38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Evolution Doesn't Disappoint.
This camera packs a lot of features for the $1100.00 price tag, but its well worth it.
Sony introduces new changes and improvements for the 2013 Handycam line. The Sony HDR-PJ650v has a 20 lumens(360p) built-in projector, which was introduced in the 2012 models and enhanced from the previous 13 lumens projectors. Now via the "Micro HDMI" cable(included) and...
Published 11 months ago by Geoffrey Blagdan
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smaller Imaging Sensor And Less Pixel Gross Than Previous Sony Models
For those considering the Sony HDR-PJ650V camcorder, it should be noted this year's batch of new Sony Handycams (along with last year's) have seemingly gone through a disappointing devolution in terms of image sensors. I'm shooting on a Sony HDR-CX560V that I purchased in 2011. I'm completely satisfied with the footage and even low-light shoots are rich and crisp with...
Published 6 months ago by Anton Tobias
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Evolution Doesn't Disappoint.,
This review is from: Sony HDR-PJ650V High Definition Handycam Camcorder with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
This camera packs a lot of features for the $1100.00 price tag, but its well worth it.
Sony introduces new changes and improvements for the 2013 Handycam line. The Sony HDR-PJ650v has a 20 lumens(360p) built-in projector, which was introduced in the 2012 models and enhanced from the previous 13 lumens projectors. Now via the "Micro HDMI" cable(included) and changed from the previous "Mini HDMI" input. You can now stream content from your tablet or compatible smartphone(like a Samsung Galaxy S or iPhone) through the Projector via a dedicated Projector Input terminal. Now for the first time ever, you can record footage in dual video format(AVCHD Progressive or .MP4 for Web). The .MP4 format supports full 720P HD(30fps) and 20.4MP still images. Both MP4 video and still images can be uploaded through a tablet or smart phone Via the new "Multi-Interface" Wireless Adapter(sold separately), and you can even control camera functions remotely from a tablet or smartphone and preview the footage.
I wanted to address the .MP4 format quickly. In case you are wondering why it's only 720P(30fps), it has to do with file size and what most Tablets and Smartphones are capable of handling, be it iOS or Android. Most Tablets and Smartphones typically are only up to 720P and record in 30fps, but .MP4 is the most file-friendly because its a simplified format that all wireless devices run on. And anything in the 1080i/p 60i or 60p range where the frames are doubled and the resolution is higher and needs more compression would be way too large and most devices that are running 1080 resolution are only running at 30fps, and the lines of resolution are not very high for mobile devices to begin with. And since the Wifi feature of the camera is meant to be mobile enabled, 720P is just more realistic and feesible since most people who own an HD Tablet or an HD Smartphone at least have one that supports 720P. Also, the file size is much easier to edit if you plan on editing videos with a Tablet or Smartphone.
However, because this is 720P HD with Balanced Optical Steady Shot, it makes the footage much more stable than any Tablet or Smartphone, and current Smartphone cameras and Tablet cameras can't even begin to compete with this kind of image stabilization. Also, this is true HD resolution with 6 iris blades backing it up, so the images you upload are going to be way sharper in detail and higher in resolution and more focally balanced as opposed to a camera phone where there's no optical stabilization and weak lines of resolution, and a lack of true to life colors and saturation. So if you plan on uploading footage for mobile purposes, this is a much better and grown up option than relying on your camera phone which is limited as a competent camera for recording those details you can only get from a full camera, and will certainly look more impressive and give camera phones a run for their money, and certainly a feature worth showing off to friends just to compare quality.
The 5.1 channel microphone has also been greatly enhanced and streamlined to reduce background noise and improved richness in sound quality for crystal clear audio as well as a reduction in motor noises by the camera, pretty much gone. They have also improved the low-light feature of the new camcorders for improved low-light performance that may have you recording at night more often. This camera features the sublime "Balanced Optical Steady-shot"(introduced in the 2012 models) which keeps the footage steady as a rock while moving or in the car as the entire lens block is litterally floating inside the camera housing reducing camera shake by 13x over the Optical Steadyshot for the best available stable footage without the use of a tripod or stabilizing equipment.
The lens is a 26.8mm(35mm equivalent) Sony-G Wide Angle Lens with a 46mm filter diameter. It also comes with a lens hood, a step-down ring to fit 37mm lens accessories, and still features the built-in USB 2.0 cable for transferring files, as well as a headphone jack, microphone jack for external microphone attachments, and now the "Multi-Interface Terminal"(replacing the A/V R from before). This camera also has an extendable electronic viewfinder which is pixel equivalent to the LCD screen(921k), so it's one you can actually use. This model also features a 12x optical zoom, a 20x extended zoom, and a 160x digital zoom. You get much more optical zoom on this model than the PJ790v which costs much more. The only feature lacking on this model is the "Nightshot", if you care about that feature. But there's loads of professional features packed in like zebra, peaking support, golf shot and more.
You can also still transfer your recorded footage to an external HDD without a computer. They eliminated the dedicated USB port on the older model camcorders which was replaced by the Projector input and incorporated it into the "Multi Terminal" on the side of the camera instead. So you will need an additional Multi USB adapter cable(sold separately for $19.99) to use with your external HDD. So for those fearing that feature was gone, it isn't. Much of the older and familiar camcorder functions have been reassigned to the Multi Terminal in order to streamline the camera.
