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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, high-spec, top-performing camcorder with an outstanding lens, 12 Aug 2013
By 
K. L. Wren "K L Wren" (Herefordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
I've used many camcorders and cameras over the last 20 years and always found Sony to have the edge over all the other brands I've used. Today, looking for a new dedicated camcorder to replace my still cameras, I decided on another Sony. Initially I came close to ordering the GW55VE model - then spotted this gem, the later Sony GW66VE model which can film in MP4 format meaning file sizes are more manageable, don't clog up my computer hard drive and use less computer memory for editing. I am pleased to say that, having tried and tested it for the last 3 months in a wide variety of filming conditions, I made the right choice.

It's a small, compact camera, no larger than most of my still cameras, but it offers a lot. Start-up is fast, the menus intuitive (I still haven't needed to read any of the printed manual supplied) and the touch-screen is highly responsive. The best feature is the lens which is a superb quality producing crisp, bright, clear shots with none of the common faults found on cheaper lenses such as purple fringing in high-contrast areas, distortion, pixelation.... Focusing is fast with touch-focus to select the subject and the Auto-i mode always provides perfect focus, colour and white balance every time whether filming is indoor, outdoor and whatever the weather conditions. Although there are a multitude of scene modes and some manual settings, the Auto-i mode is so good that I've seldom strayed from this - and I speak as a photographer/videographer who almost always seeks to over-ride automatic settings! Sony has produced a winner with this and I doubt many users will ever feed any need to switch off the Auto setting. This also makes it the perfect camcorder choice for a complete beginner who doesn't want to know about the technicalities of exposure, focus, depth of field etc. The camcorder does it all for you - and does it very well indeed.

Despite its otherwise perfection (no exaggeration there!), I have a few minor niggles. First of all, the best feature of this camcorder is its outstanding lens yet there isn't so much as a rubber cap to protect it from scratches. Nor is the lens even inset slightly as on many other cameras. Instead, it remains highly vulnerable. Also, the body doesn't feel as rugged or anywhere near as tough as other shockproof cameras, such as Panasonic's enviable FT range. Although it's supposed to withstand a drop, I really would not want to chance it. In terms of usability, I find the start/stop recording button a little stiff and directly beneath it, the `photo' button is very much stiffer, requires quite a firm press and even then there is no guarantee that it has captured the shot. Hence it is slow to take still photos via this method. Luckily, the controls are also on the touchscreen so if you have two hands available then this will enable very smooth shooting of both still shots and video along with smooth zooming.

Pros
- Outstanding quality lens
- Perfect exposure. colour and white balance
- Crisp still photos
- Auto-i mode produces crisp clear shots every time (no need to change settings between shots)
- No shake when using active steady shot
- Almost instant start-up
- Near-instant focusing
- Waterproof (fully-tested)
- Very little 'searching' on video
- Quality Dolby sound
- Completely reliable and trustworthy for filming unrepeatable events
- 10x optical zoom (on video only) can be increased to 17x if steady shot is disabled (tripod will be necessary)
- GPS using real `proper' maps (with roads, rivers, sea etc shown)
- Very good low-light filming (but no video light) and still shots
- Excellent battery life
- Cheap non-Sony branded batteries available
- MP4 video for smaller, manageable file sizes

Cons
- Plastic body - not a ruggedised camera
- Have to remove from tripod to change battery or memory card
- No video light for filming
- No lens cap - big flaw (I hope you read this, Sony...)
- Photo button is a little stiff so my move camera slightly while taking a pic, especially while filming
- Mic picks up some wind noise even with wind reduction filter active
- Takes time to switch between modes, ie video - photo - sweep panorama...
- Although still camera is first-rate it is slower to use and has fewer features than a dedicated camera
- Camera-photo mode lacks some usual camera features eg burst mode and has no manual controls (shutter, aperture etc) other than a manual focus over-ride

Although there is a crossover between cameras and camcorders today with many being able to perform both roles admirably, they are biased towards being either a camera or a camcorder. The Sony GW66VE is a definite camcorder which can also take photos and probably won't replace a conventional still camera for keen amateur photographers. Other similar cameras, such as the Panasonic FT range, are cameras which can take video. Neither is perfect at both roles.

