Sony’s flash memory-based camcorders have already impressed us considerably, with the HDR-CX105E being our current model of choice if you only have £400 to spend. But Sony also offers higher-end models that record to flash memory. Near the top of the range is the HDR-CX505VE. With a sensor the same as the HDR-X520, it promises premium video performance but in a more compact form.
Like the X520, the CX505VE is built around a 1/2.9in CMOS sensor with a gross 6.6-megapixels. This incorporates Sony’s Exmor R technology, which places the sensor wiring behind the pixels, so more light is allowed in. In the past, we’ve found this an effective system, providing better low light performance than would normally be expected given the sensor size. The high pixel count is interpolated to provide 12-megapixel still images as well.
The main video format is Full HD AVCHD, with data rates up to 16Mbits/sec, not the 24Mbits/sec now available from JVC and Canon. But you can also shoot in SD quality if required. There’s 32GB of flash memory on board, which will be enough for around 4.5 hours of footage at the top quality setting – more than ample for most holidays or events. But there’s also a MemoryStick Pro Duo slot available for expansion, should you ever need extra.
The CX505VE is clearly not intended for enthusiasts, but it does have a few features that will be useful for the more discerning video maker. There’s no lens ring, but Sony does supply a dial on the rear of the device instead. Press the manual button, and this dial operates focus. It’s very slow in operation, so you won’t be able to perform focusing effects whilst shooting. But it’s far more accurate than a menu-based control so can provide sharp detail where the automatic system might focus on the wrong object.
There’s also an accessory shoe available, but as with all Sony camcorders over the last few years this uses the company’s proprietary Ai format, rather than the standard size. So you will be confined to Sony-branded peripherals only. There are also no minijacks available for an external microphone or headphones.