The good news with the new "Multi-Interface"' shoe and "Multi-Interface Terminal" port, you can still use "A/V R" and "Active Shoe Interface" accessories, but you will need to get a "Multi-Interface A/V" adapter cable(sold seperately) and a "Multi-Interface-to-Active Shoe" adapter. They cost around $20-$25 each, but if you already own "Active Shoe" accessories and "A/V R" accessories, you will require these for your "Multi-Interface" enabled camcorder since all the 2013 models feature these. So at least they are affordable.
I do have some minor complaints on the PJ650v. The internal storage 32GB flash might be fine for recording in the .MP4 format if you plan on uploading web videos to Facebook or YouTube since its only 720P, but in the AVCHD Progressive format in 1080i/p is only 2-3 hours of recording time. So you will need an SDHC, SDXC(up to 64GB Class 4 or higher)memory card with a larger memory capacity, or have an external HDD for storage if you plan on recording in the higher formats. But overall it's fine on the lower formats, about 7-11 hours of recording time.
My only other complaint is the stock battery Sony included. The package is solid, maybe Sonys best camcorder value. It includes the HDR-PJ650v, a lens hood, remote commander, step down ring, USB transfer cable, micro HDMI cable, AC adapter, and power plug. But If they are going to market high-end consumer camcorders, they really need at least the NP-FV70 battery included, the stock FV50 is almost worthless. Keep it as a back up, but you can buy 3rd party batteries at a fraction of the cost of Sonys overpriced batteries that are much better.
Overall, for the money and the streamlined enhancements made to this years 2013 camcorder models over the 2012 models, I have to highly suggest this camcorder, maybe over the PJ790v in terms of price and features. You're pretty much getting all the new features, and its the best model to get over the lower end models of the 2013 line. The only major difference with the PJ790 and the PJ650 is a Carl Zeiss lens, nightshot, a slightly larger MP still image(24.1 vs 20.4), and a slightly brighter projector(35Lumens vs 20 Lumens), and a slightly larger sensor. It really comes down to whether or not you want to really spend the extra money for a few slight enhancements when the cameras are pretty much identical, and it's a top model camcorder. Overall the 2013 Handycam cameras are perhaps Sonys best yet, and really bridge the gap between consumer and professional. It's easy enough for consumers to use, but also not so simplified that it isnt appropriate for professionals to use as well.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony Knocks it Out of the Park with this One!,
This review is from: Sony HDR-PJ650V High Definition Handycam Camcorder with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
For those wanting the bottom line . . . Sony has knocked it out of the park with this camcorder, delivering incredible bang for the buck, and features I never thought I would see in a home camcorder. If you are a home video enthusiast, rest assured that this camera maintains the simple auto features you have come to expect from Sony. You can have it out of the box, and taking video in under three minutes without reading the instructions. However, if you are willing to dig a little deeper, you will find some incredible horsepower under the hood of this camera.
For some time now, Sony has delivered both the best quality and features in home camcorders, with models available to fit almost any budget. For me, the question is not whether to get a Sony, but which Sony to get. Another question that often arises is, when a new model has the features that warrant upgrading to the latest and greatest. I will try to answer these questions by comparing thisw Sony HDR-PJ650V which comes in at just over $1000 with the Sony HDR PJ260 which comes in at under half that, and also has the built in projector. I will try to provide info to help you choose between these two cameras, but first would like to summarize my likes and dislikes about this HDR-PJ650V
Top Ten Things I LOVED about this camera:
1) Superb image quality. Stunning video quality, with wonderful bright and saturated colors, and razor sharp focus.
2) No motor noise at all from either the zoom function or auto focus. If you have other brands of camcorders, most suffer from motor noise which can be heard when you play the video.
3) What I really, really, really like about this camera . . . it comes with an optical viewfinder. Almost all consumer level video cameras these days come with an LCD screen. These are fine indoors, but are pretty much useless outside, and are completely useless in bright sun. If a unit only has an LCD screen, in bright sunlight the best you can do is to blindly point in the general direction of the action, and hope for the best. This camera does come with an excellent LCD display, but for outdoor use, it has an optical viewfinder. This is a critically important feature, and one missing from most camcorders these days.
4) Lots of External Jacks. One of the biggest limitations of camcorders is sound quality. Yes, this unit has exceptional built in microphones, and superb wind cancellation, but there are times when there is no way around the fact that you need an external microphone. This camera has a jack for external microphone. Be advised that most cameras these days do not have this.
5) Zoom function. Many cameras advertise high levels of zoom, but it is very hard to use the zoom, as you "overshoot" when you use the zoom button. That is to say, that the zoom button is too sensitive, and does not allow you to smoothly and naturally zoom from one level to another. This camera allows you to effortlessly zoom smoothly from one level to another, and nail your desired stop point exactly.
6) Size . . . this camcorder is definitely a compact unit, but it is slightly larger than most home units. Actually, I like this slightly larger size. It fits my hand better, and I find I have easier access to the buttons. I find this slightly larger size allows it to be easier to use without "fumbling" around with it.
7) The image stabilization is outstanding. The image stabilization is done mechanically, and you can actually see the lens moving around to dampen out shake from your hands. I dont know if it also has some sort of electronic stabilization as well, but what I do know is that I have never gotten such stable shots without a tripod, on high zoom.
8) Has decent built in internal memory, plus has a slot for an additional SD card. The best of both worlds.
9) Built in Projector. The projector really works. Sony advertises it can be used for up to 100 inch projections. Be advised the room would need to be completely dark. I find it works well for about 3 feet projection in a room that is not dark. The projector really works well but I see it more as something so show a group that you have just filmed the shot you got. I do not anticipate using this as part of my home theater. Of course it was never meant for that. I do think it is a great feature to have on the camera.
