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I bought this camcorder 7 months ago and have now got several tapes full of memories.
Lightweight and designed to sit comfortably in your hand, this camcorder seems to be well built and is perfect for carrying with you on holidays and family days out. Mine has sustained a few knocks and bumps as all do - but I was surprised to find that the silver-grey paintwork did not scratch or chip. Even so, I would still recommend using a padded case when taking this camcorder out and about - if nothing else it saves on the worrying if you do drop it or knock it about. I especially like the Velcro grips on this camcorder - easily adjustable they help to provide a good grip and make it easier to use.
The controls are clearly labelled and easy to use, and are accessed from the side panel. Unlike a lot of the Sony models that are touch screen, this camcorder has a single button to open the menu and then a number of fixed controls to operate it. I found this much easier to use. The zoom controls are to the left and the right rather than the normal forwards and backwards ones, but I found that once I had used the camcorder a couple of times it was easy to remember.
The 25x optical zoom is very good, giving a great clear picture, however I found the 800x digital zoom somewhat lacking - giving a very grainy appearance.
Daylight picture quality is bright and clear - the only problems I found where in very strong sunlight when I found I seemed to get a rather washout look on the screen. I particularly liked the different effects that can be used for creating the picture (ie. Black-and white, sepia, classic film, strobe, spotlight and cinema). Very low light conditions produce a rather blurry slow-motion effect.
Mini-DV tapes are loaded at the bottom of this camcorder - making tape loading rather awkward when using a tripod.
The battery clip is situated at the rear of the model - and battery life seems to be exceedingly long - I have managed over 4 hours using standard batteries.
The firewire port is very useful - designed to allow easy transfer of video footage from the camcorder to the pc, I have found this works very quickly and is again easy to use.
Very quick to use, you can start filming 15 seconds after the camcorder has been turned on - whereas my previous camcorder used to take 2-3 minutes.
Prices for this camcorder seem to range from £200 up to £400 plus. I would recommend trying either Amazon.co.uk (prices from £201) or Comet. Currys and Tesco also sell this product, but the prices seem higher with these two merchants.