I was torn between this Sony GW66VE and the new Panasonic FT5 (I already have the FT3) but having used both I can confidently say that if you are looking for a still-camera to take occasional videos then buy the Panasonic FT3 or FT5 (which also records in MP4) but if you're looking for a brilliant, high-spec, top-performing camcorder with an outstanding lens and still-photos are a lower priority, then the choice has to be this wonderful, highly-recommended Sony GW66VE.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb compact quick intuitive 50fps Action Cam with great lens, 22 July 2013
By 
Ibraar 'Le Saracen' "le_saracen" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
***FOR the benefit of those not wanting to read a detailed review and just want the bottom line on whether to go for this, then IF you're on the look out for a high quality action camera and the marketing for this attracts you, and maybe you're wavering because of the price or unsure as to whether it'll be able to do as described, take it from me, this is as good if not better than Sony describe it to be and worth every penny***

I've been using this camera for a few days to muck about with and I must say it is brilliant.
This is a IN PROGRESS REVIEW so i will keep on adding to it as I discover new features and try different things.

So far I have used it to video family and birds on the bird table in the garden.

It's small, fits into the hand nicely. the controls are ergonomically placed - to be activated with the thumb - same for on/off and zoom along with photo.
the front elements are reinforced and do not have a cover, I presume the crystal/plexi glass housing is scratch and shatter proof - so far the lens housing is crystal clear and contains a G lens, which I presume to be a rebranded Konica Minolta lens which is of very high quality.
I would've liked a lens cover though, I'm very cautious about leaving lenses exposed.

The Camera is turned on and off by simply lifting the flip down LCD display - that's it! turn on time is very rapid for this kind of device, < 2 seconds - and pressing Record results in rapid recording - this is very important, as it means you wont miss a shot or the moment.

The Camera takes Micro SD Card and one of Sony's own Micro cards - I used a Class 10 as for HD Video it has quick write speeds - along with the battery, these are to be found inserted into the body and accessed via a reinforced Flap.

The build quality is pretty solid, the camera has a nice weight to it - but the body is made of Plastic, no rubberised armour here at all, nor even a magnesium/rubberised feeling shell, just hard plastic which doesn't feel premium. :(
The body has a tripod mount and a flip out 'stand' along with a lanyard loop.

All in all, looks good, feels very ergonomic, small, compact, quality buttons and superb Lens and quick to start up and shoot - (the times are for HD 1080 AVCHD recording - so very impressive!!) let down by plastic feeling body.

IN USE

Quick to start up, as mentioned.
Screen is a Touch screen - very responsive, so much more than earlier touch screen handycams and camcorders - and the O/S is very QUICK - don't expect iPhone quickness and multitouch, it's a Handycam/Camcorder after all - but for what it is, it is quick and responsive compared to other touch screen camcorders. You have access to previews, modes, set up, along with MAPS!! Yes, a full blown GPS system geotagged with a MAP which is accessed via the intuitive and easy to navigate quick Menu system!!

There are some manual controls, which lead to enjoyable creative filming. The touch screen Menu enabled me to set it to manual spot metering - the options include manual touch focus, metering or combined metering/focus - in daylight the metering itself is preferred, in very lower light the focus can hunt a bit so I prefer a combined mode setting.

We have shooting modes, scene modes, White Balance, Mic settings, edit functions - there is a LOT to play around with and tweak, and settings, so far I have noticed, are SAVED - though I would have wished for more on body controls such as mode buttons (for saved settings) and an actual on/off switch and even a View Finder.
Also we have Standard Def and High Def modes, along with a Digital camera still mode - all work well and everything is pretty intuitive and responsive including deleting read and write times (with the class 10 card)
And unlike with other cheapskate firms, Sony have provided a full blown User Manual booklet in the box! Yay!

Anyway, most users want Auto, and this is very good at it - there are other modes and settings such as i or intelligent settings which I haven't played with, and most of the tweaks/settings including editing I haven't played with, as I have a standard approach to all photographic equipment and I stick to such settings.

Anyway, so it's well made, compact, ergonomic, quick to start up and shoot, a great wide angle to 12x zoom lens which smoothly works with the thumb control - a high resolution LCD screen, intuitive quick responsive touch screen.

How are the results?

The Telephoto and Wide Angle zoom toggle is superb, responsive and very smooth.
Zooming is a pelasure, very powerful, razor sharp lens, can view photograph birds at the bird table and it has Anti-Shake (Sony/Minolta Super Steady Shot) so the lens is stabilised with no annoying sounds.
The Colours are vibrant and clear, white balance is accurate, results are at 50 fps smooth and sharp!!! wow! It even has a slow mo mode, but using iMovie or Final Cut Express I can tweak and edit at my leisure.

It doesn't shoot at 24/25 fps which is a great let down for anyone wanting to make short films and such, but the camera is for Outdoors, action hence the 50 fps ability which is SUPERB for action - it is something not found on smartphones.

It is superb in low light, mind blowing in fact - at night the white balance works wonderfully to correctly shade the scene and everything is so sharp and clear! Blown away!

The Video quality is far superior to the footage from my iPhone 5.

