Sony's budget Mini DV camcorder for casual users
- Attractive price point, 40x optical zoom, solid user interface
- Performed poorly in low light, flash memory and DVD models can be bought just as cheaply
The Sony DCR-HC52 is a perfectly capable little camcorder, but its recording format is beginning to show its age. Frankly, your money would be better spent on something younger and hipper. (Mini DV, your time is nearly up.)
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
The Sony DCR-HC52 can be viewed as both the elderly gent and the squalling infant of its handycam family. Recording standard-definition video to Mini DV tape, it’s a stubbornly old-school device that also happens to be the company's entry-level product. While somewhat antiquated compared to other video formats, it remains a reasonable choice for people who want a dirt-cheap camcorder for occasional home movies. (It also comes with a 40x optical zoom, which is sure to come in very handy.)
However, we feel that most users would be better off spending a few extra dollars on fresher technology. For just $50 more, you could pick up the Kogan flash memory-based Full HD 1080p Video Camera, or Sony’s hybrid DVD/Memory Stick DCR-DVD610 model. There are plenty of newer and more exciting options on the market that cost around the same price as the DCR-HC52. In other words, only Luddites and DV traditionalists need apply.
As you’d expect from a sub-$350 camcorder, the Sony DCR-HC52 is not the best looking unit on the block. Bulky, plastic and depressingly drab, it lacks the glossy chic exhibited by its bigger brothers. On the plus side, the unit fits comfortably into the hand and is pleasantly lightweight given its blocky size. We also liked the 2.5in touchscreen, which helped to make menu navigation simple and intuitive. The inclusion of a viewfinder is also a nice touch — this means you can close the LCD and save on battery life. All up, the DCR-HC52 camcorder shouldn't give you any problems during operation, regardless of your experience level.
So what about video quality? Unlike the majority of Sony handycams which use CMOS technology, the DCR-HC52 camcorder sports a 1/6in CCD sensor with an effective pixel count of 400k. Single-CCD sensors are considered inferior to CMOS arrangements due to their poor reliability in low lighting. This is especially true of entry-level camcorders which typically use smaller, low-grade components.
When we tested the Sony DCR-HC52 in a dark room, the video it captured was definitely grainier than we’re typically used to. This led to significant detail loss, with fuzzy subject outlines and distracting noise levels. While an infrared Nightshot mode is included, it only records in black-and-white and suffers from what we like to call ‘freaky eye’ syndrome. It's therefore best avoided, unless you're making a schlocky horror movie in the vein of The Blair Witch Project.
Fortunately, the camcorder performed a lot better in optimum lighting, where its output remained reasonably sharp and vibrant. It is therefore best suited to outdoor activities such as BBQs, beach trips and nature hikes. Basically, as long as lots of sun is involved, the results shouldn't disappoint.
One of the Sony DCR-HC52’s strongest selling points is its 40x optical zoom. This is an incredibly useful feature that will let you get nice and close to the action: whether it be a distant mountaintop or a shy monkey at the zoo. Just bear in mind that you’ll probably need to invest in a tripod to make the most of the zoom function; otherwise your footage will suffer from camera-shake.
Curiously, the DCR-HC52 does not come with a USB or FireWire cable in the sales package. If you want to transfer your movies to a computer, you’ll need to purchase one of these cables separately.
Join the newsletter!
Apple iMac Pro
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Ballistix Sport AT
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Toys for Boys
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
ESET Smart Security Premium
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Internet Security
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- CES 2019: Arlo expand into the smart home, confirm Arlo Ultra pricing
- Arlo announces 4K HDR wire-free security camera system
- Navman introduces the MiVUE dash cam
- Uniden adds Artificial Intelligence functionality to Wired surveillance range
- Logitech announces Logitech Rally
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- CES 2019 Round-Up:
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- 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