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on March 25, 2008
First let's correct the Amazon description, this is a 40X optical zoom camera, not 25X as seen on the product itself.

This is a great camera to start out with, the simplicity of Mini DV tapes makes this a good value choice. DVD camcorders in this price range suffer from bad battery life, and disk errors that can render your disks useless. The Mini DV tapes are tried and true.

I use an Apple computer at home and the camera connects to iMovie with no problems using the iLink port on the camera. All you need in most cases is a Firewire 6pin to 4pin cable, and you are good to go.

The video and audio quality are good, and the night vision is fun too. This is not a upper level camera so don't expect several bells and whistles, but it performs great, and has the basic features most people will ever need. The battery life is fair, but that is expected, all camcorder companies want you to buy an extra battery, but at least Sony gives you several options.

With a full charge and a new tape, expect about an hour of record time.
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on March 29, 2008
I have been renting a Sony DCR-HC21 from my college for a month or so now. I'm a photographer by trade but I really became interested with editing digital video so I looked around for a camcorder that was a bit above mid range. This is it, it has enough professional functions to make it just right for me. Ability to recored in 16:9 widescreen, touch screen LCD, ability to control exposure, manual and auto focus, 40x optical zoom, and at $234.99 it's an awesome buy.

The one Con I can think of is that the battery provided with the camera is very poor. Only lasts for 115 minutes, which seems nice but in comparison to the NPFH50 that lasts for 3 hours it's poor. Do yourself a favor and buy the NPFH50 Battery for $26 here on amazon.

The other thing that I can't fathom is that none of these minidv camcorders come with the firewire data cable. It seems like including an 8 dollar cable wouldn't be that difficult, Sony afterall bundles the software needed to transfer the video to your PC.

All in all this is the best camcorder for the money, I chose this over the Canon ZR900 and I'm glad that I did. It's well build and has all the features that an amateur or professional would want.
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on November 28, 2008
I purchased this camera in mid October 2008, and so far have been very pleased given the low price. I initially wanted more features, but did not want to spend over $250-270 total (with accessories like MiniDV tapes, firewire cable, bag, extra battery). I use it for recording my children's music performances.

Plus:
- The video quality is very good. 40x OPTICAL zoom. This was the highest optical zoom I could find in a camera in this price range.
- The sound quality is good in the 12 bit mode, and even better in the 16 bit mode.
- Easy to use.
- Compact.
- Intelligent Lithium battery.

Minus:
- No MiniDV tape included. You will need to buy some.
- NO PASSTHROUGH MODE. This camera cannot accept input from analog sources (like output from an old VHS-C camera or a VCR). If you plan to use this camera to transfer from older analog to digital video, it won't do it.
- Battery life is short, 115 minutes according to book, but I get between 90 and 100 minutes. Buy an NP-FH50 and use the battery that came with the camera as a spare.
- No USB port. You WILL need firewire inputs on your computer to capture the video. And if you purchase from Circuit City, do not expect the sales people to know this.
- No Firewire cable. Factor that in the purchase price. Firewire cables are expensive ($25-$30) IF you buy from a brick and mortar store; expect to pay $8-10 online
- No Remote control. So if you want to put the camera on a tripod, you must manually start and stop the recording.
- No memory slot. MiniDV only.
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on March 2, 2009
I bought this product to replace one of the first Sony Digital8 Camcorders that ever went on the market (DCR-TRV510). I've had that camera for 9+ years and have loved it. I bought this camera because because the reviews were decent, the price was good, and I like Sony products. I've had the camera about two months now and I'm very disappointed with the color of the videos. They are very dark compared to what they should be.

My most recent project was filming a basketball game where I had four different Sony digital camcorders in use on the same court (I film a complete game once a year). The other three Sony camcorders (all older, different models) produced far better color than this one. The colors produced by this camera are, quite simply, terrible. The one caveat to that is outside on a bright, sunny day will produce a rich color saturation. Other than that, though, you're out of luck.

I originally thought it was maybe just my camera, but another reviewer also talks about bad color saturation in his review, so I guess it is product wide problem. Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere.
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on July 11, 2008
We have had the camera for a month now, and have been extremely happy with it so far.

a) the quality of the images are excellent
b) the ease of use is excellent
c) the compactness of the camera is excellent
d) the battery life is excellent.
e) the auto focus and auto exposure has been very good
e) The LCD panel is excellent, and is still quite satisfactory in bright light.

