Hey! You should know that Sony has released a newer version of this product: the Sony Handycam HDR-CX160.
Sony Handycam HDR-CX110:
Hands On Review
Our reviewer spent some time with Sony's new HDR-CX110 HD camcorder. He's pleased with what he found, considering the price, and thinks most casual users will be as well.
By Christopher C. Odom
- CX110 Big Picture
Last updated on 01/18/2013
Video QualityFor a small, lower-priced consumer camcorder, the Sony CX110 has an adequate picture. It sports a Carl Zeiss lens and is capable of recording what Sony calls “Full HD 1080,” which is 1440 x 1080 lines of resolution interpolated to be viewed as 1920 x 1080/60i. A 1080p image is no doubt better than a 1080i image, but just five years ago, a 1080i camcorder at this price would have been a fantasy.
In HD mode, the image is compressed using the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 codec, which is a powerful codec, but when the images are viewed on large 1080p HDTV, you can see that the image has been highly compressed with various degrees of artifacts. The picture quality is acceptable for web media and should be clean enough for the average home user. For those looking for something more robust, look toward higher-end Sony camcorders.
Low-Light Video QualityThe CX110 performs very well in low-light situations. When I tested the camera in a dark room with a distant, singular light source, the image quality had an almost filmic effect with one side of the subject’s face still lit while the other side of the face blended into the shadows. The low light feature, which essentially boosts the gain, was very effective in creating usable images in extremely dark situations.
Ease of UseConsumers who just want to pick up a camcorder and start shooting will be at home with the CX110. As soon as you flip open the LCD screen, the camcorder powers up in auto shooting mode. The white balance, audio levels, exposure and focus are all handled automatically.
Special FeaturesAt first glance, the camcorder appears to do point and shoot tasks only, but Sony hides most of the camera’s controls in its touch-sensitive LCD screen. Touching anywhere on the screen once will activate the menu and provide access for some of the more robust controls. Among these features is “face detection,” which is already enabled in auto mode. A box will illuminate around any face in the LCD screen, and the camera operator need only touch the screen to make the camera focus upon what’s in the box. I found that feature incredibly useful when shooting with auto-focus activated.
The camcorder also has the ability to set manual focus, but because it is hidden away within several menus on the LCD touch screen, it is not terribly useful in a real-world scenario beyond locking focus for a stationary shot.
Another interesting feature was the spot meter and exposure control. Again, because it is deeply embedded within the touch screen menus, it’s not very functional for run-and-gun-type shooting, but will suffice for a stationary shot. In addition, the camcorder does also offer both preset and manual white balance.
Image StabilizerThe general rule of thumb is the smaller the lens, the greater the image shake. But for this camcorder’s size and weight, the image was relatively stable and rock-solid on a tripod. Although I would unequivocally recommend a tripod over hand-held footage, the CX110's hand-held footage with stabilizer activated is usable.
Audio QualityAudio quality can often be overlooked in the modestly priced cameras, since audio is invisible to the human eye. Shockingly, I was most impressed by the audio on this camcorder. I could hear my subject fine at longer distances indoors with minimal hole in the bucket sound distortion. When shooting close range, the sound was very clean, with minimal hiss, much like a wired lavaliere microphone.
Image CaptureCapturing footage into your computer is fairly simple. To capture and edit the footage on a PC, you will need to install the software that comes with the camera. To edit and capture on a MAC, you will be able to import the footage using iMovie on an Intel based MAC. Unfortunately the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 codec isn’t supported on the older Apple Macintosh PowerPCs.
ConclusionThe Sony Handycam HDR-CX110 offers up Sony’s Full HD 1080, along with stellar sound. Although it has HD resolution, the images are highly compressed. This provides an acceptable image for the basic user, but leaves something to be desired for users that want to watch playback on a giant 1080p-resolution HDTV. The casual point-and-shoot user will love this camcorder, but video enthusiasts might find the extra features hard to access and implement, and thus might want to steer toward a more robust Sony model. That said, the CX110 is a value for the money.