First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Sony DCR-SX43 camcorder
A user-friendly Sony camcorder that shoots in standard-def
- Good video for asking price, 60x optical zoom, sleek and attractive design
- Slow moving zoom, some minor issues with touch screen
The Sony DCR-SX43 is a good choice for videographers with standard-definition TVs. It's sexy, compact and a reliable performer.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
The Sony DCR-SX43 is a flash memory–based camcorder that records standard-definition video in the MPEG-2 format. Chief among its charms are a 60x optical zoom lens, an intuitive touch-screen interface and a fashionista ‘fire red’ finish (or, if you prefer to be boring, silver and black).
Consumer-friendly gimmicks are also in evidence, including face detection (which adjusts focus, exposure and white balance to favour human noggins), smile shutter (which automatically takes a photo when someone flashes their pearly whites), a steady-shot mode for smooth shooting, and a handful of scene selections (fireworks, snow, etc). For the asking price, the Sony DCR-SX43 is not a bad choice: it’s small and attractive, easy to use and is capable of taking good looking video.
The Sony DCR-SX43 shares much in common with the Sony DCR-SX60. Both camcorders sport similar features and imaging components, including a 1/8in CCD sensor and Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens. However, unlike the 16GB DCR-SX60, the Sony DCR-SX43 does not come with inbuilt memory. Instead, it relies on removable flash memory, with a 2-in-1 card slot for Memory Sticks and SD/SDHC. Both memory formats are readily available in stores or online, and cost around $40 for a 4GB card. (To get you started, Sony has included an 8GB Memory Stick card in the sales package.)
The thing that immediately leapt out about the Sony DCR-SX43 is its attractive design. We especially liked how the handstrap colour matches the camcorder’s finish — it’s a small touch to be sure, but it really helps to make the DCR-SX43 stand out from the crowd. In addition to looking cool, the Sony DCR-SX43 is also impressively compact: it measures just 50x55x112mm and weighs 190g. If you’re looking for a camcorder-cum-fashion accessory that you can suavely pull out of your designer handbag, this is the model you’ve been waiting for.
For menu selection, Sony has stuck to its touch-screen interface, as opposed to a more traditional joystick configuration. Some people prefer Sony’s interface due to its similarity to the Nintendo DS or iPod Touch. Others swear by directional sticks, which tend to be a bit more reliable and cut down on LCD fingerprints. Personally, we get along well with both. If we have one caveat, it’s that the menu icons are a bit too close together. We occasionally pressed the home button when we were trying to scroll down, which got quite annoying. (Tip to Sony: next time include a stylus!)
As mentioned, the Sony DCR-SX43 comes with a 60x optical zoom lens, which is very powerful for a sub-$400 camcorder. By contrast, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10 camcorder sports a 5x optical zoom — a massive 12 times weaker. The DCR-SX43’s 60x optical zoom allows you to capture close-ups of distant objects or people with zero loss in image quality. In other words, there’s no need to jog up and down the field at your kid’s soccer games (or whatever).
On the downside, keeping the camcorder steady at full zoom can be very challenging, especially for novices; we recommend investing in a tripod. The zoom is also quite sluggish, which means Dramatic Chipmunk video tributes are out of the question. Bummer.
When it comes to video quality, the Sony DCR-SX43 does a pretty good job for a $399 camcorder. Its performance was roughly on par with the Sony DCR-SX60. Colours were accurate for the most part and our footage remained sharp and full of detail when used in bright lighting. (Note: We were a little less forgiving of the DCR-SX60 due to its higher price point —$549 — but we think the DCR-SX43 strikes a good balance between price and performance.)
As is to be expected, the DCR-SX43 fared considerably less well in low lighting, with plenty of image noise entering the fore. On the plus side, Sony has included an inbuilt video light: something that the DCR-SX60 lacked.
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