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The Sony HDR-CX100

Big Bang, Small Buck By Douglas Spotted Eagle

AVCHD has exploded on the consumer and pro-sumer scene like a new star at the Oscars, and the CX100 is the newest "actor" in the AVCHD lineup from Sony. Packed into a small body measuring 2" W x 2.25" H x 4" L (including factory battery) and 2" W x 2.25"H x 5" L with the more practical NP90 battery, this small "brick" weighs in between 11 and 14 ounces, depending on the battery chosen. Short description; this camcorder is a mini-brick.

The CX100 records a 1920 x 1080i image on a Memory Stick Pro Duo card, with record times up to 340 minutes on the included 8GB stick, but it's more practical to record to the highest quality video in most situations, reducing recording time to approximately 40 minutes on an 8GB card, or 115 minutes on a 16GB card.  There are other modes, and these are useful for recording surveillance, low motion, or even simple scenes, but for best quality, most users will likely find the 16Mbps FH mode to be the preference.

Most exciting is that this camcorder brings the award-winning Exmor(tm) imager to the consumer world. Exmor is the heart of the professional EX-series camcorders, which have become standards in the broadcast world. What this means to consumers is a more clean image, less noise in low-light, and a smoother image overall. It's a single .20 CMOS imager, but don't be fooled by single and small. Technology has brought CMOS to a new level of quality that previous generations of  CCD-dependent camcorders. CMOS has shown itself to be the new future of virtually all imaging devices from the very low cost cell cams to high end professional production cameras. Exmor is currently the kind of small imagers.

The CX100 is a very small package. The lens is a 30mm thread, if you'll be adding wide or telephoto lenses.

Small and light, this camcorder fits snugly into the palm. It's very ergonomic, being curved on the right side and square on the left side. The lens housing is very simple; it's a 30mm threaded lens with a manual lens cover. It's a Zeiss lens, identical to lenses found on previous HDR series camcorders. Optical width (35mm equivalent) is 42mm wide zoomed in to 497mm, so the camcorder isn't quite wide enough for action sports or close-in work, but is plenty wide for the average user. While the camcorder does offer digital zoom, like most digital zooms, it's not terribly useful due to the small sensor sizes. It'll work well in a pinch, on a tripod/non-moving, or in a situation where the image acquisition is more important than image quality. Exposure is controlled via menu touchscreen, as is shutter speed, although the camera does not offer full manual control. There are nine exposure modes plus an Auto mode, giving users ten options for exposure control.

Two microphone ports are found beneath the lens housing.

The 2.5" LCD panel flips open and rotates; there is no clasp or latch holding it in place. The panel may be closed with the screen facing out, as with all previous models in this series. This is a big preview screen and it looks terrific.

The controls are very simple. There is no normal on/off switch on the camcorder; opening and closing the LCD panel turns on/off the power to the camcorder. Power can be turned off with the LCD Panel open by pressing the on/off switch found beneath the LCD panel.

This camcorder has a manual open/close for the lens cover. The LCD panel will notify users if the Record button is engaged while the lens cover is closed


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