on March 11, 2013
This video camera is perfect for me and my use for family and travel video recordings. I found the HD quality quite good, even in low light. I did not detect any graininess indoors and of course all outdoor videos were quite sharp and color true. I took video of some cranes walking around in the yard with the zoom and it was crystal clear, really beautiful. You could see the birds' eyes and feathers sharply. I was able to play all my videos back on my HDTV as well as on my mac computer, using iPhoto to import all photos and videos. I may not be a professional photographer, but I am quite happy with my purchase of this camera. While I can charge the camera using my laptop, I also purchased an extra battery and charger for travel.
The HDR-PJ230 is an odd mixture of functionality and features. This camcorder's Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar lens has a 27x optical-zoom ratio and a 35mm equivalent focal length (29.8mm on wide) - so what you see is what you get. The LCD viewer flips out and rotates almost 270 degrees to accommodate any viewing angle. The 13 Lumen projector lets you do instant replays on-the-spot. You can record in traditional AVCHD or even Youtube Friendly 720P MP4 to make video sharing easier.
In my testing the LCD was difficult to view in the sun. The included 500mah battery lasted 47 minutes. The LCD is rather small but on par with similar camcorders. The camcorder contains a Exmor R CMOS sensor that helps with low light conditions but from testing the interior low-light picture quality isn't great. If you want HDMI pass-through, Cinema mode or Balanced Optical Steadyshot you need a more expensive model like the HDR-PJ380,HDR-PJ430V,HDR-PJ650V or HDR-PJ790 that cost hundreds more.
The camcorder market is crowded but the undisputed leaders in the consumer and pro-sumer camcorders are Sony and Canon. Sony in many ways invented the camcorder but the market has evolved so there are a lot of options available in almost any price bracket. The HDR-PJ230 sits in the middle of the entry level. In this price range Canon offers the VIXIA HF R40 HD which offers 32X Optical Zoom, dual SXHD memory card slots, SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer, 3 inch LCD, WiFi and 24P cinema mode but lacks a projector. In the Sony line the Sony HDR-CX380/B High Definition Handycam Camcorder with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) offers a lot more camcorder features but without the projector.
======= PROS ==========
[+] Full HD 1080/60p Video
[+] 2.7" LCD
[+] 13 Lumen Projector
[+] AVCHD and 720P MP4 Recording Modes
[+] 8GB sorage (~3hours recording)
[+] Expandable Memory Stick/SD/SDHC/SDXC slot to add up to 64GB more.
[+] SteadyShot (non optical)
[+] Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 27x Optical Zoom Lens
[+] Sony PlayMemories Video Editing Software (download from Sony.net/pm)
[+] Build-In USB connector
[+] 2 channel Dolby Audio Recording
[+] 1 years Parts Warranty (90 Day Labor)
======= CONS ==========
[-] MANUAL lens cover
[-] No touchscreen
[-] LCD Hard to See In Bright Light
[-] Interior photo quality
[-] No camera Shoe to mount accessories
[-] No option Live Capture video
[-] Only USB 2.0 slowish video copying
[-] No HDMI Input
[-] Non-Optical Steadyshot
[-] No 24P mode (cinema mode)
[-] Proprietary Power Cable
==========IN THE BOX========
Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-FV30)
(download PlayMemories from Sony.net/pm)
MP4: 1280x720 30p
Modern camcorders have evolved in several directions. Some have evolved to look a lot like professional video recorders used in the TV and Movie industry. Others have become multi-purpose devices with a myriad of features to make the camcorder more functional for the day-to day user. The HDR-PJ230 falls into this latter category. This camera shoots HD video, projects with a built-in 13 lumen projector and takes medium resolution photos. The projector feature may seem like a gimmick but it sure comes in handy when you finish up a family or school event and want to review the recording on the fly.
======= VIDEO EDITING =====
Once you create your video you will need to install software to edit that video. If you want to use Windows Movie Maker to edit your files you will have to convert them first using a tool like FFPMEG. If you want better options for editing here is a list of some compatible software. I personally use Adobe Prelude and Adobe Premier Pro becasue they use GPU hardware acceleration. Sony includes their "PlayMemories" software free with the camcorder.
