The successor to Sony's already capable DCR-VX1000 MiniDV camcorder, the three-CCD DCR-VX2000 offers significantly improved low-light performance, a color viewfinder with higher resolution, a smoother zoom motor, a foldout color LCD, and a manual zoom ring. Compact enough to carry in an over-the-shoulder camera bag, this versatile prosumer model delivers images that suggest they came from a professional camera. With a list price of nearly $3,000, the VX2000 is not a camera for the casual videographer, but it offers an excellent value to anyone with a serious interest in getting great footage under nearly any circumstances.
The VX2000's sleek magnesium-alloy body announces that it isn't just another consumer camera. Its 2.5-inch foldout LCD and relatively light weight--about 3 pounds, 7 ounces with the battery and the media loaded--make handheld shooting a breeze, although the camera's squared-off base may cramp your hand after extended periods.
The focus and zoom rings are too close together. The cassette hatch is located behind the hand strap, which can get in the way of opening the tape door.
Most controls are available through easy-to-access buttons and dials, with two exceptions: While the addition of a manual zoom ring represents an improvement over this camera's predecessor, the focus and zoom rings are so closely positioned that while turning the focus ring, our thumb inadvertently adjusted the zoom, too.
You can fine-tune image parameters such as saturation, white balance, and sharpness, and when the camera's iris is wide open, you can boost the gain.
|The Zen of manual control.||Included accessories.|
The VX2000 also lets you digitally record analog tapes, plug in your own minijacked mike or an audio line (to record from a PA system, for example), and capture low-resolution stills onto a Memory Stick.
If you're looking for even more features, such as XLR audio compatibility, separate controls for each audio channel, and a higher-resolution viewfinder, try the VX2000's professional counterpart, the DSR-PD150a.
And the foldout LCD greatly eases handheld work. Although the screen is small for manual focusing, the camera's autofocus is so good that you can use the foldout screen just for framing while the autofocus and the autoexposure handle the rest.
|You can save still shots and MPEG video on the included Memory Stick.||The LCD is suitable for framing.|
There's a helpful Push Auto focus button on the camera body as well, which allows you to quickly lock the focus on a subject when you're in manual focus mode.
In our tests, the VX2000 captured crystalline images under almost any conditions, the sole exception being that it produced artifacts in areas of strong contrast.
Its low-light performance was excellent, generating very minimal noise. Colors tended to run a tad cool in daylight; for example, gray asphalt appeared slightly blue.
Good low-light quality.
Still captures fine for e-mail.
The camera provides a progressive--noninterlaced--shooting mode, but it's not terribly useful, due to the visible stuttering of the images it captures. You can partially offset that effect by increasing the shutter speed, but that solution has other consequences, such as picture noise and increased exposure. The VX2000 captures good still shots for a camcorder, meaning that they're quite suitable for e-mail or the Web but can't compete with images taken with a decent still camera.