Sony Handycam – travel technology

Posted by jerry on March 24th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

Looking online for info about digital video cameras was frustrating. Whether Canon, Sony, JVC or Hitachi no-one seemed to be able to tell us whether these would connect easily to a mac. So this post is going to give you the info you don’t get on the web.

Sony handycam

In the end we had to take a gamble – none of the shops would fire up the cameras – even on external power supply so there was no way to verify manufacturers claims about close focus, image stabilisation – let alone compatibility with a mac G5 running Mac OS X (10.4.2). That put me off buying one duty-free as it would be difficult to return a camera if it proved autistic and refused to talk to the mac.

As luck would have it, despite their no-power-up policy and despite them having macs in the store we still bought from Dick Smith, because of all the shops we went to, theirs was the only one with a ‘change-of-mind returns policy – we could test it for two weeks and if it didn’t do what we hoped, then we could return it for a full refund.

The on we gambled on was a SONY DCRHC38E MiniDV Handycam AU$548. This camera has a Zeiss lens, 40x optical zoom, and up to 2000x digital zoom. So the optical zoom is about twice that of other cameras in its class.

Connecting up
The manual says this is a USB camera, but we bought a firewire cable and found that it fitted the DV OUT port on the camera. After shooting a short piece of video, I fired up the mac, connected the firewire cable and launched iMovie. The camera was recognised straight away and withing minutes the video was downloaded and ready to edit in iMovie. No extra software installation. Just plug and play. So ignore the USB stuff – use the firewire cable straight to the mac.

Now if they had just said so on the various camera websites we could have saved a lot of angst about whether it would connect or not.

The image quality is good, and the camera will focus close enough to show stitching in some detail. The “sport” mode provides image stabilisation, and there is a low-light night setting that uses infra-red to enhance the picture quality. There’s a heap of other settings to capture good colour for sunsets and sunrises, touch screen spot focus, deep shadow settings, and so on. Here’s a short sample showing my complete ignorance, both of video camera operation and editing in iMovie 🙂

I haven’t found any still camera settings yet – but then I bought it for its qualities as a video camera.

It’ll get a good workout in Auckland New Zealand next week, and I’ll blog a bit more about my travels as time and internet connections permit.

Anyhow, so far I’m a happy customer 🙂


1 Comment

Comment by Angela

I love the ant!!!! Wonderful!!!
Now I want to buy myself a webcam. I haven’t had one since my old cuseeme cam back in the day. Do you know anything about them?

Posted on March 31, 2007 at 12:18 pm

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