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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 24 November 2010
I bought this for the car - after a couple of years of using a pair of Oregon Scientific's ActionCams - it was time to change.

The full resolution recording at 1920x1080 works as advertised with no dropped frames 4Gb Class 6 SDHC and 64Gb SDXC Class 16, the Class 2 SDHC cards from the ActionCams were useless, the video was breaking up all the time, eventually the camera just gave up.

The optics are very good at this price point and there is precious little aberration on macro closeups and wide angle distance shots.

The touch screen interface works remarkably well considering the size of the screen, zoom being a controlled by a rocker on the top of the camera or by two on-screen buttons.

I can't understand the guy with the 60" LG telly who couldn't tell the difference between the analogue and HDMI - its like having cataracts removed!

I chose the Sony over the equivalent Panasonic due the Sony's increased CCD sensitivity and lower noise. In addition the Sony works down to almost darkness without any additional lighting unlike the Panny - not a lot of point having a crappy little LED shining onto the road ahead (or behind).

The manual has a few Chinglish bits in it, probably left for a laugh, nothing serious, but you do feel that the person writing some parts hasn't read others. e.g. if you close the LCD the camera stops recording, for in-car use that would be a no-no, however, the manual later says you can disable the auto on/off setting when you open/close the LCD... But it is concise enough to read it completely without your heart sinking at a huge thick wadge of multi-lingual crud that other manufacturers make you wade through.

The image stabilisation is electronic, not optical, it works relatively well, but for the sharpest shots, turn it off. The auto white balance is a bit hit and miss, but there is a manual override if the colours look crazy. At full data rate the camera uses about 10.9Gb/hr - so get the minimum of a 16Gb card to get any decent time filming.

My main gripes are that the power on/off is under the LCD flap; the tripod mount is too close to the memory card slot; and the strap isn't removable.

The manual shutter over the lens is a bit of a pain, but I'm sure I'll get used to it - why the camera couldn't come on when the shutter was opened ?

The camera was delivered two days ahead of schedule, so I've had two days of use out of it so far, battery life was 2 hours, after charging I got 2 1/2 hours, now I'm getting around 3 hours. Plenty enough for the standard battery.
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on 28 November 2010
This is one of the best HD camcorders i have used recently. Have had it for a few months and thought it would be a good time to review this product after a few months of use.

I have used this camcorder in all sorts of light condition including of course Low-Light and it produces some brilliant images. The ease of use is amazing...you don't have to bother changing any settings in the auto mode, just point and shoot. I love the Image stabiliser on this camcorder combined with the powerful zoom it has, you can get some really steady shots without a tripod. The icing on the cake is the fact that you can use either pro-duo or SDHC card which makes it great as you can pick up SDHC cards for a bargain.

Sometimes i still cant believe how small this camcorder is! I have been carrying it in my pocket (though not recommended)while on my holidays. Surprisingly the battery life seems to be better than any other too, I bought an extra battery for my travels but never used it! I got an average of 3 Hours of use on a single charge on full HD Auto Setting.

The only criticism i have is that the menu on the touch screen is too complicated. The menu is too deep and needs to be simplified.

All in all its an absolute must for a home camcorder. The best one out there by far.

