This Sony camcorder is pretty well put together but it comes at fairly high price. The Sony HDR-UX20 has come down in price since its original price tag of $999.99 but is still pretty high. The trade off though is the upgrade to HD quality recording of those moments in life that you want to cherish forever. Aside from those two things there are various factors that may tip the scale for you in favor or against this camcorder. It’s got a lot to offer but does have a few drawbacks that we will be talking about. If you’re looking for a quality recordings without a lot of knowledge on how to do all the little adjustments then this video camera is perfect. There are a lot of options available to get complicated. If you like a wide range of options then this camcorder may not be exactly what you’re looking for.
First of all we just want to point out that it doesn’t seem to be that common to have a built-in light and flash for picture taking on DVD camcorders. Why that is we don’t know. That’s one of great things about this Sony camcorder though, it has one. This is great for a few different kinds of people. There are those that like to have the all in one package of video recording and photo taking so that they don’t have to carry around two devices. There are also those that like to record night videos without using night vision or without having a flash light in the other hand. Whatever the reason may be, it is nice to have the options that a built-in light gives you.
To go along with the flash you obviously have still camera functionality. Aside from having a flash, this is not the strongest feature of the HDR-UX20. The digital zoom is weak 180x and the optical zoom is a disappointing 15x. If you’re looking for a good zoom you would be better off with a camera like the Sony DCR-DVD850. The still image resolution is only an effective 2 MP. With interpolation that goes up to 4 MP. Those two resolution numbers aren’t low but they’re not the best either.
There are a couple of things that affect both the video and still image aspects. One is the lighting range which goes down to 5 lux. That isn’t very low but that is where the built-in light comes in to redeem it some. The aperture only ranges from F/1.8 to 2.6 which limits your options some. To coincide with that the focal length range is a below average 3.1 – 47 mm. With those two hindrances and the minimal zoom available, this camcorder was not meant for more than basic use. At least the CMOS is a bit larger than the average sensor. Small CCD and CMOS sensors are typically less sensitive to light and therefore more prone to noise.
There are a few more benefits that we would like to point out, one being the 2 and a half hour battery life. A low battery life can be quite frustrating. As soon as you leave your outlets behind and set out to capture what lies a few miles away, you risk running out of juice and therefore not being able to record everything you want. We all want stuff that we can take on a camping trip, to the beach or on long hike and not have to worry about battery conservation. It is quite annoying when the end of the day comes; the setting is perfect, with a beautiful sunset in the background as you pan across the horizon and then half way through the battery dies. There is no coming back from that. Showing a video of something breath taking doesn’t have the same effect as being there but it sure beats trying to describe it and do it justice with your words only.
On that note we come to the final thing we wanted to point out. HD resolution has become a must when it comes to our visual toys. With everything moving in that direction, SD (standard definition) will become obsolete. It is also more difficult to enjoy SD (standard definition) after experiencing HD. HD has become the new standard when it comes to media. Most everyone has come to enjoy the extra detail, vibrant colors and stunning sound. Sony had this in mind when they designed this camcorder. However, even though it has full 1920 x 1080 resolution, it can only record that high resolution to memory sticks. The one flaw to the HD is that it is a DVD camcorder and not a Blu-ray one. For that reason this camcorder is a bit misleading. DVDs don’t support 1920 x 1080 resolution so anything recorded on to them will not be in HD. Since HD takes up a lot of space, even with the largest Sony memory sticks you’ll be fairly limited in how much you can have on it.
The Sony HDR-UX20 is a great camcorder but it definitely has to be what you’re looking for. First of all you have to want a DVD camcorder, which has its niche, but may not be the best way to record and store media. Then you have to be willing to pay a little extra for the HD capabilities, assuming that is why the price is so high. If you’re teetering on the edge then you just have weigh the pros and cons. Lighting, decent still camera functionality, long battery life, etc, are the pros. The cons are weak digital and optical zoom, higher lux rating, and a short range of focal length and aperture. What is more important to you?
The option to record in HD is especially nice for those wanting to share their videos via the HDTV at your friends house.
A bigger price tag then most comparable DVD camcorders.
A little pricey but if you're willing to pay it you'll land yourself a decent camcorder.