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In Sonys new line up of AVCHD based Handycams, the HDR-SR1 is probably the model the serious video person would look at as against its sibling, the UX-1. The major difference between the two is media; the SR-1 uses hard disc technology for video storage as against the UX-1s DVD.
Up to 7 hours of video can be stored utilising the AVCHD H.264 (MPEG4) compression system. Using CMOS technology instead of the more standard CCD, the image quality is excellent with vibrant colours and image depth. Technically, the ?ClearVid CMOS image sensor is 1/3 with a maximum pixel count of 2,103,000. This equates to 1434K in video mode and 1991K in still mode equivalent to a 4 megapixel still camera. Of course, being Sony, the lens is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T with an 10x optical zoom. Aperture range is 1.8-2.9 and focal distance is 5.1 to 51mm. For those who routinely use Cokin or other systems, filter diameter 30mm.
Starting to trickle down from higher specd cameras is the facility have a focus ring acting as a multi-function device; in this case, via the focus ring, as well as obviously focus, white balance, AE shift and exposure can all be controlled. Other features are accessed by a touch panel system on the LCD including spot focus, colour slow shutter, self timer and tele-macro.
To aid when shooting, zebra patterning is built in and again this seems to be a facility appearing n more and more lower priced camcorders which can only be a good thing. The low light capability of the SR-1 is not that flash however at 5 lux.
Standard audio is captured via an onboard stereo mic, however there is an optional 5.1 capable mic also available as well as an external mic socket. And thankfully, headphone jacks are making a comeback to consumer / prosumer camcorders.
External connections from the SR-1 A/V, component and HDMI - are on the left hand side under a slide down flap and a USB port is on the main body hidden under the flip out LCD screen. This section of the body also contains the Memory Stick socket.
In operation, the SR-1 feels balanced and all controls fall to hand quite naturally. One glaring fault that seems endemic these days is the fact that while the viewfinder tilts, it has no extension capability so if anything other than a standard battery is attached, it is all but useless. This problem is further compounded, as in addition to having the LCD open chewing more battery power, in bright sunlight the screen is all but useless.
One complaint about HDD based camcorders is that data has to extracted from the hard drive at some point, and potentially that is lots! The SR-1 has a one touch backup operation to cater for this. As a safety factor there is also what Sony call ?Smart Protection for the hard disc in case the unit is dropped.
Sadly of course, at this point there is still no serious editing package available on the market to take advantage of AVCHD imagery, but Sony assure us this is not too far down the track with Vegas purported to have this option as an upgrade shortly. Reports hint that the computing power necessary to edit AVCHD is around 7 times that of editing SD and it is not a matter of simply ?plugging in this capability.
The SR1 weighs 640g without a battery. The retail price is AUD$2,499, US $1,526.
David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.
Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.
David can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Related Keywords:Sony HDR-SR1, AVCHD, Sony Vegas, camcorder, Handycam, CMOS, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T, /V, component , HDMI