Sony HDR-HC9 camcorder
HDV Sony handycam with great image quality.
- Superb 1080i image quality, loads of manual features, reliable build quality, intuitive user interface
- Not much has changed since last generation’s HDR-HC7
If you prefer the familiarity and reliability of HDV tape, the Sony HDR-HC9 is one of the best (and only) options on the market. Sticklers for value may want to check out Canon’s HV30 though — it’s every bit as good, yet cheaper.
Price$ 2,099.00 (AUD)
The tape-based HDV camcorder is an increasingly rare beast. Despite delivering arguably the best image quality of any video format, it has been all but replaced in the consumer market by the convenience of AVCHD. Consequently, the Sony HDR-HC9 may well be the company’s final foray into high-definition Mini DV. If so, then it’s a worthy last hurrah that impressed us on almost every level. While it would have been nice to see some tangible improvements over the model it replaces (the near-identical HDR-HC7), it remains one of the best tape-based camcorders that money can buy. Only Canon’s fellow HDV model — the HV30 — can hope to match its performance.
The HDR-HC9 is a minor upgrade of the HDR-HC7E. Both models share the same imaging specifications, including a Carl Zeiss 10x optical zoom lens, a 1/2.9in ClearVid CMOS sensor and an effective pixel count of 2280k. Unfortunately, this means that the HDR-HC9 misses out on Sony’s latest generation of Exmor sensors (as seen in recent handycams such as the HDR-CX12 and HDR-FX1000). Instead you’re saddled with old technology, but that’s no reason to fret — despite its age, the HDR-HC7 still takes some of the best video around (which makes its cookie-cutter cousin just as impressive).
So what’s changed exactly? The most notable improvements to the HDR-HC9 are largely superficial, including a classy black repaint and a removable lens hood. The shape has also been extensively redesigned: it’s now significantly sleeker and feels more ergonomic in the hand. Other new additions include a colour-coded focus peaking indicator, a combined Spot Meter/Spot Focus function and a professional-style centre marker to help with framing. While it’s unlikely that the average user will find these tools essential, they remain quite useful for the occasional ‘hands-on’ task. (The Peaking tool is particularly handy, especially if your eyesight’s a bit wonky.)
With its identical pixel count and sensor technology, the HDR-HC9’s video performance was indistinguishable from its HC7 predecessor. Delivering high-definition video at 1080i resolution, we naturally found images to be incredibly clear and well defined. Even in lowlight or dark environments, our test-footage remained relatively crisp, though it failed to match the standards set by Canon’s competing HDV unit, the HV30. Nevertheless, nocturnal shooters should certainly have no qualms with the HC9’s output, particularly when Sony’s celebrated Nightshot mode is brought into play.
Despite some slight over-saturation, we were equally impressed with the camera’s colour reproduction: it strikes a nice balance between accuracy and vibrancy. Compared to most AVCHD camcorders, the difference is quite noticeable. Despite the lack of improvements, there’s not much to complain about as far as image quality goes (we guess the old adage ‘why change a good thing?’ applies). Like most HDV cams, the HDR-HC9 offers a standard-definition recording mode using regular Mini DV tapes. If you’re still using an old school CRT television and DVD player, this is a good option to have.
As we have come to expect from Sony, the HDR-HC9 is packed to the gills with advanced modes and features. White balance, ISO, shutter speed and focus are all manually adjustable, as are image sharpness and saturation. With the exception of gain, pretty much every camera setting can be adjusted or tweaked. Pleasingly, the automatic settings also performed well during out testing, with the novice-friendly Easy button providing idiot-proof recording. While we’re on the subject of novice-friendly functions, special mention must also go to the camera’s excellent optical image stabiliser. We found this did a great job compensating for blurry images and camera shake (otherwise known as the bane of inexperienced users).
Like pretty much every other camcorder on the market, the Sony HDR-HC9 has a still image mode — though thankfully the photos aren’t stored on tape. Instead, a Memory Stick slot is used. The HDR-HC9 is capable of capturing images at a maximum resolution of 6.1 megapixels (or 4.6Mp during video recording). This puts it on par with many digital still cameras (albeit from a few years ago) and should provide enough resolution for Internet uploads and regular-sized prints. Despite being a peripheral feature, it's nevertheless a great addition which really helps to flesh out the unit's functionality and justify its somewhat high price tag.
Alongside the usual array of ports and connections, the HDR-HC9 also comes with a microphone and headphone jack. If you’re in any way serious about video this is an essential addition that will ensure your audio quality matches the high-def visuals — provided you splurge out on an appropriately flashy microphone.
Join the PC World newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Google Daydream VR headset
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Surface Pro 4
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?
- CCData Migration Consultant - LeadNSW
- FTBusiness Development Executive - Queensland Public SectorQLD
- TPe-Learning Developer (Captivate 8)VIC
- CCFront-End DeveloperQLD
- FTMid-Level Software Engineer x 2 - Positive Vetting, NV2 or NV1 required!!SA
- CCSOE EngineerACT
- CCSenior System AdministratorVIC
- FTIt Security and process analystNSW
- TPMicrosoft Dynamics DeveloperNSW
- FTBid ManagerVIC
- CCService ManagerACT
- FTERP ConsultantQLD
- TPSenior Project Manager - ReinsuranceNSW
- CCSalesforce - Functional Analyst (BA)NSW
- FTDigital Sales Account Manager - Global BrandNSW
- FTIT Project Coordinator - Mascot/AlexandriaNSW
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer with Strong SQL DevNSW
- FTStorage Solution ArchitectVIC
- CCIT Infrastructure ArchitectNSW
- FTInfrastructure Solution ArchitectSA
- CCFront-End DeveloperQLD
- TPOrganisational Change Manager | Enterprise Information SharingQLD
- FTSenior Web DeveloperNSW
- TPIT Project Manager - Office relocationVIC
- CCCyber Security ArchitectNSW