Sony Handycam DCR-SR100 review: Sony Handycam DCR-SR100

For the DCR-SR100, Sony couples its 3-megapixel HAD CCD with one of the better Zeiss T* lenses. It uses 2 megapixels to capture video before downsampling to 720x480 (16:9) or 640x480 (4:3), and snaps 3-megapixel still photos in both 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios.

You'll find the typical array of Sony premium-priced features in the DCR-SR100, such as Super SteadyShot hybrid image stabilization, NightShot and Super NightShot infrared modes, and a four-channel microphone for Dolby 5.1 Surround audio recording. With an optional mic, you can capture center-channel sound. The hotshoe can also accept a flash/video light, to replace the SR100's built-in lamp.

Despite these upmarket capabilities, however, the Sony Handycam DCR-SR100 is more suited to the point-and-shoot crowd than to the prosumer set--those more likely to push the Easy button than to dive into the menu system for a handful of scene modes or fingertip-dexterity-dependent exposure adjustment, spot focus, and spot metering. Fast power-up, responsive zoom operation, and generally zippy autofocus contribute to the Sony Handycam DCR-SR100 's fluid performance. The camcorder begins recording within a second of pressing record and imposes only minor shutter lag when shooting still photos. The autofocus and autoexposure adjust quickly to changes in subject, illumination, or zoom; the only exception is in dim light, where the autofocus seems to glide rather than snap into focus. Unfortunately, the touch screen itself is awkward to use and isn't as bright as some camcorders' LCDs.

When activated, SteadyShot reduces considerable amount of jerkiness and shake throughout the zoom range and doesn't get confused by panning. However, the stabilization becomes borderline effective at the full 10X; if you're shooting after a caffeine fix, you might want to mount it on a tripod before zooming in for a close-up.

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