Sony PlayMemories (download from Sony.net/pm)
Adobe Premiere Pro (CS4+)
Adobe Premiere Elements (7+)
Apple Final Cut Pro X
Sony Movie Studio Platinum(8+)
Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite 12(8+)
*When recording, a new movie files is created for every 2GB recorded and every time you pause.
========= ACCESSORIES ========
Bigger Rechargeable Batteries Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger for Sony NP-FV100)
Fluid Pan Head (Manfrotto)
==== TIPS =====
The recording timer is very accurate. When the camera says it's almost out of space, it really is.
Get a tripod. Even with stabilization normal human movement makes for a jerky video.
It takes a long time to copy large files to the computer.
Every time you pause a new file is created
on February 14, 2013
I've owned video cameras, and without mentioning any of their names, I've got to give the Sony PJ230 all the stars in the sky. Where to start; The Operating Guide manual is written with full cross-reference and clearly laid out details that cover even a full printed map of all menus - Five stars for the Operating Guide alone, next, the glass, image quality is superb thanks to a high performance Carl Zeiss lens, to which I must add, the most wonderful feature on the camera, for me, is the smooth zoom that is easy to control for dynamic and impressive slow zoom which can be pushed to a fast zoom all the while under the full control of the videographer. With 8.9 megapixels for the still camera, you have something that is suitable for wildlife images using the powerful (32x) optical zoom, or, take stills at the same time you are shooting video footage, all done without a glitch to either still or movie action on the fly. The controls are instinctive, unlike 'other' video cameras out there, Sony has put the control into the hands of the artist running the camera buy designing the camera to work ideally in the human hand. Other cameras I have worked with forget the human element and make you struggle to 'try' to get the shots you want, not so with the Sony Pj230, everything is available while you are shooting with natural hand and finger movement on the controls which are so well placed to keep you focused on your subject and not on the camera. Let me quit drooling on here about this camera and simply say there is nothing, not even at a professional level, that this camera does not address in a professional and complete manner. I dumped all of my other equipment in order to get a fresh shot at a documentary I am working on as well as footage to put together a screenplay that has hopes of making it to a theatre near you in the future. I've spent my entire working career in multimedia presentations so I recognize at good working tool. The Sony Pj230 is definitely one camera that is a keeper and a close 'right-hand' ally. I have not even begun to get into the bigger batteries, accessories and whatnot I have purchased also for this camera, but I will say, I believe you will find that it will open up possibilities for you no matter what job you have assigned to it. Simplicity of design, super light weight, small 'out of the way' size and powerful features will having you producing your best work yet. Some have said to spend more and get a "pass through" feature available on the more expensive models, but for my dollar, this camera does it all, and for my production interests it is the best thing since sliced bread IMHO.
Oh, BTW, the projector feature is amazing, something I could have lived without I'm sure, but since it really does work, and amazingly well, I'm very glad to have it as a 'fun' feature and recommend that also. Look at the specs. see that it delivers it all, and enjoy.
The first thing you'll notice is how small this camcorder is. It's about the size of a can of soda. That means ultra-portability.
I have a Canon VIXIA HV40 High Definition Camcorder, which is an all-around solid performer, but I didn't like how time-consuming it was to transfer video from mini-DV onto my computer. With this Sony, you can shoot in AVCHD (format used by Blu-ray) or mp4 and edit directly from the digital files. The easiest to work with is mp4. You can trim clips in QuickTime Pro or iMovie. MP4 can also be directly uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing sites. No software is included with the camera. You can download Sony's editing software online.
Video quality is good and the zoom is impressive. It's optical zoom, not digital. When zoomed in all the way, shake and unsteady hands becomes very apparent. As a digital camera, it's not very good. I went to the park to take some shots with it and the results were disappointing. First of all, it takes about half a second to save a shot. It's not a long time, but it's certainly noticeable. Not only was there a noticeable delay, the pictures I took were fuzzy. Not blurry, mind you... there was no camera shake. As a rule, I don't recommend camcorders for still photography. Stick with a dedicated still camera.
The projector was better than I anticipated. 13 lumens isn't a lot, but it's enough to project clearly onto a white wall in a darkened room. A little slider on the LCD panel lets you set the focus. Projected from about 10 ft away, the picture was clearly visible. I didn't think I would use this much, but it's much more convenient than fishing for an HDMI cable and connecting to the TV to show video.
