A previous reviewer made the point that the end filesize (per hour) when compared with tape based HDV proved that the 7E was inferior by a sigificant amount. Not true. I think that the end result is marginally inferior to HDV - but not much and the camera is MUCH more convenient.
The AVCHD codec H264 is radically newer and more efficient than HDV. And tape is dying!! Personally I convert from AVCHD to HDV so that I edit my footage efficiently (AVCHD is a pig to edit natively) and my results are brilliant. Great camera at the price (but do some research if you plan to edit)
I bought this camera at Christmas. For some reason the bundled software that came with it is no longer properly importing the video to my PC and my existing videos have stopped playing back.
No problem I thought - I'll just re-install the software. However - I was unable to find my installation CD.
Ok - so I went over to the Sony website. No software. Just a patch for the existing software. With a sense of foreboding I asked Google. Browsing a few forums it seems that if you lose your CD, Sony will charge you $60 for a new one ! There is no way you can (legally) download the software online.
I'm deeply unhappy. Now I have a corrupt software installation, and no means of putting it right, and therefore no means of getting my high-definition video off the camera.
I strongly recommend that you choose someone else's product. Support this poor is indefensible.
** Update July 2011 **
I've since upgraded to Windows 7 which recognises the camera natively and can ready the MTS files that the camera creates. So no need for the Sony software anymore.
Camera image quality is pretty good - just don't do any fast pans or the picture starts to break up (perhaps this is 1080i rather than 1080p HD ?). Certainly a big improvement over my old SD Handycam, even when playing back on a standard definition telly.
I haven't done a review before but having read the comments I felt I had to. I have never owned a Camcorder but have used a few so I looked around very thoroughly before buying with some trepidation. WOW! What a surprise, its so small, but in the hand everything is in the right place. I haven't used it too much so far but the touch screen was easier to navigate than I expected, although you have to refer to the manual a bit at first. Still and Movie picture is absolutely excellent indoors in average light and outside, although its not too happy with energy saver bulbs, I need to work on that one. Ignore people complaining about the missing HDMI cable. No Sony didn't include a hdmi cable and they really need to get their act together when you pay this price for something. BUT, you can still hook up to the TV using the normal A/V or A/V to scart that is supplied. Ok so its not in HD but it still looks superb and will do until you can get one. And after all at Amazon prices they are not toooo expensive. Yes the interface is a bit tricky on a PC but can be worked out, and I am an average Joe as someone on amazon put it. But it is not possible to edit with the provided software very easily, and yes it is very awkward to edit within the camera, but that is not the camera's fault. The memory card is needed for stills but Not absolutely essential as it will store them on the Hard Drive too. To sum up a really excellent Camera with superb picture quality and a lot easier to use than some reviews suggest, although I do recommend getting a Case for it and a second Battery. And order the Mini HDMI when you order the camera.
The results from this camera are impressive; the images are clear, vivid and rich in colour. User-friendliness is very much present and one of the aspects which impresses me most is the on-board sockets. Many models require the docking cradle to do just about anything including playback on a TV - this one doesn't (although USB connection requires the cradle). Some reviews have stated that it takes them a day to charge their included battery. I've never had the misfortune of needing to charge it for more than 2-3 hours before it's full. One minor criticism is that I can't seem to find a left-right audio channel balance - right channel is marginally too loud compared with the left on playback and editing. Still not enough to warrant less than a 5*.
HD pictures are of superb quality and are beautiful to watch on a HD ready TV (do yourself a favour and record in Standard Def just to see the difference - worth the additional money for HD).
What I found truly amazing is how simple the camcorder is to use - the touch-screen is very intuitive and switching on and taking pictures or filming is really simple.
For best quality, you will need a mini to HD cable (or buy one of the converters you find on Amazon) to watch on TV and while I have not spend much time with the software that comes in the box, it seems to be quite basic (again there are other products out there and you might want to download for a trial run).
Firstly this is my second camcorder, i have been editing movies now for some 4 years. I always use sony vegas video. which the current version takes the new AVCHD format. and bloody hell the quality is amazing with this little gem. Its small but packs a ricky hatton punch... you will not be dissappointed.. i bought it from amazon also, quick delivery very impressed....
If you are pro and you want very high quality, and are using this camera, surely you will have a laptop and a program like Adobe OnLocation CS3, which means you are not using the AVCHD codec and therefore not loosing quality. Anyway, NOBODY would buy this camera when recording an HD Documentary, if a program is going to be watched by loads of people I am sure many more expensive cameras would be used, to yeild almost identical results. The codec produces excellent results - don't be put off by the fact that it makes much smaller files.
I sometimes really do not get why people like to pretend that they know so much by degrading a product on false pretenses. This comment area is not for showing off, it is for helping/encouraging/warning other buyers
If you want superb picture quality for your home movies and have a HD TV (or are switching to HD) and you like lots of recording time without faffing about with tapes, then this is the camera to go for.
However, for the pro (and by pro I mean you need high-quality images for films/documentaries), the high compression values of these consumer hard-disk-based-storage camcorders is a serious compromise.
Given that a pro/semi-pro HDV camcorder such as the Sony V1 or Canon XH-A1 store around 16GB of information per hour on DV tapes, and this camera even at it's highest quality setting only does 7.5GB per hour, you can clearly see that significant picture information is being discarded to achieve these storage ratio's. At the lowest quality setting, you are only getting 2.6GB per hour, which is very marginal and image quality will undoubtdely suffer. This really defeats the object of having a high-definition camera.
For pro use, tape based storage or uncompressed professional hard disk storage are the only option.
Additionally, editing the files generated with these camcorders can be tricky, sometimes requiring access to pro-grade advanced editing software, or limiting you to the software provided with the camcorder (which can be very basic).
But if you are not into the detail and just want to be able to take good holiday/family shots, then buy this camera. And use the highest quality setting.... you wanted it for the High Definition capability anyway, didn't you?