10) The camera takes great still pictures as well. In fact, while you are videoing, it will snap a still picture if it sees a smile on a face. This is a little bit of a gimmick, but I actually like it. After a day of filming, I can go in and look at all the stills it decided to take of smiling faces it found.
What I do Not Like:
1) Sony products, including this one have a tendency to hijack your computer with the installed software. I simply want to transfer videos and stills onto my computer, and then use the software of my choice to edit or work with the videos. The sony PlayMemories or whatever it is called tends to want to take over everything, and becomes a nuisance. I wish the camera would just act like external media, let me open it and copy what I want where I want, without all the windows popping up.
2) I wish it had a beefier battery.
This camera is a spectacular camera. In comparing it to my HDR-PJ260, I think this unit is worth upgrading to. Yes, this unit sports a higher resolution image sensor, but to me the main advantages over the PJ260 are A) The optical viewfinder, which makes it much easier to use outside, B) The slightly larger form factor, which makes it easier to hold and use, and C) the enhanced image stabilization. Are these three features worth the extra $500? In my mind, yes.
Bottom line is that this a a spectacular camera, and I can not wait to dig even deeper into its features.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smaller Imaging Sensor And Less Pixel Gross Than Previous Sony Models,
This review is from: Sony HDR-PJ650V High Definition Handycam Camcorder with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
For those considering the Sony HDR-PJ650V camcorder, it should be noted this year's batch of new Sony Handycams (along with last year's) have seemingly gone through a disappointing devolution in terms of image sensors. I'm shooting on a Sony HDR-CX560V that I purchased in 2011. I'm completely satisfied with the footage and even low-light shoots are rich and crisp with minimal grain. This is is due to Sony's Exmor R CMOS sensor which is back-illuminated. Compared to the older 'front-illuminated' sensors in past camcorders, the front-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensors are (according to Sony) twice as sensitive, which capture improved footage when shooting indoors or at dusk.
Although the same Exmor technology has been used in the latest Sony HD Handycams, the image sensors have been downgraded a notch. Confused? Let me explain: digital image sensors are used to record video. Like film there's a wide range of sizes and quality. That quality is dependent on who makes the sensor, the size and other features of the camcorder. As a consumer what should buyers be aware of when looking at product specifications? Well, in order to understand the present we must revisit the past.
Pretend it's 1985 and we're taking a photograph with a camera using a Kodak 110 film cartridge. Once we press the shutter button there will be an image on the 13mm x 17mm negative. Depending on the quality of the camera used, the print could be very grainy or result in a poor quality image. Even if a quality camera was used to take the photo there is only so much data or information that can be stored on the film negative. There is also a built-in limitation on how large you could make the print because of the visible grain.
However, say we shoot the same photo using 35mm film. The 35mm negative will be larger. The film negative is able to capture more of the image data, greater details and tonality. There is more surface area covered with emulsion to capture the details. In short: size matters. The larger the image sensor, the better the footage.
This same concept is used when comparing digital imaging sensors in modern high definition camcorders, but instead of film we're simply using flash media to contain the image. You've heard the saying everything old is new again? Well, there ya go.
Here is where the dollars and sense come into play. If you research a camcorder before you purchase it, look at the sensor size. This is generally done by visiting the manufacture's website and viewing the camcorder's 'specifications' page. All the information a consumer could want about a potential purchase is here.
The digital sensor size really should be measured in millimeters but because video is involved there is a historical carryover from analog video tube technology. Also, in my cynical opinion, it's also a good way to hide how small the sensor is.
Digital image sensors between 1/8 and 1/1.6 inches are used in cell phones, web cameras and most consumer camcorders. If the sensor size is within this range, with other factors taken into account, then the video recording expectations are that:
- Outdoor recording will be adequate.
- A fast lens is present; meaning an f/stop of around f 2.8 or wider to allow for more light.
- Indoor recording will be grainy and dark unless you have a lot of light, excellent lens or the ability to adjust the amount of light coming into the device (ISO).
With all this information in mind, let's get back on track. The Sony HDR-PJ650V has an imaging sensor size of 1/3.91'' (4.6mm) with a pixel gross of approx 5430K pixels. Not bad. But when compared to the Sony HDR-CX560V from 2011 we see a difference of both imaging sensor size, which is 1/2.88" (6.2mm) and pixel count, which is 6650K. Keeping our earlier crash course history lesson in mind, it's easy to see the CX560V has the superior imaging sensor which will result in a better picture. Why did I compare these two models? Simply put, the Sony HDR-PJ650V is the protégé/replacement for the Sony HDR-CX560V. Both units retailed at the same price and are considered 'prosumer' models.
That's not to say the Sony HDR-PJ650V is a poor camera or without its share of new features. It has a built in projector (where the CX560V had none) and Sony's new 'Balanced Optical SteadyShot' technology which is like having a built in Steadicam into the unit. This eliminates the feel of footsteps and shaky hand movements created by the operator, giving the viewers of the footage a strange but pleasing sense of floating.
This unit also has an increased 12x optical zoom with a 160x digital zoom compared to the CX560V's 10x optical/120 extended and has an increased megapixel count on still pictures: 20.4 to the 12.3 of the CX560V. However, the HDR-PJ650V loses 32 gigabytes of internal flash storage, a total of 32 GB, compared to the 64 GB of the CX560V.
The HDR-PJ650V also has a small viewfinder which helps maintain battery life instead of constantly using the 3.0" LCD touchscreen and can now record video files in the .mp4 format for quick uploading capabilities.