I didn't mind the lack of touchscreen functionality, as the mini-joystick is easy to use. I didn't like the lack of a viewport and the fact that the LCD panel must be open for the camera to operate. There's no ON/OFF button as far as I could tell. I also didn't like the USB cable permanently attached to the side of the camera. It's really short (something like 5 inches). For laptops, this isn't so bad of an issue, but for desktops where the USB ports are often on the back of the machine, this could make for some awkwardness. Inside the box is an extender cable that adds about another 2.5 feet reach.
The camera can be charged with the included AC adapter.
This camera has everything that I need in a basic camcorder, with some excellent unique features. I'll go over some of the features that make this a top camera in the sub-$500 price range. For under $500 you can't expect all the bells and whistles, but Sony does deliver a lot for the price.
8 GB Flash Memory built-in with a slot for up to 64GB of additional memory (Memory Stick or SD/SDHC/SDXC). For most videos 8GB is more than enough. Shooting at MP4 format will give you 2 hours and 40 minutes of video. Shooting at the highest setting will give you just under 40 minutes. But if you need to shoot longer than this, adding 64GB cards will give you unlimited shooting time.
The glass Carl Zeiss lens creates very clear images. Coming from a long history of using DSLR photo cameras, I know how important the glass of a lens is. It's very hard for other brands to compete with Sony's Carl Zeiss glass. Great glass on a $400 camera is hard to find. Sony has always shined in this area.
There is a 22x optical zoom. This means that you can zoom in without reducing the image quality. At full zoom, the image stabilization is a little shaky, but on a tripod it's perfect.
I am very happy with the image quality on the videos. They are very crisp and have accurate colors with attractive color saturation. Sony has a solid reputation for being one of the top 2 best brands of camcorders (the other being Canon). I found some sample videos on YouTube comparing this Sony with Canon's budget level camcorder and I think that the difference is so minor that most people wouldn't notice.
The projector screen is a very fun feature. Although not essential, it does make it very easy to playback recorded videos for family and friends. This is very useful when you don't want to use AV cable to hook the camcorder into a TV. The projector light is 13 lumens, which is a lower intensity for projectors. The projector does show very well in dark rooms, but in daylight the image becomes hard to see. Unfortunately, I was not able to load MP4 videos from my computer onto the camcorder and then play them like a movie theater. The Sony camcorder will only recognize video files that it records.
This camcorder is very light weight and very portable. I can fit it into my pants pocket and take it with me. Unfortunately, the camcorder does feels like a low-end model. The parts are all plastic. For traveling, a light camera is a definite plus.
The USB cable is built into the camcorder, just above the hand grip. This means no lost cables! You use the USB cable to charge the camcorder battery as well. It would be easiest if a cheap USB extension cable (female-male type) is used because it would lengthen the cord. AmazonBasics USB 2.0 A-Male to A-Female Extension Cable (3.3 Feet/1.0 Meter).
The biggest drawback I feel is that there is no touchscreen. Instead there are buttons located around the screen to navigate the menu. Given the low price tag, the buttons weren't a deal breaker for me. But having a touch screen is convenient.
There you have it. All in all, this is a great entry-level consumer camcorder. The projector and lens really make this shine above the others out there. If you are thinking about jumping from a "pocket camcorder" to a standard camcorder, definitely go for it! The image quality and sound take a huge jump up in camcorders. I tend to see the pocket camcorders as being the same quality as a good smart phone. Whereas even this entry level Sony is far, far superior.
Years ago, I decided to add a consumer video camera to my extensive array of 35mm Nikon camera bodies and lenses. I agonized over the format for a while--VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Super8 and probably others that I've forgotten. I decided to buy an 8mm-format Sony camcorder, because it was the smallest, lightest-weight one available. That was the key factor in my decision. The main reason I wanted the camcorder was to videotape hikes, backpacks and multi-day, cross-country treks all over the world, so it had to be small and light. It worked out great for that purpose for quite a while, until the batteries stopped holding a charge. I eventually stopped using it, and left it to gather dust in one of my home office cabinets.