The only negative is that the optical view finder is very poor, and too small to use. However, this really has not been an issue at all, since the LCD panel does not seem to be a drain on the battery, and has been usefully visible under all light conditions.
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on June 7, 2008
I tried to buy this camera from Amazon but their server was trashing on 6/6/08 so I dashed over to the local WalMart and picked up one. After spending the last 7 hours going over every feature and nuance, I wish I'd had this camera last week for videoing a great rock band in Illinois... the spot metering feature would have provided me vastly better results than the old Sharp miniDV it replaced! One review of this camera is extremely biased by the buyer's ignorance of technology... firewire is the only way to go for transferring DV to computer, and this feature works flawlessly on this camera. I'm very pleased to have one, and not even sorry to have paid more at WalMart than Amazon's great price! Image quality is excellent!
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on December 20, 2008
Although this is a camcorder that doesn't have many features (ie: no external mic input, no headphone input), it works like a charm for those who just want to take decent-quality videos for a great price. The picture isn't all that great, but it's a nice little camera that hasn't let me down yet. It's lightweight and easy to travel with. Even without an external mic input, it picks up sound very well. I use it often, even for a major project I am doing. Get yourself some video-editing software with this camera, a firewire (IEEE 1394 is what I use) to connect it to your computer (make sure your computer has a firewire port, as this camcorder doesn't use a USB cable for hook up), and you're good to go. The best part about this camcorder: Mine didn't require the manufacturer's annoying software that you have to install in order to use the camcorder with your computer!! I love that part. I can upload the videos straight into any software program that supports DV video uploading (like Windows Movie Maker). I have used this camcorder both with Windows XP and Vista. No problems either way. I highly recommend it!
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on September 13, 2009
Good Camcorder for the Value, nothing compared to the features and quality of the 1600 dollar JVC I bought 8 years ago!

I got this Camera in order to transfer my old MiniDv tapes to PC and DVD. I hooked it up with 3 different NEW I Link Cables, 2 PC's with Vista 64 bit and one with Win XP laptop and to a DVD/VCR 1394 connection. Nothing worked!

Spent hours and days with Sony Tech Support that were clueless and woudl not admit that the Camera port was an issue.

Spent hours with teh very helpful HP support who thru diagnostics established it was the Camera port.

Sent the camera back and Amazon replaced it in Two days (Which was the Great service I have known Amazon for). Another good reason to buy directly from Amazon so that you don't have to send directly back to Amazon or Amzon's vendor.

I also ended up paying 29 USD to buy "Driver Robot" to get any and all possible Vista 64 bit. Luckily the newly Replaced exact same Camcorder worked. Extensive research on the net shows that Sony I-link connections are a major issue and practically is a Hit or Miss!. The Analog connections on the first camera did work. I need I-link in order to hook up and transfer old DV to my PC.

If I were you stay away from Sony if I-link connectins are the main reason you buy em for! There are others in this price range or cheaper that do not have these issues. Thanks!

May have given em 4 stars but for teh heartache I had with the I-Link, it being the main reason I bought a new MiniDv.
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on January 25, 2009
This is an excellent camera but you will need to buy an i-link or equivalent (mini firewire) cable if you want to edit video on your PC computer. Actually the manual does not indicate that connection to a computer is possible. The instructions in the manual indicate that with the optional cable you can import video from a VCR but references the next model up (HC54) if you need to export to a PC.

Once I purchased the cable I was able to capture video without problem. Windows computers have the appropriate drivers preinstalled. Just connect the cable set the camera to play/edit and select capture in your favorite editing program (this assumes your PC has a mini firewire port-not all do).

Although Mini DV cameras have older technology, they take better movies than SDHC (card) or harddrive camcorders because the pictures have far less compression. Also the format used .avi is much easier to edit than MPEG-4 which the other formats typically use. They do use more power so look for a "kit" deal that includes an extra battery.
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on March 23, 2011
I bought it to use to playback MiniDVs of old home movies. It does an excellent job. I have also taken it on several international vacations to supplement my digital camera where there are action scenes such as dancing. It has worked very well, even in low light at night to capture folk dancing in a riverboat on the Rhine.
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