Sony HDR-PJ790V Review

Ideal for those who thrive on instant gratification, Sony’s top consumer camcorder, the Handycam HDR-PJ790V, not only produces excellent image quality but also includes an integrated projector so you can shoot-n-show while on the go.

First Impressions

In spite of its small size the PJ790V is surprisingly weighty at 1lb. 4.3oz. It feels very solid, is of good quality and fits in the hand well. The textured, rubberized surface of the camera body behind the hand strap provides a solid grip for handheld use.

USB plug
USB plug
Additionally, the hand strap is a sheath for the built-in USB cable. We also like that Sony chose to use firm, sliding doors to cover their I/O ports rather than flimsy rubber flaps.

At the front of the camera is a large lens hood secured in place with a locking dial around the lens. The hood does obstruct and encumber the use of the manual control dial and button located on the camera’s front, particularly for those with larger fingers. Using the dial with the hood in place isn’t impossible but it is more cumbersome.

Close up of 5:1 stereo sound mic on top of camera
The built-in 5.1 surround sound zoom microphone catches our attention right away as it is elevated above the body of the camera to minimize pickup of zoom, focus and stabilization noise, which it does very nicely. The mic is quite sensitive though and still manages to pick up handling noise so be sure to handle with care.

The other stand out feature of the PJ790V is the thickness of the LCD display owing to the built-in 35 lumens projector. Located on the camera body, behind the display is the Projector button, which switches playback from the display to the projector. The projected image can occupy as much as 100 diagonal inches, while a slider on top of the LCD adjusts the focus. When you’re finished shooting you can immediately view the results on the nearest wall, ceiling or friend. Furthermore, you can connect any device with HDMI out, such as your smartphone, laptop or tablet to the camcorder and view its images through the projector. We found the projected image quality to be very good. It certainly can’t compete with a dedicated digital projector but in a darkened room, the image was clear with good resolution and very nice color reproduction.


The PJ790V captures 1920×1080 HD video in both 24p and 60p as well as 24.1MP stills. Images are recorded to an internal flash drive with 96GB of capacity, good for nearly 38 hours of footage, or 7.5hr. at the best quality. And if that isn’t enough, a sliding panel behind the LCD reveals a single media slot that is both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible.

The PJ790V captures 1920×1080 HD video in both 24p and 60p as well as 24.1MP stills.

A dial and button at the front of the camera let you have full manual control over focus, exposure, iris, shutter speed, white balance shift and reset control. Press the button to select functions and then turn the dial to adjust. Assists may be accessed through the touch screen menu, such as Expanded Focus (2x magnification), Focus Peaking (white, red or yellow highlights) or zebras (choice of 70 or 100).

The PJ790V features 10x optical zoom, responsive autofocus, good low light performance, some of the best rolling shutter performance we’ve seen and a very effective optical image stabilization system. When set to Standard a single “shift lens” moves to offset camera shake. When set to Active Mode, however, the entire optical block moves, for a claimed shake reduction of 13x over previous models. We don’t know how the “13x” came to be, but it certainly delivers some of the best stabilization we’ve seen.

To satisfy your need for both excellent image quality and instant viewing pleasure, Sony’s HDR-PJ790V camcorder and projector delivers.

Tech Specs

Imaging Sensor: 1/2.88" back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS Sensor
Format: HD: MPEG4-AVC/H.264 AVCHD 2.0 format compatible; STD: MPEG2-PS; MP4: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Focus Distance (Approx.): 1cm (Wide), 80cm (Tele), 32cm (Tele Macro)
Manual Focus Assist: Magnified display; Peaking display
Zebra Pattern: Yes
Shutter Speed: Standard: 1/60 – 1/10000; Auto Control Range; Manual Iris Control: 1/60 – 1/10000; Manual Shutter: 1/8 – 1/10000; Smooth Slow Rec: 1/250 – 1/10000
Assignable Dial: Focus, Exposure, Iris, Shutter Speed, AE Shift, WB Shift Set
Audio Level Display: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
Iris Control: F1.8 – F9.6
Optical Zoom: 10x
Focal Length: (35mm equivalent): 1-10" (26-260mm) (16:9), 1.25-12.52" (31.8-318mm) (4:3)
Image Stabilization: Balanced Optical SteadyShot w/Active mode (Wide to Tele)
White Balance: Auto/Onepush/Outdoor/Indoor
Display: 3.0" Xtra Fine LCD display (921K) touch screen
Max. Resolution: 1920×1080, 60p
Viewfinder: 0.2"/ Color 201,600 dots equivalent
I/O: Composite (A/V connecting cable); Micro HDMI; USB
Microphone In: Stereo Minijack
Headphone Jack: Stereo Minijack
Media: 96GB internal flash memory, single memory card slot (Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible)
Battery Type: InfoLITHIUM with AccuPower Meter System (V Series)
Projector Light Output: Up to 35 lumens
Projector Resolution: 800×480
Projector Screen Coverage: Up to 100" (diagonal)


  • Excellent image quality
  • Great stabilization
  • Elevated microphone with wind noise reduction
  • Built-in projector


  • Lens hood encumbers use of the manual button and dial

Sony Electronics Inc.


Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

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