I have had this camcorder for over a year now and absolutely love it. It uses an SD card to record to which is amazing technology and in my opinion the future of camcorders. Some of the benefits include rapid start up(2 seconds for this camcorder), reduction of moving parts, as its solid state. Smaller size of Camcorder due to SD cards reduced size and lack of motors etc to spin discs or tape. Solid state means camcorders aren’t effected by high g-forces and are incredibly reliable. SD card storage means I can slip card straight into laptop, so no messing with cables and transfering footage is drag and drop.
SD cards have increased in size and dropped in price since I bought this camcorder and will no doubt continue to do so. I have 2 x 4gb cards and 1 x 8gb card, and have never come close to needing more storage, although you can buy 32gb and 64gb cards if needed, they are just still to expensive for me at this point in time. As the camcorder records in High definition, you need the faster 20mb/sec cards as the camcorder needs to write at about 13mb/sec.
Basic(cheaper) SD cards for digital still cameras are only 5mb/sec or10mb/sec and so although they(10mb/sec) can be used, if recording at lowest quality, they are no good for High Definition recording.
Image quality is simply stunning compared to any standard definition format we have used in the past, or anything I have ever seen period. The colours are rich and true to life, even in low light conditions. I have seen reviews by videophiles who can pick slight fault with it but for me, I’m stunned by the quality.
The unit features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) which is an active system to remove minor camera shake and it works really well. This (OIS) combined with the superb Lieca lense adds up to superbly smooth and sharp handheld shots. I use mine handheld or with a Manfrotto monopod(a single legged tripod stand) mostly, and occasionally with a manfrotto tripod.
The main controls are very nicely laid out and great to use, although I’d probably prefer a better position or larger button on menu button, but its no biggie, as I’m used to it now. I love the zoom control as at full tilt its not too fast or slow but just right, and is very intuitive touch wise, if you want to zoom slowly. As this is the control you use most, its great to have one that works so well. I have found many camcorders have zooms that are way too fast.
This camcorder features 5.1 sound which can be kinda cool but means you have to keep quiet while shooting as you are usually a lot closer than subjects and so anything you say will be a lot louder. It also features a zoom mic tthat zooms front mics as lense zooms. This can be great in some situations but can be turned off as well as sometimes its not ideal. There is no input for external mic.
The auto-focus works flawlessly, but you have a electronically adjustable manual focus option as well, although I prefer an old fashioned lense type, it works well enough.
I use Sony Vegas Platinum Pro to edit my video footage, so can’t comment on the included software. Vegas handles AVC-HD format so haven’t had any issues there and am guessing most editing software these days should as well. I love this software and highly recommend it.
I rate this unit 8.5 out of 10