674 of 685 people found the following review helpful
Hands down, this is an excellent camera and has all the features that any person will use... and more! I'll keep this review short and to the point - giving you everything you need to know to decide if this camcorder is for you. Everything short of watching video samples online. Now onto the top 7 features that make this camera the top consumer model on the market.
1) The biggest improvement over last year's Sony models is the addition of MP4 recording format. Finally Sony decided to release MP4 video format in the camera. This is a huge benefit and essential for the needs of most home video makers. MP4 is the file format used by websites like YouTube and Vimeo. MP4 files can be immediately opened by any computer or smartphone and do not require additional computer software to view. In the past recording in AVCHD or other proprietary formats was a nightmare for non-professionals. Most people want to record and then watch their videos, without purchasing expensive software and waiting hours for video rendering.
2) This camera has Sony's new anti-shake hardware. Other anti-shake methods will move only the lens or the sensor, but this camera moves the entire lens block. Sony claims 13 times less shake and I am amazed at the difference. My Canon VIXIA HF M500 has a very water-like anti-shake feel, where the image floats when the camera moves. But this Sony is much more precise and keeps the image centered inside the picture window much better. Less movement of picture as the camcorder tracks the scene better. With standard handheld shooting, it's tough to get blurry or broken up video. Very impressive.
3) The number 3 awesome feature is Sony's built-in projectors that display the recorded videos onto walls for immediate viewing. This feature is just plain fun! Sure the projector's video quality can't hold a flame to an HDTV, but the hassle of hooking up AV cables to the rear of a wall-mounted HDTV makes the projector great. Plus, everyone who watches these projection videos is always impressed and has lots of questions. Which is perfect for a techie like myself.
In my hopes to use this Sony camcorder as a home theater projector, I tried adding video files from my computer onto the SD card. Unfortunately this camera will only playback videos that are recorded on the camera itself. I tried to play MP4 files from my Canon camcorder and also ones that I downloaded, but the Sony camcorder will not recognize the files.
Last year Sony released it's first line of camcorders with built-in projectors and still is the only brand to offer this. This alone makes an Sony camera worth considering as your top choice.
4) 5.1 Surround sound! Again, most camcorder brands will give 2.0 sound, but Sony gives 5.1 and you can hear the difference. Initially I didn't think much of the 5.1 surround sound feature. But when these videos are played on an HDTV with a 5.1 surround sound stereo system the difference really comes out. 2.0 sound will play only from the speakers to the right and left of the TV. But 5.1 plays in the front speakers, center speaker, rear speakers and sub-woofer.
Most internet uploads will only need a camera with 2.0 sound for laptops, tablets, desktops and headphones. But for home video viewing 5.1 is really great to have.
5) Wi-Fi features like remote control from your smart phone and uploading through your smart phone add another dimension of awesome. Usually remote controls run $100 and can be easily lost, broken or forgotten - so having the smart phone act as one is perfect. Remote controls are excellent when shooting on a tripod and you don't want camera shake or you have to be in the video and there is no one to run it. And for still photo taking, using a remote and tripod gives the clearest photo possible. With unlimited cellular data plans, video can be uploaded onsite - which is becoming more popular due to facebook and twitter. This is a great feature that may not be needed by every person, but can make using this camera a lot easier. No need to pop the memory card out of the camera to put into the computer to upload. Now it's all done in the camera!
6) My number 6 item may not be loved by everyone, but I think it's unique enough to be considered a selling feature. This Sony can shot 22 still image photos over 3 seconds. They call it "Golf Shot" because it can be used to analyze a golfer's swing. But this feature can be used by any action photography - like skateboarding, bird watching, blowing out birthday candles, or just trying to take a group photo without people blinking. This feature essentially bridges the gap of still photo cameras and video camcorders. Sure the resolution is not anywhere close to a DSLR, but if you are looking for one device to do photos and video, this Sony surely beats point-and-shoot cameras for videos and smartphones that do both. For the last year, my Canon camcorder became my take along video and photo camera. The photos were good enough for internet sharing and the video quality exceptional. I know that my new Sony will do a better job.
