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High Quality Camera,
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This review is from: Sony HDRPJ580V High Definition Handycam 20.4 MP Camcorder with 12x Optical Zoom, 32 GB Embedded Memory and Built-in Projector (2012 Model) (Electronics)
I just purchased this video camera on Monday evening, Feb. 6, 2012 from Beach Camera and received it today. I have only been able to work/play with the camera for a few hours, but these are my experiences so far.
1. This was my first experience ordering from Beach Camera, through Amazon. Was a little concerned at first when product didn't ship for a couple of days, but when they did ship, it must have been shipped two day priority, because it arrived halfway across the country by Saturday. Package arrived in perfect shape and sealed in factory condition. So far, impressed by Beach Camera and their service.
2. Camera is physically much smaller than I expected. It feels about the same size of a can of soda laying on it's side. Very nice! My last video camera was a Panasonic mini dv. That camera was a decent size, but this Sony is even more compact and fits very nice in my hand. The controls, zoom, photo button and record button all line up nicely and are easy to use. The camera feels solidly built, just as most sony products.
3. One item that I was concerned about was whether there was an available SD or memory card slot to add memory. The Sony website doesn't really make it clear whether there is that feature, or if it's just the internal memory. Well I can positively confirm that there IS a SD memory card slot on the bottom side of the camera. A little door flaps open and you insert the card. It probably accepts a memory stick too, but I only tried a SDHC extreme memory card 16gb card. Worked perfectly!
4. Now, for the feature that was the biggest hit with my family.... the built in projector! This is truly amazing technology. I projected a few of the short movie clips I just took, onto a large empty wall, and we were all totally amazed at the quality and sound. I backed up about 15 feet from the wall and projected an approximate image of 8 feet across. I am impressed at the image it can project at such a distance. Our wall is painted a medium brown color and it still looked good. Of course it would look even better if the wall was white or was actually projected onto a movie screen. Sound is pretty much what you'd expect from a pair of small speakers, sort of tinny, but it was pretty loud and definitely good enough to sit around and listen to our home movies. Good job Sony!
5. As for the quality of the video, this is what I've experienced so far. I played around briefly with the top two quality settings, 60i and 60p. I hooked the camera directly to my HD tv via the HDMI cable that came with the camera. The 60p looked slightly better, but both videos looked great. The video I took was at night, with only interior lighting on and it still looked great. I can't wait to see what daytime video looks like. It was super easy to view the video on the tv. As soon as I plugged the camera into the tv, the tv recognized the device and displayed exactly what was on the LCD screen. The only annoying thing was the sound coming out of the video camera and the tv at the same time, gave it an echo sound. I'm sure there is a way to turn down the sound on the video camera when plugged into the tv, just haven't figured it out yet.
6. Another feature I love is the crispness of the LCD screen. The high resolution of the screen makes the image so clear and easy to view. Love it! The only minor complaint I would have of the screen is the touchscreen feature. So far it seems like I have to press on the screen twice in the same spot to activate what ever button I was trying to push. Maybe it's just me being to careful and not wanting to press to hard on the screen or the screen isn't as responsive as it needs to be. Either way, I'm sure after a little more use, I'll get use to it and it won't be a big deal.
7. As for software, there is no cd/dvd's that come with the camera. There is a "lite" version of Home Memories software that comes preloaded on the internal memory of the camera. When you first plug the camera into your computer, you upload the software and install it. The software then offers to download additional features from it's servers. I downloaded and installed the additional features and it worked perfect. I have a computer with windows 7 that is about 4 years old. The software looks pretty basic, but it does do a nice job of importing and organizing your old photos and then imports your new video and pictures from the camera. I haven't worked with it enough to know how easy or hard it is to edit video or burn discs. I was able to import the new video clips I recorded tonight and was able to play all of the clips, including the highest quality video on my computer no problem. I played the video in both windows media player and in the Home Memories software and both looked really good!
Overall my initial impressions are very good. The still picture quality appears to be average to good for a video camera. Definitely not as good as a stand alone digital camera, but truthfully I haven't taken very many pictures, so maybe it will be better than I think. I plan on buying an extra high capacity battery, since I have never had good luck with batteries lasting very long, plus it's always good to have a backup.
One feature I haven't been able to figure out yet is what happens when you're recording video and either your internal memory or memory card gets full, does it switch over to the other memory seamlessly? Or does the recording stop and you have to switch to the other memory. When i determine the answer to that question, I'll post an update.
In summary, this appears to be a high quality camera that seems appropriately priced for the features it has. I definitely recommend it. My kids can't wait to make home movies with their friends and have a movie/popcorn night and watch their creations projected larger than life up on the wall!
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Showing 1-10 of 25 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 14, 2012 2:39:39 AM PST
How does the extended zoom work? Is the maximum zoom 20x or (12x20)=240x?
