Sony HDD camcorders - which should I choose?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by Kris-tal, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Kris-tal

    Kris-tal
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    I'm going to Florida soon and want to capture the experience. I'm a bit of a Sony freak I'm afraid so I've turned to them in the first instance but I can't find anywhere that explains the differences and pro's and con's between their models.

    I'm looking at three - the SR72E, the SR190E and the SR290E.

    I'm not particularly worried about price but obviously don't want to spend more than I need to. I'm a bit confused though as the more you spend, the less HDD space you get and the lower level optical zoom you get. Can anyone explain?

    My main concern is sound and image quality. Can anyone tell me what the difference is between Image Device: Size 1/6.0 & 1/3.0 ClearVid CMOS sensor? And the difference between Interlace and Progressive? Also the difference between Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonar T*?

    Basically I'm interested in image quality, sufficient optical zoom for amateur needs, and a HDD big enough to cope with 2 weeks in DisneyWorld.

    Sorry to ramble on, any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Short answer: Go for the SR190 or SR290, not the SR72.

    Longer answer:

    I'm a bit confused though as the more you spend, the less HDD space you get and the lower level optical zoom you get. Can anyone explain?

    The HDD space is just based on decisions made by Sony. The SR52 is 30 GB, the SR72 is basically the SR52 with a larger HDD (60 GB). So when you move from the 52 to the 72, you pay more and get a larger HDD. With the higher spec SR190/290, they decided to offer a 40 GB HDD.

    The zoom is a technical issue - it has to do with the physics of lenses and sensor sizes. The simple explanation is that it is easy to provide a high optical zoom with a small sensor (1/6"), and harder with a large sensor. So higher quality cams with larger sensors (like the SR190/290) tend to have smaller zooms. Don't worry about this as 10x is generally more than enough (if shooting handheld you wouldn't want to go over this anyway).

    Can anyone tell me what the difference is between Image Device: Size 1/6.0 & 1/3.0 ClearVid CMOS sensor?

    Bigger is better. Much better. 1/3" is much better than 1/6". There are some additional advantages to the CMOS over CCD, but the main thing is the larger sensor.

    Also the difference between Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonar T*?

    The T* is a higher quality lens.

    And the difference between Interlace and Progressive

    Cameras with progressive-scan sensors read each row of pixels on the CCD sequentially when recording an image. Interlaced sensors read all even rows as one frame, then all odd rows as the next frame.

    Generally progressive is better. What is confusing though is some camcorder like the Canon HV20 have a real progressive mode (though stored in an interlaced container, see http://www.avforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4513581&postcount=4 )

    The SR190/290 doesn't have a progressive recording mode, but does have a progressive sensor... which frankly I don't fully understand.

    Anyway - the larger sensor alone makes the SR190/290 a far better choice than the SR72.

    Between the SR190 and the 290, the main differences are the 290 has:

    - Higher resolution stills
    - Optical rather than electronic image stabilisation

    Note that while higher res stills is a good thing (if you care about stills), it means more pixels on the sensor which can hurt low light video performance. So unless the stills are important to you I'd probably go for the 190.
     
  3. Kris-tal

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    Thanks Mark, your knowledge know's no end!

    I've got a Sony DSC-H1 digital camera for still pictures therefore won't use that function on the camcoder, so I guess I'll go for the 190.

    Unless I'm barking up the wrong tree with Sony and could do better with another camcorder manafacturer? (I can't believe I just said that, sorry Sony!:nono: )

    Chris
     
  4. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    If you want a HDD cam, you'll be fine sticking with Sony. For HDD cams it is just Sony or JVC (Panasonic has a new one coming out). I know JVC has a new range that I don't know much about, but based on the previous range the high end Sony models had the edge.

    The only wobbly I'd throw in is: What about High Definition, and does it have to be HDD? There are some nice HDV (tape) camcorders out there like the Sony HC5 and HC7, or Canon HV20.

    You can get a HC5 for not much more than a SR290 (around £600).
     
  5. Kris-tal

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    I like the idea of HDD camcorder purely for the convenience of not faffing around with tapes - however I'm open to suggestions.

    Are there any clear benefits of Hi-Def tape over Hi-Def HDD, primarily in image quality? Likewise, which format returns the best image quality, standard DV tape or standard HDD? Currently I don't have a Hi-Def TV so I guess it would be kind of pointless.
     
  6. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    High Def tape vs. High Def HDD: Today (in consumer formats at least) the tape based models (HDV) tend to give slightly better picture quality than the HDD (AVCHD) models. HDV is MPEG2, AVCHD is more compressed MPEG4. In theory AVCHD should be able to match or exceed the quality due to smarter compression, but in practice this isn't the case, at least not yet. Also, AVCHD is nearly impossible to edit currently (again this will change).

    In the SD world, DV still tends to give best quality for the money, but if you go for a higher end model like the SR190 the quality should be similar to say the Sony HC96 DV camcorder... but the HC96 is cheaper.

    In some ways HDD is convienent, but you have different "faffing" you need to consider... what do you do if you fill the HDD, how do you archive your material.
     

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