Sony Digital Camcorder Review DCR-PC110 Mini DV
$2,000

Sony Electronics, Inc.

1 Sony Drive

Park Ridge, NJ, 07656

(201) 930-6972

www.sony.com

To say that Sony has packed the DCR-PC110 with features is putting it mildly. The DCR-PC110 Mega-Pixel is geared for intermediate to advanced videographers who want a small robust single-CCD Mini DV camera with very good resolution, color separation and multiple image output solutions. The DCR-PC110 also carries the latest digital extras like NightShot for shooting in the dark and Memory Stick storage for still images with the added ability to encode MPEG-1 movies up to 60 seconds at 160×112. Sending video and photo e-mails using the PC-110 is easy when you use the included software, MGI’s VideoWave and PhotoSuite.


Big Boned

The stature of the DCR-PC110 is akin to the tugboat of the Mini DV world. It’s stout, tough and has a lot of power for its size. Every bit of real estate on this pleasantly plump camcorder is used. Because of its size and shape, the unit may be a little uncomfortable for users to hold for long periods of time. To enhance the users grip of the PC110, the architects at Sony added a plastic swing arm "holding grip." After we figured out how to use it, the camera was easier to handle.

Overall, the controls on the DCR-PC110 are ergonomic. Zoom, photo, NightShot, flash functions, menu, manual and record controls are all within easy access to the user’s index finger or thumb. The DCR-PC110 responds to the included remote from any position around the camera. The remote is logical in its camera and VCR control layout and includes photo, audio dub and index functions.


Wearing Carl Zeiss

The imaging features of the DCR-PC110 are its biggest asset. The Carl Zeiss designer lens it’s sporting is coated to reduce reflection. The lens and the 1/4-inch Mega-Pixel CCD seem to be a valuable combination because the images the DCR-PC110 produced in our tests were very attractive. The color separation and contrast in the evaluation unit we received was impressive for a single CCD camera.

In the field we shot footage of a small-venue rock concert with high intensity gelled lights and a mixture of flamboyant colors and black-clad artists. The DCR-PC110 did extremely well. It held auto focus on our subjects well and transitioned from brightly-lit stage to dark crowd shots with surprising ease. The optical zoom of the DCR-PC110 is 10:1 with the digital zoom having a useful 20:1 setting and a highly pixelized 120:1 setting. We found that the EIS (electronic image stabilization) controlled minute shakes well when zoomed-in to the optical max. When we switched to manual focus, we found that the toggle to implement the function was easy to engage and that the focus ring on the lens operated smoothly.


Sounds Good

The audio recorded from the on-camera mike is very good. Like all cameras in the consumer category, automatic gain control manages audio levels, much like auto shutter and white balance manage light levels. With the high sound pressure levels of the live music we recorded, the AGC performed well with audible limiting of the signal but not to the point of annoyance.

The external mike jack and headphone input are in a slightly awkward position above the operator’s hand but with every square centimeter reserved for a jack or button of some sort, they had to go somewhere.


More than Mini

The DCR-PC110 is many devices in one. Besides the high quality Mini DV image it captures, it has full digital still photo features. The unit ships with a 4MB Memory Stick that stores high-resolution 1152×864 or 640×480 pixel images. The flash has several modes and intensities including red-eye reduction. The DCR-PC110 also allows the user to store MPEG-1 video to the MemoryStick. You can either shoot straight to the Stick or transfer previously shot footage from tape to the stick.You can then output an MPEG-1 movie at 320×240 or 160×112. We sent video e-mail with still images and a 20-second MPEG-1 movie that we loaded onto our computer via the USB port. We quickly edited the clips to our satisfaction with the included MGI image and video software and sent our fun multi-media mail.

LANC and advanced VCR functions like insert editing make the DCR-PC110 a viable edit deck. NightShot and the even higher gain Super NightShot work very well, producing a monochromatic image in total darkness.

Digital effects, backlight compensation, titling and the intelligent accessory shoe for adding an optional shotgun mike also come with this little overeater. The standard InfoLITHIUM battery that came with our evaluation unit held its charge a long time. We had no trouble shooting for over 100 minutes, using the LCD the entire time.


Healthy Stock

Although the DCR-PC110 is not the most comfortable camera to hold, the features and image quality of this tiny toughie make it a great choice. Multi-image media is what this camera is about and its result from all outputs is impressive. The DCR-PC110 will find a welcome home with those that have need for its diversity, image quality and stature.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV, MPEG-1, Photo DV

Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar Lens, F/ 1.8-4.2, 10X Optical Zoom/ 120X Digital Zoom

Image Sensor: 1/4-inch Progressive Scan CCD (approx. 1,070,000 pixels/ approx. 1,000,000 effective pixels (still), 690,000 effective pixels (moving))

Viewfinder: 2.5-inch color LCD, 0.44-inch color eyepiece

Focus: auto, manual

Exposure: Seven auto exposure modes, manual mode

White Balance: auto, manual

Digital Effects: Negative, Sepia, B&W, Solarize, Slim, Strech, Pastel, Mosaic, Still Flash Motion, Lumi., Trail, Slow Shutter, Old Movie

Audio: 12- or 16-bit stereo

Inputs: IEEE 1394, USB, A/V, S-video, mini mike

Outputs: IEEE 1394, USB, A/V, S-video, headphone

Edit Interface: LANC, IEEE 1394

Other Features: Memory Stick

Dimensions: 2 3/8 x 4 7/8 x 4 7/8-inches

Weight (with tape and battery): 1lb 8oz (690g)

STRENGTHS

  • Excellent image quality
  • High definition digital stills and impressive photo functions
  • MPEG movie capture
  • External mike and headphone jacks

    WEAKNESSES

  • Hard to hold

    SUMMARY

  • A featured-packed camera with excellent image quality.
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