7) And the final #7 reason why this Sony camcorder is at the top of the list, is the use of SD / SDHC / SDXC memory cards. If you come from a history of using Sony products and have many Sony Memory Sticks lying around, then you may not think this is all that great. However for people moving from other brands of digital equipment, this is very important. Nearly every other brand of camcorder, camera, mp3 player, tablet, etc uses SD/SDHC/SDXC cards for expanded storage. After years, Sony finally joins the crowd. I am grateful that Sony is making themselves more user friendly. Now we don't need to buy Sony-specific memory cards, but can use the stack of SD cards we already own.
Comparing the 1080p & 60 FPS video quality (recorded with AVCHD) to the 720p & 30 FPS video quality (recorded with MP4) it is possible to notice a difference. There are approximately 2 million pixels in 1080p versus 1 million pixels in 720p. With 2x as much data, already the video quality should be different... and with this camera it is. But it's not so much the resolution that stands out, it's the fuzziness the motion causes due to the slower frame rate (60 FPS vs. 30 FPS). Since this Sony camera gives you both true HD AVCHD and internet-ready MP4, I don't see this as a problem. When I want to shoot videos that I'll watch on my HDTV or save for family memories, then I'll use the highest quality AVCHD. But for 90% of my videos, I shoot in MP4 because I'm putting them online.
For those worried about loss in quality on MP4, it really isn't that great. Mostlikley only someone who watches a lot of videos will notice the difference. Think of it like DVD vs Blu-ray. DVDs are still very watchable and for short clips large video files are not wanted. Hard drive space alone can be expensive.
COMPARISON TO CANON VIXIA HF M500...
It is common knowledge that two brands dominate the camcorder market in performance and sales - Sony and Canon. Last year I bought Canon's top range consumer camcorder, minus the bells and whistles. I'll compare the video quality of this new Sony to last year's Canon.
Comparing this Sony to my previous camcorder Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD4 I notice a subtle difference in video quality - with Sony producing crisper images and more color saturation. You may want to watch some YouTube video comparisons to see the difference. Both cameras have MP4 recording format, which is very important in my mind - and what I bought my Canon for last year. The sound on the Sony really is over the top compared to the Canon. Here it's like night and day. Toss in the projector screen, wi-fi abilities and slow motion, rapid fire photographs and this Sony is impossible to beat for a consumer level camcorder.
Highly recommended. I consider it the best consumer camcorder on the market.
I take pride in my reviews. If my review helped you please click the YES button below. It helps make this review easier for others to find. Thanks for reading and good luck!
* * * Updated 12/12/13/ * * *
Reason #8 (posted by Pard in the comments section): You missed one of the biggest (actually, smallest!) advantages of the Sony: its wide angle lens. The focal length in Movie Mode starts at 26.8 mm (35 mm equivalent), which is very wide compared to most other camcorders. This allows you to get a lot more in the frame, especially when shooting indoors. This is the #1 big advantage for me.
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
I've had this camcorder for about 2 weeks now. While it has some flaws that annoy me, it does its primary job (recording videos) outstandingly and i can highly recommend this product despite them if your primary concern is video capabilities. The following are my notes/observations that i recorded during my time with this camcorder.
The video recording is where this device just shines. I love the stabilization technology for video recording. Everything recorded is so fluid and smooth due to what Sony branded "Balanced Optical SteadyShot"...check out Youtube for demos of this technology to see how awesome it is. The microphone also does a superb job picking up and recording sounds. I love how quick it is to startup and quickly capture a moment. I also love that i can take pictures even while recording video. The stillshot camera is nothing special though. Its slightly better than the 8MP camera on my Galaxy S2 smartphone.
Takes a while to charge, atleast 2 hours... and this is via the ac adaptor. You can charge it via USB as well but that will no doubt take twice as long (manual says 280mins in fact). This long charge time is one of the few flaws i found with this device. You can get 2.5 hours of use on the highest quality video(~11 on lowest). While i like the overall design of the device, the battery sticks out at the back. You get used to it but it takes away from the aesthetics in my opinion.
The LCD display is small (with a 960*240 resolution) but it is visible in sunlight. This brings me to another flaw which is the touchscreen responsiveness. It occasionally lags or doesnt respond to touches. I tried calibrating but it didnt really help. The playback mode especially has alot of visible lag between operations (selecting/showing albums). This was my biggest disappointment with this machine.
The projector is a nice perk to have. Its nothing special though, just 640*360 resolution. You also need quite a bit of distance to project a big screen. It also is useless in even a semi-lit environment. It needs to be a dark environment.