Like I stated earlier, this is a fine HD camera...just a little underwhelming compared to its past model. In fact, a lot of these new features (aside from the Balanced Optical SteadyShot) are useless to me. I don't need a built-in projector, this just seems gimmicky to me and something that would appeal to the family man for showcasing his raw vacation footage. The optical zoom has been minimally increased. I can't remember the last time I used a viewfinder on a camcorder with an LCD screen (it's possible I never have). Shooting in the .mp4 format is okay for some, but it does decrease the image quality and if I'm paying for an HD camcorder of this magnitude, I'd prefer to record at the top quality setting and get my money's worth. I can always convert the footage on my PC for Internet use later. Besides, I usually like to edit my footage on Sony Vegas Pro anyway.
It's my hope that Sony reinstates the superior imaging sensors on next year's camcorder models and starts basing their prosumer cameras more on their advanced professional designs. Built-in projectors and GPS tagging are okay toys for college kids and vacationers, but quality footage with manual control options will always be more welcomed to real film makers looking for a solid camera.
Some more specifications on the Sony HDR-PJ650V, for those interested in purchasing:
Recording and Playback Times:
- HD PS: 2 hours 15 minutes (28 Mbps)
- HD FX: 2 hours 40 minutes (24 Mbps)
- HD FH: 3 hours 40 minutes (17 Mbps)
- HD HQ: 6 hours 30 minutes (9 Mbps)
- HD LP: 11 hours 15 minutes (5 Mbps)
- STD HQ: 6 hours 45 minutes
- Portrait (Photo Mode only)
- Sunrise & Sunset
Dimensions & Weight
- Without Battery: Approx. 2 1/2inches x 2 3/4inches x 5 3/8inches
- Without battery: Approx. 13oz (385g)
What's in the box:
- Power Cord (1)
- Lens Hood (1)
- Operating Guide (1)
- Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-FV50) (1)
- HDMI(micro) Cable (1)
- Step Down Ring (1)
- Remote Commander (RMT-835 with Battery(CR2025) (1)
- AC adaptor (AC-L200) (1)
- USB Connection Support Cable (1)
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PJ650 vs PJ790 - Packed with features,
The HDR-PJ650V is Sony's second highest consumer model. Sony's top of the line of this year's line-up is the Sony HDR-PJ790V. Is it worth the $500 increase in price? Well, the biggest reason to get the top-of-the-line PJ790V model is if you are VERY picky with video quality and shooting in low-light. What determines image quality is the size of the image sensor of the camera.
PJ790 vs PJ650:
The sensor on the PJ790 is bigger than this model at 1/2.88" vs 1/3.91".
The projector is also stronger on the 790v at 35lm vs 20ml
More built-in memory on PJ790 at 96GB vs 32GB
The PJ790 has a night vision mode. The PJ650 does not have it (however, there is built-in light)
The PJ790 has an isolated top-mounted 5.1 surround sound microphone; it looks cool, but personally, I prefer the mic on the PJ650 since it keeps the camera more compact overall/one less thing to worry about that's protruding out/the hood won't block the microphone.
- This camera has truly one of the best stabilizers - you won't get this quality stabilization on lower-end cameras. I also have HDR-CX580 model and the stabilization is night and day. You can actually see the lens "eyeball" move around and it can achieve stabilization that can fool people as if it's on a tripod; it's actually kind of creepy looking when you look at it.
- I love the manual focus wheel dial on the side for more professional shooting/control; this is only available on the higher-end camera models, since most consumers just want to point and shoot on auto. However, it's fantastic to have when you wan to "rack focus" between foreground and background. Just pressing on the screen to focus works pretty well too.
- optical viewfinder (most cameras these days don't have this anymore, but you can pull it out and use it if you're having trouble seeing in a bright daylight. If you also want to record while the LCD is closed, you'll have to pull out the viewfinder; unlike the CX580 model, there is no option to disable the auto LCD off when closed.)
- Yes, it comes with a remote control! The CX580 didn't come with a remote control, even at its price class; however, it's very nice they still include a remote control with this camera.
- 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks for professional monitoring.
- You must open the LCD to insert/remove SD card since it is located on the side, but it is better than having it on the bottom like on the CX580 model because if you have a tripod shoe screwed on, it was a pain having to remove that just to get the SD card out. It takes SD/SDHC/SDXC and also Sony's Memory Sticks.
- Face tracking when it detects a face to focus clearly works very nicely.
- Built-in USB, common in a lot of Sony cameras, can actually come in really handy to transferring the built-in recorded memory when you forget to carry USB cables with you.
- It has a built-in light; unfortunately, there is no night vision... can't have everything :(
- As if the camera wasn't packed with features and quality already, it has a built-in projector that is not a gimmick and adds more wow factor to the camera.
I love Sony's design of the camera - sexy black/silver finish
The Sony NP-FV100 battery is definitely a must-have addition for this camcorder (although it will make it a little bulky) that will give you 5 hours of HD recording
Now if price isn't a factor for you and you are picky with video quality, want the absolute best, want the best low lighting capability then the HDR-PJ790V might be for you.
