Sony's new HDR-HC1 is the first high-definition video (HDV) camcorder within reach of the consumer videographer.
- Affordable HD camcorder
- No progressive scan, some design faults
While not without its flaws, the Sony HDR-HC1 can claim the title of being first HDV camcorder available to mainstream consumers
Price$ 3,499.00 (AUD)
Instead of the more conventional CCD (charge-coupled device), the HDR-HC1 uses a new single-chip CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensor. This cuts down on supporting firmware and makes it cheaper to build, plus it reduces the streaking you often get with CCD-based cameras and intense light sources.
The footage is a vast improvement over any standard-definition camcorder on the market, with outstandingly crisp detail and pleasingly neutral colours. The HDR-HC1 also performed better than expected in low light conditions that can be problematic for MPEG-2 video recording. Having said all that, the HDR-HC1 is not quite the camera we had hoped for. Despite rumours that the CMOS chip is a progressive scan sensor, there's no progressive scan video mode, only 1080i.
External microphones are supported, but the proprietary hotshoe limits you to Sony accessories. Full iris and manual gain control will be missed by serious videographers, and the bottom loading tape compartment and non-extendable internal viewfinder are common irritations. Battery life from the supplied InfoLithium cell tops out at around 60 minutes, and the touch-screen control panel is something you either love or hate.
Despite its flaws, the HDR-HC1 is a remarkable product for the consumer video enthusiast and its image quality is excellent. But early adopters might want to wait and see how other manufacturers react before making their choice.
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