In recent years, camcorders have taken a backseat owing to the success of point-and-shoot cameras and high-end smartphones, which offer high quality video capture at an almost similar, if not better, quality. Sony has launched its new HDR – PJ50E that boasts of having capabilities of a camera, video recorder and an in-built projector. Well, that’s quite a lot of stuff in one device, but is it worth your money? Read on to find out.
On video: Sony HDR – PJ50E
Design and Build Quality
Sony’s HDR – PJ50E has a glossy black exterior with shades of silver on the frame. The front consists of the optical lens and an LED flash. The zoom button, mode selection, photo button and the Flash slot are located on the top and the start/stop button for video recording is located at the back of the camcorder. The side flips open to display the viewfinder, as well as the power, play and projector button. The connectivity buttons are housed on the inside, as well, viz. the mic, mini HDMI out and microUSB. The slots might be there, but the camcorder doesn’t ship with the HDMI cable or the microUSB cable. The projector focus button is placed on the top of the flap while the bottom consists of the microSD card slot.
The charging port is located on the side
The camcorder hinge seems sturdy, but it doesn’t have any prevention mechanism to protect it in case you snap it on too hard. Button feedback is good with both soft presses (for focus), as well as full presses (for clicking). The camcorder weighs around a kg with the battery and the HDD included, but it doesn’t really feel heavy in the hand. The button placement is great but that said, with the flap open it’s difficult to manoeuvre as the buttons are located on all three sides of the camcorder. The flap can move a maximum of 180 degrees in the front direction and 90 degrees on the back, which makes it a total of 270 degrees of rotation. Design and build is good, which is standard with most camcorders.
The connectivity options are enclosed inside the flap
The camcorder has an Exmor R CMOS Sensor and a 29.8 mm wide angle Sony G Lens capable of clicking up to 7.1 megapixel still picture shots at a resolution of 3072 x 2304. It has a 12x optical zoom and 160x digital zoom and comes with a 220GB hard disk drive and supports SD cards upto 64GB. The camcorder has a 5.1channel MIC with Dolby Digital audio technology and a 3-inch LCD touch panel display with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
As part of the features, the camcorder has ‘Optical SteadyShot’ technology that facilitates image stabilisation. The device has face detection and smile detection features, which pop up in white and orange square boxes respectively. It also comes with the x.v. colour technology, which conforms to the xvYCC, an international standard for colour space in videos along with a D-range optimiser that works on the camcorder’s Bionz processor.
A glimpse of the user interface
The camcorder has a simple UI and operating it is further accentuated by the prompt responsiveness of the touch screen. Opening the flap takes you to the movie mode by default and the menu, zoom and recording icons pop up on the screen. The menu includes six clearly defined icons viz. shooting mode option, camera/mic settings, image quality/size, playback functions, edit/copy function, and setup.
Shifting between the various modes and altering settings is a breeze, even in the projector mode. The zoom button duals up as the forward/backward directional button and the photo button gets re-mapped as an enter key. Sony’s remote handles this even better with dedicated keys.
The flap could have been better reinforced
The auto focus for the still camera works well while clicking distant shots, as well as close ups for macro shooting. The 7.1 megapixel camera is good, but this device’s primary function is the video camera. Video shooting is exceptionally still with Sony’s image stabilization feature. Zooming in and out of frames is extremely steady, which is a plus point. The different mode presets are effective, and movement is captured with fine details without blurring out. Exposure and contrast are pretty well meted out and backlight compensation is adequate for videos taken in low light conditions. Subtleties like facial details are captured pretty well. When posing against a highly contrasted background, exposure and contrast levels are auto corrected, which do make the subject look much better. Whilst saving videos, an interesting thing to note is that when a movie file exceeds 2GB, the next movie file is created automatically.
The handycam is small but has powerful features
We initially had a feeling that the projector was merely a gimmick, but we were glad that the in-built one in this camcorder proved us wrong. It could have been brighter, but the clarity is quite good and optimum viewing size is around 62 inches. Though we did manage to drag it to around 102 inches with barely any visible drop in quality. And that’s why, the projector is definitely included as a part of the features and isn’t merely a gimmick.
A brilliant projector
The Sony HDR – PJ50E is priced at Rs. 59,990. Some may believe this to be extremely expensive, but considering the fact that you’re getting an HD camera that clicks still images, exceptionally well and captures 1080p videos, along with being a fully functional projector, you’re spoilt for choice. If you have the money, and want a camcorder and projector integrated into one, Sony’s HDR – PJ50E is the perfect match.
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