With video cameras, you really get what you pay for. It's really silly that people buy cameras that cost $100 and think they will get amazing sharp/great low-light videos without grain at that price. When it comes to low light, this isn't going to perform miracles and produce grainless video, but overall, this is still a consumer camera that is packed with features for both the average family member to semi-professional videographers. If you're going to be shooting precious, priceless videos of your baby or family wedding/trip - I would not settle for anything less than the CX580. The PJ790 might be overkill for most people, but this model would be the sweet spot investment for people wanting one of the best.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handycam Evolved - Big Improvements,
This camcorder is an update from last year's Sony HDR-PJ580V . Most of the basic specs are the same but it does have some important upgrades including micro-HDMI input to display external content on the projector and a brighter projector. A new multi-control wheel on the front side, below and to the left of the lens is a carryover from higher end Sony camcorders. Sony also improved their optical stabilization with a technology called "Balanced Optical SteadyShot". Anyone who's taken a shaky-handed home video can appreciate this system that stabilizes the entire optical system. Finally, the PJ650V now can record directly to 720P MP4 for easy upload to your favorite video sharing website. IN SUMMARY: this new version is 300X easier for regular users to film and share the videos with friends and family.
[UPDATE] The manual button on the front is amazingly useful. I film a lot of HighSchool stage productions and auto-zoom can make for a horrible video between people walking in front of the camera and kids on the stage moving all over the place in groups. Simply push the manual button and control the focus with the wheel! You can change what the manual wheel controls but focus seems like the most useful. Also, the Sony PlayMemories software is not very useful. The included 500mah battery lasted 45 minutes.
======= PROS ==========
[+] Full HD 1080/60P/60i/30P/24P Video
[-] 24P Cinema mode
[+] 3" Touchscreen LCD
[+] 20 Lumen Projector
[+] AVCHD and 720P MP4 Recording Modes
[+] 32GB sorage (~11 hours recording)
[+] Expandable Memory Stick/SD/SDHC/SDXC slot to add up to 64GB more.
[+] Balanced Optical SteadyShot
[+] 12x Optical Zoom Lens
[+] Build-In USB connector
[+] Dolby Digital 5.1ch Audio Recording
[+] Hot Camera Shoe
[+] Threaded for filters and lenses
[+] Programmable manual button/wheel
[+] Wireless Remote
[+] Micro HDMI In and HDMI Out
[+] Optional Wi-Fi (with adapter)
[+] Automatic Lens Cover
======= CONS ==========
[-] 1 years Parts Warranty (90 Day Labor)
[-] Poor LCD viewing In Bright Light
[-] Interior proto quality
[-] No option Live Capture video
[-] Only USB 2.0 slowish video copying
[-] No HDMI Input
[-] No Balanced Optical Steadyshot
[-] Proprietary Power Cable
[-] Basic PlayMemories software
=================IN THE BOX==================
Power AC Adapter and Cord
Wirless Remote Control
Rechargeable Battery NP-FV50
(download PlayMemories from Sony.net/pm)
============== RECORDING TIMES ================
Recording time on 32GB Internal Flash Memory
2 hr 20 min, HD PS
2 hr 45 min, HD FX
3 hr 45 min HD FH
6 hr 40 min HD HQ
11 hr 40 min HD LP
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 devises with a myriad of features to make the camcorder more functional for the day-to day user. The HDR-PJ650V falls into this latter category. This camera shoots HD video, takes super-high resolution photos, and GeoTags your video and photos. Heck this camcorder can even project your video with a built in 20 lumen projector (up from 13 lumens). 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 recording capability can be found in even low end cell phones and cameras. But don't be confused with that capability and what a real camcorder offers. Dedicated camcorders capture much more visual and audio information and have dedicated features like stabilization that help you create superior videos.
Purchasing a camcorder can be a confusing task. The 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-PJ650V sits at the top end of the consumer/entry prosumer level and it has a compelling mixture of technology and features that is hard to beat. If you are looking to stay within a tighter budget Sonny also has the HDR-PJ260V that only takes 8.9 MP photos and the HDR-CX260V that doesn't have the built in projector. On the other end of the Sony camcorder spectrum is the HDR-PJ790V what has triple the storage space and a 24.1 MP camera.
At this price point the Canon alternative is the Canon VIXIA HF G20. Both camcorders feature HD recording, AVCHD & MP4 formats, 32GB internal memory, 12X Optical Zoom, expandable SD storage, optical stabilization and a slew of other standard features. The Canon features a Canon 3.28 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor and the HDR-PJ650V features a 5 Megapixel 1/3.91" Exmor R CMOS Sensor. The Canon offers two SD expansions slots capable of accepting 64GB SXDC cards and the Sony only has one, though I would bet when the 128GB SDXC cards become common they will likely be supported. The Sony has a 3" touch screen and the Canon sports a larger 3.5" screen. The Sony claims a 20.4MP still image resolution but that is interpolated, not optical. Canon is vague about their still image resolution but if I had to estimate I think it's about 14MP interpolated. Sony offers 5GB PlayMemories cloud storage for free and you can use their "Direct Copy" feature to copy movies straight to an external drive. Overall it feels like Canon didn't really try too hard to compete. The HDR-PJ650V is the clear winner.
Early camcorders were analog devices that captured the video to a tape similar to the old VHS tapes. Those tapes were very efficient and cost effective for storing video. Unfortunately they also required special PC hardware and software to copy to a format a consumer can edit on their PC. It was also a slow process since the time it would take to copy the video off the camera was as long as the video took to record. So 1 hour of recording would take 1 hour to transfer to the computer.
Over the last several years one of the biggest improvements has been the migration from analog recording to digital recording. As we mentioned, working with analog video can be a cumbersome process. The solution to that problem has been to record to digital formats (DV) that can be moved from camera to computer easier and can be compressed to save space. At the same time storage technologies have evolved and less expensive options are coming available. Secure Digital memory chips are becoming less expensive and larger in capacity at an accelerated rate. But the trade-off until recently has been limitations on the affordable size of digital media. This camcorder features a SD/SDXC slot that expands the storage area from 32GB to another 64GB (96GB total) when you insert that card.
