Sony HDR-SR12 E
- 120GB inbuilt hard drive, memory stick slot for additional recording, vibrant high-definition video quality, 10.1Mp stills mode, solid picture quality in dim lighting
The HDR-SR12E may be a little more expensive than most of its rivals, but it represents a bargain nonetheless. It ticks all the major boxes that make a great camcorder; including superb image quality and ease-of-use.
Price$ 2,199.00 (AUD)
The hard disk-based HDR-SR12E is the star attraction of Sony's 2008 handycam line-up. With its huge 120GB capacity and maximum video resolution of 1920x1080i, it is more than sufficiently equipped to justify its premium price tag. All the bells-and-whistles that we have come to expect from Sony are also present on this model; including a memory stick slot for additional hybrid recording, 10.2-megapixel still image capture, a user-friendly touch screen interface and an external microphone jack. It also comes packed with the latest in flashy new camcorder trends, including Smooth Slow Recording mode, a zoom microphone and Face Detection technology. With the exception of its slightly underpowered 12x optical zoom (a common fault in high-end cameras), there is next to nothing we can find fault with.
The HDR-SR12 can be seen as the spiritual successor to Sony's previous flagship offering; the HDR-SR8E. In addition to receiving an extra 20GB of inbuilt memory, it also sports a redesigned CMOS sensor and processing chip for the cleanest image yet. In other words, the new model has a lot more up its sleeve than the average nominal upgrade, offering a markedly superior performance across the board. (This is made doubly impressive by the pedigree of its predecessor, which was one of the best camcorders of 2007.)
This latest HDD handycam continues Sony's dedication to the AVCHD format, a high-def rival to the MPEG-2 based HDV. AVCHD is considered superior to MPEG-2 due to its greater levels of compression efficiency. With 120GB of memory to play around with, this equates to an impressive 48 hours of recordable high-def footage, or 14-and-a-half at full quality (not including the optional memory stick). This should ensure that you rarely need to worry about filling up your hard drive while out-and-about; even if you shoot everything that crosses your path.
While we're on the subject of video formats, it's also worth noting that the HDR-SR12E supports non-AVCHD, standard definition recording. Some vendors are excising this option from their high-def models, so it's nice to see Sony's continued support for the old guard. If you've yet to upgrade your TV and DVD player to HD, this makes the SR12 a solid future investment.
As the flagship model in Sony's new handycam range, the HDR-SR12 doesn't pull any punches when it comes to video quality. While it lacks the 'full HD' resolution (1280x1080p) beloved by marketing gurus, it nevertheless delivers some of the sharpest and most vibrant footage from a camcorder in this price range. This is bolstered considerably by the return of Sony's x.v. colour mode; a vibrancy-enhancer that allegedly doubles the colour reproduction in any given image. While we can't attest to the truth in these claims, it certainly did brighten up our footage with an injection of rich, primary tones.
Usually when we get to this point in a camcorder review, we advise that the image quality suffered in low lighting. However, the HDR-SR12 managed to surpass all expectations when it came to shooting in dim environments. While noise was still evident, it was considerably less noticeable than most other high-def camcorders we've looked at, including the HDC-HS9 , VP-HMX10 (XSA) and HDR-SR8E. As such, the HDR-SR12 is an obvious choice for users who habitually shoot indoors or at dusk. (Its night mode, though lacking in colour, is also very impressive; allowing you to shoot in complete darkness.)
With its 560g weight and dimensions of 83x76x138mm, the HDR-SR12 isn't the smallest high-def camcorder on the block. (Compared to Panasonic's HDC-SD9, which weighs in at under 300g.) However, this is necessitated by the unit's 120GB hard drive. It also seems to be a conscious decision on Sony's part, with the HDR-SR12 appealing more to serious videographers who traditionally prefer a bulkier unit. With that being said, novice users are still well catered for, with a prominently marked Easy button switching everything to auto.
Of course, when you're paying over $2000 for a camcorder, you usually want as much hands-on freedom as possible, and in this regard the HDR-SR12 did not disappoint. Its ample assortment of manual settings includes adjustable white balance, focus and exposure, 10 scene modes (Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Candle, Sunrise & Sunset, Fireworks, Landscape, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach, and Snow), Tele Macro options and a handful of digital/picture effects. Handily, a camera control dial is also included to the left of the lens; allowing you to quickly adjust focus and brightness levels on the fly. We also remain fans of Sony's Spot Focus technology, which allows you to adjust the focus by pressing on an area of the LCD screen. (As always, the touch screen interface is intuitive and user-friendly, with the extra large 3.2in display aiding in menu selections.)
Special mention must also go to the HDR-SR12E's superb photographic capabilities, which has been boosted from a maximum resolution of 6.1 megapixels (as seen on the SR8) to an unprecedented 10.1Mp. This is the highest stills resolution of any camcorder on the market, making the SR12E one of the few models that can compete with a dedicated compact camera.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 2 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 3 Parrot Mambo Drone review
- 4 Evapolar USB air conditioner review
- 5 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD 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
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.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: The new best Android phone
- TV buying guide: What to look for when buying a TV in 2016
- Best iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus plans: Optus vs Telstra vs Vodafone vs Virgin
- 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
- FTTechnical Software AnalystVIC
- FTHands-on Service Desk Team LeadNSW
- FTSenior Front End DeveloperNSW
- CCContract Programmer (.Net/SQL) 161027/P/vhaAsia
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Finance ConsultantVIC
- FTApplications ManagerVIC
- FTImplementation Consultant SydneyNSW
- CCSolutions ArchitectACT
- CCDigital Project ManagerNSW
- TPSenior Full Stack .NET Developer - AngularJSNSW
- FTSENIOR .Net DEVELOPERQLD
- CCICT Service Desk AnalystSA
- CCSharePoint / Office365 DeveloperSA
- CCContract Senior IT Assistant (Lotus Notes) 161101/SITA/571Asia
- FTCapacity PlannerNSW
- CCData ScientistVIC
- FTERP Data Migration ConsultantNSW
- CCICT Project Reporting Planning CoordinatorNSW
- CCSenior Security AnalystVIC
- CCURGENT REQUIREMENT - Business AnalystACT
- CCSnr Business AnalystVIC
- FTiOS DeveloperNSW
- CCProject Manager - Regulatory ReportingNSW
- CCSolutions Architect (Power of Choice)QLD
- CCWeb DeveloperNSW