Some info i didnt see mentioned in the product description that might be helpful to know:
You have 28 GB available to use. You can attach upto a 64GB memory card.
100-240 V input is supported, so all you need is the plug type converter overseas.
Tripod receptacle length of screw must be less than 5.5mm
The largest single video file you can record is 2GB (where upon it starts a new video file).
70 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
I've only had this for about a week, but so far I am very impressed. This is the first major purchase for me without reading a review. I waited several weeks but couldn't find one review, so I bought based on its features and on the consistently high Sony camcorder reviews. I'm actually not a fan of Sony, but they seem to make the best camcorder in this price rage. As you can see by the specs, this camera has just about every feature you could want and more so I won't go into the feature set. Yes, I wish it had a viewfinder but those are pretty rare these days. The touch screen isn't very responsive but it gets the job done. The video quality is outstanding. Initially I was disappointed until I realized the default factory setting was LP mode. Once you set is at the highest resolution you will be amazed. The stated recording time of 11 hours is based on the LP mode; the highest resolution recording time with the internal memory is about 2:45.
The USB cable built into the strap is nice, but I have concerns that over time it may become frayed or loose. It's the only means of getting data off the camcorder so if it breaks, you're in trouble. There is a hot-shoe accessory that has wi-fi but I don't know much about that yet. The biggest drawback is the USB cord in only about two inches. You'll want to buy an extender immediately because otherwise you need to hold the camera up next to your computer. The camera is light but still too heavy to dangle from the USB cord while it's connected to your computer.
You can add your own SD card and use that instead of or in addition to Sony's internal memory. Thank you Sony for not using a proprietary memory card (for once). The display also has a cool 5:1 Dolby graphic which shows were the recorded sound is coming from.
The projector works well. You need to position it really far back to get a large picture. I don't have a real screen to project on to, just my beige textured wall, but the picture is sharp. It needs to be used in a dark room because the lamp doesn't put out too much light.
The optical stabilization is achieved due to the lens being in some kind liquid housing. When you look at the lens and move the camcorder up and down, it bobbles around, which is very different but it seems to work well. When use an extended zoom, the image doesn't shake like most camcorders but it does gently wander up and down, left and right.
** UPDATE **
After using this more extensively for a few weeks, I am amazed at the image stabilization; it is truly innovative. I've never seen anything like it. Now the bad news, the navigation screen is difficult. Partly because of the small screen size (comes with the territory of having a small camcorder, I guess). I wish there was a 'home' button because getting back to the main screen takes time; I usually end up just shutting it down and turning it back on again. By the way, this thing does turn on very quickly. Just open the hinged viewer and one second later it's going.
Transferring video: When I connect this to my computer and cut/paste, the images and movies don't get deleted from the camcorder. You have to go back in a delete them manually.
The built-in mic and sound processing is excellent. I actually think it's better than my after-market mic (although it's hardly a high end after-market mic).
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
With the cost of this camera being high, I had high expectations of the video quality and I got it. The video quality is unbelievable! The audio can be recorded in stereo or 5.1. The audio can also be modified manually in case you are recording a loud subject such as a band you can lower the recording volume to prevent the sound from being distorted. The menu which can be accessed through the touch screen viewfinder is simple and easy to get around on.
The ONLY problem I'm having is getting the data off the camera onto my computer. There is a software download that Sony offers on their website called "Play Memories Home". This is supposed to allow you to export and even import material from the camera to the computer (and back), and it also does other things as well. After installing said software, I found that my camera and computer doesn't "see" each other properly and it doesn't work. I'll figure it out...
I was tempted to deduct a point in my rating due to my frustration but it wouldn't be fair. This camera IS great and that's the bottom line.
The camera can't download from it's memory card to the computer. You must FIRST send the card's content to the hard drive of the camera - THEN from there you send it to the computer. All this is simple and quick with the click of a button within the menu.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2013
In this age of everything HD, measuring pixels by billions, it's hard to find which camcorder to buy. First, you weed out the ones you can't afford and/or the off-brand cracker-jack models, then you trim the ones that review poorly, and you're left with a list of about 45. All within $200 of each other with very similar specs. Now what!?
I'll let all the other reviewers rant and rave about the laundry list of features of this camera. There's one incredible feature about this camcorder that sets it apart from the rest...
Balanced Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization... PERIOD.