============= VIDEO EDITING ==============
Once you create your video you will need to install software to edit that video. It's really a shame Sony wasn't considerate enough to throw in a complimentary copy or their Sony Movie Studio Platinum software or even Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite. They do include a very limited software called PlayMemories. 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 short list of compatible software. I personally use Adobe Prelude and Adobe Premier Pro because they use GPU hardware acceleration.
Sony PlayMemories (download from Sony.net/pm)
Adobe Premiere Pro (CS4+)
Adobe Premiere Elements (7+)
Sony Movie Studio Platinum(8+)
Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite 12(8+)
*When recording, a new movie files is created for every 2GB recorded.
================ ACCESSORIES ================
Bigger Rechargeable Batteries Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger for Sony NP-FV100)
Gorillapod with Pan Head
46 mm/37 mm Lenses and Filters
Sony ADPWL1M Wi-Fi Adaptor
micro HDMI cord
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prosumer Sony Handycam takes it to a new level,
All the bells and whistles
Consumer Reports wasn't joking when it strongly recommended these Sony Handycam Camcorders over other brands, and in particular this one.
Sony again takes the lead with the best prosumer HD camcorder available for the price. If you are in the market for the latest and greatest camcorder, one that does it all, with the best available technology, look no further.
There are some other options you may consider in the same or near price range. These would most likely be the following:
Canon Vixia HF G10 $860 to $1300
Canon Vixia HF G20 $1000 to $1300
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ430 $850
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ790V $1500 to $1600
This review is for the Sony HDR-PJ650V High Definition Handycam Camcorder, which is the 2013 improved, feature added version of last years Sony HDRPJ580V High Definition Handycam 20.4 MP Camcorder with 12x Optical Zoom, 32 GB Embedded Memory and Built-in Projector (2012 Model). It falls into the price range of a consumer camcorder with enough professional features to take stunning videos for even the most discriminating professional videographer.
Sony HDR-PJ650 gives you all the bells and whistles you will want and then some. You will be taking beautifully crisp, color rich, steady videos, that you can immediately play through the built in projector.
+ Smile recognition: snaps anyone who happens to smile when you are shooting video. Don't underestimate this one! You are going to love seeing all those smiles that were automatically captured while you were busy filming.
+ Lens aperture: F/1.8-3.4 This is a nice wide open aperture when you need it in low light conditions. You aren't going to be seeing dark videos in low light conditions. This beats the other camcorders I mentioned as far as having a nice wide aperture available when needed.
+ Projector built in for instant playback: this is brighter and projects a larger image than this feature did in last year's version of this camcorder.
+ USB connector built in
+ Weight: 15.9 ounces making it slightly heavier than last years version (Note that the more expensive version of this is 20.3 ounces.)
+ Wider angle lens than last year's version, a welcome improvement
+ Dolby Surround Sound 5.1: this is amazing sound quality, truly professional grade
+ Automatic editing of your videos right in the camcorder! and it does a great job of it too.
+ You now have the ability in this year's model to attach an external microphone also.
+ Digital zoom: Digital zoom of 160X Optical zoom: 12X (Note that the more expensive version of this has Digital zoom of 120X and optical zoon of 10X.)
I have last years version of this. The internal memory is the same, 32 g. The more expensive version of this has internal memory of 96 g. For me the biggest advantage of this model over last years is the wider angle lens. I can now get more landscape or more of a room into the shot, and this is a welcome and needed change.
Don't expect this to replace a good DSLR. However, you will pleased with still shots this takes. You can enlarge them up to 5 by 6 with no appreciable pixilation. For most people they will be just fine.
What's in the box:
* Sony HDR-PJ650 32GB Handycam Camcorder
* NP-FV50 Rechargeable Battery Pack
* AC-L200 AC Adaptor
* Power Cord
* HDMI(Micro) Cable
* USB Connection Support Cable
* Lens Hood
* Step Down Ring
* Remote Commander(RMT-835 with Battery(CR2025))
* Operating Guide
* Sony 1 Year Parts and 90 Days Labor Limited Warranty
✔24p/60p HD quality: I can't believe how sharp and almost 3D things look with this, even though it's not a 3D camcorder.
✔Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization: you cannot see a shake with this ever; amazing technology here.
✔20.4 MP Exmor R CMOS sensor: cuts down on graininess and greatly improves low-light shooting
✔connect to your tablet, smartphone or laptop via HDMI
✔project movies, YouTube videos and more up to 100" diagonally on virtually any wall or flat surface with included HDMI cable
✔ shoot crystal-clear, 20.4 MP still images and video at the same time: if anyone is worried these still images aren't good enough, I beg to differ.
✔connect the camcorder to your compatible HDTV with an HDMI cable: play your videos on your HDTV.
✔high-contrast 20-lumen projector built into the LCD panel
✔ project YouTube videos, photos, full-length films and more
✔assignable dial gives you manual control of focus, exposure, white balance, iris and shutter speed, plus the ability to experiment with more advanced features like zebra and peaking
✔Dolby Digital 5.1 channel recording
✔Optical viewfinder added for this year
✔GPS geotagging with built in maps, shows where you were on a map when you shot each video
✔ Audio REC level adjustments give more creative control
✔ integrated multi-interface shoe opens up a world of accessories
✔ optional wireless module (ADP-WL1MSony ADPWL1M Wi-Fi Adaptor) can use Wi-Fi to turn your smartphone or tablet into a remote control, instantly upload footage to the web or wirelessly backup data to your PC.
