The Sony HDR-SR10 is a brilliant digital camcorder. In true Sony style it is well built, sturdy and reliable. It has a 40GB Hard Drive which means that you can store up to 15 hours of footage on there - more than plenty unless you are recording a documentary series!
The quality of the videos is amazing - top quality if watched direct to the TV using a HDMI Cable or the supplied Component Cable, or when watched on the PC. Sound quality is also very good, and there are options on the camera to change between 5.1 surround sound or 2channel stereo recording, and also an option to change the sound recording level.
The camcorder comes with some handy software too called Sony Picture Motion Browser which acts to catalogue your video clips, import them off your video camera, or most useful, allows you to convert them to MP2 format.
The last feature means that you can edit the videos using software like Windows Movie Maker if you do not have something like Adobe Premier Pro or Sony Vegas which can cope native HD footage. Granted that converting to MP2 loses some quality, however it is still very high quality and more than enough for uploading on the internet or sharing via email. You can edit within the Sony Picture Motion Browser software, however I find this fairly basic - it however would suffice for someone looking to piece clips together to create a simple home video DVD.
The camera is very well built, and everything feels like it will last. All the ports for the likes of power, memory card, HDMI connector etc are all covered up so no dust gets in there, and are very sturdy to open - I have used other video cameras where these covers are very flimsy, however on the Sony they do not feel like they could snap off at any moment!
The touch screen is very easy to use, and saves you fiddling about with pathetic buttons found on other video cameras of different makes. The battery lasts around 90-100 minutes with recording, and has an indicator (given in minutes) of battery life remaining. You can also record onto Memory Stick Pro Duo cards to give the flexibility of recording media.
Face Detection is a useful feature as it really does make a difference to the video quality - even the time when I filmed the full moon! There are more options to change things manually such as exposure and focus, to allow you to get the footage you want, while at the same time you can press the 'EASY' button to make everything really simple, for all the family to use.
I have owned three camcorders before this one-two of them mini dv format. I bought this one as my then current camcorder was giving poor picture quality. I have now owned this camcorder for three years, and feel I have given it a good workout.
It comes with a stand, component cable and charger as well as a USB cable to link to a computer. Sony software is essential to edit videos and make DVD presentations as the file format is a high definition format- I believe there are now easily available editors which support this, but Sony's software works well for me.
There is a touch screen but no standard viewfinder-personally I would prefer to have a viewfinder, particularly in bright light. The settings for the camera are all accessed via a sensible menu system accessed through the touchscreen. The lack of a high definition lead is a silly oversight in my opinion-I found one cheaply enough on E-Bay, but it really should have been included in the box. The whole point is to use the camcorder for high definition filming, and you should be able to do it immediately.
It is a neat, efficient machine which sits well in the hand and has easy access to recording controls. Zoom control and still shot buttons are conveniently placed and work as expected-recording is quick and easy. There is also a quick start button which allows you to partly shut the camcorder down, and to restart quickly. This covers the lens (very important in my opinion) and saves battery power. Having said that, start up time is very respectable ( my unscientific test has just timed it at five seconds from cold to being ready to film).
There are eight scene modes plus nightshot (very Blair Witch) which cover all sorts of options such as twilight, snow and fireworks. These seem to do the job happily, but if I' m honest I tend to stick to the auto setting. There are also various effects you can apply, though my advice would be to look at applying these afterwards using a good video editing program as they permanently change the footage if used in camera. I have found it excellent in use over the past three years-I have used it in preference to my digital still camera.
The key feature of course is the picture quality. I was stunned by this the first time I saw it, and am still really impressed every time I plug the camcorder in. The high resolution makes a massive difference, detail is crisp and sharp, and the colours are lively. It really is at its best in good light, as graininess shows up quite quickly in lower light-this is not a criticism, it is just the way things are. The lens is clearly a quality item ( it needs to be with high definition ) allowing good rendition of detail. I do love watching the films I take on this camera- they have a real depth to them.
Still performance is adequate. Some of the pictures can appear washed out, and it makes a difference if you are filming when you take a still as the resolution changes. For casual record shots while filming the camera side is perfectly adequate. For anything more take a still camera. I don't regard this as a fault as the requirements for sensors and lenses are different for still and moving pictures.
Connection to a computer (even an ageing clunky machine) is straightforward and the software is logical. There is a one touch facility which will set things in motion to produce a back up disc which is playable in a blue ray machine-I haven't tried this as I don't have a blue ray player. Editing and producing DVD discs is simple, though somewhat limited. It is wise to back up and clear the internal hard drive frequently, as it is easy to get caught out (and embarrassing). Storage space is good, but it's always wise to be aware.
Battery life is not stellar, but has always been adequate for my needs. I would not hesitate to recommend this machine
In typical Sony style, as soon as you open up the box, this camcorder looks great!
Small, sleek and stylish you instantly know that you won't be looking out of place with this beauty.
It's small size does take a little getting used to, and finding the best grip is very important so that you can reach the necessary buttons with your thumb and fore-finger.
Once the grip is sorted, everything you need is in easy reach - the on/off (and quick-on - kind of like a sleep mode) and the all important record button is at the tip of where your thumb rests.
The zoom is on top of the unit and is very easily accessed with the fore-finger, and so also is the button for taking photo's.
There aren't really many other important buttons, but they are mainly located on the side of the camera and are accessed by your left hand when the screen is flipped open (these buttons include night mode, burn to disc, as well as others).
On a side note, all the ports on the camera are well hidden behind nice little flaps and sliding covers - it's quite a nice little bonus every now and then when you discover another little hidden gem :)
Now then, onto the features.
The filming quality (as you would expect from a HD cam) is great, although admittedly it does suffer slightly in dim light. Outside in natural light is very good though!
It does also have a normal digital camera mode, with the ability to capture a photo whilst filming. This is a nice little feature, but you're best of sticking with a dedicated digital camera for still images.
As you would expect, there are a few different filming modes, but to be honest, the 'easy mode' is probably the best for the average user like me.
Recording footage is easy, hand-shake is eliminated well, and face recognition is a nice bonus - although i have found that it can't always recognise the same person with different facial expressions. For example, it recognised my wife and grouped the video clips with her in, but then a little later, it must have thought she was somebody else because it didn't put that particular clip in the group with the others - not a major flaw but something to improve on for next time.
Once you've filmed, you can browse.
This is done very easily via the touch-screen viewfinder. I was a little dubious of this at the start, but it works better that expected, menu's are easy to navigate, but more importantly it's easy to playback your recordings.
Speaking of playing back your recordings, hook this baby up to your tv and by heck it impresses.
The on-screen camera display appears on your TV screen and can be controlled via the normal touchscreen or alternatively with the included remote control.
Obviously the experience is better if you film in HD (you have the choice of SD or HD) and play back on a HD TV.
I was a little disappointed that you do not get a HDMI cable with the camera, but instead a component HD cable - this is fine until you realise that it's not a normal HDMI cable that you need, it's a mini HDMI connector on the camera, so that increases costs :(
Overall, i would recommend this camera, but it is worth shopping around - i got mine for ~£430 inc VAT, but just yesterday saw one for upwards of £550 inc. VAT - if you can get one for the lower end of that price range i would say it's a definite purchase!