The Sony HDR-CX150 is a real piece of work that demands more than just a second's look. It’s small, extremely compact and is very feature-rich. Manufacturers should actually learn from these guys on how to design a camcorder.
The overall build quality is nothing less than excellent leaving very little to complain about. The body is made of plastic but feels rock solid to withstand minor bumps here and there. Moreover the Sony is so damn compact that it easily allows you to wrap your fingers around its 50 x 56 x 114 mm body. The video and picture capturing controls are placed just where a user would want them to be. Moreover the protruding battery at the rear doubles up as support for the thumb; thereby increasing the overall grip of the device when held. The camera weighs just about 260g and comes with a decent 25x of optical zoom.
Rather than depriving the user of recording space the camcorder not only comes with an SD card slot but also comes fit with 16 GB of built-in flash memory; a well thought out addition considering that the camcorder records in High Definition. Speaking of high definition the CX150 can record in four different modes – HD LP (6.5 hrs), HD HQ (3.8 hrs), HD FH (1.9 hrs) and HD FX (1.4 hrs). All four modes record in AVCHD format which can only be played on a compatible Blu-ray player or the PlayStation 3. However there is a Standard recording format that allows videos to be played on any ordinary playback device. You also have a total of 8 different scene modes which include Twilight, Sunrise and Sunset, Fireworks, Landscape, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach and Snow.
As with all camcorders the CX150 comes with a tilt and swivel screen that is accompanied by a fully functional touch panel. The 2.7-inch LCD is bright and crisp and is as good as watching the videos on TV. This just goes to show you the quality of the CCD that the camcorder implements. A feature that is slowly trickling down to from cameras to camcorders nowadays is the Intelligent Auto function that decides the most suitable mode when taking videos. That said, the function responds quite well and does the needful; be it when you are shooting in broad daylight or at night. Moreover the touch panel is not only responsive but quite precise when selecting between menus – so unless you have really fat juicy fingers you hardly end up selecting the wrong option. The screen is also scratch resistant so there is no need to worry when navigating. A disc burning feature is also present that allows recording of videos to a DVD directly from the device. However the bundled software will need to be installed to use this feature.
Other than the normal S-Video out the CX150 also features an HDMI out allowing you to connect the camera to a compatible HD TV. As mentioned, menu navigation is easy but with so many features it’s kind of tough not to actually refer to the manual provided. It seriously would have been helpful had the settings come with a small info menu when selected.
On the performance front, the camcorder is quite impressive but there are minor issues that prevent it from being perfect. To begin with, the overall color and contrast are pretty close to being near exceptional but there are times when the blues and reds tend to stand out. However their overall tone level is not something that would actually disappoint. To top things up, skin tones appear at their natural best. Video quality is commendable without any noticeable fringing unless you shoot under direct sunlight. In addition you also get a decent 3.1 MP camera. However don’t expect the results to be comparable to a stand alone point and shoot camera.
The camcorder works quite well under low light conditions but there are a few issues that need to be worked on. For instance the Twilight mode was literally struggling to capture videos in low light. As weird as it sounds the Auto mode did a far better job. Secondly we were faced with focusing issues – here again under low light the CX150 was struggling to focus which is not the case otherwise. Moreover the Image Stabilization doesn’t work well beyond 80 percent of zoom. The videos appear rather shaky forcing you to place the camera on a steady surface or on a tripod.
The Sony HDR-CX150 is armed to the teeth in features and with a price tag of Rs. 29,990 I feel it’s worth every penny. In fact I would recommend it over the Panasonic SDR-H90 which is also priced the same. So if you are willing to overlook the few mentioned inconsistencies then the HDR-CX150 will not disappoint.
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