✔ The auto-editing feature of this is a very nice touch. You don't need to edit your own videos. Let this camcorder do it for you, even adding music if you wish. It does a surprisingly excellent job too, choosing the best scenes, and letting you specify which scenes you want to keep.
Personally I'm not in love with Sony's free, downloadable Playmemories video editing software, although it may be fine for most people. Anyone can download this software at no charge from the Sony website though so you can try it out for yourself and see if it meets your needs.
You can be as creative as you want to be, as professional as you want to be, or you can be as amateur as you want and simply let this amazing camcorder do everything for you. Either way you will have some really gorgeous videos.
The range of features and options on this should be enough for most people.
Do you really need to spend another $500 to get the top of the line Handycam? For that, you would get 96 G internal memory instead of 32 G, and a 24.4 Megapixel sensor instead of this one's 20.4 one. You would also have more weight. Consider that when you upgrade the battery on this, as most people will. For me, this one is more than enough camcorder.
Consumer Reports got it right. There isn't one thing Sony did wrong here. No one is going to be disappointed in this. I absolutely love it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love the anti-shake feature,
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I really like the camera, especially its anti-shake feature. I recently used it in a cab on fairly rough road. I had been under the impression that this feature would just compensate for your hands shaking a little. No Way! In the video you can see the dash board of the cab bouncing up and down from the pot holes, but what I was filming out the window was steady as a rock! Incredible, amazing technology. If you move the camera and look at the lens you will see that it stays in the same spot even though the camera body is moving.
This can also be a negative as you have to take that into account as you pan the camera. Since there is a bit of a delay in the pan due to the lens wanting to maintain the same position initially.
Unfortunately my camera had an audio issue with the built in microphone. Hissing sound and cutting in and out. Worked ok with external microphone so Sony is looking into that at the moment. I'm sure they'll take care of it for me.
The built in projector is only useful in a very dark room at the larger sizes, and in a shaded area for the smaller size projections. But still a neat feature for a quick preview of what you got.
Also I noticed on the built in screen that some shots look darker than they really are. Probably need to turn up the default brightness a bit since the same shot looked great when playing back on the PC.
Bottom line it takes great steady video, so I am very happy with it. I do wish they had included the night-mode for this price - would have preferred that to the built in projector.
I would also like to say that I found the online warranty process with Sony to be very good. It was good not having to go through the usual phone question and answer routine and just type what the problem was and get my shipping label!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great improvements over last year's awesome model,
The 2012 model was my favorite camera and camcorder. I found it took great low light photos (much better than even a mid-range point and shoot Sony) and videos using the auto mode. It was just the right size and weight to be held with both hands for stability and ease of use. The sharpness was barely beaten by Sony's high end 3D camcorder. The extra cost over Sony's low end camera is worth it for amateurs if you want superior pictures and the versatility to adjust settings so you do not miss out because of unforeseen circumstances. The memory enhancements are significant.
The 2013 model has some additional features that will really make it easier in some situations. The lens hood is larger and the microphone sits behind it so it is better shielded from wind instead of at the bottom of the body (2012). The port locations have been moved to new locations. The SD Card slot is now on the side instead of underneath. The movable viewfinder is a nice addition although the size is quite small but it comes with a focus-adjusting wheel. This is good when sunlight is so bright you can't see the LCD screen or to prolong battery life. I really like the new placement of the Power on/off button that lets the screen stay open- ready for that quick shot without running the battery down.
I took both cameras for a walk- stepping off curbs and turning my body 180 degrees (that always caused a jumpy picture in the past). I can say the floating optics is a really great feature that I have longed for but the 2012 model was almost as good when I walked on loose gravel. The video stayed smooth and that is going to save a lot of editing work. When I have been on a train or bus in Europe and took video of the countryside, I had to edit out a lot of shakes. The floating optics is going to almost eliminate that. Panning was very smooth.
IMPRESSIVE LOW LIGHT
Many places are forbidding the use of flash inside their building so a low light capable camera is necessary. To get a better still photo you would have to spend almost the price of this camera on a DSLR so this is very cost effective as an all-in-one camera. I took a lot of stills with this camera and they were excellent. Other cameras show a grainy picture if you zoom in a low light area. This one captured an etched liqueur glass distinctly even though it was inside an unlit glass case. It distinctly showed the numbers and lettering on a 2" measuring instrument inside another case. Another problem is when the object you are photographing has an unshielded light next to it and the camera dims everything else down. That did not happen with the Sony.
A limited number of people will find they need/like the Multi-Interface shoe, using the projector to show phone/tablet photos, using the remote control, Geotagging, using the Golf Shot rapid freeze-frame, or the Wi-Fi. Its like 3D- some have to have it and others will never use it. The Manual Control (Iris/Shutter/Exposure/White Balance) is a great addition for people trying to improve their pictures without being required to become a camera expert. I have found that the average user will get their best pictures if the auto mode is good at sensing the surrounding conditions and Sony has been very good.
I like to hold the camera with my right hand and use my left hand to activate items on the LCD screen- like zooming, triggering the photo/video button, and making menu changes. Sony's compression software gives you about 6 hours on the internal 32 GB (over twice what my old Panasonics did). Transfer to Final Cut Pro and Image Capture is very simple. I have some NP-FV70 batteries that I use as my primary and the included FV-50 will be an easily carried backup. When I go on international trips I always appreciate not having to bring a voltage adapter, just a plug adapter.
