I’m going to break this to you straight away. The Sony Handycam CX520 starts at around £1000. That’s for the 32GB SSD model. If you want the 64GB version, you’d better be prepared to part with another £200 or so.
When I saw this thing on paper, I couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about but as soon as I got the thing in my hand it was obvious I was playing with a top quality HD camcorder.
What impressed me most about this machine is that the 3-way image stabilisation actually works staggeringly well. You can shake the thing pretty vigorously and the picture barely wobbles. The quality of the optics also sound pretty spectacular and it’s got all the touches you’d want like GPS and touchscreen too. A little surprised that it only records interlaced images before upgrading them though.
One wonders how much more you’d have to pay for professional video cameras, if any at all, but ignore that thought and you’ll be really pleased with this one. Looking forward to a full review.
The secret to any imaging hardware is in the holy trinity of the lens, the sensor and the processor, and Sony has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the Handycam CX520VE to make it a winner in all three areas.
The Exmor R CMOS sensor has backlighting technology to improve camera resolution at low light levels plus the fact that its a CMOS in the first place speaks for itself. The glassware is the same as you’ll find in the top Sony Alpha DSLRs – the G lens – and it contains ED glass elements which keep the light as crisp and the images as high contrast as possible. And all the number crunching’s taken care of by the BIONZ processor. All good so far.
On top of basics you get 12x optical zoom, 12-megapixel stills, auto geo-tagging, face detection, smile-shot and a touch sensitive 3-inch LCD. Perhaps the best feature, though, is the Optical SteadyShot ‘Active Mode’ which is touted as the first three-way camera steady function. Sony says that it reduces camera shake by 10x and is designed even to smooth out the effects of walking along while shooting. Very curious to see how well that works.
The CX520VE gives you 25 hours of LP recording on its 64GB internal HDD and there’s also a CX505VE 32GB HDD model if you’re happy with 12. Either way, there’s space for one of Sony’s silly memory sticks to expand your storage, if you need.
They record in 5.1 surround, they’re capable of burning onto discs without the use of a computer and generally sound like the kind of camcorder that everyone will hate you for having. They’re out in August and I’ll get you prices as soon as I have them.