updated 11:40 am EST, Tue January 8, 2008
Sony Camcorders CES 2008
As part of its efforts at CES, Sony has revamped nearly all of its Handycam models for the new year. The HD models now all receive face detection that auto-focuses on as many as eight human faces in a given scene and adjusts color balance to properly capture the subjects. For these HD cameras, more time is spent on encoding video for these pixels than the rest of the scene, Sony says. Topping the range, the SR12 (pictured) and SR11 are also the first Sony home cameras to use a new 5.7-megapixel sensor that nearly doubles to 10.2 megapixels for still photos alone or 7.6 megapixels while also recording video; this dual-record method can also be sustained on these models up to their storage limits. The SR10 uses a smaller 2.4-megapixel sensor that can take as many as five 3-megapixel shots in a similar mode.
In addition to their sensors, the three SR cameras are split up by storage. The SR10, SR11, and SR12 each have 40GB, 60GB, and 120GB hard drives respectively; the amount is enough for 5, 7, or 15 hours of 1920x1080 AVCHD video with an efficient recording mode. Each also boasts a Memory Stick PRO Duo slot that can add extra video time or serve as a means of offloading video from the camera; using a just-introduced 16GB card, a videographer can transfer as much as two hours of extra footage.
Two DVD camcorder upgrades and one miniDV also join the lineup: the UX10 and UX20 both write directly to optical discs but have the option of recording to flash memory as well. The UX20 adds 8GB of internal memory that can be used for an hour of full HD. A semi-pro model, the HC9, shoots solely to miniDV in the HDV format with a 3.2-megapixel sensor and is capped at a standard-aspect, 1440x1080 resolution for video shooting. It adds more manual controls for color, focusing, spot metering, and other components of a given shot.
Every HD model adds zoomed audio (including in Dolby 5.1 surround) to the lineup. Most models will ship in March, with prices ranging from $800 for the UX10 to $1,400 for the SR12. The HC9 arrives first in February for $1,100.
Sony's standard-definition camcorders have received both an ergonomic and technical upgrade. The hard drive-based Handycams -- the 30GB SR45, 40GB SR65, and 60GB SR85 and SR220 -- are all smaller than previous versions, the camera maker says. For these models, hybrid recording to both Memory Stick and hard disks is also possible and extends capture time by as much as 11 hours past the limit of the hard disk. All have zoomed audio, though only the SR220 includes Dolby surround; the premium model also claims a 4-megapixel sensor versus the 1-megapixel (SR65/85) and 680K (SR45) sensors of the lesser models. The zoom factor drops with higher models and ranges from 41X on the SR45 to 25X for the two mid-range cameras and 15X for the SR220.
The three mainstream models ship in March at prices of $500, $600, and $700; the leading SR220 model is due sooner, appearing in February for $850.
Updates to cameras end with the miniDV standard-definiton cameras. The HC52 and HC62 both shoot to tape, while the HC62 adds a Memory Stick PRO Duo slot. It also upgrades from a 680K to a 1-megapixel sensor in exchanged for a drop from a 40X zoom factor to 25X. Both the low- and high-end models ship in February at prices of $250 and $300 each.