Best Buy
  • Price: 1275

  • Company: Sony

  • Pros: Much smaller and lighter than current HDV competition. High quality footage capture. Manual ring for zoom and focus. Touchscreen.

  • Cons: Single sensor. No XLR inputs. Built-in mic picks up tape noise.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The HDR-HC1 is the little brother of the HDR-FX1, which we reviewed here. It drops the FX1’s 3CCDs in favour of a single CMOS sensor, and shrinks the body size and weight down to that of a traditional consumer handheld.

As with the FX1, the model is available in ‘consumer’ and ‘professional’ variations, with the forthcoming HVR-A1 adding XLR audio inputs and more manual controls to the mix – and around £750 to the price.

The HC1 uses the 1080i variant of the HDV format, recording at 1,440-x-1,080 pixels, which offers up to four times the resolution of DV.

 border=0 />The video quality, be it DV or HDV, is excellent for a single sensor device – though not up to that of 3CCD HDV camcorders such as the FX1, or JVC’s HD100E. The CMOS sensor provides good colour and excellent dynamic range, with detail maintained in bright areas and shadows.
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The HC1E did a great job adjusting to transitions from light to dark and produced a clean, low-noise result when shooting in lower light indoors, a result helped by Sony’s Enhanced Imaging Processor.
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<b>Pickup lines</b>
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The camera has four rather than two microphones, with the input from two left and two right microphones mixed to create the left and right stereo channels. The HC1E’s onboard mics did a good job, although they did pick up a bit of noise from the tape mechanism. There is a hot shoe, so you can attach an optional external mic if you want to eliminate drive noise.
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The HC1 uses touch-sensitive LCD screens for the menu interface. It’s a good system – you never need to fumble about looking for the menu button and fiddling with tiny direction arrows to navigate the menus. Unlike other Sony models, this hasn’t totally precluded on-body buttons and switches – though there are still less than we’d like.
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The touchscreen can also provide spot focus. Simply frame your subject then touch the part of the screen image you wish to focus on to have the camera focus on that spot.
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The 10x zoom Carl Zeiss lens comes with a dual-purpose zoom/manual focus ring. Plus, there’s an extended zoom button that temporarily zooms in on the centre of the screen to aid in manual focusing. The LCD is natively 16:9, so you get full use of the screen area when shooting in 16:9 mode.
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As well as video capture to mini-DV, the HC1 can capture 2.8mp stills to the included 16MB Memory Stick Duo card.
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You may want to wait for the fully-pro A1, but the HC1 is a great second camera for owners of the FX1 or Z1.
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