"Brilliant camera but it's not full HD"5.0 starson by RickMMiles
Pros: + Video looks great, lighting is fantastic, extremely clear
+ Color is very good on the screen
+ Image stabilization works well
+ Audio records loud and clear
+ Build quality is excellent, slim and light
+ Fits on standard tri-pods
+ Great price
Cons: - No internal memory
- Requires class 4 or higher memory card
Summary: I've had this camera for a month now and i'm very pleased with it. The build quality is excellent as you'd expect from Sony and the camera itself is very small, about the same size as a modern computer mouse. Everything is in exactly the right place and it sits very nicely in your grip when in use, the zoom lever is perfectly placed and there's an extra groove to fit a finger into.
It couldn't be simpler to record with, just one push of the REC button to start and another to stop. Using the video afterwards is not quite so simple but i'll come onto that later. It has a photo mode so with one push of the MODE button it turns into a digital camera.
The photos taken with this are average at best so i wouldn't want to use it as my only holiday camera but the quality of the photos are just the same as a low-end 2 megapixel phone. It's a nice feature to have if you only want to carry one camera for everything and aren't too bothered about having amazing quality. I found a much better way to get photos is simply to record some HD video for 1 second then grab an image of that when you play it back on a PC. There's no flash though so it'd be no good as a still camera in the dark.
The video quality is of a very high standard, far above what you find on other cheaper brands that have impressive specs but fall short when you compare them to a qaulity camcorder such as this. It looks as good as any TV broadcast i've seen with super sharp colours. The Exmor R sensor means it records brilliantly even in low light conditions such as when shooting indoors. It really does make a difference and that's just one thing you pay extra for over the cheap cameras that look bad indoors.
The main point to make with the video is that it is not full HD, no matter what it says on any adverts or even on the box. If you don't know or care about technical stuff then it won't matter but there are two kinds of "full" HD. One is 1080i and means the camera records line 1,3,5 etc. And then goes back and records lines 2,4,6 etc. So it only records half the image at any time. 1080P means it records everyline, all the time, giving a slightly better picture (but you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between i and p even with 2 TV's next to each other).
Before 2011 any camera saying "Full HD" was 1080p but this one is only 1080i. I did a lot of research into this before buying and even people who owned the camera and had posted videos on Youtube seem confused as to whether it's 1080p or 1080i. Look on the official Sony site and it'll tell you in the specs it's 1080i. If you open the camera up and put it on full quality it'll say i and not p on the screen. "Full HD" only means it records 1080 lines of video and not that it's progressive.
There are some great features on this camera. I noticed before i bought it that it had a built in USB cable which slots into the strap when not in use. I wondered what the point of this was but it really does come in handy because not only can you transfer files through it but it can be used to charge the camera meaning you can avoid having to carry around yet another AC adaptor with you. Taking out the memory card and plugging it into a PC to transfer the files is not recommended as i'll come to in a moment.
Another great feature is the zoom mic. This amplifies the microphone when you zoom in so you effectively zoom in on conversations happening some distance away! It can be great when you're in a crowd and want to record what the guide at the front it saying or when you want to zoom in on some wildlife and hear as well as see them.
Speaking of the zoom, it goes up to 30x which is more than enough. It works up to 25x with the optical image stabaliser on and i'd recommend leaving that on. Even when i was on the back of a boat bobbing around in a rough sea it kept the image stable and avoided any annoying blurring. Again, that's why this camera costs more than some of the very cheap models you may have seen. I've zoomed in from the bottom the cliff right up into the window of a castle above and even at full zoom the picture is as good as if you're filming something right next to you.
The camera records at 24Mbps at full quality, taking up around 10GB per hour of HD video shot at 1080i. This is one of the downsides of this, and any HD, camcorder. The sheer amount of time and effort it takes to use whatever you film may put some off.
It's easy to just plug the camera in to a TV, or take out the memory card and plug that into an SD slot on a TV, but if you want to edit the footage you're going to need some technical knowhow. Just plugging the SD card into a PC will result in you only getting video with no sound. You have to run it through a program such as Windows Movie Maker or Sony Vegas and convert the video to make it watchable on a PC.
I have a very powperful PC with a 6 core processor, 8GB of RAM, Windows 7 64-bit and even with all that it takes around 5 times longer to record a film than the length of the film. For example, a 1 hour film that you shot will take 5 hours for a very fast PC to record. If you have an average PC it'll take about 8 hours per 1 hour of video. You can always shoot in SD but then what's the point in buying an HD camcorder? 720P works best and is much quicker taking only twice the amount of time to record as the length of the video you shot.
There are some great accessories for this camera such as batteries that last for 3, 6 or even 12 hours! The 12 hour one works great but it's the size of a brick and really weights the camera down. The standard battery that comes with the camera last for around 100 minutes.
*Note, I suggest to check for best deal before you will buy this Sony HDR-CX190 at: Camcorderdeals2012.blogspot.com/p/sony-hdr-cx190.html
Overall it's a great camera with superb video quality and i'm very pleased i bought it.