Easily connects with FCX or iMovie on my Macintosh - no idea how it's like on a PC but I'd imagine it works fine.
AVCHD means high quality - though for most users SD would be more than enough .

I have not as yet tried dropping it or drowning it in water, but I have seen video's of people doing this and it seems to do what it says it can do.
There are other accessories available for it, such as Lens add ons and such but haven't used them.

TO SUM UP
So all in all, if you're looking for a waterproof, shock proof, action cam, which shoots at 50 fps, has AVCHD HD, doubles as a Digi Still Cam, is very quick smooth and intuitive to use, some Manual controls, has a great lens and is a joy to use with Excellent results (and Dolby Sound) - get this.

I never mentioned Battery Life..
Well it is excellent. On one charge I still have full bar of charge and have been using it for 5 days!!
Smart phone battery shooting video expires in no time, this just keeps on going!

Make sure you have a good read of the user manual and play with and get used to operation before venturing out - unlike myself who ventured out, learnt how to use various options by trial and error and then read the manual.
I was lucky the interface is fairly intuitive and easy to understand.

NEGATIVES
No 24/25p Cine shooting.
No Standard sized SD card slot (I had to buy a new Micro one and couldn't use my existing SD Card)
Plastic body - though build quality and swithcgear are good quality.
No On/Off switch
No on body function/mode switches
No lens cover
Focus hunts in low light/night time
no hand grip/loop to put hand in securely (seeing as this is an action camera such a thing - even a detachable one - would be great to see)
And finally, no headphone socket or even a Mic socket - so cannot use headphones when recording or playing back nor input using a Mic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously good, 28 Dec 2013
By 
G. Maunder - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
OK - first things first. I'm a professional television cameraman and work with REAL high end cameras and lenses that cost A LOT of money.
This offering is just RIDICULOUS!!! The picture is amazing and it's easy enough for anyone to use - just open the flip-out screen and press the record button.
Haven't taken it underwater yet but pictures from this have already been transmitted on ITV and BBC!! Just don't let them know ;)
Would love to have a sound input (probably difficult because of the waterproofing) but that is my only gripe and for 99% of uses the built-in mic will be fine.
Buy one - you won't be disappointed!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very very high quality footage - and it can be taken almost anywhere!, 14 Sep 2013
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 3:50 Mins

The Sony HDR-GW66VE Handycam is a compact HD camcorder that's designed to fit snuggly into the palm of the user's hand as well as being able to capture incredibly high-quality footage in what would usually constitute as difficult-to-film-in settings.

Basically, this handy little camcorder can film in places that you usually wouldn't expect a camcorder to be able to. Underwater (up to 10 metres), in particularly sandy or dusty environments, down to temperatures of -10C, in reasonably low light, with the glaring sun hanging over your head...it really can cope with a hell of a lot.

Okay, so first things first - how user-friendly is it? Well, when held in your hand (NOTE: the handycam is not ideal for left-handed folk) the handycam feels comfortable in your grip, with not too much weight to it for it to become uncomfortable if in constant use. The zoom, record start/stop and `Photo' buttons are all in a handy thumbs reach, making it incredibly easy to use from the word go.

Upon flipping open the viewing touchscreen, the camcorder turns itself on (and off when closed) ready to start filming in a little less than 2 seconds. The auto focus in normal light is fast and fluid - with crisp and sharp results almost immediately. Even with fast movement, the camcorder manages to keep an excellent focus on the subject. Similarly, whilst in motion the camcorder compensates and adjusts to any bumps and unwanted movements.

I'm certainly no expert on camcorders and/or cameras - however, both my wife and I were incredibly impressed with the sheer close-to-life quality of the footage that the camcorder produced. Even if you're an absolute novice with equipment like this (ahem...like me!), you'll still be able to capture amazing footage just by pointing the camcorder in the direction of whatever it is that you're filming and clicking the 'record' button. Absolute simplicity itself.

So far we've taken the camcorder out to the beach on a good number of occasions (we live by the sea), out in the rain filming the kids jumping around in puddles, taken footage indoors with dimmed lights and outdoors in the evening, and generally just had a bit of fun with it whenever and wherever we could. We're yet to try the camcorder out in any particularly cold temperatures (such as when it's snowing). However, come winter time I'm hoping to try the camcorder out in some good old fashioned British snow.

However, what I have noticed is that on blistering hot days, when the sun is really beating down on you, it can be quite hard to see what you're filming in the viewfinder. The glare from the sun, no matter how much you twist the viewfinder away from its direct light, is still just too much to make filming all that easy.

Similarly, underwater (in the sea), don't expect to be able to make out how the footage is coming out all that well whilst filming. We've found that it was more a case of point-and-hope-for-the-best when filming underwater in the sea. And you really do need to have good clean and clear water to achieve any really good footage.

