As a young person who is interested in acting and filming, I thought the best thing to do would be to ditch the digital camera and buy myself a camcorder.
Knowing almost nothing about what's good and what's not, I had no idea which one to go for. The main purpose of the purchase was to make high quality video footage for personal use and YouTube uploads. There was a video-blogger I really liked, and coincidently had a list of all the gear he used for his videos. His camcorder was the Sony HDR-SR10E, so I decided to look into that - however, being the camcorder-ignorant person I am, the only features I looked for was high-definition footage (HD), and capacity. The HDR-SR10E takes HD footage and hs a 40GB hard drive, as well as room for memory sticks for that extra bit of storage - I was sold instantly.
When the device actually arrived, I was surprised at how light-weight it was (it still has a fair bit of weight to it, but definitely light enough to hold on to for extended periods of time). This is already a good sign of quality. As far as size goes, it is a rather compact little device. Not so much that it will fit into your pocket without bulging out and making you look ridiculous, but it will easily fit into a small pocket of your backpack (though I advise a carry case - not included).
Speaking of inclusions, let's see what is actually included in the box:
• The Sony HDR-SR10E Camcorder (rather important)
• AC Adaptor (charger cable)
• Rechargeable battery pack (mine came with two, but not all of them will)
• Remote Commander (remote control)
• A/V Connecting Cable
• Component A/V Cable
• USB Cable
• Handycam Station (a little platform for added control while importing/charging)
What I love about the HDR-SR10E is how easy it is to use. All the controls you need to use are in reach of your thumb when holding it properly - and with the adjustable hand strap it is extremely comfortable to use. There are no complicated buttons to confuse you because everything is all placed together, which means you can film with just one hand (especially handy when you are travelling). Watching playback is as easy as the press of a button. The only downfall to the controls is the touch screen monitor. Now for me, that's not a problem, but for those who have large fingers and limited co-ordination, it may become a hassle. And the touch screen is the only option - there's no changing it back to button mode or anything like that.
Now, to save time, lets just go through a few impressive features that are worth knowing:
• 15x optical zoom
• Lens shutter (no annoying lens cap required)
• Removable rechargeable battery pack to allow for another one in case of power run-out or a longer lasting battery pack (spare battery pack included)
• Just over 100 minutes battery life (spare battery pack lasts about an hour)
• Nightvision at the flick of a switch
• Button for taking still shots (4.0 mega pixels)
• HDMI output for plugging straight into the TV (Cable sold separately)
• 40GB hard drive (holds about 500 minutes worth of footage)
• Memory Stick Pro Duo slot for extra storage space
• Remote control for extra control
The sound capture, depending on what you are using the camcorder for, varies. By this, I mean, if you are behind the camcorder whole recording, the mic is close to you, so the sound is fantastic. However, sitting away (or being filmed) may pick up the sound a little too quiet (depending on how far away you are), in which case you may want to consider an attachable microphone.
The zoom is excellent - 15x optical is more than enough. You can zoom in on tiny details and see them crystal clear on the playback. Zooming is done by moving the toggle left or right, and it is not done too fast or too slow. In fact, the zoom speed is quite easy to control as long as you have control over your finger, and I have been able to zoom in as quickly or as slowly as I have wanted to.
Now, you're probably wondering about importing all that footage and images you take. It's really easy, let me tell you now. As long as you have the software on your computer, all you need to do is to connect the camcorder to your computer via the USB cable included, and it will start importing all that you want. The software will either come on a disk with the camcorder or you can simply download it from Sony's website with no hassles.
Once all of that footage is on your computer, you can then convert the video files into either WMV or MPEG-2 files by using the supported software. Now I'm no computer genius, but I'm sure there are ways to convert the files into other file formats - but I have never needed to so I haven't looked that much into it. I usually just convert mine into MPEG-2 files and import them into Windows Movie Maker or Sony Vegas Pro, both of which have worked perfectly fine.
Now as far as connecting this camcorder to the TV goes, it is possible, but I have never needed to do it, so I'm a bit iffy on this subject. The camcorder does come with component leads (the red, yellow, and white plugs) which allows you to connect it to your TV, but you can also buy a HDMI cable and plug it right into a HD TV that way. There are loads of tutorials for this on the web if you need them, but the instruction manual should feed your thoughts for this.
Overall, for my needs the Sony HDR-SR10E was absolutely perfect. It is a perfect camcorder for both amateur filming and travel documentation (I've used it for both successfully), and it's so easy to use. Would I recommend it? You bet!