Review: Sony HDR-CX550 Handycam

, posted: 28-Jun-2010 18:14

Continuing on from last week when I reviewed the Sony DSC-TX5 camera, this week's post is about the other tech toy I had on loan from Sony - the Sony HDR-CX550 Handycam.


The first thing you'll notice about this HD camcorder is its size - there's not really much to it.  It's reasonably light (about 500g), and like it's DSC-TX5 cousin, it features a big touch screen (8.75cm) that's used for controlling most of its functionality (including zoom in/out and stop/start recording which is very handy).

The SteadyShot is an amazing feature - it keeps the picture still even though the user may be moving about.  I found it most noticeable when zoomed in on an object at a distance, and these videos off YouTube demonstrate it the best:

Above - The CX550 is on the right.

Above - Anyone who's used an RC helicopter knows how much they shake - the HDR-CX550 easily compensates for this.

Other features include:
  • 64GB of internal Flash memory, which can record up to 26 hours of HD video (according to Sony). If you need more storage, it has a Sony Memory Stick slot.
  • If you need to take photos, the camcorder can take 12 megapixel images by pushing a dedicated Photo button, and has a flash for low light environments.  With it's Smile Shutter technology, the camcorder can take photos of people looking directly at the camera, smiling, at the same time video is being recorded.
  • Easily turn the camera on and off by opening and closing the LCD display.
  • Has USB for transferring videos and images, HDMI, or for older TVs, plain RCAs.
  • The camcorder has built in GPS - the screen shows you where you are and videos can be saved with the extra data of the exact position they were taken.
  • There is a manual focus button on the front of the camcorder - this allows for fine tuning of parameters such as focus, exposure, iris, shutter speed, ae and wb shift.
  • 3.5mm ports on the front of the camcorder allow for an external microphone and headphones - the built-in mic, on the top of the camera, does Dolby Digital 5.1
My only complaint about this camcorder is the battery life.  It has the capacity to store 26 hours, but I was finding it only lasting a couple of hours per charge (on the Sony supplied battery pack).  It should last at least double that.

I've been using this camcorder for about a month and this short review doesn't really do it justice; it really does take some stunning movies.  The full HD gives you a crisp, clear picture, and the screen makes it easy to not only film, but easily use the camcorder.

Pricespy has the HDR-CX550V from Sony NZ  for $2,059.36.

Other YouTube videos:
My thanks to Bernadette Barrett at Sony NZ for the loan of this camcorder for my review.

Other related posts:
How one database query can fix HOP cards
Review: Navman MiVUE680
Poor man’s automation - WeMO + Limitless LEDs

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I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, own Tuihana Cafe, and am a moderator here at Geekzone.

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