- Simple interface, instinctive operation, impressive outdoor performance
- Indoor and low light performance inadequate, slow autofocus, lack of features
A great handycam for a day at the beach, or a simple series of home videos, the Sony DCR-PC55 isn’t for the serious camera enthusiast.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
Much like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1, the Handycam DCR-PC55 is one of the first digital cameras to utilise a touch-screen LCD. The blending of these two technologies has created a camera that ultimately sacrifices functionality and performance for flashiness and aesthetics. We say ultimately because there are situations where the camera performs very well, but its overall viability, especially for video enthusiasts is seriously limited.
The 3" LCD itself is quite well designed. It's big and bright, its surface is very resistant to glare, and the screen itself can be rotated 270 degrees, and folded to suit almost any shooting angle. The touch-screen interface is highly responsive, lag free, and the buttons are big enough for even the largest of fingers to deftly navigate. A cramped row of buttons is clustered just below the screen, but thanks to the nature of their functions, generally don't need to be used on any regular basis. Fingerprints are the bane of touch-screens everywhere, and in the case of digital photography, a smudged image viewer is less than desirable. It took nothing more than our initial setup to cover the screen with prints, something which may irritate image conscious users.
The rest of the camera is impressive too. A tall, sleek form factor makes the camera quite comfortable to hold, even for extended periods. A pistol-like grip, with the forefinger holding the top of the camera steady, and the pinky supporting the base places the minimal number of controls within easy reach of the thumb or forefinger. Record, zoom, and the on/off/mode toggle switch are all located right where the thumb rests, while the snapshot button sits readily accessible, next to the forefinger.
Generally, the PC55's design is excellent, but the highpoint is without a doubt the level of integration between the various shooting modes on the camera. Flicking the on/off switch down a notch from "on" toggles these modes, from DV Cassette, to Memory Stick, to Play/Edit mode. What's really nifty though is how infrequently this needs to be done. Images captured in either of the recording modes will always be saved to the Memory Stick Duo, while video footage will be saved to whichever medium is currently active. This makes operating the Sony incredibly easy, and very instinctive. Having to switch between still image and video modes was always a hassle on other models, but the PC55 manages to deliver a very high level of versatility, and makes snapping off a quick still while recording, or quickly starting a movie after taking a series of photos, a cinch.
The big let down with this camera (and at its relatively cheap RRP, there had to be one), unfortunately was performance. Images on the Sony were below average, even considering the 1.3 megapixel sensor. Colours were faded and largely inaccurate (reds looked distinctly orange), edges were blurred and precise detail was almost nonexistent. A very limited range of options for still imaging (two resolutions, 640x480 the highest, and 'normal' or 'fine' quality) go a long way towards explaining this, however movie recording suffered from the same problems, in addition to extensive ghosting and very slow autofocus and light adjustment times. Fast panning and action photography are not the strong points of this camera, and in fact we found its indoor and low-light performance in general to be quite inadequate.
Image stabilisation also proved to be rather useless, even at the lowest levels of zoom. Maintaining a steady image without a tripod at even 10x zoom (maximum optical) became impossible. This exacerbated the problems with autofocusing, and it often took up to ten seconds to achieve a clear image after zooming, due mostly to constant shaking. The PC55 generally reacted poorly to sudden changes in the image, even something as simple as somebody walking through the shot.
Outdoor photography was the real strong point of this model, and we were able to obtain decent, and even above average snaps of foliage and pedestrians. The camera responded well to bright sunlight, and we were able to shoot several quality videos during the outdoor phase of our testing. The natural greens and browns of trees were represented well, as were fleshtones.
Finally, a limited feature set hindered many of the adjustments we attempted to make in an effort to improve image quality. Still image capture was, for the most part, fully automated, with an almost total lack of advanced options. Focus and exposure were able to be manually set, while white balance could be change to one a number of preset options. The same features were present for video capture, and while this uncomplicated nature might appeal to beginners, even casual users might find it to be a little lacking, settings-wise.
Battery life was adequate on the Sony; it lasted for just under two hours in our tests, a respectable number considering the power draining touch-screen. The DCR-PC55 comes in red, black, white or silver.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- FBI faces lawsuit because it's stayed mum on iPhone 5c hack
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPSenior Java Developer / DevOps - ContractQLD
- CCBusiness Project ManagerNSW
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- FTMid-Level Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- FTPMO Coordinator-Permanent Opportunity-Education/Government Background EssentialNSW
- CCSQL Database Administrator (DBA)NSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- CCGIS Developer - GeocortexWA
- CCTelecommunication Operations SpecialistTAS
- FT.net Developer (Front and Back end)QLD
- CCAgile CoachNSW
- CCSenior Automation TesterQLD
- FTInfrastructure Solution ArchitectSA
- CCProject SpecialistVIC
- TPIteration ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)WA
- TPMaster SchedulerNSW
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - NetApp SpecialistNSW
- FTData AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaQLD
- FTChange Manager - Large Transition ProjectNSW
- CCLevel 1/2 SAP Support AnalystACT
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- TPDigital Process Business Analyst - Digital Transformation**NSW