UPDATE: This little camcorder is also brilliant in low light!. I don't think there is any need for a measly led light to brighten anything in the dark! you can check out the video clip shot on this camcorder on youtube by searching for MacFreakish! It's a MUST SEE!
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on 8 January 2011
I purchased the Sony CX115E video Camera to replace 3 year old Sony Mini DV Tape Camera. Before I purchased I read most of the reviews and was considering the Panasonic SD60 but decided on the Sony as some of the reviews for the Panasonic suggested that there may be an issue with the sound. Several reviewers reported that they had wind noise. This along with the Sony being cheaper, I decided to go with the Sony.
Once I received the Sony and started to play with it I was not happy. The play back was very slightly grainy on my 46 inch TV when viewing close up. The White balance was very bad. I was ready to send the camera back but decided not to and to give it a chance by fully reading the manual and testing. I am so glad I did. The picture is perfect both indoors and outside. I tested it indoors with room lights on and off. I can say it performs very well. I did a comparison with my old camera and it blows it away. Both in terms of depth of colour, clarity and sharpness. I found that the reason I had bad videoing was that I had played around with the settings "SPOT MTR/FCS" and put the White balance and another setting onto manual. I also had a low setting on the "Rec Mode".
I tested most of the settings and found that these work for me:
1. Intelligent Auto on. This controls several features including White Balance
2. Seadyshot = Active. This is the Cameras Image Stabilisation. It works from the Image Sensor not the Lens. This may seem a cop out but I found it works well and for a budget HD camera having a lens stabiliser would mean a slower Lens. I found when I turned this off the shots both indoors and outside was a lot more wobbly, also they were not any better in clarity or sharpness
3. Record mode = "HD FX". This is the best setting and records at 24M. It creates a large file but I found the image quality is very good.
Things I like about the camera is that it is light, easy to use, the zoom works very smoothly, Image Stabilisation works well, it has a Custom menu which is easy to setup and puts all the things you may need to use often on a single screen.
Overall this is a very good camera for the price and I would recommend it. Believe me you will not be disappointed.
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on 17 July 2010
The Sony HDR-CX115L is a good looking compact device, it fits snuggly into the palm of your hand and is very light. Operation is really quite simple, with most features being accessed from the crystal clear LCD screen, however there is the usual record and zoom buttons on the camera body. Picture quality is very good in normal light conditions, but grain appears in low light, as would be expected with the basic and inexpensive camera. The battery life is not that impressive and I did order a bigger battery (the standard gets you around two hours of filming time), which has made the camera much much more usable when out and about. Depending on the camera mode, stills can be taken at approx 3 Mega Pixels (much less than my standard compact digital camera), but I rarely use this function and so can not say much. Playback through an HDTV is very good and the sound quality is what you would expect for the price level. The x.v.color system (can be set in the camera) allows more color detail to be collected and displayed by supporting devices, and this DOES make a big difference. Sadly not all manufactures support this color space. There is no onboard memory, which I did not find a big problem, I use a 32GB 30Mbits/s card and my video is fine (approx 2 hours at full 1080i HD). There are two real niggles I have, firstly, the record button located on the camera body is awkward to press whilst holding the camera (however you can use a soft key on the LCD screen if setup that way). Secondly, the only focus options are accessed from the LCD which is not ideal.
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on 31 August 2010
Does everything I'd want it to. Easy to use. Picture and sound quality great. Quick delivery from Amazon. LCD screen very good, though I suspect it may be hard to see well in bright sunlight. Provided software pretty good for basic stuff too - successfully created an AVCHD DVD in no time at all so we could watch High Definition footage via our Blu-ray player.

Would've been good if it had been advertised alongside a class 4 SCHD card rather than the class 2 one that appeared (I had to cancel that order once I realised).
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Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First thing I noticed about this camcorder was its size. It's very small, and fits in the hand comfortably with well placed controls that are easy to operate. A strap holds your hand in. The second thing I noticed was that Sony have at last made their products compatible with other memory formats. The camera takes SD cards alongside Memory Stick Duo, which is a huge plus for people like me who have a huge collection of SD cards for other devices! This means not having to buy Sony Memory Sticks.

This model has no internal memory or hard drive, but doesn't come with any memory of its own. So you'll need to get some. It also doesn't come with a HDMI cable. You get analogue cables instead. If you need to get a HDMI cable to dconnect direcly to a digital TV, make sure you get one with a "C" connector for the camera.

The camera records in AVCHD format, and you can select different resolutions and quality levels from the settings. The settings menu itself is pretty extensive, with plenty of manual options you can override. You can arrange your favourite options in a shortcut menu, which is good, as I found navigating the menu a bit fiddly. The camera automatically powers down when you close the screen and powers up when you open it. As with most cameras, you can swing the viewfinder to virtually any position.

One feature I've never had before in a camcorder is automatic face detection, and I was surprised how well this worked, even with filming children running around.

