Customer Reviews: Sony DCR-VX2100 3CCD MiniDV Handycam Camcorder w/12x Optical Zoom (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on July 7, 2004
I don't know how this hasn't been reviewed yet - this is simply the "prosumer" camcorder to have. After reading up on this camera, the Canons (GL2, XL1s), and the "Panny" (aka, the DVX100a), it seems this manages to, put simply:
- Beat the GL2
- Tie with the XL1s
- Beat the DVX100a
To go more in depth, let's start with the GL2. While this is one heck of an affordable, broadcast-quality machine, it mainly loses to the VX2100 in terms of low-light conditions. This is really where the Sony shines - low-light shooting. A popular breakdown of the VX2100 vs. the GL2 is that the VX2100 works better in low light, and the GL2 has a more powerful zoom. That pretty much is what it comes down to. The GL2 has a "frame mode," in which you get 30 frames/second non-interlaced video. The idea behind this is to equate to the popular, on-demand 24p, to get that "film look." Such a look is only important if you plan on doing actual movies, and unfortunately, the GL2's frame mode simply isn't that great. Aside from that, when you later edit your shots, there's tons of programs and plug-ins which will do the same thing - but better.
Now, the XL1s. I know I've used the word "simply" a lot in this review, and that's primarily because I want to make the comparisons simple. When one goes to taste a Coke and a Pepsi, it would be useless to make a pro and con list to decide which tastes better... to you. Instead, you just pick the one you like, and continue drinking - and you probably wouldn't mind the other brand next time (ok, maybe not all of you). Anyways, the point being all of these cameras will give you an excellent picture, and they'll all do a bunch of extra things. If you're a serious, professional videographer, then it is recommended you compare long specifications lists to see which better meet your needs. On the other hand, if you're like me and just want something that will shoot family and non-planned out footage, these will all do great. And when you go to shoot a movie, wedding, documentary or whatever it is you're doing professionally, these cameras will continue to impress you.
Ok, about that XL1s. This camera has been used in movies - 28 Days Later, TV shows - pretty much the entire MTV line-up, commercials - that Jerry Seinfeld American Express one, etc. Needless to say, this is a very impressive camera. Not only is it significantly larger than the others, but its most sought after feature is the fact that the lenses are interchangeable. What's not frequently mentioned is the fact that these lenses cost upwards of $600/pop. Of course, the XL1s has some more professional features to justify the price jump from the GL2 - those of which you can read about on those spec sheets I mentioned earlier.
And finally, onto the "Panny," or the Panasonic DVX100a. This camera has a whole several-thousand member online discussion forum for it. That should tell you how much people love this camcorder. I think it's nice, myself. Don't know how much I love it. I know what everyone loves about it is the fact that it does 24p perfectly - that's the aforementioned "film effect" feature. The problem is, when you compare its other features to the VX2100, the Sony is the better camcorder. And don't forget you can still get a "film effect" when you go to edit your video.
So, all in all, these are the camcorders which are all in somewhat of a similar price range. I know I've considered all four of these, which is why I wanted to share what I found for that other guy who wants to know the same thing. You probably still want to check out some other places for reviews, which is highly recommended. Like I said, I spent 4 weeks doing what you're doing now, and I ended up with the VX2100. Take that for what it's worth.
See ya in the funny pages!
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on November 8, 2005
This camera has been in my eye for roughly 3 years now and now that it is finally in my possession, I could not be more pleased. As the previous owner of a Canon Optura 300, I had been craving a more professional camera for a very long time. My Canon, while being possibly one of the best 1-chip camera I have ever used, was far too small for what I needed to accomplish with it. I craved for more manual control, an easier layout, a more stable camera, and full and in-depth control over white balance and focus. The VX2100 fulfilled all these requirements spectacularly. I use this camera primarily for filming skateboarding and snowboarding videos and short films and it is seemingly tailor made to suit the needs of those who documents these sports. Here is a short synopsis of what makes each of the features on this camera so fantastic.

Layout: This camera has a great layout. From the zoom and focusing ring near the front of the camera to the record button and zoom rocker on the handle, to the dedicated Audio and White Balance buttons on the back, everything is easy to find, well labeled, and intuitive in its placement.

Manual Control: This camera has some of the most indepth manual features of nearly any prosumer camera on the market today. As I stated before, this camera is mostly button instead of menu driven, it saves so much time when you're at a spot and you only have about 5 minutes to get the shot, you just hit the dedicated white balance button and !voila!, vibrant and accurate color reproduction at the touch of a button. The focus and zoom both give the right amount of resistance when turning, making it easy to get the exact focus and zoom that you want. The color shift feature is also very useful, allowing you to change the camera's settings so the CCDs pick up all the colors perfectly (the VX2100 is notorious for having a colder, more bluish picture compared to the VX1000). The integrated Neutral Density filter is quite useful on those really bright days when glare is overwhelmingly present and distracting. Overall, this camera is incredibly in depth in the sheer choices you can make to tweak the picture just right.