I can't say enough about this feature from Sony, but I'll try to keep it concise. It's a feature previously found only on Sony models over $1,000. It does what expensive, bulky, professional balancing counter-weights do for the pros, from INSIDE A TINY VIDEO CAMERA! If you're a mountain or motocross biker, it's like having actively damped full-supension for your camera.
Here's my take on how it works - The lens is mounted on its own gyroscope that follows where you're pointing it, only it lags behind by just enough to remove your jitters and slow the dizzying pan. There's a reason TV cameramen carry all that heavy equipment and their cameras still have to sit on their shoulder like some 1980 Betamax home video recording device... JITTERS. The smaller cameras have gotten over the years, the more un-watchable home video is because it's so shaky. This device goes WAY past other anti-shaking features (at least that I've ever owned) and because it's "active" it does it without processing or pixelizing your video. When you combine it with the 30x optical zoom you can get clear, watchable video from the sidelines of your OTHER kids game! The shot that says it all was of my family on a boat ride on a choppy lake. The video is smooth as can be, then I slowly zoom out... and continue to zoom out... until you realize they were a quarter mile away! I could go on and on, but the proof is in the pudding... once you try it, you'll be hooked. Your days of home-movie-induced nausea are over.
Oh yeah... There's a lot more to like:
- There's a USB cable built-in to the hand strap so you can download and charge without bringing the rest of the accessories. You CAN'T forget it. No more dragging the bulky camera bag to grandma & grandpas!
- A 32 GB hard drive PLUS removable SD means you don't have to delete last year's championship game to catch this year's playoffs because your hard drive is full. SD cards are cheap, and you probably have a half-dozen laying around that would work in a pinch.
- The LCD screen flap serves as the power, lens cap and standby control... no more 3 step process to prepare to get ready to try to capture what just happened. Instead, you pick it up and flip it open in one swoop and VOILA! you're ready to catch her first steps!
- The zoom toggle is very fluid. It allows you to zoom VERY gradually while recording, or quickly zoom all the way in or out before you start recording.
- You can take digital pictures WHILE you are recording video (this was a bigger deal before I realized my Samsung S4 phone can do this too!)
- In playback mode, you bring up your hard drive FULL of home videos, already arranged by date. Pull up today and hit play and it plays the whole day, video and pictures, in order so you don't have to sit by the camera and select each one
What I don't like:
- The digital camera takes 8 MP pictures, but they're dark and grainy. Don't expect to frame any of these pics, but you'll be able to capture the moment for Facebook without having to stop recording, let alone pull out your phone or other camera.
There's plenty more to know and love about this camera... but you've already read about that in previous reviews.
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2013
Purchased this camera on the basis of the Balanced Optical SteadyShot feature. This feature GREATLY improved the ability to handhold the camera and use zoom. I was able to use it to great effect to capture some soccer video of my daughter from across the field. This was the intended purpose of the camera, and it works great for that.
Here are the pros:
- Balanced Optical SteadyShot. This feature counts for probably 3x as much as any other feature.
- Nice build quality.
- Good zoom length (sometimes 10x is not enough).
- Built in USB cable
- The touch screen GUI is pretty easy to use. I like it better than the others that I tried.
- Nice having some built in memory and an SDXC slot.
Here are the cons:
- The camera's indoor quality is not great. I would say it's quite marginal and the noise makes it seem less than HD. I think it's hardly better than my old Sony MiniDV, which had 3CCD in a small package.
- 1080p60 video looks great, but is hard to work with.
- Bundled video editing software is useless.
- Very hard to work with 1080p60 video in Mac environment. I am still learning this, and it's obviously not the camera's fault that its 1080p60 video is so large, but for those looking for a simple solution, the 1080p60 format complicates your life.
Compared this to the Canon HF G20. Canon costs more money. Canon takes better indoor videos, hands down. The outdoor video was much worse, however, due to it not being capable of 1080p60 and some strange interlace effect. Interlace effect could be eliminated by doing a transcode but that is another step in an already tedious process. Canon cannot take video in the MP4 format either, though the Sony's MP4 output is not terribly impressive either being only 720p.
I am considering returning this camera and waiting for something better ad for 1080p60 software support to shake out, but I don't know. You can't wait forever. A lower end camera wouldn't have Balanced Optical SteadyShot, which seems a must have now.