With my interest in video recording recently rekindled, I took a look at modern camcorders and was overwhelmed by the enormous strides technology has taken since back in the day. Today's camcorders are true marvels of miniaturization and versatility. I opted to stick with Sony, a brand I've generally been satisfied with, and chose the HDR-CX230 as the model that offered the right combination of features and price for me. The whole thing is not much bigger than one of the batteries for my old 8mm camcorder, and it weighs far less. Amazing!
I like almost everything about the HDR-CX230. Although so far I've only scratched the surface of its features and capabilities, it is remarkably intuitive and easy to use. Swinging out the large side-panel screen turns the camcorder on--there's no separate power switch. The panel rotates on its universal joint to virtually any position, including facing forward. Three small buttons, for starting/stopping recording, zooming the lens and taking a still photo while recording video, fall readily to hand--or to fingers, actually--when you hold the camcorder. Most functions are set using the side-panel screen, which has a large, clear display and a clever mouse-like button in one corner to move the "cursor" among items on the screen and select them. There's a very short built-in USB cable that tucks into the hand strap when not in use--a longer cable is provided in the box, as is an HDMI cable. A door on the bottom accesses a slot into which you can plug an SDHC memory card to supplement the 8GB of internal memory. Video and audio quality are excellent, based on the few tests I've run, and should certainly be more than adequate for casual users. Professional video photographers may scoff, but the videos look and sound great to me.
Here're a few things potential buyers should know: The only way to charge the included lithium-ion battery (which is uncharged at purchase) is through the USB cable hooked up to a running computer. The HDR-CX230 box includes neither a battery charger nor an AC adapter. Also not included is an AV cable with RCA plugs to connect to a standard-definition television. Thus I bought two Sony NP-FV50 batteries, a Sony Travel Charger, three Sony 32GB SDHC Memory Cards and an AV cable separately. These accessories added a couple of hundred dollars over the price of the camcorder itself. You have to download software from the Sony website in order to transfer videos to a computer (it's a straightforward process), and you have to manually open the lens cover when you turn the camcorder on (don't worry, it'll remind you if you forget).
The Sony HDR-CX230 is a compact, capable, user-friendly camcorder that I enthusiastically recommend to anyone in the market for such a device. I've had lots of fun with it just in the short time I've had it, and I eagerly anticipate enjoying many years of video-making pleasure with it. In my opinion, it's a great product for a great price.
on March 16, 2013
Although Amazon lists this item as having 16GB of internal memory, it actually comes with 8GB. It's not too big of a deal for me since I had planned on buying a higher-capacity SDHC card. Just scroll through the page and read the features provided by Sony that state that it only has 8GB.
This camera is pretty good for what I wanted it for (vlogging & family events). I'm very pleased. Although, it has its quirks.
First off, it feels cheap. There. I said it. It feels like a hollow plastic shell. But, I think that's more of a comment on how far technology is going. The camera is so small and light; there appears to be hardly any components inside. Since it's designed to fit in your palm, there had to be some type of form to make it comfortable. Otherwise, I could easily see this being the size of a point-and-shoot photo camera. A lot of quality products have a plastic shell. It's their heft that makes the shell feel of any quality. Personally, I wouldn't want to carry a heavy camcorder around. Lighter is better, and I happily overlook the cheap feel because of its small weight.
The camera can take photos, too. Sadly, the photos are not of a high quality. Details are blurred, artifacts are abound, and details that I should be able to see (i.e. text) are simply incomprehensible. The photos look great at first glance, but when you start to nit-pick and zoom in, you quickly see the low-quality. Fortunately, I didn't get this camera to take photos.
If you want to save some space on your memory (internal or external), be sure to turn off the feature that automatically takes pictures when it detects a smiling face.
The microphone is too good. It easily picked up distant crickets outside my open window. When I played the video back during the day, I thought there were crickets outside . . . until I paused the video. Very realistic. But, as I said, the microphone is too good.
The mic also picks up the sounds of the internal components, which sound like an old film projector running in the background. It's not very noticeable unless you're filming in a very quiet room. I found that you can set the microphone to 'low' ('normal' is the default setting), which reduces the sound but still picks up the surrounding audio just fine. Unfortunately, it looks like this setting always reverts back to 'normal' when you turn off the camera.