Although the camera bodies are virtually the same size, a lot of thought was put into moving the placement of adjustments and ports. If you like the option to project your photos/movies onto a wall/ screen or show them on your big TV then this is the camera for you.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome camera,
The video quality is amazing. It self-focuses, self-stabilizes, self-adjusts for light conditions (and the included light shield is a huge plus for avoiding glare). It hones in on a person and automatically adjusts to focus the image and the sound right on that person. It seems to have a built in wind shield -- wind is the great enemy of microphones. Filming home movies doesn't get any easier, and really, when you're in the midst of your important memories--the ones worthy of recording and keeping forever--you want to live the experience, not fuddle with the camera. This one takes care of just about everything, and it does it so well, you'll come to trust it. It can record for over 11 hours (I tried it and both the memory and the battery held).
The only one nit pick is the projector. You have to start playing the video before you can turn the projector on and tell it the source to project from, so you lose the first few moments of the video. Shoot a little lead time to compensate. That's the worst I can say for this camera. It is otherwise perfect.
In a pinch, you can wall project from any video source with the right HDMI cable. The only trick is finding a wall large enough, and far enough away without obstruction. I have done the lazy trick of watching TV on the ceiling with this.
I'm not sure what the value of a GPS is in a camera, but it has one, and it certainly doesn't detract from anything. WiFi, which makes more sense, is sold separately.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive optics! - Nice upgrade!,
There is no doubt that this Sony HDR-PJ650V (2013) Model is a great upgrade from previous Sony HDRPJ580V (2012) Model and I am very happy to report that this new camcorder looks good and takes excellent quality video.
Rather than going into explaining the full details I will try and highlight the new features first.
New! Feature: Balanced Optical steady shot(tm)
The balanced optical steady shot(tm) image stabilization with active mode optics is very impressive indeed. The optics and the lens assembly elements visibly move within the enclosure providing a sort of `gyroscope balance' of the lens assembly in the efforts to minimize the shake. This camcorder provides the best image stabilization Sony has ever offered in hand held camcorders for consumer market in this price range. The video quality is super stable without any jitters or shake even when zoomed to the full - Love this new feature.
New! Feature: HDMI input for the built-in projector
This new feature enabling HDMI input to the built-in projector is very handy. The package includes a Micro HDMI cable where one can input video from other input sources like cell phones or tablets, Media players and use the camcorder's projector to project videos and images up to 20 lumens intensity. While this brightness will never match your typically household projector which in most cases are least 700+ lumens but in my tests I found this feature very useful thing to have especially when you want to show the video you captured from your other tablet with your family members when you are out on vacation and do not have access to a large screen TV. The camcorder's projector not only shows the videos you have taken using this camcorder it also shows videos from other HDMI input sources!
New? Feature: Electronic Viewfinder
Generally we used to find Electronic Viewfinder in older DV camcorders and then it gave way to bigger & better LCD displays that came out in recent years. Also, You find these sorts of 'Electronic' or 'optical' viewfinders in some high end cameras/camcorders as an additional costly accessory. But it was a pleasant surprise to find this fitted in this model at no extra cost. IMHO it is a convenient feature to have as it saves on battery power by not using the power hungry LCD screen. The viewfinder however seemed of poor resolution only 201k pixels and also hard to view without an eye-cup but gets the job done when badly needed.
Video Quality: EXCELLENT! With optically stabilized imagery
The video picture quality is fantastic with full 1080p AVCHD video as well as the new option for direct recording of 720p MP4 format for instant sharing of content onto hand held devices like tablets and phones. There is no more need for any software conversion steps to share your content on popular social media sites and I found this super convenient.
Still Picture Quality: Okay at best compared to DSLR with similar pixel counts
Make no mistake it sure takes good pictures for a 'camcorder' and is very convenient to capture pictures simultaneously when shooting videos. The pictures are 20.4 megapixels in size and quality wise are 'merely' good. But nothing outstanding in nature either - may be because I am comparing the still photos with shots taken from Canon EOS 60D or because they are possibly interpolated in some fashion or the other and not really 'optical' in nature. For Best still shots I still would recommend having a dedicated DLSR like Canon.
[+] Super steady image stabilization
[+] Very good video image capture at 1080p AVCHD
[+] 720p MP4 video recording is a welcome addition
[+] Simulated Super slow motion built-in
[+] GPS Geotagging with built-in maps from NAVTEQ
[+] Has Built-in light and flash for recording in poorly lit condition
[+] HDMI input for the Built-in projector
[+] Direct copy to external HDD without using PC (See comments: Needs Sony 'VMC-UAM2' Cable)
[+] Provisions for external Microphone and headphone jacks
[+] Touch screen is responsive and bright even for outdoors.
[-] Slightly heavier than expected compared with Sony HDRPJ580V
[-] Still image quality is good but not as good as DSLR
[-] Still uses USB 2.0 and file transfers takes long time especially the AVCHD files
[-] Camcorder comes with battery Sony NP-FV50 only - wish this was larger capacity.
Bottom-line: Excellent upgrade from last year's model Sony HDRPJ580V
The major feature upgrade for me is HDMI input and super steady image stabilization. The camcorder is slightly bigger and heavier than last year model but feels solid in hands. The only other camcorder that comes close to this year's model would be Canon VIXIA HF G20. While both share similar specifications I would definitely recommend this camcorder to my family and friends without any hesitation.
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