- Good optical zoom, small, reasonably priced
- Poor battery life
An ideal digital video camera for beginners and casual users
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
At the bottom end of the spectrum in Sony's new range of Mini-DV video cameras sits the DCR-HC26E. The camera is designed to be easy to use and portable, yet still retaining high performance; ideal for the casual user who doesn't need vast numbers of controls and paraphernalia. We are convinced that Sony has achieved on all three fronts.
The first thing that strikes you about the DCR-HC26E is its size, even for a budget Mini-DV camera it is tiny. Combined with the relatively light weight of the camera, it is an ideal choice if portability is of importance. One disadvantage of the diminutive proportions is the low battery lifetime. The power pack is barely bigger than a 9V battery and therefore doesn't perform astoundingly well: we only managed about 80 minutes in testing. This isn't a problem if you have easy access to an electrical socket when travelling around, the A/C adaptor is fairly small too, but this will obviously be an issue should you be off in the middle of nowhere. Sony does sell a battery pack with a quoted lifetime of 10 hours but this will inevitably increase the bulkiness of the camera as well as adding about 50% to its cost.
Battery life is really our only major gripe with the camera, however. Virtually every other aspect of the camera is excellent. Firstly, the DCR-HC26E is of a good build quality with nice aesthetics. The lightweight frame means that lugging it around won't be a hassle and holding the camera for long periods of time isn't tiring. The camera feels solid without being bulky. The only aspect of the camera that feels a tad flimsy is the cassette-loading mechanism but it isn't so flimsy as to be a major problem however, it does appear that if you weren't careful it might break. Once you have your digital cassette loaded using the camera is as just as easy Sony claim. A small dial toggles the camera between recording and playback modes with a small array of buttons controlling most of the action. Usefully, Sony have placed the zoom and recording controls on both the main unit and next to the LCD window. This means that no matter which orientation you have the screen in, it is always possible to operate the controls. The LCD also contains the bulk of the cameras controls through touch-screen functionality. All the extra features such as setting the digital zoom or activating colourisation modes (such as sepia) can be found here.
Digital zoom is one of the DCR-HC26E's interesting features. When activated the camera can zoom in up to a maximum factor of 800x. This sounds impressive, but is really just overkill on the part of Sony. Once you've zoomed in this far it is impossible to hold the camera steady enough to actually make out what is on the screen. The camera also struggles to focus correctly. We found the camera's already impressive 20x optical zoom to be more than adequate in most situations. The image quality is also pretty good - colours are displayed accurately and contrast appears nicely balanced. Image playback on a TV screen is good, though the resolution is not so spectacular on a computer screen. Sony do not provide the necessary mini USB cable to connect the camera to a PC with the DCR-HC26E as it is a low end model, though they do include their software package. The software is a little confusing though, we felt basic users will probably find it much easier to use Microsoft's Movie Maker which is bundled with Windows XP anyway.
Other useful features are the stereo microphones, providing better quality audio capture and Nightshot mode, allowing video capture in low light levels. The camera's infrared sensor isn't that powerful, meaning you can't see all that far in total darkness, but Paris Hilton would have found it more than adequate for her home movies. Overall, the DCR-HC26E represents an ideal purchase for digital video beginners and casual users. With a good set of easy to use features and a very reasonable price tag, it's hard to beat.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCProject Manager - Security/Cyber SecurityVIC
- FTPMO Coordinator-Permanent Opportunity-Education/Government Background EssentialNSW
- FTBranch Practice Manager - SecurityQLD
- TPSQL DeveloperQLD
- CCApplication Services Administrator (Linux)NSW
- CCIT Procurement OfficerNSW
- CCBPM DeveloperVIC
- FTLead PMONSW
- CCStorage System EngineerNSW
- CCPMO Analyst - Financial ServicesNSW
- FTBI Developer l Microstrategy , HadoopNSW
- FTAnalyst Programmer (Natural/Adabas)SA
- FTSenior Business AnalystSA
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- TPSenior Java Developer - ContractQLD
- TPProduct Owner - Cloud SolutionsQLD
- FTTechnical Consultant MS Dynamics AXWA
- CCCommercial Contract AdministratorACT
- CCNetwork ArchitectWA
- CCNetIQ Development & SupportNSW
- FTNetwork Solution ArchitectVIC
- CCContract - System Access Administrator - major Telco in MelbourneVIC
- TPFunctional AnalystVIC
- TPBusiness Process Analyst (Newcaslte Based)NSW
- CCApplication Solution Designer (Automation) - Finance - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW