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It’s gratifying to know that manufacturers continue to improve the quality of handheld camcorders. We’ll probably see 4K handheld camcorders on the market in just a few years. The Sony HXR-MC50U Ultra Compact Pro AVCHD Camcorder is a stepping stone toward that goal.
The Sony HXR-MC50U Ultra Compact Pro AVCHD Camcorder packs professional quality features into a highly portable unit. The HXR-MC50U captures 1920 x 1080 video at 24Mbps, which is the maximum possible bit rate in the AVCHD format. While lots of handheld camcorders capture HD, many of them compromise audio quality. But not the HXR-MC50U; the HXR-MC50U features an ECM shotgun microphone that captures high-quality stereo sound. The camcorder also features a large lens hood and a high-capacity battery that won’t cut out on you before your work is done.
The HXR-MC50U has a wide variety of automatic settings, but professional videographers often prefer to use manual settings. That’s why this camcorder also allows manual control over focus, exposure, white balance, iris and shutter speed. Adjusting the iris lets you control depth of field, while adjusting the shutter speed lets you control motion blur.
The HXR-MC50U is built around a very sensitive 1/2.88” back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor which helps to reduce image noise while providing good low-light performance. A powerful BIONZ processor can apply Sony's Dynamic Range Optimizer to both video and still image capture, and also allows the camcorder to capture 8.3-megapixel still images while recording video. The camera can capture 12-megapixel still images when not shooting video.
The HXR-MC50U features a 10x optical zoom and 120x digital zoom, and Sony’s new Optical SteadyShot Active Mode provides three-way camera shake correction at all zoom settings. The wide-angle G-Lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 29.8-298mm, features a six-bladed iris that provides superior performance when capturing shallow depth of field.
An improved Quick AF autofocus system is twice as fast as Sony’s other compact camcorders, ensuring consistent focus lock in any shooting environment. A Smooth Slow Record mode increases the camera’s frame rate from 50 frames per second (fps) to 200 fps, allowing you to capture fast motion and play it back at ¼ speed without being choppy. A built-in GPS receiver lets you tag shooting locations and also sets the camcorder's clock to the proper time zone.
The HXR-MC50U features 64GB of embedded flash memory, which is enough to store up to 6 hours of high-definition video footage or up to 48 hours of standard-definition footage. The camcorder also accepts Memory Stick and SD/SDHC media. When it’s time to review your captured footage, you can see it quite clearly on the 3.5-inch widescreen LCD.
A USB 2.0 port lets you copy captured footage to a computer. But the HXR-MC50U also lets you copy footage directly to an external hard drive without using a computer. Why lug around a computer if you don’t have to? An HDMI output lets you review your captured footage on any HDTV.
Many years ago, I had a full-size VHS camcorder that was so big you had to rest it on your shoulder while shooting. The image quality was, of course, VHS. The HXR-MC50U is only one-third the size of that old camcorder—yet it puts it to shame in every respect.