With the popularity of posting low-resolution video to the Web showing no signs of waning, it's easy to see why the Sony Handycam DCR-SR45 exists. It's very easy to use, goes from off to recording in seconds, is small enough to throw in a bag and go, and its internal 30GB hard drive gives you anywhere from 7 to 20 hours of recording time depending on the quality settings you choose. But even at the SR45's highest quality settings, the camcorder's standard-definition, MPEG-2 video--while OK for online sharing--doesn't look very good, and if you've gotten used to the definition and clarity of HD video, the SR45 won't be satisfying.
At only 14 ounces with battery and 3.1 inches high by 3 inches wide by 4.5 inches deep, the silver-and-black SR45 is compact and lightweight. Sony improved the body design over its predecessor's, the DCR-SR42. The power/movie/still dial sits more in line with your thumb, while the dead-center record button lets you start fast without much thought. Above it are power and activity lights topped by a Quick On button that takes the camcorder quickly in and out of a standby mode. On top sit the camera shutter button for taking stills and the rocker switch for the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 40x zoom lens. The switch operates smoothly as does the zoom, allowing for stutter-free close-ups. However, since it lacks optical image stabilization, those extreme close-ups will require a tripod.