The recording format is AVCHD (Mpeg 4 based), which I suspect is why the camera offers a direct burn feature - you can copy video files straight to DVD by using a button on the camera. The supplied software is sony's picture motion browser suite, which I find fairly useful as it arranges all your videos and photographs in a calendar that makes it easy to access and browse your material. It also performs face detection and allows to view based on faces. I rarely use the software that comes with consumer devices, but this is quite different.

Picture quality is impressive in strong light, with sharp images and bright colours. In low light it's a bit grainy and dull looking, but still acceptible. Despite the 3 megapixel "still camera" built in, still photographs are very poor and there's no light on the camera to help illuminate the scene.

Pros:

Small, fits nicely in the hand and quick start up times.
Takes SD cards (Get a fast one)
Long zoom.
Good image quality.

Cons:

Still facility is very poor.
No built in memory at all, and none provided.
No HDMI cable provided.
Touch screen icons are a bit small and fiddly sometimes.
No extra illumination for low light scenarios.

Overall, the cons are all fairly inconsequential - memory is is cheap, and I rarely use camcorders for still photographs. Recommended.
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on 12 September 2010
I have been doing a fair bit of reseach on camcorders over the past few months,and was going to buy a sanyo pistol grip type camcorder,however after looking at the pro's and con's I went for the sony HDRCX-115EB. First off, is how small the camcorder is,it's tiny! compared to my old sony DCR-40.If you have done your homework you won't be disappointed. Everything, is as described on the specification, good battery life, great HD video capture and now sony camcorders take SD cards. If you want a great camcorder that's not to expensive, then the sony HDRCX-115 is for you.
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on 19 September 2010
Very impressed with quality and detail of videos when replayed on my TV (don't have HD enabled picture at moment). Colour, sharpness and detail are better than I expected. On computer the colours are not so rich which is no doubt due to monitor not camcorder. So small it's very easy to carry around. 25x zoom is very good. Bought primarily to take videos of birds and scenery when out walking. The only problem is seeing what you want to see on LCD screen because of daylight particularly sunlight. This is not a problem with landscape videos but when trying to pick up birds against sky more difficult. However this is going to be a problem with any camcorder. Still think it's a great bit of kit and would thoroughly recommend. Lucky to get £50 cashback and three year warranty offer which made fantastic value for money.
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Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I first received the camera I was delighted, and immediately set to shooting all sorts of stuff. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens is superb with a very smooth zoom, and the `standard' setting for the digital Steadyshot is almost as good as an Optical Steady. And having at least a couple of hours recording time from a fully charged battery without having to change media was fantastic.

But, having been spoilt by decades of using professional cameras, and even owning some semi-pro Hi-8 and DV-Cam I soon ran into its limitations. And while the functions I wanted to use were there, they were buried in the menus and only accessible via the LCD screen I must use as the sole viewfinder.

Initial impressions:
. Low light performance is quite good, better than several more expensive cameras I have used in the past.
. Highlight handling is acceptable, with no streaking or obvious impact on picture quality, but clouds tend to wash out.
. Normal exposure range is good, as is the spot exposure.
. Colour correction for ambient light is surprisingly good, it even copes with fluorescent light, but see more below.
. Auto focus and spot focus both work well.
. HDMI output via an HDMI-C to HDMI-A lead works nicely into a suitable monitor.
. Sound is poor. See more below
. Ergonomics are abysmal. See more below.

One should remember that the HDR-CX115 is a basic single-chip (1/4") HD Camcorder, or a very, very good SD Camcorder. If you search hard enough through the extensive menus system on the touch screen you can find how to record good pictures in reasonable HD quality, but this requires turning off a lot of the usual `features,' each of which reduced the absolute quality.

It is not as good as a 3-chip camera, and it does not have a native 1080p sensor, in fact it is much closer to a 720p sensor with clever up-scaling to make the 1080i and 1080p, and excellent filtering to make the 576i standard definition. But it is also tiny, very small and with an amazingly good lens. You cannot expect to get professional results from something this small, but it is very good considering its major limitations.

