Sony Announces New Handycam Camcorders

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Sony has announced several new Handycam camcorders. Not surprisingly, these new camcorders offer a host of new features. This article will take a look at some of the more notable upgrades from previous models and hopefully help you determine which model might be the right one for you.

These cameras range from the entry-level HDR-CX220 to the HDR-TD30V for advanced enthusiasts and it seems the raison d'être for the line in general is the addition of 1080/60p and the AVCHD format. Shooting at 60 progressive frames per second reduces motion blur and enables smooth slow motion when played back at 30 or 24 fps. In addition, users have the option of recording video in either of two formats. AVCHD offers a better quality format, and MP4 is optimized for sharing videos on the Web.

We’ll work our way up to the more advanced models, and you’ll find all kinds of interesting bells and whistles along the way. There are Carl Zeiss lenses, built-in projectors and even a stereoscopic 3D system, to name a few, but before we get carried away, let’s take a closer look at the entry-level camcorders.

HDR-CX220 and HDR-CX230

These are the entry-level models for Sony’s CX series. The HDR-CX220 and HDR-CX230 both offer 1080/60p, SteadyShot image stabilization and a 32x extended zoom. However, the CX230 adds 8GB of built-in Flash Memory for up to 3 hours and 10 minutes of recording time. Both cameras feature a Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar lens, which boasts a 27x optical-zoom ratio and a 35mm equivalent focal length of 29.8mm on the wide end.

At the heart of these cameras is an 8.9MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, which maximizes the light-gathering area per pixel for improved performance in low light. In addition to Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution video, the CX220 and CX230 are also capable of capturing 8.9MP still photographs. Photos and videos can be monitored and played back on a 2.7” Clear Photo LCD with 230K resolution.

Another nice feature is that the built-in USB 2.0 cable stows away in the hand strap and provides for convenient charging and data transfer without having to juggle a separate cable. While the CX230 is black only, the CX220 will be available in black, blue, red and silver.

HDR-PJ230

The HDR-PJ230 is the next step up from the HDR-CX230. It is a nearly identical camera with the addition of a built-in projector. Nestled in the articulated LCD panel, the projector has a brightness rating of 13 lumens, which is suitable for projecting images up to 100” diagonally.

HDR-CX290

The HDR-CX290 is another very similar camcorder. However, this model has improved Optical SteadyShot image stabilization and the Extended Zoom is now 50x. Also, while the CX230’s Intelligent Auto mode has 60 different possible scene combinations, the CX290 is capable of 90 different combinations. Intelligent Auto mode improves upon traditional auto modes by automatically selecting from among 90 different combinations of scene modes, which include Portrait, Baby Walk, Tripod, Backlight, Landscape, Spotlight, Twilight, Macro and Low light.

HDR-CX380 and HDR-PJ380

The HDR-CX380 features several significant advantages over the cameras that we have looked at so far. On paper, the 8.9MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and video recording formats look identical, but the CX380 uses a completely different lens. The built-in Sony G lens is 26.8mm on the wide end, which is slightly wider than the others, and the optical zoom ratio is 30x for even more reach on the long end. Accordingly, the Extended Zoom is up to 55x.

At 3” diagonally, the LCD screen is slightly larger and is now a touch screen, which can be used to select faces and objects that you want to keep in focus. 32GB of embedded Flash Memory can store up to 6 hours and 25 minutes of high-definition video. Finally, the HDR-CX380’s Intelligent Auto mode is capable of 180 different scene combinations.

The HDR-PJ380 adds a built-in projector, and has 16GB of built-in Flash Memory. Much like the projector in the PJ230, brightness is rated at 13 lumens for projecting images up to 100” diagonally. However, the PJ380 also features an HDMI multi-terminal, which allows you to input content from external devices like a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Moreover, while the CX380 is black only, the PJ380 will be available in black, white and red.

HDR-CX430V and HDR-PJ430V

In case you have not picked up on the formula, HDR-CX430V and HDR-PJ430 are nearly identical to each other, with the exception of PJ430’s built-in projector. Beyond that, both of these cameras take a firm step into the midrange of their category. Balanced Optical SteadyShot, 24p recording, CinemaTone presets and Wi-Fi connectivity are among their notable advantages.

Sony HDR-CX430V Sony HDR-PJ430V

Balanced Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode offers significantly better results than standard SteadyShot schemes. The entire optical block is isolated from the body of the camera and moves independently to reduce shake while maintaining the integrity of the optical path. This is a feature we first saw implemented—with considerable success—in the HXR-NX30, a prosumer camcorder that Sony released last year.

Wi-Fi connectivity will require an accessory, the ADP-WL1M1, which is not included. This module will mount onto the camcorder’s Multi-Interface shoe, which also provides an interface for a range of optional accessories like video lights and microphones.

HDR-PJ650V

With a 20.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, HDR-PJ650V is the first of two high end PJ series camcorders. It features similar ergonomics to the other Handycams, but the control layout has been tweaked to accommodate a manual control dial for adjusting iris, shutter, exposure and white balance. This comprehensive set of manual controls should appeal to advanced shooters.

The PJ650V features a projector with 20lm brightness, an HDMI input terminal, Balanced Optical SteadyShot, 32GB of embedded Flash Memory, a Multi-Interface shoe and high-end versions of the many “bells and whistles” found on the other Handycams. It also adds a 5.1 surround sound microphone, wind-noise reduction and a feature Sony calls “Closer Voice” for much improved sound recordings.

HDR-PJ790

The HDR-PJ790 is Sony’s top of the line consumer camcorder. The Exmor R CMOS sensor has 24.1MP, there are 96GB of internal memory, and the 10x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Sonar lens is 26mm (35mm equivalent) on the wide end of the focal range. Like the PJ650V, the PJ790 has a 5.1 surround sound microphone. However, the PJ790V’s mic is isolated from the camcorder itself, which reduces the amount of background noise. A windscreen is also provided. In addition to comprehensive manual controls, the PJ790V’s advanced controls include expanded focus, zebra and peaking.

HDR-TD30V

Finally, the HDR-TD30V is a stereoscopic Handycam. This camcorder features two 20.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensors and dual wide angle Sony G lenses, a configuration which allows the TD30V to capture true 1920 x 1080 3D video. Most other cameras in this class achieve the 3D effect by splitting a single 1920 x 1080 signal. These and many of the other features that we have already discussed in this article make the TD30V one of Sony’s most advanced consumer-level Handycams.

For more information on Sony’s new Handycam camcorders, please call us on the phone at 1-800-606-6969, feel free to stop by the B&H NYC SuperStore or contact us via Live Chat.