on 10 June 2012
I've been searching for a decent camcorder for a few months now, my last camcorder, well mum's but we all use it, is the Sony PC3E from the late 1990's. A tragedy struck that camera in 2001, a jealous neighbour looking after it snapped the LCD screen(unaware it twists only 180 degrees and not 360 degrees) as at the time it was the top of the range £1000+ camera, no one owned up to it so it was temporarily repaired. Decided its time to upgrade so I looked at Panasonic X900M and the Sony CX730E originally, both around £750.
I settled on this though as the Sony's had the best 5.1 surround sound, best image stabilisation, best colour capture and my previous camera was a Sony which served the family extremely well. I want this new camera to last me for another 10 years as HD and 3D is the best it's going to get for a while. I've played around with it for a while now. I'm not a professional video recorder, I have little interest in 3D right now even though I do have a Panasonic 3DTV. I'm just the average guy who wants to point and shoot.
- It's very small, a lot smaller than the "brick" TD10, the width is exactly the same as my iPhone 4, maybe a hairline shorter. It's pretty pleasing aesthetically. I think it's one of the best looking camcorders ever, the silver LCD door, the gloss black and leather/matte black make it very good looking. Sony have definitely adressed the TD10's size and ugliness.
- Has a nice weighty feel and build quality is great.
- HD video quality is absolutely amazing in Highest Quality 50p, the video recording is amazing. Originally recorded stuff at 50i Standard Quality and it was pretty decent but 50p HQ is a whole new level. Captures colours beautifully with brilliant image stabilisation.
- Outdoor night/low light recording condition is very good too. Indoors you would just turn on the video light.
- The 20MP camera takes absolutely amazing pictures, it's on par with 16 megapixels cameras which cost like £300+. I still would go to Olympus for cameras though as a standalone camera will obviously be better.
- Best 3D camcorder on the market, by far better than the Panasonic X900M and the JVC TD1.
- Has GPS built in
- The 3D LCD screen is gorgeous, nice bright colours with a super high resolution. 3D viewing is acceptable seeing as it's glasses free.
- 14 hours of HD recording at Standard Quality 50i can be recorded onto the 64GB internal memory. Drops to 6 hours in 50p HQ mode, the amount of detail the Exmor R sensor captures in 50p HQ is very high. The littlest thing on grass is captured without zooming so I can see why the video files are going to be huge at 50p.
- Made in Japan! Nice to see Sony still have huge faith in the quality of their camcorders and not moved to China just to cut costs.
- All the settings to change features are on the touchscreen, keeps the buttons for important features only
- Sony's site mentions the camera doesn't have a flash but it does, it has a video light which is very good and the flash which is very bright. Video light isn't battery draining as you would expect. As you can see compared to other cameras, the flash "clear housing" spreads quite far from the actual flash LED's, this end's up giving a very bright flash which is widespread so it will light a dark room up.
- 5.1 surround sound quality is amazing, I only have it to compare to a Panasonic X900M and it's superior to it.
- Has a fair bit of settings to mess around with in camera mode and video mode, 2D only.
- Battery life is pretty good, around 3-4 hours with supplied battery.
- Top of camcorder is gloss black, so its going to be a fingerprint magnet and a scratch magnet.
- The custom user ring is far too small and not comfortable to use. Much rather have a full ring or a slider/button on top of the camcorder.
- For this price you'd expect a multitouch capacitive touchscreen but its resistive. I find myself trying to scroll the menus like on a iPhone.
- Doesn't have the Balanced Optical Steady Shot(B.O.S.S) like the CX730E, again at this price, Sony should have somehow managed to add it on to the left lens at least for 2D but Image Stabilisation is already brilliant.
- No viewfinder, not a con for me as I've never used a viewfinder in my life but nice to have the option as it may come handy if sunlight gets too bright.
- Doesn't have that "red" flash you get on cameras so when taking self pictures, you will be blinded by the super bright flash.
- Can't view movies and pictures on the internal memory and memory card at the same time, it's either one or the other. Not universal.
- Doesn't work with Mac, so I have to boot into Windows if I want to do some useful editing, it kind of works with iMovie but only 50i recording will be editable in iMovie and not 25p or 50p so if you want to record 25p movie/cinema like videos, want to edit them on a Mac, you can't. You'd think Sony would have made a program for Mac seeing as Mac is very popular for photo and video editing. Will have to wait for an iMovie update. You'll need Windows in Bootcamp and Sony Vegas for full editing including 3D videos on a Mac.
- No pass code protection. I know it's a camera but still any portable £1300 electronic device should have a password. What if it gets stolen or lost? At least you would get some peace of mind knowing no one can use it so the camcorders useless to them and more importantly, don't see your videos.
Things that should have been built in at this price of £1300:-
- Wifi built in with a YouTube app for uploading
- The red flash
- Nightshot and B.O.S.S in 2D mode
- Security password and since it has GPS built in, I can't help knowing that if my camcorder got lost or stolen that there is GPS in the camcorder so it could technically be located.
It's the best camcorder on the market right now. The only other camcorder I'd consider instead of this is the CX730E, it's cheaper but no 3D. The TD20 has awesome 3D HD quality and great 5.1 surround capture.
Is it worth £1300? It is but only as Sony has no true competitor to this camera, ie 3D built into one small camera so Sony can get away charging this price as it's basically this 3D camcorder or no 3D camcorder. If you're in the market for a Full 3D HD camcorder, then this is the one you want. It blows away its only competitor, the Panasonic X900M in every way except for the no viewfinder on the TD20. I highly recommend this camcorder but memory cards can get expensive as you will need a class 10 SD card minimum for fast write speeds otherwise you could find yourself waiting while videos/pictures write to the memory card.
I decided to write a review as there were no reviews. So this is a quick review for now which I will update after I fully test it out. If you really want a 3D camcorder, then buy this, if not, I'd check out the CX730E and compare these two camcorders at the Sony shop. I love this camera. I record and test the videos on my Panasonic 46" GT30 3DTV through the provided HDMI cable.