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2013
This PJ430V projector-equipped camcorder is of the 2013 model year cycle. It represents a refinement of last year's "first-gen" PJ260V model, although apparently Sony has now created two lower-priced 2013 models as well.
Earlier this year I bought a Sony HDRPJ260V High Definition Handycam 8.9 MP Camcorder with 30x Optical Zoom, 16 GB Embedded Memory and Built-in Projector (2012 Model) and my family absolutely loves it. Much of my review reflects a comparison between the PJ430V and the older PJ260V.
The ***BIGGEST*** change from last year's model (and not just the PJ260V but the entire PJ-designated line) is, with the PJ430V and some other 2013 models, you can now project your own images, from your own videos to photos to Powerpoint to whatever, via the new external HDMI input jack. The input jack itself is micro-HDMI, and Sony does include a cable in the box that hooks up to a regular HDMI on the device end. For example, I have no problem projecting Amazon Instant Videos played from my Lenovo laptop. This is a really great way to entertain the family and business associates, no doubt, on the trip, or at home! Getting this to work is as easy as hooking up your playback device to a modern HDTV. On the PJ430V itself, you simply press Playback and then Projector on the LCD screen!
Another sizeable change, other than a slightly bigger exterior body, is the PJ430V has 32GB of internal memory, while lower memory-sized models are cheaper this year.
But here comes my ***TIP***: if you don't think you'll ever hook up to a laptop or Kindle Fire HD or Surface tablet or another HDMI-output device to project images, you'll save a lot of money by going with the PJ260V model, which is only one-year "old" anyway. The PJ260V is also slightly smaller and lighter and has a glossy body finish which makes it look very stylish. The PJ260V handles well unless you have really big hands and fat fingers, in which case this PJ430V will fit your size better. The PJ430V (this product) feels more rugged, whereas the PJ260V feels more refined in the hand.
The PJ in the model name stands for projector, and means this model has a built-in 15 lums projector. In a near-dark room, it can project a watchable image up to 100 inches in diagonal. The V in the model name means this model has GPS, although as with PJ260V, locationing is very slow unless you have a complete open sky, as it does not have a cellular chip to give us A-GPS.
As a camcorder, the PJ430V is excellent. The video image doesn't get better than this on a consumer-grade camcorder. A few years ago my hubby bought a 3CCD camcorder by Panasonic and we were amazed by its video image quality. After we got the PJ260V, we were blown away by its image quality even more, especially in low light conditions. The PJ430V uses the same sensor and image processing chip, so video quality is simply top-notch. The PJ430V does have a bigger lens, and in theory that results in sharper images, but side-to-side I can't tell the difference, yet. At first I thought a bigger lens should also lend to faster exposure, but turns out this is not a faster lens than last year's models. It's about the same in exposure, actually just a tiny bit slower at the tele end of the 30x optical zoom.
As with all recent Sony digital imaging products, the PJ430V has something called "extended zoom" which I first became familiar with on Panasonic cameras. Basically the camera intelligently crops an image taken with all its pixels down to the pixel count needed for a given resolution, say 1080p, so you get more zoom without any image quality loss. The extended zoom here is 55x, augmenting the 30x optical zoom. It really works seamlessly, and you can 100% use the extended zoom just like optical zoom. (In other words, you get optical zoom from 1x to 30x, and then extended zoom kicks in at 30x to 55x.) I never use digital zoom.
The PJ430V can take 8.9MP still photos, just like the PJ260V. But you should know that this is not a true 8.9MP resolution! The camcorder has 5.4 million pixels (see p. 63 of the English Operating Guide), and Sony lays out the pixels in such a way that it allows them to create 8.9MP pictures without much image quality loss. This kind of wizardry was first seen on Fujifilm's SuperCCD cameras, of which my hubby was a big fan for a long time back in the early part of this century! Still photos taken on the PJ430V look nice on the LCD and on projection, are probably on par with an iPhone (which means not as nice as my Nokia Lumia 920 phone but much better than any Android phone), can use optical and extended zoom, but cannot compare with photos taken with a real camera including the excellent Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 16.2 MP Exmor R CMOS Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom and 3.0-inch LCD (Orange) (2012 Model) even at the same resolution. For instance, here you cannot control ISO!
