Customer Review

109 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Camcorder In its Class, 28 May 2010
This review is from: Sony Handycam HDR-XR550VE High Definition HDD Camcorder - Black (12MP) (Electronics)
Have been trying to get a good low light capable camcorder for some time now, by low light i mean one that can shoot at good quality with your standard indoor lighting i.e. a bulb.

This is the best one i have tried and let me tell you i have tried many including the canon hfs21 and panasonic sd700 i even tried on 4/3 camera but it was nowhere near as good due to the focusing issues encountered on those lenses.

The camcorder is indeed very nice to hold and control having both the zoom button right at control with your thumb or if you prefer on screen zooming control. Just one note this camcorder comes in a smaller version Sony HDRCX550VEB High Definition Handycam Camcorder With Built-In 64GB Hard Disc Drive, although it is smaller i found it had the problem of my hands covering the microphones especially if you got big hands thus ruining your audio as you keep sliding your fingers on the microphone obviously until you get used to not putting your hand over it thus making the camcorder somewhat uncomfortable to hold.

The main features that made me go for this over the other camcorders in its class was:

1.extremely nice wide-angle lens which although it states is 26.3mm is in fact for picture mode but you still get a modest 29.8mm in video mode which is still far better than the competition.
2. 5.1 audio which is really nice if you watch your movies through your home cinema as it does give you the real effect of surround sound.
3.921000 pixel 3.5" wide lcd which amazingly crisp and wide.
4. Sony has the ultimate image stabilization system which gives really fine steady shots.
5. Last but not least its low light capability due to its back lit sensor which process a better quality.

It includes a whopping 240gb hard drive which will keep you going for a very long time, I have it on the most highest quality recording setting and it gives me about 23 hours of recording time.
Although the camera has a gps function i find that it is useless firstly when the camera is off it still uses battery to find position this can be bypassed by witching the gps off completely via a switch, secondly if like me you export your files to your computer this gps in nowhere to be found unless you buy another kit and software to use with your computer. So it's only use is to see where your movies were recorded is on the camera itself which is not really that good anyway.

Another great feature of sony camcorders is its night shot mode which gives you that green mode in total darkness which sometimes is useful.

The actual recording quality in terms of colour is in between canon and panasonic where canon is more toward saturated/red and pansonic is unsaturated/blue this just fits in between. I have recorded outside in a sunny day and the quality is just unbelievable you feel as if you are there after playing it on plasma, I have recorded at night outdoors and again the image quality is excellent as is it low light capacity handling which is really good for this size of camcorder although not as good dslr or professional camcorders> There is also a option which you access via the menu which activates a low lux mode which gives better light optimization but increases sound/grain.

Recording indoors is with a single 100 watt light in a medium sized room is also quite good and you will be pleased with the quality.

Although this camera advertises as full hd 1920x1080 it records in 1920x1080i and outputs to your tv 1920x1080p so if you were to transfer the files to your computer and playback it will be output 1920x1080i which means interlaced as a opposed to progressive, google will help you out there.

Transferring files to my mac is a breeze although you need to find the streams of movies in a certain number of folder clicks but once you've managed that which is fairly easy you can just drag and drop to your desktop the files only playback on vlc (the best Video application which is free to download) just a note that you need a somewhat fast computer for playback of these files.

The reason I have not gone into detail about the photo details of the camera is that you're not going to get the same quality as a dedicated camera but just by taking a few pictures with the built in flash the quality was not up to any good standard.

For those of you that are interested in manual control the camera does have some manual features to offer including mic input, headphone output, Audio level control, shutter/exposure control and much more plus a mini scroll wheel to the side of the lens to control settings but not as comprehensive as the canon hfs21.

A really good and compact case to compliment the camera will be this Sony LCS BBDB - Soft case camcorder - black Which keeps the camera snugly in place and safe from bumps and scratches, but this is just for the camera and no accessories.

I know this post is quiet long but I felt I needed to answer these question as this was the questions I needed answering before buying the camera and was quiet hard to come to conclusion to buy this camera.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jun 2010 02:44:42 BDT
H. Kafa says:
Thank you very much for the detailed review, that was just what I needed to make my decision. I wonder whether those files you were referring to are AVCHD formatted? cause I heard that the only way to deal with those is to import them into iMovie and convert them into MPEG. Also, have you tried to transfer these files directly to an external hard drive (without using a computer) as I know this is a feature of this camcorder? Thank you again!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2010 08:15:47 BDT
M&M says:
Hi, the files are in fact in AVCHD (.mts) format which will play via the free media player VLC, which comes in both Mac and Windows version.
I have not so far transferred the files directly to a external hard drive but when you connect the usb to your computer you have a few options which come up on the screen to choose from one being the feature you are asking for, I presume you will get the same option when connected directly to a external hard drive thus doing this particular action.

Hope this helps.

Posted on 30 Jun 2011 23:24:10 BDT
D. J. Amey says:
HI would "Pinnical Studio HD 14 ultimate" accept the Sony HDR-XR550V or can you advise a Pinnicale version that would, thanks DEREK

Posted on 17 Dec 2011 19:10:00 GMT
Mr D.K Lind says:
Great review! Thanks. I bought this camera last week and so far I'm very pleased with it.
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