Sony introduces the world's smallest and lightest high definition consumer camcorder with full HD resolution based on HDV 1080i, the Sony Handycam HDR-HC1. The ultra-compact HDR-HC1 Handycam camcorder fits comfortably in your hand, while delivering high-definition picture quality and lighting detail on both video and digital still images. The HDR-HC1 features Sony's CMOS imaging sensor technology, designed to deliver faster image processing speeds for richer colors, more vivid detail, and significantly less glare from reflected light. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens further enhances image clarity and richness, even when shooting in low light. The HDR-HC1 also features a 2.7-inch wide hybrid, touch-panel LCD screen to access menu options. You can switch between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios to see exactly how your content will be viewed on television. Other convenient features include fully automatic controls, a built-in microphone for audio quality, an intelligent pop-up flash, and Super SteadyShot image stabilization. You can even record your own high definition video in complete darkness with Sony's Super NightShot Infrared System, which adds the greatest amount of range and detail to your images in low- to no-light conditions.
Product Title: Sony Handycam Digital Camcorder - 2.7" LCD - CMOS
Power Score: 4.3 | 19 Reviews
Frequency Band: Accessory Shoe: Active Interface Shoe Iris Control: Automatic
Viewfinder Type: Electronic
White Balance Modes: Auto Outdoor Indoor One-Push
Product Series: HDR
Effective Image Resolution: 2.1 Megapixel
Effective Video Resolution: 2 Megapixel
Total Camcorder Resolution: 3 Megapixel
Maximum Video Lines: 1080
Interlaced Scan: Yes
Memory Card Type Include: Memory Stick Duo
Longest Shutter Speed: 1/4 Second
Shortest Shutter Speed: 1/10000 Second
Product Reviews (15)
High Tech But At A High Price
Strengths: Amazing HD picture quality from a relatively small camcorder
Weakness: Steep "early adopter" price tag, main menu only accessable via LCD touch screen
For what it is, the HDR-HC1 is an amazing piece of technology. For the first time ever, consumers can now film their important events in true 1080i high definition. Of course that comes at a steep price, 2 to 3x the price of a normal DV camcorder. The fact of the matter though is the HDTV standard will be the broadcast standard in 2009. And HDV, the format the HC1 uses, will soon become the...
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For what it is, the HDR-HC1 is an amazing piece of technology. For the first time ever, consumers can now film their important events in true 1080i high definition. Of course that comes at a steep price, 2 to 3x the price of a normal DV camcorder. The fact of the matter though is the HDTV standard will be the broadcast standard in 2009. And HDV, the format the HC1 uses, will soon become the consumer video standard for HD recordings.
The question is, do you want to spend the price for the HC1. Less expensive models are on the way...eventually. Canon, Sharp, and JVC have all said they are committed to the standard. But as of now, the HC1 is alone in its class. So you can spend the money and have HD recordings of all of your family's moments from today forward, or you can wait six months to a year. If you are ready to record in HD now read on.
The general picture quality of the HC1 is outstanding for a consumer model this size. If you watch the output on a HDTV you'll truly belive the even is happening live. In dimly lit scenes the quality understandibly suffers, and the optional video light is recommended. The HC1 does have NightShot and Super NightShot, but these modes to give your video green tint.
Battery life is on par with other DV cameras. The standard battery gives you about 50 minutes with periodic play/rec stopping. Surpisingly there is little savings in battery life using the viewfinder vs. the LCD. However, the viewfinder is on par with ones found in pro models and the best place to view footage offline. The LCD panel, as one would expect on a HDV camcorder is 16:9. One of the annoying "features" of Sony consumer camcorders is that the LCD panels are actually touch panels, and all menu configurations are done here rather than with hard buttons. While this sounds neat, it's not. It's slow, plus, when you spend this much on a camera you really don't want to be putting your dirty greasy fingers all over the LCD panel. This wasn't a deal killer for me, but if I had a choice of another brand, like Canon, it might have been.
While the HC1 is a consumer camera, it does offer a tiny bit of manual control. For example, there is a manual focus ring on the lense, and you can also control exposure as well. The HC1 also features a LANC port.
The HDV format uses regular DV tapes. Your existing DV tapes play perfectly in the HC1. The HC1 also will downconvert the HD content to DV. This is useful if you don't edit your tapes on a computer and want to save the content to DVD. When Bluray and HD DVD come to market (late 2005 or early 2006) this feature won't be as important. (I'm assuming that if you own the HC1 you'll probably go out to by one of these sucessors to the DVD recorder too).
As is the trend these days, the HC1 also doubles as a digital camera. A 16 MB Memory Stick Duo is included which is actually OK if you don't use it as your main camera. The digital camera mode is 2.8 MP, which is why you shouldn't use it as your main digital camera. The pictures from it look good, but forget about enlargements. For what its worth though, stills from the HC1's video look just as sharp as stills.