Three prime manual functions I normally expect to find each on their own dedicated external button are:
. spot White Balance (the auto drifts slowly all the time depending on what is in the picture, it is never right, aarrgghhh!!)
. spot Focus (I need to hold focus only on my subject)
. spot Exposure (I need to expose only for my subject)
The control functions are all available, but only if one dives deep into the menus and then touches the screen in the relevant place - finger and menu obscuring the subject you are trying to follow. However, once selected they do work very well
. touch White Balance on any spot in the picture
. touch Focus on a specific item in the picture
. touch Exposure on a specific item, eg a face in a bright or dark background.
But then you need to go back out of the menus to see what you are doing. Uhhh, sorry, it is just too slow to operate for best pictures after having become used to doing it properly with professional and semi-pro cameras. Another annoyance is that if you do not use the camera for 12 hours all the useful settings you put into it revert to the Sony defaults, ie Auto!

The other big lacks are:
. No Eye-piece Viewfinder (especially for out-door work in sunshine) and so I don't need to change the focus of my eyes to see what the camera is seeing. Normally if handheld I have one eye on the viewfinder and one on the subject, same point of eye focus, and I match the two pictures or blink one eye.
. No Microphone Socket. Normally I would also expect to be able to plug in my own microphones, or a radio mic, or even a mini-mixer, to be more selective of sources, and to improve the sound quality, as well as to simply eliminate handling noise and the intrusive zoom motor noise. As it is, the stereo sound from the two microphones on the front under the lens is very poor, unpredictable in where it picks-up from, and often muffled or thin. Alas, this Lo-Fi is a major flaw in this recorder, with no remedy possible, and definitely loses it a star.
. No Headphone Socket. It is not possible to monitor the sound quality either, so one has no idea if it has recorded anything useful until playback into the computer later.

I'm unhappy it uses electronic image stabilisation instead of optical, but that does give it the advantage of a faster lens. The sensor is effectively bigger than the 720p HD format, so the standard electronic stabilisation has the surplus area to play with, but this is not much. The optional stronger stabilisation reduces the image size to allow a bigger floating zone, and so loses sensor resolution. Such a big zoom ratio (25:1) is impossible to hold steady on the Telephoto setting, especially with such a tiny and light weight camera, and therefore requires use of a tripod for maximum resolution. But what then happens if touching the screen to change a setting? Difficult.

It is the least equipped of the range sharing the same chassis, all of which can take a memory card, I used a couple of 16G SDHC Class 4 Cards. Most of the others also have internal recording media such as 8GB (HDR-CX116) or 16GB (HDR-CX150, HDR-CX155) of RAM or 120GB (HDR-XR150, HDR-XR155) of hard disk. And a few (HDR-CX110, HDR-CX150, HDR-XR150) have a limited ability to use the USB as an input as well as for output, which with a struggle might be useful for recording decent sound and/or mixed video - the CD handbook (common to all models) is distinctly unhelpful on this specific point. I've been recording the sound separately; both the audio and video are digital systems so they stay close enough in sync sufficiently long for my simple needs, and it is easily adjusted later.

A 16GB memory card gives the following recording times, which will vary slightly depending on content:
. 720x576i Standard Definition DV-Cam - 200 to 220mins
. 1440x1080i HD LP mode AVC HD 5M - 300 to 380mins
. 1440x1080i HD HQ mode AVC HD 9M - 160 to 220mins
. 1920x1080i HD FH mode AVC HD 17M - 100mins
. 1920x1080i HD FX mode AVC HD 24M - 80mins

The external mains adaptor can EITHER power the camera OR charge the battery, not both at the same time. But there is no separate adaptor lead in the supplied kit of bits to allow an extra spare battery to be charged while that on the camera is in use. Fortunately the battery life is good, provided one remembers to charge it before use.

