Sony Handycam {Review}

Do you remember when video cameras came in a suitcase?  Not much smaller than the film cameras used in Hollywood, video cameras of the 80s required a strong shoulder to keep them steady and they were anything but portable.  I always felt really sorry for the poor parent holding the video camera, not just for how much those cameras had to weigh, but for the fact that they were literally saddled with luggage all day long and couldn't join in the fun. 

In the decades since then, video cameras have gotten smaller and smaller, and in 2004 my husband and I bought a video camera that is about a third of the size of the one my father used to use.  But even since 2004, video cameras have gotten even more portable, and now they are the size of an SLR camera lens. 

Palm of hand
The new Sony Handycam is not only one of the tiniest video cameras we have ever seen, it also takes video that is about a thousand times better than its predecessors.  We were really excited to try out the Handycam for a few months, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time as my cousin got married last week, my stepmom through a huge birthday party, and we celebrated Mother’s Day. 

The first thing we loved about the Handycam is that the lens cap is integrated into the design and opens automatically when you turn it on.  I can’t tell you how many lens caps I have lost over the years, but it’s more than I can count on my fingers, so I love that there’s no lens cap to lose.  It may seem like a small thing, but I don’t think it is when you need to catch the action quickly and don’t have time to fumble with extra pieces. 

Hidden USBSpeaking of no extra pieces, I also love that there is an integrated USB drive right along the hand strap of the Handycam.  It's so well hidden that I actually missed it the first time I went to download pictures and had to re-read the intructions to find the tiny cord tucked into the strap.  Now that I know it's there, it's amazingly convenient and I really appreciate the attention to detail that saves me from having to keep track of yet another cord. 

USB Storage
The next thing we like is the flip out screen, which has full movement up and down, as well as fully turning around for lining up self portraits. Even cooler than the added movement of the flip out screen is the fact that it is also the power switch for the camera.  That’s right, simply flip out the screen and it’s ready to go. On top of that it is even a touch screen, which means no more taking your eyes off the action while you hunt for buttons, everything you need is right there in front of you.

As great as all these features are, there are two huge features that completely sold us on the Handycam and that I don’t know if I can ever go without again.  The first is apparent as soon as you start filming as you notice that the camera has a built in image stabilizer that prevents the camera image from shaking while you film. 

If you’ve ever watched a film where the camera work was a shaky, you probably remember feeling queasy watching it, maybe even getting a little dizzy.  My old family videos tend to be just like that – shaking, all over the place, and a little disconcerting to watch.  Since the goal of family videos is to watch them again and again, this is obviously not a good thing. 

With the Sony Handycam image stabilizer, it is hard to get the image to shake even if you try. While this is a feature that has been around for a while, it is truly amazing how well it actually works here.  On our backyard trampoline, with lots of movement, the camera work still looks pretty good.  It may not be our finest film we ever shoot in terms of content, but it’s actually watchable!

The second feature we absolutely adore on the Sony Handycam is the ability to project the videos you have shot via the built in projector.  That’s right, you can show the videos you took at the party before you have even left. 

At first we thought this would be a kind of novel treat, something we didn’t use very often, but as it turns out, this is one of the kiddos favorite features that they beg for every time the camera comes out.  Not that I blame them, it is incredibly fun to watch videos on our walls, our ceilings, or just about any flat surface.

Here's a still image of us projecting some wedding footage on our ceiling.  Even though it looks fairly good here, it's even better in person and the detail is amazing.

Projection Still
Another cool new feature is the integration of GPS into the camera.  With footage tagged by date, time, and now location it makes it really easy to find the clips you are searching for, and this feature works both on the camera and on your computer.  Since the video is stored on the camera’s hard drive {or on SD cards through the cameras expansion slot} any clip you find is instantly accessible, no winding tape back and forth like the cameras of old.

Handycam SideBeyond all the really crazy features, the Sony Handycam is just a crazy good camera.  Shooting in full 1080p HD, the image quality just blows away our old camera from just a few years ago. Plus, unlike every other video camera I’ve ever used, I don’t need a wide angle adapter.  Since we end up shooting a lot indoors with small kids it is really important for us to have a wide angle lens so that you don’t end up reducing a room full of people down to just one or two.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Handycam has a 55x zoom so you can get in close to the far away action like at sports events or other outdoor activities. With all that optical range built in you’ll be happy to know that you can also take great still pictures with the 8.9 megapixel sensor, even in the middle of taking videos. 

The sound is even vastly improved from older cameras, since the Handycam records in 5.1 surround sound.  This is really cool for places with a lot of action going on so that when you go back to watch your videos you feel much more immersed in the environment as the sound wraps around you.

After just a few weeks with the Sony Handycam, I can honestly say that it’s going to be a very sad day when we send it back.  We’ve enjoyed taking awesome family videos these past few days, projecting them for everyone even while we are still at the event, and then editing them to make some truly awesome family videos to capture this amazing time in our family. 

Here's some key 2012 Sony Handycam features from the manufacturer:

•    Built-in Projector: Transform your Handycam® camcorder into a mobile movie theatre capable of projecting up to a 100" diagonal image using the projector cleverly built into the LCD panel
•    Low-light: Experience stunning low-light sensitivity with improved image clarity and drastically reduced grain with a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor. Engineered specifically for compact cameras and camcorders, the Exmor R CMOS sensor is designed to let you shoot video in lower lighting conditions with better results
PTPA new badge•    Optical SteadyShot™ with Active Mode: compensates for greater degrees of camera shake to deliver smooth video from wide angle to full telephoto in CX250 models and above
•    Wide Angle Lens and zoom: offers a broader perspective to capture everything in the shot

Want to know more about the amazing PTPA Award Winning Sony Handycam?  Check out the PTPA Winner's Circle page to find out more!

Leanne Signature 2I am a Sony Canada Ambassador and received a Sony Handycam for review during the course of the campaign.  As always, all opinions are 100% ours and no form of monetary compensation was received in exchange for this Rave Review.

1 thought on “Sony Handycam {Review}”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.