- Compression free video footage, lightweight, compact
- Fringing, poor quality stills, lacks manual controls
A good bet for the casual user.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
Sony has recently quadrupled the size of its hard disk based Handycam series, and the DCRSR80 sits atop the range of new models. With a 60GB hard drive - larger than virtually any other camcorder on the market - a 12x optical zoom and a few unusual extras, this camera is an attractive device. However, more advanced users may find that a few operating quirks and some image problems detract from the overall package.
Sony's previous entry in the hard disk camcorder market, the DCR-SR100 was a mixed bag, so we were curious to see how this new model would measure up against it. For a start, the DCRSR80 is a good deal smaller than its sibling, in fact it bears an uncanny resemblance to JVC's Everio line. This is a good thing, as it means the camcorder is lightweight, easy to hold and compact. One other major difference is the inclusion of a dock, a rarity in the camcorder market. This allows you to leave the power connections and USB attached to the dock, saving you from constantly having to reconnect cables to the camera. This is all well and good, but we were a little irked to find that there's not a USB connection on the camera itself, so there's no option but to use the dock.
For the most part we found the video quality of the DCRSR80 to be on a par or better than the DCR-SR100, which is surprising, given its smaller 1 megapixel CCD sensor. There were few traces of compression artefacts even on rapidly moving objects or fast pans, but images were generally very smooth and crisp, which is an excellent achievement for a camera of this type. Colour balance was good, though a little washed out on bright shades. We did notice a few aberrations on large areas of colour, with pinkish traces evident on red backgrounds for instance. However, the most noticeable image artefact we found was the worst case of purple fringing we have ever seen on a camcorder. This was only evident on particularly bright areas, such as fluorescent lights and brilliant white objects, but was certainly noticeable.
Like all Sony camcorders, the DCRSR80 includes an infrared night shot mode, which is excellent in complete darkness, though does leave video with that "covert army reconnaissance" green tinge. Without this feature turned on, we thought low light images were fairly poor, with very low sensitivity. The slow shutter mode greatly increases brightness, but apart from the expected stuttering, high levels of noise crept in making this feature largely redundant. The on-board image stabilisation function is excellent, making a huge difference at the maximum optical zoom of 12x.
Still images were predictably disappointing, with the 1 megapixel sensor proving inadequate. Shots looked roughly comparable to what we might expect from a camera phone. They might just do for a small print, but certainly can't replace a proper digital camera. In this respect we felt the DCRSR80 was far inferior to the DCR-SR100. There's also no flash, which is rare for a camera in this price range
Using the DCRSR80 is generally a very simple process, though once again we have mixed feelings about Sony's touch screen interface. Using the 2.7in widescreen LCD, most controls are accessed using an on screen touch sensitive menu. This is great, as it means it's easy to change settings while retaining focus on filming. What's not so great is Sony's slightly confusing multi-tiered menu layout. After testing many Sony models we've got used to the system now, but for the first time user it will take a while. For the complete novice Sony includes its "easy" mode, which simplifies the available settings and also makes the interface icons twice as big. There are also preset modes for landscapes, sports, portrait and others.
Unfortunately, the level of manual options on board the DCRSR80 is a little limited. Like many models, there's no microphone jack, though it is possible to add external devices (such as proprietary Sony Microphone) using the on-board active interface shoe. While Sony has included options to modify exposure, white balance and focus manually, there's no sign of shutter and aperture controls. There's also no external viewfinder, again in the vein of JVC's Everio range, which may annoy some users. We found the LCD to be more than capable, however, even in bright sunshine.
Copying videos to a PC for editing is a simple process. Simply place the camcorder in its dock, connect the USB cable and drag the files over in Windows Explorer. It's also possible to directly transfer videos to a PC's DVD recorder with a single button on the dock.
Overall, the DCRSR80 will appeal to the casual user who wants to record a heap of video. The 60GB hard disk will hold nearly 900 minutes of footage at high quality making ideal for vacations. Using the basic controls is simple, and the image quality is generally good. It's also lightweight and moderately affordable. More ambitious users should weigh up this purchase due to the occasional image aberrations and lack of manual control.
Join the newsletter!
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Sport AT
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Toys for Boys
ESET Internet Security
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Smart Security Premium
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Office 365 Business Premium isn’t one-size fits all but if you’re the right sized business for it to make sense, there’s a good amount of value to be found in the package’s comprehensive software offering.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 3 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 4 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
- 5 Huawei Nova 3i review: All Sell, No Soul
Latest News Articles
- Arlo announces 4K HDR wire-free security camera system
- Navman introduces the MiVUE dash cam
- Uniden adds Artificial Intelligence functionality to Wired surveillance range
- Logitech announces Logitech Rally
- Swann launches new wireless camera with Alexa integration
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?