With the 32GB of internal memory, I don't have to use a memory card (SD/SDHC/SDXC or Memory Stick DUO). Video is recorded in one of three formats of your choosing: AVHCD, MP4 or MPG. AVHCD is designed for playback on HDTVs and is best when you record in 1080p or 1080/24. MP4 uses a lot of compression but still has good quality. MPG is for small files so you can e-mail or post them online. My family uses MP4 most of the time. For important occasions, we switch to AVHCD. The PJ430V can do 1080/24 but that's more for enthusiasts than regular home video makers.
One thing Sony took away compared to last year's PJ260V is the wireless remote control. The PJ430V doesn't even have a sensor for a remote control. However, and this is a big however, you can get a WiFi adapter ADP-WL1M1 for this year's models including the PJ430V, and then you can not only wirelessly control the camcorder (via a smartphone app), but wirelessly transfer files as well. I plan to order the adapter after I submit this review.
It's difficult to review a powerful, feature-rich camcorder like the PJ430V in a short review. The projector feature alone is worth a thousand words and a thousand pictures. Camcorders are not popular nowadays, but Sony has done an admirable job in injecting new life, and highly desirably functions, into camcorders. For precious moments in life, camcorders are still the best way to record moving images.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2013
Pros: Excellent Video, Balanced OIS is awesome, 30x Zoom
Cons: Still pictures are useless... mic could have a little more gain...
I am very happy with this camera so far... It does everything I need it to do and more... The HD video is very good and the 30x zoom is great... The auto settings do pretty good in all conditions... I don't care that the still images are grainy and awful because I got it for video...
IT DOES NOT HAVE A BUILT IN FLASH like the AMAZON description states and also Sony site says (This will probably get corrected on both places so just ignore if they did) or at least I don't see one... The manual mentions nothing about a built in flash... There is a place in the cameras menu but it does nothing... I believe it is for an external flash... I will be calling Sony... You can see my unboxing and test video on youtube... Just search for XMSMLL and you will see it on my channel... there are 2 parts... I first bought the CX290/B and it just didn't cut it... then I got the CX380/B and returned that before even opening because I just had to have the BALANCED Optical Steady Shot... well worth it...
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Sony's Handycam line of video recorders has been a solid choice for years, and with the introduction of the HDR-PJ430V Handycam Sony has brought another excellent recorder to the market. It produces excellent quality video, it takes good still shots and it has some features I have never seen in other camcorders.
This is a very small, compact and lightweight camcorder, roughly the size of a box of butter sticks. Out of curiosity I put the camcorder with the battery installed on the kitchen scale and it weighed in at under 14 oz. The small size and very light weight make this camcorder very easy to hold in one hand without fatigue. This is very good news for people who either do not have a tripod or would rather hold the camera for all of their work.
At first power on, the user gets to select all of the necessary first-time settings - date and time, language and other preferences. This is all done on the touch-screen LCD. My last camcorder did not have a touch screen so I was minorly surprised by this feature. It also revealed the one and only issue I have had with this camera so far - the touch screen is slightly unresponsive compared to other devices I have used that offer the technology, and I find myself having to be very deliberate about accessing the screen's features.
Once the first-time defaults are set, this camcorder is ready to start recording. Without too much thought about what I was doing I pointed the camera at a target and started recording. As I panned the room, the camera made the necessary adjustments for light and dark, making a huge adjustment as I passed the screen of my computer and adjusting back to normal lighting as I passed it. This is a normal camcorder feature and it seems to handle the light differences very easily.
The zoom is above average. From about 40' away the camera can be zoomed in enough to read small lettering on a box. This is great for recording when the subject is at an appreciable distance.
The camcorder also seems to do a very good job of auto-focusing, which it does as light conditions change. Setting the camera close to a wall and shining a light around it, you can actually see it making focal adjustments on the screen and settling on a good balance of light and focus.
Video quality is, in a word, outstanding. Videos I have taken have come out exceedingly clear and bright without a lot of graininess that I have gotten with lesser camcorders. Even zoomed in all the way, image quality remains very good. Sound is also very clear and crisp.
Where this camcorder excels over any other camera I have used, though, is in the image stability (anti-shake or anti-jitter, if you prefer). Sony makes a big deal about their stability component and it works as well as advertised. Turning the camera around so that the lens is facing the user, one can jiggle the camera and actually see the lens being adjusted as the camera moves. It moves very much like an eyeball which honestly is a little creepy but it works very well. If holding the camera instead of using a tripod, video will definitely come out better as a result of this feature.