Despite some ergonomic annoyances, the HC1 is a solid first model for Sony and the market in general. If you are ready to record your family's important events in HD and don't bristle at the price tag the HC1 is for you. It's a very enjoyable unit for what it is. But it is important to understand that this is the first of many models to come; one's that will be better, less expensive, and smaller. If you are OK with that then what are you waiting for...pull out that credit card and go get one now. Your life isn't standing still you know.
By Green_Z - Jul 29, 2005
HDR-HC1 is a Great Camcorder!
Strengths: Compact, Great Hi Def Picture, Easy to use, Loaded with Prosumer Features
I originally bought Sony's HDR-FX1 camcorder, but when the HDR-HC1 was announced I decided to sell the HDR-FX1 primarily due to the smaller consumer size of the HDR-HC1. It is also much cheaper - I saved about $1300 over the FX1. Looking at the specs, I hoped this would be a smaller version of the FX1 - and it is. While it does not have every bell and whistle that the FX1 has - it has most of...
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I originally bought Sony's HDR-FX1 camcorder, but when the HDR-HC1 was announced I decided to sell the HDR-FX1 primarily due to the smaller consumer size of the HDR-HC1. It is also much cheaper - I saved about $1300 over the FX1. Looking at the specs, I hoped this would be a smaller version of the FX1 - and it is.
While it does not have every bell and whistle that the FX1 has - it has most of them in a very compact size. It even has additional capabilities such as infrared for nightime, low light / no light videos.
Some have criticized the need for hi def camcorders given the difficulty of editing high def (more powerful editing software and system required) and the lack of DVD burners and players to create hi def video. Fair enough. But my view is you can NEVER go back and capture a memory on hi def once it has passed. So I record on hi def and then simply let the HDR-HC1 convert it when I capture it on my computer as WIDESCREEN DV (I use Pinnacle Studio 9). So no problem. I get widescreen and I can use all the DV editing I have in place now.
I am also experimenting with doing my editing in hi def and once getting it final, putting it back to to mini-DV tape in hi def so I will have final edited versions in hi def. Then simply rendering the hi def version as DV for purposes of creating DVDs, etc.
By pmotola - Aug 22, 2005
Strengths: Small and good-looking. Video quality is very good. Uses regular mini-DV cassettes.
Weakness: Only interlaced video. Poor selection of included aciessories
Overall, this is a pretty good camera; it is basically your only choice right now if you want a consumer HD capable camcorder. It is pretty small, and the overall appearance is good. Most of the functionality is accessed through the LCD touch screen; this eliminates a lot of the buttons, and it works out pretty well for the most part. It would be nice if the screen was a little more sensitive...
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Overall, this is a pretty good camera; it is basically your only choice right now if you want a consumer HD capable camcorder. It is pretty small, and the overall appearance is good. Most of the functionality is accessed through the LCD touch screen; this eliminates a lot of the buttons, and it works out pretty well for the most part. It would be nice if the screen was a little more sensitive (i.e. it requires a fairly firm touch) and your hand sometimes gets in the way of seeing the buttons (most of them are pretty small). The video quality is very good, you can select between 1080i and standard DV modes. I am very disappointed though that there is no 720p or other non-interlaced mode. Interlaced video is not ideal for sports/action shots and is usually a nightmare to edit. The autofocus is a bit slow, but it does focus well, and doesn't seem to drift in and out of focus. The zoom lens works well also, but the zoom slider is in a very awkward location; it is not located where your fingers naturally rest like some of the older Sony cameras. My main complaint about this camera, as with most other Sony products I've purchased is with the included accessories. This is a top of the line camera, so basic accessories like a stand alone battery charger and a IEEE 1394 cable should be included; also, why do they even bother making 16mb memory sticks? They include a usb cable, which can only be used for downloading still pictures, but not a 1394 cable, which is necessary to get digital video from the camera. If they were going to include any cables, the 1394 should have come first. Sony also uses proprietary batteries; they say that there are digital circuits in the battery pack to accurately calculate the remaining battery life (it is far from accurate), but it is basically just there to make sure that you will only be able to use the expensive Sony batteries with this camera. If Sony would have included decent accessories with this great camera, I would have given it 5 stars.
By sgi01 - Sep 6, 2005
Sony HDR-HC1 is a steal at under $2000!
Strengths: Superior video quality, small form factor, light, tons of accessories.
Weakness: High initial cash outlay, not easy to convert to computer video file, no consumer HDV format yet (e.g. Blu-Ray or HD-DVD).
You've seen the expert reviews. I can now tell you everything they said about the Sony HDR-HC1 is absolutely true. The video that this small camcorder produces is STUNNING. How much better is it than a mini-DV camcorder that produces standard definition video? It's exactly the same if you were to go to your local Best Buy and compared an analog television set with a high definition projection...
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You've seen the expert reviews. I can now tell you everything they said about the Sony HDR-HC1 is absolutely true.
