capture high-quality video footage.
800,000-pixel is a huge number. Generally speaking the video footage would need 500,000 pixels for a super resolution image quality considering that PAL television is a 720 x 576 or 414,720 pixels and NTSC is 720 x 486 or 349,920 pixels resolution. The other 400,000 is for digital stabilization i.e. to prevent loss in quality due to shaking of the image due to shake of the hand. Once the PAL/NTSC and the digital stabilizer criteria are met then the quality of the image depends on the lens, the sensor and the capacity of the processor to digitize without loss.
Great lens give great images. Why this fancifully named Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® Lens important in the world of great lens? Carl Zeiss set the pinnacle of optical excellence way back in 1846. Since then when you speak of excellent lens the only name that crops up is Carl Zeiss. Carl Zeiss lens have the ability to precisely capture the subtlest detail of any recorded scene. Hence when you like to have a camera or camcorder you first need to make sure it has the gold standard - Carl Zeiss®. Vario Tessar is the brand name used by Carl Zeiss for its zoom lenses. This legendary brand delivers crisp, sharp videos having extremely low distortion and super contrasts. More so it can do all of these at all focal lengths, from wide angle to telephoto. What does it mean for a layman? It implies that the videos will have bright and sharply coloured pictures with the tiniest of details of the recorded scene.
HAD provides 2 times better sensitivity and 6 db better smear rejection ratio than the formal traditional type of CCD. For the layman it means that the strong light rejection mechanism of this sensor is very good. Strong light tends to fag the images and hence need to be controlled. Also the light sensitivity is twice as good as other sensors which mean that it works very well in low light or semi-darkness.
The CCD was invented in 1969 at Bell Labs, now part of Lucent Technologies, by George Smith and Willard Boyle. CCD converts light into electrically charged particles and are responsible for giving high resolution images. Combined with HAD technology this image sensor capture the highest quality video footage.
Zoom is a type of lens assembly where the focal length can be varied and hence the angle of view. That means that you can bring far away objects closer and vice-versa. But you need to look out for the right type of zoom.
Zoom are of two types - optical and digital. Optical zoom uses the lens to bring an image closer and record over the entire digital sensor of the camera, at full resolution. Thus the quality of the image is not compromised. This video camera provides and amazing optical zoom of 40x. Lenses get their zoom rating by taking the ratio between the longest and shortest focal lengths. It is not magnification as such but anything greater than even 8x would give a 64x print size of the distant object which is 320x print size of the distant object with 40x zoom lens. What a layman should understand that this feature allows you to take close up pictures of subjects that are further away, without physically getting close to the subject. And, greater the number X of the zoom, greater the capability. 40x is significantly great capacity to take close ups of very far distant objects.
Digital zoom is not actually zooming. Digital zoom enlarges a portion of the image. That means that a portion of the image is taken and then enlarged back to a particular size. In so doing, you lose image quality. BTW, this can be done on the PC with any good image editing software. This camera has 2000x but it does not bother me as I rarely use it.
It has an equally impressive sound input with an audio 12bit dubbing. It comes with a built-in microphone of superior range and can catch far away tones and sound clearly. Audio is an important part of any video footage - remember how a silent film seems boring and if the sounds are muffled then it is worse. The fact that along with great picture quality this video camera can also record great sound is definitely an icing on the cake.
AESTHETICS and CONTROL
It has a very pleasing sturdy look with a fine shining silvery polish. The extremities have a black border.
The grip is leather and the palm slides gently in. Mine is right handed grip (not sure whether you could get a left-handed one).
On the left you have the LCD screen which folds up inside. The LCD screen is a 2.5" screen with touch panel for the on screen menu. The on screen menu is very intuitive with possibly all the control options needed to operate the video camera. When in operation it is fairly large enough to view the scenes to be recorded with ease.
Just in case there is highly reflective strong lights then you could switch to the viewfinder. It is good at low and bright lights, and I for once can hold the cam more steadily when using the viewfinder. Also it helps in minimising battery usage and let you use your camera for much longer without needing a recharge.
The zoom button resides on the top right corner where the index finger can reach it easily. There is a pull out viewfinder which gently emerges from the casing when pulled. The other control buttons face you quite reachable with the thumb though it is too sensitive and can sometimes activate when not intended.
There are many control features to make your life as videographer easier like Super SteadyShot that ensures that the image remains stable despite the shake transferring from your hand movements, NightShot Plus helps taking excellent recordings even in the darkest of nights due to its see-through ability, 8 Scene Selection (Twilight / Sunrise & Sunset / Landscape / Portrait / Spotlight / Sports / Beach / Snow ) to get the preset modes and 6 Picture effects to get visual effects to your recorded video.
It comes with an i.LINKTM (DV output) battery. It has a capacity to record up to 15 hours continuously. That means that unless you want to record non-stop without break or sleep you are unlikely to run out of battery. Though there is an optional battery that you could have with this cam but I think that it would be a waste.
The instruction manual is very good. Practically everything you need to know about the video camera can be easily found.
You can view the recordings on your LCD screen using the intuitive menu or connect it to your TV using the AV output. The connections can be made directly from the handycam or from the Handycam Station which is an attachment where the handycam can be easily docked. You can also watch, transfer and edit the recording to your PC with Firewire/USB connection.
It has a host of other features, input and output connections and things that you would not normally use nor would I try to bore you with.
A top class video camera at very affordable price
Also in Ciao under same name and title
The Sony Handycam DCR-HC45 is a really good, small handheld video camera that produces some really good video. The camera comes packed with loads of fantastic features, however be warned if you plan to take a lot of video or upload to you computer you goto have to spend a lot of extra cash.
The camera is really quick, from being turned on till being able to record video only takes a couple of second. The flip out screen allows you to take video of exactly what you want to, however it does drain the battery life a bit. The zoom is really easy to use, either you can use the controls on the flip out screen or you can use the toggle like feature.
The battery lasts for a long time as long as you keep the flip out screen in and dont flim, however it still does pretty well if your filming with the screen out.
The flip out screen is a touch screen that allows you to change any number of settings or activate the digital zoom. there is also an inbuilt editing feature, however i have been unable to master this.
Each tape can hold around 1 hours worth of video and are really easy to put in. However just three tapes costs around £10, and its likely you want several more than just three hours worth of video.
If you want to be able to upload and then edit on the computer you will need to buy a piece of hardware, we brought this with Pinaccle, for around £60. Whilst expensive and very resctrictive, unless you buy all the add ons. However i have been able to make some good short films