Sunday, January 6, 2008 3:19 PM
I purchased a Sony DCR-SR200 hard drive camcorder on Boxing Day. This was my first camcorder, and I was pretty pumped to get a dedicated video gadget instead of relying on my Samsung digital camera and its video mode (which is still very very good).
So far, I don't hate the camera, but it hasn't blown me away. Now, keep in mind that I've only had it a few weeks, and haven't even really pushed it to any limits yet (or spent quality time understanding the settings and modes); but I'm also a firm believer that products should just *work*, so I'm hoping that there's not too much stuff to figure out on this thing.
Some people didn't like the fact that this Samsung model works off of a touch screen for navigating the menu. I actually really like this feature, although the LCD will get massive amounts of fingerprints on it and need to be cleaned up every so often...but otherwise, I like that there's no jog dial or other buttons to try an use to navigate...just give me somewhere to press.
The zoom is in a REALLY bad place if you have small hands. It's located right on the top, and it took me some time to get my bearings on it. The record button is sort of in the same boat, although you can somewhat get to it with your thumb...but still...not the ideal place.
But how about the thing that's most important: the video quality! The camcorder records all video into MPEG format to its hard drive. Although Sony bundles this with software that will let you easily copy the files over, you can also just connect it to your computer and access it as an external hard drive.
Before we get too far ahead: one big SERIOUSLY?! of this camera is the need to connect the camera to your computer through a docking station. There is no direct USB connection between the camera itself and the computer...just through the docking station.
Back to video quality.
So either way, you get MPEG videos onto your computer: either through the Sony software or copying the files directly. But here's the weird thing, and I'm not really sure what the issue is (hopefully someone reading this can help me out?)...
When I look at a video in Windows Media Player (remember, just straight MPEG video here), it looks horrible. Whenever the camcorder moves, the movement of the camera causes horizontal lines to momentarily appear along anything with a distinctive border or line in the shot. I was really freaked out by this because I thought that my not-inexpensive CMOS camera was bunk, or that it just had poor quality.
But then, I viewed the same sample video I took in Sony's video viewer...and it was PERFECT. No odd lines showing up, everything looked great...but it was the same file.
I tried uploading some footage to Soapbox, and the video translated there pretty good. So I'm really not sure what the issue is. My next step is going to be trying to burn the video to a DVD and watching it in a DVD player to see how it looks. My guess is that it'll come out without any issues, but then why would WMP display it so poorly?
Anyway, that's some first thoughts on the camera. More playing to come, more info as well.