Maneuverability: This camera is just the right size when it comes to handheld filming. Most of the weight of the camera is towards the front, but is perfectly balanced from the top handle. The camera is also not too long, allowing you to get closer to the subject when using a fisheye and allowing you to manipulate the camera in tight quarters.

Overall, this prosumer camcorder is another winner for Sony and should be seriously considered by anyone who is either an aspiring filmmaker, or is looking to buy a top class camcorder. An excellent buy!
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on October 26, 2006
UPDATE. 3-3-8. I used this camcorder to film myself making a house painting video. It has been selling on Amazon for over 10 months now. Check out house painting dvd's in the search bar from the DVD section and click on Weekend Painter's DVD! Or see a short clip at! This is the reason I bought this in the first place and it worked like the champ it is! Still going strong, but now I use for weekend trips to the mountains and beach, and so forth. Always pleased when I come home and plug it in to watch the footage!

Original review starts here: SO MUCH PRAISE ALREADY...WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Well this is simply the best camcorder I've ever owned or used. At this level I've used the GL2 in the past. But I bought the VX2100.
I took some footage of a lake recently and thought I was looking at film when I played it back on my HDTV. The color was beautiful and natural looking! One rule. The better the lighting the better the picture!

My first camcorder was a JVC in 87' VHS-C that was just about the same size as this camcorder now. But me-o-my, what a difference digital makes!!
I dig the iLink from my camcorder to my PC and TV and my DVD recorder. ilink can run the show!

Many manual features that lets a dude take control and play around when he has to and wants too! On screen menu really simple and the manual for this is well written and straight forward. But I must admit that some of the dubbing info is over my head at present as well as using memory chip tapes. But I'll get there.

12X zoom could be more but it can also be plenty! Stabilization works fine for my needs, but alot of what I shoot is tripod mounted! "Put it on the TRIPOD" {what movie was that from?} ha ha.

The 2 1/2" LCD is a bit small, works fine, but I find myself gravitating to the eyepiece. It's quicker to use and saves battery life. But the LCD is great to turn 180 degrees to shoot yourself with {ha} and use the remote with!
You might want to buy the Sony 970 battery. Don't waste or risk on other brands, this one battery I used for 6 hrs straight doing an interview and it still had life in it!! The one that come with it is of course a small battery that lasts about 2 1/2 hrs. Thats rec. play-back, stand-by etc etc. Just these two batteries is all I need!!!!!!

Also I added a wide angle lense. The Canon 58m wide anlge works fine with this unit.
Some lighting too; How about Smith Victor 2 umbrella 250 watts lights. Makes indoor shooting look like a TV show!

Lastly a mic. Depending on your use, you might want a shotgun mic for outdoors, or a lav mic indoors. The on camera mic is for people speaking rather close.

All in all I couldn't be happier that I bought "this" camcorder. I read and looked around quite awhile before I bought. I think I have more Sony products in my house than any other and this is now no exception! Lights, camera, action!
review image review image review image
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on April 22, 2005
This camera is easy to use and makes a good quality recording. Since it is an upper end product, it does have a longer learning curve than more simple models but the effort is worth it for the added features. There are, however, a few quirks which could have been fixed to make this a much more usable piece of equipment.

The provided microphone jack is an 1/8" stereo. In my camera, at least, it is not mounted very securely. When I have an external mike connected, I had to be very careful to make sure that nothing touched it, otherwise, the sound would drop off. A friend with some tools and expertise fixed this problem but it should never have happened.

The master switch moves from off to VCR mode (up one), record to tape mode (down one) or record to stick mode (down two). It is intuitive but very easy to overshoot the mark. This can be frustrating and I cannot help but believe there is a better design that could be used.

The "VCR" controls are located on the top surface of the camera. They are intuitive and employ commonly used symbols. They are also backlit and impossible to discern in sunshine. You can see the symbols but there is no way to tell which, if any, of the functions are selected. It is still usable but it is a pain in the backside.

There are a multitude of things that could be done to make the interface on this camera easier to use but it is usable as it is now.
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on July 28, 2004
This camera is fierce competition for Canon's XL1S. It has the features you need, the Sony name, and flawless transfer. WARNING!: This is NOT for the amateur home videoer. The parameters are begging to be tweaked - just for fun. Settle for a Handycam if you're just filming Billy's soccer game. This one right here is made to be USED. Good for media students, career filmers/editors, and anyone who wants to REALLY have some interesting fun...Sony doesn't disappoint on this one.
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on June 9, 2006
I love this camcorder!

