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I'm going to start this review by saying that this review will not be filled with lots of technical jargon, as honestly I don't really understand any of it myself. But as an amateur director I know exactly what I want from a camera, and honestly this camera ticked most of those boxes. This camera is a camcorder, something which has been going out of style in recent years. Most DSLR cameras have essentially destroyed the camcorder market as they essentially have better video quality and are also capable of taking stunning still shots, not to mention a DSLR can be used in conjunction with a wide variety of different lenses. Sony has been attempting to revive the camcorder market recently with their series of Handycam cameras, and honestly they might be achieving that goal.
To begin with I can say that this camera is pretty stylish, it is essentially black all over and feels really smooth and weighty. None of the camera feels especially cheap and I can't imagine it would break unless hit with quite a bit of force, in other words I would say it is quite sturdy. The buttons on the inside of the camera are also very clicky (that is a weird word but just know it is a good thing in my opinion) meaning that you absolutely know you have pressed the button. The hand strap is also very comfortable and soft to the touch and can be adjusted to any size to fit your hand. The camera uses a fold out LCD of a very respectable size, giving all of your footage a widescreen perspective when you play video back on the camera itself. This is where the camera runs into problems, this screen is touchscreen. Personally I hate touch screen's on cameras, they are annoying as they generally cause the camera to bump if you attempt to change any settings on the camera and this camera certainly suffers from this curse. While using it for various shorts, having to change things around on the screen has absolutely ruined certain shots. The screen also worries me as I am constantly on edge that I will damage the screen when touching it with my finger nail, it feels very fragile in my opinion.
Now onto the features, two of which I will focus on. The first one is the zoom feature, this cameras zoom is insanely good. You will almost never need to zoom to the limits this camera can handle but it is still extremely good, the zoom is 20x extended zoom and that is really good. The next amazing feature is the optical steady shot, never have I used a camera which is so unbelievably smooth! While walking around recording my exploits while out on excursions outside, and the shake is practically non existent. This is probably the thing about this camera which impresses me the most, Sony has really done a good job with this feature. I suppose I should also talk about the most important feature of a camcorder, the video quality. Ultimately I would say that this camera is of a very high quality and should suit anyones needs in terms of video and the quality can be tweaked to be less than absolute HD which is useful when your SD card is getting close to capacity. The camera is also capable of still shots although these aren't any thing particularly special, although this is always a useful feature if you really need to capture something in a photograph rather than a video. This camera also has a wide angle lens built in, this is a very cool feature as it means you can fit a lot more into frame which is always useful if you are filming family videos like myself. The camera also records with 5.1 surround sound which is an awesome feature and I have tried recording live music events with this camera (the band 'Muse' in case you were wondering) and the sound once the video was processed was extremely impressive.
Overall I would say that this camera is of a very high quality, especially for the money you will pay for it ( around £500). This camera is extremely steady and smooth, so I would recommend this to anyone with those needs. I know I will use this for a long time to come and i truly believe Sony may have brought camcorder's back into the spotlight.