- 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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
- Twitter will stream video news from Bloomberg all day, every day
- Facebook launches tool for capturing 360 video inside VR
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
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.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 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
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCAS400 / iSeries EngineerNSW
- TPSenior Web DeveloperQLD
- TPSenior Project Manager - Digital Application CX TransformationNSW
- FTSenior iOS DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Project CoordinatorNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTAccounts and Office AdministratorNSW
- CCSplunk Software DeveloperVIC
- FTDealing Room Support Analyst - IPC voiceNSW
- CCSenior PMO AnalystNSW
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC
- FTStorage EngineerSA
- CCCloud Engineer - Multiple roles - AWS/AzureVIC
- FTSolution Architect - SecurityVIC
- FTNetwork SpecialistNSW
- CCC++ DeveloperNSW
- CCPega DeveloperVIC
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC
- FTSenior DBANSW
- FTData Analyst / Reporting SpecialistNSW
- CCWeb Designer - IT Graphics / UI DesignerQLD
- CCC++ DeveloperNSW
- FTApplication Support EngineerACT