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A small HD digital video camera recorder with a projector... How cool is that? But is it worth it?
on October 1, 2012
For my latest tech review, I take a look at Sony's latest HD digital video recorder, the HDR-PJ200.
I. What's in the package?
- Digital Recorder with built-in USB cable
- Mini-HD Cable
- Rechargeable Battery Adapter (Power Cord/AC Adapter)
- USB-=>Video cables (AV Connecting Cable)
- Yellow, Red, white component cables
- USB Adapter (USC Connection Support CAble)
- Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-FV30
NO SDCARD IS AVAILABLE. You will definitely want to purchase a Class 10 SDCard (4GB minimum but I recommend 32GB or 64GB).
II. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
- APPEARANCE: After unpackaging, I was pretty impressed of how small this digital video camera is. The width is probably 3-inches wide, small enough to hold with one hand and is very light. The camera is plastic and you get a feeling that if you do drop this camera, it's done for.
- BATTERY: Battery is not charged, so I had to charge the battery which took about two hours. The camera can be charged via it's built-in USB cable which will take about an hour and half. Like most digital cameras with a battery pack, it's best to take the battery pack out of the camera when not in use. For the MP-FV30, you get about 95 minutes of continuous recording time and 45 minutes of HD recording time, for standard shooting around 105 minutes. This battery goes about $15-$20 but I recommend going for a NP-FV50 for 180 minutes, NP-FV-70 (about 375 minutes) or a NP-FV100 battery which gives you about 745 minutes recording time.
- SHOOTING TIME: I recommend using a 32GB or 64GB Class 10 card for longer shooting.
HIGHEST QUALITY (FX) gives you about 45 minutes recording time
HIGH QUALITY (FH) gives you 1 hour
STANDARD HQ (HQ) gives you about 1 hour and 50 minutes
Long Play (LP) gives you 3 hours and 15 minutes.
- PROJECTOR: Projector and LCD screen can move 90-180 degrees. The LCD screen is touch screen (for zooming in and out, recording, playing video) and on top is a projector focus. On the LCD screen you can:
- ZOOM (Wide/Telephoto)
- Guide showing recording, Automatic Exposure, Automatic Focus, Tracking Focus, Zoom, Remaining Battery, Counter, Intelligent Auto., View images, etc.
NOTE: Because a touchscreen is used, I recommend purchasing a plastic screen protector. Anything that can protect the screen from damage or scratches.
- INITIAL SETUP: Setting up the camera for region, date and time was very easy.
- ON or OFF: There is no power button. If you open the LCD screen, the camera turns on. For the lens, there is a switch to open and close the lens cover.
- BUTTONS: The buttons are user-friendly.
On top of the Camera:
- MODE: Switch from video or to take pictures
- Zoom Lens features a 30x Extended Zoom
- Photo Button - When selecting photo mode, on top is a photo button to take pictures.
On Back of Camera:
- Start/Stop Video
On Side of Camera with LCD Open:
- Projector - To switch to projector mode on playback
- Play button
- Slots for mini-HDMI and the USB-Video cables
- Built-in USB Cable
- Right on the hand guard is a mini-USB cable (an inch long). For people needing more wire, an included USB adapter with 2 ft. cord is included.
RECORDING: You can selected highest quality (1920x1080/60i quality, AVCD HD 24M), high quality (1920x1080/60i quality, AVCD HD 17M), standard (1440x1080/60i quality, AVCD HD 9M )and long time (1440x1080/60i quality, AVCD HD 5M).
III. TESTING THE CAMERA:
During my tests of the HDR-PJ200, I realized that a lot of the functions are via touchscreen. So, with that being said, I would not let young children use the touch screen or mess with it as it is your primary way of using this camera.
A. LOW-LIGHT TEST: First test was indoor utilizing low-light. The camera detected low-light and tried to compensate but like most digital cameras around this price-range, low-light is not going to be that great. It will be grainy, but once the camera does pick up light, the video quality is great. Tested the camera in various indoor-light situations and low-light is OK, but it's outdoors during sunlight where this camera really shows off its awesome picture quality.
B. OUTDOOR TEST: In sunlight, this camera looks absolutely fantastic! Vibrant colors and I love the zoom for this camera. From far away, I was able to zoom 30X and get a good closeup of a section over 100 yards away. But the more farther you zoom, the more difficult it is to shoot without shakiness. The camera has camera-shake detection, but you would need to enable Intelligent Auto Function. So, for long distance shooting, I do recommend a tripod. Otherwise, I zoomed on a person in movement about 75 yards away and the camera picked up motion detection and was able to capture the person amazingly well without blur or problems.
The camera has Face Priority and Tracking Focus which helps the camera capture clear images. There is also a smile shutter included and that the camera easily detects.
Subject detection was easy to set. Face Detection allows for adjusting of focus, color and exposure and to select portrait or baby. Scene detection allows for backlight, landscape, night scene, spotlight, lowlight and macro.
C. PHOTO TEST:
Photos are easy to take with this camera. You can choose from the following image sizes L 16:9 (5.3MB), L 4:3 (4.0MB), S 16:9 (1.3MB), S 4:3 (VGA)
D. PROJECTOR TEST:
I felt the project worked very well around 3-4 ft. from a solid source. There is a projector focus on top the LCD screen and it works! The more outdoor shots you take, the better the projector quality is as opposed to shooting indoors with low-light.
E. PlayMemories Home (Lite Version): The camera comes with a built in PlayMemories Home (Lite Version) to transfer video to your computer. When plugging the device to your computer, you can install the software to Windows 7, XP computers. For Mac users, a storage drive will show on your computer. But if you have iPhoto or iMovie, you can easily access the files. But included in the storage drive is a MAC URL to access Sony Software.
But plugging the camera in to your computer, you are given two choices: USB Connect or Disc Burn
Sony's HDR-PJ200 is a solid performer with great picture quality when it comes to outdoor and areas with a lot of light. While low-light, it may be too grainy for some. But there are other cameras that perform better in low-light.
It's strength is in its 30x Extended Zoom and how it's able to capture motion detection very well. And of course, the biggest plus for this digital video camera recorder is its projector. The projector does work amazingly well if a solid object is 3-4 ft. away. I've tried it on a various of colored walls and objects and the projector does work. You just want to make sure that the video is outdoors for it to look bold and beautiful via projection. Otherwise with low-light indoor video, I was having to put the camera about a foot away from the wall for it to look right.
I like the fact that Sony included various cables with the product, also the automatic USB is nice to have as part of the camera.
But the big question people may ask is $379.00 a good price for the camera. You get an HD camera with a projector. Most video cameras don't offer that. But it all depends how important the projector is for you. It's great if you are on vacation and want to project your family trip on the back seat of a car so the kids can watch.
With that being said, this camera is tied into its touchscreen. Break the LCD screen, and the camera is done for. And because the camera is light, made of plastic, I don't want to think about what if you drop it. I've dropped camcorders before but they were bulky, I dropped FLIP cameras but they seemed durable. But the HDR-PJ200, I get a feeling if you drop it, it's done for. So, I highly recommend purchasing a bag for this camera and possibly adding a secondary wrist strap.
But overall, the camera does deliver when it comes to capturing HD video in well-lighted or outdoor environments. But how important is the project for you, that's probably going to be the biggest drive. While it works great from outdoor shots, if you are looking at it to capture your baby or child when asleep or in low-light, the camera may be too dark/grainy for your taste. But if you feel this is a camera to take with you for outdoor travel and need that projection for personal or business, it works remarkably well.
But there are other cameras that perform just as well without the projector and are much cheaper. So, if the projector is important, then the Sony HDR-PJ200 is for you!