The 4:3 image sensor has 2048 sensor cells arranged in 1536 rows. But bear in mind this is a single chip sensor using a Bayer mask to achieve both colour and resolution. So half the cells will be for Green/Luma, and a quarter each will be for Blue and Red, which are then re-combined as Chroma. The quoted `effective' movie resolution is only 1.35Mpixels with stabiliser Off or Standard. For a full 1920 by 1080 lines we need 2.1Mpixels. The numbers actually work nicely for a genuine image pixel map for 720p with a little bit of float for the Steady-shot. However, one can only shoot and record in 576i (SD) or 1080i (HD). The options of 720p or 1080p are converted on HDMI playback from the 1080i AVCHD recording. I shall borrow some test charts to check quality, more on this later in a couple of months time.

Good news! The over-sampled 576i DV-Cam pictures are some of the best I have ever seen from a single chip camera, and the 25:1 zoom makes it a fantastic SD camera. Editing the DV-Cam pictures is a dream using standard tools, especially when compared with having to lose a generation every time to unpack the H.264 AVCHD. Having some very nice standard definition video tools I'm reluctant to try the supplied Sony software until I can find a sacrificial PC to put it on, also the implication is that my fat XP Dell is not man enough to edit the full HD. More on this later in a couple of months time.

I cannot recommend taking still photos with this camera for anything other than as a simple continuity record, the colours seem wrong in spite of playing with white balance etc, and the 4:3 aspect 1.5MPixel effective photo resolution is poor compared with the cheapest of still cameras or even a modern mobile phone.

My final gripe is an odd one! The camera is too small for my hand, I need to clench my fingers too much to reach the buttons if I hold the camera in my palm with the strap around the back of the hand, as usual. The best Handycam I ever used was a Sony TR3000 Hi-8 that fit like a glove with all the essential buttons resting just under my finger tips. This CX115 is about 2cm too small for my index finger on the `photo' button, and 3cm too small for my middle finger to push-pull on the `zoom'! Only my thumb is on the start/stop button. If the buttons are under finger tips, then any finger movement shakes the camera. And there is no remote control, so I still need to touch it on a tripod.

So how to use it?

A. Proper pics.
Put it on a tripod. Leave it in Standard Steadyshot.
First set the White Balance manually on a reference white card for the shot with the touch screen.
Then set the Focus manually on the key subject, and compose and frame the picture.
Then set the Exposure manually on the key subject.
Press the Start button, and start the action.
When the action is over, mark it End-Board and then press the Stop button.

B. Snappy pics.
First set the White Balance manually on a reference white card for the shot with the touch screen.
Then set the Focus manually on the key subject.
Then, hosepipe away to your heart's content, refocusing if the subject changes distance from the camera too much, and zooming only if absolutely necessary to keep the framing correct.

C. Don't care.
First set the white balance manually on a reference white card for the shot with the touch screen.
Then shoot with everything else on full auto.

Conclusion. Revised 26/12/2010
After playing with it for a few weeks now, and getting much, much better sound by using my own microphones and a separate sound recorder, I think if I were looking again for my prime video camera I'd opt for something bigger with a few more of the relevant buttons, and with audio inputs. Where the HDR-CX115 really scores highly is that could be very, very useful as an unobtrusive and discreet second camera for supporting shots. And it is reasonable for quick and hurried holiday snaps if you don't mind missing some of the sound. It is another useful tool that deserves its place in the box.

Addendum. 17/12/2010
I've just had a play with the hard-disk model HDR-XR155E in a well known retail chain, and the extra bulk and weight of the hard drive makes all the difference to the way it fits in the hand. That model is only just too small for me by about half a centimetre on each finger, and would be fine for a smaller man or an average woman's hand.
So if one wanted to stick with this family, I'd recommend choosing the significantly more expensive HDR-XR150E for the much better fit in the hand, and the limited ability to accept some input for recording. Or possibly one should also consider the similar Sony HDR-XR200VE Camcorder.
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on 11 July 2012
I bought this to replace a Panasonic which I had dropped. It is a stunning, high quality camcorder, don't let the price fool you into thinking it's a cheapo. The clarity is superb, the controls feel positive and although there is nothing fancy about it, it shoots great video.
I've had camcorders since 1989 and this one is the best I've owned.
Combined with the Sony editing software, everything works without glitches, and I've used all kinds of editing software in the last 23 years. You really can, at last, make movies fast and easily with this combination.
Well done Sony!
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