It is fantastic in low light, and good lighting too. I was torn between this and the new HiDef camcorders out right now and chose this one mainly because of the low light ability. I have not been disappointed at all. There are numerous manual controls to tweak to any shooting condition. Almost all have separate buttons dedicated to perform then individual functions. It balances very well, and while it is heavier than the small cameras it really does not feel that way after a short time using it.

I would buy this again
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VINE VOICEon December 18, 2008
I did type out a lengthy review, and it was a very encompassing one, but somehow it disappeared because of a button on my mouse. Needless to say I am just going to sum up what it said, and know I did have a long review for you, but alas it was not meant to be.

One of the better prosumer cameras out there, and one of the better documented low light performing cameras. It beats the XL-2 and DVX100b in that regard. If you are looking for a professional quality camcorder than look no further, this is a fantastic 3CCD camera for all your shooting needs. The only drawback is that it doesn't have 24p capabilities or HD, but since there are a plethora of HD cameras out there now, well then for that you could go look elsewhere. If 24p and HD is not on your list of wants, this is one of the better MiniDV camcorders on the market, that will last and keep lasting while giving you a superior shooting quality day in and day out.

This and an editing program will get to places you've always wanted to go to in the world of shooting, be it high quality family videos, weddings, short films, and feature length amateur films. It's paucity of functions make it easy for anyone to pick this up and learn how to use. It is actually a very easy camera to learn to function and use for the beginner and as such anyone could pick this up and start with their prosumer shooting right away.
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on September 25, 2015
I use two of these and they are the back bone of what my wife and I do. The images are clean and crisp (for MiniDV that is). The colors are great - we compared our to a CanonXL-1s and ours won hands down. Yes, it has a fixed lens, but the wide/telephone zoom does everything we need (manual focus - zoom in tight, focus, the pan out). Battery life is not bad. Heavier than my DVC-20, but what's not to like. The litte wheel that you make adjustments to when in manual mode has a tendency to get dirty and every so often you have to get it cleaned ($100.00) but a small price to pay, all things considered. And the best thing, no tape transport problems like Canon has....
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on March 3, 2007
I purchased this camera to use with my previous church's media ministry, based on my trial use of the VX2000. That was three years ago. This camera is STILL running as well as it did when I bought it. I use it upwards of 3 times a week to create content for web and DVD production, plus, I get great digital audio recordings when I plug directly into my current church's sound system. The ability to tweak audio and video input on the fly is incredible. Now that I am creating a multimedia team for our church, I've convinced the church to buy one for themselves.
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on November 27, 2012
I bought the Sony VX-2100 almost two years ago. Even then it was being phased out. In its place came Sony HD cameras like HD FX-1 or the HD FX-1000. These cameras were good in their own right, but they have their foundation thanks to the Sony VX-2000 and VX-2100. These cameras were doozies! This is the 19th Amazon review and 14th Five-Star Review for The Sony VX-2100.

First, I want to say that I saw this camera used first hand on the set of several Pure Play Productions in California. The camera worked fantastically and it was then in 2004 that I decided to get one of my own. The problem was the expensive price tag. Thus I had to wait for several years before I got one and then bought another frontline unit. The first, I kept unboxed, and has never been used to this day.

The low light abilities of this video camera are legendary. Indeed, it is even better than the HDR FX-1000, which came out some years later. Rosevelt Noble's Two Star Review on January 13, 2009 seemed to prove this. Yet, here the Sony VX-2100 still has a perfect positive rating that has lasted since 7 July 2004! That is Phenomenal!

Just yesterday I was being tutored by Richard Andrews, videographer extrodinaire from Optic Reason. He showed me how I could shoot using the manual adjustment Auto Lock Selector switch. This, along with the toggle exposure dial allowed me to control the darkness and brightness the camera lense was exposed to. In plain English, this permitted me to control brightness, shutter speed, white balance and PROGRAM AE! My mini-DV's when transferred to DVD will look all the better thanks to this knowledge imparted by him!

Summing this review up, I realize the time has passed this camera by, and it is technically obsoltete, but the unit more than holds its own when compared to any run of the mill camera manufactured today. My VX-2100 camera will be used by me for many years to come and I'm certain that historians will look back and call this camera one of the greatest ever made by Sony Industries. The fact that most AFI DVD productions of the 2000's were shot with this camera can attest to its greatness. Buy it and you will not be disappointed.

A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
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