This is not just a camcorder, though. It also takes still shots. I like that this camera can be used as a still-shot camera, and though the user can make a few adjustments to make the image come out better, most of the settings are automatic. I have had better success with dedicated still-shot cameras, personally, though I have managed to render some good photos with the Handycam as well. The camcorder definitely does a better job than the typical smartphone when it comes to taking photos... It is very convenient to have a single device doing the work of two.
Probably the most interesting feature of this camcorder is the built-in projector. I had low expectations of this feature until I actually tried it. Projecting roughly 30' down a dark hallway, the projector built into the camcorder lit up the wall with bright, clear images that looked great. As I moved farther from the wall image quality diminished as expected and it got better as I got closer, but this feature really does work nicely. It does not work well enough to give a professional presentation, of course, but it is fine for entertaining small groups and for quick playback right after shooting. Be aware, however, that the projector runs through all available images and movies in one sweep without taking a pause between.
The software that installs when the camcorder is plugged into a computer is called PlayMemories Home, and it is actually a decent application for managing the content on the camera. It has more features than one would expect from the software that comes with a device. It allows for importing/exporting media, making basic edits on media (such as quick color adjustments and trimming/cropping), putting together slide shows, creating CD/DVD media, share online with several social media sites and a lot more. Most included software packages (at least, the ones I have seen) provide for much more basic handling of media.
The camcorder is supposedly wifi-capable, but this requires an accessory that I do not have so I cannot really comment on this other than to say the capability is available.
One of the things that Sony's HandyCam series is known for is the infrared/night vision modes that allow for better filming in extremely low light conditions. This particular camcorder does not seem to have that mode. It does recognize low-light conditions, but there is no option to turn on night vision recording. Though not a feature I really need, it is important to realize it's not available on this model. Curiously absent from this camcorder (considering that infrared is not available) is a light. So far this has not been an issue but I am curious to see how it does outside on a moonless night. Now, all of this said, Sony does have an accessory that is available that adds both a light and infrared capability. If you need a light or infrared with this camera, you will need that add-on, but be aware that it's a little pricey ($150 as I write this, which would bring the overall cost of this camcorder with the light to roughly $1000 at this time).
Sony's new HDR-PJ430V HandyCam is a very nice camcorder with some interesting and useful features. It produces very good quality imagery, it is very easy to use and it is very compact and light which makes it a camera that can be used for a long period of time without fatigue. This camcorder is very much worth consideration if you're in the market for a good-quality device - especially if the projection feature is of interest.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2013
We make videos of our adventures to share them on YouTube and we had gotten to the point where we wanted to each have a camcorder on our adventures. We had been using a HDR-CX260V for a little over a year ago and we were impressed with it. The obvious choice was another Sony, but we did research other makes also. It came down to our experience with a Handycam and the new Balanced Optical Steady Shot feature that Sony had just released, that made us buy another Sony. The Balanced Optical feature is a major improvement over the regular Steady Shot, but meant that we would have to step up in price to get it, but we were also getting a camcorder that shoots better quality video.
This Sony Handycam HDR-CX430V has a lot of the same features as our HDR-CX260V, so right out of the box, we were familiar with some of it's use. Of course the HDR-CX430V has added features too; some manual settings, Cinematone, 24P, 5.1 recording mic and the multi interface shoe just to name a few. The other nice feature is the 32GB internal flash memory, not that I think we would ever need that much for our videos.
This camcorder is small and compact enough to fit in the side cargo pocket of my hiking pants. It light weigh too and easy to use on the go. We hike mountains, climb down into caves, we have even found a geocache in the middle of a swamp and the Handycam is a great camcorder to keep up with us. The only thing I can think of that I would like to see is a wireless remote to operate the zoom, especially on a tripod. Of course I suppose we could invest in a better Tripod. lol
Some of the downfalls of this Handycam, in our opinion, is the price, but we did catch it on sale for $100 off. The slow motion feature is rather grainy and we have found that most editing software does a better job at that. The 350x digital zoom is serious overkill. The nice thing about that feature is it can be turned off. If you use it, the video will be very shaky and very grainy even when mount on a tripod.
We did post a video review of this camcorder and some of it's features on our YouTube Channel, Just copy and paste this link...