Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something missing from Sony

OK, folks, I am now back from my holidays in Germany with my wife and the Sony XR350E camcorder. All of us survived the trip and the built-in 160GB HDD is just great for travelling. I shot almost 100GB of videos, mostly short clips and some of them trash, of course. But hey, when you do not have to worry about running out of storage space, you tend to be trigger happy.

I just managed to sort out my videos under the various places that I visited and only when I wanted to do some basic editing that I realised an important feature (to me at least) is missing from the Sony. I was so used to cutting and joining my video clips with the Sanyo HD2000, just using the camcorder itself without having to open an external editor and I expected to be able to do the same with the Sony. The Cut (or Divide function as the Sony calls it) is there but there is no Join function built into the camcorder. I could not find this Join function even in the included editing software, PMB (Picture Motion Browser) so I was rather disappointed. Another useful information shown for each clip in the Sanyo is the length of the clip and surprisingly this is not shown in the Sony and you need to do it in a roundabout way to get this information.

Another feature that is less user friendly than the Sanyo is extracting photos from videos. In the Sanyo, you pause the video and select the frame you want to capture as a photo and just press the photo button. In the Sony, this function is included under the Edit menu and is thus not so readily available. This function is also available in the PMB software though. BTW, while the video is paused, you can zoom in with the Sanyo to check on the details but not in the case of the Sony.

I will give more details on the differences between the two in my later posts but definitely the Sony is superior in the image stabilisation and the auto-focus. To my eyes, I find the colour in the Sanyo more vibrant and more saturated while the Sony is subdued but more natural which will please the purist but many may prefer larger-than-life colours, especially to show off your new HDTV. Anyway, colour preference is usually a personal matter so this depends on individual tastes and each camera make will have its own colour characteristics. However, there are no settings in the Sony to change the image properties and at this price, this is surprising. There is a normal and vivid colour mode in the Sanyo but I don't see much difference between the two. The wider angle of the Sony lens is also useful for taking in the landscapes and buildings without panning.

(Maybe I am still new with the Sony and do not know where to look for the above features but I checked through the menus and cannot find them anywhere so perhaps more experienced users of the Sony may want to comment here.)

I wanted to test the Direct Copy function of the Sony but the USB adaptor cable is not included so I need to get one elsewhere and I could not connect directly to my HDTV from the HDMI port of the Sony since it uses the mini HDMI cable (not included) and not the standard size cable. On the other hand , the Sanyo uses the standard HDMI cable and the USB adaptor for connecting to an external HDD is provided but is different from the one required by the Sony so I'll end up with more cables! Sigh.

This is just to whet your appetite and I will post some videos from both the Sony and the Sanyo later after doing some editing to show their differences and similarities.

Ronald Kwok