Sony DCR-HC90E queries



I'm thinking of getting a new camcorder and thanks to Applespider's comments in a previous thread I posted, I'm now looking at the Sony DCR-HC90E as a major possibility :clap: .

I wasn't too keen that the optical zoom was only 10x but MarkE19 among others (in an optical zoom query thread I had) said that the higher the zoom, the more you will get camera shake and that picture quality would suffer as a result which is why the more expensive camcorder models have smaller optical zoom lenses :lesson: .

The Sony DCR-HC90E pretty much checks all the buttons for everything that I want but I have four queries which I hope some of you guys might be able to help out with :lease: .

As I like to zoom on the architectural details of buildings (whether it be indoors or out) and the optical zoom on the Sony DCR-HC90E is only 10x, I read somewhere that you can get a tele conversion lenses from Sony to attach to the camcorder to help zoom in closer to items. When reading the details about the tele conversion lenses it mentioned something like 2.0x but I'm not sure what that means. Can anyone explain what it is and how more effective having the tele conversion lenses would be for zooming? I could be wrong here but I'm guessing that it will effectively double the zoom on the camcorder by 2. Am I right? If I am, what would it be like regarding picture quality i.e. would it suffer?

What is the sound quality like for the Sony DCR-HC90E?

The battery life on the Sony DCR-HC90E to put it mildly is crap. As I tend to use the camcorder a lot when I'm on holidays I don't want to be armed with half a dozen or so batteries to film just a day's filming. Is there any batteries out there that can replace the Sony one which will give a couple of hours (4 or 5 hours preferably) of battery life?

Am I right to consider the Sony DCR-HC90E or should I be looking at something else? Everywhere I look there is always good and bad points to any camcorder I have considered and similarly reviews for a camcorder model I even consider always seem to have conflicting reviews no matter what website I look at e.g. some have said that the ability to shoot footage in low light with the Sony DCR-HC90E is very good while others have said it was rubbish, thus I get more and more confused :confused: as to making the right choice.

If you guys can help out it would be much appreciated. Thanks :smashin: .


Active Member
If you haven't already checkout:

You could also consider the HC42E whiich has a 12x optical zoom (I think) but only has a 1.3MP still picture capture.

A teleconverter will work and double the 10x zoom to 20x but at the expense of the image. Zooming in may introduce distortions in the image and lead to th camcorder finding it more diffucult to autofocus. Depending on the price they are useful to have but not for everyday use. If you need a need a large zoom then checkout another camcorder. If you are prepared to pay for a semi-pro camcorder you can have a large zoom with a good picture but camera shake will always be a problem without a tripod. You should also consider a camcorder with an optical stablistion system if you go for a camcorder with a large zoom lens. The HC90E uses electronic stablisation and is not as good at full zoom as perhaps a camcorder with optical stablistation.


Active Member
I was in a similar dilemma and after much research I went for the HC90e and have been very pleased with it. It is best to limit yourself to the range of the optical zoom without using convertors or the digital zoom. Having said that, the quality of the digital zoom is quite reasonable when only extending the range to 20x, but maybe not good enough for archietectural details. As laser says you really need a tripod when using above 10x.

Sound quality is OK with a very small amount of motor noise in very quiet scenes. Add on micophones are available.

I use the NP-FA70 battery which gives about 150 minutes when using the LCD. For it's compact size and light weight I reckon this is pretty good.

Low light is quite respectable with little or no noise when shooting indoors with fairly low power available light (hotel room lighting). I did try filming in some not very well lit caves in Greece and found the camera sometimes struggled to focus automatically and the footage looked a bit flat but came up beautifully with a bit of tweaking at the editing stage.

All in all an excellent little camera which has been tough enough to survive being carried in a handlebar bag (well padded!) on various cycle tours. A very nice camera for travel with a good 16:9 mode and a good balance of price and performance. Better cameras are certainly available but at a higher price. I reckon that the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in at about this point.


Thanks for the feedback everyone. It is much appreciated. I'm still not sure what to get. A semi-pro camcorder is a bit out of my price range and although the HC42E looks good, I'd like to get decent digital shots which means the HC90E beats the HC42E hands down. Mmm, decisions, decisions, decisions... :suicide:


Standard Member
I've just come back from San Francisco and Vegas with my HC90 and it performed really well under varying light conditions.

So far as the 10x zoom goes, what kind of architectural detail are you talking about? You won't get the top of a skyscraper with the 10x with great clarity but I got some great shots of the Paris hotel detail with the 10x - although it was tough to keep steady even at that zoom level without bracing on something. I dread to think what the 20x would be like!

Battery-wise - get an NP-FA70 one. I took that and the original FA50 out with me. I shot about 5 hours of video and recharged the camera 4 times in 2 weeks. I never had to switch over to the FA-50 one - even on the longest day of shooting (where I got through 90 minutes of tape primarily using the LCD) where I was at the Grand Canyon and then walking along the strip, the FA70 lasted. It was much better than I expected it would be.


You'd be amazed at some of the things you see when you zoom on the architectural details of buildings. Prefect example is if you zoom in just under the first arch of the Eiffel Tower you see all these names that must have some association with the building of the tower. You wouldn't see that with a 10x zoom. I got it with an old 18x analog camcorder. Plus the detail you get on the roof inside the chapel at Hampton Court, London is amazing etc. I like all these little bits but of course the problem there is that there is a heck of a lot of camera shake. That's why I was wondering if a tele conversion lense used in conjunction with the HC90 would help with the camera shake problem but laser has said it would still be bad. Thus the dilemma...

As for the batteries, I tend to film a good couple of hours a day so I'd probably need a fistful of NP-FA70 batteries :)
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