Back on dry land and the rest of the features and functions all do the business with ease and maintaining that smooth and effortless quality to the footage. The zoom is quick and maintains a sharp focus. There's editing software on the actual camcorder along with a variety of other such `on-screen' functions to play around with. Then you've got your GPS and all that jazz, which to be honest, is something that I'll just have to get to grips with over time.

For me this is a camcorder that does the job that it's designed to do, with no fuss or bother, just keeps things as simple, with incredibly high quality results. If you've got the time, inclination and desire to explore the camcorder more, then there's enough features and functions to keep you busy for hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNDERWATER CAMCORDER, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
PICTURE QUALITY UNDER WATER IS AMAZING. THE ONLY REASON I DIDNT GIVE IT 5 STARS IS BECAUSE THE BUTTON TENT TO BE RATHER STIFF. BUT APART FROM THAT A GREAT LITTLE CAMCORDER
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony camcorder :), 25 Dec 2013
This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Hi.

I agree with all the above reviews ... the piece is FANTASTIC .... and I also wanted to add something regarding lens cover ... At first I thought that you've got a good point, but then on the other hand lets not forget that this is Sony we talking about ... They're not a bunch of cowboys ... if they did not installed the lens cover the only reason I can think of is that it possibly does not need one (the lens might be unscratchable or something) ... I am sure they did not just missed that and somebody thought about it ... I am sure if they've had a chance to explain, we would have not worried about it.

If you thinking about buying one of those .... think no more :) the product is worth avery penny ... I used a Polaroid undewater camcorder previously during snorkeling in Maldives and I don't mean any disrespect to Polaroid as I was only using a quite cheap one (I'm sure the more expensive ones from Polaroid are a lot better) but the video quality is UNCOMPAREABLE .... I don't think any brand can even come close to Sony if its about the colours and that applies to everything (laptops, TV's, etc.) .... If you looking for a good colour quality, this is the product.
Sony ... you did it again :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome quality and cool underwater capabilities, 5 Oct 2013
This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Footage under water looks great. The camera is easy to use and the camera even takes amazing photos while filming in video mode using smile recognition technology. We got some pretty incredible looking photos! Great camera for active individuals and families with young children.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder, 16 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
I just wanted to add a couple of points regarding this product. I think this product is excellent and agree with the 3 previous reviews. However, I have been able to test this product extensively underwater and I can report that it is absolutely fantastic. I purchased this product just before we went on our family holiday to Spain in July. I filmed underwater in the pool and got some fantastic footage of my kids swimming underwater, pulling silly faces and blowing bubbles - really great fun and the quality of the recording was unbelievable. The stand also works really well, we put the camera on the side of the pool and recorded the kids racing each other across the pool and again it recorded perfectly with excellent auto focus. The software that it comes with is also good as it allows you to take photo shots of any part of the video footage that you've taken, which is a great feature that allowed us to select some excellent photos that we have been able to have printed. So, if you are looking for a fantastic underwater camcorder, this is the one. Finally, if you are worried about taking this product under water, DON'T BE, because it works fantastically and mine didn't let a drop of water in - thankfully!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great video camera, so so stills camera, 12 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Bought for Christmas holidays in Petrh, Australia with young family.
Wanted something easy to use that we wouldn't worry about getting wet, caked in sand or bashed around by the kids and it did everything we hoped for - well almost.
The video is excellent, very easy to use and the colours in the Perth sun are fantastic - both above and below the water. The LCD screen is great in the shade but in the bright sun almost impossible to see and likewise under water it is almost unusable unless you can get a good bit of shade.
Photos were a little disappointing, often out of focus and not very sharp.This may be due to me not using the right settings and having problems with getting an accurate focus point due the bright light on the LCD.
Generally exceptionally happy with the buy and would recommend it to anyone but wish I hadn't depended on it solely for both photos and videos. This is not a replacement stills camera.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant camcorder, 8 Aug 2013
By 
J. Leckie "jayne2904" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony GW66VE Waterproof Full HD Camcorder - Black (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using this camera for the past couple of weeks mainly to film my toddler and I think it is marvellous.

It is a good size, light and very easy to use. I had no trouble getting it setup whatsoever. The buttons on the camera are well placed and easy to handle when the camera is in use.

I have used this camera around water - well a splashing toddler in the paddling pool and no damage seems to have been made.

I am also very impressed with how quickly it works. You just switch it on and within seconds it is ready to use - great for catching spur of the moment activities - great for 'You've been framed'!!

I cannot find any faults with this camera and would recommend to anyone. I fully anticipate using this for many years to come. A great item.
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