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Sony HD Video Recording HDRPJ440 PJ Handycam Camcorder
Sony HD Video Recording HDRPJ440 PJ Handycam Camcorder
Price: $398.00
37 used & new from $244.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little projector camera., November 4, 2015
With most camcorder makers having left behind their standard definition lineups, HD camcorders are now becoming ridiculously affordable and compact. The PJ440 from Sony is one of many ultra lightweight HD camcorders that strangely enough, shoot primarily in Full HD only. In dual recording mode, a second MP4 video is recorded, but there is no way for you to set the camcorder to shoot exclusively in this format only.

Disappointingly, the image sensor (Exmor-R) of the PJ440 is smaller than those you'd find in typical entry-level compact cameras (it measures 1/5.8" instead of 1/2.3"), and with such a small sensor (the gross pixel of the sensor is just slightly over 2 Megapixels - which is enough for HD but not exactly great with noise handling), you'd find that although the Bionz-X processor cleans up your captured footages nicely and gives them great, punchy colors, most of the time, parts of your footages will look a little murky, especially in shadowy areas. Footages shot at night are generally quite noisy, with visible color blotches (mostly yellow and red) dotted all over the screen, and the only way to counteract this is by making sure you set up plenty of light around your subjects before you start filming.

The PJ440, although comes embedded with an 8GB internal memory, requires microSD cards that are at least around 64GB in size in order for it to last long enough to record concerts and recitals. I don’t need to tell you how rare microSD cards are, especially for someone who has been using an older Sony HD camcorder (All older Sony HD camcorders use standard-sized SD cards). With HD, the PJ440 is very selective with the type of microSD cards it would use to record footages. Anything slower than a Class 10 will not work, and many new 2014 Class 10 microSD cards, including those made by Sony, cannot support the XVAC-S (50Mbps) format recording. You will need UHS-I Class 3 cards by SanDisk or other reputable manufacturers to record your HD footages at this bitrate. The built-in 8GB memory supports the XVAC-S, but can only hold up to 19 minutes worth of footages.

The Infolitium-X power supply is also a puzzling choice for Sony for a camcorder that can potentially record up to many hours of HD video, non-stop. With its fixed size (in milliampere-hour that is), your camcorder won’t last for more than 70 minutes of recording with a fully charged infolithium-X battery. Although the attached USB cord gives you the ability to plug a very long USB extension cord to your camcorder and power it directly using the included AC adaptor from a wall, you need to get creative (like I did) when you want to use the PJ440 outdoors for an extended period of time. Large power banks are a must if you are taking this camcorder away from civilization for days.

But, despite all of its shortcomings, the PJ400 is highly versatile. The built-in Wifi allows you to remote control it with your phone, and it also supports multi-cam recording with other Sony WiFi video cameras (especially with Sony action cams). One of the most boring (and tiring sometimes) aspects of home videos is that you’re always shooting from a single point of view, and you sometimes find yourself spending a lot of time running around, chasing after subjects that won’t sit still. The multi-cam features supports up to 5 remote cameras, and once you have collected all your footages, the Sony PlayMemories software can easily align them based on their time codes and combine them into a single multi-cam video. You can switch between different views easily in post-production without all the messy, shaky in between footages, and your subjects tend to feel and look more natural since they won’t be constantly looking at the main video camera.

Even though the pixel count of the built-in projector is not great (it’s less than VGA at 640x360), the colors are impressive. Review your footages easily in a dark room, or plug any video device into the tiny camcorder, and you instantly get a large, colorful cinema screen on the wall. The PJ440 does not have keystone correction, so you’d want to mount it on a tripod to keep the projected images straight.

The PJ440 is definitely every parent’s dream (especially those with overachieving children), it is small, weighs next to nothing, shoots in HD, produces very steady footages (with optical and electronic stabilization combined), plugs and plays instantly on HDMI TVs and receivers, and is so much more affordable than HD camcorders from just 3 to 4 years ago. YouTube broadcasters would love it too, with the wireless WiFi cellphone remote, easy USB transfer (the attached USB cord will never go missing), multi-cam capabilities, a built-in 8GB internal memory (just enough for 19 mins of XVAC-S video or 38 minutes of AVCHD video at 28Mbps), and the MTS videos can be directly imported into iMovie (if you are using Mac) for fast editing.

For budding movie makers and amateurs however, you may want to look at something much more expensive, or stick to using DSLRs, as the PJ440’s image sensor is just so small that at pixel level, its footages will always look a little processed, and the video camera gets very uncomfortable when you point it into a dark room. The video camera is also missing an accessory shoe, electronic viewfinder, external mic connector and there is no headphone output for audio monitoring. It is obvious that the PJ440 is strictly a consumer HD camcorder, and therefore, should not be expected to perform on the same level as Sony’s enthusiast or pro-grade models such as the HDR-CX900 or the 4K capable FDR-AX33 and FDR-AX100.

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