Sony DCR-HC32

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Sony DCR-HC32
  • Sony DCR-HC32
  • Sony DCR-HC32
  • Sony DCR-HC32
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Build quality, useful docking station, touch screen control

Cons

  • Still images are only VGA quality, no FireWire cable supplied for use away from the docking station

Bottom Line

One of the most stylish consumer camcorders around. With the useful docking station, the DCRHC32 is an ideal option for anyone wanting to work with their video on the PC.

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One of the smallest miniDV-based palmcorders on the market, with dimension of only 55 x 90 x 112mm, the Sony DCRHC32 has a sparse layout, with most of the controls accessed through the LCD screen. The LCD transforms into a touch screen panel when you need to access menu items and control the camcorder functions.

Utilising a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 20X optical zoom lens, the Sony DCRHC32 performed well in most light situations. In well-lit environments, the DCRHC32 produced sharp images that were suitably saturated, with a good overall colour balance. In fully automatic mode, video performance was accurate, with the camcorder making most of the exposure changes automatically.

In situations with poor lighting, the Sony produced video with only low-level graininess. It has a Super NightShot Plus mode for taking video in near darkness, but this produced the kind of washed-out green tinged video you may have seen in a spy thriller.

The camera can take still images and store them on a Memory Stick PRO Duo or Memory Stick Duo, but these max out at VGA resolution (640 x 480). You can also record low-resolution MPEG1 video to the Memory Stick.

The DCRHC32 features the ability to adjust the focus and metering simply by touching a spot on the LCD screen--the DCRHC32 then makes the appropriate adjustments for that area, and continues shooting. The DCRHC32 also has a zoom switch and record button on the side of the LCD screen, in addition to the standard position on the camera body. This can allow more stable shooting as you can control the scene more effectively by moving the zoom with the left hand while holding the camcorder firmly in the right.

Although the DCRHC32 is an ideal option for point and shoot simplicity, anyone wanting more control over the video-making process may become frustrated with the lack of on-camera controls. Several powerful manual exposure options do exist on the DCRHC32, but you need to delve several levels into the menu screen to reach them. If you like to just plug and go, you will love the Handycam Station, which provides an instant connection to your PC as well as a recharger for the battery. When plugged into the Station, you also get an easy-to-use Webcam function.

The DCRHC32 is competitively priced and handled very well in our tests, but anyone with larger than average hands may find operating the camcorder a trial.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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