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2012 4:50:15 AM PST
The camera has an optical zoom (which offers the best clarity) of 20x. That is set by default when you get the camera. But in the menu settings you can toggle the digital/extended zoom on or off. With it on, you still get the optical zoom out 20x, but after that it is digital zoom out to a total of 160x. The few times I've used it so far, the clarity goes down considerably by the time you get to 160x, but that has been my experience with all other cameras and camcorders when using digital zoom. Hope that helps!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2012 4:59:27 AM PST
I was hoping Sony is providing extended zoom like in Canon T3i that use the reserve resolution of the sensor to provide additional magnification. It confuse me why Sony called it extended zoom instead of digital zoom. Would you please confirm that it is in fact digital zoom being used in this camcorder? Thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2012 5:30:43 AM PST
Ok, I apologize, I did some more reading in the manual and did some verifying on the camera because I too, was confused why Sony says 12x, 20x and 160x. Apparently it is all tied into whether you have the "Steady Shot" active or not. Under the steady shot menu, the camera offers, Off, Standard, and Active. When steady shot is off or on standard, the camera only gives you 12x optical and the option to turn 160x digital zoom. If you turn on steady shot, the camera then automatically gives you 20x optical, with the option to turn on the 160x digital zoom. I didn't catch it at first, but I zoomed out (using only optical) to an object off in the distance with steady shot off and noted exactly how much of the object I could see. I then went into the menu setting and turn on steady shot. I then went back to that object and I noticed that I could clearly see more of that object now, as it was zoomed in closer to it. The camera doesn't put a little divider line in the zoom bar, differentiating between 12x and 20x, like it does between the optical and digital zoom, so it initially threw me off. But after reading about it and checking it out, apparently Sony doesn't offer the 20x without steady shot on because they must figure it will be too shaky to be practical. Either way, I don't see why you would ever use the camera without steady shot on, so the 20x should always be available. Hopefully that makes sense. Let me know if it doesn't or you have other questions.
Posted on Feb 17, 2012 7:23:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 17, 2012 7:24:55 AM PST
Roger L. Garstang says:
The listing mentions it having an LCD screen and a view finder, but the picture doesn't show a view finder. Since you are the first to review, does it have a view finder too? And, what are the battery specs?
Posted on Feb 17, 2012 1:54:56 PM PST
Vincent Valcin says:
Charlie, I appreciate your detail review as I look to purchase my first camcorder. I am considering Sony's HDR-CX760V, HDR-CX580V, or HDR-PJ580V to have memories of my first child. You mentioned the camcorder had an expanded slot. Have you been able to test whether recording switches to internal memory or memory card if it gets full? Does recording automatically stop and a switch is needed to continue recording? Also, does the expanded memory card slot hold anything greater the 16GB - 32/64GB? Thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2012 2:43:15 PM PST
I noticed that in the original listing as well! No, unfortunately there is no viewfinder on this camera.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2012 3:05:21 PM PST
I have not been able to test whether it automatically switches over, but I suspect it doesn't. The reason I suspect that is because when I plug it into the computer, the computer only recognizes what ever drive (internal or SD card) that I last had the camera set to record to before plugging it into the computer. It appears to only download any new video on the drive that was last active. You have to unplug the video camera, change the camera to record to the other media (if there is video you want downloaded) and then re-plug the camera back into the computer and download the video from that media. It sounds like a lot of work, but it actually is pretty quick. I would prefer it recognized it all, but I'm just glad it has the expansion slot. As far as maximum size memory card, the camera accepts memory stick pro, SD, SDHC, and SDXC. For memory stick, it lists 32gb. For the SD style cards, it says 64gb. Interesting enough, the heading under the max size column states, "Capacity - operation verified" so larger size may work, but they probably just don't guarantee it.
I hope to record enough video this weekend, so I can test what happens when either the memory card or internal memory gets full. I'll post the results when I find out.
Another feature I forgot to mention in my original posting was the built in camera light. The still photo flash, doubles as a video light when you need additional lighting. I only tested it for 1-2 minutes, so I don't know how bad it will affect the battery life, but I can tell you the light is very bright. I went into an internal room with no windows and closed the door and shut off the lights. I could easily see and record anything within a reasonable distance (3-10ft) in front of me. It certainly is not going to light up the whole room, but I was impressed, given how tiny the actual light it.
Posted on Feb 22, 2012 1:32:31 PM PST
A 20 megapixil still image capture and you say it's only 'average to good?' Wow, I wasn't expecting that.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 7:06:52 PM PST
I will admit that I didn't have very many pictures under my belt with this new camcorder, and my experience included all interior photos taken during the early evening when interior lighting had to be used. Since then I have had the opportunity to take pictures outside while snowshoeing in Northern Wisconsin. I will upgrade my experience now to very good exterior photos. I was amazed at how crisp they were and the color was very good. Admittedly it was daytime and the sun was shining, so the lighting was not an issue. My experience with interior photos where lighting is strictly artificial, I would say the photos are still "average to good". I have never been overly impressed with photos taken with my past camcorders, but I would have to admit this camera has certainly improved in that area, enough where I don't feel like I have to bring my still camera for most events any more.