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Mics and Lenses and Jacks,oh, Boy! Weighing just a pound and a half, this is just about the tiniest HDV camcorder out there. But attach the sharp lens hood, the audio jack and XLR mic, and it looks like its big brother, the Z1U, in miniature. The camcorder has 2 XLR balanced inputs with five switches within easy reach, allowing you multiple choices of audio recording.

The lens hood is easily attached and removed, and has a nice easy-to-reach lever to open and close the lens protector. A nice feature, but unfortunately, the hood prevents you from you from attaching a clear protective filter on your lens, or adding UV, polarizer or other filters.

Exposure and Focus on the Sony Camcorder Review A small toggle lever at your left finger tip, within easy reach, controls the manual exposure. Because acute focus and exposure are so critical in HDV, you might want to depend on the auto settings for both. We know, this will feel odd to all-manual snobs, but we found the auto focus was more precise than our eyes. The auto focus is very fast and quite crisp.

In a natural home setting using just one incandescent table lamp, dark details were crisp in shadowed areas, but the colors were muted. A rust colored wall appeared mud-brown, but raising or lowering the exposure was a breeze. The bright rooms were quite detailed, and colors like fuchsia and lime-green that standard video cameras tend to go wacky on, were true and colorful.

The left-hand side has the focus and lens controls on the lens barrel. We love all the options you can set and program on this camcorder. The histogram in the viewscreen is an added plus because exposure with HDV recording is so crucial. Big Picture, Small Package The designers of small camcorders have the difficult task of getting all the controls we want to fit in the smaller unit.

So selections are buried in the menus, or buttons do double-duty. You can record from two locations on this camcorder, with the right thumb near the back, or on the LCD viewscreen. The manual reminds users not to hold the camcorder by the hood, lens, mic or XLR jack, and the downside to any small camcorder is getting a good comfortable grip.

Another downside is with bottom-loading videotape. Since we advocate using a tripod whenever possible, a bottom-loader would be a hindrance if you run out of tape halfway through your shoot. Buy Me One, Daddy! This camcorder would be perfect for hard-to-reach places or on a boom or jib, and its compact size makes it easy to use unobtrusively in natural settings for documentary work.

HDV Rec.


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