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Representing my first foray into video camera territory, I read many reviews and hints before taking the plunge and buying this camcorder. Must haves based on my intended use; image stabilisation, face recognition, sharp image indoors, and most of all total portability. I wanted to be able to take a still while shooting video, and some future padding with HD. Finally looks. The casing is sexy and feels reassuringly weighty yet small and easy to handle.
Supplied with almost all of the expected cords; USB 2.0 for computer transfer and AV & component AV cables for TV connection. No HDMI cord and the output on the camera won't fit existing cords thus forcing you to buy one from Sony - poor form. Additionally, there is a Handycam docking station (which has proven handy for static filming indoors) and finally the software (including a little video with tips on improving your videos). The 4GB memorystick pro duo has enough for just over an hour of filming on default setting.
The supplied movie editing software works with my laptop (Vista). First impressions weren't great sparse layout not helped by its slow response times and (sorry Mac users - is not supported - though you have a website for details). The major issue is the warning that playing HD footage in the AVCHD format on your computer which, even though it may meet the system requirements may 'drop frames and lose sound intermittently' proved frustratingly true! I have managed to easily view through the TV, but - this drains the battery very quickly leaving little time for recording.
The notes supplied advise that this is not affected on imported images which has not been the case so far (3 days of ownership). Cannot comment on disc creation - Blue Ray and I've no burner! A point to note before purchasing... Sadly, moviemaker (Vista) does not recognise the AVCHD files, so until I improve tech skills - I'm stuck with it!
However, the touchscreen is fantastic and the menu options simple to use (though my previous experience with my Sony digital point and shoot & mobile phone may help with my familiarity). I am however conscious of the build up of fingerprints on the viewfinder. This may be a sticking point (sorry) for some users.
The down side of great portability - the battery life is not as long as I would have hoped; I have had on average around 60 - 70 minutes of "play time" which for me (learning the ropes) involves much on and off recording, revising of footage through the TV. I recommend a spare battery (or two) if you are planning a big day!
Indoors and outdoors it gives a picture which looks great played back on HD TV. It seems to take a little while to focus (when moving through rooms for example) than thought - not having a camcorder before, I could be unrealistic.
For those seeking extra control, it allows for some simple setting changes; white balance (basic - indoor, outdoor, auto), display options, recording options SD or HD. Full details of these can be found on sales websites. The only lacking item given my current level of expertise is an external microphone jack.
It is however, not a highly technical model which suits me. I wanted an easy to use, good quality camcorder I can take out and about and this delivers perfectly! Additionally there is a Quick on option to ensure catching those unexpected once in a lifetime moments. Up and recording in (Almost) 1 sec! For the technically inept there is an actual easy button - press it and most of the settings are on auto and you're ready to point, shoot and play back hassle free!
Overall, I love the handycam and envision holidays, dance performances, future house & horse purchases (& future kids) events being fully covered!
Purchased after my old JVC camera gave up the will to live during our honeymoon. We were gutted, but made do with plenty of photos instead! By using the upright layout, Sony have made this camera small and light enough to slip into a trouser pocket. Truly portable. Picture quality is wonderful, with a variety of recording modes available to either capture highest quality or maximise the recording time available. Face detection chooses focus well, even indoors.
Video is captured to Memory Stick, which although proprietory is also reasonably enough priced. Transfer to my Apple Mac Pro iMovie application is smooth and fast enough, although it's a shame Firewire 800 wasn't available as an option. Main downside for me is the battery life. It can last for an hour, but with a lot of stop / start this can decrease more quickly. A recommendation would be an extra memory stick and battery, which don't take much extra room in your other pocket.