The video that this small camcorder produces is STUNNING. How much better is it than a mini-DV camcorder that produces standard definition video? It's exactly the same if you were to go to your local Best Buy and compared an analog television set with a high definition projection television!
The price is really high but when you consider that the video is 3 to 5 times better than a regular mini-DV camcorder, the price (under $2000) is a steal!
Another way to look at it is you can never go back and reshoot memorable moments. If you can shoot in high definition now, you can always edit your footage later when tools will be plentiful. You can always size down your video. But it's impossible to take standard definition and improve it to high definition.
Other things that should be considered are accessories. They are not cheap! Expect to add the cost of a tripod, monopod, additional light source, microphone, wide angle lens, telephoto lens, etc.
About batteries, I would recommend getting a few of the Sony NP-QM71D batteries. There is also the higher capacity Sony NP-QM91D but as mentioned in most online reviews, the NP-QM91D sticks out at the rear farther than the viewfinder, thus rendering the viewfinder useless.
The viewfinder can be tilted upwards at an angle. It cannot be stretched backwards/outwards. This is however not a problem if you shoot your video through the LCD screen.
The other problem right now is the lack of software for transferring your video footage to your computer for editing. High definition DVD standards are not even finalized yet. You will also require a high powered computer for transferring and editing footage.
By tw14304 - Sep 9, 2005
Sony HDR-HC1 - the first HDV 1080i High-Definition Camcorder for the rest of us
Strengths: This is a ground breaking high-end consumer camcorder. Takes really sharp, 16:9 widescreen high-definition video in good and OK lighting. Paying 'street price' lets you get some accessories.
Weakness: No progressive scan mode. Needs a video light in dimly-lit settings unless you want the green 'NightShot' look of a wildlife movie.
I have used this camera for three weeks. The 'killer feature' that makes this camera worth the hefty price tag is the wonderful High-Definition 16:9 widescreen picture quality - it leaves Mini DV in the dust for both video and the occasional still when you don't want to carry a digital still camera as well. Second, I love the one hour recording time compared with 25-30 minutes for DVD camcorders....
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I have used this camera for three weeks. The 'killer feature' that makes this camera worth the hefty price tag is the wonderful High-Definition 16:9 widescreen picture quality - it leaves Mini DV in the dust for both video and the occasional still when you don't want to carry a digital still camera as well. Second, I love the one hour recording time compared with 25-30 minutes for DVD camcorders. The camera's size and weight and handling are pretty good - I don't want to lug a 4-5 pound 'pro' HDV camera around, but some of the newer, smaller Mini-DV models seem to be designed to look cute in the store/slip into a purse rather than for comfortable shooting at least for big-handed adults. There is no substitute for picking a few cameras up in your local electronics store before you make your buying decision.
The build quality is excellent, the kind you used to get all the time from Japanese electronics. The color viewfinder is the best I've ever used. It's so good that the LCD doesn't measure up in terms of picture quality, but often the LCD is more convenient for shooting. With a larger capacity battery you're probably stuck with the LCD because the viewfinder tilts up but doesn't extend back. The Zeiss video lens is up to the quality you would expect from a camera this price. Auto-focus is sharp and reacts fairly quickly. I like the well-placed exposure control. Color rendition is great in good lighting.
Negatives are fairly minor. Please remember that this is a high-end consumer camcorder, not a $3K+ pro model. It's not at all a true 'prosumer' crossover item like a decent Nikon Digital SLR. I wish it was easier to get a slow zoom - the primary zoom control on top of the camera is too speedy for me. The zoom/focus ring on the lens is a great feature but since it's not mechanically linked to the lens why can't we adjust how fast or slow it zooms, at least as as a menu option? The buttons next to the LCD are the best way to zoom slowly but I wish they were more tactile - just like using the touch screen LCD controls for spot exposure or focus it takes my attention away from the subject I'm shooting.
The standard battery life is OK for me (50-60 minutes with stop and starts) without using a video light - I got the medium sized SQ quick charging battery (QM71D) as a second battery for 'on the road'. The QM91D is too big for me but your mileage may vary. I ordered a stand-alone quick charger as on-camera charging is slow for the QM71D. You may also need a case, and some HDV-quality tapes. Compared with the cost of the camera $12 to $17 per Sony HDV-quality MiniDV tape is not a deal-breaker but I haven't compared the quality with shooting HDV on regular Mini-DV tape. I expect tape prices to come down as more people buy this camera and when more camera makers and tape manufacturers get on the HDV bandwagon.
Consumer 1080p camcorders aren't available yet (10/05) and it's debatable whether 720p is a step down or a step up from 1080i. This product is the first of it's kind - a relatively affordable, 'right-sized' camera that lets ordinary consumers shoot in beautiful widescreen high-definition. Try it out in a store and then buy online. You won't be disappointed. Suddenly 'DVD-quality' won't quite be good enough ...
By texdoc - Oct 14, 2005