Videos are great, especially in full HD 1080p. But, they have a slight fish-eye effect on nearby objects which is not too troublesome for me. I believe it has something to do with the lens settings since the fish-eye effect disappears when you switch from video mode to camera mode.
Low-light was not as grainy as I had thought it would be, which was surprising.
When switching video modes--HD to MP4 for example--the memory was reformatted, wiping any photos and videos without any warning or notice. Be careful! Set your shooting mode before hand, and keep it there until you safely copy everything to your computer.
If you plan on recording in full HD 1080p, you'll want to get an external memory card. I recommend 32GB to hold more than 2 hours of video (camcorder says 2 and a half hours). You'll also want a second battery with a longer life since the one that comes with it only lasts 1 and a half hours.
The hand strap is more than big enough. I can size it to fit both of my hands at the same time, and I have slightly large hands.
The manual shutter is an odd design choice. It seems you have to pay a premium to get a camcorder to open the shutter when it's turned on and close it when turned off. It's easy to forget to close the shutter and get dust build-up or worse.
The door for the memory card in located on the bottom, and easily flips open. I foresee this snagging on something and popping open, possibly even breaking if the user is not careful. Fortunately, the memory card sits securely inside with no chance of falling out.
All-in-all, I like the camcorder. It's the first one I've owned in over 10 years, and I'm surprised by the tiny size and weight. It should be wonderful for an upcoming trip to Disneyland.
on February 9, 2014
This camcorder records great video for the price, however there are a few things that I do not like about it:
The camcorder comes with built in internal memory. If I could do it over again I'd buy a camcorder without internal memory. The default setting is to record to the internal memory, and as far as I can tell you either have to download Sony's PlayMemories Home software to be able to get video / images off of the internal memory to a computer, or you have to go through a tedious process to transfer files (event by event) from the internal memory to the SD card. I first tried downloading the PlayMemories home software from Sony's website and had no luck - it kept saying that it wouldn't download because of a bad connection, but I clearly did not have any internet connection issues as everything else was working fine. I then had to resort to the one by one file copy, which wasted a few hours of my life. Moral of the story, I see no purpose in having built in internal memory. Do yourself a favor and avoid a camera with built in internal memory and buy one that you simply put an SD card into, record to the SD card, pull the SD card, insert it into a computer and copy your files.
on August 25, 2013
Got this camera out of the box yesterday, I have never had a camcorder, and I am not a good picture taker, my hand shakes.
But I am already practicing with it, trying to get a feel for it and all the soft ware loaded on my computer before we take our cruise next week and stay in the Bahamas.
The first video I shot, of my family in the yard turned out great, I couldn't believe it, no shake, I was shocked. I have already down loaded the soft ware from Sony, and have sent the video to my computer and viewed it.
So far this camera seems very easy to operate, and the menu is easy to understand, the operating manual has an easily understandable description of what each function is for and how to adjust settings.
I love the built in USB cable, the camera is so lightweight and the projector function is cool :) The built in mic picked up the swish of the grass as subjects walked through the yard.
If I can read the book, download the soft wear, and video record in an hour, anyone can. So far I am very happy with this product. I am going to video some more today in different settings to see the difference.
I also noticed some of these reviews said the camera did not come with the AC adapter, that it had to be charged through the computer, the PJ230 did come with the AC adapter, and the USB charger as well. The reviews here are mixed between the PJ 230 and the CX 220.
Well off the practice with my new camera and video some wildlife.
on April 24, 2013
I had to come in to defend this camera. I researched on Amazon camera to get for about 12 hours, I wanted 1080p/60p and this is the camera that delivers. I got my camera for $238, this is the only camera in that price range that shoots at 1080p/60p. Who needs an AC adapter, I love the USB charging. If I'm going to be out all day I can pop this thing in my book bag and charge it to my netbook, such a convenient thing. The quality of this camera is impeccable. The camera doesn't shoot in darkness, but how could it? Even in low light the video is much better then other cameras in its range from watching test video from every single model in the range off youtube. My only complaints are that it doesn't have a microphone port and it doesn't shoot 240p, I knew that going in and I'm okay with that. Again, quality is super sharp, super lightweight, feels super cheap, 8bg built in storage, 1080p,60p, what's not to love.