Shake, rattle, and roll: Sony’s feature packed HD Handycam CX520VE
By Alan Brandon
July 12, 2009
Sony has announced its new flagship HD camcorder, the Handycam HDR-CX520VE. Equipped with three-way image stabilization as well as a new sensor, lens, and image processor, the CX520VE provides what Sony calls its best picture quality ever. Shooting full HD video and surround sound, the unit also features 64GB of internal memory and GPS “geotagging” of video clips.
Sony has equipped the CX520VE with its first-in-the-industry three-way image stabilization. Optical SteadyShot “Active Mode” corrects for camera roll as well as vertical and horizontal movement. Sony says that Active Mode is up to ten times more effective in reducing the effects of camera shake compared to regular SteadyShot, and is designed to provide clearer, wobble-free HD images even when you’re walking.
On the CX520VE Sony has enhanced the entire image-capturing trio of lens, sensor, and image processor. Out front, the Sony G lens is the same as found on Sony’s Alpha DSLRs. It features aspheric glass elements and Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass for crisp, clear images, high contrast, and reduced color fringing. The unit also includes the six-blade iris diaphragm found on the Alphas.
The image sensor is Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor, also found on the HDR-XR520 hard drive camcorder. Sony says the Exmor R sensor captures more light than conventional sensor designs and provides full HD video and still images up to 12MP. In fact, Sony claims twice the light sensitivity over previous CMOS sensors. Coupled with Sony’s BIONZ image processor, the Exmor R captures better image details and color with less picture noise even in dim lighting conditions.
The CX520VE records full HD video and 5.1 channel surround sound to its 64GB of internal memory, which can store about 25 hours. The less expensive CX505VE model has 32GB of memory which is good for about 12 hours. Both models can accept optional additional memory, but you are limited to Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick format.
We've covered Sony's geotagging feature previously, and the CX520VE also features a built-in GPS that automatically “geotags” your video clips and still pictures with the location where they were taken. You can view your current location and the locations of your geotagged clips in Map View on the Handycam’s 3in. (7.6cm) LCD screen. You can also connect the CX520VE to your home computer and use the included Picture Motion Browser software to view all your geotagged video clips and still images.
Sony’s Face Detection feature has been enhanced with “Face Touch”, which lets you touch a chosen face on screen and then automatically optimizes focus, color balance, exposure, and Smile Shutter for that selection.
The Highlight Playback feature lets you create “mini movies” in-camera by automatically blending selected clips and still photos with video effects and a choice of background music. Up to 8 Highlight Scenarios can be stored in the camcorder and viewed on the LCD screen or on a connected television. In a Handycam first, the CX520VE automatically upconverts interlaced video signals for 50p (progressive) playback on a 1920x10980/50p compatible TV over an HDMI connection.
Sony has added “PC-free” disc burning capability to the CX520VE, providing compatibility with Sony’s optional VRD-P1 DVDirect Express. This compact disc burner lets you burn your video directly to a DVD using only a USB connection. Both High Definition AVCHD discs and Standard Definition DVD discs can be burned.
The Handycam HDR-CX520VE and HDR-CX505VE Full HD Memory Stick camcorders will be available in August 2009. Pricing information is not yet available.
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