So you want a new camcorder, perhaps because you are looking for a nice, high quality camera with which to record home videos to bother your relatives with or because you are really serious about making videos and want to have a camcorder to start with. The Sony HDR-XR520V camcorder, (priced at $1499.99) is certainly a good choice to consider on both fronts.
Overall this camera offers amazing quality video recording, along with a gigantic 240 gig hard drive, so you can store as many videos as you please. This is especially great for a vacationer—no need to bring along a computer to dump your video files into, as it has plenty of space to save them all on the camera itself. Also, the camera includes a built in GPS, which gives the camera a fun and interesting feature called geo-tagging. With this feature, you can “tag” where you are in the world at the time you shoot the video, so when you go back you can see exactly where you were. And of course, don’t forget the touch screen menus—a tantalizing and alluring feature that any and all users—new or experienced—will surely enjoy.
But there are downsides to this camcorder for the new user. The menus are confusing no matter which way you look at it, and the help features aren’t very helpful. The Easy use interface does nothing but make some of the menus inaccessible to you, and there is very little help with deciphering the myriad of buttons and controls on the camcorder.
The camcorder has a manual focus dial that can be used to control all kinds of things on the camera; however there are some features that serious videographers will dearly miss. The HDR-XR520V does not have control over aperture, a way to change shutter speed, or any gain. You can’t change the frame rate either, so you will be stuck with the manufactured setting. The Exmor-R sensor gives great footage, however there is the tradeoff that it works best in bright light—dark areas are not this camera’s strong point.
Compared to other camcorders, the HDR-XR520V has an enormous amount of space, and because of that the price is higher. If you want to sacrifice space for value, you can get yourself the HDR-XR500V which will save you some cash. So if you are looking for a high-quality user-friendly camera, this is a good choice. It you want something with professional features however, you may want to look elsewhere.